Category Archives: Hardgoods

Nordica Unleashed Outreach Ski Help Kids Get Outside

Nordica, one of our favorite ski brands at SPL, just partnered with  SOS Outreach and Christy Sports to bring $$$ to underrepresented kids and get them outside. A limited-edition “Nordica Unleashed Outreach Ski” is now available for a crazy $1000 price tag in the hopes of raising $50k for SOS. Only 50 pairs have been produced and they are pretty cool looking.

The collaboration involving SOS Outreach, Christy Sports, and Nordica started in 2022 with four young women from around the country — Heidy Hernández and Veronica Saint Jane, SOS Outreach alumnae, and Frida Quintero and Delaney Muro, currently SOS program participants — to design a custom ski and bring it to market. The program gave the women the opportunity to learn about and contribute to the end-to-end commercial process. By telling their story and promoting the custom ski, the program hopes to generate funds for SOS Outreach.

What is SOS Outreach?

SOS Outreach is a national youth empowerment non-profit organization that cultivates a deep sense of belonging in kids and teenagers, unlimiting their future potential and impact on our world. Their programs extend from the Cascades and the Sierras to the Rockies and the Midwestern hills, serving more than 3,000 youth each year across 15 locations in 9 states. They offer year-round programming at several sites that combines the support of caring adults, the thrill of outdoor adventure, and the grounding of value-based leadership skills kids and teenagers need to become their best, unlimited selves. To learn more, visit

Who are the four girls making these Nordica Unleashed Outreach skis?

The four women are from Seattle, Salt Lake City, Truckee and Vail, and worked closely with Nordica’s product development and design teams to create the Unleashed Outreach ski. Heidy Hernández, 21, from SLC, interned for Armada Skis through SOS’ Career Development Pipeline and is pursing a graphic design degree. Veronica Saint Jane, 21, from Seattle, has been with SOS since the 7th grade. She’s pursuing a degree in industrial design with a minor in writing and literature. Frida Quintero, 17, from Truckee, is in her fourth winter with SOS Outreach. Delaney Muro, 18, from Denver, is a high school senior and has been with SOS for over 6 years. She interned with industry partners like Smartwool and Tecnica Group.

The young women selected the Unleashed 108 for the project and conceptualized graphics and colors. The ski design is based on a topographical map of Silverton, Colorado, where the ski was unveiled over Martin Luther King Weekend, 2023. The design includes a compass with all four of the cohort’s names, the peak of Silverton Mountain as well as the streets in the town of Silverton. Nordica and SOS logos were incorporated in the design along with “Christy Creek,” a nod to Christy Sports. 

Nordica Unleashed Outreach Ski

“Adding the SOS logo to the ski was important,” stated Delaney Muro one of four women on the project. “I hope folks who purchase this ski walk away with a deeper connection to SOS. This was something that was designed with intention and so much love and passion. We really want people to know about all the good this program does.”

The limited-edition Nordica Unleashed Outreach Ski is exclusively available at As one of the key partners in the program, Christy is focused on supporting the four women of the project and provided direction to bring the product to market. Christy Sports will donate 100% of the sales to SOS Outreach. The sales will directly benefit 3,200 kids this year alone across those programs. 

SIA15: Big Lids Coming; Helmets in 2016

It used to be that the toughest hurdle to finding the perfect helmet was fit. You looked for a good lid with a legit safety rating that didn’t sit on top of your head like a Q-Tip; and if it came in a more interesting color than white, black or graphite all the better. Then came adjustable straps, pads, built-in headphones, BOA nobs in back for customizable fit, venting, and the fact that everyone was getting into the helmet game, and soon choosing which helmet to buy became as tough as what toppings to put on your pizza.

helmets in 2016

Salomon’s lightweight backcountry helmet is just at home touring as it is rockclimbing.

