Work it harder, make it better,
Do it faster, makes us stronger,
More than ever, hour after,
Our work is never over.
Faster, lighter, stronger, poppier, more responsive. Each year products get more technically advanced—not only do they work better, but they fit more comfortably and look cooler. Even if Daft Punk tells us to always do more, isn’t skiing good enough? Don’t we have enough fun, float enough on even the deepest days? Can’t we spin enough to get dizzy? Don’t we go fast enough to blow our hair back?
Around 2000, I knew five or six park skiers in Breckenridge. They were doing switch rodeo 540s and off-axis 1080s, but there were no other skiers doing tricks in the park. I rode the Sublette chair at Jackson around that time and remember seeing a blur of a skier charge a line in the Alta chutes, surfing turns without ever scrubbing speed, before airing huge off a final rock. I ended up almost completely backwards on the lift just trying to see him ski the groomer back to the chair.
Today, a glimpse of Sage Cattabriga-Alosa railing turns or Henrik Harlaut lapping the park takes my breath away. And it’s no surprise how exceptionally diverse and talented freeskiers have become because once you’ve seen those tricks or witnessed committed fall-line skiing, you can’t ski the way you did before. In parallel with the athletic advances, ski equipment has become a brilliant array of options, from super specialized to do-everything.
The ski tests—Aspen for powder, big-mountain and all-mountain skis; Snowmass for microbrew skis; and Breckenridge for park skis—are the centerpiece of each year’s Buyer’s Guide. All the skis we’ve included in these pages will serve some skier well and for that reason, they are all worthy of the Editor’s Pick they’ve been awarded. From there, we aim to fill every page with more info to help you find the perfect setup. The other gear in Freeskier’s 2014 Buyer’s Guide is here for you to ski faster, warmer, better and longer, and our editors tried it all, so we can translate that experience into guidance as you kit up for the season.
Dropping Knowledge is your intro class to ski terms and technology. Dive into the details on skis (pg. 34), goggles (pg. 82), helmets (pg. 92), boots (pg. 98), bindings (pg. 110) and outerwear (pg. 116). Likewise, each product reviewed gets a brief explanation of what you’ll like about it and maybe some specifics to be aware of.
On page 148, you will find the pieces of equipment that make it into our editors’ everyday kits, the things we trust, day in and day out. Also, scattered through the magazine are some products that didn’t fit our categories or may appeal to a smaller portion of our readers. We gave some tips (just the tip, though) about awesome items like Sammy Carlson’s backcountry weapon (pg. 61), Arcade’s keep-your-pants-up products (pg. 53) and more.
Finally, when you think your appetite for shiny, new things is sated, along comes the 2014 Brand Directory (pg. 153). Yep, companies paid to be in this section. They pay because they believe in their products and that in the wide world of skiers, some products might catch your eye, even if we didn’t have enough pages to review them. The products included come from companies that are supporting freeskiing.
Don’t be surprised when this issue leaves you salivating over a new outfit, fiending for a new pair of skis or sitting outside your local ski shop waiting for them to open so you can try on some new boots. If we’ve done our job, when you get to the hill on that first powder day or the opening day of the big line in the park, you’ll be skiing harder, better, faster and stronger.
–Nate Abbott, Senior Editor