Ski gear and equipment
Nothing excites an experienced freerider and upsets a beginner as much as the mere presence of ski sticks. Despite the fact there are downhill skiers who largely go without sticks nowadays, there are many situations in every sportsman’s life when it is better to have them than not to have them. For example, when moving in a flat field, skiing uphill, or maneuvering around the helicopter landing and take-off area, sticks are simply irreplaceable. Ski sticks give the first impulse to start turning, determine the rhythm of skiing and, if needed, they work as additional support. At high speed and in cases of poor visibility sticks have a sliding support role and help you to evaluate the situation and maintain balance. In difficult situations even a light touch of the snow can give a skier additional confidence, at such times sticks play act as sensitive transducers.
Ski boots were originally made of leather and tightly laced up to keep them stiff. As technology and materials have developed so has the form and technology of ski boots production: the use of plastic has increased the height of the boot; laces have been replaced by metal and plastic clips. Modern ski boots are two-layered – they are made up of one boot on the inside and another on the outside. The latter is made from plastic which provides the rigidity and protection from snow and moisture; the inner boot is made up from softer synthetic materials, which provide, first and foremost, comfort to the foot. The modern sports industry manufactures a large quantity of ski boots, which differ not only in terms of size, shape and color as dictated by aesthetic requirements and gender, but also by the level of rigidity. The hardest boots are designed for experienced sportsmen and good skiers. The softer boots are designed for beginners. A hard boot presents the option to bind the skier’s feet with skis and provides a counter weight to the pressures which occur during intensive, aggressive skiing, thereby making it easier to manage your skis.
The main purpose of a ski helmet is to protect the sportsman’s head from injuries when engaging in extreme skiing. A modern ski helmet is constructed in such a way as to not only protect the head from injuries in the event of falling but also to provide for comfortable skiing: it supplies air to the head but still protects it from the cold and snow. A helmet is also constructed with consideration to the aesthetic requirements of the skier or a snowboarder. A helmet is compulsory for sportsmen participating in official competitions for various types of skiing. A helmet is not compulsory for amateurs, although lately there have been calls to make helmets compulsory for everyone, with no exceptions. Some ski resorts require compulsory use of helmets for anyone under the age of eighteen.
In the mountains, the altitude means that the air is very thin and ultraviolet rays have a much more intense effect on you than they normally would. What is more, the snow is not only shining down on you but it is also reflected off the white snow and transparent ice from all sides.
This is exactly why sun glasses are such an essential item in any sportsman’s kit, as they not only protect the eyes from the bright sunshine they also defend them against snow fall, wind and other extraneous elements.
When choosing your sunglasses, you should pay close attention to the color of the lens. Glasses with golden lenses are the ideal option for skiing in conditions where the light is very strong. Rose-colored lenses are the skier’s best defense in cloudy weather. If you want to decrease the quantity of light you see while skiing high up in the mountains then you should use dark lenses, but for those gloomy days when there is not enough light, violet-tinted lenses are best. Transparent lenses are best for night-skiing and mirrored covers on the lenses will act as an additional defense against bright colors for your eyes.
Skiing clothes should consist of three layers which enable maximum comfort. The first layer - thermal underwear and an internal clothing foundation - fits tightly to the skin and removes sweat, directing it to an external layer. This liner is usually made from hypoallergenic synthetic textiles, which let in air, dry fast and do allow bacteria to generate. The second layer of a skier’s clothes should work as thermal insulation. The insulation layer not only denotes insulators inside the jacket or trousers but also different waistcoats, sweaters and so on. It is recommended that you wear a fleece jacket. Thanks to its quality and the way in which the fibers are weaved, this synthetic material is elastic, firm, soft, keeps perfectly warm and soaks up little to no moisture, allowing it to evaporate through to the third layer. The third external layer, or membrane, is the thinnest layer and is laminated (welded or pasted using special technology) to the upper layer of the fabric, or a special coating is pressed onto the fabric using heat during the production process. From the inside the membrane or coating can be protected by another layer of fabric. This allows us to make a conclusion concerning the most important quality for "membrane" clothes: they should be very light.
Skiers wear either one-piece snowsuits or trousers and a jacket. Until recently, one-piece snowsuits were more popular as they provided better protection against the snow than trousers or a jacket. However, well-made modern jackets are now providing equally good protection against the snow. This is linked to the fact that a well-made jacket will be tightened both on the waist and from below and that is also has an elasticized "skirt" on the inside which prevents snow from entering. Skiing in a jacket and trousers is also more comfortable as, when needed (for example, if it suddenly becomes hot), a jacket can be taken off, unlike the top part of a one-piece snowsuit.