Nordic skis, snowshoes flying off the shelves in Maine

An increased interest in getting out of the house is leading to a shortage of cross-country ski and snowshoe equipment in Maine.

Dale Rodgers, manager of the Scarborough family store, Rodgers Ski & Sport, said the flow of shoppers looking for cross-country ski equipment was continuous, driven by a pandemic that took the family unit to a new level. level – and has led some to seek ways to escape it.

“From the minute I get here in the morning it’s nonstop” with customers looking for gear, Rodgers said.

Customers depart after dropping off skis at Rodger’s Ski & Sport on Tuesday in Scarborough. Brianna Soukup / Staff Photographer

Now he only has a few short skis and a few very small or very large cross-country ski boots left. When it comes to snowshoes, Rodgers said he has a pair left over, but it would have to be for a taller person.

Rodgers said there has also been a ski touring boom, in which fans of hiking and climbing to remote places to hit slopes untouched by other skiers.

“Everything that is sports-related, up to going outside,” is in short supply, he said.

Bike retailers saw the same phenomenon in the spring and summer, when the pandemic drove crazed Mainers to get on two-wheelers out of the house. This made it possible for people to get through the summer and early fall, but the advent of winter, cold, and snow is causing people to purchase different equipment that will allow them to get out and about while avoiding crowds of other people.

A skier slides on the sunny artificial snow of the Quarry Road trails in Waterville on December 15. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentry

“With the pandemic, the demand is very high,” said Dave Palese, general manager of Gorham Bike & Ski, which has five stores in Maine and a seasonal winter store in Jackson, New Hampshire.

Palese said there was also an increase in sales of cross-country equipment last winter, before the pandemic hit full force, and he predicted that demand would increase this year and placed an order. important equipment, but it was not enough.

“We had a lot of it on hand, more than ever, and we just sold because of it,” he said.

Palese said he sells most cross-country ski equipment in packaging, with skis, bindings, boots and poles together. But people picked his offering enough that “it’s really hard to find a complete package for anyone at this point.”

Rodger’s Ski & Sport employee Bryce Schmidt shows Anna Wietelmann the few shoe sizes they have left in stock on Tuesday. Wietelmann said she wasn’t normally here for the winter because she worked on boats, so she wanted to take advantage of the winter activity. Brianna Soukup / Staff Photographer

Palese said he hasn’t seen such a big increase in demand for downhill skis and equipment, perhaps because people are reluctant to shell out hundreds of dollars for a season pass as he It is possible that the pandemic will force stations to close in the middle of winter. He also said the sport has changed, with many resorts closing their lodges to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

This means families can no longer go skiing and then meet at the lodge for lunch, he said, making the outing a different experience and, for many, less enjoyable.

But Jay Rock of Arlberg Ski & Surf stores said his two stores still sold a lot of downhill ski equipment, building on a busy summer selling stand up paddleboards and surfboards – “which we couldn’t. keep in stock or obtain more. last summer, ”he said.

“We’re seeing the same thing with downhill skis and snowboards – tons of demand and limited supply,” Rock said.

LL Bean reports a similar increase in interest and sales of outdoor equipment, according to company spokesperson Amanda Hannah. The company’s winter sports category is up 165%, a spokesperson said, and cross-country skiing is the second-fastest growing product in the category, behind snowshoes. There has been a higher demand for cross country items for all age groups and skill levels, especially in the past three weeks, Hannah said.

“The suppliers (of the company) are working hard to meet the demand,” she said. “As we reach inventory limits on skis, we have boots, poles and other ski equipment in stock. “

On Tuesday, Thorvald Arnell speaks with a customer over the phone at Rodger’s Ski & Sport. Brianna Soukup / Staff Photographer

Don’t expect a quick restocking of equipment after the holidays, retailers said, although Palese said he expects manufacturers to send him some in early January to complete orders he placed earlier. This year.

Palese said he has his fingers crossed for what will happen when winter weakens and warmer weather returns. He doesn’t know how many bikes and how much bike gear he ordered in September for next season will arrive, and whether that will be enough to meet demand in 2021.

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