Ski and board tuneups taking more time than usual

Ski season is here, but if you haven’t already gotten your gear tuned, you probably won’t make it to the mountains on opening day.
Published: Nov. 14, 2021 at 4:50 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2021 at 5:10 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Ski season is here, but if you haven’t already gotten your gear tuned, you probably won’t make it to the mountains on opening day.

“I was starting to notice how cold it was getting, and it was on my to-do list, so today felt like the right day to do it,” said Isabella Pilkey of Burlington.

Pilkey brought her skis to the Outdoor Gear Exchange for a tuneup, but she’s going to have to wait about three weeks until she’s ready to hit the slopes.

“It’s going to take a few weeks, like Dec. 4. I’m a little late to the game, but it’s good to have it done,” said Pilkey.

A wait is common this time of year just days before local mountains open. But Megan Shenton, the head of the ski department at the Outdoor Gear Exchange, says the business is having a particularly busy year. About 10 tuneups are done a day, with one staff member working on them at a time.

“We’ve jumped up a lot in percentages. This time last year, we had a store capacity of 50 or 60 people at a time, so that definitely made sales a bit slower,” said Shenton.

Ryan Daniel is a technician at Race Stock in Waterbury, and he and other staff say this is a record year in their 12 years of business.

“We were trying to figure out what was going to happen this year after our sales last year, and it’s over and past what even last year was. People are spending money and ready to go outside,” said Daniel.

Race Stock’s services specialize in boot modifications, and like the Outdoor Gear Exchange, Daniel says the appointment-based shop is booked at least past Thanksgiving.

“The range of people getting in and buying new gear is the full gambit. It’s not just your high schoolers or young adults buying stuff, it’s everybody,” said Daniel.

You might be thinking, it’s Vermont, of course there’s a demand for skis! But staff at ski and board shops tell WCAX News they have a few theories about why this year is different than any other.

“Maybe they weren’t comfortable going into a shop with a lot of people last year, and it’s completely understandable, and now they’re like, ’Here’s my four pairs of skis I didn’t tune last year.’ So that’s upping it a bit more,” said Shenton.

“Season pass prices such as the Epic Pass are dropping in price... it’s dropping more than half of what Stowe’s price used to be,” said Daniel.

Both Race Stock and the Outdoor Gear Exchange say despite the success, they’ve noticed supply chain issues like many other industries this year.

“The thing is we’re receiving some gear, but there’s little niche things that haven’t arrived yet, and they may not come in until December, and we really don’t know,” said Daniel.

In the Outdoor Gear Exchange, Douglas Topper is one customer who will be hitting the slopes a bit later this year as he waits for his telemark skis to come into stock.

“They’re gonna special order it for me, so hopefully there won’t be too much of a delay, but it’s just of an example of sometimes not being able to get what you need,” said Topper.

So if your gear isn’t ready to go by now, it probably won’t be ready by opening day. But, lucky for us Vermonters, there will be no shortage of snow.

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