Category Archives: Equipment

POC-whats-new

POC: Protect Yourself on the Slopes

Protect Yourself on the Slopes: POC SPIN Helmets, Clarity Lenses & POC Layer at Start Haus

Can you believe that ski helmets have only been widely used for less than a decade? Ski helmets were first required for downhill ski racing right here in Tahoe at the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley U.S.A., following the death of Canadian downhiller John Semmelink at Garmisch in 1959. Then it took more than three decades and the deaths of Michael Kennedy, Sonny Bono and Natalia Richardson from head trauma before ski helmets started becoming mainstream on the slopes in 2010. Ski helmets have evolved incredibly in design and protection since their start in leather then repurposed moto sports helmets. POC has emerged as a leader in the field for innovation and safety for gravity sports. Start Haus in Truckee, California carries POC SPIN helmets, Clarity goggles and POC Layer with innovative technology that deliver a distinct edge in safety, winning top SIA awards for 2017-2018.

SPIN

S.P.I.N. Tech may sound familiar – used by Marvel’s heroes in The Avengers, S.P.I.N. (Super-Power-Inhibiting Nanobots) Technology removed super powers from their enemies. In reality, POC’s SPIN technology was developed by scientists and engineers to counter the effects of oblique impacts on the brain for ski racers and everyone who gets after it on the slopes (SPIN: Shear Panel INside).

The most common type of fall results in an angled, or oblique, impact with a surface which can lead to a rotation of the helmet and head. The force required to cause serious head injury is much lower from an oblique impact than from a linear impact, so improving protection against angled falls is vital. SPIN pads are constructed to be able to shear in any direction under any force, so they work to enhance protection of the brain by allowing the helmet to move relative to the head upon impact.

POC has incorporated SPIN pads into 5 different existing helmet models, providing an extra layer of protection without altering the fit and comfort of their helmets. The pads sit directly against the wearer’s head, replacing traditional foam pads.

SPIN

SPIN

Artic SL SPIN

The POC Artic SL SPIN helmet features a breakthrough design specifically for slalom racers. The Artic SL SPIN features the unique detachable and adjustable Maxilla break away chin guard, which can be fixed or set to break away at varying impact levels, designed to minimize any potential injury to the neck or face.

Artic SL

Artic SL

Clarity Lenses

POC Clarity lenses are another safety innovation for 2017-2018, offering a new level of optical performance for skiers and riders. Developed with industry leaders Zeiss Vision Sunlens, these lenses are designed to enhance vision by significantly improving contrast and light in three conditions: sunny, partly sunny and overcast. POC Clarity goggles are designed for all day, all mountain performance and POC Clarity Comp are tuned to meet the needs of competition skiers with light frequency profiles which have been maximized for use in intense short term periods typically associated with ski racing.

Clarity Lens

Clarity Lens

Layer

Another innovative and award-winning new product for ski racers is the POC Layer. Protecting your skin may not be something you think about unless you know someone who has come in contact with a sharp edge, but when that happens, it can be catastrophic. From young racers to professionals, when razor sharp ski edges collide with bodies the cuts and abrasions can result in season-ending injuries and lasting pain. POC Layer is designed to be sleek and impenetrable, protecting the skier from lacerations without encumbering movement. (And you just might look more like a super hero in it.)

Layer Base

Layer Base

Resorts are opening in Lake Tahoe, California and we’ve got fresh snow. Stop into Start Haus in Truckee and talk to our expert, friendly staff and check out equipment that can improve your days on the mountain, whether you are racing or shredding with friends and family.

Check out the full selection here.

 

 

race-training-prep

Summer Prep for Race Training

Every year around late July and early August we get our annual influx of ski racers heading to the whiter pastures of the Andes and Southern Alps. Others are heading up to the summer camps of Mount Hood. This presents a good opportunity to take a look at your gear and see if it’s still up to the task. Have you outgrown your boots? How many holes are acceptable in race gloves? How about socks? What are the condition of my ski boots and skis?

We all have heard time and again that your boots are the most important article of gear- which is certainly true for ski racers. It’s hard to race when you’re hobbled in pain, or if your canting is catawampus. Summer camps are a great place to dial in gear and work on techniques or work on overcoming bad habits.

The following is a list of things we see and think are great items to be looking into at summer camps.

Ski Boots

If you’re in the same boots as the previous season approach the obvious questions first. Have you outgrown your boots? If yes obviously shop for some new ones, if not take a look at them and examine their condition. If you’ve been in your boots one entire race season odds are your liner is shot. If you’re anything like the vast majority of the racing population your toe and heel plates are also on the endangered species list.

