Words: James Williams
We could hear the hootin’ and hollerin’ from a block away.
As we walked closer we could see a gathered crowd in puffy coats, most with pints in hand, cheering for four dudes on fat-tired snowbikes. The "racers" rallied through the powder covering Drake Park before riding up the stairs to the ski shop "finish line." High fives were exchanged and beers were raised before the riders rejoined the huddled group gathered around a fire pit outside Crow’s Feet Commons, a new ski and bike shop/pub/cafe in Bend, Oregon.
David Marchi, a long-time shop rat and ski guide, opened the backcountry-focused business in November and ever since it’s served as a hub for Bend’s mountain-minded population.
"I wanted it to be a community feature," said Marchi, a mellow, mustachioed skier who stands 6-feet, 3-inches tall and originally hails from the Mt. Shasta area.
It’s not that there aren’t other ski shops in town--there are--but none have the authentic out-there feel of Crow’s Feet. Marchi is a Chugach Powder Guide, has summited Denali, and skied the world over. He'll be on the Nordic trails in the morning, at the shop during the day, and shredding the north side of Tam McArthur Rim on the weekends. He’s a darn nice guy but he doesn’t eff around--he’s out getting stuff done.
So when he saw a backcountry gap among Bend’s ski shops he figured he’d fill the void.
"The spring skiing in Central Oregon is amazing," Marchi said. "I want to draw attention to that."
But Marchi did more than just fill a backcountry void, he’s given us crusty enthusiasts a place where we can gather for coffee before heading out on a mission to Little Alaska, a backcountry zone outside town. Afterward, we can reconvene at Crow’s Feet for beers.
Inside the historic downtown-Bend building you’ll find skis from Moment and DPS mounted with Dynafit bindings hanging next to Jones splitboards. They’re on one side of the shop. On the other side is a pub and cafe with 16 taps of carefully selected craft beers (Duchesse de Bourgogne? Yes please.), a La Marzocco espresso machine, and locally made baked goods. Upstairs is where Marchi does boot fitting. There’s a small cooler up there as well, in case you get thirsty during the process.
Marchi was among the last group of "racers" to head out that frosty Friday night. After a hot lap with friends, he hung up his helmet and went back inside Crow’s Feet to talk rockered skis and real ales.