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October 9, 2014

Dancing With the Stars

One of the nice things about my workplace is that it's a meeting ground for some of the best and brightest stars in the freeski world. Not only do I work with a recent Freeride World Tour overall champ, but the best freeriders in the business make a point of dropping by the store when they're in town, usually encouraged and accompanied by one of our dealer reps. Normally these appearances go hand-in-hand with a film showing and involve a casual autograph session downstairs, but typically the headliners arrive a bit beforehand and hang out, which gives us a rare chance to chat with our heroes.

A few weeks ago Jeremy Jones was in the store (he actually slept in his RV in our customer care parking lot after the Seattle screening of "Higher"). Last week it was Sage, who signed autographs in the outerwear department for over an hour before the premier of "Almost Ablaze" at the Neptune Theater. Unfortunately I wasn't prepared for his visit and forgot my one-of-a-kind clear topsheet Atomic Rituals for him to sign.

Yesterday Eric Hjorliefson stopped by enroute to the Level One screening. I'd been chatting with Matt Sterbenz about the new line of ROXA boots and as usual had no clue that Hoji would be in the store, but there he was, bigger than life. Actually, smaller. Eric skis like a giant, but like many of the best skiers is of average height and really slim. The conversation went something like this:

ME: Hey, you're my idol.

HOJI: (no response)

ME: So what have you been up to this summer? Still doing some developmental work for Dynafit?

HOJI: Yeah, yeah. I just got back from Europe, most of the time I was working on the new Dynafit freeride boot.

ME: You were in Munich?

HOJI: Yeah, some of the time in Munich. Actually I went to Montebelluna, too, that's where the boot development is going on.

ME: Cool. What's up with the new boot?

HOJI: Ahhh, it's really a stiff, high performance boot kind of like . . . what's that Garmont boot they used to make, really stiff, almost like a plug boot?

ME: Kind of metallic brown? The Shaman?

HOJI: Right, that's it. Like the Shaman, really a performance boot, not really a touring boot.

ME: How's it going?

HOJI: Pretty well, I think it skis really well. It's hard to tell, I give a lot of feedback to the Dynafit guys, and I don't know how they take it. They've had almost a complete turnover in the boot department, and I'm not so well connected anymore.

ME: Do you ever see Federico Sbrissa since he moved to Salomon?

HOJI: It's funny, I hadn't seen him in a long time, but I just saw him at Arc'teryx. He was the one who brought me into the Dynafit boot department, really a cool guy, I learned a lot from him.

ME: Yeah, he's a cool guy. The last time he was in Seattle a couple summers ago, he came down from Vancouver for a day with Jerome, the Salomon alpine boot guy, and they wanted Starbucks and cheeseburgers. That was kind of funny, because we don't think Starbucks is that great, so for an Italian guy to say he loves it seems weird. How about the new Dynafit freeride skis? Do you have anything to do with that, or is that pretty much just Cody?

HOJI: Well, I've been giving them some input on the skis, but it's really Cody.

ME: Got any big plans for the winter?

HOJI: Not yet, my winter's still pretty open. I don't really have any firm plans for filming or anything. I haven't really done anything with MSP for a couple seasons now, and I don't really know what the Sherpa guys are up to. I guess I should give those guys a call.

ME: So you're mostly just hanging in Whistler?

HOJI: Yeah, I live there. I've never skied much in Washington, except for Baker, but I'd like to try some of the other areas around here. I know Bob (Boice, 4FRNT engineer) is from here and knows his way around pretty well.

ME: (watching people heading upstairs with ski boots) Hey, excuse me, I've got to go fit some boots - great to meet you!

HOJI: Yeah, good to meet you, too. (and yes, I got my autographed poster - too bad I didn't have my TLT6P's around for him to sign!)

October 8, 2014

The King is in the Building (or will be)

OK, I admit I wrote this piece without ever seeing or laying a hand on a Marker Kingpin binding. In my defense, I didn't get invited to the unveiling event in Chile, and none of my friends in the Marker loop had one yet, either. If you haven't heard about it, the Kingpin is a just-released tech binding that just may be burly and elastic enough to use as both your everyday lift-served binding and your touring binding - in other words, a product the masses have been clamouring for for years.

The Marker Kingpin uses a set of three springs at the tech toe rather than the traditional two, and foregoes the tech heel pins. Instead, Marker uses what appears to be a revised version of the piston heel from the Tour F10/12, but which wraps further around the heel and employs rollers at the corners. The promise of real alpine-like elasticity has charging ski tourists salivating, but the downer was that sales were to be on a very limited basis starting in December of 2014, and limited to German-speaking parts of Europe.

But wait. My sources at Marker have now confirmed that a "few" sets of Kingpins will be available to North American customers THIS year via certain Marker dealers - I am assuming they're distributing the limited number of bindings to their biggest accounts and a few "core" shops that specialize in ski touring. The problem is both a lack of bindings and a shortage of the unique jig for the Kingpin, which needs to be mounted very precisely. And yes, evo Seattle is on the list. The way to get a pair is to contact one of these shops and get your name on their list of interested buyers. Call now if that sounds like you.

Previous Incoming Pages:

September, 2014

August, 2014

July, 2014

June, 2014

May, 2014

April, 2014

March, 2014

February, 2014

January, 2014

December, 2013

November, 2013

October, 2013

September, 2013

August, 2013

July, 2013

June, 2013

May, 2013

April, 2013

March, 2013

February, 2013

January, 2013

December, 2012

November, 2012

October, 2012

September, 2012

August, 2012

July, 2012

June, 2012

May, 2012

April, 2012

March, 2012

February, 2012

January, 2012

December, 2011

November, 2011

October, 2011

September, 2011

August, 2011

July, 2011

June, 2011

May, 2011

April, 2011

March, 2011

February, 2011

January, 2011

December, 2010

November, 2010

October, 2010

September, 2010

August, 2010

July, 2010

June, 2010

May, 2010

April, 2010

China: Wandering in the Middle Kingdom

March, 2010

February, 2010

January, 2010

December, 2009

November, 2009

October, 2009

September, 2009

August, 2009

July, 2009

June, 2009

May, 2009

April, 2009

March, 2009

February, 2009

January, 2009

December, 2008

November, 2008

October, 2008

September, 2008

August, 2008

June, 2008

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April, 2008

March, 2008

February, 2008

January, 2008

December, 2007

November, 2007

October, 2007

September, 2007

August, 2007

June, 2007

May, 2007

April, 2007

March, 2007

February, 2007

January, 2007

December, 2006

November, 2006

October, 2006

September, 2006

August, 2006

July, 2006

June, 2006

May, 2006

April, 2006

March, 2006

February, 2006

January, 2006

December, 2005

November, 2005

October, 2005

"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 link below with news or images that may be of interest . . .

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