To be brutally honest we really feel like at the Far West racing level race boots only last one year. Yes even at the U10 U12 level- perhaps especially at the U10 U12 level. The fact is those lucky kids spend and extraordinary amount of time in their boots, it’s fairly obvious by looking at them that their simply worn out. Remember, with the amount of days in them the liner is packed out and the material inside simply isn’t holding the foot the way it should. That being said, it makes total sense with a growing kid to wait until the last possible second to spring for a new pair of boots, which is generally somewhere around the month of November.

For the older kids summer is a great time to play with canting. Canting is planning the sole of the ski boot to match the natural stance of the athlete, particularly the relation of the center of the knee to the center of the ski boot. Some of the tell-tale signs that an athlete needs canting is that one turn is significantly better, i.e. left footers are always better than the right or vise versa. Another symptom would be excessive A-framing or cheating one knee over in the turn excessively. Coaches will often have a few methods to play with to determine if canting is necessary.

Skis

There are a few things one can do to prepare skis for the season. If you’re lucky enough to pick up a new pair of speed skis, hot boxing them is a great idea. A couple of cycles in the hotbox will ensure that the bases are super fast and ready to rip. Remember: the more you ski a speed ski in the faster they will be. If an athlete were so inclined she could play with changing edge angles the off-season would be the time to do it.

Coaches in the Lake Tahoe area do a great job of determining what edge angles they would like their athlete’s skis tuned to. Likewise, Tahoe coaches have a handle on what lifts they would like between the bindings and ski. For example max height or some variation of ramp angle is generally prescribed. If you were unsure of edge bevels or ramp angle, summer camps would be a great place to try some variations. ***Disclaimer*** Ski bindings are a major safety issue. Only certified experts should be working on ski bindings.

In summation the point is if you’re going to play with gear, the summer camps is one of the best times to do it rather than mid season when you’re doing your best to get on the podium. Most importantly summer ski camps should be fun! Don’t ever forget that while you may take racing seriously, it also one of the most fun things in the world to do! Yes train hard, but remember to make the most of it and have a ton of fun.

flat-vs-clipless

Flat vs. Clip Pedals: A Rundown

1-flat-vs-clipless

When selling a mountain bike or simply talking upgrades with customers, one of the most common topics we cover is pedals. Pedals can be a tad tricky to choose: first there are myriad of brands and models many of which have fairly specific biking purposes. Second, there are two major camps in the mountain biking world which can be occasionally fanatical; the clipless vs. flat pedal crowd. But what we’d like to point out that at the end of the day we don’t feel one is better than the other, both have their distinct advantages, and the key is finding the right solution for your needs.

2-clip-ins

Clipless pedals is one of the one of the more confusing terms in the bike industry, as they are the pedals with specific shoes and cleats which clip into the pedal. For clarity sake we often refer these at Start Haus simply as “clip-ins” when discussing pedal options with customers. The term “clipless” derives from the pedals with straps around the foot, which were referred to as “toe clips” (not a pedal option we will be discussing). With the advent of cleats and a mechanical pedal, the “clipless” pedal was born. Flat pedals do not clip in in any way; they most often rely on pins on the pedal and tacky shoes for traction.

Getting into these differences, those in the pro clip-in category will often cite an efficiency advantage while climbing. In short with the pedal attached to the shoe the cleat is pulling with the upstroke of the crank, an advantage one does not have with flat pedals. It turns out its been a bit tough to quantify the precise energy advantage that clips have over flats, but arguably there is a slight benefit there. Also, with clip pedals you’re feet are literally clipped to the pedal; this creates a super stable platform for the rider to push on, pump and ride. Many of those who have been riding clips for a while have become reliant upon being so connected to the pedal, and when riding flat pedals they may not like the feeling of their foot coming off the pedal or moving in any way.

3-flats
For years flat pedals were generally used by downhillers, BMXers, and beginning mountain bikers. The last few years have seen a flat pedal renaissance. Flat pedals allow the rider to get a foot off the pedal very quickly. Second, a flat peal rider has a much greater platform to stand on, which can be a big advantage when hitting jumps, pumping berms, and generally riding freeride terrain. One last advantage to note that flats have over clip pedals is when the foot has been removed from the pedal it is much easier to get the foot into position than with clips.

4-five-ten

It must be mention that flat pedals are reliant upon the combination of a good pair of pedals and high quality bike shoes. Good flats are generally low profile (meaning they are thin) to reduce pedal strikes. Good flats have quality pins to keep the foot in place, which are generally replaceable if they get bashed on rocks. High quality shoes have high friction rubber and a flat stiff sole. The sole should be stiff to absorb impact and create a tough surface to connect to the pedal.

As far as shop employee preferences go, those who started and kept with flats ride flats; those who are clipless veterans ride clips. If you’ve been riding clips and never felt comfortable or never got used to them, join the dark side and try a good pair of flats!

