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The gear always comes before the snow

Ryan Slabaugh

Boots

According to those who know, mainly the staff over at Kenny’s Double Diamond Ski Shop, this is the year of the boot. Tecnica tops this year’s new equipment with their Hot Form liner, a custom boot insert that can be formed and reformed in the comfortable surroundings of your home.

With the $550-$750 price comes the Tecnica Icon Alu boot with the insert and the 12-volt heating attachment.



By hooking up the attachment to the liner, electrodes heat and make the sides flexible. Slip in your foot, shape it and six hours later, you have a custom fit.

“It’s the closest thing you can get to a custom liner,” Kenny’s manager Matt Carroll said. “It works. It’s pretty slick.”



The liner can also be reformed a number of times, albeit the number is still a mystery. A handy addition to the Icon is the easy-access hinged front that opens like a cabinet, allowing the foot to slip in and out with little resistance.

For the first time in 17 years, Lange is introducing a new last – or shape to the bottom of the boot – with this year’s Lange WC120. For those who have had trouble getting in and out of Lange boots in the past, they tried to resolve this problem by adding extra room in the toe and a dual-density plastic that provides more comfort.

For those attracted to comfort and comfort only, the Rossignol soft-boot technology that swept the market last season has competition. Nordica introduced the Smart Tech 12, a soft boot, and the Dolomite DC100 joined the market as well. The soft boot is designed for intermediate skiers, but for those needing maximum support, the soft boot isn’t the best idea.



Skis

The constantly changing ski market has finally slowed this season, unless you’re an expert woman. If you are, this is your year. Dynastar, along with other companies, have begun making a wide ski starting at 158 centimeters, the first time they’ve geared high-end equipment for women. The Dynastar Nobis Inspired will run a little more than $600. Joining it on the market is K2 and Rossignol.

For those who want the skinny, a few innovations have been added this year. The Atomic SSX11 and the Volkl T50 5-Star both feature the golf-ball top that provides less drag through the bumps. Both of those are under $1,000, but barely.

Bindings

The binding market has remained in stasis after Marker introduced the Piston last season. While the colors have changed, the function has not. The Piston remains the high-end product with it’s vibration-reducing piston that keeps your ski flat and tips pointed down the hill. The new version runs about $400.

Miscellaneous

The helmet explosion last year should continue this season, especially with local ski resorts requiring headgear for ski schools. Molded one-piece helmets add protection, minimize pressure and offer a more sturdy and seamless product than the traditional multi-piece helmets of the past.

Also sweeping the warmth market is a product called Outlast, found in everything from boot insoles to gloves to helmets as well. The product takes the heat from your body and gives it right back, holding it in the fabric.

So even if you’re wondering about spending the cash on new equipment this year, there’s no reason to have cold feet.

Happy shopping.


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