2017 Gear Test Week: Tech Head Craig Dostie

Craig Dostie is one of those personalities that has made the backcountry ski world what it is today. As Founder and Publisher of Couloir Magazine, running from 1988-2007, and current blogger at Earn Your Turns, his vision for ski publications has shaped our understanding of snow ambulation on the up and the down. But this past week at Powder Mountain, Dostie had a different role— he was head tech in charge of  helping testers get fitted for skis from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. five days in a row.

This is what he had to say about his ski background and 2017 Gear Test Week experience.

Craig Dostie wrenches at Powder Mountain for Gear Test Week.

Craig Dostie wrenches at Powder Mountain for Gear Test Week. [Photo] Matt Kiedaisch

Backcountry Magazine: Tell me a little bit about your ski history.

Craig Dostie: I’ve been skiing for like 45 years now. When I moved out west from Michigan, I got into backcountry skiing my first year and it was just one of those serendipitous things where, like a lot of people, I was too broke to afford a lift ticket. So I figured, I’ll just hike it! And I was blown away by how much I enjoyed the whole experience. I just thought, it was a consolation prize, but it turned out to be the real prize. I got totally into backcountry skiing—Ramer bindings—and tried to convert everybody. Along the way, one of my buddies got me into telemark skiing. And that was the same time I started the newsletter that became Couloir Magazine.

BCM: You mentioned yesterday that you really like skiing Sierra slop; tell me a little bit about that.

CD: You know, it’s like skiing powder, but heavier. It’s slower, but the thing is, powder is very forgiving. Mush is not forgiving at all. So it’s actually a really great training medium to get your balance right, because if you do anything wrong you’re going down. But if you have your balance right, you’re all set. It’s really fun to just rip mush and turn around and watch everyone just flop, flop, flop all the way down. And they’re like, “How did you do that?” Practice.

BCM: Did you find any skis that you really enjoyed since we have been skiing slop for the last two days?

CD: Everything I skied would be good for it, especially for the mush. But I really dig the ones that have shown snap on the hardpack. Even though it seems like, “Oh, yea, hardpack, groomers, what can you learn on that?”— you can actually learn a lot. You can learn the personalities of the skis, how they rebound. You process it without realizing you’re processing it, and then you go off the groomer into the crud and the mush and the pow, and you know how the ski’s going to respond.

BCM: Did any ski in particular strike your fancy?

CD: I didn’t get on as many skis as some of the other testers because I was busy wrenching. But I was really impressed with the Scott Superguide 105, and also the Dyanstar Cham 2.0 107. Those two skis are really versatile, they floated well, they handled everything. I didn’t have to think; I did my little calibration on the hardpack and was like, “Oh! I know how this is going to respond,” and they responded exactly how I thought they would.

BCM: When did you first start doing the Gear Test?

CD: Well, I did the first two years out here at Powder Mountain, so that was 2008 and 2009. Then life events happened and I couldn’t take the time off, I couldn’t make it. Then Howie said, “Hey, I know how we can get you back. Would you mind heading the tech crew?” And I was like, “Oh yea, that would be cool.” Because actually, as a real tester, I would have a hard time skiing bell-to-bell, all stinking day. I’m not a spring chicken anymore.

Check out more photos and updates from the test week on Facebook and on Instagram at @backcountrymag.

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