What are you going to do about the coming winter? The simple answer is: Get your ski gear sorted and get ready to take advantage of these promising conditions!
Having just learned to ski this year, I have to admit that I have caught the fever! (I now understand why so many Swiss cannot hardly wait for winter as soon as the first leaves turn golden). Being a beginner tough, I am hard pressed to make the financial commitment to buying a full set of gear only to find that it is either too limiting or too advanced for me.
In order to make an informed decision based on a professional's assessment, I went to Pro-Skirental in Thalwil to find out everything I needed to know. Having received excellent assistance and answers to all my curious questions, I thought I would pass on my new-found insights to all you readers out there.
Renting skis provides you with the newest equipment, and it is all serviced. It also gives you the ability to trade up or down should you discover that a piece of equipment is not comfortable or right for your skill level. The folks at Pro-Skirental assured me that in a 3 to 4 year period, you will save money renting for the season and be happier with your equipment.
Pro-Skirental Thalwil also offers a rent-to-buy option. Get all new gear and rent it for the season. If you love it at the end of the season and want to keep it, 100% of what you paid to rent it will be deducted from the new price, and you get to take it home. They will also service your skis for CHF 20 instead of CHF 55.
From the minute you enter the shop, you will notice that you are in good hands. Watching Toni, Joe, and René at work, I noticed that they really listen to their customers. German, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English are all welcome. If you do not get this feeling in your local ski rental place, you ought to consider finding another one.
Boots: Not too tight
Toni told me that the ski boots are the most important thing, so it is better to spend a little more on the right pair of boots than on the skis.
Regarding the fit of the boots, I was made aware of a common misconception: The boots need to be as tightly fastened as possible. Wrong! The bottom two locks just need to close the boot, especially at first. Making them tight will just press the top shell of the boot into your foot. This will eventually lead to discomfort and pain.
The top latch should be firmly closed, but even here there is not need to make it as tight as possible. If the boot is fitted correctly, your foot should already be stable and snug in the boot. When you finally hit the slopes, it is better to be able to tighten your boots throughout the day than to be in pain and trying to loosen them up — by then, the damage is done.
Many newer boots have a three latch system instead of four or six. This is good as the pressure is more evenly distributed and is not crossing or inflicting unnecessary pressure points. The plastic stiffness should also be looked at, but consult with your service person because different manufacturers use these numbers differently.
Having your boots warmed and fitted with a custom insole will ensure that your feet are snug in the boot - without irritation caused by pressure. This will translate into more comfort and better skiing, as you will be able to move correctly and not just in the least painful way. In short, the right boots will make you ski better and safer!
The Skis: Get the right length and width
Once you have selected your boots, next come the skis. It is important to know what kind of conditions you want to ski in and what you want to do. Wider skis mean easier handling, but it can get harder to get on your edges for turning.
Narrows are great for speed, but require more skill. There are numerous factors and your consultant will find the right pair for you. If they are not the right skis, exchange them with another pair for the next time you go out. This is the beauty of renting, especially if you are still learning...
There are a few more things you are going to want to buy (as opposed to rent):
- Helmet: In Switzerland, there is no law requiring skiers to wear a helmet, but most skiers do. A helmet will protect you from accidents involving other skiers and will also keep you warmer than a hat. A good helmet will have vents to prevent you from sweating.
- Ski goggles: Snow reflects up to 90% of the sunlight hitting it. With large surfaces hiding dips, holes, edges and other contours, it is important to be able to see clearly. Good ski goggles will help you do just that, while they protect your eyes from harmful UVA rays. If you already have a helmet, bring it in when shopping for new goggles, as the contour match will make them work better together.
- Back protector: Much like the helmet, a back protector will absorb the shock on your back in case of any spills or crashes with other skiers. A good protector with a built-in wide belt will also help keep your bladder warm. Important here is that the protector is not too large, as it could result in further injury.
- Gloves: Of course you would not go skiing without gloves, but getting the right pair is equally important. They should be nicely sealed around the wrist to prevent snow and cold from getting to your hands. Skiers do not need wrist stabilizers like snowboarders.
- Ski socks: Good socks will keep your feet warm without excessive sweat. They are made of special fabrics, especially where your boots may rub a little.
5 Tips to Help Make Your Renting Easier:
Because time is valuable to us all and we want the best equipment and service, I asked Toni for 5 tips to make renting and/or buying skis easier. Here is what he told me:
- Know your abilities. Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced skier? What can you do and what do you want to do. Be honest.
- Tell the person helping you how you like to ski: Tight curves, fast, relaxed, backwards etc.
- Are you fit? Other than skiing, do you do other sports? If so, what kind of sports (endurance, strength)?
- Where do you plan on skiing the most? The best rental personnel will know if there are many black pistes and how difficult the area is. Not all red pistes are created equal...
- If you are renting for your children, which league are they in?