Boulder Nordic Sport
Despite heading out for an afternoon run in shorts today, I'd earlier spent an hour with the experts at Boulder Nordic Sport, one of the premier cross country ski shops in the country. I've decided to exchange running shoes for skis this winter and to try a long-distance nordic ski race. The American Birkiebeiner is a legendary race that takes place in my home state of Wisconsin. The event is three months away, which sounds like plenty of time, but I do not own cross country skis, much less have I actually skied on them. Last week's excursion to an area ski swap left me empty-handed with regard to equipment, but I picked up some sound wisdom about investing in a quality pair of boots rather than a pair of hand-me-downs from someone's garage that might be ineffective or worse during a long event like the "Birkie". I heeded the advice and sought out the perspective of those who really know, and in these parts, that's the folks at Boulder Nordic Sport.
Upon entering the specialty shop I was immediately encircled by brightly-colored apparel, thick stacks of skinny skis, and other assorted and unfamiliar accessories and accoutrements for every level of skier, from novice to world-class. Dan, a red-headed transplant from Minnesota who himself had raced in the past five Birkiebeiners offered his assistance. Knowing I needed the help, I told him that I was planning to compete at this year's race, but have very little experience skiing and that my goal was to find the right boot, a critical link between human and ski that would make a real difference in surviving the race rather than despairing and finishing the day early on the side of a cold snowy trail in the North Woods. Dan was the right guy for me. He answered my many (and very basic) questions and patiently pulled boots from every manufacturer for me to try on. He had me leaping side to side to assess lateral stability and mindfully sensing every contour of the boot to achieve a Cinderella-like fit free of pressure points or slop. From among the Rossingol, Alpina, Madshus, and Salomon models I tried, the Fischer boot had the best combination of fit and comfort for me. I was grateful for Dan's attention not only to my boot-fitting needs, but also to my questions about skis, bindings, poles, and waxes. It's a guy like Dan that make these specialty shops worth a visit rather than online shopping or the mega stores, even if the prices are a little more expensive. They know their stuff, they like what they do, and they love sharing their knowledge and experience with folks just coming into the sport. I left feeling like I got the right boots to get my nordic skiing career started off on the right foot (sorry!), and will certainly make follow up visits to Dan and his colleagues when the inevitable next question comes to mind.
It's nearly Thanksgiving and that means the day after is "Black Friday", one of the biggest shopping days of the year. I tend to celebrate the alternative holiday on the same day called "Buy Nothing Day" I don't buy anything. Celebrating couldn't be easier! The next day is "Small Business Saturday" and I'd like to encourage my readers to save your dollars Friday in favor of a Saturday visit to one of your favorite small, local businesses. I think it's a great opportunity to support small shops like Boulder Nordic Sport, and to express your appreciation for their role in enterprise. There's a website for Small Business Saturday.
Go Do It
The friendly and knowledgable folks at Boulder Nordic Sport can be found at: 3600 Arapahoe Ave, Suite 200, Boulder, CO 80303. Phone: (720)227-9400. BNS is online at http://www.bouldernordicsport.com. and they also have an east Coast store in Portland, Maine as well as a mobile team that engages the nordic community at major events throughout the winter season.