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Sun & Ski Challenge by Jillian Despard

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Well, I finally took my exercising outside. Let me tell you, it was definitely no walk in the park. More like a jog interspersed with walking through the park. Lately I’ve come to realize why I dislike running so much; I feel like a troll lumbering through a fairy forest. When you see other runners on the trails, they almost look like they are floating their way down the path. I feel like every step I take thunders to the ground, sloppy and scraping across the gravel before my foot gracefully flaps up through the air again. Let’s not even talk about what my arms are doing during this time. Have you ever seen a T-Rex run? That is me, arms crunched into my armpits while my hands flop from side to side like sad little rag dolls. I’ve tried holding them straight by my side but the result is ridiculous and slightly creepy, picture a troll in a straight jacket careening through the nature trails with a slightly crazed grin. Will I ever be a graceful runner? Or will I and others be forced to embrace the awkwardness of my gait?

Hide so you don't have to run.

Hide so you don’t have to run.

It was thinking about this that I realized, I’m not doing this to make other people happy. I’m doing this for me, to make myself feel good, and to find a part of myself that I have never experienced before. Who cares if I scare away my fellow joggers or make them feel a little uncomfortable as they go out of their way to avoid eye contact? This is my journey and I shouldn’t feel compelled to go out of my way to make complete strangers feel comfortable with it.

On your mark, get set, GO!

On your mark, get set, GO!

On this journey I have come to realize how essential it is to have the proper equipment. My Nike’s might be comfortable for everyday but they don’t provide the support and comfort that your body needs while running. Comfort and fit aren’t the only things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect running shoe, terrain is also important. At a recent flash mob event I was introduced to Salomon running shoes, the perfect shoes for gripping the mud and slippery grass that lined the rain soaked course. I have enough problems with balance and coordination as it is so the less I have to worry about turning into a human toboggan, the better. My point is, do your research before taking on any new adventure. Wearing the wrong shoes can do some serious damage to your body and put any plans of an Olympic running career on hold. Go to the stores and don’t be afraid to try on a variety of different shoes, the first one isn’t always that perfect fit.

Sun & Ski Renegades set out to conquer TIR!!!


Nearly 180 years ago the Republic of Texas gained its independence from Mexico.  From the first shot in Gonzalez to the final battle at San Jacinto, Texians and Tejanos fought together for independence and freedom.


To commemorate the epic series of events that led to Texas’ Independence, runners from all over the United States and beyond gather together and run 200 miles in an event known as the “Texas Independence Relay”.  More than 100 12 person teams leave from Gonzalez and make their way to San Jacinto.  Running continuously through day and night the teams finally land on the same battle ground where General Sam Houston and his small army defeated President Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana.


The Sun & Ski Renegades are setting out on their 5th TIR on March 28th.  This team is made up of Sun & Ski employees, ambassadors and friends who look forward to the challenge and team work that is necessary to complete this awesome race!



My Sun & Ski Challenge: Week 2 by Jillian Despard

Dear Diary,

I’m sure you are as surprised as I to see that I am alive and functioning. I would have said alive and well, but functioning seemed much more appropriate. Another week of my Sun & Ski challenge has passed and well, to say my body hates me would be an understatement. Getting into a routine is hard y’all, especially when the weather has been like something out of a bad Twilight novel (who am I kidding, they’re all bad). I’ve struggled the most with motivation. Who really wants to go out in the chilly rain for a nice evening jog? This space is an honest space so I feel like I should tell you, I haven’t been doing much outdoors. For the most part I have been visiting my local fitness center rather than braving the weather and hitting the nature trails. I feel like a traitor and a cheater. Thankfully the weather will be improving so now I really have no excuse to be indoors.

This week I helped with a Flash Mob running event. For those who don’t know, we do a flash mob running series in March and June. The reason it’s called a flash mob event is because everyone shows up, runs, do a quick raffle, then we all disappear quietly into the night. Blink and you’ll miss it! The route was 2.7 miles, which in my mind equated to an impossible amount to run for fun on a Thursday night. When I really started to think about it though, 2.7 miles wasn’t really far at all. As the runners started coming in from the run I was checking out their times, 16 minutes (!), 25 minutes, 30 minutes, and suddenly it didn’t seem so scary anymore. I think I was psyching myself out and comparing the run to a marathon distance, therefore it would be impossible for me to do and I shouldn’t even try. The reality is, 2.7 miles is incredibly doable. Some of the runners even ran to the park where the event was being held, ran the event, then turned around and ran home. While I don’t expect to be able to do that anytime soon, I do hope to be one of those breezing across the finish line, barely even breaking a sweat and not a pony tail hair out of place. A girl can dream, right?


