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Can you share your impressions of protective gear: Asterisk knee braces, Level gloves, Burton back protector?...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hey guys and girls, Happy New Year!

 

I'm going to do more aggressive skiing and snowboarding with my son this Winter, and looking into getting us geared up with protection to avoid extra injuries. 

 

About us:

 

Dad - Mid-40's, ex- ski racer, race coach and instructor, solid all-mountain expert skier in all conditions. Train on bike, trail running, martial arts, overall decent shape, past knee, back and lots of other injuries. Want to protect myself so I can keep playing like a kid until I pee dust. :)

 

Son - 13-year-old, solid all-mountain advanced skier in all conditions, rascal, fearless, martial artist, trampoline and gymnastic tricker, not many injuries yet but prime candidate to need protection so he doesn't rack himself up but good!

 

We already have tailbone protectors (literally saves our a$$es on every mountain trip) and good helmets, now looking to round things out with knee, wrist and back protection. The wrist protection is really just for snowboarding, but I'll use the knee and back protection for both skiing and boarding.

 

 

Level Wristguard Gloves:

 

I have a 10-year old pair of Level wrist protector gloves, but will replace them shortly. Looking at the Level Biomex gloves, and the Dakine Nova Wristguard gloves. Looks to me that the Dakine is old school technology, like a 20-year old skating wristguard, cheaper for sure but maybe not comfortable and not the best protection---while the Level gloves have evolved and seem to have a good (and more comfortable) wrist protection solution.

 

Anyone using a new or recent Level glove? What's your experience been? Comfortable? Saved your wrist? Anything bad to report? I'd heard some people were experiencing itchy-ness with some Level gloves a couple of years ago. 

 

I liked my old Level gloves, among other reasons, because I could remove the liners in the evenings so they could hang dry and I could start the next day comfy instead of soggy.

 

 

Asterisk Knee Braces:

 

A friend recommended these to me, says they help protect him from further knee injuries on the hill. He's an expert skier, does some OB/Backcountry, jumps, general very aggressive skiing. I've done some research (including reviewing several-year-old posts here), and it looks like they are generally liked, really popular with Moto-X competitors, and there are several other options to consider from TLD, Fox, Pod, Evs, etc. Jim Castillo, inventor of the CTi knee braces is behind Asterisk, and his son Dave runs the company. Very confidence-inspiring.

 

Anyone ski with Asterisk knee braces? What are your impressions? 

 

Have you used other options? What did you like or not like?

 

 

Burton Back Protector:

My son and I are starting to get into park riding and park skiing, spent some time in the park at Steamboat last season, and will be doing that again this season. Will be doing rails, boxes, etc. Some guys I spoke with at Mammoth wear this to save their backs during a slip-up on a rail or crashing on hard objects. I looked at several hard-shell options to compare, and this Burton looks to be lower profile, and comfy.

 

Anyone using this for skiing or boarding? Any downsides? I'd imagine it might get a bit hot and sweaty underneath the jacket, but I can live with that. I wear breathable underlayers, and have zip vents in my jackets. 

 

 

Thanks very much for sharing your experiences, really appreciate it!

post #2 of 15

Can only comment on the braces. They have good rep. You realize of course that rigid braces don't prevent knee injuries. Too much movement still possible for the instant it takes to shear a taut ligament. Otherwise every pro football and basketball player would wear them. But they will stabilize an already messed up joint to lessen odds of additional injuries associated with looseness, and seem to alleviate OA symptoms. I find a brace essential; I use a different brand. 

 

I've worn back armor once, for a speed event, wouldn't normally because I don't do freestyle and rarely do speed events. But a lot of freestyler kids I see have them, a few alpine racers too. They make good sense to me for parks or halfpipes or backcountry freestyle. Maybe trees, too.

 

Have never seen wrist armor on a skier, so assume you're talking about boarding. Sounds reasonable. Talked to a boarder the other day who said that he wore wrist armor as he was in the middle of the learning curve, when the instinct is to stick out your hands. Once he learned not to, he said, he stopped wearing them. I've had the same experience in-line skating. 

 

If you or your son are contemplating aerials, I'd suggest making sure you have neck protection too. Not to mention neck and core buildups; I'm always struck by the number of pencil neck kids taking falls after air that would rock a NFL linebacker with a 21 inch neck.  

