Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ski Stocking Stuffers

Panorama Mountain Resort opens Dec 5 with record skiable terrain
Having skied every year since 1972 and gone through all the style and technical evolutions in equipment and ski clothing, people are always asking me for recommendations. Of course, when it comes to Christmas stockings, most ski gear items are too bulky to fit - but you can't beat Smartwool ski and snowboard socks for the best wicking, warmth and comfort combo - and they not only fit in the stocking but could be the stocking! 

Here are a few of my personal picks to add to your under-the-tree Santa list this year:
Nils stretch ski pants

Ski Pants - either black stretchy bootleg pants from Nils or bright coloured multi-pocket, semi-baggy style from Stio out of Jackson Hole. I need both for different occasions. The Nils (which has a pant fit centre on the website with all sorts of variations in shape, size and fit) are great for the second, warmer half of the season and any ski day when I am going on to do après ski - they look almost like regular pants so they work well into the evening if necessary. Because they are so brightly coloured, the Stio's are fab for powder days, cat and heli skiing, fog days and any group skiing where you don't want to keep the group together. They are quite thin but warm when you add decent thermals underneath. 

Me - in Stio, Jackson Hole - wearing Stio pants which perfectly match my Rossignol J.C de Castelbajac 'Tracy' Jacket
(note: the helmet was a joke, I wouldn't go to quite those lengths to coordinate my whole outfit!)
Ski Jacket - Rossignol because of the warmth, incredible attention to detail, high tech features and, at the same time, extravagant Euro style. Lots of different price ranges, too, with vivid colours, unusual prints and de luxe fur trim in the high-end J. C de Castelbajac range.

Volt Heated Vest
Ski Vest - I never ski anywhere without my Volt heated vest. It is not particularly stylish - a bit boxy - but what it lacks in panache, it makes up for in pampering - after all, warmth is the biggest wow factor on the slopes. I turn it on and off as I need it throughout the day. A toasty torso is a huge benefit especially on cold chairlifts.

Helmets - Always hated them! Never wore one until two years ago when I did a glade skiing article for The Dallas Morning News and thought it would be irresponsible to set the wrong example. Since then, I wear one regularly because I actually love my Giro Edit. At just 375gr, it is so much lighter than I ever expected, fits comfortably, is very warm and doesn't mess up my hair as much as woolly hats used to - not so sweaty. Still, when it comes to the spring, I can't wear it as it's too hot for me. And I love to feel the rush of wind through my hair!!

Smartwool Double Propulsion 60 Hoody

Underlayers - Smartwool. Once worn never forgotten, merino wool is so cosy, non-sweaty but warm. They have a surprisingly good range of clothing now, too, including the Propulsion Hoody which I love under my ski jacket. It has a stretchy, ultra thin hood which fits well under helmets to exclude neck drafts.

Goggles - Due to an easily over-heated face and head, goggles have traditionally been the bane of my skiing life. When heli-skiing with CMH, I take a second pair in a pocket so that I can swap when the first pair steams up due to all that powder punishment. But not any more! I have found the answer: Abom No Fog goggles – with battery powered heat which works like a car windscreen. There's a "heat on demand" mode, turned on by the press of a button and it turns itself off automatically when they are thoroughly clear in order to preserve power. There's also an "always on" mode and a heat boost mode. If I don't steam them up, then no-one will!

Gloves - Actually it has to be mitts for me. On a frigid January day in Val d'Isère in the 80s my gloved hands actually froze to the Poma handle and detaching them at the top ripped my gloves. After that experience, I went straight into a ski shop and invested in a pair of white leather mitts - exorbitantly expensive at the time - which lasted me for many years. Ever since I have been wearing mitts of one kind or another. But the best ever are my current heated mitts from Seirus. I have the Heat Touch model which has narrow rechargeable battery packs and press-button heat with different intensities. Definitely worth the investment as it means I can ski longer than many other people - without whinging - on the coldest days. 

Balaclava - If I have to wear one, it has to be Seirus. Scary-looking but amazingly effective and non-dribble. 

Rossignol PURE Elite 80
Ski Boots - Whatever you get, make sure you get them custom contoured for your feet and never be persuaded to go a size up for comfort or for wide feet - that just means you will have little contact with - and no control over - your skis. Well-fitting boots can manoeuvre any ski properly; loose boots cannot contact properly with even the best of skis. Boots are the number 1 priority and everyone's feet are different, hence the need for customization. My feet are particularly challenging, being wide at the front but tapering to a narrow, bony heel, with high insteps, one foot pronating, the other supinating, a bone spur (and two operations) on one ankle, and low, chunky calf muscles (sounds very attractive, doesn't it!) For the past 8 years I have skied in total comfort with Nordica Dobermanns customized by Top Shelf at Fernie (now renamed All In Skier Services). My boots also have Therm-ic boot heaters installed and I highly recommend those to everyone who has ever suffered from frozen toes. But, sadly, every boot comes to the end of its life, and mine are starting to feel a bit too loose now. So this season I am trying out Rossignol PURE 80s. I have a new set of Therm-ic heaters ready to install and I imagine I will have to have some custom contouring. It may take a while to know as you need several ski days on each stage of contouring in order to know what is really necessary for the perfect fit for my awkward feet. I'll keep you posted as to the results!
Heat Holders Lite 

