Top Five Fridays
Top Five Fridays: January 20, 2023
Lead Image: This week’s leading highlight is a triple header product reveal from Bob, sharing news of a product that feels like it’s been a long time coming. Scroll down to learn more!
Hello, and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the January 20, 2023 edition! This week, we’ve got some breaking news from the world of ski gear, and while I (Matt) tried my best to convince Jeff not to steal my once a week spotlight, he was simply too excited and insisted on taking over highlight #1. And look, I get it this news is pretty exciting, and since Bob is one of our gear gurus, I reluctantly relented and agreed to give him the top highlight, just this once. So, with that said, I’ll turn this typewriter over to Bob and let him have his way with it for a few paragraphs. Take it away Bob:
#1: Introducing: BOA Ski Boots:
While BOA Fit Systems have been around for years in snowboard boots, ski touring boots, golf shoes, cycling shoes, and many other applications, for 2024, we’re seeing the first major addition to the shells of alpine ski boots in the form of a closure system. The general idea across the participating companies, is that the BOA system replaces the front two buckles of the boot for a more seamless wrap around the forefoot. This eliminates pressure points and allows for easier and infinite adjustments to the fit of the boot.
K2—We have them!
Apart from the mechanical portion of this BOA announcement, the big thing about K2’s BOA boots is that they’re available for purchase today! As the first of the companies to provide shops with stock to sell, this certainly puts K2 in a prime position to get a jump start on the market. Other than that, K2 uses a MultiFit Last that allows them to eliminate the need for either low-volume or mid-volume options by having their BOA alter the forefoot last from 97 to 104mm. The manner in which the closure system works, and in conjunction with a new toe dam piece, allows the boot to shrink in width without pressing down on top of the foot. In the K2 Recon 120, for example, what typically has been a mid-volume boot can now accommodate a lower volume fit simply with the twist of a dial. For ladies, the Anthem 95 provides an awesome blend of fit and performance for intermediate and advanced skiers.
Salomon—I skied them!
The 2024 Salomon S/Pro Supra 130 has been on my feet, in snow, for a few days already and I’m pleased to report that this boot fits and rips. As a skier with higher insteps and a wider forefoot, I struggle to find that balance between strong heel hold and gratuitous volume in the front half of the boot. Suffice it to say, I was pretty intrigued with the possibility of a BOA boot for my foot. I have skied the previous iterations of this 130-flex, 100 mm last S/Pro (X/Pro) boots from Salomon, and they’ve been great fits for me. BOA brings all of that to the next level. It’s nearly impossible to separate fit from performance in the ski boot world, since if it doesn’t fit, then there’s no way it’ll perform. The better the boot fits, though, the more performance you can get out of it. This is how I felt in the Supra with the BOA—it's so easy to get just a bit more performance, or a slightly more comfortable fit by snugging or loosening the dial.
With four more models in the Fischer BOA boot lineup, skiers are really getting an advantage when it comes to fit and brand preference. The RC4 130, RC4 Pro, RC4 120, and RC4 105, Fischer’s comprehensive lineup of BOA boots will offer something for everyone. At the top end, it’s worth noting, sits the RC4 Pro, which features a 140-flex rating and a ZipFit liner. If you were under the impression that BOA boots were meant for the mid-range skier, this boot offering will likely change your mind. While other brands using BOA have slightly altered the toe dam section for a smoother and more rounded envelopment of the foot, Fischer has largely kept the front of the boot the same, keeping with more of a traditionalist fit and feel. Again, this is all great news for skiers who now have a huge range of options within brands and models featuring BOA.
Another brand to release details and information soon!
We will continue to update the BOA story with a fourth brand, as soon as specific elements and attributes arise.
#2: FIS Alpine Ski Racing Update: Shiffrin Sits, U.S. Teams Rack Up Points Regardless:
Great, thanks for that update Bob! Now, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled Top Five Fridays programming, starting with, you guessed it, FIS Alpine ski racing coverage. This past week, the women’s circuit found itself in St. Anton, Switzerland for a pair of super g races. Heading into the week, we pointed out that although this race isn’t her speciality, Shiffrin has been skiing quite well in the super g this season, ranking third overall at the time. As such, we were hopeful that maybe this week would be the week in which she finally broke Lindsey Vonn’s record. What we didn’t consider however, is that Shiffrin could probably use a weekend off after her insane mid-December through mid-January stretch. As it turns out, that’s exactly what she did. Still, it wasn’t a pointless (pun intended of course) weekend for the women’s team as Isabella Wright earned a 28th place finish and Breezy Johnson finished one spot behind her in 29th in the super g on Saturday. A day later, Isabella Wright improved upon her performance, putting in a time good enough to earn her a 19th place finish. Looking ahead, the women have a busy week as they’re currently in Cortina d’ Ampezzo, Italy for a pair of downhill races and a super g, followed by two giant slalom races in Kronplatz, Italy on Tuesday and Wednesday. In other words, there’s five races in six days this week. While the races in Cortina are already underway, we’ll save our full coverage for next week, except to say that early reports are showing that Shiffrin is racing particularly well on the downhill course there. To learn more about that, check out the coverage from Vail Daily. To preview next week’s races, check out the full FIS calendar.
