Gear up like an Olympian: Get ready for ski season with five expert-approved essentials
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You can skip the need to lug around a lot of ski equipment by renting some gear at your destination. But you can’t rent everything — nor should you, says Ashleigh McIvor, who won the gold medal in ski cross for Team Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and now offers lessons at Whistler Blackcomb as part of the B.C. resort’s Ski with an Olympian program. Here, she breaks down her gear recommendations.
For best-fit footwear
In McIvor’s opinion, having your own boots is a must, even if you ski only once a year. “They’re so specific to your individual feet,” she says. “They transfer the information from your body to your skis, and you’re not going to perform as well if there’s any disconnect.” Ideally, you’ll stop off at a local shop where an expert will recommend and adjust the perfect pair for your foot shape. But if you’re strapped for time, at least read up on the different fits. McIvor, for example, often owns Lange boots because they’re made for wider feet.
Lange LX 90 W ski boots, $480, sportinglife.ca
For cosy luxury
“Boot heaters are the most amazing little things,” McIvor says. They can be on the pricier side, but worth the splurge because they keep feet warm, important for safety if you’ll be out on the slopes for long periods. McIvor is a fan of the Thermic brand — she’s had hers for 10 years and only recently had to replace them because of standard wear and tear. Just do yourself a favour and have your boot fitters install the heaters for you, or you’ll risk damaging the wires.
Thermic Heat C-pack 1700 BT boot heater set, $450, fanatykco.com
For stylish shades
“A pair of goggles is probably one of the most crucial pieces other than ski boots,” McIvor says. Yes, they can be a style statement, but they’re also key for protecting eyes from the sun, reducing glare off the snow and improving depth perception. Right now, the skier favours the Oakley Line Miner goggles, designed to sit super close to the face to enhance peripheral vision, plus Prizm Snow Hi pink lenses, which work in sunny, snowy or overcast conditions.
Oakley Line Miner L snow goggles with Prizm Snow Hi pink lenses, $190, oakley.com
For a versatile jacket
When picking out ski wear, McIvor suggests you “think about how much time you’ll be sitting in the snow.” If you’re prone to falls, an option with a waterproof rating of 20K or higher is ideal for staying warm and dry. But, if you’re more confident on skis, provided it’s not raining, McIvor is “totally happy” with a 10K waterproof rating, as in this Oakley jacket. She also loves that it’s comfortable enough to take out on a boat during water sports season.
Oakley Camellia shell jacket, $240, oakley.com
For toasty mitts
“I don’t understand why people think you have to wear gloves to ski,” says McIvor, who favours wearing mittens, and even raced in them a lot of the time. Her go-to mitts are from Swedish brand Hestra because they’re “just so warm.” This unisex pair is made with durable army goat leather, features a breathable, windproof and waterproof upper section, and has a longer fit designed for skiers.
Hestra army leather heli-ski mitts, $195, altitude-sports.com
Travellers are reminded to check on public health restrictions that could affect their plans.