Las Vegas in Winter

I am a snow farmer and it’s harvest time! Things are hectic here at the shop every day at this point. I did two Intuition liner installs, made a few insoles, did about 2 hours of paid boot labor and did the foam injection on a Strolz boot in addition to my general sales duties today. It took me about an hour just to clean up the debris I left at the end of the day. Tunes, boot work, rentals, everything is just going off! With the great snowfall that just keeps coming, business has been booming. Everyone has been putting in extra hours and getting it done, but we all need a bit of a break at some point. Therefore I let Brian take off for Jackson hole for a few days (he skied with Charlotte Moats all day yeasterday- very cool!). John has taken a week and is at Big White. Me? Just getting in my Wednesdays up the hill which I must admit have been epic. Unfortunately, this last Wednesday ended a bit early as my ski buddy (and friend of the shop) Neil broke his collar bone into four pieces. Becky, myself, Neil and Will Lachenauer (Dalbello/Elan rep) met up at Squaw to take in some extraordinary powder. We were haveing a great time romping aroung in the powder but Neils ski day ended at about 2 o’clock. Bummer. Next week I won’t get to ski as I will be in Las Vegas. Yes Las Vegas. That’s where the ski industry holds their annual trade show. Right in the heart of the season we spend four days in Vegas checking out next years gear. Sort of surreal but very cool and exciting. I am pumped up as usual to see the new stuff. Will brought a few new Elans to Squaw this week, and I have seen some of the new Fischers, but this is the kid in the candy store scenario for me. I’ll let you know what looks great in about a week!

Massive Snow!

Todd came to work and proclaimed that the worst storm to hit the area in decades was going to occur. Of coarse we didn’t pay it much mind. Todd has a tendency to find web sites that are as optimistic as he is. Lo and behold he was right! As last weekend approached the radio and TV news was all about the big storm. And it was a doozie. Super high winds and tons of snow. Kirkwood got 11 feet over a few days. The north shore got a bit less but still a great dump. Most renters cancelled as they were afraid to travel (probably wise). Most hard core skiers practiced their raspy “flu like” voices in preparation of calling in sick on Monday when it cleared. Christian and Heather headed up Friday morning and holed up in their condo while the resort was on storm/wind hold. Then it ended and Christian and Heather headed up onto Kirkwoods newly deep powder runs. The roads were all closed so they shared the mountain with the 300 or so other people lucky (or smart) enough to be snowed in with them for the day. It was so incredible that they took videos because they didn’t think we would believe how great it was. We watched the clips on Monday. Quite the videos!
Tuesday was a work day in Sacramento for the clothing preview of next years styles. As I sat during the Obermeyer presentation I found myself lacking the ability to pay attention. I kept staring out the window at the downpour that was adding another two feet of fresh pow. Wednesday I would ski! At 4:30 Wednesday morning we headed out. Four of us with powder on our minds. Again Kirkwood got the best dump so it was up hiway 88 to the Wood. Glory, Glory, Glory! Fresh powder all day and great company to share it with. Rocked the Fischer Porohete’s all day. Great ski! Overall, an epic day to be remembered. Wish you all could have been there…

Heading into the meat of the season…

Wow. How busy can it be? Not much more busy than the last 10 days. I am sooo glad to get a day to relax and catch up on basic needs like laundry and shopping for food. It has been nonstop rocking! Not that it isn’t expected to happen like thisl You sell about 275 pairs of boots before it snows and then the customers ski them all at the same time and bring them in for adjustments and bootfitting. Those skiers going up all bring their skis in for tunes (I need ’em tomorrow!). Standard and seasonal rentals are still keeping us busy all day long. Goggles, long underwear, heat packs…what else do I they need to refill or replace? It’s just crazy. This year was a pretty ideal situation for the Christmas ski vacation. A good dump a week or so before Christmas followed by good weather. That senerio leads to off the hook business. Thanks to the staff fer sure! Lot’s of overtime but not one complaint about it. They have done whatever is necessary to get the job done. Everything has been ready on time. I have a bunch of talented hardworking ezperts surrounding me and the outcome shows. Mitsi has been a great addition this year and Brian has become a star. John, Todd and Martin are exactly what I have come to expect- consistant and fabulous. Erle, Becky, Rebecca and the rest of the “fill ins” have been there when needed. I would be nowhere without them all. I hope I tell them that enough. Now comes the trade shows and the meat of the season. Many vacations make the schedule challenging, but we will get it done! See you at the shop!

