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One way to get a gauge on the type or level of ski equipment and clothing you need for a winter holiday, is to look at what type of kit a full time Ski Instructor uses. After all, an instructor that spends almost every waking moment teaching people of all abilities how to ski, is going to have more than your fair share of experience on the cold alpine slopes. To answer this question – we spoke to Giles Lewis a Ski Instructor with the development centre, who operate in val d’isere Tignes and the Three Valleys, France. It’s worth baring in mind that Giles’ kit list is a personal choice – and not necessarily something a first-time-skier HAS to imitate.
“As a snowsports instructor, I spend almost every day of winter on the slopes. I am outside no matter the weather. I spend so much time using my equipment that I’m very picky about a few items. This list is particular to me, what are your essential pieces of kit?
Skis and Boots
I have some favourite skis, but I treasure my boots the most. A well fitted pair of ski boots is essential and I wouldn’t ski in anything but my own, high performance ski boots. You cannot get the fit and adjustment that you need by shopping online, you need an experienced boot fitter to help you to narrow down what boots perfectly fit your ability and needs, before making any adjustments or customisation to finish off. Book an Expert Boot fitting appointment today, at The Boot Lab – Snowtrax
Most mountain clothing is pretty good in your standard cold and dry conditions. However when the wind is high, or it’s very humid (raining) or it’s too warm, you really need a highly breathable fabric that protects from the cold but allows you to stay cool in the spring. Also for me, a jacket with a snow-skirt is a must, otherwise I won’t wear it. Check out the Arcteryx Sabre Jacket
It is all about the handle and the strap. Rental poles with slippery plastic handles just don’t cut it. I like a rubber handle with finger mouldings. I use alloy poles, which don’t flex much (unlike carbon fibre poles) and the basket needs to match the day’s snow conditions. Small basket fitted when on the piste, large basket for the deep snow. Check out the Scott Team Issue pole
I train a lot with a transceiver. Sometimes you can borrow one from the ski school, but I much prefer to have my own and know it’s been looked after. All modern transceivers work in a similar way, but each model will have its own quirks and features. It is much better to have your own transceiver and know how to use it. The same applies to inflatable avalanche packs, shovels and probes.” Check out the BCA Tracker DTS
This Blog was written by Giles Lewis for Snowtrax. Giles is an ambassador for Dynastar skis and Lange boots. He is a Ski Instructor with the development centre, who operate in val d’isere Tignes and the Three Valleys, France. He is a trainer and examiner of Instructors for BASI and a member of the British Demo team.
tdcski.com #tdcski #basi #valdisere #dynastar #lange
The Blizzard Black Pearl is a super-versatile women’s all-mountain ski for strong intermediate and advanced skiers that’ll serve up performance and fun all over the mountain. This year, Blizzard have introduced a women’s-specific version of their famous Flipcore technology, and not only does it make the ski perform flawlessly in any terrain, it has reduced the weight of Blizzard’s women’s skis by around 20%. It’s made up of a combination of a superlight wood core with lightweight carbon reinforcements, which is then flipped over to provide a natural-feeling flex, featherlight weight and enhanced stability that deals expertly with all snow conditions. Full sidewall construction keeps the torsional rigidity and edge grip strong, even when it’s bumpy out.
While it sits more at the piste-end of the all-mountain spectrum, the Black Pearl has a versatile 88mm waist, generous turn radius and a gentle tip and tail rocker that nod to, but don’t quite equate to a full freeride ski. But that doesn’t mean it can’t pull it out the bag when required. Ideal for someone who’s used to using piste skis but wants to make the transition to a freeride ski, or for someone who spends more time skiing hardpack, the Black Pearl provides the best of both worlds. It’s strong, grippy and reliable on hard snow, but agile, floaty and nimble through softer now when you do want to take it elsewhere.
The Line Blend is a fat freestyle ski that pretty much eliminates the need for separate powder and park skis; the Blend does it all. Designed for skiing switch as much as it is for skiing forwards, it’ll see you through slushy park days, cloudy powder days, days where the weather doesn’t really know what it’s doing and many more kinds of days in between. If you want a freestyle ski that does everything, look no further.
There are a few things that make the Blend particularly suited to freestyle; it has what Line call a Symmetric FiveCut, essentially a blend of different sidecuts merged into one, as well as a symmetrical flex pattern, so it skis the same switch as is does regular. It also has a 30% thicker base and edges for added durability underfoot (which is great when you ride a lot of rails), combined with lightly rockered, super-thin and super-flexible tips and tails. They’re designed to make learning to butter way more fun, and skiing powder nice and floaty.