So, on to the next week. The friendly neighborhood weather man says to expect rain and storms all week long, but it will be nice and balmy so outdoor workouts won’t be totally out of the question. I just have to avoid the thunderstorms, something tells me that being struck by lightning won’t give me superpowers and a fabulous body like it does in the movies.

My Sun & Ski Challenge- Jillian Despard

When I started my internship with Sun & Ski Sports I was nervous. Who wouldn’t be? Especially when you are the least athletic person in the world surrounded by outdoor enthusiasts. I have always loved the outdoors but shied away from physical activity. An extreme lack of coordination drove me away from bikes and into swimming, which was strangely mostly indoors. So indoors was primarily where I stayed, until now.

This internship allows me to work in the main office as well as out in the stores, which gives me the opportunity to interact with everyone involved in Sun & Ski. I’ve learned that the employees are all truly passionate about outdoor sports and genuinely enjoy partaking in as many activities as they can. Last week I stood back and watched as a group prepared to head off to a full week of bike camp. An entire week of biking! It was while watching this group, with their hands gesturing wild and excited, their feet shifting impatiently back and forth, that I realized I want to be a part of this. I want to love something so much that the thought of an entire week of it gets me so excited even my hands can’t contain themselves.

To be honest, I felt a little embarrassed that I wasn’t involved in any sports or outdoor activities. Here I am, not only working for Sun & Ski but primarily focusing on the BP MS 150, and I can’t remember the last time I rode a bike. Actually, I do but I try to forget it because I nearly flew over the handle bars trying to ride it down the driveway.

So I decided to challenge myself to find that passion and excitement that the employees at Sun & Ski have for outdoor sports. Running, biking, swimming, hiking, I’m going to do it all. No excuses! Okay, except I do live in Houston so winter sports might be a little hard to come by. That is my only excuse, I promise!

Here is my plan: every single day I will either bike, run, swim, or hike. Weather permitting, I will be doing everything outside. Sun & Ski hosts several run and bike clubs each week, and I will participate in as many of those as I can.

My goal here isn’t just to get healthy and become more active, it’s to find the inspiration and passion for the outdoors that my coworkers have discovered. I also want it to be a lasting passion, I want this experience to change my life. This isn’t just for me, I want to inspire others like me. Anyone who wants to find that same passion but doesn’t know how.

On Monday I put my plan into action and let me tell you, starting a daily exercise routine is HARD. The first day was a breeze. Well, as breezy as trying to run after months of being a permanent couch fixture can be. Day 2 was a totally different story. I’m finding that motivation is the hardest thing, I kept trying to convince myself that I deserved a box of Girl Scout cookies for working so hard.

It’s not going to be easy, and I might not always like it but if I’m going to find that passion and drive, I have to push myself. I’ll use this space almost like a diary and I will be 100% honest. If I’m not being honest with myself then I won’t get honest results. So, here goes nothing! If you don’t hear from me for a few days check the bike trails, there is a good chance I fell off somewhere in the bushes.

Let’s Talk About Snowboards!

If you are thinking about picking up a new snowboard this spring, here are a few things you might want to consider…

Determine what type of riding you will be doing.

All Mountain, Free Style or Free Ride?

Will you be riding the park? Carving through powder? Are you just learning how to stay upright?? If so, you’ll be staying on the groomers. No matter what type of rider you are, you really need to know so you can make the right choice. There are different types of boards for different riding types…

board3  Photo: Justin L’Heureux

First, consider your budget.

Snowboards can go from $150 to $1000 bucks so it’s smart

A $1000 snowboard may offer some extremely high tech features such as a carbon fiber top sheet, and an aluminum honeycomb core but these may not be features that necessarily fit your riding style. Some expert some boarders ride boards that are in the $500 – $600 range because the boards features fit their riding style so decide what it is that you want to ride before you set a price you are willing to spend.

board2 Photo: Burton

How to choose the correct size board.

