Information about products for xc skiers
(Updated Oct 2012) For news about resorts go to or click Resort News. New items are signified by an asterisk next to the headline below.
The SIA RetailTRAK™ numbers for the 2012/2013 season were recently reported and they are based on total market projections based on data collected from the point of sale systems at more than 1,200 snow sports retailers. This season, snow sports retail sales reached $3.4B, up compared to sales last season.
For Nordic skiing, the early season statistics were worrisome despite the improved snow conditions and timely snowstorms starting in late December. There was pent up demand and popular wellness perspectives, which when combined with a more consistent snow cover brought good late season increases in participation and sales. First, the positive news has Nordic sales in specialty shops up from last year in dollars and in units sold. Nordic equipment specialty shop sales in the west were substantially up and New England specialty shops also saw an increase in sales. Nordic equipment specialty shop sales in the Midwest were not as strong compared to last year. It must be remembered that the report shows statistics compared to last year and that was a year with a terrible winter considering the lack of snow and warm temperatures.
Many of the Nordic ski areas reaped the benefits from snowstorms during the December holidays, MLK weekend, and President's week. These holiday periods can represent as much as 40% of the annual visitation statistics at a cross country ski area. Jackson Ski Touring Foundation's Thom Perkins commented that "while the December vacation may be significant for visitation, it is much more relevant as a kickoff to establish the mindset to go skiing during the winter." There have been some very exciting reports from cross country ski areas this winter about incredible increases in visitation and equipment sales. And a glimmer for the industry reported by Perkins was that the Nordic retail shop at Jackson had a record year and the ski area visitation boasted the best year in the last decade.
In reviewing Nordic equipment sales statistics August through January across the board (all retail outlets, not just specialty shops) between 2009 and 2013 in the same time frame (Aug-Jan) in general, the sales for this winter were 50% under sales during the great winter of 2010-11 and 5% below last year, which was a terrible winter. The retail report showed that from August through January there were 243,290 units of Nordic ski equipment sold (skis, boots, bindings, and poles) valued at $24,272,153. The final season statistics show a brighter winter for Nordic skiing.
Many retailer inventories were cleaned out between the mid season and late season because February included the longest winter holiday period (President's week and multiple school vacation weeks) and there were better snow conditions across the country. There were also consistent snowstorms in the early spring. While great snow always bolsters the Nordic ski industry, questions remain how the industry can parlay the opportunities such as the widespread wellness perspective or pent up demand from poor previous winters. Additionally, there are American medal expectations in the upcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, which can result in substantial dividends to the Nordic ski industry if it can get prepared to take advantage. The statisticians tell us that traditionally a good pre-season follows a good snow year, so we should expect optimistic consumers, who are more willing to spend on equipment in the coming fall and the first half of the 2013-14 ski season.
XCSkiResorts.com expresses appreciation to SIA Director of Research Kelly Davis for sharing information from SIA RetailTRAK, which is presented by Snowsports Industries America and Leisure Trends.
I've often wondered why there isn't more hoopla about cross country skiwear. I'm not talking about the suction suits worn by the cross country ski racers; I'm referring to the recreational garb, which is versatile, functional, and fashionable. Currently, I cross country ski wearing items from Craft, Sporthill, and Bjorn Dahlie, but what is important is that the products that I select to ski in fit a number of personal parameters.
The Craft AXC Touring Pants that I wear have zippers along the entire length of the legs and at the ankle there is an elastic area closed with a zipper and a snap. I feel that this pant ankle set up is the most significant aspect of the pants because it tightly fits around the boot and keeps snow out of the shoe top to avoid getting wet socks while skiing. And if you've ever lost a set of keys, the zippered side pockets are comforting to lock away your valuables. The comfortable lined material of the Craft pants is also enough to stay warm with or without a base layer underneath. The Bjorn pants that I use are lighter but have similar accoutrements.