So if you like skiing powder, jumping off side hits, park days and any other situation where you can get creative on your skis, the Line Blend is for you. It’s a one-ski-quiver that’ll see you through a whole winter in the Alps, no problem.
K2 Marksman 2017 Skis
This year, K2 have replaced one of my personal favourites, the Shreditor, with the Marksman; an all-mountain freestyle ski that’s revolutionary in both design and designer. Brought into existence by freeski legend, Pep Fujas, the Marksman’s standout feature is its asymmetrical tip and tail. This means you have a dedicated left and right ski, with the inside edge being longer for better grip in all types of snow, while the outside edge features increased taper for less chance of catching it in the powder – especially when you’re jumping off rocks and spinning off cat-tracks; exactly what Pep Fujas is great at.
I have to admit, this asymmetrical shape takes a bit of getting used to. But once you’ve got it dialled, you have an absolute banger of a ski that operates smoothly and reliably everywhere on the mountain. A fir and aspen core wrapped in a layer of K2’s patented braided fibreglass reinforcements and a versatile 106mm waist make the Marksman lightweight, flexible and springy for maximum playfulness. It’s also got the added bonus of stability and the ultimate edge control in soft snow.
Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, but if you love jumping off stuff, skiing park and making the entirety of the inbounds ski area your playground, the K2 Marksman is the ski for you. Perfect for cloudy days in the trees, sunny powder days and everything in between, it’s the ideal choice for getting air wherever you go.
The Volkl 90Eight ski is a lightweight, versatile freeride ski that’ll take you anywhere from lift-accessed tree lines and blustery ridgeline bootpacks through to chopped up end-of-day hardpack and early morning groomers.
At 90mm underfoot, the 90Eight comfortably floats through powder, slips between trees and bashes through the rough stuff, while the smooth tip and tail rocker will keep you above the surface in the really deep stuff. And what’s going on on the inside? A multi-layer woodcore with carbon reinforcements provides the optimal balance of flex, poppiness and smooth handling. And Volkl’s 3D Ridge Construction – a noticeably visible ‘ridge’ along the top of the ski – allows for plenty of strength and stability, but cuts out any extra materials and keeps the ski super light. The result is a playful, easy-to-handle ski that doesn’t lose face, no matter how insane the conditions are.
And in case you were wondering about piste performance, the 90Eight doesn’t disappoint there either. Full ABS sidewalls make for high torsional strength, which provide solid grip, dampness and stability on hardpack, while the smooth taper of the tip and tail rocker means they won’t be flapping around like branches in the wind when you want to ramp up the speed.
Overall, if you’re looking for a versatile, lightweight freeride ski that isn’t firmly lodged in the ‘aggressive charging’ category, the 90Eight is a slightly more chilled out option that means you won’t have to force your short turns.
The Salomon Astra (not to be confused with the Vauxhall Astra) is a women’s all-mountain ski for confident beginners and cruisy intermediate to advanced skiers. The Astra’s aim is to take you wherever you want to go in resort with comfort and control. Plus, it won’t break the bank, making it ideal for your yearly ski holiday.
So what exactly makes the Astra such a pleasure to ski? For starters, it has a nice light wood core, with basalt fibre reinforcements that run the length of the ski and polyurethane foam inserts underfoot. These reinforcements absorb the shock from bumps and crud, which makes for a smooth and stable ride, and increased grip on hard snow. The Astra also features a 3D construction with designated ‘grip’ areas so you won’t end up losing an edge when you least expect it, plus it keeps the ski nice and light.
Nimbleness and easy steering come from Salomon’s Carve Rocker, which is barely noticeable to the naked eye but provides extra ‘pivotability’ and edge grip when carving. The semi-sidewall construction consists of full ABS sidewalls underfoot for better shock absorption and grip, while cap construction in the nose and tail saves weight and makes the ski easier to steer.
Overall, the Salomon Astra is grippy, stable and smooth for a confidence inducing ski experience – whether you’re playing in the trees, seeking some lift-accessed powder or cruising the pistes, it’s reliable, comfortable and above all, fun.
The Salomon X-Max X12 is an advanced carving ski, new for 2017, and is the most advanced, aggressive model in the X-Max range. If you live for going faster than everyone else on the pistes and humbling your friends and family with your uncanny pace, you will love it.
