At lunchtime today, I tried on a couple new pairs of ski boots. I need to get some new boots this year, and it's time to start evaluating them so that I can order the boots while "pro form" pricing is still available.
The shop didn't have the boot that I most wanted to try, but I tried two other boots, one of which I really liked. Regretfully, the shop doesn't do pro form pricing, so I doubt that I'll buy boots there.
"Pro form" is a quid pro quo of the ski industry. Gear manufacturers want ski instructors in their gear. When teaching lessons, we get asked questions about gear all the time. The equipment manufacturers want the instructors to say good things about their products.
Before the instructor can say good things though, the instructor has to purchase and use the product. That's where pro forms come in. Instructors can buy equipment at a discount, either directly from the manufacturer or a participating retailer or a product rep at the mountain. Because instructors go through equipment pretty fast, by skiing so many days per year, they are usually in fairly new gear. Every year, I tend to buy either boots or skis and Last year I bought skis. The customer asks about the gear, the instructor says good things, the customer buys the gear and everybody is happy, although a few people are a bit poorer for the deal.
I think the same sort of stuff happens in every gear-intensive sport. Good bike racers don't pay full price for their rides, good runners don't buy shoes at all, etc.
Skiing is the only sport where I've ever remotely qualified to get a "professional discount".
Two days until I can run again.
Saturday night's weather forecast is calling for the possibility of widespread frost!