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Downhill pursuits: getting your performance gear in order. (In Style).

Successfully navigating the slopes, at any takes confidence, skill, and the gear. Fortunately, today's clothing options are versatile and functional, on and off the mountain. They are also stylish, funky, and sexy: even snow-boarders are sporting less baggy attire. But every skier knows that comfort is key. Fortunately, the word on the slopes is stretch, a popular feature in most clothing offered this season. A number of designers are combining fabrics, such as fleece and polypropylene, to keep you dry, warm, and flexible.

In terms of technical equipment, the current crop of skis, boots, and bindings are engineered for comfort, ease, and performance. This year, you'll enjoy shopping as much as skiing. Here's a checklist to get you started.

RELATED ARTICLE: What you need for your trek.

As you prepare to go skiing, you might want to make a checklist of the item's you'll need.

Skis. Freeride skis reign on the mountain. In fact, they are one of the season's fastest selling items. Shorter and broader, they may take some getting used to; however, once you're in the groove, these skis float and handle varying terrain. But don't be overwhelmed by what's available. Take a test drive, Many ski resorts offer free tryouts early in the season, so take the time to shop and compare. Head's new line of women's skis, called Lightening, offers a lighter core construction, modified mounting positions, and flexes that can better sense terrain, speed, and a skier's aggressiveness.

Bindings. Bindings should be compatible with your skiing ability and your weight. You also need flexibility and a perfect match to your skis and boots to prevent them from dragging. With this in mind, check out integrated binding, the latest in technology. Integrated binding eliminates the mounting process and better facilitates the ski. Check out the Salomon Pilot 10 and the Atomic Beta 8.18 Device binding systems.

Boots. They no longer have to be uncomfortable to perform. Today, soft boots are available for even the most skier. But it's all in the fit. Make sure that you're properly measured by a qualified fitter at a reputable ski shop. While you're there, check out Head's EZ-On walldski boot, which makes the transition from skiing to walking a breeze.

Hats. Because 80% of your body heat escapes from your head, keep it covered with wool or fleece. Miller Hats ( will keep you warm all winter long. Miller's wool Two Way Cap rolls up into a cap or rolls down to cover the entire face.

Shells. These days, jackets and bottoms are better layered to insulate against wind, water, and moisture caused by perspiration. Shells are lightweight, guard against the elements, and allow for flexibility. Look for Oakley's 2 x 4 jacket for women with storm hood, powder skirt, and venting.

Eyewear. Style is important; but you should be more concerned with protection from the wind, snow, and sun. Oakley, Smith, and Bolle are among the most popular sports lines for goggles and sunglasses. Eyewear should have UVA and UVB protection.

Undergarments. Undergarments should be comfortable and breathable. Hot Chillys offers an excellent selection, made of form-fitting microfleece, for men, women, and children. Their La Montana--.EXTRA Warm long Underwear offers an exclusive fleece fabric and rates a 10 on their warmth scale.

RELATED ARTICLE: Apres ski indulgence.

It's everything a ski garment should be: windproof, waterproof, heat resistant, and breathable. But the All-weather Xtreme Performance Windbreaker by Normandy & Monroe is not for the slopes--save it for that apres ski cocktail party. Made from Ventile, the world's rarest cotton, it is fully lined in Bernberg and handmade in America. And it's available in XXL. $345.
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Author:Alleyne, Sonia
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Feb 1, 2003
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