In skiing as in life, I want to be on the cutting edge. I see those techy ski nerds with the helmet cams and large watches calculating vertical, air temperature, the weather forecast and the winning lotto numbers, and wish I could be one of them. But, lets face it, I’m not. Not usually anyway.
Last year, after a day shooshing around the ski area on a powder day on my K2 Pontoons, I had an aha! moment. It was John, really, that sparked it. Convinced that my skis were the reason my knees were so sore, he put forth the silly notion that fat skis were ruining skiing.
Fat skis had revolutionized skiing. And now he was saying they were ruining it? Nonsense.
But he had a point. In the past few years I’ve seen it too. Gone are the days of crowded slopes on a sunny day. No longer do skiers and boarders arrive at the mountain ready for all conditions. Instead, they watch the forecast, check the NWAC observations, calculate the best possible box on their calendar for ensuring powder skiing. The crowds only come for the powder.
And hey, who can blame them? Powder rocks. I’d rather ski powder than
(Photo by Chris Morin)
anything else in the world. (Well, almost anything.)
Some argue they wait for the powder days because of money. Wanting to get the most bang for their buck, they save up their days like spendthrifts, metering out their joy like misers. But I have a feeling it’s more about the width of one’s skis than the width of one’s wallet. And since skiing is always a metaphor for life, this tip towards the extreme, like any binge, is swallowing up the fun.
Don’t get me wrong. I like fat skis. My quiver includes a pair of 179 Pontoons, which at 130mm underfoot are about as fat as it gets.
But if all you ski is Pontoons or Hellbents or anything else with 130mm underfoot, then most days at a ski area will not be fun. Groomers hurt on fat skis. Forget carving, that lovely hook-up of your edges that catapults you across the slope, allowing you to pick up speed and feel, if even momentarily, like a super hero. Or at least that everything in the world is temporarily okay.
If you ski exclusively on fat skis, you have to go heli-skiing, or live at Snowbird and wait for the canyon to close while they blast the slopes, dipping your chin into your jacket and giggling at all the poor suckers waiting down below.
(Photo by Chris Morin)
But, let’s be real. How often does that happen?
And skiing is all about fun, right? At least in my book it is. I want to propose a new concept. In a world when extreme has come to define the most worthwhile aspects of the sport, I propose moderation. Balance. Zen. Following the wu wei of skiing.
Instead of five different skis–one for every temp change and inch of accumulation, I propose finding a one quiver skis. (Sorry ski shops).
I ski my K2 MissBehaveds in nearly all conditions. Groomers to powder, these skis have been with me now for four seasons and we have an understanding. Like any relationship, there’s some give and take. When the pow gets really deep, I can’t ski quite as fast or feel quite as heroic as on the Pontoons. But I like the compromise that knowing every morning, when I walk out of the patrol room, regardless of conditions, these trusty friends are with me.