Jamie Starr - Marketing Manager Dynafit / Salewa North America
For those living under a rock, Dynafit has spearheaded the uphill skiing movement in the U.S. and Europe. How has this progression occurred?
Uphill skiing, or Alpine Touring, has been a popular sport in Europe for a long time. In central Europe, ski mountaineering races attract crowds numbering in the thousands. In North America, the sport has existed in some way, shape, or form for a while as well, but it has really blossomed in popularity in recent years. A desire for adventure, exercise, powder snow, and to avoid crowds at ski resorts are all reasons people have been flocking to the sport of backcountry skiing.
How has this changed skiing for the individual & for the masses?
When Dynafit invented the pin tech binding thirty years ago, it was a monumental step forward as far as innovation in the ski industry. Now, healthy competition on the brand side and increased participation (demand) on the consumer side have once again spurred innovation and we’re starting to see some really great new products. Obviously, individual skiers benefit from lighter, more reliable, and more user friendly products – and that dynamic is encouraging new people to join the sport as well.
Where is the ski industry currently focused and where is it heading?
The ski industry has a laser focus on innovation and brand dominance right now. It’s as competitive as ever, and brands are pulling out all the stops to differentiate themselves through their product offerings and build a strong resonance with the consumer.
Thinking of my future ski trips, no longer am I content with an on-mountain setup. I’m going to make sure I have touring gear, boots, etc. Talk to me about this.
You’re not alone. I share the same mindset. And, in fact, I have a closet full of alpine gear I no longer use. Luckily, Dynafit is making gear that strikes a perfect balance for all uses, whether it be on-piste or off, and for a variety of conditions and ability levels. I have a one ski / boot / binding quiver that goes with me everywhere. Less luggage to drag around is a good thing.
Let’s talk gear. Dynafit has been getting rave reviews for ski boots and now amazing reviews for skis. What should we know and what are you most excited about?
For next fall (2015), I’m extremely excited about the Hokkaido and Chugach Skis, Khion Boot, and Radical 2.0 Binding. These products have already won awards amongst the media and trade organizations, but I’m even more excited to start to see them on skiers next fall. When we talk about gear that gives a North American skier the performance and versatility they’re looking for out of that one ski quiver, this is the type of gear we’re talking about. Durable, lightweight, dependable, and most importantly, FUN.
Imagine you’re getting crushed with work in NYC, and have 4 days vacation in Telluride, JH, Japan, somewhere there’s pow. You want to be as prepared as possible. Why don’t you rent boots?
Renting boots is not idea, a crapshoot at best, and I would only do it in an emergency (like when my friend melted my boots on a baseboard heater in our condo before a big ski race back in high school). Even if I were flying to the Middle East, and I had a month of travel on the docket beforehand, I would still bring my own boots with me. Ski boots are the foundation of comfort and performance for any skier, and it’s crucial to make sure your boots fit you properly. Dare I suggest you consult with a professional on this one?
Same trip, I want to have one setup of gear, what’s in my bag?
Dynafit Hokkaido or Chugach Ski (118 mm. and 108 mm. underfoot respectively, elliptical rocker where the sidecut is perfectly matched to the camber, lightweight for their categories, but still real, hard charging skis with wood and carbon stringer cores); TLT 6, Khion, or Vulcan Boot (depending on your skiing style, body type, etc. these are all top-of-the line Dynafit boots that will excel in a variety of settings — from lightest to beefiest); Dynafit Radical 2.0, Beast 14, or Beast 16 Bindings (same story — from lightest to beefiest, these three models are made to please in a variety of terrain and conditions, whether lift-served or in the sidecountry or backcountry.
Are there benefits to having multiple set-ups?
As with anything, the answer to this question boils down to the level of specialization each skier is seeking. Of course, the more set-ups, the bigger the investment (Buy more! And buy more Dynafit! Just kidding.). But, for avid skiers, I think two really solid set-ups would be ideal. One super lightweight kit for long ski tours up tall mountains, and one that emphasizes fun on the downhill for when you’re on the hunt for powder. We have some brand enthusiasts with many more than two set-ups, and we have some with just a single setup.
As you know, I used to touch a lot of feet at Surefoot. For those looking to get into a touring boot, is fit still as important? Can orthotics/footbeds play an important role?
Thanks for reminding us of our foot fetish, Zach. ;-) Yes. Of course fit still matters. It matters perhaps more with a touring boot than an alpine boot. You have to wear your touring boots for many hours over many miles. There’s no lodge at the bottom, middle, or top of the mountain where you can peel those suckers off. Not to mention lack of hot chocolate in the skin track… but I digress. Invest is a proper bootfitting when you buy new boots. Trust me!
Dynafit enables ski touring, which naturally means more backcountry travel and more risk. What do people need to know and how can they be prepared?
Becoming educated about snow safety and backcountry travel is the number one most important thing any skier can do before heading out in a backcountry setting. Perhaps even more important than getting their boots fitted.
;-) And even when you have gained a good foundational understanding of these matters, always remember that it’s okay to turn around if things don’t feel right.
How can I get the most out of a ski touring experience?
In my experience, finding a wife who can break trail is a good starting point. And a wife who can guide. And a wife who shreds on the way down. But if you can’t find a significant other who can do these things, there are plenty of people out there who will take your money to show you the way. In all seriousness, align yourself with people who know what they’re doing and learn the ropes from them. With each ensuing experience, you’ll feel more independent and confident and the fun level will continue to increase. Guides are always good people to have along when you’re in uncharted territory.
You're stuck in a city, you’ve got one trip for the year, where are you going?
British Columbia is an awesome destination. There are plenty of opportunities to get flown into a hut w/ a helicopter and ski tour from there. The mountains are big, and the snow is relatively stable and can be deep!
What in the hell is going on in Japan right now?
Statistically speaking, it’s snowing. A lot.
Is it appropriate to wear jeans on the mountain?
The U.S. Snowboard Team wore them to the OLYMPICS! Maybe they’re the better people to ask.
Your top tips for looking like a boss on the slopes?
Dress like a skittle and make sure you have your colored lenses in your goggle.