The Sporthill Symmetry II Jacket has everything I want in a jacket except pit zips to provide an extra way to cool off and transport perspiration away. The jacket's mesh liner and material are comfortable when you have to zip up the collar on a very cold day. I've used the packable hood on the jacket quite a few times when it got suddenly cold out on the trail and it was a valuable asset. The high-hip fit keeps you warm and the zipper side pockets can be closed to avoid losing pocketed items. The jacket arms have extended fleece cuffs, which are a nice touch to keep snow out of your glove. The inside chest pocket has a zipper and a hole for an IPod and earbuds for the times that I want musical accompaniment on solo trail outings.
Socks, gloves, shirts, and base layers are an entirely another matter that will need to be covered in a separate article. Director of Research Kelly Davis at SIA (national trade association of snow sport product suppliers) says that there are three different demographic types, who purchase snow sports apparel as casual wear and her synopsis fits the cross country ski apparel market very well. The "urban woodsman" is a hip male style that touts outdoor authenticity. The "young urban male" is an athletic-influenced style, and women especially in the suburbs are buying snow sports styles for around town and even work.
Further, Davis cites that 80% of snow sports apparel spending comes out of women's wallets. They make decisions for the whole family, so it is important for manufacturers, product designers, and retailers to consider and focus on women's preferences. One of the challenges that confronts cross country skiing apparel availability is the fact that there is such a limited inventory of these products in retail outlets. There are too few sales in the stores, and retailers react by purchasing fewer items offering less selection in the following year. To break this cycle, we've got to go out and purchase more cross country skiing apparel!
When it is time to go skiing or snowboarding it only takes me a few minutes to get out the door. Of course, it takes some time to dress with base layer, selected socks, and top (ski shirt) and bottom (ski pants). I admit that it may be a bit obsessive to organize a "get away" bag of accessories; but the next step to get on the snow quickly entails reaching into my oversized bag that is in my living room to get the accessories needed.
For XC SKIING the bag includes the following:
3 pairs of xc ski gloves including light for spring-like warm days, regular winter days, and extra insulated for cold days;
Belt pack that has emergency (hand and toe warmers, matches, knife, repair tool, sun cream, scraper, compass, and some speed wax. Depending on how cold it is, I might add a neck gaiter to the pack and often a spare pair of light gloves to replace wet gloves;
There is also a water bottle in a net pouch on the belt pack and a very old wrapped granola bar in a zipped side pocket;
1 pair of sunglasses in a case;
3 headbands for warm, regular and colder days;
1 hat and 2 skull caps (new and old);
2 headlights (you need to have the extra one for your spouse or a friend to ski at night);
Additional hand and toe warmer packs and sun cream.
Obviously, skiers who use waxable skis have an assortment of waxing paraphernalia. I use only waxless skis and only occasionally hot wax my ski bases, so I keep my waxing items in a separate bag in the garage.
As a snowboarder, I keep some additional items for SNOWBOARDING in the accessories bag, which include the following:
2 pairs of gloves for regular and cold weather and a pair of extra glove liners;
3 pairs of goggles including an extra old pair with dark lenses and a pair with yellow lens for overcast days;
1 runaway strap (some ski areas still require it);
1 small accessory bag that includes an extra stomp pad, 5 different replacement binding straps, spare boot laces, 2 runaway straps, bag with various binding screws and washers; chunk of hard wax, tin of paste wax, and antifog lens cleaner in rub-on and spray versions.
The value of this preparedness bag is untold. Within the bag, the gloves are kept clipped together so it is easy to find a pair when needed. When getting ready for a ski trip near or far, the bag can be thrown in the car and that eliminates the need to worry about remembering any accessories. My daughter has followed my lead and created her own accessories bag. This winter when she was on college break, we were able to get out the door in less than 10 minutes from the time that we agreed to go snowboarding. And that includes checking the ski area website for conditions and the trail/lift report.
When going on nearby ski outings, I often will do a test ski on the short trails from my driveway to decide about the temperature and snow conditions. Afterward, I can easily dip into the bag to change any of the accessories that I need. Next is selecting the skis or snowboard, getting into the car, and away I go. Living so close to xc ski trails and alpine ski areas is indeed a blessing…but being organized makes it so easy to focus on what counts, which is getting outdoors and on to the snow.
Check out more info about the varity of gifts here on XCSkiResorts.com:
If you are interested in finding products online click High Peaks Cyclery.
