April 10, 2017
Saint Patrick’s Day is as popular a holiday for skiers and riders as any in the entire calendar. Christmas, mob scene. Martin Luther King weekend when it has been snowing – can you say traffic and lift lines? President’s Week –certainly one of the busiest times in the season but St. Paddy’s Day is a different sort of holiday. It isn’t actually an official day off for anyone so if you want to be “a wearing of” the green while on the hill you will need a story to get you out of your regular job.
It is well worth escaping however. Every spring a local Skibum nicknamed “The Guv” contrives to spray the iconic waterfall underneath the Gondola a brilliant shade of emerald green. When it is sunny, the sight of the waterfall sets the tone for a great day of spring skiing. Play a little hooky, and this year enjoy the fact that 52” of snow fell in just over two days at the upper elevations of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Right now you’ll be doing soft bumps and soon enough corn snow will start to make its way into the daily conditions report.
These are all part of the gradual drift into spring and the inevitable wind down of what has been an incredibly rewarding season. But you know what March also brings? – more cold weather! Just last weekend, the readings on local thermometers dropped as low as seven degrees Fahrenheit below zero.
So spring can be cold and in March ski and snowboard dealers are anxious to start selling off inventory and if you listen carefully, warm feet for you can be the result. Boot heaters have worked as an answer for many for a number of years. When used carefully and properly, boot heaters can take the edge off those cold days. Certainly one of the best of brands has been Hotronic. Their batteries are long lasting when kept reasonably warm and their heating elements provide critical warmth into the toe of the boot –either a ski boot or a snowboard boot.
Some alpine skiers have also taken great advantage of the device known as a “boot glove.” A neoprene flexible shell fits over the outside of a boot and provides a key insulating layer between frigid cold and vulnerable foot. Regarded by some, in love with the cosmetics of their boots, as a bit geeky perhaps but effective.
But now another solution is in the market place and it promises to be the best of all – the electric sock. Snicker you may, sneer at the price tag, but this is an easy product with which to fall in love. The reason is simple, say goodbye to cold feet! Hotronic, no stranger to the subject of warming up cold feet, has jumped into the market with their sock, which some in the industry regard as the best of the socks fit and materials wise.
Working a race series all of the last week, this writer noticed that virtually every coach on the hill was wearing electric socks and most had opted for the Lenz brand. If coaches know one thing, they know their feet because they are out there for long stretches on cold days. On day three of the six days, the author had jumped on board the train! His feet were clad in brand new, blue-tooth enabled, lithium battery-powered Lenz socks. What a revelation! No more gradual thawing out of the toes while headed down the Mountain Road. The boot heat in the past helped but now these new socks kept the feet totally comfortable.
The ability to control them from your cell phone is pretty cool. You can dial up the heat level from 0-9 without having to fumble around under your outer layers. Even if you already have boot heaters, the two systems support each other. Minus 10, no problem and you will likely have the mountain to yourself.
These socks are not cheap, but neither are a lot of things associated with this sport. Skiers and riders spend a ton of money on skis, boards, boots, bindings, under layers, outer layers, helmets, face masks, googles and oh yes tickets. When seen in this perspective, electric socks suddenly don’t seem like such an extravagance. If keeping your toes warm and your soles comfy gets you an extra powder run while everyone else is inside warming up, is scoring those socks really such a difficult decision to make? Remember timing is everything in life and the spring is a good time to make deals. Next winter is just around the corner – cold days, cold powder, warm feet – has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?
Lenz socks are my new favorite piece of equipment!
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