By Carlee Frank

Slalom, moguls, halfpipes and black diamonds! Snowflakes, ski lifts, mittens and hot chocolate by the fireside! Are you in the mood to ski and snowboard yet? Winter is just around the corner –Dec. 21 to be exact –and NOAA and the Farmer’s Almanac predict heavy snowfalls to start around that date. Therefore, you must be prepared to make the best of it by zipping down some snowy slopes. For first-timers and old-hats alike, the Colden Ski and Board Shop has all the snow-gear you need.

Opened in 1997 by Janet Dillsworth, the shop is in its 21st season. She carries mainly Fischer brand skis and K2 and Never Summer snowboards, as well as jackets, snow pants, gloves, goggles and more. The shop also offers a myriad of services, such as leases and rentals, tune-ups, waxing and fittings.

The building had been a ski shop for over 10 years before Dillsworth took ownership. However, in the late 1990s, she and her husband were looking for a full-time career opportunity that would allow her to stay home with the kids. The house is attached to the shop, so when the previous owner, Ray Connors, sold the business, she jumped at the opportunity.

“All of my kids grew up working here, and I get help from my nephews and close friends –it’s always been kind of a family business,” Dillsworth said.

Her children also grew up skiing, but she herself was not much of a downhill skier –instead, she enjoyed cross-country skiing.

“I had tried downhill when I was younger and of course my friends just kind of threw me out there, so it wasn’t a good experience,” Dillsworth said.

However, later her husband taught her and she caught on quickly. It has been roughly 30 years since, and she mentioned that the most beautiful place she’s ever skied was by Lake Tahoe.

“It was absolutely gorgeous. It looked like you were going to ski right into the water,” Dillsworth said.

While the snow has yet to stick, she has already sold over 150 pre-season leases, and said each year she does over 500 leases. In the past, daily rentals were popular, but now families like to come in and pick out the coolest gear to have all season.

She shared three tips for purchasing ski and boarding gear. The first is to make sure your boot is snug. Even if the bindings are tight and accurate, if your foot is loose in your boot, she said you will have almost no control on the hills.

Next, she said if you are a first time skier, you should get shorter skis. This way, you will have more control and less ski material to get in the way.

Lastly, she said, “If you’re brand new to it, you don’t want to buy. Rent or lease for a year or two and get some experience before having permanent gear.”

Most of her customers are from the Colden-Glenwood area, as well as Orchard Park, Hamburg and some from the city –for example those with the Buffalo Ski Club. She has had many returning customers over the years, and said it‘s nice getting to watch families grow up.

“I have customers that now come in with their kids and say, ‘Do you remember…’ and I say ‘Yeah, I remember when you were little and used to come in,” she said laughing. “It’s nice the friendships you make and the people you see.”

The Colden Ski and Board Shop is very involved with the community. She said she always sponsors a Colden soccer team and sometimes a Springville baseball team. She also donates to local charities, prints gift certificates and participates in local festivals.

She even allowed young entrepreneur and Colden native Hunter Berry to promote and sell his snow-sport themed clothing line in the shop. His brand is called “Snow Child” and he sells hoodies, tee shirts, hats and stickers.

“He came up with this, and it’s so cool! He’s trying to get it to take off,” Dillsworth said.

As you watch the temperature gauge drop, the snowflakes fly and the cars pile up at our local ski resorts, make sure you prepare at the Colden Ski and Board Shop located at 8843 State Road (Route 240) in Colden.

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