The Tale of the Skis

Dedicated to my friend, Laurie, a perfect skier on any kind of skis.

Fifty-one years ago today my parents spent their honeymoon at Nub’s Nob, a locals’ favorite skiing haunt. Never mind that my mom had never skied before. But this choice of honeymoon spots was instrumental to our future development. Eleven years later they took us along.

I’ve been skiing for 40 years – well actually more like 40 weeks as we’ve only been lucky enough to journey to the hills of Michigan and the mountains of Colorado, Austria, and Japan once a year. Long enough, however, for me to have developed some habits, and attachments, both good and bad.

I’m a finesse skier – I look decent, like I know what I”m doing, given perfect conditions – a clear, blue sky, 34-36 degrees F, no wind, a solid base with about 2 inches of fresh powder, a wide-open, gentle sloping run. A little “verticalness” is okay, as long as no one is in my way.  For these 40 years I’ve been skiing on long, straight skis – Rossignol, Hexcel, and for 16 years now, Blizzard. Technology was passing me by, but I didn’t care. These straight skis were serving me well.

I had to briefly part with my skis when I was invited on a ladies’ ski trip to Aspen. We lived in Tokyo and traversing across the ocean with my skis – three plane rides and an unexpected bus trip – just didn’t seems like a good idea. Surely they rented straight skis in Aspen. How foolish I was. My first day on parabolic skis was disastrous. Those bad habits didn’t work with these new skis. My friends had to wait on me, and I hate that. And I was frustrated. I hate that even more.

My second day I decided I needed a lesson. After two hours with my straight-out-of-the-sixties hippie instructor she declared, “Honey, you are great at what you do, but you’re going to kill yourself on these skis.” With that I skied to the base of the mountain and drank with a stranger, listening to LMNT while he extolled the virtues of parabolic skis. I swore never to part with my skis again.

Then something changed. I turned 50. (Okay, catching the tip of my 180 cm ski in the massive ungroomed mound of snow and the subsequent tumble and 50 m slide down the mountain may have helped a little.) US ski resorts differ from the rest of the world in one significant way – they groom their slopes. Japan and Europe have never heard of Snow Cats. On this trip to Hakuba, five days after I turned 50, I noticed that I was working much harder than everyone else, trying to cut through the three inches of new, ungroomed snow on top of a layer of ice, fighting gale force winds and blowing snow. (Okay, a slight exaggeration, but I was cold!) I had come to realize that the life of my perfect-conditions, straight skis had come to an end.

So Brad and I are on a quest to find the next pair of perfect skis – and a log cabin nestled in a forest of pines at the base of a majestic mountain with a great picture window looking out at said mountain and an expansive wall where we can display our Olin Mark and Blizzard skis.

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One Response to The Tale of the Skis

  1. john hanrahan says:

    a local ski hill lets us over 65 people ski for free, so i followed ski magazines suggestions, bought some parabolics after a day of rentals where a person could try all the major brands by switching off. a big difference between skis. i find my new skis to be great, easy on my knees and can turn w/out working at it. though you maybe saying it’s time to hang up skiing? if not , i got my skis 60% off end of the season via an internet search. i can look up that ski eqipment article.
    good to know that you both are hanging in their. job situation just another blip on keeping things interesting. and would be great to have a chance to see what softball would be like with 50 yr olds, and have a chance to pick your brain again about the automotive and parts business these days. hi to trevor too and good figuring out the next phase for everyone.

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