Life-changing technology

Sunday 13 February 2005 at 23:09

I've been a downhill skier for about thirty years. I don't often brag about it because I don't think I'm as good as I should be after so much time. My performance has been all the more disappointing having lived most of those thirty years only an hour or so away from world-class skiing. I don't really have much of an excuse.

Friday may have been the best ski day in my life. It is certainly the best day in a decade or more. A little background is in order. My ski boots are probably twenty years old. My skis are more recent -- maybe ten-year-old 203 cm Elans. For those of you who don't know, that's old-school. I'm way overdue for some new gear. On Friday I followed through on my new year's resolution to demo something more modern.

At Mary Jane, when you rent demos they let you change skis as many times as you like. I started with the K2 Crossfire, and the Volkl Supersport Five Star, and the Rossignol B2 Bandit before lunch. I took one more run on the B2 after lunch and switched to the K2 Recon. All of 'em were 181 or 182 cm long, except the Recons which were shorter -- 172 cm I think. Quite a change from the 203s I'm used to.

The short story is that shaped skis are going to change my life. I was a completely different skier. I'll have to try a few more models before I settle on my next pair of skis. But of the four I tried on Friday I'd definitely choose one of the K2s.

The K2 Crossfire was a fantastic place to start my day. I was beside myself with how much fun they were. On the groomed runs I was carving like a veteran snowboarder would. I didn't quite get to the point of laying my hands or shoulders on the snow through the turns, but I was pretty close. I don't think I've ever felt anything like it. Effortless carved turns. It was a thing of pure joy.

Then I took them in the bumps and found myself about twice as far down the hill before my legs started to burn. I couldn't believe I had just skied so far through the bumps without pausing to catch my breath or my balance. Nor could I believe how much more aggressively I was skiing. In my 203s I basically panic when I get going as fast as I was in the Crossfires. I start to loose control and sit back and brake with my poles and various other ugly displays. On the Crossfires, I was all over the bumps. I was skiing so much faster than I do in my 203s but never lost control. I only stopped for the sweet burn in my thighs. Pure joy.

The Supersport Five Stars were nowhere near as much fun for me. I couldn't ski fast enough for them. Even in the relatively modest crowd on Friday, it was too crowded to let those things loose. I did get one open run to let 'em fly. They were full of zoom! Really, really stable and very fast. But at slower speeds they were a lot like my 203s -- kinda sloppy on the groomed runs and too stiff in the bumps.

The Rossis were pretty much the opposite of the Volkls. They were too mushy to carve on the groomed runs, but quite fun in the bumps. I knew they weren't for me, though. Not after the tasty carving Crossfire.

It was the end of the day when I got into the K2 Recons. They were described as the sister ski to the Crossfire -- a little wider turning radius and probably better in the trees. I took a quick groomed run and then a long trip through the bumps. I was pretty exhausted from a full day of skiing and nevertheless had the best bump run I can remember.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." On Friday I put on a different pair of skis and it completely transformed my skiing. I was finally skiing like someone who'd been doing it for thirty years. Magic.