From Texas with Love

Wow, super busy and intense at the shop right now. Most of us will work 6-7 days this week. Every day is big numbers and we need it to pay the Jan 10th bills, so it is welome chaos. My best friend from High School and Chico State lives in Texas. Our kids know each other well and his son Casey is visiting for his second ever trip to the snow. That’s him in the photo. My two daughters are going up with him (and everyone else in the Bay Area) this weekend. Conditiojns are great, and they should have a great time- SNOWBOARDING! Yes, as Casey is a rookie, it will be more fun to go snowboarding as they will all suck at it together. Thanks to Chris at NorSki for the snowboard gear and here is wishing you all a great holiday ski adventure! See ya next year!

My winner

I gotta say that my demo day winner was the Stockli Stormrider XXL. One thing i always look for in a ski is that it is powerful. unfortunatly that means it is ussually heavy. this time i acttually found a very powerful ski that also skis fairly light. How you may ask. ISO core and Stockli. The ISO core is Stocklis answer to synthetic light weight skis. the ski hugs the ground like a race car with a big spoiler but is light in and out of the turn. At first i was a little apprehensive to take it, full speed throught the changing snow conditions of the day from soft and forgiveing to icy and fast, But the more i skied it, the more it showed me that it stays constitant through all of the conditions. It cuts through ice and hard pack smoothly and effortlessly, its unfaised by loose, skied out snow, but is still lively and energetic in and out of the turn. Stockli Stormrider XXL, two thumbs up from me!

It takes a company

We went to Alpine Meadows Monday and Tuesday for the first industry demo of the year. This demo is set up to ski the models that are currently out there being sold. It lets us answer any lingering questions we have about the skis and/or let any new employees get a chance to try them out. Unlike the February event, which is serious business for us, we always have a nice relaxed time at this event as there is no pressure on us or the company reps.

We stayed both nights at Neil’s house on the North Shore as usual. Get up, make breakfast and off we go. Nine lift tickets on the business visa, drop off the keg at the Fischer tent, poach a great parking spot in the demo section, store the demo Stockli skis, boot up, score demo goggles, poles, a helmet, (whatever you want to try) from a vendor and ski all day. What a life.

All of our brands are skiing real well. Unfortunately, Head was a no show for this event. They are transitioning to a new sales rep and have basically botched the process from my point of view, including this demo situation. Head skis are very important to us and it was a real drag not having them there to compare. We have tested them enough to know the line intimately but the subtle nuances are discovered with even more time on them.

Fischer seemed to be the big winner this year. We always like the Fischer skis, but right now they are really peaking. Many potential new dealers were showing serious interest. Also, when I asked vendors what hardware they liked (outside of their own brand) the Fischer name was always part of the mix.

So both Head and Fischer are now skiing as well as any other brand out there. Both want to jump to the top and be “the next big thing”. Can either one of them do it? Every year we ski the “current big thing” and it is always at least a very competent ski. Often it is a fantastic ski, but not always. Always it is supplied by a company that has a great marketing department, fantastic advertising direction, killer graphics, solid and timely distribution, and a certain “buzz” about the company in general. Can either Head or Fischer be the next big thing? Time will tell. If they can do it I will be happy to go along for the ride. The skis are ready, however skis are not enough. It takes a company.

Stockli Claus

Ho Ho Ho! Last night I left work right at the closing bell and headed for Fresno. I was home in bed by 1:00am with 9 pairs of Stockli Demo skis. Our Stockli rep Brad Johnson (great guy, I really like Brad) is going to be out of town for a few weeks and cannot make our industry Demo Days on Tuesday and Wednesday. Being the benevolent dealer that I am, I agreed to make the drive down and haul the Demo Fleet up to Alpine Meadows for the event. With only a few NorCal dealers, this should work out fine. The great side effect is that we will have the skis through early January. If you want to get a ride on a Stockli, we will have everything available to try for about a month! A car full of great ski buddies, a box of Stocklis on top of the rig, and two days to ski everything available from any manufacturer… what a great job I have!

