February vacation week is here and the local skiing continues to be some of the best in the United States. The valley is excited to see old friends come up to enjoy the great skiing (and socializing), and is looking forward to meeting the new skiers who are experiencing the sport for the first time. The ski family always looks forward to new family members.

For new skiers and experienced skiers, finding the right ski shop is a key to long term happiness. Just because you read about something in a magazine doesn't mean it is the right equipment for you and your skiing. Here are some tips for taking advantage of the great services available to you locally:

• Buy your equipment where you plan to ski the most. If you have an equipment problem, you want it solved as quickly and easily as possible.

• Make sure to ask the opinion of the store staff and listen to them. The men and women in the local high quality shops can help you get boots that fit your feet and your body type. They can help you get skis that are right for your height, weight, ski ability, and skiing preferences. Racers, tree skiers, and groomer zoomers all need different skis. Think of these shop staff members as doctors of ski enjoyment and let them prescribe the right equipment to suit your "condition."

• Don't assume it costs more locally. If you have a budget, work with the ski shops and they can work with you. Again, these people want you to have a great time on the right equipment and they have options for most budgets.

• Maintenance should be in your plans. Treat your skis well and they'll treat you well. If your boots aren't quite right, the local shop can help you. Tuned skis and properly fit boots are wonderful things.

There is tremendous talent available to all skiers in our local high-quality ski shops. If you don't know where to go, ask your ski instructor or race coach where they go. Once you get there, let the shop staff help you make your equipment purchase decisions. They are real pros.

Remember, the best advice of all, take a lesson or attend a race clinic. You'll have a great time and improve your time.

John Macdonald is a Level III Certified PSIA Instructor and is a Race Team Coach and Trainer at King Pine Ski Area. You can email questions to John at jmacdonald@investorscapital.com.


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