It’s in the eyes, always in the eyes - My top 3.
I find the reflection on polarised goggles mesmerising. Seeing the mountains and incredible views we are spoiled by mirrored in someone’s lens makes me feel doubly lucky for where I am in that moment. They say that the eyes tell more than words could ever say. And that is how I feel in a strange way about goggle lenses. In fact my first ever popular photo (apparently that means over 1000 likes on Instagram) was a photo where my face was all but hidden by a huge goggle lens and a fluffy neckie protecting me from the brutal minus 20 degree glacier cold. I couldn’t believe this photo was received so well. And then I looked more at it with more of an artistic eye and the clear, almost photo like reflection of the mountains in my lens stared back at me - inviting me in, making me green with jealousy at the eyes behind them getting to absorb that view and the huge play area that it offered.
In retirement from ski racing my whole pace of life and mindfulness changed. Having literally raced around the world from resort to resort obsessing over the undulations of just one piste, I then committed to slowing down and taking more time on a daily basis and so taking more in during my travels. Opening my eyes to all the opportunity and beauty around me. This even flows over to my equipment. When I was a ski racer a lens was more of a practical item for allowing more light in when visibility was poor and then shading the eye under that bluebird bright sky. In retirement not only did it become a thing of fashion where I wanted to look a bit cooler - no longer squeezing my body into lycra suits and obsessing over the aerodynamics of everything I wore, in those moments of new quietness on the mountains I learnt to appreciate everything - the sounds, the smell and even the sight (Yes really it took me over 30 years to stop trying to speed everything up in my life!).
I guess this is why choosing the right goggle and lens is so important to me now.
The fashion box with Panda Optics is ticked easily.
The simple variety and non confusing range adapts to my every need.
I wear multiple different helmets - I still dabble with a few races, and demo-ing in gates for my ski team which (safety first) requires a larger skull protection. In race situations being able to change a lens quickly and easily is imperative. I remember being in the start gate at the world champs in Schladming and the light suddenly changed 3 racers before me. I needed to change my lens fast and with the adrenaline and stress I fumbled so much that I only just got the lens aligned and clicked in as the clock was ticking me down. So the magnetic range from Panda Optics is ideal. Within 3 seconds I can change my lens and optimize my vision! In my race helmet I opt for the newest goggle in the range - the RS1. The huge lens envelopes the eyes allowing for a vast peripheral vision and visual awareness. The inbuilt anti fog feature is great as with racing comes stress which exudes from my face with heat and in the past this has caused my goggles to mist up. Far from ideal. The strap almost suctions on to my helmet so there is no need to overtly tighten the goggles and no fear of them slipping even at speeds of up to 80mph (probably more but that is all I have been able to test it at in a safe, controlled environment).
My go to for everyday wear, TV appearances, arcing down the mountain, bouncing down those powder lines, wrecking my knees in the moguls and everything in between is the Cobalt range which I have in every colour and even go so far as matching the goggle, strap and lens to my outfit (and no I never thought i would be like that either!!) The Cobalt slots perfectly into all my non racing helmets. In fact I would go so far to say that I have NEVER seen anyone wearing this goggle suffering from a ‘punter gap’ - a space between the goggles and the helmet. That shows the versatility of the shape of this epic goggle. The variety in lenses is endless, the ridiculously fast interchangeability (i even tested throwing the lens on and catching it in place with the magnets and it worked - only once but still shows the strength of the magnets) In fact on that note lots of passionate snow lovers steer clear of the magnetic lens thinking that they may pop out at an inopportune moment - listen I am a crash test dummy - I live by the motto - I never lose. Either I win or I learn, which in skiing terms means I push myself often and fall…. And not once has one of my Panda lenses popped out.
My third favorite in the range is the Cub. Obviously not for personal use but with my mummy hat on for my boys. I spend a lot of time in the mountains - I see a lot of families skiing and I LOVE it. What I don’t love is seeing parents investing in the very best for themselves and neglecting their kids. Now this isn’t about fashion - I don’t mind at all the hand me down from the 70's one-piece that Little Johnny is wearing. It is when parents (perhaps unknowingly) are compromising their children’s health that I have to bite my tongue. Young kids’ eyesight is very sensitive and vulnerable. And yet I guarantee you when you look at a group of kids on the slopes 70% will be wearing ill fitted goggles with the wrong lens… In fact the availability of good goggles with optional alternative lenses for children out there is really poor. Which is why I asked the Panda crew to help a few years ago. They delivered a fantastic product with easy changing lenses that is super cost effective too and Locki, for one, loves them! (He also always wants to be just like mummy and daddy so loves his little panda cub logo!)