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Get ready to hit the slopes with tips from local ski and snowboard shops
by Cortney Maddock
Nov 13, 2009 | 1426 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Hank LeMaster of Eternal Boardshop in Sparks shows off some of this season's new gear.
Tribune/Nathan Orme - Hank LeMaster of Eternal Boardshop in Sparks shows off some of this season's new gear.
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For any level of skier or snowboarder, picking the best equipment to suit any experience level can become an easy task with the help of professionals at local ski and snowboard shops.

Hank LeMaster, retail manager for Eternal Boardshop in Sparks, and Pat Parraguirre, ski manager for Bobo’s Mogul Mouse in Reno, share some tips for snowboarders and skiers looking to hit the mountain this winter season.

Beginning skier

Both LeMaster and Parraguirre said people new to skiing and snowboarding should seek out advice from local shops because those people are there to help get people fitted with the right gear for their experience level.

“We ask a few questions,” Parraguirre said about someone new to snowboarding. “What is their level of ability? What do they intend on skiing? Is it groomed or off trail?

“If someone is a pure beginner, they’re not looking at a high-end race ski,” Parraguirre added. “They’re going to want something softer and more fit to their needs.”

Parraguirre said finding the right equipment is important but also stressed finding the right fit, especially in terms of boots. He said comfort and fit in ski boots in extremely important because the new skier needs to be comfortable wearing the boots all day.

In terms of skis, Parraguirre said sometimes bindings come with the skis.

“Most of the skis come with bindings,” Parraguirre said. “They’re integrated into the ski most of the time.”

Bobo’s offers ski packages starting at $499 for equipment, which includes skis, boot and bindings. Parraguirre said people who need all their snow gear, including snow pants, jacket, gloves, goggles, hat as well as equipment should expect to spend more toward the $750 mark.

“If they’re a really savvy shopper and don’t want the newest gear and can have last season’s styles they can save a lot of money,” Parraguirre said, adding that last season's gear can be up to 60 percent off.

Total cost for a new skier with this season’s gear: $499-$750.

Beginning snowboarder

Picking snowboarding equipment for a beginner is different from that of a beginning skier.

“When you’re picking out a snowboard, there is only two things it knows: Your shoe size and your weight,” LeMaster said. “If you’re a beginner, you’re looking for a soft board.”

LeMaster said a softer board that combines some revisited technology from when the sport was new called "reverse camber" helps the new snowboarder stay centered on the board.

“If they’ve never snowboarded before we’ll help them out, but we always recommend they go up and try it out first,” LeMaster said, adding that people should not give up on the first day but give it at least three days.

LeMaster added it’s the little things that people forget to invest in.

“The best investment you can do is buy a snowboard lock, snowboard bag and safety gear,” LeMaster said.

LeMaster said research by Burton Snowboards shows a high number of beginning snowboarders do not return to the mountain because of injuries. The most common snowboarding injury is a wrist injury.

Burton also offers a free lift ticket to people who buy a Burton board. For more details, visit www.burton.com.

“You definitely want to get goggles, too, because you can get snow blindness,” LeMaster said. Snow blindness, he explained, is when the sun's reflection off the snow hurts the eyes. “You definitely want some eye protection.”

LeMaster said Eternal Boardshop offer package deals for new snowboarders starting at $400 for a board and bindings. For a boarder who needs equipment and gear including snow pants, jacket, gloves, goggles and a hat, they should expect to spend $500 or more.

Also, total cost depends on the brand, technology and type of board the snowboarder purchases.

Total cost for a new snowboarder: $400 to $500 and up.

Intermediate skier

Parraguirre said the these skiers should ask themselves what type of skiing are they doing now and what do they want to be doing. Are they going to stay on a groom trail or are they going to be doing more powder skiing?

“A wider ski is going to give them versatility in different terrain,” Parraguirre said. “Maybe get something above your ability so you can advance into it, but also when conditions aren’t optimal, a better performance ski will have better edge grip.”

A step up in skiing level could mean a different ski that offers better stability and edge hold, Parraguirre explained. Boots are still important to the equation, he added.

“There is no best boot,” Parraguirre said, adding people shouldn’t look solely at the brand when buying a boot. “It is whatever works for you. Whatever fits you the best.”

Again, Parraguirre suggests skiers look for gear in the previous season’s styles to help save some money, and that if a deal on last year’s equipment cannot be found, expect to pay a little more.

Total cost for an intermediate skier for equipment only: $699 -$1,000.

Intermediate snowboarder

LeMaster said the intermediate snowboarder has a decision to make: Do they want to ride freestyle (which is park riding), free rider or carver? Each type of riding points the snowboard to a different technical type of board.

“Freestyle would have to look more at a soft board, like a beginning board,” LeMaster said. “Look for twin shape and reverse camber.”

A free rider, LeMaster said, would be looking for a stiffer but more advanced board and a carver would want a stiff board.

“It all comes down to preference,” LeMaster said. “I definitely tell them if a board isn’t right for them. When it does come to graphics, I always say buy for performance not style.”

An intermediate snowboarder is probably looking to replace their board, boots or bindings.

Total cost for an intermediate snowboarder for equipment only: $400 and up.

Advanced skier

Parraguirre said the advanced skier is in the market for more than one set of skis.

“That person is going to be skiing faster, more aggressively,” Parraguirre said. “The more advanced you are, you’re looking at what the different skis will do."

Parraguirre said a skinnier ski would give more stability at higher speeds and a better hold, whereas a wider ski will give more stability in powder conditions.

“You’re really looking for multiple sets of skis,” Parraguirre said. “Multiple skies for different conditions. It’s going to be harder to find one ski that does everything.”

Total cost for an advanced skier for boots only: $400-$600.

Total cost for an advanced skier for equipment only: $1,000-$1,200.

Advanced snowboarder

“The advanced snowboarder knows what they want when they come into the shop,” LeMaster said. “We might tell them about some new technology, but most of the time they already know what they want.”

LeMaster said snowboarding companies are starting to make products that not only are technically advanced but also made from environmentally friendly materials.

In addition, more advanced equipment reduces chatter through the snowboard as well as incorporates ways to make the rider comfortable, such as with the use of dampening pads to reduce vibration

LeMaster said the cost for an advanced snowboarder depends on the equipment they need or want, but boots can cost about $200, bindings can cost $200 and a board can cost $400.

Total cost for an advanced snowboarder for equipment only: $800 and up.

Advice from the professionals

Both LeMaster and Parraguirre have years of experience in winter sports. LeMaster said he has more than nine years experience and has coached snowboarding as a certified teacher. Parraguirre said he has been skiing since he was 4 years old, which he said equates to many years of experience.

LeMaster said it is important for people to buy gear that is right for them and part of making sure it is right is going to reputable business whose employees have knowledge can adequately help the customer.

Parraguirre said often sees mistakes such as improper fit or equipment that is not right for a person's ability level. Buying gear from local retailers helps guarantee that equipment can be replaced or exchanged.

“The most common mistake people make is buying equipment off the Internet,” Parraguirre said. “They don’t know the proper size for skis or boots and there is no recourse.”

Parraguirre also said buying local means that money stays in the community.

Eternal Boardshop has two locations in Sparks: The snowboard shop is located at 33 E. Freeport Blvd. and the Eternal skateboard shop is located at 300 Los Altos Parkway. For more information, visit www.eternalsnow.com.

Bobo’s Mogul Mouse is located at 475 E. Moana Lane in Reno. For more information, visit www.bobos.com or call 826-9096.

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