Gear

SKI Magazine Gear Tester: Tracy Gibbons

The former U.S. Ski Team Member has been a hardgoods buyer for Sturtevant's for 20 years.


SKI Magazine Gear Tester Tracy Gibbons
SKI Magazine Gear Tester Tracy GibbonsPhoto credit: Tracy Gibbons

Tracy was born and raised in Bellevue, Washington, and has skied at Crystal Mountain since age 2. Skiing is her passion and she has built her life around it. Tracy grew up racing for Crystal Mountain Alpine Club, then raced on the U.S. Ski Team (her specialities were downhill and super-G) and finished her ski racing career at Seattle University. 

Tracy has very hard to fit feet and thus has always taken an interest in boots and boot fitting. Having had the opportunity to ski all around the world in a variety of conditions (on a variety of skis), she knows how to discern the differences in skis and why certain skiers will be drawn to certain models. She’s taught women’s clinics for over 25 years and coached ski racing. These days she loves skiing with her entire family—from her parents who are in their 80s to her kids who are 17 and 21. 

Vitals

  • Height: 5’4″
  • Weight: 138 lbs
  • Age: 53
  • Years testing for SKI: 10
  • Avg. days per season: 31-50
  • Home mountain: Crystal Mountain, Wash.

Skiing Style & Terrain Preference

  • Carving
  • Groomers
  • All-mountain conditions
  • Powder

Tracy is an ex-racer who still really loves her edges. That said, the Pacific Northwest has quite the variety of snow and terrain, and she enjoys skiing the whole mountain–especially on a powder day.

“A good groomer in the morning is amazing, but on any given day I will choose the terrain based on snow conditions and the people I’m skiing with,” she says. “My old knees don’t do a lot of bumps, but even a few bumps are fun on the right day. And of course, a good powder day anywhere is unbeatable.”

Ski Preference

  • Powerful
  • Damp at speed
  • Responsive
  • Favorite ski from SKI Test 2020: Head Kore 99 W
Head Kore 99 W 2020
2020 Head Kore 99 WPhoto courtesy of Head

“Generally speaking, I like a ski that has a lot of power and is smooth and damp at speed, one that responds based on how much energy I put in: Put more energy in, get more energy (pop) and feedback. But… I do have to say I am finding more and more of the wider, more playful skis a lot of fun and a bit more forgiving in a variety of conditions.”

Tracy’s Gear

  • Skis: Nordica Santa Ana 88; “This ski has a bit of metal (smooth and powerful) and a bit of a race ski feel, yet it initiates a turn with ease, and lets me determine the turn shape. In other words, this ski lets me carve turns on the groomers in the morning and ski the rest of the mountain the rest of the day.”
2020 Nordica Santa Ana 88
2020 Nordica Santa Ana 88Photo courtesy of Nordica
  • Ski boot: Lange WC Race, 120 flex 
  • Outerwear: Descente; “I love my Descente outerwear—function and fashion. I’m crushed they don’t have U.S. distribution at this time. After years of ski racing, I hate to be cold, so I wear insulated pants and an insulated jacket almost every day. On a particularly wet PNW day, or a nice spring day, I’ll bring out my Helly Hansen shell gear. 
  • Favorite accessories: Skida buff and Leki poles with Leki Trigger Mitts/Gloves; “My Skida buff is always with me, snow or sun, and pole straps are definitely a thing of my past.” 
Leki Spitfire Trigger 3D Pole and Leki Glove
Leki gloves and mittens are designed to work with Leki Trigger poles—get rid of the pole strap and just click into the poles using the loop between the thumb and trigger finger on the mitten. Photo courtesy of Leki

Biggest Gear Epiphany

Similar SKI Tester

If you like Tracy’s take on skis, you may also want to read fellow tester Robin Barnes’ comments about skis:

“We often like the same skis and I attribute it to the fact that we are both very ‘edge sensitive’ in regards to how a ski performs,” Tracy says. “We both appreciate our edges and the energy a ski provides, but also have a similar sense of how the ski performs for a lot of different skier types (attributes we think of in regards to ladies we have instructed over the years.)”