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Didn't know there was neck protection for in snow sports, what is it?

As for braces not preventing knee injuries, I would say that any well-engineered device that lessens load and shear forces lessens injuries including sprains and minor soft tissue pulls, and provides extra resistance to torque than what the body part is normally able to withstand. That said, a large force can exceed the brace limits to distribute load and there is definitely possibility for ligament damage. Does a brace avoid lots of small injuries? Yes. Can it help avoid large ligament injuries? Maybe. Depends in the specific instance. I have motocross and desert bike racing friends who are would be unable to race without their braces, after having torn ligaments without them and had them repaired.

I just want to help my chances of avoiding injury much as possible. Perhaps braces, fitness, flexibility and using best judgement on the hill will all add up to a long recreational life. I hope so. smile.gif
post #4 of 15

With all the body armor – I swear you are going in to battle rather than recreational free skiing. If you really need that much armor to survive the ski day. I would dare say you are vastly exceeded the limits imposed by your skill set. Perhaps investing in lessons rather than body armor would be a wiser course of action.     

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post
 

With all the body armor – I swear you are going in to battle rather than recreational free skiing. If you really need that much armor to survive the ski day. I would dare say you are vastly exceeded the limits imposed by your skill set. Perhaps investing in lessons rather than body armor would be a wiser course of action.     

 

Your first sentence was funny, and I was thinking the same thing! :)

 

The rest, I'll just say thank you for the thoughtful and good advice, and also ask that you re-read my third sentence in the opening post in the thread.

 

I will share the thoughts below in the interim: In my 30+ years of skiing, plus many other competitive, semi-risky sports, including auto racing, I've found that there are 3 key elements that are necessary to have a fun, safe experience in sport.

1) Fitness and flexibility. This leads to consistent performance long-term at all levels, and this has positive effects on safe activity.....and fun!

 

2) Skill and technique development. This contributes once again to performance, safety and fun. No explanation needed here of course.

 

3) Protective measures & protective gear. Learn how to avoid injury, and wear whatever you reasonably can to protect against injury and keep playing for years to come. Physics doesn't discriminate among beginners or experts. Everyone has accidents periodically, and without gear that can protect you, you're gambling with your well-being, sometimes your life.

 

I taught my son to ski, snowboard, skateboard, race go-karts, surf, spar, etc. I include all 3 of the above elements in everything we do; fitness, skills, safety. Eliminate one, and you introduce variables that can reduce performance, fun and safety. 

 

I would humbly ask you in addition to advising others to seek instruction and develop their skill sets (which is excellent advice, thank you again, you are so right), that you encourage, or at least support the use of protective gear. It is a valuable contributor to enjoying sport safely, and sometimes saves friends from injury or worse.

 

When I was an auto racer, I was the first in my region to adopt usage of the HANS head-and-neck restraint device. This came as a result of my observing crashes firsthand, then researching driver containment and protection with safety experts, including conversations with the HANS device inventors, and researchers at the Delphi sled testing facility who developed the Racetech HR (head restraint) seats for professional auto racing teams. I influenced many others to follow me, and go out racing with some better protection for their heads and necks. When skill sets and fitness are already at high levels, protective gear is the final step to thorough preparation for participating or competing. I definitely caught some flack from some great racers who chose to go without a head-and-neck restraint device, but their approval wasn't important to me. Dale Earnhardt shunned these devices and died because of it. A very close friend of mine did the same and lost his life on track because of it. Both expert drivers. Lessons learned, important ones.

 

I'll keep gearing up to protect myself, because I want to keep enjoying active, aggressive, adventurous sports. Safely. I've already got the fitness and skill sets developed, I'm finishing off my preparation with protective gear so my body parts can stand a better chance of long service life, even while being put through another half lifetime of adventurous activities.

 

Btw, I'm always learning, and love to grow the skill sets, so even though I'm an experienced skier and racer, there are no doubt many who are more skilled than I. It's always good to grow and continue development throughout life. I'll be taking more snowboarding lessons with my son this season, and I'm continuing to serve as the instructor for my kids on skis. So lucky to share knowledge with the young ones. :)

 

Thank you for your note, I appreciated it.

