Please be advised that America is almost out of Alpine skis and boots. To be as plain as possible, if you are contemplating getting new gear this season, get it now. Today, if possible.
Ski racks and boot shelves are nearly picked clean. As you read this, just about every popular model is already out of stock. Much of what is left on the wall are peripheral sizes, like 160’s and 190’s, and replacements are not on the way. Reorder availability has been skinny all season; by now we know the cavalry – in the guise of a containerful of gear – is not coming to rescue us.
For those of you who would prefer to demo whatever you hope to buy, I wouldn’t count on it. While I can conceive of a dealer putting a ski in demo even when he has nothing left to sell behind it, it would be an odd choice. And if you do find a demo, it may well be the only one of its kind left in the shop. The demo window is never open for very long under normal conditions; this year, it may not open at all.
Many veteran skiers have been trained over time to wait until near the end of the season to buy, as dealers drop their prices in order to remove the last vestiges of inventory. Not a bad idea, particularly after a sub-par snow year. This season will absolutely not follow this pattern. In fact, today’s ski (or boot) buyer has zero leverage. If you find a ski you like in your correct size, count yourself very lucky and pay the price as marked. The timeless adage, “he who hesitates is lost,” has never been so true.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let me offer a ray of hope. The brands that are introducing new or improved models for next year typically offer their key dealers a small, pre-packaged selection of next year’s best new models. That’s the good news.
Casting a bit of shade on this otherwise welcome development is the fact that the available 2023 models will be few in number and are therefore likely to disappear as fast as snow in August. They will also cost more, as you can expect prices to move up next season by at least a price point. (The ski market tends to pick its prices at $50 increments.) If you want to find a villain in this scenario, don’t look at the equipment makers; it’s the world of global transportation that’s pushing costs upwards after roughly a decade of price stagnation.
I would also advise not ragging on your favorite specialty shop about paying full pop. They’re not in the mood to haggle, particularly since management, ownership and every customer they can recruit on the spot has been manning the front lines since the season began. Everyone is understaffed and overworked. Owner/operators who rather thought they might be laboring a tad less at this stage of life’s passage are instead accelerating their aging process by working relentless hours, trying to fill a labor gap that stubbornly refuses to close.
Tomorrow I hit the road to meet with the ski trade’s top suppliers and a goodly cross-section of its best retailers at what will have to serve as our national show, given that most Alpine ski brands have pulled out of the Snowsports Industries America show that convenes next week. It seems like forever since we’ve all gathered together, so this week’s reunion will be a welcome, if still incomplete, gathering of the skiing clans.
As I’ll be travelling and as such separated from my podcasting apparatus, I won’t be supplying a stand-alone podcast this Thursday. I’m keenly aware of the privation and suffering all My Dear Readers and Listeners must be feeling at this moment; I hope you recover from disappointment quickly, as I’ll also sail past next week’s deadline for a fresh Revelation.
Please don’t let this get your knickers in a knot; instead, take solace in the thought that all Realskiers Revelations and Realskiers with Jackson Hogen podcasts are free, so it’s not like you’ve lost anything.
Meanwhile, if you need new ski gear of any kind, get it now. Whatever it is you seek, chances are it won’t be around much longer, if it isn’t already gone.