With a Little Help from My Friends

By: Jackson Hogen

Published: April 17, 2018

By most objective measures, Realskiers.com is my web site. I own it. I’ve contributed nearly every word of content for the past five seasons. I’m responsible for the hundreds of ski and boot reviews posted on the site every year. No one else composed any of the 33 Revelations issued since Labor Day, nor any of the dozens of others archived on the members’ site.

But it would be a monumental mistake to imagine I’ve generated this library of content by myself. The entire enterprise hinges on the cooperation of many entities without whose support it would crumble.

Topping the list of enablers are the Realskiers Test Centers, specialty ski shops scattered across the U.S. whose owners and employees annually submit hundreds of completed test cards. Without their munificent contributions, I would have no data and therefore no foundation upon which to rest my recommendations.

It’s tough to conduct a ski test without skis and the logistics chain that gets them mounted and on the slopes. For this to happen I need the cooperation of the brands that both produce the products under examination and command the human resources required to deliver them. Left to my own devices, I couldn’t hope to pull this off for even a handful of suppliers, much less the entire mainstream market.

Realskiers would not have the reach it has today were it not for the perfect partner, a kindred spirit with a business model focused on thoroughly informing consumers and supporting best practices at retail. Masterfit Enterprises and its collection of America’s Best Bootfitters, fit, well, like a well-fit boot with the mission of Realskiers. I’m proud to collaborate with them on the America’s Best Bootfitters.com and Realskiers.com Buyers Guide, coming next fall on your favorite digital newsstand.

Some fraction of my credibility stems from the fact that I spend part of every week during ski season fitting ski boots on a wildly diverse cross-section of the American ski public. Without Bobo’s in Reno, I’d have no place to utilize my craft, to aid those in need, or to learn first-hand the strengths and weaknesses of virtually every Alpine boot in Christendom.

The denouement of this spring’s test season illustrates how many supporters pitch in to aid my program. I never seem to have enough data on Non-FIS Race or Powder skis, so the new owners of Footloose Sports in Mammoth agreed to stage the lot of them in their demo rack and a cohort of locals were finagled into skiing them.

Even with this kindly intervention, I still found myself in the customary position of having too few cards on women’s skis. In steps El Furtney, Director of the Squaw Valley Ski School, with the offer of a venue – the school’s rental shop – and a few well-chosen local talents to assess the assembled 40 skis, all delivered by the regional rep force. On Saturday, most of these skis will find their way to Mammoth where they’ll join another 20 models or so to enliven Stacey Cook’s Chix on Stix extravaganza.

The sunset on the top of Mammoth Mountain backlights attendees at Stacey Cook’s Chix on Stix program, one of many supporters who’ve helped Realskiers this season.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Kjerstin Klein’s Divas are delving into the pile of 2019 women’s models on behalf of Realskiers Test Center Willi’s Ski and Board, providing me with another source of data from a fresh perspective.

Without all these partners, affiliations and liaisons there would holes in my coverage and concomitant erosion in public trust. The lifelong skier’s confidence in my counsel is the bedrock of Realskiers’ support, without which it could not survive.

Ultimately, the supporters I hold dearest are my readers, for without a reader a writer is a solitary soul squealing in the dark. Readers are what make Realskiers a community, the component that connects all the others.

Any Revelation that alleges to acknowledge those who have spurred me to succeed must include at least a mention of my mentors at Salomon (Tom Corlett) and Snow Country (John Fry); Andy Bigford, who hired me to ghost write for Warren Miller; Peter Keelty, who founded Realskiers and embodied the site for over a decade; El, Stacy and Kjerstin for gathering women’s data; Corty, Zach, Silver and Larry at Footloose for rallying to the cause; Bob Lefsetz for his inspirational blog; my adorable wife; everyone I ever skied with; and, of course, The Dude, without whom none of this would be possible.

And so it’s from a bottomless well of gratitude that I close the curtain on another season’s worth of Revelations. Adieu to you all, Dear Readers, until summer drifts lazily into fall and skiing once again asserts its primacy in our lives.

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