Ski and Snowboard Gear Trends 2009, Part I

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Winter is upon us, and with it ski areas across the country are cranking on the lifts. Here are four trends and a handful of corresponding new products — from high-tech skis to a snowboarding boot with a built-in heater — that you’ll see on the slopes this season.

Cold No Longer
Battery-powered heat radiating from embedded conductors is a theme this year from boot, jacket and glove manufacturers. The women’s Burton Sapphire snowboarding boot ($219.95, www.burton.com) has a liner laced with heating elements powered by a clip-on power pack. Rossignol’s Hit Jacket, also for women, goes for a hefty $700 but comes with four warming panels stitched into its lining and a rechargeable battery pack that seats in a pocket. Outdoor Research’s PrimoVolta Gloves ($259, www.outdoorresearch.com) have an on/off switch to initiate warmth that spreads from the back of the hand to fingertips.

The Do-All Ski

Serious skiers of yore often kept a quiver of different skis ready to use as per the conditions of the day. But companies like Salomon now offer planks that tout complete versatility in any type of snow, including the Lord ($850, www.salomonsports.com), an all-mountain ski with an hourglass shape and a reverse camber in the forebody to accommodate powder, crud or groomed trail. Volkl ups the ante with its do-all Tigershark 12 ft Power Switch, a $1,525 pair that employs embedded carbon-fiber rods running the length of the ski. An on/off switch compresses or decompresses the rods with springs, changing the skis’ grip and power on snow.

Fashion Forward

Surfing, skateboarding and lifestyle footwear and clothing brands including Roxy, DC Shoes and Quicksilver are making inroads to the ski and snowboarding scenes. The men’s Quicksilver Last Mission Jacket ($200, www.quiksilver.com), one example, is a fashion-forward waterproof and breathable shell with touches like a multi-media controller and an inside pocket with a headphone port.

Freestyle Resurgence

File this under “irony”: Some teenagers now rebel against their snowboarding parents by becoming skiers. Freestyle skiers, that is. Indeed, the rail-sliding, halfpipe-riding discipline of freestyle skiing has taken off like no other trend in the sport. Skis like the Volkl Wall ($650, www.volklusa.com) — a twin-tip model with a symmetrical sidecut for switch (backwards) riding — are representative of the planks now employed by the baggy-pants-wearing set.

(Stephen Regenold writes a daily blog on outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.)

Women's Burton Sapphire Boot
Women

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