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super D View Post

Didn't know there was neck protection for in snow sports, what is it?

As for braces not preventing knee injuries, I would say that any well-engineered device that lessens load and shear forces lessens injuries including sprains and minor soft tissue pulls, and provides extra resistance to torque than what the body part is normally able to withstand. That said, a large force can exceed the brace limits to distribute load and there is definitely possibility for ligament damage. Does a brace avoid lots of small injuries? Yes. Can it help avoid large ligament injuries? Maybe. Depends in the specific instance. I have motocross and desert bike racing friends who are would be unable to race without their braces, after having torn ligaments without them and had them repaired.

I just want to help my chances of avoiding injury much as possible. Perhaps braces, fitness, flexibility and using best judgement on the hill will all add up to a long recreational life. I hope so. smile.gif

As far as neck protection, something like this, which has extensions to cover the cervical area: http://www.pocsports.com/en/product/1236/spine-ergo Nothing I know of protects the top couple of cervical vertebrae, thus the comment about neck exercises. My hunch is that injuries like Sarah Burke's could have been non-lethal if her neck musculature had been sufficient to keep her veins intact. I suppose you could fashion a neck roll kind of thing, but you'd need to be careful not to create a nice lever that would actually increase risk.

 

As far as braces, you're looking at it from a tech POV, I'm looking at it from a biomedical POV. Lot of literature, both epidemiological, and bioengineering on cadavers etc, shows that no brace that allows movement can prevent injury to a healthy ligament. That's because when a ligament is taut, and thus at risk, the amount of force required for shear, and the time it requires, is beyond the reaction capability of the device. That, in turn, is because any brace must encircle soft tissue below and above the knee; it's the orientation of the thigh to the calf that actually stabilizes the knee in most situations except for a direct lateral blow at the joint itself. Which might happen in a park, but would be vanishingly rare on a slope. The problem, ultimately, is that thigh and calf soft tissue moves, flexes, compresses enough that healthy ligament provides the actual stabilization. By the time the brace would help, the ligament's gone. So the protection is psychological, not biological. 

 

Now in a situation where you already have compromised/loose ligaments, the "reaction time" of the brace may in fact be sufficient to prevent more stretching. The ligament's already longer and laxer than it should be. Moreover, proper orientation will slow down progressive OA, which begins to occur on a molecular level after any ligamentary injury, even those that "heal," eg, build up scar tissue but remain functional. 

 

Hope this helps. I'm a big fan of braces - have worn one for years now - and when I owned motorcycles, wore full armor (different set of risks and issues). But my ortho surgeon and own research have taught me to be realistic about armor in general and braces in particular. IMO, ski lessons and strong conditioning prevent waaay more injuries than protection after the fact. :D 

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post
 

As far as neck protection, something like this, which has extensions to cover the cervical area: http://www.pocsports.com/en/product/1236/spine-ergo Nothing I know of protects the top couple of cervical vertebrae, thus the comment about neck exercises. My hunch is that injuries like Sarah Burke's could have been non-lethal if her neck musculature had been sufficient to keep her veins intact. I suppose you could fashion a neck roll kind of thing, but you'd need to be careful not to create a nice lever that would actually increase risk.

 

As far as braces, you're looking at it from a tech POV, I'm looking at it from a biomedical POV. Lot of literature, both epidemiological, and bioengineering on cadavers etc, shows that no brace that allows movement can prevent injury to a healthy ligament. That's because when a ligament is taut, and thus at risk, the amount of force required for shear, and the time it requires, is beyond the reaction capability of the device. That, in turn, is because any brace must encircle soft tissue below and above the knee; it's the orientation of the thigh to the calf that actually stabilizes the knee in most situations except for a direct lateral blow at the joint itself. Which might happen in a park, but would be vanishingly rare on a slope. The problem, ultimately, is that thigh and calf soft tissue moves, flexes, compresses enough that healthy ligament provides the actual stabilization. By the time the brace would help, the ligament's gone. So the protection is psychological, not biological. 

 

Now in a situation where you already have compromised/loose ligaments, the "reaction time" of the brace may in fact be sufficient to prevent more stretching. The ligament's already longer and laxer than it should be. Moreover, proper orientation will slow down progressive OA, which begins to occur on a molecular level after any ligamentary injury, even those that "heal," eg, build up scar tissue but remain functional. 

