deckviewBy Dave Potter

Summer is almost over and fall is almost here. It’s a time when a person’s fancy turns to thoughts of — skiing!

If you haven’t begun to think about skiing, you really should.

More specifically, what are you going to be skiing on?

It’s time to take inventory of your equipment, so go to your closets, or for those of you who didn’t listen to me in the spring — attics, garages and crawl spaces, and drag out your gear.

Now look at it. Is this the junk you want to use again this year? Are you skis pencil thin, straight as an arrow and 210 cm long? Did you purchase your boots the year you graduated from high school 20 years ago?

Did you answer yes or even maybe to these questions? Then it’s probably time to buy new gear — or at least new to you. If you think your gear is holding you back, it’s time to splurge for new and improved stuff. Or, if you’re like me and are just tired of looking down at the same graphics, it’s time.

But wait. Isn’t ski equipment expensive? It can be but it doesn’t have to be.

Now is the time to buy new or almost new equipment at great prices. Ski shops typically don’t sell out their inventory of skis and boots from the previous season, so they rely on fall sales to clean out their stock to make room for new deliveries. Also, in the fall, there are various ski swaps where shops and folks like you and me bring new and used equipment to sell for cash. You can then reinvest that cash in updated gear.

But wait. How do I know what to buy? A good place to start is by talking to your friends. Ask what they are skiing on and if they’re happy with it.

I have a very knowledgeable friend named Frank who never throws out a Ski magazine. I go to his house, drink his beer and look up gear and read reviews. Of course, you can also read reviews on the internet.

Last, but not least, go to your local ski and board shops and talk to the knowledgeable people there. They know their equipment inside out. And who knows, they just might have a deal right there on the spot that you can’t say no to.

Last year, I went to one of the local shops to scope out skis for a friend of mine who was out of town and wound up buying a set of skis for myself. These skis turned out to be one of my better ski gear purchases.

A word of caution about buying ski boots. Most people buy boots too big! Why? Because they’re comfy. Don’t fall into this trap! Boots should feel like a firm handshake. As you ski, the boots will pack out and get larger. I wouldn’t buy boots without the help of someone who has been trained to fit boots. Luckily, at most ski swaps and all shops there are people just oozing with knowledge.

In Ellicottville, we are fortunate to have some of the best ski and board shops on the East Coast, as well as the opportunity to buy gear at Fall Fest in October. It’s a great time to buy new or used equipment at great prices.

So, get out there, take inventory and see what you want to upgrade.

And, as I used to say when I ran a ski shop many moons ago, “You owe it to yourself!”