ThirtyTwo snowboard boots, priced between $199 and $249 at The Click, are popular because of their weight and warmth. The board on display beneath, from Lib Tech featuring the Skate Banana snowboard technology, isn't new this season but has become more available and popular and is expected to emerge everywhere on the slopes of Mount Werner. Priced at $469.95 at The Click, this design allows the tip and tail of the board better float in deep powder.

Photo by John F. Russell

ThirtyTwo snowboard boots, priced between $199 and $249 at The Click, are popular because of their weight and warmth. The board on display beneath, from Lib Tech featuring the Skate Banana snowboard technology, isn't new this season but has become more available and popular and is expected to emerge everywhere on the slopes of Mount Werner. Priced at $469.95 at The Click, this design allows the tip and tail of the board better float in deep powder.

Ski, snowboard shops offer highly functional, trendy gear

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The I/O goggles from Smith, left, priced $160 at Christy Sports, can be easily opened up, allowing wearers to switch lenses as quickly as the weather can change atop the Storm Peak Express chairlift. The polarized pair, right, help reduce glare and are available at Christy Sports for $170.

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The K2 Extreme skis, priced $514 at Christy Sports, shout "1980s!" from the top and bottom. They represent a retro trend in ski design that will be popular on the slopes this winter. The Salomon Mission RS10 boots, priced $469 at Christy Sports, feature Second Skin shell technology.

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The Love snowboard series from Burton, priced $429 at The Click, features scantily clad women and might not be for everyone. The controversial series has been banned for use by employees of some Colorado resorts, but it remains a popular choice for the season.

— Thin is in. So, apparently, are the 1980s, at least when it comes to the newest ski and snowboard equipment lining store shelves across Steamboat Springs.

A tour through the best the industry has to offer reveals a continuation of trends and the ongoing quest for comfort in snow sports gear.

Powder power

What was a new trend in recent years has become the must-have snowboard style for the new season, The Click's Casey McGlone said.

The rage is reverse camber boards, a development meant to make boards ride higher in powder.

"It's like a skateboard," McGlone explained. "The nose wants to come up a lot more in the powder."

The payoff for riders is that they now can take shorter boards into the deep stuff high on the mountain and still have a board nimble enough to hit the terrain park on the way down.

Examples such as the Lib Tech Skate Banana snowboard lined the walls of The Click on Friday morning. The technology didn't come with a ridiculous price tag, either, the fresh yellow and green Lib Tech board checking in at $469.95.

Powder skis, meanwhile, have only gotten wider. A fat set of Volkl Chopstick skis - measuring in at 148-128-148 - are perfect for gliding atop powder. They cost $749 and can be found at several online retailers.

All about the look

For better or worse, it's not all about performance.

Whether it is better or worse has been a hot topic when it comes to Burton's Love snowboard line. The boards - a collaboration between Burton and Playboy - bring "ski bunnies" right to the slopes. They feature board-length photos of scantily clad women and have lit controversies in several ski towns.

Employees at Vail are not allowed to ride the boards while on the clock. They've been a popular choice at The Click, however.

It's perhaps equally debatable whether the resurgence of 1980s style in ski gear is a good or bad thing.

Whatever the conclusion, retro-style skis are on the racks and awaiting customers at different shops around Steamboat Springs.

The K2 Extreme skis - retailing for $514 at Christy Sports - feature the same paint job as one of K2's 1980s models.

"This is a 15-year-old topsheet. They brought it back this year," Kevin Anstett said, showing off the black and neon orange design.

Ever improving

Not everything on the racks needs to be so controversial. For instance, there's little argument to be found against the new wave of goggles and ski and snowboard boots.

All represent technological improvements and, theoretically, a better day on the mountain.

Boots for both disciplines continue to get more comfortable, the latest incarnations being both lighter and more adaptable than any in the past.

"Ski boots even from three years ago are drastically different," Anstett said.

One such advance for skiers is the Second Skin shell incorporated into many Salomon boots. One style, the Mission RS10, was on sale at Christy Sports for $469.

The trends are similar for snowboarding boots, each year's models coming in lighter and more comfortable than the last.

A trio of ThirtyTwo boots at The Click came in between $198 and $249 and all weighed in less than the previous winters' models.

"All the boots are much thinner and stronger, lighter and more form-fitting," Anstett said. "The technology with them gets better every year."

Goggles, meanwhile, haven't undergone any drastic transformation but continue to improve.

The I/O goggles, with a price tag of $160 at Christy, feature an easily interchangeable lens. An extra lens comes in the package, giving users a chance to adjust to a low-light day.

The I/O goggles were new last year, but return this winter with several small redesigns to help keep the snow out.

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