For some skiers, the stoke for skiing doesn’t end, skiing in 80º just requires some ingenuity and creativity. Travel to the Southern hemisphere? Seek out glaciers and 70 foot patches of snow to get your Turns All Year status? When we were younger, we would shovel ice scrapings from the Zamboni at the local hockey arena in Lebanon, NH to build a big enough pile and runway to hit rails in our yard. This would hold my brother and I over until we could get back on the first ribbon of snow to train for racing. Whatever it took to keep progressing.
Some skiers might argue that the brief hiatus from skiing content on social media that begins around A Basin’s closing day comes to an end on July 20th for what has become known as 7/20 day — often celebrated by the sharing of stylin’ dub cork 7 videos that get all of us frothing for the return of snow. This inflection point is the start of winter, right? Others are deep in the throws of summer, cliff jumping, playing pickle ball, and balancing out the goggle tan.
So when is it? Well, to settle this debate we decided to choose a day — October 12th. Why October 12th? Well, it’s just getting cold enough across the US that we pull our rubbermaid of winter clothes out of summer storage. ZipFit’s annual inventory is just arriving from Italy. Ski shops are getting all of those bikes out of the way and new winter product is lining the walls. Athletes are hitting the dry land training to build their quad strength for the first turns of the season. Oh, and it is ZipFit founder, Sven Coomer’s birthday.
So with October 12th, we celebrate the kick off to winter. We’ve had enough time to toughen up our summer feet so that they’ll put up with the first days beck in ski boots. Our friends who aren’t as lovesick for winter find themselves dropping little comments like “I’m actually excited for winter. I saw the first frost this morning and it was so pretty.” Cool beans, we think it’s pretty too. But we’re actually thinking that it means it’s cold enough for the resorts to blow snow. That if it stays cold, the first resorts might open by late October and we want to have our ski stuff dialed just in case.
This year, Sven Coomer turns 82 years old, and what’s more, he is being inducted into the US Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame for his contributions to ski boot design and the work he did pioneering the craft of boot fitting. Prior to directing his attention to perfecting the ski boot liner, Sven built a career and legacy around improving ski boot performance. Sven helped usher in the modern ski boot by contributing to the designs of the first high cuffed ski boot, the first plastic ski boot shell with a ski boot liner, the first shell with a power strap, the first over the counter orthotic (known today as Superfeet), and the first customizable ski boot liners. This is in addition to designing some of the iconic boots of all time, including the Nordic Grand Prix and the Raichle Flexon Race.
Today ZipFit is known for the cork composite material we use, but that wasn’t the first material Sven experimented with. While working with Koflach, Sven innovated foam injection liners akin to what Surefoot still uses today. The material would form a cast around the foot, but it still compressed and packed out. What’s more, it was caustic, messy, and was not forgiving for use by boot fitters. Sven abandoned the use of foam injection for these reasons. In the 90’s, Sven discovered a cork based material that he calls unobtainium, cause it was so hard to find and make. Cork has been used in footwear for hundreds of years for the cushion and rebound it offers. The cork composite material Sven learned about was special, often described as alive. It’s moldable, thermodynamic, responsive, dampens vibrations, and doesn’t lose its integrity over time. While we think this was Sven’s real pièce de résistance, we’re thankful for all of the contributions he has made to modern ski boots.
So, what better way to celebrate Sven’s birthday than to make it the official day to kick off winter and align it with the time when it is once again socially acceptable to froth about all things skiing in public. Who knows, maybe Candide will take a hint and start dropping his next “One of Those Days” edits each year on October 12th. We can dream a world in which our collective actions and will to protect our winters will make it so that resorts nationwide open on October 12th. One way or another, Happy Sven Coomer Day and let’s make this the best winter ever.