Don Hinsvark, Nordic equipment specialist, is referred to as “The Nordic Guy” by his co-workers. We sat down to discuss equipment, different cross country ski styles, and the cost of cross country skiing for introductory- and beginner-level skiers.
Q: What are the most popular brands sought by cross country skiers?
Don: “I’ve found that rather than be brand specific, I like to start with the boots and build up a package from the boots. And so, that’s the most important part of the cross country package. Rather than look at a particular brand, I’ll bring out two, or three, or four different boots. Say, if you were my customer, I’d bring out two or three or four different boots and we’ll find the boot that is magical for you and then build a package around that. So, it could be a number of different brands.”
Q: What’s the criteria for the magic boot?
Don: “You’ll tell me. It’s no different than picking out a pair of hiking boots or running shoes over in our footwear department. You’ll know.”
Q: For beginner Nordic skiers coming into the store, what is your process for recommending a certain style of skiing to them?
Don: “There’s cross country skiing, which is basically putting some boots on and a pair of skis and shuffling or hiking along on a track, maybe making your own tracks. Or, there’s skate skiing. You see a lot of skate skiers in the Olympics. I consider the difference between classic cross country skiing and skate skiing as the difference between hiking and running. You can go out and hike once a month, but it’s hard to go out and run once a month. So, the people who are skate skiing, doing some of the more expert type cross country skiing, are doing it in towns like Steamboat or Breckenridge that have dedicated tracks and people go out on their lunch hour and do it, rather than going out on a weekend, every other weekend, trying to do it. We sell a lot of the classic type cross country skiing where people can get a package and they can go up to someplace that has snow on the weekends, or every other weekend, or once a month and have fun. Some of the expert stuff you’re going to find is not in our customer base, and that it is going to be in some of the Nordic towns.
Q: The freestyle is for someone with more expertise who can ski more often?
Don: “And I think it will be someplace where they can do it more often.”
Q: What articles of equipment will skiers need?
Don: “You’re going to need some boots and most of the skis have integrated bindings. Specific boot manufacturers might require a specific binding, and the skis are all wax-less so they’ve got little fish scales or something on the bottom that grip the snow. And of course, your clothing. So, boots, skis with bindings, maybe some poles.”
Q: What is the average pricing for the cost of an equipment package?
Don: “I would imagine close to $400 will get you into a nice package. That’s boots, skis with bindings, and some poles. You can spend more, but I think that you can get into it with an introductory, beginning package for about that.”
Q: How regularly does equipment need maintenance?
Don: “Oh, I have people who go 20 years before replacing their equipment because they love their equipment so much.”
Q: If someone has the same skis and boots for a 10- to 20-year period, how often do they have to take them in to get fine-tuned? Is that a seasonal occurrence?
Don: “Sometimes people will take equipment in for a seasonal tune, yes.”
Q: But it’s not necessary? The equipment is pretty durable?
Don: “It is pretty durable. Depending on your level of expertise and your expectations.”