The 2015 summer season on the Palmer Glacier at Mt. Hood in Oregon officially opened last Tuesday (May 26), and swarms of aspiring alpine stars are already lining up at the Magic Mile quad, possibly even rubbing elbows with some of their national team heroes. The ski area currently operates daily from 7 a.m. through 2 p.m., weather permitting, and is hopeful to remain open through mid-August.
Although it was a troublesome winter for Oregon and snow depths at Timberline are currently the lowest they’ve been since 1992, that’s no reason to throw your hands in the air and declare your summer trip a wash.
Whether you’re at a commercial or team camp, performing freeskiing drills on the lower mile or bashing plastic on the upper lanes, one of the best things about spending time at North America’s most iconic summer training venue for alpine ski racers, situated on the southern slopes of an 11,245-foot volcano, is the access to testing out next year’s equipment offerings from a wide variety of manufacturers.
In one of his Backshop installments from last year (required reading for anyone trying out new gear), professional equipment manager Todd Carroll imparted invaluable advice on anyone interested in testing new product this summer.
“Yes, your success depends upon much more than your gear, but there can be benefits, both physical and mental, to making a switch,” Carroll wrote. The opportunity to test next year’s equipment at any number of manufacturers’ race centers based in Government Camp isn’t limited to athletes who are considering switching product; it’s also a chance for those who need to move up sizes in boots or skis to try out what will be available in shops or to order at race nights come fall.
“Be methodical and take notes,” suggested Carroll. “If your goal with the test is to truly find out which product works best for you, no detail is too small to note, and an open mind is crucial.”
Athletes descending on Government Camp need to be respectful of and patient with the manufacturers’ representatives manning the test centers. They will work well into the evenings putting fresh edges on skis that were returned in haste so they can be lent out the very next day, but the availability is somewhat limited. Depending on demand, afternoons at the test centers can get quite hectic.
If you need to test a specific ski in a particular length or a boot in a certain size, visit the test center on your first day or two in town to discuss options and find out what may be available over the duration of your stay in the area. Once you do get that equipment to try out, be prompt in returning it at the end of your ski day so that reps may prep it for the next tester.
Tracking your thoughts on each tested product in a journal or on a spreadsheet, including details such as the specific model and size, will help make the final decision of what equipment best suits you easier to determine after testing out numerous combinations.
Armed with this information plus our interactive Google Map and the specifics below, navigating the Mt. Hood test center scene this year will be a piece of cake for even those novices spending their very first summer in Govy.
Dates: June 1 – July 20
Location: At the western junction of Rt. 26 and E Government Camp Loop (near Mt. Hood Brewing Co.)
Staff: Andrew Tiner – Andrew.Tiner@amersports.com 801.528.8028 and Sean Kennedy – Sean.Kennedy@amersports.com 413.230.4067
Notes: Blizzard and Tecnica enter the summer race camp season more committed than ever to ski racing in the U.S., but due to a variety of challenges (poor snow conditions and recent changes to zoning laws) have made the decision not to operate a demo center at Mt. Hood this summer. They hope to deliver an even better demo experience by working directly with summer training programs on a camp-by-camp basis. Please contact your regional Blizzard/Tecnica representative or Steve Brown directly to address your specific camp needs.
Staff: Steve Brown – firstname.lastname@example.org 518.495.0466
Dates: June 5 – July 13, daily 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. (closed July 4-5)
Location: Valian’s Ski Shop, 88510 Government Camp Loop
Notes: Fischer will supply all demo skis for athletes from the smallest of racers to top-level FIS athletes. If you need anything outside the hours of operation, please contact us.
Staff: Pearson Neal – email@example.com 603.724.4873 and Chris Smith
Dates: June 1 – July 14 (closed July 4)
Location: Huckleberry Inn, 88611 Government Camp Loop
Notes: HEAD Wintersport Test Center will have a complete line of 2015-16 adult and junior race skis, boots, and bindings available for testing during the open dates. We will also have 2015-16 promotional wear available for sale along with retail race product across the street at Mt. Hood Alpine Race Center.
Staff: Ben Drummond firstname.lastname@example.org, Matt Larson, and Lauren Salko
Dates: June 5 – July 12
Location: Mt. Hood Alpine Racing Center, 88786 E Government Camp Loop
Notes: The 2016 Nordica Dobermann race ski and boot collection for all ages available for testing.
Staff: Kyle Darling and Christian Avery
Dates: June 8 – July 10
Location: Lower Government Camp Loop Rd., near the Collins Lake condominium complex (pin on interactive map may not be exact)
Notes: Rossignol/Dynastar will have race skis for testing – slalom sizes starting at 126cm and GS sizes starting at 135cm. All Junior, Tweener, and FIS-level product will be available to test on a first-come, first-served basis. Lange will have test boots in 70 flex through 140 flex.
Staff: Jake Stevens (Jake.Stevens@rossignol.com), Tyler Northrup, Adam Sink, Mike Boardman, Cam Smith
Dates: June 1 – July 19 (possibly extending to July 26 if snow conditions permit)
Location: The Huckleberry Inn, 88661 E Government Camp Loop
Notes: Marker bindings, Volkl skis, and Dalbello boots available for all age groups. The Marker/Volkl test center will have all of the 2015-16 race equipment, along with some park and pipe and retail skis also available for testing.
Staff: Scott Kennison, Pat Duran, Jamie Lavalle, Thatcher Jacques, David Nihan, Kyle Cleveland, Chris Briganti