Ski swap offers opportunity to score big deals
Steamboat Springs — Pete Van De Carr’s advice is “be careful,” though not for the most obvious of reasons.
The annual Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Ski and Sport Swap is set for Friday and Saturday, and it offers shoppers the chance to score big deals on used gear, gear they otherwise might buy at Van De Carr’s downtown outdoors sports shop, Backdoor Sports.
That isn’t his concern, however.
“I’m a firm believer that anything that promotes skiing and people getting out and enjoying themselves outside is good for my business,” he said.
So it’s with that in mind that he said shoppers looking to save big at the ski swap need to be careful. There are plenty of deals, he said. Enough, in fact, that he even shops the sale. But without the ability to return anything, money easily can be wasted.
The ski swap is an annual event where locals put their used gear on sale with portions of the proceeds going to support the Winter Sports Club. This year’s ski swap will be at Steamboat Springs Middle School. The Friday portion of the sale, from 7 to 10 p.m., is an early bird night and will cost $5 for adults. Saturday, meanwhile, is free, running from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The available equipment will range from skis of all shapes and sizes — Nordic, Alpine and Telemark — snowboard gear, boots, poles, goggles, helmets, snowshoes and all the apparel that goes along with it, such as jackets and hats.
In addition to all that, new gear will be on sale, as well, from local and regional vendors.
When it comes to the used gear, the experts stressed that careful is the key:
• Beware of boots. Van De Carr pointed out that what feels a little tight Friday night could be a nightmare on the third straight powder day in January.
Winter Sports Club Alpine Skiing Director Deb Armstrong, meanwhile, said buyers should not buy boots too big. The foot will shift around all day and quickly rub certain spots red and make for plenty of pain. She also advised taking boots to be properly fitted post-sale, especially because the boots already probably have been fitted once.
“Not very often do you buy a boot and just wear it out of the box,” she said.
• Don’t go too old with skis.
“Equipment has advanced so greatly in even the last five years that if it’s older than that, people may want to stay away from it,” Van De Carr said. “A year or 2-year-old skis are great.”
• Check the edges, then the bottoms of skis and snowboards. Armstrong pointed out that scuffs and scratches on the top of the ski aren’t a problem, but excessive damage could be a sign the previous owner wasn’t very careful with them. Most recreational skiers won’t ever notice even scratches on the bottom, but those looking for race skis (and given how often racers grow out of skis, there could be some good race skis to be had) could notice small damage.
“For a race ski, I wouldn’t want to see any scratches on the bottom at all,” she said. “You’ll like a ski with a well-cared-for base. It will glide through the snow a little more effortlessly.”
She said it’s important to check the edges on race skis. Because racers tune their skis more frequently than most skiers, the edges of race skis may be narrowed down to just a sliver of metal.
“There will be people at the ski swap who can take a quick look at the edge and let you know about the health of it,” she said.
Consignment tags are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day until Thursday at Howelsen Hill Lodge. Gear to be sold then should be checked in at the middle school from noon to 6:30 p.m. Friday.
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