Alpina Sports long known for development-oriented footwear and product features designed for better performance and comfortable conditions for the feet announced the addition of the new Action series line of Nordic ski boots and skis for the 12/13 season. This line of products features multi colored ski boots and skis, which has seen a very enthusiastic response compared to the traditional quiet colors of products available in Nordic skiing.
The Action series of Nordic ski equipment includes a skating boot (ASK) and ski (ACTION SKATE) with splashes of bright orange, green, and blue. The line also has a classic Nordic ski boot, a combi boot (A COMBI) that can be used for either classic or skate skiing, and a junior Nordic ski boot (ACL JR).
All of the Action series of Nordic ski boots feature Thinsulate insulation linings for warmth without the bulkiness, and an anatomic racing footbed, plastic heel counter, and elastic cuff for foot comfort. The Elite lacing system, waterproof zipper, and 4Dry membrane provide quality performance. The NNN sole fit the NNN binding's dual guide rail that adds stability and lateral control on a particularly broad binding plate.
The Action ski boots are a good fit with the Alpina Touring ski series, which are lightweight skis that range in width and are good for in-track or off-trail skiing. They've got light wood core skis with waxless posi-grip or multi-grip bases, so you can step in the binding and go.
Alpina's Solution Sizing Scale is used by many ski retailers providing a color code that matches corresponding recommended ski length, which eliminates the need to discuss a skier's weight. Just step on the scale, find your color, and pick a ski that corresponds to the color.
Alpina established as a footwear specialist since 1947 is a leader in cross-country skiing due to their innovations in racing, performance, touring and backcountry boot designs. Alpina Sports was created as the North American distributor of Alpina products in the early 70's Slovenian-based manufacturer is also one of Europe's leading women's fashion footwear manufacturers.
For more info about the company or request the location of the closest Alpina dealer, click Alpina Sports.
Sean McCabe of Sean McCabe Studio was an award-winning art teacher, climber, and avid cross country skier, who lived in the Methow Valley in Mazama, WA. He combined his career in art with his outdoor interests to establish himself as a unique artist portraying these active sports with his colorful and sometimes whimsical style.
McCabe designs can be seen on The North Face, Patagonia, and Black Diamond clothing labels. His illustrations have been featured in American Alpine Journal, Climbing Magazine, the Alpinest, and Cross Country Skier Magazine.
McCabe's high quality prints are available on canvas or paper in various sizes framed or unframed ranging from 6 x 4 to 36 x 24 at different price points.
Click to view galleries of and order from SeanMcCabeStudio.com
Atomic Nordic ski equipment features touring skis with traditional length and compact length and one of the factors that sets Atomic apart is the excellent selection of waxless patterns on Atomic touring skis. These patterns provide the grip needed for uphill skiing while allowing a great glide on level and downhill terrain, too.
The waxless patterns on Atomic cross country skis have been tested for 10 years with different design variations and technical combinations to provide excellent grip with faster, smoother, and quieter glide. The Posigrip pattern, which is a positive base pattern, which at the end of the manufacturing process is inserted into the actual cavity in the ski kick zone was found to be superior to the most popular patterns currently used on Nordic skis.
The Posigrip has gripping teeth that are far apart in the pattern with a smooth surface area in between the teeth. Additionally, the waxless pattern just barely sits above the glide zone (aka a positive pattern) so as not to deter the glide. Other positive waxless patterns have gripping teeth that are closer together and they sit higher above the glide zone, which makes them genuinely slow because of the amount of drag on the snow. Atomic has produced the first high performance waxless ski base pattern based on testing the base variables. The Atomic ski models that are available with the Posigrip base include a range of in-and-out of-track options including the Vasa Classic, Team Classic, Mover 48, Mover 52, XCruise 53, Alea 53 and XCruise 59.
The Atomic Skintec waxless base, which uses inserted mohair strips on the ski base, is extremely effective for all temperatures and snow conditions. It is the high performance waxless base technology for the classic skier, who prefers to use a waxless ski. The Skintec strips are produced by a Swiss manufacturer of climbing skins and they do not ice up because they have a Teflon-like material that is resistant to freezing. Skintec is available on the Vasa Skintec, a specific ski model that has a flex that was created in conjunction with the Skintec material so that it rides above the snow in the glide phase, but is easy to kick down for excellent grip during the kick phase.
