There’s nothing better than skiing on a brisk, sunny day, says Paul Mazurek of Crystal Lake.
“It’s just so much fun,” says the 59-year-old. “I look forward to every minute that I get on the slopes.”
Mazurek is an excellent skier, having spent 10 years on the National Ski Patrol. But Rick and Laurie Pasturczak, owners of Alpine Accessories in Lake in the Hills, are a cut above him, Mazurek says, and their knowledge of ski equipment has earned his exclusive business.
“Rick is an encyclopedia of knowledge about skis, and Laurie is very, very knowledgeable about clothing,” Mazurek says. “[Their] personalized service, you don’t get that in a big box store.”
Specialty service Alpine Accessories is not a sporting goods store. It’s a specialty ski and snowboard shop that provides customers the right equipment and services they need to enjoy themselves on the slopes, says Rick Pasturczak.
Besides expert advice, Alpine Accessories provides customers a full onsite service shop for ski and snowboard tuning, hot waxes, binding installations and adjustments, repairs and custom boot fitting.
The shop also has a rental department, allowing customers to rent equipment for days at a time, or even a full season - a perfect option for children who can quickly outgrow their boots and skis.
Alpine even takes in old equipment for trade on newer equipment, which reduces the cost of new equipment to customers while providing a nice supply of used equipment for those on a budget, making the sport affordable for everyone.
“Some people can’t buy all new,” Mazurek says. “It’s kind of like how a high school kid can’t afford much of a car. It’s the same thing with ski equipment. [Rick will] get you suited up with something that’s just for you [that’s still good equipment].”
Accessorize for comfort, fun
True to its name, Alpine Accessories carries a large selection of skiing and snowboarding accessories, more than the average shop, Pasturczak says.
He offers almost 40 different models of goggles, 30 different models of helmets, a large selection of boot bags and an even larger selection of clothing.
“Some shops have five different models of helmets, six models of goggles,” Pasturczak says. “We offer a little bit better in the accessory department because it’s the little things that allow you to have more fun.”
Audio systems built into helmets, for example, can enhance a ski trip – and they start at just $30, he says.
′ Embrace technology If you haven’t updated your equipment since 2000, you’re missing out great technology that has greatly enhanced the sport.
Goggles now have interchangeable lenses so you can utilize a lighter tint for cloudy days and a darker tint for sunny days. Photochromatic lenses are the latest upgrade, which act as transitional lenses and automatically adjust to the sunlight.
Ski lengths are about 30 centimeters shorter than they were in the 1970s and ’80s, which makes a big difference in performance, Pasturczak says.
“They got shorter, but they also got wider,” he says. “A wider ski gives you much more balance; it’s easier to maneuver with something shorter than longer, so learning … has been accelerated tremendously. [What once] took [skiers] three to four years to learn is now three to five months.”
Boots, meanwhile, have become lighter in weight and are easier to get on and off. Plus, Pasturczak offers custom shells that mold to the shape of your foot, perfect for those with foot problems.
Lynn Creegan of Dundee Township started shopping at Alpine even before the shop moved to Lake in the Hills in 2005. She hasn’t been to another ski shop since.
“I started skiing in the late 1950s,” the 68-year-old says. “I went through lots of boots, all different kinds. The last pair that I got, I got from Rick, and they’re by far the best…he helped me get over some rough spots that other boots were giving me problems with.
“I’ve taken friends there all the time, too,” she adds. “If they need equipment, that’s where you go.”