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February 27, 2007

Returning to Skiing

An article in the Denver Post describes what it is like to return to skiing after snowboarding for 16 years:

I stuck with it, having no idea that snowboarding would eventually dictate everything that happened in my life, from my career to the places I chose to live.

Sixteen years later, something funny happened. I noticed I wasn't snowboarding that much.

The perfect excuse to try skiing again came when I got an assignment from Ski magazine to write a personal essay about going back to skiing after my 16-year hiatus as a boarder. The idea for the story was that I would ski for a couple of weeks and take a few lessons with the goal that I would eventually ski Highlands Bowl and see if I could get into the same kind of terrain I could manage on my snowboard.

I headed out with a pair of women's specific mid-fat skis in a 153 (the same length as my board) and a fairly soft boot that was a lot warmer and more comfortable than the vices I wore as a ski instructor. The funniest thing happened:

I loved it.

Independent foot movement comes in handy when you're doing stuff like turning down a steep fall line, riding over variable terrain or traversing from one side of the mountain to the other. Better yet, these skis felt like a snowboard - only better. They were easy to turn, easy to carve, but a lot more stable and agile than my board is. I found great satisfaction in traversing to places I had dreaded going on my board, places that were simple to get to with a pair of poles. It was like being born again, rediscovering old terrain in a whole new light. I ended up skiing Highlands Bowl on my second day back, arching turns down the wide-open face of G8 and smiling so hard it made my face hurt.

I took my niece Elaina (12) skiing with Jake and Jackson last weekend. Dad and Mom both snowboard and when we stopped by to get her, my cousin Jeff was scoping my new K2's.

Twin tips, hourglass shape, wider, shorter. These are all things that we can thank snowboarders for. Snowboarding has been innovating clothing and lots of other stuff that has major benefits for skiers too.

Today's skis are radically different from those ten years ago. Skis let you traverse instead of hike. They let you move more freely. There is still this mentality that skiing is somehow uncool because everyone and their dog including 60 year old men want to snowboard. And maybe the old skis and the old style were uncool. But it was the very invention of snowboarding that has brought around the changes that are making skiing novel and cool again.

Posted by Justin at February 27, 2007 12:18 PM