Sport/Gear


I have a local sports store that has good pricing on items but have some of the worst customer service ever. While there on a recent visit on the weekend to pick-up a new pair of Saucony runners I was ready for the bad service. I walked into the store, unfortunately shoes are one of those items you need service with and as usual there was, from what I saw,  three staff working, one at cash, one hiding in the clothing and one helping 6 customers in the shoe department. The eye opener was as I waited for my turn to get service I notice that he was helping 6 people by himself and being very customer service focused with each, making suggestions recommending other shoes, and he gave each of them equal time and care plus remembering their sizes when he would get them something else, very impressive.

I had done some research before going so I had an idea of the shoes I wanted to try, and also the price point I was interested in. I know my foot size, so asked him for the 10.5 in the models I was considering, he was polite and fast and helpful. When I asked him for another shoe he was great, said he thinks it is a better choice than the others, and got my shoe without asking size again.

Needless to say a lot of companies lose site that the employees make doing business with a company enjoyable and fosters repeat business. But the opposite is true also, the employee can hurt a company and cause bad word of mouth. Managers in these competitive businesses need to recognize this, and foster this type of service and encourage it. It should be a major part of their responsibility, not do what most do which is hide in the back,  cut worker’s hours and reduce staff to hype a balance sheet or store financial performance. 

And of course they didn’t let me down on the bad service I expected. Once I picked my shoes, I was looking for some clothing but needed some help and guess what? Not an employee to be seen just the sound of the shoe guy’s pleasant nature and care he was giving each and every customer in his department.

See my point….

As normal I have sent this to the company in hopes of highlighting a star, and pointing out a failure.

Last weekend we took our boy to the hockey rink so he could try skating for the first time. I must say both my wife and I both had so much fun, it has been maybe 7-8 years since we last went skating  and before that was when I stopped playing hockey. But it seems to be one of the sports that I have the muscle memory to do, because I seemed to remember all of the moves.

Our  little boy did very very good for his first time on skates and ice. He seems to have a good balance and I think it is the skiing he has been doing for the last 3 years. I’m so super proud of how good he did, we are planning to take him a couple more times before the start of Timbits hockey on Saturday mornings this winter.  It is a learning to skate program that has them in hockey equipment so should be fun, also I get to go out on the ice so that will be fun for me. Anyway I highly suggest that you give public skating a try this fall/winter.

First year on snow, and first helmet

First year on snow, and first helmet

The  announcement by Intrawest has made me want learn more about helmet and their use when skiing or boarding.

To begin with I have been skiing and riding and racing  for over 30 years. I’m a helmet wearer, and my son wears one also. Lets evaluate the facts why you should and your children should wear a helmet. 

Intrewest’s reason for making this statement might be more than  “underscoring Intrawest’s commitment to guest safety,” it could be insurance reasons or a PR reasons in light of the high profile death at Mount Trembant last season of Natasha Richardson. To me I personally applaud them for stepping up to the plate and making a statement no matter what the reason.

there are several sites that talk about this but I feel this site http://www.ski-injury.com/prevention/helmet has some relatively current and easy to understand stats.

In the 2008/09 ski year there was approximately 48% of skiers/border wearing helmets. This stat at my local hill seems pretty accurate. There has been a 25% increase in helmet use since 2002/03. Also interesting fact that 77% of children 9 yrs and under wear helmets.

Why not to wear a helmet? The common resons I have heard are increases accident rate, increases neck injury and the expense. The increase in accident rates  can be from the increase of population of ski/boards without looking at the ratio in comparison. There is also the fact that people feel they can do dumb things because they have a helmet on. Just because you have a helmet doesn’t mean you can ride a rail unless you have the skills. The research shows that there was no increase in neck injury since the voluntary use of helmets began. Is there an expense? Well yes you can spend $ 50.00 to $ 200.00 for a helmet but I personally wouldn’t purchase the cheaper helmet without researching it testing and approvals standard. Lets face it, if you live in US what does one hospital visit cost you? My guess is much less than a helmet. Also head size doesn’t change as fast as feet so your helmet will properly fit for several seasons unlike a boot or coat.

Should a helmet be law? The facts and my personal feelings don’t support it as the main cause of injury or death so making it a law or ski hill regulation isn’t right. The better choice is to promote it like Interwest has said not only by a press release but supported in marketing materials and adds, again like Interwest has committed to do.