On the men’s side of alpine ski racing, we have a bit of a role reversal this week as it was actually their side of the sport putting up a number of notable results. The week started for the men in Wengen, Switzerland, where a super g, downhill, and slalom race were held. In the first race, the super g, Ryan Cochran-Siegle led the way for the Americans, earning himself a noble 6th place finish. Following his lead in that race was Travis Ganong who took home 17th. A day later, in the downhill, it was Jared Goldberg and Bryce Bennett showing up in the points, finishing in 20th and 26th places respectively. Finally, on day three of action in Wengen, Luke Winters showed up for the U.S. technical team, earning himself a 24th place finish. Looking ahead, much like the women’s circuit, the men also have a busy week in front of them. Currently, their circuit is in Kitzbuehel, Austria for two downhill races and a slalom race. From there, they’ll travel to Schladming, Austria for a slalom and giant slalom race on the 24th and 25th. Just like the women’s circuit, this puts them on track to compete in five races over six days. To preview those events, check out the FIS calendar.
#3: Sleeping Giant, a Community Ski Area in Wyoming, Offering a New Life for Some Ukrainian Refugees:
Next up in ski news this week, we caught a cool story coming out of Cody, Wyoming, where a local ski community has opened their doors to Ukrainian refugees looking to escape the war with Russia. The story goes like this: local Cody, Wyoming resident, Nick Piazza, bought Sleeping Giant ski resort just over three years ago, having spent the previous twenty in Europe. During that time, Piazza spent many years in Ukraine, building businesses, investing in industries, and ultimately, meeting his wife. In other words, the owner of Sleeping Giant has deep, personal ties to Ukraine. As such, when the Russian invasion occurred last Winter, Piazza found himself in the perfect position to play the role of liaison between families looking to leave Ukraine, and being a job provider here in the U.S. Without missing a beat, Piazza embraced the responsibility, and has since used the “United for Ukraine” program to sponsor the relocation of 10 families to Cody, Wyoming. Once there, they’ve been given places to live and job opportunities at the mountain. While it’s a far cry from their former lives, and the immense emotional trauma of being displaced goes without saying, the arrangement is proving to be a positive one for the families involved.
In the article from KTVQ News, the story of Galina Matsyakh is specifically highlighted. When the war broke out last February, Matsyakh fled the country with her daughter, first to Poland, then to Bulgaria, and finally to Cody, WY. Prior to arriving in Cody, Matsyakh had never skied before. Now, working at the Sleeping Giant lodge, she’s taken a liking to mountain culture, and enjoys her new community, saying, “Here we just feel like, at home. Why? Because it’s quiet, a lot of kind people who want to help us, really, it’s important for us. And here…safety.” While the future holds plenty of questions for Matsyakh, as well as the other refugees in Cody, the good news is that for the time being, they’re safe and sound in a community that cares about them and can provide recreational opportunities to keep their minds in a healthy place. For more on this, check out the story from KTVQ News.
#4: Colorado Sheriff’s Office Procures Four Ski Bikes for Officers to Patrol Purgatory Mountain:
Finally, rounding out this week’s news is a highlight from the genre of “stories that we swear are real.” This week, we learned that the La Plata County Sheriff's Office is the proud owner of four brand new ski bikes, or more specifically, SkiByk’s SB200. In a news column from KOB 4, we learned that the sheriff’s department has acquired these four bikes, which retail for $1,549, so they can respond to calls at Purgatory Mountain, Colorado more efficiently. The purchase is a part of their “Office Ski Deputy Program,” which places officers at the mountain so they can be on hand when trouble arises. In the report, investigator Frank Sandoval specifically cites a range of incidents that happen on the mountain that require their presence, including intoxication, disputes, and theft. As a result, the Sheriff’s department maintains a presence at the resort. Fair enough. Having law enforcement on hand at a rural mountain like Purgatory, where a response from the police could take up to 45 minutes if they had to depart from their station, does make a lot of sense.
Where it gets weird for us, however, is the addition of the ski bikes. Let’s start our line of speculative questioning with a scenario: there’s an on-mountain incident halfway down a trail and an officer needs to respond. What happens next, they hop on their ski bikes, ride the lift, and then ski bike down to the scene? Now, we admittedly don’t know a ton about ski biking, but our gut tells us that it’s likely easier to find someone with advanced ski or snowboarding skills who could make it to the scene quicker than a novice to intermediate ski biker. Plus, how about that 15+ minute chairlift ride? To be fair, the reason why these ski bikes were purchased was so that officers could be on the scene in street boots as opposed to ski or snowboard boots. Still, even given that tradeoff, doesn’t it seem like a snowmobile would be the most efficient way to arrive on scene, with street boots on? All of that said, and despite our skepticism, we’ll admit that it’s likely we don’t have the full perspective required to understand this story. So with that, we’ll simply say, we’ll see what happens with this experiment. Who knows, maybe next year every mountain will have police on bikes ripping around. For now, you can learn more about this current update by checking in with KOB 4. If you have any thoughts and feelings on this topic or our coverage of it, please, leave them in the comments below!