On Skiing: The internet has many useful offerings for skiers

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How many ski-related email lists are you on? Between ski reports direct from some ski areas and various blogs, I have lost count.

In addition, there are websites I use regularly to locate information to pass along here. From ski areas, I receive different kinds of email blasts. Some send daily ski reports, which often include special events and deals. Others send only special announcements, such as those I received with all the snow, telling how much had fallen at their resorts.

Some I receive from websites such as skimag.com (SKI Magazine) and SeniorsSkiing.com. From these two, I find plenty of information on everything from ski gear reports to resort reviews. Because I spend time each season skiing new skis of various companies, I don’t really need the equipment reviews.

Boots are a good example. I started skiing in Tecnicas many years ago and found they fit my foot. While there are probably other brands that would also fit, why bother going through the fitting process when I already know that all I have to do with a new pair of Tecnicas is put in my foot beds and go ski? My advice to anyone shopping for new boots is to go to your regular ski shop (every skier should have a regular ski shop just as they have a regular doctor and a regular auto mechanic), and after the boot fitter takes a look at your feet, try on the brands they recommend. You can buy a lot of things online, but not ski boots.

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The seniors skiing emails always have several items, from equipment for seniors to deals and conditioning along with advice on technique. This last week, it had tips on looking where you ski, shuttles and lifts for cross country skiers, a unique lodging place at Stowe and a review of Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho. If you go on the website, you can subscribe and receive the weekly emails.

Getting back to those emails and websites. I find the resort reviews helpful, as well. While I have been to most of the resorts, it’s always interesting to learn of upgrades and expansions. Often the emails have links to websites that offer deals on packages.

That brings us to the biggest use of the internet for skiers: deals. It is well known that the only skiers who pay the highest price for a lift ticket is the skier who walks up to the ticket window and buys a single-day ticket on Saturday morning. Buy a weekend pass and save. Go online and print out a coupon from the ski area’s website and save.

In addition to the ski area websites, there are the big sites like liftopia.com that have ski areas and resorts all over North America. Another website is Brandon@getskitickets.com.

I also get regular emails from skibig3.com which comes from one of my favorite destinations, Banff. When I’m asked about a great place for skiers to make their first western ski trip, this is always one of my top recommendations.

One reason is altitude. The skiing at the three areas is between 6,000 and 9,000 feet at Louise and Norquay and most of sunshine Village, which does get to 10,000, but only off one peak. This is also mostly true of Utah and Tahoe, but at this time you can buy a Canadian dollar for 75 cents, so this website is a good source for deals for that region. There’s a lot more about skiing out of Banff, but this is about using the internet so you can check the website. Another great source for anywhere in Canada is www.skican.com.

Another useful website is skibutlers.com. Now that airlines are charging for luggage, the days of skis flying free are over. Add the fact that the skis you use here in the East might not be what you want for western powder. Of course, it should be pointed out that not all western skiing is deep powder. Packed powder is the most likely surface you can expect on most days out west. That being said, rental skis make a lot of sense, and Ski Butlers is a company owned and operated by a Maine native, Brynn Carey, who grew up at Sugarloaf where his father Chip was VP of Marketing. Brynn wanted to have his own business in skiing and the idea of a better rental service came up as they discussed a service that was needed.

The logic was simple. One problem with renting skis is the time lost in the morning of the first day being set up. Ski Butlers solves the problem by bringing a selection of skis and boots to your condo or hotel room the night before. All the fitting and binding setting takes place right there, and in the morning you just head for the lift.

I haven’t had the opportunity to use Brynn’s service yet, but the company has received numerous awards and they are available at a number of the top resorts in the west. It’s one more way to use the internet for skiing.

You can also buy ski equipment online, if you know exactly what you want. One of the most aggressive ski shops online is Ski Depot in Jay. I get emails on a regular basis promoting sales. The shop tries to get the email address of every customer, but its website is also a marketing tool. If you go to raceskis.com you will get Ski Depot.

This is just one place to shop for ski gear online. There are plenty more, but the message is clear: We can use the internet in many ways to enhance our skiing.

See you on the slopes.

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