Steve H:Hello and welcome to another podcast episode. I'm Steve, I'm the host, and across from me is Steve Kopitz the Ski-E-O of Summit Sports which includes skis.com and snowboards.com. Steve, how's it going?
Steve K:Good. How are you doing today, Steve?
Steve H:I'm doing pretty well. Let's just get right into it. How often did you get to go skiing this year?
Steve K:I think I had about 25 or 26 ski days this year. Most of those were out west a couple of those in the Midwest.
SH:And, I guess, which ones were the best?
SK:I just got back from Park City and it was Spring-skiing so the conditions weren't great but it was fifty degrees and sunny and people were skiing in their bathing suits so that was pretty fun.
SH:That's pretty cool. Is that the only time you went to Park City this year?
SK:No, I actually went to Park City three times this year. I did a couple of days in Aspen and Winter Park this year.
SH:Excellent. What level skier would you consider yourself?
SK:Well, I would have classified myself twenty years ago as expert but since then I've had three knee surgeries and getting a little older so I probably degraded down to an advanced level skier.
SH:And what skis do you usually ski on?
SK:Well, being in the business I'm fortunate enough to have a few different pairs of skis, I actually have 7 pairs, I believe. My favorites from last year are my Nordica Hell and Backs - that's sort of my go-to ski for out-west, all-mountain. My other favorite is my Bent Chetlers, my Atomic Bent Chetlers which are my powder skis, they're about 120 wide in the waist so a little big for every day skiing. And if I'm skiing east coast or Michigan I have a pair of Nordica Jet Fuels which are only about 85 in the waist and those are much better for hard pack and icy conditions. They're hold an edge a little better.
SH:How do you determine which ones you take where?
SK:Well, if I don't what the conditions are going to be I sort of take my all-mountain this year, the Nordica Hell and Back which I just love that ski. That's 98 at the waist and that's sort of good for everything. But if I can bring two pairs of skis I'll bring a powder ski along with it as well.
SH:Your wife skis as well…
SH:What level skier would you consider her?
SK:I would call her a very strong intermediate to sort of entry-level advanced. She didn't start skiing until she was thirty. Actually, believe it or not, it sounds a little cold of me but it was a condition of our marriage. I told her I wouldn't marry her unless she learned how to ski. I wasn't in the ski business back then but it was such a passion for me that I couldn't imagine not skiing with her, having her stay home when I go out west or to sit at the lodge or whatever. She had to join me otherwise I'd probably give up skiing which I didn't want to do. She agreed. She said she had to have two conditions met. One was she said she had to be warm so I went out and bought her the warmest, puffiest down jacket I could find and great long underwear and she said she had to like it so I rigged it so I took her out to Steamboat Springs at the end of March when it was beautiful, sunny, forty degree weather and she fell in love. She loved it. She's been an avid skier with me getting worse with my knee surgeries and her getting better we pretty much ski the same stuff now.
SH:Very good. I got my wife to ski. She had only been skiing once but I got her to ski a couple years ago and now she has her own pair of skis and jacket and everything going too.
SK:Great. Actually we have two kids now. They're grown now but I think skiing is an awesome family sport and it's the one thing that always brings the family together. Both my kids, my son and daughter are very avid skiers and have a lot of passion for it, they're also in the industry as well. I don't think if my wife skied that would have been as easy to accomplish. If my wife didn't ski that that would have been as easy to accomplish.
SH:Based on your wife's ski level, what kind of skis does she have?
SK:My wife has a pair of Atomic Affinity Storms. It's an 85 waist ski so for a woman that's the equivalent of a 95 waisted for a men's ski. So, it's about the equivalent female ski to my all-mountain Nordica Hell and Backs.
SK:And she also has a powder ski as well. It's about 105 in the waist. It's a K2 Ski she will use on deep powder days.
SH:Okay. Not only are you the Ski-E-O but you buy the skis as well. What do you look for when buying skis for the consumer?
