What We’ve Learned This Season

By: Jackson Hogen

Published: June 1, 2019

While stumbling through the poorly marked corridors of my cortex searching for an idea that would somehow summarize the entire 2018/19 ski season, I realized I wasn’t up to the task. There are too many trends, counter-trends and crosscurrents to compose a tidy narrative.

In lieu of a more pithy analysis, here, in nugget form, are what I would call the major trends and market influences that helped define the past season.

While more investment is going into narrower ski models (Frontside and All-Mountain East), the wide ski categories aren’t shrinking and the All-Mountain West genre is still very important.

Some of the many manifestations of the Lighter is Better (LIB) movement are homing in on a sweet spot where lightweight construction doesn’t compromise performance.

Scenes from a season: Jackson at various venues this past year.

The women’s ski market is strong and growing. Although many women’s models still mimic a unisex template, the diversity of models in shorter lengths for littler people has never been so abundant.

The Ikon, Epic and Mountain Collective passes have radically altered skier visitation patterns at major resorts. The strain on infrastructure showed, and the way forward appears murky.

Cumulatively, the zillions of small-batch ski brands have siphoned off a sizable slice of the market that formerly went to mainstream suppliers.

In thirty years, all of these issues are going to sound like so much fiddling while Rome burns. If we don’t collectively address climate change, we may be still be skiing on something in 2050, but it might not be snow.

On that sobering note, allow me to cheer you up by offering this handy digest to this season’s Revelations, organized by topic. What better way to review 2018/19 than through the prism of my weekly musings?

About Skis

Can the Pressure to Innovate Warp Time? Product lifecycles are so short, it feels to the people charged with creating skis that time itself is warping.

The Skis of the Year Everybody loves a winner. In which I pick my favorite 2018/19 skis in each Realskiers category.

Liberty Busts a Move into the Big Leagues We’re always on the lookout for small brands with a unique approach and first-rate quality control. We found one.

Your Next Ski, Revisited For years we’ve been advising women that they should shop in the All-Mountain East category. What’s good for the goose…

What Tomorrow Brings A look over the horizon at what’s coming next season.

Mixed Media Messages I present four video segments about the current ski market, all captivating, riveting documentaries as edifying as they are entertaining.

About Boots

P-165 I extol an R&D initiative from Tecnica wherein the Italian boot brand turned to North American bootfitters for advice and inspiration.

The Lessons of P-165 The implications of the P-165 saga are highly instructive.

Your Equipment Isn’t Getting Any Younger Just because a boot looks okay doesn’t mean it isn’t on the verge of extinction.

What Your Boots Are Trying to Tell You Jack Rafferty is one of the world’s best bootfitters and an authority on bootspeak, or what you’re boots are trying to say.

A Message That Bears Repeating Boots are more important than skis. There, I’ve said it again.

The Great Divide What separates a good ski experience from a dreadful one are your boots. An advice column aimed at the small army of returning skiing dropouts.

Shell Games On the downside, there are no standards for boot flex or volume measurement. On the upside, buying boots on the web is no longer just nuts, it’s virtually impossible.

On the Front Lines of Retail

The Missing Link Jan’s Mountain Outfitters in Park City and Deer Valley, Utah, takes justifiable pride in their ability to help skiers get balanced in their boots.

A Moveable Feast The trade show scene has been a cauldron of change. This piece imagines how it might evolve.

The Winter Divas Kjerstin Klein of Willi’s Ski and Snowboard Shops in Pittsburgh and its environs, has assembled a contingent of real-world women to evaluate skis for a wide variety of criteria.

                                                                                                 More good times from a ski season that’s far from over.

On Skiing

Opening Pandora’s Box: The Blizzard of Aahhh’s Turns 30 No other film has had as much impact on future ski film-making – or on the culture at large – as BOA.

The Making of a Skier, Part I In order to let down the veil that separates a writer from his readers, I share fuzzy memories from my early days as a skier.

The Making of a Skier, Part II: Shorties and Other Tales I grew up on the narrow trails of Big Bromley, in Peru, Vermont. More of my personal saga.

The Best Ski Test Team Ever You know what they say about nostalgia: it ain’t what it used to be. A pictorial romp through an archive of Snow Country Magazine shots.

Four Ways to Improve Your Quality of Life I’m all about elevating standards. In this monograph, I attempt to up yours.

The Best Skier on the Mountain Once upon a time, the best skiers were all ex-racers. Then came a Dark Period in which the absence of technique became a technique. The pendulum has swung back.

To Ski Better in All Terrain, Tweak Your Tactics There’s more than one way to get down the hill. It pays to know how to fiddle with the fundamentals.

The Making of a Skier Part III: The Breckenridge Years Once I escaped the gravity of my Ivy League incubation tank, I became the quintessential ski bum.

The Movie in Your Mind If people could only see themselves ski… Wait a minute, we’re living in the golden age of video. What’s stopping them?

On Life

On Genius In which I ponder an imponderable. A rumination inspired by the experience of writing Snowbird Secrets.

On Sensuality A chapter lifted directly from Snowbird Secrets, this meditation outlines the relationship between the physical and the spiritual.

Time to Congregate & Evaluate Both a prelude to the trade fair season and a compendium of tributes to the late Peter Keelty from those who knew and loved him.

Origin Story To commemorate the tenth anniversary of a seminal moment in my adult life, – namely, my death – I attempt to explain what happened on March 13, 2009. It involves angels.

About Realskiers

Everything You Wanted to Know about Skiing But Were Afraid to Ask In which I explain how impoverished your life will be without Realskiers.com.

A Heart-Wrenching Appeal for Your Support Without reader support, Realskiers.com would cease to exist. Who would want to live in a world without it?

Why Another Buyer’s Guide? We created a new Buyer’s Guide because all skiers can benefit from insider intel from pros who spend their lives studying the sport.

To all my Dear Readers, please try to enjoy the rest of your spring and summer without me. I still have many ski test runs to take, scores to log and data to crunch. Not to mention dozens of reviews to write for Realskiers.com and the America’s Best Bootfitters.com Buyer’s Guide.

Meanwhile, I’m always available to my subscribers via the consultation link on the members’ site. And if any of you are running around Squaw Valley, Mt. Rose or Mammoth Mountain over the next few weeks, let’s take a run together.

See you on the slopes.

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