Over many years, I have seen numerous dumb ideas in skiing.

Dave Irons, Ski Columnist

One year, an article appeared in one of the ski magazines entitled, “They’re sitting back!” It was totally wrong. Based on a photo that caught a racer seemingly with his weight on the backs of his skis. It was a single moment in the turn, in hindsight probably a moment of recovery.

No good ski coach or instructor would ever advise sitting back as part of ski technique, and the idea disappeared quickly, but not before someone developed Jet Stix. These sticks attached to the back of ski boots and extended toward the knees. In that era of freestyle called hot dogging, we saw all kinds of bad technique and some skiers in ridiculous positions (mostly young men who are notorious for doing dumb things). Accident statistics prove this, especially behind the wheel, but we see it on skis, as well. We didn’t see a lot of Jet Stix and they disappeared almost unnoticed.

Now another really dumb idea has come along, and we can thank Jackson Hogen at Realskiers.com for letting us know. I haven’t seen them in any ski shops, but the “Rekkie” goggle has got to be the dumbest idea ever. On a screen inside the lenses, these goggles will read and display your incoming text messages and phone calls along with emails. They will also measure your speed and vertical skied. It’s bad enough that skiers cut off their sound with earphones listening to music instead of focusing on the sound of their skis on the snow. That sound can be critical.

I recall an afternoon climbing Hillman Highway, the chute off Boott Spur on Mount Washington. As we neared the Narrows, we could hear the sound of the skiers above us changing. The sun had dropped below Boott Spur and it was beginning to ice up. We climbed no higher. Stepping into our skis, we skied down in the still-soft spring snow. Hearing that sound saved us what could have been a dicey run down to the floor of Tuckerman Ravine.

We need all of our senses when we ski. Headphones are bad enough, but information printing out on our goggles is a truly stupid idea. Good goggles that will protect our eyes from the sun and elements while providing us with a clear view of the run we are skiing aren’t cheap, but these dangerous, distractive devices are $349 with the software to operate them. That’s a hefty price for something that could lead to serious injury.


We now have laws against distracted driving on the highway. I don’t want laws about our skiing, but I would advise ski shops not to carry these goggles. I don’t want distractions when I ski and hate the thought of other skiers on the slopes focusing not on the trail and other skiers while they read the inside of their goggles.

In 20 years of patrolling I saw plenty of dumb stuff on the ski trails, but none as dumb as these goggles. I ski for the joy of the sport. I don’t have a so-called smart watch to measure how many vertical feet I have skied that day. And I know when I am going too fast without my goggles telling me. If there were some way to tell skiers they are going too fast, it might be beneficial, but these Rekkie goggles are not the answer.

Mostly what I see are skiers skiing too fast in places demanding slower speeds and many are plainly skiing well beyond their ability. While no ski patrolman wants to be a policeman, there were times when we had to admonish some young man that his skiing ability didn’t match up with the speed he was skiing (it was always a young male, never a young female). Of course they thought they were good skiers, but we rarely had trouble with ski racers. They skied fast, but in control and gave other skiers plenty of room. It’s the same on the highway. I have talked with state troopers who have told me they never have to stop someone for speeding who races cars on weekends.

I did receive this week a notice of possible use for a smart watch that measures vertical feet skied. The Vertical Challenge is Sunday at Saddleback. I know there are races but don’t know the details. You will have to check their website for that info. If you enter a competition that is based on skiing vertical feet, knowing how many you have skied could be useful. I haven’t been in one of those since the original Skiathon for Maine Handicapped Skiing (now Maine Adaptive Sports) at Sunday River some time around 1980. I got my pledges based on how many runs I knew I could comfortably ski in a day. I figured on about 20 and actually racked up 22 to easily make my fundraising goal.

I don’t think smart watches existed at the time, so I could only keep track as I checked in with the scorekeepers at the beginning of each ride up the lift. This does seem like a good use for a smart watch, but I don’t want it to show up on the inside of my goggles, so the Rekkies are still a bad idea.

See you on the slopes, but not through any Rekkie goggles.

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 DaveiSkiGolf@aol.com.

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