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Feature - The Ghost of Christmas Presents

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Okay, this is the price range where gear begins to get really good. For example, you can indulge your inner racer with state of the art skis… circa 1990. Fanatyk Co has, tucked behind the door, a pristine pair of Fischer RC4 full-on downhill skis for $299. If you think you’re still strong enough to wrestle a 223cm pair of shapeless skis down the Dave Murray, these are your ticket, complete with Salomon 900S bindings. Or just in case W-B reopens the mountain bike park, they also have a Dainese Multisport +2 armoured jacket in dress black: $370.

Wild Willies can put you into cross country gear in this range, which may be the ultimate act of faith. An entry level classic package with Fischer Summit Crown skis, boots, poles and binding will run $299. Or you can puff on shorter skate skis with a Peltonen Laser ski, Alpina boot, poles and binding for $450. Take your kids along with their own outfit, including Fischer Sprint Crown skis and the works for $200.

The accessories du jour – helmets and goggles – run up the walls and across the ceiling at McCoo’s. This is the price where goggle technology reaches its peak. Coated and mirrored lenses, superior optics, curved lenses with no discernible distortion at the edges, and much more comfy foam. Spy Comets are slender and sensuous with sunglass-technology, polycarbonate lenses for $109. And Smith’s Triad Spherical in the rose-copper lens is $140. Match either with the best-selling Giro 9 helmet, a shorty with removable earflaps for spring riding: $150. Or this year’s update, the Giro Fuse; same basic shell, better ventilation, better foam core: $220.

Escape Route’s got the cheapest way into the backcountry and back. Whistler’s own Yupi. Part snowshoe, part slidin’ machine, these $285 thinkin’ outside the box devices are a fun compromise. A step toward the rich gear of backcountry travel are Alpine Trekkers. Slip these $237 inserts into your downhill bindings and voilà, free heels for climbing uphill. Or you can start collecting the pieces and get into serious backcountry gear. Freeride bindings from Diamir lock into downhill mode or freeheel for skinning uphill: $459. You can couple Dynafit’s TLT all-terrain boot ($419) with their Tourlite Tech bindings ($459) and you’re nearly there. Slip on a pair of 90MM Deluxe Low-Fat climbing skins for $165, pack up the other gear – this is where that Dakine Heli Pro pack comes in handy; this year’s model in lots of colours’ll run you $115 at Sportstop – and head uphill.

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