Revelations from the Pontiff of Powder
The Editor of Realskiers.com, Jackson Hogen, writes a free weekly newsletter that illuminates some corner of the ski world. Topics range from how to buy, bootfitting advice, market analysis, injury dynamics, instructional tips and the spiritual side of our sport. To see a sample Revelation culled from our archives, click here, or read the latest pontification posted below.
photo by: Brian Robb
Your Man on the Inside
We hesitate to list all of Jackson’s accomplishments, not out of coy modesty, but for lack of room. Let’s just say, Jackson has played more roles in the ski trade than Eskimos have words for snow.
If you really want to slog through the resume of a career that has touched every corner of the ski equipment market, read more below.
About Jackson Hogen
Jackson Hogen has served as a supplier, retailer, instructor, coach, screenwriter, trainer, product manager, designer and general student of skiing and the ski marketplace for close to 50 years. Some of the landmark moments:
- Skied on Yale Ski Team for 3 years, where I was first seed in GS and AL and truly dreadful at cross-country and Nordic jumping.
- Last person chosen as full-time instructor for Copper Mountain, CO opening season (72/73). With too few lessons to live on, quit to follow freestyle.
- Qualified for back flips for the IFSA, the tour for PFA washouts and wannabes.
- Worked retail at Maverik Ski Shop and Norway Haus, in Breckenridge, CO
- Joined Salomon North America as Service Representative, conducting live, 4-hour binding technician certification clinics across the Rockies.
- Moved from a field position to the Peabody, MA office to supervise the certification program and develop educational services.
- Became Salomon binding product manager; later, the title boot product manager was added to the portfolio in lieu of pay. Before leaving the company in 1987, was responsible for all product divisions for North America.
- As Salomon’s representative, served as General Secretary of the ASTM F-27 Committee on Ski Safety. During this period, helped draft shop testing standards and liability release language that stemmed a flood of litigation.
- Served as Chairman of SIA’s Skiing Safety Committee, where we drafted the first skier classification posters to assist shops in implementing new binding release setting standards.
- For two years toured the country as a faculty member of the Skiing Mechanics and Managers Workshops. Lectured on ski tech, selling skills and risk management.
- Hired by New York Times Magazine Group to be first Equipment Editor for newly created Snow Country Magazine, the group’s first start-up. By the mid -1990’s Snow Country was the highest circulation ski publication in the world.
- Assigned task of improving Snow Country’s equipment coverage, assembled a spectacular test team and a strict methodology derived from prototype testing that ranked skis in order of finish, a daring innovation.
- Wrote comprehensive reviews for London Daily Mail Ski magazine.
- Wrote trade-related copy for Ski Business, Snow Country Business & Ski Tech. Coined the generic term, “shaped skis” when carving skis emerged as a force.
- Wrote and narrated Warren Miller Entertainment’s The Truth About Skiing, a learning system that included a manual, videotapes and audio cassettes.
- Wrote and emceed 3 feature-length TV shows for Outdoor Life Network with co-host Pam Fletcher. Hosted a special on the Outdoor Show.
- Co-created (with Bob Woodward and Paul Kirwin) Gearorama.com, one of the first digital platforms for ski reviews.
- Co-hosted The Gear Guys with Paul Hochman on Resorts Sports Network. We’d shoot 12 segments in a day, earning the sobriquet, Johnny One-Take.
- Designed Scott’s first ski line, a 3-model series that debuted in the Swiss market. Went from paper to product in less than two years.
- Began working with Head Wintersports in product development, marketing and team management. Conceived Head ski’s first website and created a freeride team with Johnny Moseley, Allison Gannett, Rex Wehrman and Darien Boyle, among others. In April, 2000 Head athletes swept the awards at the US Nationals in Crested Butte.
- Wrote the narrative for three Warren Miller Entertainment features: Impact, Higher Ground and Off the Grid. Only writer ever to ghostwrite for Miller.
- Wrote, co-narrated and co-produced Hotel Bella Coola with Greg Stump.
- Co-created, with Dave Bertoni, Desperate Measures, a comprehensive retail training system replete with manuals, videos and workshop tools.
- Hogen and Bertoni collaborate again on Planet Hospitality, a resort personnel training system. I deliver its message to one client, Sipapu, NM.
- Ski and boot tester for SKI magazine for most of the decade; also contribute several resort reviews, including one that continues to hang in the Forklift at Snowbird.
- Executive Producer sub rosa for Greg Stump’s Legend of Aahhh’s.
- Published Self-Help for Losers to test the self-publishing waters, followed soon by Controlled Fall, an anthology of early work.
- Co-authored Snowbird Secrets, A Guide to Big Mountain Skiing with “Guru” Dave Powers. Secrets teaches skiing from the mountain’s point of view, combining instruction with metaphysics to reveal our sport’s secrets.
