Gear Up

Advances in skate-specific equipment match the sport's surging popularity. Here are two of the year's top systems for advanced and intermediate skiers (forget entry-level gear; you'll outgrow it fast).

   

Performance System

SKI
Fischer RCS Carbonlite Skating: This Olympic–level ski has an exceptionally low swing weight, for quick recovery (bringing the ski back after pushing off). The base, with a high graphite content and an aggressive diamond–ground structure, is best for humid conditions. Get the RCS Skating Cold for the Rockies and other dry–snow regions. $600; fischerski.com

BOOT
Salomon S–Lab 3D Carbon Skate (pictured): For the ultimate in energy transfer, this heat–moldable boot has a carbon chassis that envelops your heel and sole. The upper's seamless construction means no pressure points or leaks. $450; salomonnordic.com

POLES
Exel Black Feather: Carbon–fiber shafts make the Black Feathers light and strong. The grips are angled backwards ten degrees, which provides more power and a quicker recovery. $300; exelsports.net

Value System

SKI
Atomic FX: Skate: This stable ski is softer and wider than racing models, letting you focus on stride rather than balance. But you won't need an upgrade next season: Power transfer and responsiveness are top–notch. $216; atomicsnow.com

BOOT
Alpina SP40: Just a few years ago, the technology in this boot was the World Cup standard. It has the same asymmetric cuff design and heel–retention strap found in Alpina's RS racing boot. $199; alpinasports.com

POLES
One Way DS920: A shaft made with 20 percent carbon fiber reduces weight and keeps price down. And there's nothing low–end about the poles' trim racing baskets and biting tungsten tips. $59; alpinasports.com

APPAREL
Get perfect comfort from start to finish—whatever your experience or gear—with these layers: Patagonia Wind Tracker Top (pictured, $145; patagonia.com); Craft Flow Pants ($110; craft-usa.com); Ibex Pico Zip T ($95; ibexwear.com); Salomon Smart Windstopper Vest ($115; salomon-sports.com); Swix Race Hat ($26; swixsport.com); Pearl Izumi Gavia Gloves ($45; pearlizumi.com).

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