We really don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to the flat vs. clipless debate. Our experience has shown that flat pedals do not hold you back on climb-intensive rides or even pure XC bike rides. Like most things in life, the correct answer is based on one’s expectation of the product’s performance and your preference. But what we are sure of is our ability to help you find just the right pedals for your mountain bike! We carry top pedal manufacturers like Race Face, Spank, VP Components, Issi, and Xpedo as well as great bike shoes from Five10 and Pearl Izumi. Call the shop or come on by to check out the selection.

Race boots

Getting the Most Out of Your Ski Boots

You’ve heard the old refrain, “boots are the most important part of your gear setup.” This is for good reason; a pair of uncomfortable boots can ruin a weekend, an expensive ski holiday, or a whole season. After buying a pair on sale that were too big and a rushed job you finally bit the bullet went to the reputable boot fitter and got yourself a pair of well fitting boots that are snug, relatively comfortable and can take your skiing to the next level. Now you’re thinking “Well now what?”

We’d love to pass on some tips to help you protect that expensive investment and get the absolute most out of your prized ski boots.

 Custom Footbeds

 Custom footbeds are one of the best upgrades you can make to your boots! We all want our houses built on a solid foundation, and you should demand the same with your ski boots. Custom footbeds give you the solid platform that will get your foot in a powerful neutral position creating less foot fatigue throughout the day. At Start Haus we carry Sidas heat molded custom footbeds and have several different options to choose from: Custom Pro Mesh offering a great blend of comfort and performance, to our low volume Custom Race blank which takes up minimal boot real estate and gives great performance!

Liner Upgrades and or Replacements

 

Various aftermarket liner options

Various aftermarket liner options

Many of our customers ask about a liner upgrade as they are trying on ski boots. Generally at the Start Haus we recommend sticking with the liner that comes with the boot, barring any extreme fit issues or pre-existing conditions. There are several good reasons for this: modern liners are by and large really, really good! In the decade I have been fitting ski boots liners have improved by absolute leaps and bounds. Thanks to advances in laser scanning, CADD software, and injection molding foams “stock” boot liners ski well and fit great.

However, if your boot liner is packed out or if you’re fit isn’t feeling quite right, going to an aftermarket liner can be a wise move. Intuition liners have proven quite popular and boast several upsides. First and foremost, they are light and warm (relative to other liners). Secondly, they offer a custom fit. If you have a boney prominence on the foot an Intuition liner can be an excellent solution! Intuition liners feature a heat-moldable Ultralon foam that conforms to the shape of the foot and the liner offering (generally speaking) a good snug fit without being over the top tight.

Zip Fit liners are both a fit and performance upgrade that will make the boot snugger fitting and much more responsive. In fact, if the fit is too tight, we often struggle to get the Zip Fit liner in the boot at all. One excellent feature of the Zip Fit liner is that it is the only boot liner I know of that one can add material to, so as it packs out over time a boot fitter can simply add more material to it in specific zones to dial in the fit. Due to its snug fit the Zip Fit is often the choice of the expert skier how has a low volume foot that feels as if they can never get a tight enough fit.

Foam liners are the third and final aftermarket liner available from the Start Haus. Foam liners create a tight and uncompromising fit for the skier who doesn’t want their foot going anywhere! Foam is injected into the liner with the athletes foot in the liner and shell and will create a snug and precise fit. The molding process itself is quite intense and the liners take quite a while to pack out. If you’re looking for the snuggest fit possible or are just a foam fanatic from way back the Nordica foam liners we carry are the best in the business!

Canting and Alignment

Jim Schaffner uses a plumb bob to check a client's knee position over the feet. The procedure tells Schaffner whether a skier is knock-kneed or bow-legged.

Jim Schaffner uses a plumb bob to check a client’s knee position over the feet. The procedure tells Schaffner whether a skier is knock-kneed or bow-legged.

 Canting is the relation of the center of the knee to the center of the ski boot. Skiers can be misaligned or out of balance in several ways. As it relates to canting, a skier can be bow legged, knock kneed, or windswept (in on one boot and out on another). None of these are desirable and some are worse than others. Depending on how much correction is needed, canting can either be the best investment you can make in your skiing or just a pleasant upgrade. To properly cant an athlete we would plane the sole of the ski boot, then raise the height by attaching lifters to the soles, and then cut the toe and heel back to the specific height to be DIN compatible.

perfect-grind-2

Race Tech: Why Not All Grinds are Equal

There is much confusion in our marketplace on how and why a ski should be ground a certain way.  Not all grinds are created equal.  Even two different shops with the same machine will turn out different results depending on the specs that are used on the equipment, and by what technician.  Whether race gear or rec, this brief side by side comparison should help you cement your decision to bring your equipment to the specialists:  Start Haus!

