It’s hard to believe that, with only 16 days left to find something for the skier on your Christmas list, we have already had more than a month of skiing.

Some years we have had only a few days by early December, and in a typical year two or three weeks.

This year we have not only had skiing since late October, but some ski areas are reporting close to 100 percent operation. Which also means, who wants to shop when there is all that skiing out there? The solution is simple, ski in the morning and visit the ski shop in the afternoon. Where else are you going to find the ideal gift for a skier?

The difficult part of buying ski-related gifts for a skier is determining what he or she has.

Most skiers I know don’t wait to receive something they want for their skiing. Really dedicated skiers know where they can get the best deals and they go out and get what they want or need.

Of course, need and want are subject to different interpretations. An example is household items. While a skier might think the least expensive washing machine is fine for the home, he “needs” a top-of-the-line ski. The $500 intermediate package won’t do. Which is why most hardcore skiers know where they can get that top-of-the-line ski at the best price.

The question becomes, what to buy?

Just ask. Talk with the skier on your list and find out what they might be lacking and what they would prefer. If you’re lucky, they will have a list and it could include a price range from a few bucks (lip gloss or socks) up to a few thousand (a ski trip by air).

One way to learn what your skier might need is to ask specific questions, such as do your hands and feet get cold? How comfortable are your boots? Do you ski with glasses on? (I don’t. I have to carry them so I can read the menu at lunch, but I simply wear goggles when I ski.)

Did you know that there are prescription ski goggles? SportRx has an insert to go with a variety of goggles for about $150 (see www.sportrx.com).

That’s one idea if your skier wears glasses, and it’s an example of asking the right questions.

If your skier says they have cold feet or hands, there are heated socks and boot heaters. Hotronic is a major supplier of heated items. These range from electric footbeds with battery packs that attach to the boots or heated socks. Prices vary from $160 to $229 for boot heaters and $269 for heated socks. I found other brands for less on Amazon, and your ski shop might also have some lower-priced alternatives. But at whatever price, you can give the gift of warm feet.

If your skier’s hands get cold there are heated gloves, as well.

If the problem can be solved with simply well-insulated gloves, there are answers from Seirus for $50 to $75. If more is needed, Seirus heated gloves go from $299 to $425. Your shop might have other brands and other prices, but if you go with heated models, be sure they can be recharged overnight — ditto for boot and sock heaters.

You might have wondered my questioning about boot comfort, but this is critical.

Boots are the most important piece of ski equipment. They are the vital contact between you and your skis. Proper fit is absolutely necessary to transmit energy to the ski. If your foot moves inside the boot, reaction to the ski is slow. Talk with any boot-fitter at a mountain ski shop and they will tell you the most common problem is skiers who show up with is boots that are too big. The result is not only poor performance, but over-tightening of buckles which creates pressure points and pain. It also impedes circulation and causes cold feet.

If your skier is having boot problems, it might require new boots, but a session with a good boot-fitter could provide a solution.

Boots grow over time as the liners compress. This can often be cured with some padding. Injected moldable liners are also a possibility. A custom footbed can make a big difference. You won’t find many professional skiers without them, and I can attest to their effectiveness in making boots more responsive. These are all options if your skier has boot issues. Costs will vary from $150 to $200 if footbeds are included, but fix his or her boots and you will make your skier truly happy.

If your skier likes to keep score, there are easier ways than counting runs. Sports watches can keep track of vertical feet, tell your skier what trail he or she is on, and a lot more. Some can also be used as range-finders on the golf course. Garmin is the best-known, but there are others, and prices range from $50 up to a few hundred dollars.

There are plenty of other items to be found in any ski shop. Stocking-stuffers include the above mentioned lip gloss, wax, heat packs, tuning tools and more.

If your skier is into skiing’s history, go to www.skimuseumofmaine.org. Under “Store” you can find gift ideas including books, histories of Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Shawnee Peak, Titcomb and others.

Finally, you can’t go wrong with a gift of skiing. If your skier has a season pass, buy tickets for a day or two at a different area. If he or she skis Sugarloaf, you can give some cat skiing on Burnt Mountain. Check with their favorite ski area for ideas.

More ski options

Look for several more areas to open next weekend. Lost Valley will kick things off with a launch party in the new pub Thursday evening.

See you on the slopes.


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