This week’s What We Use goes into skis, outerwear, and tips for keeping warm. We talked with Skiershop’s resident female bad-ass, Mar. She’ll give you insights into the gear she uses as she charges everything from gnarly backcountry lines to mellow groomers.
Q: How would you profile yourself as a skier?
A: I like to ski off-trail as much as I can, although this year that’s been pretty much impossible. I like to ski in the woods a lot, I like to ski bumps if I’m skiing on trail, but I also like to do off-resort touring. I’ve definitely gotten more into that over the last year or two. It’s nice to get away from the crowds a bit and get out there into the wild.
Q: What is your favorite ski and why?
A: My favorite ski right now is the ski that I own, which is the Blizzard Kabookie. I find that it’s very versatile; it does everything. I like to have a responsive and nimble ski, and the Kabookie is definitely both of those. It gives me the confidence to take lines through the trees that I might otherwise avoid. There are a few days where I’m out on the mountain and I think, ‘Gosh, I wish I had a different ski,’ but those days are few and far between. It’s fun, it’s pretty… not that that matters but it’s kind of a bonus to me! It makes me have a good time out there, and that’s what skiing is about.
Q: Since you like to get off the resort, do you like using an AT binding?
A: I do. I think there are sacrifices you have to make if you use an AT binding all the time, which currently I do, although I’d like to get away from that. I have the Tyrolia Adrenalin mounted on my Kabookies, which I really enjoy. With an AT binding you’re a lot higher up off the ski which makes going from edge to edge a bit more of a process, and it definitely adds weight to the ski. Also with a long, connected piece of material, you lose some of the ski’s flex pattern, although I think the Adrenalin gives the ski less of a dead spot under the binding. In an ideal world I’d have 10 pairs of skis all with different bindings. But if I’m on my skis and I have an opportunity to go do something that requires skins and AT bindings, I want to go do that. I don’t want to have to ski down, switch skis, and get back on the lift. I ski with a lot of people that don’t wait, so if I didn’t have an AT binding on my ski I’d end up getting left behind a lot.
Q: What do you look for in a boot?
A: Well, warmth for me is pretty much a non-issue because no matter what I do my feet are always cold. However I think that I’ve done the best I can to resolve that issue with the boot I’m skiing in now, the Dalbello Krypton women’s Kryzma. It’s got the Intuition I.D. liner, which has made a big difference for me. I love it. It’s warmer and it fits my foot well, since the whole thing is moldable. I really like the way the boot preforms. They Kryzma comes up higher on my calf than most women’s boots, which is great since I’m tall. This gives me a little more leverage and control over my skis. I like that they flex off the tongue as well as the progressive flex. You just don’t hit that stopping point when you’re really pushing the boot that you get with a traditional two-piece boot. I did put boot heaters in my boots for the first time this year. I feel like a little bit of a weenie… But at the same time it’s not so much for keeping my feet warm, it’s just to keep them from getting frostbite.
Q: How do you keep your legs warm?
A: I don’t (laughs). My legs are always cold when I’m skiing on trail, but I’m accepting of that. I wear long underwear underneath with a shell pant on top. My legs get hot when I’m skiing in the trees but then riding a lift back up they cool off. But I’d rather have a really breathable piece on the bottom to be able to get that heat and moisture off; because once you’re wet you’re screwed.
Q: As an aggressive skier, what do you do to keep your brain from being left on the slopes?
A: I wear a helmet. Every single time, and I never take it off. People think it’s a little dorky, but I really like having a helmet with a visor. Since I like skiing in the woods, I find that I can use the visor to deflect small branches which tends to help me keep my eyes open when I’m skiing through areas with lots of undergrowth… And keeping your eyes open when you’re skiing in the trees is usually a good idea!
Q: Gloves or mittens?
A: Gloves! I can’t STAND mittens! Mittens keep your hands so warm and are so appropriate for skiing in Vermont, but I can’t stand them. I don’t know why, I just really don’t like not having the dexterity. I feel really awkward in mittens. I really like the Mountain Hardwear Jalapeno glove, which unfortunately they don’t make for women… However, I can use a men’s small. They use DryQ which makes them super breathable, so you can hike in them and even if you’re sweating buckets, they’re still warm on the way down.
Q: What’s the most important part of your body to keep warm and how do you do it?
A: My hands. My core is pretty easy to warm back up, but when my hands get cold, they get cold fast, and when my hands get cold, I get grouchy. How do I keep them warm? I ski harder. I ski bumps if I’m skiing on trail or I ski trees if I’m able to. It’s so much more work and that keeps me a lot warmer.
Q: What is the most essential piece of Après ski-wear to own?
A: I think a good pair of Après footwear is the most important thing to have with you. I usually bring my Sorel boots, because they are very warm. When you take your ski boots off your feet are usually pretty thankful, and to put them in something really wonderful and warm and happy and fuzzy is very enjoyable. Besides skiing it’s usually the best part of my day!