As an aggressive, charging but also relatively lightweight ski, the X-Max X12 is practically overflowing with features and technologies to cram it into that category. A full wood core with both carbon fibre and titanium reinforcements provides snappy, rigid power and stiffness without being too heavy, while ‘Oversized’ full ABS sidewall construction gives you the ultimate grip on hardpack, even when you’re pushing the limits, speed-wise.
Salomon’s Carve Rocker, a barely-there early early rise in the tip, reduces the length of the ski that comes in contact with the snow, but still provides grip when you’re hanging on your edges. This means you can make precision, split second edge transfers and navigate the groomers at high speeds with ease. Koroyd reinforcements in the tip mean it won’t flop around and chatter at high speeds either – that stiffness goes all the way through.
There are a lot more features that make the Salomon X-Max 12 so good, but we’ll leave off by reasserting what a fun, stable and nimble carving ski it is – all those technologies really pay off. And considering it comes with bindings, it’s pretty good value, too.
The Black Crows Orb is back in our lives with a bang – although the word ‘pop’ would probably be more appropriate. This already excellent all-round freeride ski has had a few well-thought out changes made to make it even more chargey, poppy and springy for intermediate to expert skiers.
Designed for equal amounts of jazz on piste and in powder, the Orb now has new titanal reinforcements along its entire length, which increase the torsional stiffness, pop and power. And since that’s generally what Black Crows skis are renowned for, we think the little extra oomph goes a long way.
The Orb has kept its camber underfoot, early rise tips and generous turn radius, which allow you to blast through crud, slice through hardpack and charge through powder with complete ease. Trees? No problem. Just cruising? No problem. Boot packs? All good. The 90mm waist is surprisingly floaty in fresh snow – that early rise tip will keep your noses above the surface however hard you’re charging – and is just skinny enough to carve like a beast on the groomers.
If you’re a confident resort skier who likes to dabble in everything the resort has to offer, the Orb is the ski for you. Whether it’s side-country powder, secret tree runs or piste charging you’re after, it’ll ensure you have fun and won’t let you down.
Named and developed for freeski legend, Candide Thovex, the Faction Candide range is designed to be super-versatile for all-mountain fun, whatever the snow conditions. The Candide CT 3.0 is the most versatile at 108mm underfoot; it’s the most popular ski of the bunch, with plenty of awards under its belt to prove it.
The latest incarnation of the 3.0 definitely doesn’t disappoint; it’s feather light, thanks to a balsa wood and flax core, taking it into further realms of ski touring and backcountry freestyle, while new titanal reinforcements in the mounting points improve the smoothness, dampness and power transfer on piste. These materials alone culminate in a ski that’s stiff and strong yet springy and buttery – a great combo if you like skiing fast and blasting though whatever the mountain has to offer. Elsewhere, traditional camber underfoot and a twin tip and tail rocker see to optimal float in powder, grip on piste and performance in the park.
There’s no doubt about it – if you’re an experienced skier and you’re looking for one ski that does everything, you won’t get much closer than the Candide CT 3.0. Whether you want to ride park, huck cliffs or just charge around the whole mountain, here’s a ski that’ll happily oblige – however hard you want to push it. Be sure to check it out if you’re doing a season in Europe this year.
OK, “surviving” might be a bit strong, but keeping warm on the slopes in the middle of winter can be a challenge, especially if it’s particularly cold. As well as the main clothing like jackets and trousers, there are other things that can make a big difference for people who struggle to stay warm:
Extremities get cold first. It is what the body does to protect itself from cold. So, if your hands or feet get cold, it might not be down to the gloves or boots, but because you haven’t got enough layers on. Wear good thermals, and if your hands and feet are still cold, wear another layer.
Helmet and Hat
Get your feet out
Particularly for skiers: if your feet have been cold and numb for more than an hour, you need to warm them up. Get inside, take off the boots and get the feet warm again. This will allow you to ski again afterwards, rather than developing serious cold injuries.
Dry your boots
Damp or wet boots are bad news. You need to dry your boots overnight, so if the hotel or apartment doesn’t have specific boot heaters, you need to make your own arrangements. Portable boot dryers work really well and are easier than balancing boots on radiators.
Giles Lewis is an ambassador for Dynastar skis and Lange boots. He is a ski Instructor with the development centre, who operate in val d’isere Tignes and the Three Valleys, France. He is a trainer and examiner of Instructors for BASI and a member of the British Demo team.
www.tdcski.com #tdcski #basi #valdisere #dynastar #lange