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Exude coolness with the latest trailblazing gear

Email|Print| Text size + By Marty Basch
Globe Correspondent / November 14, 2004

The evolution continues. Straight skis are for the Smithsonian, while fat skis with stable platforms have come East. Youthful expression is in with graphics that can be bold and in-your-face, or subtle with a surfing influence. Already on snowboards, skis, and helmets, eye-popping art has found ski poles, too.

New-schoolers weaned on music and action sports have brought technology onto the slopes with tunes piped into helmets with built-in speakers, and are broadening the market for twin-tip skis. Freeheel skis are in terrain parks, and even cross-country skiers have shorter skis for new sports.

Women no longer just get smaller men's sizes colored pink and purple, but are active in the design and testing of boards and apparel specifically for themselves. Integrated systems have grown from boards and bindings to goggle and helmet duos as manufacturers do the annual tweaking of gear.

"A lot of us keep getting older," said Chris Leake, a Ski Market buyer in Waltham. "It's nice to have something that is easier to use and enjoy like when you were a kid."

For those in the market, it's toy store time again.

Product: Giro Audio

Series II helmets

Price: $140 to $200

Web: www.giro.com

What it promises: With built-in headphones, a split audio cord allows skiers and snowboarders to plug in their cellphone and audio player to stay connected while on the slopes.

The skeptic's view: Dude, sorry. What'd you say? Sure. Put the bar down.

Product: Smith Prodigy

goggles

Price: $180

Web: www.smithsport.com

What it promises: The latest high-end addition to Smith's Turbo Cam series features a quiet mini-fan that rids moisture buildup and fog. Two AAA batteries are included.

The skeptic's view: For nearly 200 bucks, they'd better include the batteries. Two sets even.

Product: Redfeather

Pace snowshoe

Price: $199 to $209

Web: www.redfeather.com

What it promises: A smartly shaped V-tail combined with an easy buckle binding are tailored for women, and the shoe is designed to match a female's stride.

The skeptic's view: Yes, dear.

Product: Karhu Agent Ski

Price: $469

Web: www.karhu.com

What it promises: Freestyle meets freeheel on a twin-tipped telemark ski designed for parks, pipes, and rails.

The skeptic's view: New-school action meets old-school ibuprofen.

Product: Scott Dispatch

ski poles (S4 series)

Price: $85

Web: www.scottusa.com

What it promises: Scott unveils a line of high-tech aluminum poles for new-schoolers with graphics from skulls to green Army camo.

The skeptic's view: Mom and Dad will never understand.

Product: Yakima Pro

Series Platinum Pro 16S rooftop carrier

Price: $430

Web: www.yakima.com

What it promises: No assembly, dual-side opening, and quick-release hardware fitting round, square, and most factory car-top racks. Enough space for packs, poles, and boards (185-centimeter skis).

The skeptic's view: It's still not big enough for the mother-in-law, too.

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