There are different factors that determine what size snowboard you should ride. Your height, weight, personal preferences and riding style are some of the key points that will tell you what size of snowboard will feel the best for you.

Advanced snowboarders choose what board size they ride based on the conditions and what terrain they will be riding for that day. A good rule of thumb for your first snowboard is to find one that when standing straight up, it comes to your chin…

In most cases, a person who is riding in the park would likely choose a shorter board than someone who is carving down the groomers.

board1 photo: Adam Moran

Reverse camber or regular?

Recently snowboard companies have started offering reverse camber snowboards and other types of the traditional snowboard shape. There isn’t one that is necessarily better but again, it depends on your riding style and personal preferences.

A park rider that rides mostly rails and jumps would likely go with the forgiving, soft feeling of a reverse camber board. Someone who likes to carve fast down the mountain might want a regular camber board that will offer you more edge control.

The best thing to do is come in to your local Sun & Ski and let one of our seasoned snowboard experts walk you through different scenarios. We will definitely get you on the board that suits you best!!

Sun & Ski Associate Spotlight – Colton Crallie

colton 1

History of bicycle racing:

I never intended to race bicycles. I got lucky and it found me. I played rugby for a span of 8 years. Starting in high school and ending as Division 1 level player. An injury forced me to start thinking about other outlets. My Best friend Chris had been working at a bike shop and he suggested I start riding.  So after much grumbling. I bought a bicycle and dedicated two years to commuting in order to lose weight and build proper fitness. During the course of those two years. I decided to race my bicycle. Only if I could start winning those races. I was lucky to  find a good coach and was able able to win the majority of my races in 2014 with the help of Betera Coaching.


Love of bikes:

My love of bikes began as a teenager riding road bikes with my father in Ohio. We started riding  on the road together.  In a way, it is a way we stay connected to him even though we are far apart. Bicycles are to me the perfect combination of human and machine. Training is a large part of my time on the bike. It is so similar to tuning a machine; Numbers and preparation. It’s amazing what  your body can do if you just give it a chance. I will never stop riding. My bike is my source of peace in a busy and messy world.


Prediction for the future:

I would like to combine my youth and fitness. Take them both and turn then into something special. I would like to race bicycles professionally specializing in criteriums.  As it stands now, I have spent the last two years preparing for this 2015 season and have many goals and barriers that I must accomplish in order to make my prediction a real thing. I’m lucky to have the support of the community,friends and family. On top of all those great things, I am also lucky enough to have the perfect job to help make this real. A place that supports bicycling at all levels but still supports those who want to take it a bit further.

Colton Crallie

2015 Blizzard!


On Wednesday, New England began digging out of what was a wicked blizzard! The region was hit with nearly 3ft of snow and wind gusts up to 70 mph that caused major power outages and heavy damages in the area.


The Governor has lifted a state travel ban but bitter cold temps still pose a threat and will likely slow down cleanup efforts in and around Boston. Power is still out for more than 15,000 customers leaving many shivering in the dark.

New Englanders were stunned by the incredible force and bitter cold caused by this storm. Snowplows are struggling to keep up with the tremendous ice and snow conditions.


Meteorologists say the nor’easter strayed about 100 miles from its forecasted track. New York and New Jersey received 10 inches less than originally predicted.

Breck Trip Recap: Hunting for Pow Soul7 Style

After a quick weekend run out to Breckenridge from one of Sun & Ski’s Northeastern Outposts, our Woburn, MA store, I can safely say that the Rossignol Soul7 absolutely slayed it out there! 


It wasn’t looking like we were in for much fresh snow, but ever fickle mother nature decided otherwise and laid down a good 6-10 inches of fresh Colorado Champagne Pow.  Conditions on the leeward sides and sheltered areas were straight butter and the Soul7’s really got to show their true colors from soft turns through trees, to some high speed lively open bowl rips, to cranking carves on the groomers and runouts, the Soul7’s were steadfast through and through!