 

Hope this helps. I'm a big fan of braces - have worn one for years now - and when I owned motorcycles, wore full armor (different set of risks and issues). But my ortho surgeon and own research have taught me to be realistic about armor in general and braces in particular. IMO, ski lessons and strong conditioning prevent waaay more injuries than protection after the fact. :D 

 

I would be really afraid to try to fashion a neck protection solution (other than possibly using a superficial pad like the POC one you mentioned). Neck rolls create leverage points, as you mentioned. This is why I ditched neck rolls, in favor of a head-and-neck restraint device with a helmet with integrated anchors in my previous auto racing pursuits.

 

I wish there was a way to prevent vertebral artery dissections (and other similar vessel or internal organ injuries), like Sarah's, but I don't believe any amount of muscularity can prevent the extremely fast force application that causes sub-muscular arterial tears or organ tears. This is along the lines of your description of why knee braces can't prevent ligament tears. I had a very strong muscular friend bleed out after a motorcycle crash, and there was really no way to prevent his injury through muscular strength. Some things are just beyond absolute protection from injury (at least with current tech), and I believe Sarah's injury was one of them. I'd heard that she suffered an intracranial bleed from a vertebral artery tear (high up near the head, with the artery running inside the vertebral bones), and she arrested, further starving the brain of oxygen. In my simple non-doctor way of thinking, the enemy of organs and vessels in injury situations is space and time. There is never enough space or time to dissipate forces before imparting them to an injurious degree. This is why there is no easy solution for protecting the brain in football. Junior Seau might've lived to be an old man, if there was a helmet that could somehow increase the space and time needed for the brain to decelerate before suffering secondary impact within the cranial cavity. This is a fascinating pursuit for medical professionals (and so important), and maybe someday there will be microscopic internally placed devices that can protect vessels and internal organs. For now, we're limited to energy absorbing materials, and far too short of a time and space period to get the job done. Michael Schumacher might've died on impact without his ski helmet, but it did evidently dissipate energy enough to give him a very slim chance of surviving. It will be incredibly good when someone figures out a way to dissipate much more energy in the same distance helmets keep our melons apart from the hard objects they hit.

 

Regarding prophylactic braces preventing knee injuries, it's definitely an area of debate. Here's a study you might find interesting. There are variables that make the study imperfect, but it offers at least a well thought-out approach to determining whether a knee-braced athlete is benefitting beyond psychological effects. http://www.thumpertalk.com/wiki/_/knee-injuries-and-the-use-of-prophylactic-knee-bracing-in-off-road-motorcycling-r270

 

I'm inclined to try the Asterisk braces. I've not suffered complete ligament tears, only meniscal ruptures and partial ligament tears and stretches. If I can improve the longevity of my knees on the slopes, I'll do it in any way I reasonably can. I train physically on a regular basis (trail run, cycle, leaps, resistance, light squats and extensions, wall sits, etc), keeping the knee area strong and flexible within reason (I'm not a bodybuilder, I don't believe in pushing big weights). I'll see if I can get Jim or Dave Castillo to offer up some info regarding their own studies and insights gained over many years bracing knees, beginning with the CTi of Jim's. If we can get even a small improvement in knee injury prevention, that's worth it to me. I'm lucky to have my knees still functioning, considering the abuse I've put them through over the years. I have to do what I can to repay the favor and take care to protect them if possible. I'm not one for psychological effects. I giggle at friends who wore those silly rubber bracelets with a metallic sticker on them, telling me they gave them "balance". Only benefits were comedic far as I was concerned. :D

post #8 of 15
As for wrist guards:

I use the Dakaine Nova mitts on the board and Flexmeter standalone wrist guards on the MTB (I work in IT...a wrist injury means I can't work).

The Dakine mitts are well constructed and warm, however are a bit cumbersome. I normally strip them off when messing with bindings, however this could also have to do with mitts vs gloves. The wrist protection on the inside of the wrist is a rigid piece of formed aluminium, while the protection on the outside of the wrist is a articulating piece of plastic. The whole lot is held onto your hand by a wide velcro strap. Protection wise, I recokon its pretty good at protecting the small bones in your wrist, however you are still at risk of forearm breaks. That being said, if you break a long bone, odds are the protection saved the small bones at any rate.

