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The call of the mountain

It seems too warm for winter sports to be getting attention, but local sporting goods stores finally are seeing an influx of snow enthusiasts after late February’s incredible Sierra snow totals.

It’s great news for Jason Auld of Mountain Recreation and Tyler Clark of Wolf Creek Wilderness.

“There’s been a huge second wind (in the winter sports season),” said Auld, who owns Mountain Recreation with his wife Jill on East Main Street in Grass Valley. The store has almost caught up with its typical seasonal sales, but dry January hurt business, he added.



Clark, an employee at Wolf Creek Wilderness, nearby on East Main, said the store focusing more on back country equipment has managed to adjust to the January dry spell.

“It’s been a short winter because of the (lack of) snow,” Clark said. “This winter helped people realize kayaking can be a year-round thing.”




Yet snow enthusiasts have returned to Wolf Creek Wilderness looking for new equipment, Clark said.

Innovative bindings

Winter sports devotees have more options in ski bindings to pick from, Clark said.

Bindings that release at the heel have become popular for people interested in climbing up a hill they want to ski down, Clark said.

“Skins” made of a durable nylon fabric are positioned on the back of ski bindings, letting skiers slide upward but not backward while climbing up a mountain, Clark said.

Back country skiing is “a great way to avoid the lifts, ski on fresh snow and enjoy a nice hike,” Clark said.

More flexible bindings that can move slightly up and down on the ski depending on the skiers movement also are good sellers, said Auld, whose Mountain Recreation focuses more on equipment used at resorts.

Ski helmets also have become more popular, Auld said.

“It’s a necessity for kids and becoming more accepted for adults,” Auld said. Parents end up getting comments such as, “‘Why aren’t you using one dad?'” he said.

The ventilation, weight and style of ski helmets has improved, Auld said.

Snowboarding remains popular. But because of improvements in bindings and ski technology in general, skiing is becoming more hip again. Kids are in the snow parks doing tricks on the newer-model skis, Auld said.

Snowshoes also have benefited from binding improvements, Auld said.

“If you walk, you can hike and you can snowshoe,” Auld said.

Snowshoeing offers ways for families to get outdoors in the winter, Clark added.

Heading into spring

But the new winter equipment might not be around for long. Employees are preparing to make way for spring and summer with kayaking gear at Wolf Creek Wilderness, Clark said.

Kayaking lessons and demonstrations also are on the horizon, he added.

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To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@theunion.com or call 477-4234.


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