Driving to Shawnee Peak last week I couldn’t miss the banner-type sign as I passed the Sports Haus that said, “Store Closing.”

After skiing I made a point to stop before heading home. I had known Phil and Marlise Libby since they bought the store from the original owner in 1979, and I naturally wanted to know what was going on. Sale signs at ski shops are common this time of year, but “Store Closing” took me by surprise.

I learned from a clerk that Phil and Marlise were simply retiring, and I got to talk with Marlise about it.

Basically, they decided 40 years was enough and it was time to take things a bit easier. Sports Haus has been a mainstay in the Bridgton area for more than 40 years, starting with a shop on Main Street in Bridgton, a shop at the mountain, at one time a shop at Mount Abram, and finally its current location on Route. 302 just below the mountain.

We reminisced about the first few years when it didn’t snow and the area had no snowmaking. Their first year, the area was open for only seven days and the following year just 21.

Phil had told me years ago that only by getting into wind surfing and other water sports did they survive those first years. It helped that there are plenty of lakes around Bridgton. But survive they did and Pleasant Mountain and Shawnee Peak skiers provided a loyal customer base.

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I don’t know how many ski shops I have seen come and go over the years that I have been skiing. Some never caught on, while others were left behind by competition.

Today, with ski equipment being sold online, it’s tougher than ever to stay in business, but the one thing I see from the shops that have remained is service. They take the time to properly fit boots and make sure that a skier leaves the shop with the right gear. Sports Haus provided that personal touch and will be missed. I hope Phil and Marlise will enjoy a well earned retirement.

SKI KNEE RELIEF

The last issue of seniorsskiing.com had a bit on knee replacement and equipment that can relieve pressure on injured knees.

I know a little bit about knee injuries, having skied without an ACL in my left knee since high school. No, it didn’t happen skiing; it was a kickoff return. I now ski with a brace and it works fine. But this piece got me to thinking back some years.

On a trip to Crested Butte, I tried a device called CADS (Constant-force Articulated Dynamic Struts). Since I hadn’t heard about them in years, I tried cads.com to see if there was a website and they still existed. I not only found the website but one of articles referenced was mine in the Insiders Ski Letter. That narrowed the time frame, and I now know that it was in 1992, two years before I got fitted for a brace.

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I had actually met and discussed CADS with the inventor, a fellow by the name of Walt Dandy. The only way I can describe the device is it appears to be shock absorbers from the back of the boot to the butt. There are rods with heavy rubbers attached to a harness at the hips and an attachment at the back of the boots.

I returned from Colorado and put them to the test here in Maine. While they felt a little awkward at first, it was obvious that they worked as designed, putting a constant pressure on the skis and alleviating pressure on the thighs and knees. Walt had assured me this would happen.

I wrote at the time that CADS worked but I didn’t continue using them simply because I didn’t feel the need. And I didn’t want to bother with them.

Riding the lift requires disconnecting the rods, but Walt had that figured out, too. They come with special poles that allow the rods to be stored in the shafts while riding the lift.

While visiting the website, I listened to Dr. Richard Steadman, who has operated on the knees of half the US Ski Team endorsing the product. Walter Dandy is headquartered with CADS in Vail, and Steadman says he puts many of his patients on the them.

I have one friend, a ski writer who was on that trip to Crested Butte who has used them ever since. Other than him, I haven’t seen any here in the East, but if a skier has knee pain or quad burn they would be worth looking into. I still have mine, and when I get old maybe I’ll get them out again. If you wish to check the piece I read, go to www.cads.com. There’s a lot of interesting info on knee problems.

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LESSEN THE BURN

That day at Shawnee Peak, the snow could not have been better: Groomed packed powder with a firm base. It was a good day to let the skis run.

Adding a little speed and riding the edges took almost no effort to ski the slope in a series of long, round GS turns If you find yourself suffering quad burn, consider speeding up a little. Try it on a gentle slope and you’ll find that it takes less effort than fighting to keep the speed down. I’m not suggesting high speeds, only what you’re comfortable with. And, of course, I did this midweek with very little traffic on the mountain.

U.S. NATIONALS

Finally, if you want to see some very fast skiers, head for Sugarloaf.

The U. S. super-G and downhill national championships get underway Monday through Thursday with some of the best skiers on the U.S. Team, along with some Canadians on hand. You can also see some very good local skiers from CVA who aspire to make a future team.

Sugarloaf always puts on great speed races.

See you on the slopes.


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