The JP Parisien Memorial Race is a fitting way to remember a skiing family that made its mark in competition.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

I aways know what to expect when I visit Lost Valley on one of the race days, and this year was no different. The parking lot was full and in the base lodge, it was easy to spot the families with their junior racers getting ready for the racing. They grab tables in the main room of the lodge, where they spread their gear.

One giveaway is the helmets. It isn’t as obvious as it used to be, with so many skiers now wearing helmets whenever they ski, including yours truly, but you know the kids racing will have them.

I discovered one such family in front of the window just inside the main room. And learned that Will and Ella Michell had driven over from Bridgton that morning. I knew instantly on introducing myself that I wasn’t hearing Maine accents. Indeed, the Mitchells had moved to Bridgton from Great Britain 15 years ago.

Their children had skied in programs at Shawnee Peak and two, Audrey and Pearl, would be racing that day. I wasn’t surprised to see Skiers Edge on the bibs the kids were wearing. The Myricks have been involved in local racing since the ski shop on Washington Street opened in 1981.

I remember Jim’s father, Bruce, from my ski patrol days at Sunday River in the early 70s. He was one of the regulars and well-known as an enthusiastic skier and supporter of the ski patrol. Today, Jim Myrick is heavily involved in junior racing at Lost Valley. We’ll have more on that at a later date after the vacation, when I hope to ski at the Valley and watch some programs in action.

Advertisement

On the subject of ski shops, a recent email from Jackson Hogen at Realskiers.com had some insight into the age-old question faced by skiers who are thinking of new skis this time of year. Should I buy now or wait till fall and the new models? I know of no one who is more qualified to answer that question than Jackson. No ski writer is more plugged into the equipment side of skiing. Jackson has not only worked extensively for the manufacturers, but actually works at a ski shop as a boot fitter and on the sales floor. Running ski tests for magazines over many years, he has stayed on top of what’s new in equipment and how things are going with the ski shops.

In his latest email, Jackson pointed out that the supply chain issues have also hit the ski business. This means that new ski you’re hoping to buy might not be available when you’re ready to produce your plastic and have the bindings mounted. Buying now usually means taking advantage of some sales, often as shops unload this year’s demos. Often these are skis that will have little more than cosmetic changes when the new models hit the rack. The shop owner will know, and if it’s the same ski under a new top skin, save a few bucks.

There is no one answer to the question, but it is why I recommend having a strong relationship with a quality ski shop. They can guide you through the ins and out of the market, as right now they are studying the new models and their own inventory as they prepare to order next year’s stock.

As always, my advice is to demo what you hope to buy and check the website Realskiers.com. I subscribe to Jackson’s email, as he is one writer I trust. If, like me, you ski race models, you can take comfort in the fact that race skis change the least from one season to the next. That’s because racers’ demands don’t change much. You won’t see wider models of race skis. Most will be 65-68 mms at the waist. You may see a 70mm model in a recreational race ski, or what is called a race carver racer, but most race skis will be in that 65-68mm range because the race courses will be designed for such skis. That hasn’t changed. Of course, today’s GS and slalom skis are no longer in the 204-207cm length, but the new materials and construction techniques give our 175cm GS skis all the stability we need.

See you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer and columnist who hails from Westbrook. He has been contributing to the Sun Journal for many years and is among the most respected ski writers in the Northeast. He also is a member of the Maine Ski Hall of Fame. Write to him at [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: