Bruce Ruana is a ski and snowboard expert at Reno-Sparks Scheels. A life-long enthusiast, Ruana has been skiing for more than 50 years. He has a passion for helping skiers of all levels get geared up for skiing the world-class slopes of Tahoe.
Ruana recently spent a few minutes to discuss the recent Winter Games, the Tahoe experience, and the customers he assists on a daily basis.
Scheels: How has the skiing been in Tahoe this winter?
Bruce: It’s actually been poor. No snow. However we did, a couple weeks ago, have a storm that laid down 50″ of mash potatoes. It has been a very difficult year, literally the worst snow pack in over 100 years. It’s a little depressing. I haven’t stood on a pair of skis this winter.
Scheels: What’s the most common question you are getting in the store from customers this year?
Bruce: When will it snow?
Scheels: Are there any exciting technologies or advancements you’re seeing in skiing this season?
Bruce: The development of the Avi bag (an avalanche back pack), which has a flotation pillow. It can be manually deployed if caught in a slide and will keep you close to the surface. Other than that, not much new is out there that hasn’t been on the market for three years.
Scheels: Talk about the Winter Olympics and the importance it holds to you as someone who loves to ski.
Bruce: You always find out who the best is on the day of the competition. The courses that were set for Sochi were HUGE and the conditions as fast as I have ever seen. Essentially, Squaw Valley (Tahoe) is Sochi. The American skiers who practiced here were in a very similar environment and conditions that they experienced at the Olympics.
Scheels: Were there any specific moments from this year’s Winter Games that stood out to you?
Bruce: Ted Ligety. He’s done a lot of homework on technique. The FIS (International Ski Federation) changed the equipment parameters, so sheer length and mass of skis is coming back. He uses a technique called stivot and bringing back some things that were more common in the 80s.
Scheels: A lot of Olympians spend training time in Tahoe. Have you had a chance to personally watch or share slopes with any of the 2014 athletes?
Bruce: Julia Mancuso is a common site, along with Gagnon. Gold medalist David Wise (a Reno native) is a really good guy who has spent some time in our store. Everybody around here is pretty excited about the success of our local skiers.
Scheels: Talk about the experience of working in the ski shop at Scheels and helping customers get fitted for the slopes.
Bruce: We generally assist beginners and intermediate level skiers. This means we cover the basics, good boot fitting, proper ski type and lengths, the importance of a helmet and good goggles. Go back and watch the Olympics women’s slopestyle finale if you want to see how a helmet is used.