New Season Gear Recommendations from Stratton Mountain School Students
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY STRATTON MOUNTAIN SCHOOL
Chip Freeman ’23
Hometown: Peru, VT
“For skis, I gravitate toward Madshus; they seem to have the newest and most impressive technology with their tips and foam core, which keeps the skis lighter. The new Madshus tips are really innovative—the ski has a super-shallow curve, but it starts farther back so it almost surfs on the snow. I can’t wait to try it.
For boots, I buy Alpina because I’ve always had them, and I really like how they fit my feet. Swix poles have always just been top of the line.
My favorite gloves are Toko because they have a lot of different levels of warmth, and they really shine in cold temperatures. For sunglasses, I buy Oakleys because they fit my face really well…and they’re Oakleys.
When shopping for Nordic skis I would look for a pair that feels right to you. When a ski is too stiff or too soft something feels uneven. Demo skis before you buy them, or at least talk with an expert who can advise you.
There are two different types of bindings: SNS and NNN. NNN bindings only work for Fischer, Madshus, and Alpina and SNS work for Salomon and Atomic. It can be a hassle if you have the wrong kind of binding for your boots. If you’re going out to buy Nordic gear, make sure it all fits together.
When it comes to clothing, my MO is to have lots of layers. You want ventilated clothes so that you won’t overheat, but you also don’t want to get too cold. Most Nordic apparel companies specialize in that. You’ll notice that Nordic skiers aren’t wearing snow pants and big puffy jackets because those don’t let out the heat very well.”
Skylar Slettene ’22
Hometown: Middletown, NY
“The SMS Freestyle team uses ID One Mogul skis and ID One Pro Mogul poles. When you’re shopping for skis as a freestyle skier, flexibility is very important for moguls, which is why ID One works so well.
For boots, I wear Full Tilt, and these are the one thing I can’t leave behind when I’m traveling. You can rent skis easily enough, but it’s hard to find a boot that fits just right.
The most common helmet that I see people use is Pret, but I like my POC helmet the best and usually pair it with my Oakley goggles. Hestra gloves are great because they keep you so warm on the mountain and really last. For our team uniforms, everyone wears Strafe outerwear, and a personal favorite accessory of mine is my soft Burton neck warmer. It does a good job at keeping you warm but also comes in so many fun patterns and styles.
When I’m skiing, I like to wear 2XU leggings, and lululemon layers are a favorite for skiing or cross-training. Lululemon’s Swiftly tops are great for workouts because of how breathable they are. For our lifting workouts I wear Nike Metcon 5 shoes.”
Zylis Hawkins ’20
Hometown: Sunapee, NH
“For my outerwear and my skis I have only ever stuck with Armada. I’ve always gravitated toward them because they’re extremely reliable and I love the way they ski. I love the whole family behind the brand too, and they have so many great athletes on their team.
I ride the Armada ARV 96 skis that are part of the ARV Series—the skis are 96 millimeters underfoot. It’s an extremely durable ski and a little wider, so it’s a lot more playful.
When it snows, I’m not sinking through; I’m gliding on top. It definitely has a lot of bend to it or what we call “butter,” but it’s also extremely sturdy, so when I land on big jumps I’m not washing out.
For boots, I’ve always gone Dalbello, and for bindings we usually stick with the Rossignol FKS binding. That’s the staple binding for freeskiing because it has a rotating heelpiece to prevent ACL tears and other injuries. I’m usually always wearing lululemon for workout apparel. The products are extremely comfortable and they don’t feel like you’re wearing anything. I love comfort.”
Victoria Powers ‘21
Hometown: Stratton Mountain, VT
“The brands I really love are Burton, The North Face, and Patagonia. Bombas socks are also awesome—they make specific types for working out and for snowboarding.
For a board I ride a Burton Talent Scout right now and I love it—that’s what I always want to be riding. They just made a new model for 2020. Burton boards can be flowy or stiff depending on what you want, and they definitely have a lot of options.
When buying a board, I would make sure you get the right size first and foremost—have it be at least as tall as up to your nose. Second, pick a design that you really like. You want to have a fun time and enjoy your board, and you have more fun when you think your board looks cool. I also really like camber—my dad always made me ride a camber board and it just feels different.
For apparel on the mountain, Patagonia is great because it’s super comfortable and warm, and Smartwool long-johns are a necessity. Burton Anon goggles are the best; I have the magnetic ones and you can change your lens easily, which is nice in Vermont because the weather changes so much.
Off the mountain, I usually buy lululemon because it’s so comfortable and stylish. I really like their leggings. Nike sneakers are my go-to for working out. My favorite accessory is my backpack from High Cascade because it can hold everything I need, and it also has a checklist inside for gloves, neck warmer, etc.… you can list it off when you pack up your gear.”
Jane Gutchess ’20
Hometown: Skaneateles, NY
“I use Fischer skis and Lange boots, race in a Spyder suit, and use Leki poles. Arctica snow pants are very popular among alpine skiers at SMS, and so are Slytech back-protectors. For helmets and goggles, I typically gravitate toward POC.
Patagonia and Sync jackets are also very popular and keep us warm throughout the winter. Everyone loves Skida neck warmers, too! When you’re buying a pair of skis, it’s really important to make sure that you feel comfortable on that brand. Demo before you buy. When it comes to racing, you want to be on a ski that makes you feel comfortable, so that you are able to push yourself without being afraid of a fall or injury.
It takes time to get to know what you like for gear. You need to be warm when you are training in negative temperatures. My best advice to new skiers is, if the gear doesn’t feel comfortable in the shop, it’s not going to feel any better when you’re on the mountain.
The most essential piece of gear when I’m traveling is my ski boots. Everyone’s boots are specifically broken in for their feet, and our coaches put in a lot of work to make sure that they are properly leveled for each individual athlete. I like a lot of lululemon apparel for workouts, and New Balance sneakers have substantial ankle support, which is essential for training.”