The best turns were had with a little bootpack up to the Windows (where the pictures in the trees are from), which was made all the easier with the fabulous walk mode the Dalbello Panterras offer not to mention the enhanced traction of the rubberized soles.  A bit of thin air created some huffing and puffing on the way up, but after a short breath or two we were good to go.  Fresh hero turns after swooping in on 2nd chair up Imperial while the sun was peeking out on the fully wind loaded bowl was definitely one of the major highlights and a good chance to open things up a bit more, glad I bought the skis long for sure!


Camaraderie was high both in the on-hill bars and in-town, with many of Sun & Ski’s loyal customer base out and about for their holiday trips.  As a New Englander getting to meet more of our Texas customers out on the hill enjoying all the great gear our stores provide was awesome to see not too mention the smiles on many faces having fun on the hill!  Can’t wait to get back out to Colorado to chase some more pow and get after soe bigger terrain as more things open up!


See you on the slopes!


Nathan Zephyr Fire 100 – Gear Review

If you live anywhere in the world and you are a runner with no gym membership or you

loath the treadmill. There comes a time in the year where running in the daylight becomes a


You basically have two choices. Run in the morning in the dark before work, or run in the

evening after work.  Two dangers are present with this solution. Being visible for vehicle traffic

to see you, and your ability to see obstacles in front of you.

run pic

For the past few years I have been a fan of a head lamp.  Mainly for the convenience of

keeping my hands free.  I had tried some of the small lightweight flashlights, however to use

them I had to hold it at an uncomfortable angle to light the ground. Headlamps all have their

downfalls as well. The biggest is when running in a mist, the light reflects back into your eyes.

I have tried to combat this by wearing one as a belt. This is a good fix but it can be

uncomfortable. It does however get the light closer to the ground to give you better visibility.


A few weeks ago I found a great new innovative product that addressed all these issues.

The Nathan Zephyr Fire 100 handheld torch.

This 108 lumen flashlight is USB rechargeable with a integrated hand strap and a 24* down


It also has a emergency button that activates a high pitch beep and a red strobe light.

run pic 2

When the flashlight is on it has a normal beam, high beam and a flashing forward strobe. I

have been using mine for about 2 weeks. I have noticed an earlier reaction from approaching

drivers. Not only do they pick up on my reflective vest and wrist bands. I activate the strobe

and they can identify me at a farther distance. The rear facing red strobe is always active

when the power is on as well.

It took me a few runs to get used to holding it but with the hand strap it just hangs in my

palm. I used it this week during a group run and the downward facing angle was perfect.  I

tripped over a speed bump recently with a headlamp. With the Fire I was able to see the

obstacle in plenty of time to adjust my stride. No more worries about the contours of the trail

or road. With a headlamp it is impossible to turn your head and talk without blinding your

running partner. Now I can keep my path lit and not worry about all the downfalls my

headlamp had. Changing functions from normal to bright and strobe are easy. I ran with thick

gloves and the button still worked flawless.


The fire comes in a 100 lumen and a 300 lumen. As of now Sun and Ski only stocks the 100.

We have it available in select stores or you can order on


For $45.00 it’s the best running accessory I have purchased in years.


Run Safe.


Bryan Hojo.


Let’s talk about ski tuning!


How often should you have your skis or snowboard tuned?


Most advanced skiers have their gear tuned after 4 or 5 days of skiing. It is important for the edges to be sharp in order to maintain control. The base has to be waxed to allow for maximum speed. Intermediate skiers will probably want their skis tuned after 6 to 9 days on the slopes. Beginners might not demand the same performance as experts and intermediates and will likely have their gear tuned after 10 days of hitting the slopes. Keep in mind that conditions on the slopes do play a role in this. For example, fresh powder will not tear up your gear as much as hard packed icy conditions…


How will you know if your gear needs attention?


The easiest way to know if you need to go see a ski tech is if there are heavy gouges on the bottom. Also, check to see if the edges are rusty or burred. Carefully slide your finger down the edges to see if there is any damage. Maintaining smooth, waxed bases and sharp edges will definitely improve performance on the slopes.


When should I have my skis tuned?


The best time to have your gear tuned is probably after the ski season. By this time your skis will need some TLC and storing them during the summer is best if the edges are clean and the bases are waxed.


Should I tune my own skis?


People who live near the slopes often do take care of this on their own. Sharpening edges and waxing bases is not terribly difficult but grinding bases is nearly impossible without the proper machinery.


For a list of ski services click here:


by Jimmy Boyle