The Flexmeter wristguards are absolutly fantastic. The protection is a single splint along the outside of the wrist running about half way up the forearm. The splint is articulated and allows a good range of motion in the wrist (with resistance). Because there is nothing inside the wrist you can still use your hand properly. The downside of the Flexmeter is it is quite wide and nearly impossible to fit under gloves. Flexmeter do make ski gloves, but apparently the quality leaves a lot to be desired.
post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ByronW View Post

As for wrist guards:

I use the Dakaine Nova mitts on the board and Flexmeter standalone wrist guards on the MTB...

 

Thanks for sharing your wristguard experiences, I appreciate it. :)

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingGrump View Post
 

With all the body armor – I swear you are going in to battle rather than recreational free skiing. If you really need that much armor to survive the ski day. I would dare say you are vastly exceeded the limits imposed by your skill set. Perhaps investing in lessons rather than body armor would be a wiser course of action.     

I am a proficient freeskier, and I agree strongly with what the OP is arguing. Although I am confident in my ability, that does not mean I don't take steps to add safety to the sport. Often, those who's ability we put so much faith in are seriously injured or die, due not to lack of experience or ability but to a mistake. Not only in professional skiing, but in every job. We all make mistakes at some point, its inevitable, and the severity of these mistakes can define the difference between life and death. Therefore, any step one can take to lessen the damage caused by mistakes is more than worth it.


Edited by kzkzoh - 1/6/14 at 4:33pm
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kzkzoh View Post
 

I am a proficient freeskier, and I agree strongly with what the OP is arguing. Although I am confident in my ability, that does not mean I don't take steps to add safety to the sport. Often, those who's ability we put so much faith in are seriously injured or die, due not to lack of experience or ability but to a mistake. Not only in professional skiing, but in every job. We all make mistakes at some point, its inevitable, and the severity of these mistakes can define the difference between life and death. Therefore, any step one can take to lessen the damage caused by mistakes is more than worth it.

 

So true.

 

Especially in high-speed sports, where the physical forces exerted on the head and body are massive if/when a mishap occurs, it's important to protect yourself however possible. Having a little inconvenience when getting dressed, but being able to walk away from an imperfect landing or a nasty fall, instead of spending time in the hospital, is a very good thing. Maybe life saving, depending on the situation.

 

In backcountry or even dangerous in-bounds terrain, where trees and rocks are present, you stand a decent chance of encountering a hard or sharp object at speed. No matter how experienced of a skier or boarder I am, I cannot control all forces or actions after losing a ski at speed or taking an unexpected tumble. I'm simply along for the ride, and my body is going to hit and bounce off of whatever is in the path gravity takes me. If I tumble over rocks, and my spine is unprotected, and I take a rock to the back, I don't want to paralyze myself or die. I've only taken two potentially deadly crashes in 30+ years on the snow, but now that I'm with my son on the mountain and he's advancing in skill and performance level rapidly as a teenager, the chances that he or I will have a serious crash are not only possible, they are probable. I'm getting us both protective gear, so that I can not only protect myself, but also so that I can influence him to protect himself as well and get through these next few very aggressive "superman" years. When I was his age, all the way up through 19, I thought I was indestructible. We'll gear up so that we can have fun, and be safe as possible doing it.

post #12 of 15
Before I retired from the Big Mountain Freeride comps three years ago I would suit up for a comp with a pressure suit, full face helmet, and knee braces. Outside of comps, a helmet. Today, skiing for fun, a helmet.

As a veteran of a few injuries and more than a few knee surgeries I had consulted with my surgeons and after the first ACL surgery (1998) they strongly suggested braces at all times. I did so for years and HATED them. In 2003 my surgeon said that data was showing that the braces wouldn't reduce the chances of further injuries at all. The only reason I still used them in comps was the shear impact of some of the landings.

Skiing is dangerous, so are a lot of things. I personally find that worrying about every possible thing takes away from my pleasure and I am of the opinion that a lot of these devices are placebos to make us feel good. I also loathe the time it takes to armor up.