- Contributes feature articles to Skiing History, including profiles of Rick Sylvester and Sven Coomer.
- Retail consultant and bootfitter at Bobo’s Ski & Board in Reno, NV, where reverential customers refer to him as the Boot Whisperer.
- Editorial Director and content provider for the Masterfit Buyer’s Guide.
- Editor & Pontiff, Realskiers.com
Lovely Things Readers Say
The recommendations for skis, along with Harald’s ideas have improved my skiing beyond a level I ever thought was possible.
Ray T – Former PSIA instructor
I’m a woman, life-long skier and racer and have lived most of my years at 6000′. Yours is the ONLY site I’ve ever read that tells it like it really is, no BS, no marketing hype or fluff! Thanks for keeping it real and for the well-written articles.
Just a quick note of thanks. I bought Head Rallys at the end of last season on your recommendation. Clicked into them this year and within 100 feet I knew I was skiing on the best ski I’ve ever owned. So sweet.
Wow, I am impressed. You are a professor of skiing!
You have done a masterful job of creating a logical approach to how to buy a ski that truly fits you.
By pure luck I discovered the site a year ago and immediately became a member. I can’t begin to tell you how much I have learned from the information you provide. You do a fabulous job with the site and the Newsletter will enhance it.
Great site! Anyone who doesn’t think this is worth twenty bucks is making a mistake. You changed my ski life.
Just a short note to tell you how “grateful” I am to visit an intelligent site, full of insight, wisdom, great deal of wit on skiing. Great honesty, well presented and too old to care about how companies will react.
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When the most prestigious boot test in the world sought a new partner in the ski domain, their union created the Masterfit Buyer’s Guide, Powered by Bootfitters.com and Realskiers.com. Look for the 2021 edition of the Buyer’s Guide on your favorite digital newsstand soon.
Musings from the Pontiff of Powder
When I left Salomon in the spring of 1987, my motivations could be distilled into three principal components:
• The parent company declared it was moving its Reno-based North American HQ back from whence it came. Neither I nor my family had the slightest desire to return to New England.
• I felt I was spending more energy battling factions within my own company than I was out-flanking our competition. I’d worked more or less without a break since June of 1978. My thin veneer of patience cracked.
• I wanted to write screenplays. Not that I had demonstrated any talent for creative writing or had any training in the field. I’d written reams of technical swill, brochure copy, training manuals and memos which created the illusion that I could at least write something, so why not screenplays?
Note that none of these factors involves finding a new job. At the time, I didn’t want to resume wearing the shackles of employment as they would interfere with my ludicrous screenwriting ambitions. Then the stock market went into a tailspin in October, crippling what little equity I’d managed to accrue on my minimalist salary. Oops.
Don’t let the title fool you. Although it sounds like it, this Revelation isn’t about the degree to which skiing is top of mind among Helsinki society. The purpose of this exposé is to shine a light on a subject about which almost all skiers are woefully uninformed, namely the condition of their skis’ bases and edges.
Just in case you don’t imagine this subject worthy of your attention, I hasten to point out that how well your skis are tuned and maintained isn’t just a factor, it is the factor that determines how well your skis perform. A properly tuned ski, regardless of brand or type, is a delight for skiers of any and all abilities while an untuned ski is such a detriment that even supreme skill cannot overcome its liabilities.
In the 1970’s, prior to the adoption of the first ski boot sole standard, boot makers were free to concoct any sort of sole they might imagine. Many skiers still used leather boots with laminated soles, even after the industry largely moved on to injected plastic, which enabled shapes and sole patterns leather couldn’t duplicate.
This incoherent jumble of boot designs showed no lack of imagination, but little consideration for how they might interact with a binding. Bindings were likewise free from any standards that might have limited the creativity of their designs, many of which were crafted specifically to reduce or eliminate the role of the boot.
To earn a coveted Realskiers Recommended medallion, a ski must score 80 or higher (on a 100-point scale) for either its Finesse or Power properties. For the 2021 season, we still use total Power and Finesse scores to determine which models earn a Recommended rating, and in what order they appear in their respective categories. But because the pandemic limited the data we could collect, we will not be presenting scores, letter grades or any test results for 2021 ski models. Because all our reviews are still the result of on-snow testing by a highly motivated and skilled crew, we are confident our detailed descriptions of each Recommended ski’s behavior provides an accurate reflection of its capabilities.
A Unique Perspective
Jackson has been a ski designer and product manager as well as a professional ski tester for over 30 years. He’s evaluated thousands of skis and told hundreds of product stories. He knows how the game is played because he helped write the rule book. He continues to ski every important model in the American market and report on them to a worldwide readership.