Après Ski Boots - so long as the sole doesn't slip and they are waterproof, they will work. But for extra warmth, I recommend ThermaCELL heated insoles which are wireless and rechargeable and can be switched to a variety of footwear. Another option is the new Heat Holders Lite® socks. Medium-thick and thermal, these fit nicely into casual shoes and boots and keep you warm while walking around a wintry resort. Loads of colours and styles for men and women - all with insulating, acrylic yarn, long looped thermal pile and soft brushed inners. Great for shovelling the driveway, winter hiking and snowshoeing. Even for outdoor shopping on Banff Avenue or Canmore Main Street. 

Transpack Heated Boot Pro Backpack

Boot Bag - Yes, even bags are important when it comes to skiing. Particularly in lodges where you can stow your gear while you're out skiing, it's great to have a boot bag that keeps everything in one place. If even your helmet fits in, better still as it means you'll never leave items behind in the lodge after après ski. As well as catering for optimal size, Transpack has gone a step further, designing a heated boot backpack which I am trying out this season. Instead of getting out of the car with frozen boots that take ages to warm up enough for me to be able to get them on, my boots will be pre-heated (like the concierge service at The Montage Deer Valley!) The backpack comes in adult and junior sizes with enough space for gloves, hats, socks, tools and an expandable outside pocket for helmet. There are three heat settings and plugs for standard wall outlets as well as 12-volt car sockets. 

Me on Rossignol Savory 7s at
Lake Louise - also wearing Nils Lane
black pants
and Nils fur trim jacket - it's stretchy, too
Skis - Rossignol Savory 7 freeriders for amazing powder floatation. They're also nifty on bumps, crashing through crud, and incredibly grippy on slicker pistes. 

Ski Luggage - Dakine matching cases and ski bags. Great prints, easy to spot on the carousel.

Neve Vintage CollectionCortina Zip Neck
(taken from website)

My Wishlist 
1) Neve Vintage Collection sweater with old-fashioned ski scene - Cortina would be great as it is the first ski resort I worked in. 

2) Nils Simplexity white fur trim jacket and pants. Only problem is I'll also need a white helmet, white ski boots and white heated mitts if I want to look like the glamorous picture below! Won't be able to wear this on a powder day or cat-skiing!! Perhaps just the jacket for ritzy resort posing.... 

3) Some kind of slimline, portable camera that can take hands-free shots and doesn't dig into your ribs if you fall on it (I'll tell you that story another time). I think helmet cameras look a bit silly so I have not invested in a Go-Pro. Any ideas? 
Nils Simplexity
Dale of Norway Sochi Sweater
And I've always wanted something by Dale of Norway - for example their Sochi Sweater would look fab with my black or orange ski pants: 

Finally, the ultimate gift for all your ski and snowboard friends, colleagues and family, Winter Sport Tourism: Working In Winter Wonderlands by Louise and Simon Hudson:

You thought you knew everything about skiing and the wintersport industry but I bet you find something you didn’t know in the latest book on Winter Sport Tourism

As ski enthusiasts you are eligible for 20 % discounts on copies – activate by using the code Winter20 at checkout. What a cool Christmas gift idea and a great training aid for ski industry staff!

Appealing to all skiers and snowboarders, industry workers, winter tourism companies and academics, this book is a concise compendium for winter sports. 

Beginning with the evolution of skiing, it covers contemporary products, activities, resorts and supporting industries. With sections on the consumer, customer service, marketing, management, leveraging events, design and planning, it is a fount of up-to-date information. It explores the economic, social and environmental impacts of winter sport tourism, culminating in the latest consumer trends and future forecasts.

Each chapter is built around three fascinating, interview-based case studies which highlight entrepreneurial personalities within the industry - could even be from your favourite resort.


General availability:
From 1 September 2015 - ISBN: 978-1-910158-40-1
Buy direct from website ( via good book retailers – price for paperback £29.99 €36.00 US$48.00

Inspection Copies:
Free inspection copies are available for academics and there are review copies available for journalists. Requests for these can be placed now (see to request). 

Bulk Order Discounts:
To order multiple copies either as gifts, for colleagues or staff or as training manuals, there are price reductions:
10 copies = 15% discount
20 copies = 25% discount
30 copies and above = 35% discount
Also, customized copies can be ordered to feature corporate logos and pictures on the front cover. Contact the authors for more info at or

Individual digital chapters are available, direct from the website or via third party vendors (£5.99; $7.99; €5.99) such as VitalSource, CourseSmart, Dawsonera, MyiLibrary, IngramDigital, Ebrary, EBL. Key titles are also available on Kindle and Kobo and Amazon.

Social Media:
Please help tweet this out and share via your Facebook, instagram, and all your social media networks

The Locke Family, owners of Lake Louise
For the latest on ski industry trends, please check out my article published in the Calgary Herald:
Nov 27 Calgary Herald – Lake Louise

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