In describing the things that tell me the ski season is upon us last week, I failed to mention the numerous emails I receive and the websites they represent.

Obviously, the ones announcing ski area openings are important, but there are more that I follow. One is realskiers.com. This one comes from Jackson Hogen, whose background in the ski business makes him one of the best voices on equipment.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

As a Yale grad, Jackson comes from a different educational place than most in the ski business. We expect to meet ski reps who studied at the traditional collegiate ski powers — Vermont, Middlebury and Dartmouth. And with the success of University of Maine at Farmington’s ski industries program, there are plenty of their grads in the ski business, but Hogen is the only one I know of from Yale.

He worked for Salomon for several years and for many years has run ski tests for SKI and for realskiers.com.

I skied with him years ago at Sun Valley at a product intro for Atomic. This was the occasion of Atomic departing from their traditional straight sidewall construction and going to cap skis. After being at countless product intros where the longest race skis were 190- or 200-cm models (most racers would ski in 204-207 cm), we were pleasantly surprised to see a couple of pair of GS skis in 209 cm. Hogen and I both chose those skis and spent a couple of days on them making long GS turns on some of the more open slopes. They were my go-to skis for the next year or two. Jackson also took a pair home.

Watching him on those skis gave me a lot of confidence in his ability to judge the performance of skis, and I’m always interested to see his ratings each time he sends an email from realskiers.com. Naturally, it helps that he agrees with me that the very best skis are race skis. He made the point a couple of years ago on realskiers.com when he noted that in Europe, where most of our skis come from, the guys who design skies are heavily into racing and that’s why they devote their best efforts into the race skis they design.

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Hogen made it clear that here in the Eastern United States, skiers who spend most of their time on groomed runs are best served by what he labeled non-FIS race skis. These are models which, while not built to strict FIS regs in dimensions and sizes, give skiers the best race ski characteristics without requiring the strict attention the full race models demand.

If you watch World Cup racers, you will notice one thing they all have in common: massive thighs. They all have the muscle power to control true race skis. These skis are all full camber. They are designed to carve turns on rock-hard race courses. They are also quick with a lot of rebound. Few recreational skiers have the muscle power to handle true race skis. That’s when the recreational racers typically are rockered either tip and tail, or at least at the tip.

My go-to skis these days are Volkl Race Tiger GS with tip rockers. I have a pair of Race Stock GS, which are full camber, and I only ski them when I feel the need for speed. And I can let them run on open slopes. My recreational models are much more forgiving in 175 cm with tip rockers. These recreational racers are ideal for skiing groomed runs here in the East, and I feel many advanced skiers should give them a try before buying their next skis.

To get a sample of Jackson Hogen’s ratings on skis, go to www.realskiers.com. You can also sign up to receive his blogs and emails, which I look forward to.

Another website I enjoy is seniorskiers.com. This is not as technical as Realskiers, but equipment reviews appear now and then. Mostly this site and its emails are articles of interest to senior skiers, especially those looking for senior discounts. Because most of the contributors and readers are seniors, historical pieces are frequent. And, yes, I am an occasional contributor, but you will usually see anything I write for them here first.

Herb Stevens, the skiing weatherman, is a regular contributor, keeping skiers informed about the weather around the country. While I enjoy the history pieces and most of seniorskiing.com, it is mostly for entertainment. I think most skiers will find it interesting, and all you have to do to subscribe is furnish your email address.

I recommend both of these websites, whether you’re looking for knowledge or just for fun. If I find more, I’ll pass them along.

See you on the slopes.

Dave Irons is a freelance writer and columnist 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]


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