Product Reviews From a First Year Skier

I received quite a few quizzical looks when I told my friends and family I was leaving my new business and beautifully successful life to learn to ski. Keyword being learn; I had been on skis twice in my entire life. Call it courageous, call it dumb, call it whatever you want, I’ve heard it all. I wanted to ski, and it there wasn’t much that would stop me. So last spring, I packed what I could into my car, with enough room for my dog and headed west.
Where do you start when getting on the mountain is the top priority? That’s right, a ski shop. Hurling any familiarity and ego completely out the window, I was fortunate to land a gig at Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare. I was not settling for anything less than the best, I had goals. Trees by January, boxes by February. Baby steps.
Do you remember the time your parents first started making you carry your gear? Awkwardly lugging your skis, dropping poles, tripping over your boots. That was me at 27. Total Jerry.
With the help of my generous and incredibly patient co workers, not only do I now own some of the best gear the industry offers, I’ve also picked up some tidbits on everything I’m using as a first time consumer. Let me preface by saying these reviews are written with little to no comparison, and with the knowledge I’ve attempted to soak up in the past few months, Mix in some embarrassing trial and error and you’ve got a beginner’s guide to skiing. 
 No, it’s not about how you look, it’s about how you ski. That’s half true, because girls still want to look good, regardless of how badass they are. I love small, boutique type brands, because we also want to stand out. I had high hopes, and I love the Flylow brand and what they stand for, but this season’s line fell short of my expectations. The pants are soft and waterproof, but the jacket is pretty stiff in colder temperatures. The pant tab frayed pretty quickly, enough that I will be utilizing the warranty which is incredibly easy and generous.  Though not my favorite outerwear, based on my admiration for the brand and great customer service, I will give them another shot next season.
 I write this having only used these goggles once, and it was all it took to convince my eyes that I want nothing else on my face. I don’t have enough good things to say, the prizm lens is untouchable in the goggle market because the definition and clarity is unbelievable. The spectrum of conditions is incredible and the push piles on a cloudy day are easily seen through these goggles. Short and straight forward. Buy them.
 The crew at Ski and Bike Kare love feet…which makes them amazing boot fitters. This is another area I have nothing to compare against, but the boots chosen for me have been extremely comfortable. Danceable, even. I have a narrow foot and a history of foot and ankle injuries. These guys not only identified the problem, but helped fix it. The custom footbeds and heat molding make this boot what it is for me. We have such talented boot fitters at SBK, and I won’t settle for anything less from here on out.
 This was donated to me early season, and I didn’t think much of choosing a brain bucket. The best feature of this helmet is the fact I could limit my gaper gap by rotating it forward, instead of just tightening or loosening the helmet. I’ll always be grateful to a certain co-worker who fixed this issue for me early season, good looking out. You know, I like my face. It’s a helmet, just wear one.
 I didn’t plan of buying skis this season, but the tree and box goal was coming up pretty fast and I was outperforming my rentals quickly. I wanted something I could grow into; a playful and forgiving ski. The Cham 87 has been great to me, with solid edge contact and decent float in powder. It has a moderate tip rocker, so it’s not fantastic in deep snow, but has been extremely fun this winter.
 “You really manned up on the bindings”
This was the compliment of my season. I’ll be honest, they were picked for me by a coworker who is, to put it mildly, a giant gear head. It has taken me all season to understand why these are such great bindings, so here goes. There are three contact points in the heel, giving a more solid connection with the ski and the pivot motion reduces friction because it rotates naturally with the leg. Your boot has a lot of surface area to work with, transmitting more power to the ski. I’ll be honest, I don’t have anything to compare this binding to, but I’m happy I chose such a reliable and trustworthy binding. The Pivot is not an entry level binding but I’ve progressed from struggling 75% of the time to only having trouble three beers deep…again, baby steps.
It has definitely been a winter full of first time experiences: Intimidating, hilarious, terrifying, and damn fun. If I’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s to laugh at myself. Really hard. Life’s isn’t so serious and the right people come into your life at the right time.

By the way, I  have achieved the goals I set at the beginning of the season. 

Check it out…any interested sponsors can contact me directly.
Bike season is fast upon us- lean into discomfort, that’s where the fun happens.
Author: Annie McKinney


3 thoughts on “Product Reviews From a First Year Skier

  1. Love the blog. Had me smiling and feeling into it. Being a skier/boarder but not a gearhead, I am coming to you for all questions. I am riding 10 year old skis and my daughter’s helmet, I won’t even tell where the boots are from. 🙁 Hope you are out enjoying the powder.

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