Buying a gift for that certain skier not that easy

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This time of year most of us have two lists — what we would like to find under the tree and what we plan on placing there for others. If you haven’t started shopping for the skier on your list, be aware that counting today there are only 18 days left. And with skiing this good, who wants to spend time shopping! One way is to combine your skiing with shopping.

Start your ski day when the lifts open and quit early. This time of year, most of us aren’t in shape to ski all day anyway and until everything is open we get the best conditions early.

Most ski areas now have an on-mountain shop and other shops nearby. If we ski until just after lunchtime, we can hit a few shops before heading home. The big question is, what’s on your list?

Unless you know your skier’s needs well, it’s tough to buy for a skier. The-top-of-the-line items such as skis and boots, have to be selected by the skier. Obviously, if you know exactly what your skier wants and the budget is sufficient, new skis would be great. If you are not sure what skies to give your skier, a gift card will work. While I have any number of skis I like, I can’t recommend a specific ski or boot because it all depends on how and where your skier skis. One unique ski choice has come along, and one of the founders of Parlor Skis is from Maine. Mark Wallace, a former ski racer who learned to ski at Saddleback, is a partner in the company that makes skis to order. They take a skier’s vital statistics and design and build a ski to fit that skier. It’s an interesting concept, but I haven’t had an opportunity to ski the product, which I hope to do sometime soon. The web site is www.parlorskis.com. The name comes from the fact that the skis are being manufactured in a former funeral parlor.

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If your skier believes he or she needs new boots, consider a session with a boot fitter. Your local ski shop can review the options. Often a boot can be adjusted in one of these sessions to bring the performance back. Boot liners pack out over time creating a loose fit. A good boot fitter can often correct this. Custom footbeds are another way to enhance performance and often can revive the performance in an older boot.

They can also be used with a new boot when that becomes necessary. Cost can run from $25 for a quick consultation to $150 to $200 for a complete fitting including footbeds. If a skier returns to the shop where they purchased the boots, the shop will check them out at no charge except for whatever it takes to make them right again. Think about this for your own boots if the fit has changed.

If you know your skier’s sizes, there are ski wear options from a $20 pair of socks up to a one-piece suit for several hundred. Every skier can use an extra pair of ski socks. My choice is the thin Smartwool for around $19.95.

If your skier has been complaining of cold hands or feet, there are solutions. Today’s battery technology has produced boot heaters that work and last for an entire day. Hotronic boot heaters can be found in most ski shops and can be fitted into any boot. Serius offers a battery-heated glove. I don’t have prices on these items but check your ski shop.

Is your skier is still carrying boots to the lodge with a strap or, worse yet, an old piece of rope connecting them to be used over the shoulder? This calls for boot bag, but be sure to find one with back straps. You should be able to find one that matches either the skis or boots. I found one in a Volkl catalog for $80, but shops usually carry a selection and Transpack is a popular one with a model for $59.95. This not only makes it easier to carry boots to the lodge but such items and goggles and helmets can fit as well. If your skier heads west to ski, the bag should fit airline size requirements for carry-on. You can check these online before heading for the shop.

A good gift at the beginning of any season is a ski tune. Depending on the shop and whether it’s a full tune, this can run from $25 to $50. If your skier is the do-it-yourself type, consider some tuning equipment. Even if the skier has a full tuning setup, items such as diamond stones wear out and new ones can always be useful for around $10. Your ski shop should have a full display of tuning equipment. Wax is always useful and a large block of universal wax can prep a lot of skis for  little cost per application.

These are just some of the ideas. A lot more can be found in your favorite ski shop. Of course, if money is no object, a trip to a travel agent that specializes in ski trips will work. Whether it’s the Alps or the Rockies, any skier would be thrilled to find these tickets under the tree. And if you make it a trip for two, you get to share the gift. Use your imagination and enjoy the shopping and the skiing.

See you on the slopes.

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