By Caitlin Croft

Mud, Sweat & Gears (MSG) has seen quite the transformation over the years, from its humble beginnings as a bike shop to the epitome of the Ellicottville snowsports ethos. Owners Kim Reading and Miguel Azcarate attribute their success to their staff entirely and this is the truth. Collectively, their team is comprised of 125 years of working for MSG and 200+ years of experience in the industry.

MSG has a special place in my heart as a former junior ski racer. Watching them grow and evolve over the years has been quite the treat; the staff is what keeps you coming back. Each one is well educated on how to fit and maintain the equipment, versed in the different product lines available and not to mention, a complete cast of characters always ready with a joke or a story.

There were times growing up I considered quitting ski racing and the staff would always talk sense into me every fall when my family made our much-anticipated trip into Ellicottville… or was that a ploy to keep my parents as customers? Hmm… either way, their ability to custom design your set up and understand your needs as a winter sports enthusiast is top notch. They have even earned themselves several industry awards, including two-time Ski Magazine “Gold Medal Ski Shop” and Skiing Magazine recognition as one of a handful of “Expert Ski Shops” in the country.

Recently, I caught up with Reading and Azcarate, the skiing power couple of Ellicottville, to talk everything MSG and more over a cup of coffee. “We have added two new skis to our product line,” Azcarate tells me. “Stockli is a very good high-end product manufactured with impeccable quality and they do not over produce.” (Meaning, they are always in limited supply.) “We also picked up Black Crows skis, which are a great all-around ski. They are boutique-esq and very exclusive in Europe and even rarer in the United States.”

MSG also has a total of seven Master Fit University certified boot fitters to get you that “I am skiing in slippers” feeling. They hit all ranges with the equipment they provide; every level from beginner to race, skis to snowboards.

In the soft goods end, they have added a handful of new product lines including Mountain Hardware, Kari Traa (funky women’s dry fit), Fjallraven (Swedish bags and lifestyle items), 686, Holden and Newland (apres ski wear).  MSG’s line of lifestyle and apres wear is in a class of its own “from just enough to over-the-top,” Reading states. Walking around while chatting with Reading, I think I added about 15 things to my Christmas wish list. The clothing at MSG is unique, fashionable and fits the active lifestyle, “taking you from the slopes to apres in a flash.”

“We are very excited about this coming winter; hoping it comes early and stays late,” says Reading. “We are also highly anticipating the new Mid-Week Deals you will find this coming winter to bring more people to the resorts and village.” What better way to cure the winter Hump Day Blues than some turns after work and a jaunt through the Village… I cannot think of many.

MSG recently rolled out a new website and online shop. “I am very proud of this new site and all of those who have worked so hard to create and maintain it,” Reading tells me. If I were to suggest — check out the employee bios — absolutely hilarious and only solidifies how awesome their staff is.

You can find everything you need to know about MSG at www.mudsweatgears.com or just go bug them in the store like so many do. You can shop 24/7 at www.skiyard.com also! They can be found at 18 Monroe Street Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Next time you are in Ellicottville be sure to stop by and say hello— you will walk in a customer and leave a friend.