We’re excited. We’re excited for the Northern Hemisphere winter, with all that it brings: cold early season man-made snow on groomers, the first backcountry tours in powder swathed meadows, après ski in bars with smoky wood fires, road trips with roof racks filled with gear, new friends, old friends, and random conversations on chairlifts.

We’re also excited about some behind the scenes stuff happening here. We’re looking at adding some European-based staff, we’re launching a new back-end platform that will make it even faster and easier to read stuff like this page on any mobile device or online and we’re now three years old.

All of these things are great – from the 2.0 version of Independent Skier’s backend application, to the road trips we hope to make and the turns we know we will be making. But what’s really great is that this little project that was given birth via the donations from skiers like you on Kickstarter now seems to have some legs. We’ve got some great repeat advertisers who believe in what we are doing, and we’re getting support in this issue from a fistful of skiing brands who are investing a few bucks in the Buyer’s Guide for an enhanced brand listing.

The money for an enhanced listing isn’t much. In fact, it’s only $49 bucks. But it’s the statement that excites us the most. The brands that are backing us are innovators. They’re the ones pushing ski design and development and they’re visionary enough to appreciate the rich media content and storytelling that we are delivering to skiers around the globe. Content that anyone, anywhere, can download for free.

So when you are enjoying our 2016 Ski Manufacturer’s guide, please take a moment to check out these companies. Follow them on Twitter, get their Instagram feed onto your phone and like their Facebook pages. These brands are worth supporting because not only do they make great skis, but because they’re also putting their money where their passion is and supporting projects like this: projects that are created by and for skiers, projects which enhance the community and feed our sport. And if that isn’t something to get excited about, then you probably shouldn’t be a skier in the first place.

See you in the mountains.

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Mark Lesh + Tom Winter