Ready, Set, Ski!

The progression of shaped skis from 1995-2017. On the far left, a fairly straight K2 from 1995; next, a side-cut Volant from 1998; a more dramatic cut on a K2 from 2003; a rounder tip and a wider ski from K2 circa 2008; and a rockered Rossignol from 2017. All five skis are classified as All-Mountain for intermediate to expert skiers, in other words…your average ski.  

There’s a bunch of things even seasoned skiers some times slip up. I use the term “seasoned” as opposed to”experienced” or “avid” here because I’m targeting a certain demographic of winter sports enthusiasts; you may be that person or you may know one…or several. I consider a seasoned skier as being someone that knows how to ski but either hasn’t done it in a while, only puts a few days on the mountain a year (generally in one block), or even is a frequent skier that perhaps could use a refresher lesson.

Shape Up

Let’s work that list in reverse. Close to 20 years ago the shape of skis went from nearly straight to having a very defined sidecut. A lot of folks like myself learned how to ski prior to that time, upgraded their equipment as the trend changed, but never learned how to ski correctly on shaped skis. I myself was guilty of this for a few seasons. Add in “rocker”technology, which started showing up in skis about a decade ago, and you discover “How To Ski” has dramatically changed since Picabo Street won the gold in the 1998 Super-G.

Almost two decades after shaped skis hit the market you can still find people swooshing down the piste in a tightly closed parallel stance trying to “Ski Like Stein.” Don’t. While you’re on your trip,drop a few bucks for a private lesson with a PSIA instructor and take a few hours to really use those planks properly. Intermediate and advanced lessons not only serve to sharpen your skills, but can potentially give you the experience of a lifetime.

Gear Check

If you’re that “One Big Trip a Year” skier or rider, consider a few things. Does yours and your family’s gear fit and is it in good condition? Your son or daughter might have grown out of their helmet.Does the lid fit the kid? Did you just stash your stuff after last year’s vacation? Better check those edges and get a fresh coat of wax. Are you bindings in good shape? How about those boots? Wear them around the house a few hours a day before you go to get the fit dialed in. A few years ago, I ripped the buckle on the power strap on the top of a boot during my final expedition of the season. When I got home I stashed my gear keeping the broken part on my mental backburner but the summer happened and I forgot to address the problem. Guess what? The boot was still broken when I went to use it the following December.

Lesson Learned

Finally, there are those who at one time, probably while in college and shortly thereafter, were avid skiers. Then, life arrived and they got married and had kids, and stopped skiing. Now, the kids are older and can tackle sliding down the trail with various types of metal and polymer based products strapped to their feet. No matter how great of a skier you were, don’t try to teach your kids to ski, unless you are an instructor (and even then some instructors will have other instructors teach their own kids.)

There’s a number of reasons why you should not do this.First, you’re not an instructor. There’s more to it than “Pizza and French Fries.”Pros know the tricks and tips you don’t. Secondly, eliminate the parent-child dynamic. If things go south, you’re not bringing it home with you or having it come up ten years later when one of you is on the therapist’s couch.

Additionally, if you’re coming out of skiing hiatus,refer to all of the above. If you just bought a bunch of new stuff, get familiar with it at home before packing up the SUV. If you’re dusting off a pair of planks that haven’t seen the snow since the Clinton Administration,check it over well. If your gear wasn’t abused and was stored well, it may not be the slickest stuff, but it can still serve you fine with some moderate maintenance.

Check your supplies, address your issues, and enjoy the mountains!

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