Please note:  These images are not doctored (other that the addition of text or illustration) and have been uploaded in full resolution for you to better see the detail.  Click on em to see the detail!

grind-sidebyside

Here is a side by side with a pair of skis ground by our techs, and a pair ground by the “other guys”.  Both grinds are a pattern WS09.  The ski ground by the Start Haus tech is smooth, consistent, and otherwise perfect.  The grind by the “other guys” is far too deep a pattern, inconsistent, and was done with multiple passes creating a wave of deep and smooth patterns across the entire ski.

grind-starthaus

grind-otherguys

 

 

grind-repeatpass

 

grind-singlepass

 

When caring for your equipment, don’t skimp on maintenance!  Take your gear to the guys who know best at Start Haus.  Our boys in the back-shop truly strive for the best tune available in the US.

 

 

Tecnica Nordica Side by Side

The Straight Dope on Ski Boot Liners

The heart of the boot story for the 2015 season has most certainly been advancements in ski boot liners.  Several manufacturers have spent significant research and development on creating liners that do three main things; ski well, fit comfortably out of the box, and resisting packing out (feeling too loose) too quickly.

The result of all the hard work is some interesting technology that is sure to trickle down through lines across the board and dictate design trajectories in the future.  First a short history lesson is in order; in the dark ages of boot design vague shell shapes and inferior liners were the obvious issues with performance and long term fit.  Foam injected liners became the primary solution; if you were a serious skier you had to have a serious liner, and spend some serious coin while you were at it.  Foam injected liners still exist and people still use them, however they are far less popular than in years past.

Stock liners have improved by leaps and bounds in the past decade; an injection molding process has replaced over padding and cutting away a material that is disturbingly similar to the material that is placed under a carpet before instillation.  The injection molded foam has far more anatomical shape than previous materials so it fits out of the box far better and will stand the test of time better than ever.

Two manufacturers, Tecnica and Nordica, are at the forefront of new manufacturing processes and materials for this 2014-15 season.  Tecnica produced a trick liner of a new material they are calling C.A.S. or Custom Adaptive Shape in their new model line the Mach1.  The C.A.S. foam is a dense material that fits well and offers great heel hold and shape, it can also be ground with a dremel or punched by a competent boot fitter if you need customization.   The C.A.S. foam has been such a success it is going to be featured several different models next season, and has really been a homerun in sales, and refits- we’ve seen almost none!

Not to be outdone, Nordica has produced a semi-custom liner using a material that is not at all new to the industry but has a proven track record with hundreds of World Cup victories and Olympic medals to its name.  Cork has been used in World Cup liners for quite some time and is the current standard for the elite level.  The cork is usually mixed with petroleum, which allows it to flow or move to the correct crevices.  On their popular NRGy series Nordica placed cork panels in the ankle and navicular area to give great control over the shell and again, a great fit out of the box.  The cork can be heated up for just a few minutes to dial in the fit of the boot, and has had great result from fitters and owners of the boot.

Liners have come a long way in the last decade; they ski far better and fit better than ever before.  More and more skiers are finding they don’t need to invest three to five hundred dollars in custom liners to get their desired fit and feel, and the breaking in process is less painful than ever.  The next few years I expect more research and development in ski boot liners and would expect more exciting innovation.

anon-m2

Anon M2 Ski Goggle Review (with Video)

The Anon M2 goggles have been getting a lot of attention this year, thanks to their magnetic interchangeable lens design. They’re touted as the easiest lens change on a ski goggle, and playing around with them in the shop, it’s hard to argue.

But I decided to put them to the test over the weekend on the snow, skiing in bright and overcast conditions, mild temps and in a cold wind. My normal goggles are photochromatic – which change darkness in response to ambient light, so swapping lenses would be a change of pace.

First off, the fit. These large goggles have great coverage that also translated into a wide field of view. The face foam is comfortable and without any gaps to let in cold air, and no pressure points to make them uncomfortable. A person with a smaller face may find these pushed down too low by their helmet, but that’s why you should try on goggles with a helmet when you can.

The optics are great. I’m not normally a fan of a gray base lens, but these are sharp and without distortion, and plenty dark for the bright sunlight. Switching to the yellow storm lens (included), they are also very clear, and offered a ton of contrast in flat light, exactly what you want on stormy days.

Speaking of swapping the lenses, the Anon M2 live up to expectations. It’s a little different when on your face vs in hand, but after a few swaps I had it down – the key is to rock the top edge away from the goggle, rather than trying to pull the whole lens away from your face (the elastic band just stretches when you try to do that). Putting the new lens on is as easy as setting the lens in place – the magnets take care of the rest.

I had no issues with fogging, slipping or other possible annoyances with goggles. The two lenses it comes with are very dark and very bright, so the initial switch can leave you blinking or straining to adjust, but this range gives you a lot of versatility.

Overall, these goggles are highly recommended. Check them out at Start Haus or online here.