Juneau skiers willingly stand in line for hours waiting to scramble for savings at the Juneau Ski Club's Ski Sale.
Advice on selecting the right gear
The thought of depending on used ski gear may make some novices nervous, but the Juneau Ski Club's annual Ski Sale has worked to minimize surprises.
"The organizers have done a good job in the past few years of weeding out the bad gear," said Jeffra Clough, director of Eaglecrest's Ski & Snowboard School for the past six years. "They check on bindings at the door. So I feel pretty comfortable that everything sold there is usable."
"The one thing that people can look for is unnecessary wear. On skis or snowboards, a lot of people look only at the top skin for scratches. The bottom surface is more important. Make sure there are no holes, that the edges have not pulled away and the side walls don't look broken," she said.
"Look for quality" in snowboards, said long-time snowboarder Ashley Call, an employee of Boarderline skateboard shop. "If a snowboard has gouges you probably don't want it. If you bend it and it isn't stiff it feels flimsy you don't want it, either."
Avoid ski poles that are bent or lacking cages. Inspect boots to see if they have all their buckles, and test each buckle to be sure it closes securely, Clough said.
While the sale is in progress, there are knowledgeable ski club volunteers on the floor who can advise beginners on things such as the proper length of skis.
Once equipment is purchased, consider replacing frayed or missing laces or having skates sharpened. The rental shop at Eaglecrest is one local source of ski and snowboarding equipment tuning and repair, Clough said. Eaglecrest will have a table at the sale where equipment can be dropped off for adjustment or repair. Boarderline can fill in surface scrapes on snowboards and wax them to like-new perfection, Call said.
The Foggy Mountain Shop refurbishes cross-country gear. "We can work with poles, change bindings, mount bindings and do wax jobs," said Nina Jahnke of Foggy Mountain. "We also do base work cleaning it and edge tuning. If your ski is delaminated, we can fix it. And we can give people material and advice to do their own repairs."
"It's a great way for people in Juneau to recycle their gear," said Katherine "Katie" Bausler, who regularly recycles her daughter Kaitlyn's gear at the annual event.
This year's sale, the 48th annual, will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Hall. Admission is $1 for teens and adults. Kids 12 and under get in free.
Ski technology has changed radically in the last five years, Bausler said, and the annual sale formerly called the "Ski Swap" is a place to go "out with the old. It's especially good for parents of young kids who are getting into skiing and they don't want to spend a fortune. Some kids who are racing replace their skis every year."
Ski club President Pat Harmon said the sale gets people thinking about the ski season while raising funds for the club and the Juneau Ski Patrol.
"We split the proceeds right down the middle," Harmon said.
Club member Russell Kunibe does the planning and books the hall, Harmon said. Kunibe has arranged for booths representing Poseidon Boardsports, Kodiak Coat Co., the Ski Patrol, Eaglecrest, the National Weather Service, the Hale Foundation and Boarderline at the show. The Hale Foundation sells prints to raise money for grants for kids interested in skiing.
Kunibe is the organizer for the ski club, while Sean Edwards handles it for the ski patrol.
"Because there is no ski shop in town now, the Eaglecrest booth will take things for repair right at the show," Kunibe said. Valerie De Laune will have a booth for custom boot fitting.
While most people come for downhill and cross-country gear, the sale involves more than ski equipment.
"We sell everything from bicycles and tents and kayaks to scuba gear," Kunibe said.
Items for sale may be dropped off at Centennial Hall from 5 to 9 p.m. today and Friday and 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Items must be worth at least $5. The consignment fee is 20 percent.
After the doors close at 2 p.m. Saturday, organizers will choose the winner of the door prize, a season pass to Eaglecrest. Consignors can return between 4 and 5 p.m. to retrieve leftover items and get their checks, Kunibe said.
With so many outdoors buffs anxious to purchase, sellers definitely have come to the right spot, said Jon Carter, a member of the Eaglecrest Board of Directors.
"Selling stuff works out fine," said Carter, who has offered goods there many times.
The first few minutes of the sale can be pandemonium, said Gary Stambaugh, a member of the committee that organizes the sale. To help direct traffic, Stambaugh sees that goods are arranged in the same pattern each year, so that if you go to the left, you see ski boots; to the center, skis and snowboards; to the right, outdoor clothing. In a scene something like a frontier land rush minus the horses and Conestoga wagons, people run inside and try to claim the best "homesteads."
"Mom and Dad come in and throw things and grab things and load things onto their arms, meanwhile yelling for the kids who tend to get lost in the crowd," said Stambaugh. "The action is especially big in the kids' ski boot area."
JoAnne and Chuck Craig plan to attend Saturday's sale. They are downhill skiers, as are their children, Carly, 13, and Kevin, 11, who have been skiing for about five years.
"We have to check to see if the kids' skis fit from last year, and, if they don't, we will be there," JoAnne Craig said. "We have some skates and boots to sell." The atmosphere is "hectic, crazy a free-for-all," but it's always fun, she said.
"We can't stop doing it because it is as big a social event for skiers as it is a fund-raiser. A lot of skiers come down just to hang out and talk to skiers they haven't seen since last winter," Kunibe said.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.