It's nearly time to bust out the sticks and boards for the first turns of the season. If you're curious about what's new this year, Boise Weekly cut a lap around to local ski and board shops to catch a glimpse of what to expect from the 2012-2013 lineup. Here's what we found:
This season's offerings are all about backcountry accessible gear and precisely designed narrow-function skis. All the major manufacturers are still slinging highly capable all-mountain skis--which remain the best option for most skiers--however, there are far more options for the rider looking to assemble a multi-ski quiver.
Brands like Volkl, Atomic, Dynastar and K2 have continued the mastery of rockered technologies, allowing mad huckers to stick big, steep, even near-flat landings without the consequences of years past. Park skis are also more nimble than ever, bringing more camber to the table for tons of pop.
A far cry from the days when skis were perfectly straight, new all-mountain skis are built for average comfort on groomers, and tons of control in crud and powder. Manufacturers have gravitated incrementally toward tweaking the widths of skis tip to tail, rocker and a reduction in camber in many all-mountain designs. The perfect everyman or -woman's ski for 2012-2013 seems to boast little to no camber, mild stiffness and a medium rocker.
In the burgeoning Alpine touring category, McU Sports on Bogus Basin Road is seeing steady demand from folks who like to ski regional resorts, but also want the freedom to run up to Mores Creek or Valley County for some hike-and-ski fun.
"We're seeing a lot more people wanting the ability to do side mountain or back country or AT stuff," said McU Sports owner John Klotz.
In addition to the boot, you will need an AT binding and skins to make it up the hill--not to mention avalanche training and gear for many areas.
Board companies are ramping it up as well. While manufacturers are not changing the overall platform at nearly the pace of ski companies, they are pushing the envelope with existing trends. Reverse camber is the continued norm, although many experienced riders still stick to regular camber boards.
For the average rider, a mixed camber or full reverse camber board is the way to go--making it easier to control your edge contact in a wide variety of conditions. Boots and bindings are lighter and more compact than ever, and manufacturers have put a continued emphasis on creating the smallest boot footprint possible, thereby reducing the possibility of the dreaded toe drag. According to Newt & Harold's Charlie Allen, Burton has made some upgrades to its mid-level bindings for 2012-2013, and boards, boots and bindings are getting lighter.
"The Burton Parkitect and K2 Happy Hour are great higher end park boards for this year. For all-mountain, Lib Tech has the Billygoat that is a great option. With boots, the name of the game is make it lighter, make it more condensed," said Allen.
Skiers, be prepared to drop $350 to more than $1,000 for new sticks, plus bindings and boots. Boarders can get out the door for $250-$400 for a good entry-level board, but it's easy to eclipse the $1,500 mark for top-shelf gear in either discipline.