The G2 Syncro was introduced by Atomic four years ago and it provides excellent grip with a curled claw teeth design with the teeth close together in a very dense pattern. However, the G2 pattern provides a very fast glide because there are a series of small raised flat sections between each of the gripping teeth to prevent drag from developing with the dense pattern. The result is a base that provides secure Grip and fast Glide, thus named the G2. The G2 Syncro base is available on Atomic ski such as the Pro Classic G2, XCruise 55, Alea 55, Motion 52 G2, Motion G9 G2, and the Ski Tiger G2.
THOR-LO has revamped the majority of its snow collection featuring its new THOR-WICK- yarn made with 100% recycled material. THOR-LO socks use protective engineered padding to protect the shin area of the leg and the ball and heel of the foot, and THOR-WICK has excellent wicking properties to keep the foot dry.
The socks are available in a Thick Cushion or Thin Cushion Ski sock and there are different sock styles (including kids' socks) in different colors ranging from $18.99-$21.99 per pair.
THOR-WICK yarn is produced from 100% post-consumer recycled Polyethylene Terephtalate material commonly referred to at "PET" or "PETE" bottles. Using the recycled raw material in the manufacturing process reduces the amount of waste materials from going to the landfill (one metric ton of recycled material prevents 872 kg of bottle waste); produces 60% fewer CO2 emissions that would be created to use virgin polyester; and the process requires 65% less energy per unit of weight than that which would be used to make virgin staple (one metric ton requires 825 less barrels of oil).
According to the US EPA 2/3 less energy is required to manufacture products made out of recyclable plastic and studies show that production with recycled plastic emits 2/3 less sulphur dioxide, 50% less nitrous oxide, and uses almost 90% less water. The recycling process causes the yarn to cost more, but the company is committed to (and believes that consumers will) support the long-term environmental benefits.
For more info www.thorlo.com
Swix, a Norwegian manufacturer of ski wax, poles, and ski wear joined with ski company Fischer to create an educational retail environment with Gorham Bike and Ski Shop where skiers visiting Jackson Ski Touring Center in NH can experience for themselves the latest skiing innovations from skis to ski wax and tuning techniques.
Skiers can view and compare an extensive range of product lines to feel confident in their purchase decisions, share feedback with the manufacturers and maximize the performance of all their gear both new and what they already own. Almost the complete line of Fischer skis, boots, and poles will be showcased in the shop that attracts thousands of cross country ski aficionados all winter long.
The two companies will provide additional training to the Gorham Bike and Ski Shop staff and there are demo days for skis and roller skis, plus ski waxing and race tuning sessions. The retailer also features machine flex testing, which mean that each ski is individually evaluated and marked with its particular flex pattern to match to a heavier or more powerful skier to perform with a more subtle touch.
Jackson Ski Touring is a community based nonprofit corporation chartered to maintain cross country and snowshoe trails in and around Jackson village that has been in operation for 39 years. Situated in the White Mountains, it is a wonderful match of a quintessential New England with the white steeple church and wood covered bridge married to cross country skiing.
Nordic walking (or ski walking) is taking off and the Human Kinetics book entitled Nordic Walking for Total Fitness by Suzanne Nottingham and Alexandra Jurasin has got it covered. For those who are unfamiliar, Nordic walking is a fitness activity that combines walking with specially designed poles to engage the upper body muscles.
Trekking (hiking with poles) and Nordic walking are two different activities that use very different poles and techniques. It may sound silly, but perhaps "walking is not just walking." The pole angle, weight, grip, and straps are different between the aforementioned modes of walking. The Nordic walking pole is designed to allow your hands to relax in order to target the larger wrapping muscles of the back. But using poles of any kind automatically stimulates your spine and all of the muscles around it, even with inefficient technique. When walking, the key postural muscles of the core and upper body are engaged.
Nordic Walking for Total Fitness outlines the health and fitness benefits and the enhancement of body posture that result from the activity. Equipment including poles, shoes, apparel, pedometers, and heart rate monitors are covered.
