Call it what you want — skiing, snowboarding, riding, or shredding — but only call it affordable if you're savvy to the good deals hiding throughout the city. This sport follows an age-old rule: you wanna play, you gotta pay. But don't worry about that rule, because we got you. For the 2011-2012 winter-sports season, the sleuths at the Phoenix have hunted down some experts who really know their way around the slopes.Tips from these pros will help you get this year's best gear — and still have a few bucks left over when you're done. Here's what our experts had to say.

J.P. Bedard and Aaron Thompson set up shop with their buddy Tim Morse way back in the 2009 to bring Wicked Sharp Ski and Sports to West Roxbury. They maintain a true commitment to affordability with their "Wicked Good Deal," which allows parents to set up their kids with skis, boots, and bindings for only $99.99. They always welcome trade-ins, which can save you more cash while ridding you of the stigma of hitting the slopes in last year's gear.

After these guys got us pointed in the right direction, we found a local snowboarding company to bat clean-up on this list of tight deals. Scott Petrichko stepped up with some fine-detail advice on outerwear and snowboards. As a co-founder and creative director at Brighton's Bean Snowboarding Inc., he knows what you need to get going downhill fast.



FISCHER SKIS THE MOTIVE 76 ALL-MOUNTAIN SKIS| $599.99 | |Fischer made the Motive 76 as a diverse all-mountain ski for strong intermediate to advanced skiers. Because of a 76mm waist, the Motive 76 can hold the ice and snow underneath it in a way that provides a seamless transition throughout the changing conditions of a daylong series of runs over traveled trails. The width maintains stability, so even if the changing conditions come from an active snowfall, you should still be good as the snow pack breaks down toward the end of the day. The ski can handle any speed on any terrain the mountain throws at you. A full sandwich sidewall construction holds the edge as you go. A slight rise in the tip camber makes it easier to transition into a turn even in a wide range of conditions. This way, the tip of the ski stays on top of the soft snow and any crud you come across. The ski flexes intuitively and responds easily because of the RS 11 Powerrail Binding System. Take on the whole mountain, or just ski casually. The Motive 76 can do the trick.


TRANSPACK SIDEKICK BACKPACK | $49.99 | | This Bad Larry holds pretty much all the gear you need for easy carry around any winter destination. The pack features a lightweight external boot and helmet backpack, so you can lump everything you need between your shoulder blades while carrying your skis. It's made from durable, tough, water-resistant-coated 600 denier polyester. The side-padded ski-boot holders with air/water-drainage grommets keep everything relatively dry — or at least not soaking the inside of the bag — as you wander through potential wetness. The zippered helmet pocket with expandable mesh gusset comes in handy no matter the size of your head. The water-resistant tarpaulin bottom keeps water from sneaking in when you set the pack down. The closed-cell-foam-padded back holds various other things. Contoured adjustable neoprene shoulder straps ensure a comfortable carry. The adjustable sternum strap gives you stability. Lift the inside top lid to reveal a goggle pocket. The slider on the double-locking, self-repairing nylon coil zippers keeps the zippers intact. It holds 1150 cubic inches or 18 liters.

AUCLAIR SON OF T ALL-LEATHER GLOVES | $69.99 | | For the little ski dude in your life, these gloves offer great protection from the weather and any hand-menacing slope hazards. Kids like their garb cool — and what's cooler in the world of skiing than the official supplier of the US Freestyle Ski Team? These pre-eminent ski glove makers added great functionality by loading the Son of T with Thinsulate insulation and wicking to keep mini-ski-hands warm and dry, and they made the whole thing out of 100 percent leather. Waterproof, windproof, and highly breathable, these gloves should stick around.


BEAN SNOWBOARDS COMMONWEALTH — RE-ISSUE | $399.99 | This re-issue board is manufactured right in Allston. Bean made this directional twin and built it on a true twin chassis with a centered stance with the option to set it back for when the drifting snow runs deep. The board uses a signature People Combo wood core with multiple species of wood laid into just the right spots to put the pop and strength where the board needs it. Offering a directional flex, the designers laid the Comm up with triax glass and a carbon-fiber stringer for the backbone running down the center of the board. Riders get what the designers call "a responsive yet buttery feel with superior snap" as they go in and out of turns and the board delivers an extra boost in the "pop" of an ollie. The impact-resistant "ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene sintered base" comes standard, allowing maximum wax absorption while adding first-to-the-bottom speed, and, according to the designers, that makes it bomb-proof. The fully wrapped hardened stainless-steel edges guard against any rust even after leaving your board in a bag or the back of the closet, and the hardness keeps a sharp edge on the board even after repeated runs cutting through the harsh New England ice.

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