SK:As the buyer and owner of skis.com our goal is to pretty much have anything that anybody could want especially when it comes to skis and boots. We carry virtually every brand but there aren't…we don't always carry every single model within a brand. We do take about 30-35 of our employees to test skis for three days and we will test and actually video, the videos are on skis.com, we'll videotape their reviews, we do about a 1000 of those every year. And if the reviews come back on a particular ski not very positive then I'll typically cut that ski out of the buy so you don't typically see a lot of reviews for skis that are rated at 1 or 2 out of 5 because those skis have been eliminated from the buy thanks to the help of my testers. So, I try to make sure every ski in the buy gets an above average rating or better. But pretty much we try to carry soup-to-nuts so I carry everything. It's more a question of which skis I go deep in and which skis do I carry lightly.
SH:Do graphics matter at all?
SK:Graphics matter a lot, particularly on women's skis, but they also matter a lot on adult skis, mens skis and they especially also matter for the kids who are in the park and pipe. Graphics and brands are very important.
SH:What skis have made an impression on you for this upcoming year?
SK:I would say there's probably 4 series of skis that I thought, from my personal standpoint, would be big winners for this upcoming year from the last ski test we did. The Nordica Hell and Back which is my favorite ski from last year the new line has a whole series of Hell and Back Skis). I just thought they skied amazing, anywhere from an 85 waist up to 105 waist for an all-mountain ski. My absolute, blown away, surprise for me was the Line Sick Day. It's a new series from Line's Skis they come with 95 waisted and above. They skied amazingly well. I've never been a big Line fan although I know they're popular as twin tips but in terms of all-mountain, the Sick Days were absolutely amazing, I was very surprised.
SH:What made those skis so amazing?
SK:Most of the skis these days have technology on the top. You can see that there is some vibration dampening device or extra material. These were just plain old looking flat skis and I just expected them to ski like any Line did in the past and it wasn't just me but it was probably the favorite ski in the test by all of our employees. It just somehow managed to carve, finish turns, hold an edge and amazingly stable. I wasn't expecting. The other two are the Atomic Nomad Series. Atomic redesigned the Nomad series so if you're looking for a more of a system ski for hard pack, ice conditions, more of a Midwest or east-type of conditions, that was my absolute favorites. The Nomad Blackeye was the favorite within that group.
And sort of an outlier, I own a pair of Armada ARVs. They redesigned the ARVs this year with titanium in it and I thought that ski just skied great. It's the ARV which has just been so popular reinvented or re-devised with a little stiffener in it that made it ski great. So, those are my four favorites.
SH:And, let's say a skier has been skiing for five years since they bought their last pair of skis. They like it, they like using it, but should they buy a new one? And, if so, why?
SK:Well, it kind of depends. Nowadays skis have become so specific that a lot of skiers are finding that if they're skiing 20 or more days a year and they ski in different kinds of conditions they're picking up a second set of skis so it's not that they need to replace their first set, a lot of people are picking up a second set that's wider if they're going out west, if they're an east coast skier. Or if they're a west skier to pick up a second set of powder skis. There's a lot of skis that have tried to be a one-ski quiver, a one-ski good-for-all but it really just doesn't work. So when you have a second set of skis for either icier conditions or powdery conditions it really allows you to enjoy the conditions of that day much better. But in terms of a person who has one set of skis looking for another one it really does blow me away how much skis have gotten better just from year-to-year. I'll give you an example. The Rossi Experience Series, the Experience 88 is the one that I have, was absolutely the best in test two years ago; everyone was blown away by it. We tested it again last year and again this year, it's still in the line, it's still a good ski but it was not anything close to best in test this year compared to the four skis I mentioned earlier. Which means that the same ski which was awesome, amazing is just sort of average nowadays compared to the skis that have just come out one or two years since then.
SH:Oh wow. Finally, you just got back from Park City and you've skied in the summertime before. Where does one ski when it's hot here in the states?
SK:Well there's a couple of places you can do that in the states. Mt. Hood, Canada -Whistler has summer skiing up on the glaciers. In my case, a couple years ago I had the opportunity to go to Chile and test skis for K2 which was amazing so it was September and we were down in Chile. Of course, their seasons are opposite of ours so that would have been about the equivalent of March in our season. So it was like spring skiing but for South America.
SH:Very good. Well thank you very much for taking the time to join us today and thank you everybody for listening to the podcast for skis.com and snowboards.com.