There are photos for every segment of the book showing technique progressions, fitness exercises, power training, and variations for balance, agility, and flexibility. Common technique errors are also reviewed as well as uphill and downhill techniques, advanced cardio training, and drills for strength training and calorie burning.
The book also includes fitness assessments, sample workouts for varying levels of interests from first timer to cross training triathletes. There are also suggestions about customizing your program. Training program recommendations are offered for building distance, fluctuating daily intensity, and rest days. If this all sounds a bit like overkill, that's because it is, particularly if you are a recreational fitness enthusiast but you need read only as much of the book as you feel is relevant to your personal situation.
I've been a Nordic Walker for a few years and found many of the claimed attributes in the book regarding posture and exercise to be true. I've always been in search of a way to decrease the amount of time spent exercising, so I was sold when I heard that using the poles increases caloric burning by 40 percent. Being a cross country skier, it is easy to quickly master Nordic walking. After a summer of Nordic walking, I noticed a marked improvement in my cross country ski poling in terms of strength and timing. It seemed that I increased the amount of forward momentum that was attributable to poling and I was able to pole stronger and longer when skiing.
Nordic Walking for Total Fitness provides a foundation for anyone, ranging from those just looking for an activity to lose weight to health aficionados interested in taking it to higher levels of fitness.
Nordic Walking for Total Fitness is available for $19.95 plus shipping from Human Kinetics at www.humankinetics.com or call 217-351-5076.
New software has been created by a group of companies representing about 100 apparel brands to measure environmental impact of products from "cradle to grave" or more explicitly, from raw material to garbage dump.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, this so-called Eco Index will perform similar to the Energy Star rating of appliances. The Eco Index concept will be officially announced in August 2010 at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. It will provide comparative perspectives of brands with relation to environmental and human rights issues. Another way of looking at it is as a sustainability barometer for operations or a litmus test for product greenness.
This project has been underway for three years and the coalition of brands involved include Nike, Levi Strauss, Target, Adidas, Timberland, Columbia, and Patagonia. Most consumers are not aware of factors involved with the apparel business such as the toxic chemicals used for leather tanning, crude oil used in the manufacture of synthetic fabrics, incredibly low wages and no benefits for foreign workers, and excessive shipping distances for manufacturing various aspects of apparel. In 2008, Americans discarded 12.4 million tons of textiles, up from 1.8 million tons in 1960.
The Eco Index software provides a self-reported score of points on various questions regarding raw material, production, shipping, and disposal. A brand can score points with for example, a wastewater purifying system, a recycling program, good labor standards, less bulky packaging, and even washing in cold instead of hot water. There are estimations involved in the scoring system and proof is not required, but this could be the infancy in the development of international standards.
The Eco Index is a beginning but we do not know how much of a motivational factor that it may become in the eyes of consumers. It is admirable that competitors have come together to work on this concept and most of the participating companies have previously undergone an internal analysis of these issues. Environmental issues are driving some product design these days such as printed info on garments instead of separate tags and using less or recycled packaging. And not surprisingly, many of the applicable design ideas save processing costs, too. If the Eco Index succeeds and companies vie for a higher score, we all will win.The Eco Index is a beginning but we do not know how much of a motivational factor that it may become in the eyes of consumers. It is admirable that competitors have come together to work on this concept and most of the participating companies have previously undergone an internal analysis of these issues. Environmental issues are driving some product design these days such as printed info on garments instead of separate tags and using less or recycled packaging. And not surprisingly, many of the applicable design ideas save processing costs, too. If the Eco Index succeeds and companies vie for a higher score, we all will win.
Reported in August 2012, a newly developed Higg Index is an internal learning tool for companies to highlight ways to reduce environmental impacts, increase efficiencies, and identify opportunities for innovation within their supply chains. Industry organizations realize the need and value of a consumer-facing rating for products and they feel that this is a long-term aspiration but they have not set a timetable for developing a consumer-facing label based on the Higg Index. The Higg Index may be downloaded from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition website, at apparelcoalition.org.
The Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group will continue to contribute to the evolution of the Higg Index for apparel. In addition, the committee is focusing work on four other key areas:
1. Index work - building indexes (using the Higg Index model) for footwear and equipment
2. Responsible chemicals management
3. Materials traceability in the supply chain, starting with a focus on goose down
4. Social responsibility and fair labor.
"Cross-Country Skiing" by J. Scott McGee with excellent photographs by Luca Diana is the newest edition on the topic and it is easy-to-understand with plenty of photos. It is among the Falcon Guides and Basic Illustrated series from Morris Book Publishing. McGee describes equipment selection, learning the basic techniques, planning and safety and 100 pages of everything about cross country skiing.
McGee is out of Jackson Hole, Wyoming and he knows his stuff even though he omitted XCSkiResorts.com from his list of websites. This book is $12.95 and can be purchased at www.falcon.com.
"Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain" by Bruce Tremper is a new edition that is easy-to-understand and accessible for snowsport novices as well as technically insightful snow safety veterans. Approximately 150 people die in avalanches each year and thousands more are lucky enough to survive them without injuries.
This manual is ideal for backcountry xc skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers and others and it is organized according to the structure of American Avalanche Association classes and it has been reviewed by peer experts.
Staying Alive covers different avalanche types, judging terrain's hazard level, routefinding and safe travel essentials. Rescue strategies and an analysis of human nature versus danger is also included. The 304-page paperbound book has 235 charts and illustrations and 60 photos, and it is available from The Mountaineers Books for $18.95.
"The Story of Modern Skiing" by John Fry is a book viewed by ski industy insiders as the definitive account of the revolution in ski equipment, technique, resorts, and competition that took place after World War II. It is 408 pages, has 86 photos and maps, a timeline, and an index of more than 1,000 names and places. Jean Claude Killy calls it a remarkable memoir and history of the sport.
The book manages to capture the essence of xc skiing in about 15 pages (though there are a few xc ski writers that could create a separate book on the topic of modern xc skiing), but the book would be a monument to anyone that is into skiing.
You can get it on Amazon but for a personally signed copy send a check of $29.95 ($29 for additional copies) to author John Fry, Editorial, 23 East Lake Drive, Katonah NY 10536. Include the name (s) of the person (s) whom you want the book dedicated to, plus address where you want the book (s) shipped to. Tell him you heard about it on XCSkiResorts.com.
Another resource book of xc ski and snowshoe trails by First Ascent Press is "Ski Trails of Southwest Montana." This 112-page book by Melynda Harrison has 30 xc ski and snowshoe trails around the Greater Yellowstone region of Big Sky, Bozeman, and the Paradise Valley. The book is $16.95 and can be ordered at http://www.firstascentpress.com/ski-trails-volume1.html
The book "Cross Country Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness" by Steve Hindman is available from The Mountaineers Books. Steve is a long-time Northwest PSIA certified instructor and former National Nordic Demo Team, who participated in the XCSkiResorts.com Top 10 Page panel of experts.
"Cross-Country Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness" provides techniques demonstrated in step-by-step photos, special learning activities to reinforce instruction, sidebars for trouble-shooting common problems and matching technique to terrain and snow conditions and tips for the whole family including 10 activities for teaching kids to xc ski with fun and games.
The book acknowledgement of contributors and photographers is a virtual who's who in the xc ski industry. It is 240 pages and it can be purchased for $19.95 at www.mountaineersbooks.org
Dick Hall and friends whip up a tasty batch of innovative teaching tips in the movie "The Joy of Telemark Skiing." It is the perfect blend of clear and precise instruction, great music, and inspirational skiing. To order 800-835-3404 or on the Web site www.telemarknato.com
Dick Hall is one of the forefathers of American telemark skiing and the founder of the North American Telemark Organization (NATO). This organization has been an educational resource for two decades and has helped 40,000 people master telemark and backcountry skiing. Hall created and conducted one of the world's largest and oldest telemark skiing parties at Mad River Glen in Vermont. The annual NATO Telemark Festival is usually scheduled for March.
Keep your eyes out for the NATO telemark camps, workshops and adventure tours on the XCSkiResorts.com Resort News Page and in the words of Dick Hall, "Ski Hard, Play Fair, and Have Fun."