All that being said, by all means suit up so that you feel comfortable. It is your body, and only you can decide what will put you at ease so that you can enjoy your day on the slopes the most
post #13 of 15

I know a few good instructors and one great instructor who wear body armor and use the asterisk knee braces.  They wear that gear everyday and say it doesn't affect their skiing.  I got a deal on a pair of asterisk braces and used them for a while.  They didn't inhibit my skiing, even telemark skiing, but I didn't like messing around with them every morning.  I would make a deal on them for anyone who wants them.  PM me for details.

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skierhj View Post

...Skiing is dangerous, so are a lot of things. I personally find that worrying about every possible thing takes away from my pleasure and I am of the opinion that a lot of these devices are placebos to make us feel good. I also loathe the time it takes to armor up.

All that being said, by all means suit up so that you feel comfortable. It is your body, and only you can decide what will put you at ease so that you can enjoy your day on the slopes the most

 

I ride in skateparks with my son with gear on, and the protective gear has helped me walk away from slams rattled but not broken. So for me, it's not a placebo, it's just putting another material in play to take the punishment instead of my bones and skin. For skiing and snowboarding, I figure if a back protector takes a hit instead of my spine, it'll be a similarly beneficial situation. Wristguard gloves, similar thought process. When I mountain bike, I typically just wear a helmet, but when I ride with very aggressive riders, and I know we're going to be bombing rough terrain, sometimes with loose rocks and overhanging branches, I'll wear neoprene forearm/elbow and shin/knee protection, and it really helps keep flesh on my limbs, and helps absorb minor hits. I've ridden without these things and trashed myself plenty of times and learned my lessons.

 

As for the knee braces, it seems to me that there isn't conclusive data as to whether they prevent injury or not. All I have to go on is the input from other serious skiers and motocrossers in my life. They wear them to keep in action, and couldn't continue in these sports without them. If I can spread the forces across a larger area with braces when big mishaps occur, it might help protect my knee joints in some measure, in certain twisting falls. I spoke with the folks at Asterisk, and they sound very confident that these devices can prevent injury. At this point, I'm going to continue to research them, and will try them at some point this season. Can't hurt, might help. My thinking is that it's worth trying.

 

I've never used anything but a helmet while skiing, and knee pads and wristguard gloves at times boarding in the past. I fully expect that at the rate my son is learning, I'm going to be doing some very aggressive skiing and boarding within the next seasons, more so than in the past years since he was little and I was taking it easy. Big falls are coming, and I've already taken several on the snowboard. When they happen, I'm planning to walk away so I can come back and play another day. After racing cars in mildly upgraded, then roll-barred and harnessed, and then finally dedicated race cars with all the safety systems, cage and safety gear, I've resolved not to go on track any more without doing it right. When I have all the gear and prep nailed, I just focus on going fast, enjoying myself, and while I certainly use best judgements and don't do foolhardy things if I can avoid them, I know that if a bad moment occurs, I've got decent a shot at coming out in the best condition I can, and avoiding some potentially serious damage. There is no way to be absolutely safe, but I do enjoy the assurance that I've done what I can to prevent injury with gear, and the rest is up to my fitness, skill and judgement. 

 

Like you said, it's all about what makes you feel comfortable. Ultimately, it's a personal decision. 

Michael Schumacher's still in critical condition from his ski crash, but he's got a shot at surviving. Here's an excerpt from a report on him today:

"His pace was completely normal for a skilled skier," said Lt. Col. Benoit Vinneman.

Schumacher, 45, the most successful Formula One driver in history, is still in critical condition in a medically induced coma at a hospital in Grenoble. The impact of the crash split his helmet in two and doctors say the protective gear saved his life.

I've attended free skiing competitions, and seen some competitors who just wear beanies on their heads. It's a personal decision. I just don't understand their decisions. 

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ordered the Level Halfpipe Wristguard gloves for snowboarding today, and also the POC VPD 2.0 Back pad (the one w/the waist and shoulder straps, not the vest).

 

At some point this season, I'll visit Asterisk and get fitted for some Cell model knee braces. 

 

Will post my impressions of all of these things in a few weeks.

 

Happy skiing and boarding, everybody, pray for snow out West! (Although I'm bugging out and hitting Utah and Colorado shortly.)

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