Snow Business: December Fits Right Into the Seasonal Calendar

The latest installment of Patch Local Editor Chris Dehnel's SnowBusiness column.

caption: David McClure of New England Ski & Scuba in Vernon fits a pair of boots. Photo Credit: Chris Dehnel
caption: David McClure of New England Ski & Scuba in Vernon fits a pair of boots. Photo Credit: Chris Dehnel
Oh early December. 

It's an important time of year - the time when skiers and riders make sure 
everything is in order for the season. 

And the boots are one bit of equipment it all starts with. 

"The boots are very important," says David McClure, the owner of New England Ski & Scuba in Vernon. "And getting the right fit is key."

That means the heel is in place and the toes can wiggle but not roam all over the front of the boot. 

Kids have a lot of options these days. Last week, McClure was showing off a newer version of the 1980s staple rear entry boot that are available for sheer comfort. McClure says most young skiers and riders are renting for the season until their feet stop growing, so they will go to a shop, therefore getting the proper fit. The traditional buckle up boots are also featured for kids for those who want better performance. 

He said to be careful buying stuff online without seeing the brand first. 

It's not just the boots. Matching the right skis or snowboards with the strength, size and abilities of the skiers and riders can get out of whack. 

One area shop owner said a 12-year-old weighing 105 pounds recently walked in with his parents and wanted a tune on a new pair of high-end giant slalom racing skis, proclaiming they, "were a good deal."

The family said the 12-year-old was going to use them as his recreational ski. The binding recommendation, according to his height and weight, was a No. 3 setting, but the ones on the skis - which he wanted - began at 4. 

And it's not just pretentious Northeasterners. Jeff McLain, who owns The Skier's Edge Sports Loft in Vienna, WV, says he sees that type of stuff all the time, many because of "overbearing parents." 

"Some ski companies make Junior GS skis," he says. "I have to see skier and see how he skis."

But …

"Most kids at 12 sit back on the tail of their skis and do not know what a pole plant is to save their life," McLain says. "I think the kid needs a nice mellow pair of twin tips personally."

One fashionable thing is to get fatties for everyday use. 

Not necessarily good match for ever-changing eastern conditions. 

Another area ski shop owner said a customer came in with a pair of skis that are 117 MM underfoot. He expects to use them as his every-weekend skis. 

"That's a bit much for around here," the shop owner said. "They would be a challenge on hardpack."

When asked what he recommends for wide skis in the East, McClure recommended not going more than 95 MM underfoot. 

I have to concur. I tested some Ramp fatties on a GOOD day at Okemo three seasons ago. The skis with 105 MM underfoot were a chore to ride, even in soft snow over a hard base. The 95 MMs were like a sports car on the open road on three different types of surfaces.  

So what's the moral for the early part of the season?

Get the right fit. You can still look cool and get bargains with the right stuff. 

Chris Dehnel is a local editor for Patch covering Vernon and Tolland in Connecticut. He has been writing about snow sports for more than a decade and is a past-president of the Eastern Ski Writers Association. 


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