It’s always hard to believe how fast the time flies by between October and Christmas.  Of course, we’re all busy with preparation for Thanksgiving, and in my case getting ready for the ski season. My basement workbench now has a ski vise set up and I have begun preparing skis. So far only two pairs have been prepped and not much was needed. In the spring I hand-tune my skis and iron in a coat of wax to protect the bases over the offseason. All I need to do is heat the wax and scrape off the excess. That was done before I headed for the mountain two weeks ago. Now my focus is on preparing for Christmas while still getting in some skiing.  

Dave Irons, Skiing Columnist

That’s important if I am to meet my goal of skiing at least 30 days this season. If you have a skier on your list, you can combine skiing with shopping. All our ski areas have ski shops either at the mountain or nearby. I could complain that no one ever buys me anything to do with skiing. Maybe that’s because they all know that over the years I have acquired just about everything any skier could want or need. Of course, if someone would buy me a week of heli-skiing, or a trip to anywhere in the Alps or even a trip out West, I would be very happy indeed. 

Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. So this list isn’t for me. If your budget is unlimited I guarantee that any of the above would be a near-perfect gift.  

Shopping for any skier requires some knowledge about the skier. If it’s a skier who shares your household, you probably have some ideas about what he or she has and what else might be needed or desired. Especially if you ski together. If he complains that his feet hurt, that’s certainly a clue. How far you go to solve this problem depends on your budget. A new pair of high-performance boots can go for as much as $800. On the plus side, today’s shorter skis don’t require as much boot as the old longer models, so you can go with a softer flex and save as much as $200-$300.Of course, you might get lucky and solve his problem with a boot-fitting session. The cost would vary depending on how much has to be done.   

Ski boots grow as we use them. How? The outside shell doesn’t actually get bigger, but the liners compress allowing the foot to move more within the boot. Trying to get the boot tight enough can result in over-buckling and pressure points, which explains the pain. A good boot-fitter can often fix this by adding padding in strategic places between the shell and the liner. Another solution could be an after-market liner. A custom foot bed is another option which not only makes the boot more comfortable but adds to performance. As you can see, fixing boots can be as simple as some padding for $25-$50 (mostly the boot-fitter’s time) up to $800 for new boots. I bring up boots because if you can make boots right it will do more for your skier’s enjoyment of the sport than anything you can do. 

If your skier’s problem is cold feet, there are a couple of options — boot heaters, heated socks or a boot glove. I saw Hotronic boot heaters for $199 and heated socks for $35.  My solution back when I had no choice but to ski when it was really cold (now I can pick and choose my days) was a boot muff. I saw one in a race supply catalog called a Boot Glove for $30. This is nothing more than an insulated cover for the boots. If you put it on over a warm boot in the morning it will keep the heat in. If you wait until the boots are cold it will keep the cold in. The price is right, and you don’t have any batteries to recharge. 

After getting the boots right, we need to check out the skis. I’m not suggesting new skis, although most skiers would love a gift certificate good for a new pair. Whether this is needed depends on the age of the present skis and how many miles they have accumulated. In my pro patrol days, I could wear out a pair of skis in a season. Of course, that included 120 days on the hill and skiing all conditions, which is tough on skis. Very few recreational skiers are going to put that kind of mileage on a pair of skis, but like a car, we have to maintain our skis. If your skier has been using his skis without having them tuned, they are probably in need of a tuning. A gift certificate for a tuning at his favorite ski shop is one possibility. ($25-$50 depending on the shop and what is needed).  

If your skier does his own and has all the tools you could buy him some wax. 

Obviously, there are a lot more choices for skier gifts, but I’ll leave those to you. I do have some recommendations for using your computer. If your skier enjoys reading the history of skiing, there are three organizations in which you could give a membership, and each has a publication which will be appreciated by any skier. One is right here in Maine, The Ski Museum of Maine in Kingfield ( The New England Ski Museum ( and the International Skiing History Association ( would also make great gifts. Membership information can be found on the websites. 

This past week’s rain has messed with the skiing and Mt. Abram has postponed its opening until the 21st, to save what snow they have and make more when temperatures drop. As always this time of year it’s wise to call ahead.  

See you on the slopes. 

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