The reasons I wear one and also why my son isn’t allowed on the hill without his.

  • Warmer then any hat
  • Protection from falling (yes I still fall as do most people who push themselves)
  • Protection for being struck by other skiers/boarders
  • Can’t expect my son to wear one if I don’t set the example

My son wears one for the same reasons above, we had an incident last year the reinforced my reasons. Last season at the bottom of a run as my son was turning to get to the chair lift he was cut off and that forced him to fall. The area he fell was completely ice and the first thing to hit was his head and it was hard. My first thought is he is going to be hurt but when I help him up he was completely fine and ready to go again. And to me the cost of the helmet was nothing my boy wasn’t hurt or upset.

So are you a helmet wearer? What is your reason? I would love to know.

Last season 09 this is his second helmet

Last season 09 this is his second helmet

Last night I headed into the big bad city to attend a clinic about adventure racing. This summer skills clinic was done by Get Out There Magazine http://www.getouttheremag.com/index.php and Salomon http://www.salomonsports.com/caus/  the host site was the Salomon Store http://www.salomontoronto.com/store.php in the Shops at Don Mills. Marissa of get out there did a great job of bringing Heather Korol, Sean Roper, Pete Cameron and Chris Owen Halper together to give the new to adventure racing a overview of what to expect in your first race.

It was a small group of people with a demographic that was probably mid 30s to mid 40s,  there were a few exceptions, but that was the bulk of the attendees. Heather and the group covered:

  • An overview of the types of races
  • Format of races
  • Choosing a team
  • Gear
  • Training
  • Planning: race week and race day
  • Navigation

It was an extremely informative evening, seeing some of the equipment, touching it and discussing what to look for in gear.  This evening accomplished what I had hoped it would. Over the last year and a half I have been thinking of attempting an adventure race, but have always struggled with:

  • Being fiit enough to do it
  • How much gear do I need (is my gear good enough)?
  • What to expect
  • Solo or a team race
  • Is the effort worth the reward?
  • and lots of other things

Heather’s talk last night did a great job of answering most, if not all of my concerns. Plus hearing Heather, Pete and Sean’s experiences and accomplishments did for me what I wanted from the evening. So now the question is… what race to try? Ontario has several that look interesting here are some links to the events: (also check out the Get Out There events calender for others http://www.getouttheremag.com/searcheventsGOT.php)

So if you have a chance to attend one of these events please do, it was a great, and helped in answering a lot of my question and concerns. There are two other events being done by Get Out There so check them out and maybe you will enjoy them also.

Time to figure how to adventure race on a shoe string budget…… (maybe a future blog post).

Okay a little vent for me. Like a lot of people I’m short on cash but also still have a passion for things that on occasion require the spending of money. My personality and my wife’s personality is to spend some time researching our purchases and looking for a product that will give us the best that we can afford. Best doesn’t mean high end for us,  it is just the best fit for our use, personally,lifestyle and budget, whatever the purchase may be.

My frustration lately has been in my research into a couple of pieces of equipment. The equipment that I have been researching and looking to purchase in the future are: trail running shoes, mountain bike and a tent for my family of 3 for canoe trips. When I research I have several ways I go about this process. Because some of this purchase involves a specific sport,  and the sports are more outdoor in nature I will us sites like http://gearjunkie.com/ or http://outside.away.com/index.html or other magazines to get reviews and options. I will then do a more detailed google search to learn more and narrow my options.  But I always end up getting frustrated that most reviews and advice are focused on high end products. I understand that  high end products have a place in the market and if it was skis or a snowboard I can see spending the money for high end because I’m at the skill level that I can notice and max out their performance. But there are lots of people that purchase high end and they don’t have the skill, and purchase simply for bragging rights, or because of lack of reviews and advice on the proper product for them. 

I had emailed a couple of reviewers and informed them of this fact that why do they not only do the high end but also do a mid range product.  Maybe I will start my own review site an “Average Joe gear review site” instead of a review of the best mountain bike of 2009 (that costs as much as a small car), it could be best mountain bike of 2009 for less then a change or tires… anyways that is what has been aggravating me for the last couple of months. There is a ray of light though from a tent review that Stephen Regenold http://gearjunkie.com/family-camping-tents did on tents, and I like the fact that he gives a range of options.

And incase you are wondering I’m still researching

Okay I feel a little better after that.