Skiing is fun, except when it isn't.
The long lines, the expensive lift tickets, the wind chill at the summit -- you get the idea.
But probably the worst part of any ski trip is the ordeal of renting equipment. Of course, you can bring your own, and serious winter sports buffs do. But many casual skiers rent, and in my case, I do it to see what the process is like at the resorts I visit.
It's rarely fun, but at some resorts the process has become less painful in recent years.
At Stowe, Vt., for example, the rental scene has changed noticeably since my last visit a couple of years ago. Now when guests check in at the rental office, they do so online at a row of kiosks near the entrance, and that information is stored for future rentals. The way it works is that when you buy your lift ticket, you receive a card that not only acts as your lift ticket -- no more paper ticket flapping in your face; just put it in your pocket and the gates to the lift automatically open when you approach -- but it also populates your data when you tap the card against the check-in terminal.
This also means the rental staff can calibrate your bindings without using your ski boot, and they know what size boots and skis you used last time. All this technology minimizes wait times and keeps guests from feeling like they’re going to pass out from being overheated in their ski gear inside a crowded room.
Of course, you still have to try on the boots - and all his technology hasn't made them any more comfortable -- but after all, one step at a time.