Don’t read the 2021 Masterfit Buyer’s Guide in Partnership with Realskiers.com for its 62 ski reviews. I should know. I wrote or edited all of them.
Not that the ski reviews aren’t worth the read. But ski reviews on the web are as common as rice, while the Buyer’s Guide contains something no other publication, whether in digital, print or video format, can claim: the most respected, thorough and dependable boot reviews in the world.
As I’ve observed in this space before, product managers spend most of their time in the future; the present for them is two years away for the rest of us. So when the coronavirus shut down the 19/20 ski season, it triggered an automatic response in the R&D lobes lodged deep in my noggin: what impact will this have two years down the road?
If I knew the answer to this question with any certainty, I should be running a hedge fund, not scribbling about skiing. But after checking with several of the bellwether players in U.S. market, I have some idea of what’s in store.
If you ever saw footage of early-1970’s mogul contests, you understand the expression, “linked recoveries.” This turn of phrase sums up my repeated attempts to capture coverage of the primary players in the 2021 women’s Alpine ski market.
Before we learned coronavirus wasn’t street jargon for overindulging in imported beer, I had a plan in place. I’d paid handsomely to have my test card app refreshed just in time for the major western trade fairs at Mammoth Mountain, CA and Snow Basin, UT, which convened on overlapping dates.
When the ski world skidded to a stop last March, the Realskiers.com database had already logged hundreds of digital test cards, a very promising start to what turned out to be a dismal season. There was just enough data to separate wheat from chaff, a winnowing process that revealed the top 70 unisex models spread across the four most popular genres: Frontside, All-Mountain East, All-Mountain West and Big Mountain.
It seems like ages ago, but it was only Friday, March 13 that I skied Mt. Rose for the last time. I left the mountain that day brimming with blind optimism. My plans to recruit veteran instructors to rotate through some twenty-five 2021 women’s models were taking shape. I took a few test laps under sunny skies and headed back to Reno confident that I had my bases covered.
During my time on this planet, the value of knowledge – specifically, the detailed understanding of accumulated facts about the past – has been steadily devalued. The impact of the pandemic and the crater it’s left in the world economy has created an uncrossable chasm between now and then. The Firesign Theater once capriciously declaimed, “Everything you know is wrong.” How right they’ve proved to be.
One of the many casualties of our perilous times is that bootfitting as we knew it is over. The last time anyone was able to practice this arcane skill, the best bootfitters would literally lay their hands on the bare feet of their customers. All the good reasons why this hands-on inspection was the part of the state-of-the-art protocol will not be enough to save it.