Gauging from what’s on display at SIA 2015, tomorrow’s helmets will be getting even more complex as safety awareness in the backcountry and freeride country gets respect. Materials, construction and fine tuning should be enough to make you retire your old brain bucket and pick up one of these shiny, new babies.

Whether companies use the MIPS Brain Protection System developed by a Swedish company to address multi-directional impacts or create their own proprietary protection designs, helmets for 2015/16 are decidedly safer as well as cooler (literally and figuratively). POC’s ultra-light Jeremy Jones Pro Model and Formix Backcountry MIPS with an anti-stink liner are proof that all the rad kids are wearing helmets in the backcountry.

helmets in 2016

In fact helmet use nationwide is at an all-time high as companies find ways to make brain buckets more attractive and smart. The latest technologies focus on separating the outer shell from the inner lining to absorb the acceleration of the force; think bending your knees as you land versus landing with straight legs.

Sweet Protection has taken their whitewater helmets to the snow. The Grimnir Helmet with MIPS is made of carbon-fiber reinforced polymer and “impact shields” on the front and back. It’s also the only helmet on the market certified to work even if you’ve mounted a POV camera on it.

helmets in 2016

The Giro Range not only uses MIPS but a “Conform Fit” system to make a two-piece shell that conforms to your personal head shape for a low-profile, snug fit.

Uvex (pronounced OOO-VEX I just learned) has developed Octo+ for a soft, beanie-like fit no matter what your head shape. It also allows air to circulate more freely. helmets in 2016

There’s no excuse anymore not to protect head. Now all we need to do is figure out how to keep our brains safe at the speeds most of us travel. Currenty, beginners are psyched because these buckets are designed for protection at speeds between 12 and 14 mph. Too bad they falter at the speeds advanced skiers and riders normally attack (25-30mph). Perhaps at SIA2016 we’ll see more helmets that address this statistic.

Now that you’ve picked out your helmet here’s our cub reporter Sage Adler with tips on how to dress it up.


To Rent Or Not To Rent …That is the Ski Question

Skiers and boarders often make excuses why NOT to rent skis when they go on vacation. You trust yours. The rental shop won’t have the quality or length you expect. You hate standing in line on your first day out. You paid good money for your skis and you want your money’s worth back. But if you plan ahead those reasons are moot.

Call around and you can find your perfect pair at a price that might outweigh the cost of shipping or checking your old sticks. Let’s face it. If you’re hauling around a 10+-year-old pair of skis, go ahead and let the airline lose them. Even this year’s low-end rentals outperform those clunkers.

rent skis

Yeah, $50 a day for demo skis may sound steep – it is! But you can get by with “sport skis” for $30 right? What about $40 a day if it meant your kids’ rentals were free and you got a free lunch? With you can do just that. At first I thought I wouldn’t write about this. After all, it sounds like I’m advertising for them. But as a ski instructor, I see hundreds of rentals go out every day. Wouldn’t you want to know if you could get some extras thrown in? I would.

Most rental shops let you swap out and try a variety of skis while you rent from them; you can leave them for free overnight storage during your stay; keep them waxed and tuned every day. sweetens the pot by offering free delivery (no standing in line at 8 a.m.), free kids rentals and $15 lunch vouchers at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, and Breckenridge in Colorado; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Tahoe region; Canyons here in Utah.

The next time you plan that ski vacation make sure you do a bit a of research to see what you’ll save by renting your gear.

SIA 2014: The Hardgoods Story

(Photos by Ryan Freitas)

If only we had ski hills in Baton Rouge. The weather has turned on its ear. Droughts in California, 50-inch base depths in Utah, rain in the East and snow in the south. Dogs and cats, living together. And while business is booming at this year’s SIA 2014 show it’s because of the unprecedented demand for cold-weather gear in places like North Carolina, not because more folks are skiing.

The hardgoods side of the industry has taken a hit. According to SIA’s RetailTRAK findings, snowboarding participation is down three percent and alpine 19 percent. The bright news is the freeskiing category is up a whopping 47 percent, bolstered by the sidecountry/backcountry hunt for decent snow, fewer crowds and desire for cheaper ways to ride.

