November 19, 2013
The real lift served season kicked into gear last weekend with two-day openings at both Crystal Mountain and Stevens Pass, and the customers had so much fun they decided to keep it going mid-week. Stevens ran the lifts today, and Crystal was "thinking" about a Wednesday opening. Sure enough, when I got up there and ducked into the restroom to relieve myself I ran into Keith Rollins and a liftie who both confirmed they had decided Wednesday was a "go" (Green Valley only).
I skinned up to the Campbell Basin lodge to check the fit and the new mini footbeds in my TLT6P's and found pretty good coverage above 5,500 ft. Unfortunately the rain from the past couple of days had frozen into a solid 3/4" breakable crust over mush, so the skiing was less than pretty, but those who make the trip to Green Valley tomorrow should find some nice "skier compacted" with a dusting or more of fresh. Note: I skied to the bottom, but I shouldn't have. Take the gondola down.
November 15, 2013
And no, it wasn't exactly a starring role. I spent a good part of last night moonlighting as a Dynafit rep at the Seattle screening of Valhalla, filling in for Brandon, Ryan and Nick who were in Boulder for the annual Dynafit sales meeting. It was a fun and low key event, and I got to spend an hour before the movie answering questions, demoing the Beast binding, and giving away schwag. I made the people answer a Dynafit trivia question to get a hat - though I made many of the questions multiple choice to give people a fighting chance. "Who invented the Dynafit binding? a)Karl Schranz b)Helmut Newton c)Fritz Barthel d)Yvon Choinard"
November 1, 2013
Verbal not digital. Tuesday's hosts didn't allow pictures in the facility, and the rest of the time I simply forgot to bring the camera. Maybe next time.
It was a busy work week, but mostly out-of-office. Tuesday a small group from evo headed to the K2 offices for a dealer clinic on the new K2 boots. I was already pretty familiar with the Pinnacle 130, having skied it for a couple days last spring, but it was a rare chance to chat up the design and engineering team and hit them with some left field questions. Mine included "Where are you sourcing the tech fittings?" (the same Italian company that makes La Sportiva's and Scott's but not Tecnica's), "Are you planning to make a lighter Pebax version next year?" (uhhh, not really, Pebax is pretty expensive and we weren't setting out to build a true touring boot), and "Why do the boxes on the production boots say Made in Hungary when the prototypes said Made in Italy?" (The shells and cuffs are still molded in Italy but the final assembly is in Hungary, EU law requires the aforementioned labeling).
OK, the Pinnacle is heavy, but it skis great, and I'll be rocking a pair at least some of the time this winter. (Did I mention that the schwag for the night was a free pair of your choice?) We did a mini tour of the factory, which was a little lackluster because it was night and nobody was working - the K2 tour is really interesting when the crew is milling out aluminum ski trays, screening next year's graphics and laying up prototypes. K2 was a great host as usual, and even boss man Tim Petrick put in an appearance. The evening ended with a full catered dinner from Marination Station and plenty of Coors Light (the official beer of K2). Bottoms up!
Wednesday and Thursday Alex, Will and I headed to scenic Everett for a two day seminar with Masterfit University. Masterfit U is an industry-supported organization devoted to sharing the secrets of the nation's best bootfitters and they've been quite successful at raising the bar for bootfitting at speciality ski and snowboard shops around the world. Famous boot wizards like Mark Elling, Bob Gleason, Jim Shaffner, Bob Egeland, Greg Hoffman and Jack Rafferty - guys I've read about for years - taught the classes and were available for one-on-one questioning and demonstrations for the entire course. It was awesome to watch these guys in action and hear how they go about their art - super inspiring and invaluable stuff for any of us in the trenches.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, business is ramping up quickly. People are already waiting in line, and lots of us are fitting more than one customer at a time when it gets busy. The old timers - Alex, Rachel D. Billy and myself - have hit the floor running as winter approaches. The hardgoods newcomers at the store are jumping right in and killing it, with Will coming from Texas (relax, he grew up in Bellingham), Charlie and Paul moving upstairs from softgoods and Drew sliding in like the pro he is to lead the team in boot sales. We were barely able to contain our laughter last week when a proud mom came in with her daughter and said the kid was "a really good skier, she's going to start the freeride program at Crystal this winter - Ingrid Backstrom's going to be her coach - and she needs some new skis." When I pointed to Drew and suggested that he knew something about freeride comps, she quipped, "He does? Should I recognize him?" Classic.
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China: Wandering in the Middle Kingdom
"Incoming" covers developments that have personal interest to me (ie. gear I might consider acquiring, or events I feel may impact the sport of skiing) - it is by no means meant to be a comprehensive enumeration of gear or events in the ski world at large. Feel free to contact me via the randosaigai.com link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .
© 2015 Gregory C. Louie