The Nastc experience

I just got back from taking a class from the North American Ski Training Center in Truckee. “Nastc” has been a great resource for our customers and the staff has done a few events as well. If you are interested in very high level instruction in a variety of vacation settings, Nastc is just the ticket for you. This particular class was a three day event called Certified Ski Movement Coach and my hope was to pick up some tips that would cross over into bootfitting. I did get a few boot oriented tidbits. Mainly we learned a lot about the mechanics of movement involved in skiing, and how to determine what biomechanic/physical issues an individual has and how to address them.

The class was comprised of about 9 qualified instructors and (little ‘ol) me. What a great time. The instructor for the ski movement section was Darcy Norman. Darcy is a physical therapy and athletic enhancement expert that deals with many world class athletes. His latest “big deal” has been working with the Telecom pro cycling team from Europe. Loads of pro athletes have photos on his walls that you would recognise. Darcy did the class room section, and then Nastc director Chris Fellows ran the on-snow sessions and helped relate the topic to the instructors in a way that they can use the information to further their craft.

What a joy to ski with these folks! I was of coarse the weakest technical skier of the group but that was no problem. With an instructor filled group, everyone was helpful in helping me accomplish learning some of the very difficult (for me) drills they devised to use the classroom sessions on the hill. And what great instruction it was! With Chris being a PSIA National Demo Team member and a PSIA-W board member, Robin Barnes on the PSIA-W tech team and a Ski magazine tester, Malcolm Ridenour a level 3 Examiner, and Kemp Dowdy a PSIA-W tech team member and examiner, we are talking about some of the best instructors available anywhere! The rest of the group was rounded out with other quality instructors. Most importantly was that they were simply a great group of people and great fun to ski and hang out with. These people are truly dedicated to teaching and skiing!

As Darcy is very cutting edge in his field, there were no precedents for the application of his knowledge. On the hill, Chris led us in a series of drills that with a lot of input from the group, should arm them with new tools to make our skiing experience just that much better! I know I improved my turns and have enough knowledge swimming in my head right now to keep my busy for the rest of the season. I’ve got some serious work to do.

For more information on Nastc, you can check them out at Nastc gets a hearty recommendation from California Ski Company!

Stockli’s, Nisei’s, and Flexons…

It’s been busy at the shop.
Friday we had a few staff training sessions. Brad, the Stockli rep, was awesome. He is still very fired up on the skis after all this time. They ski so great and now the word is spreading. We are certainly VERY impressed with the current line and Brad just added to the stoke. Lot’s of info about the manufacturing process, material specifics and the like. Really good stuff! Of course there was also lot’s of comparing notes with Brad and discussion about how we all feel about how the various models ski.
Nisei ski club was here Saturday night. As usual it is always great to have them come for their annual visit. John is a member and we have a lot of regulars who are in the club. This makes it very relaxed and informal. They brought the usual great food, and a short presentation was followed by quite a bit of shopping. A number of boot fits and several skis as well. Thanks Nisei!
Sunday I finalized a bid to pick up a bit of merchandise from a store that shut down a few years ago. Included are about 20 retro 80’s sweaters (who knows what we will do with these), some tools, and various other miscellaneous items. Most intriguing however is the arrival of a few dozen pairs of Raichle Flexons. All are new, and there are various models. Most key sizes have low numbers. I am psyched to play with them! We are doing great with the Dalbello Krypton boots and the Flexon is the boot that laid the foundation for the Krypton. It’s an interesting story and our head tech Martin Sulser plays a small role in it. But that’s for another time.
Off to San Diego Weds night and so I will miss “Black Friday” at the shop. Happy Turkey day to all and hopefully we will have resorts open this next weekend.
Oh yeah, Todd got braces!

Snow is coming!

Last week the weather was quite warm and balmy. It didn’t seem much like winter was here yet at all. Todd and I had an early morning archery round at Redwood Park and at 7:00 in the morning it was shirt sleeve weather. Now we are back to the way it should be. Snow is forcast for this weekend with more on the way next week. We are back on track! Many resorts have jumped on the “open by November 17th” bandwagon and we will be making turns VERY soon. Whoopee!