As we noted from our time at the Outdoor Retailer Show last week in Salt Lake City, skis and boots are getting lighter without sacrificing performance. This is the year of the “all-mountain” ski given the sentiment that we’re likely to have less powder and more on-piste skiing in the future.

Boots come with ski/hike modes and injection molded shells using a variety of materials that will not only add on-hill performance and comfort but also insulation like in Nordica’s cork liners.

sia 2014

Skis are losing the metal in most cases. However, new technology and materials will keep them from feeling like noodles even on hardpack.

Blizzard’s “Free Mountain” category uses their Flip Core technology along with titanal construction for stability and edge grip. The wood core in models like the Brahma (SIDECUT: 125-88-110 mm), Bonafide (SIDECUT: 133-98-118 mm) and the women’s Sheeva (SIDECUT: 134-104-124 mm) is inserted upside-down, so that the downward-facing, convex side of the core creates a natural bend. This natural rocker-shape then is already built into the construction of the ski. The result is supposedly an easy turning, floaty ski that maintains balance at speed and holds on harder snow.

sia 2014

Nordica expects to rock the women’s market with the All Mountain Collection (Wildfire, Nemesis, Wild Belle). The men’s line uses titanium and carbon instead of two sheets of metal.

sia 2014

Volkl doesn’t skimp on their ladies. The all-new Aura has two sheets of titanium, 100mm width and full rocker to glide effortlessly from powder to hard snow.

sia 2014

Volkl’s new V-Werks line is designed to be a backcountry cross-over series with a carbon fiber construction, lightweight multi-wood core, full rocker and early taper sidecut so they’re ultra light yet stable. It comes in 94, 109, and 122 mm under foot.sia 2014

But despite the nudge to seek powder out of bounds, manufacturers have accepted that the weather may not cooperate and the majority of skiers will be forced to deal with packed powder. Next year, you’ll still be able to find skis with 130 mm under foot but now there are more mid-range widths and decreased rocker than we’ve seen since Shane McConkey introduced the world to the Volant Chubb in 1996. Rossignol has expanded their air tip design beyond the 7 series into the all-mountain Experience and Temptation collections.

The technology decreases the swingweight of the tip to make for easy turn initiation even though it has a lower rocker profile so that you can charge hard in soft and firm conditions.

sia 2014

Loyalists will be psyched to know that the 7-Series itself remains unchanged for next year so if you have a pair of 2014s you’re good to go. There’s something to be said for “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

sia 2014

The bottomline with skis will always be the same. Try them out first. There are an overwhelming array of sidecuts and widths coming at you but what you’ll like depends on the type of skier you are, where you ski and, now, how much weight you feel like carrying.

Ortovox Beacon Recall

Ortovox Beacon Recall

The last thing you need when frantically searching for your best bud in an avalanche is for your beacon to switch out of search mode. Ortovox is recalling a small group of its 3+ beacons when testing revealed that they switched to transmit mode after two minutes.

The avalanche transceivers switched unintentionally and internal tests showed that the problem is part of a particular production batch shipped to vendors after October 17, 2012.

“Despite our continuously optimized quality control measures, we have now discovered a scenario that has never occurred before in our QA processes,” Ortovox announced on their website.

The glitch seems to be caused by a new internal motion sensor used for “follow-up avalanche switchover”. Apparently, the sensor fails to detect your motion while you’re searching, and turns the beacon to transmit. While you can still manually switch back to search, it’s not an ideal way to use the transceiver.

Ortovox Beacon Recall

Head over to the Ortovox website and input your beacon’s serial number to see if it’s part of the recall. The 10-digit number appears on the beacon’s display two digits at a time when the 3+ is switched on. 

FYI- Your beacon still does the job if you’re buried (i.e. not moving) despite this issue.

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