Post and Photos by David McCue
As the new season approaches my excitement grows apace and I fall into a series of annual rituals. First I hoard the early issues of several ski related magazines and they are already starting to pile up into a dangerous heap on the floor beside my bed. It matters very little to me that after forty years of reading these things the themes repeat so regularly that the magazines’ covers and content are virtually interchangeable over decades. Aside from the ebb and flow of fashion, from neon to earth tones and back again, and the ever changing waist widths much remains the same. The advent of snowboarding shook things up for a time but now it’s as middle-aged as me. By waist width, I am referring to ski dimensions, not to the girth of athletes slashing down couloirs on the cover of POWDER or the groomer chic chick gracing the front of SKI. The repetition doesn’t bother me. There is a familiar comfort in it; although by mid-November when I have yet to have made my first actual turns, receiving issue number four starts to seem absurd.
The gear guides are forever shiny and new, eternally offering the promise of a ski that will turn me into Candide Thovex; never mind the fact that he could duck tape himself onto 2x4s and leave me behind in a cloud of cold smoke and a vague sense of something having passed. The resort recommendations always fall neatly into their prescribed categories; Jackson Hole and Stevens, POWDER; Deer or Sun Valley, SKI; Rogers Pass and somewhere secret in the Wasatch, BACKCOUNTRY. And so it goes each season with occasional but wholly predictable variations, and I love it all.
I even love the textual clinics on technique and conditioning, just by reading them while lounging on the sofa and drinking a Sierra Nevada, I feel better and stronger. SKI magazine outlines Ab tune-ups you can do in the dentist chair and Visualizations to make your perfect GS turn a reality. POWDER offers a primer on how to improve your cornice technique by launching from the roof of your garage. And one of these days I’m going to buy one of those big red exercise balls since they are apparently essential for me to be prepared for hard charging on my local strip of freshly blown snow. Actually I could just start my own regime of twenty jumping jacks every time my keyboard finger starts twitching to look up long range forecasts. That is a ritual that has brought me only disappointment and regret, and it is a habit I intend to break; next week for sure.
Another futile quest is my nearly annual search for the elusive perfect ski, you know the one to rule them all … my precious … a dangerous obsession perhaps. This endeavor has always been fueled by the aforementioned Gear Guides (which is of course their purpose) and has been exacerbated these last few years by my opportunity to demo next year’s products. This is the equivalent of allowing a junkie to sort through the pharmacy stock. Each year I’m certain I have found my fix but as I look at the inventory I realize my “one-ski quiver” is more accurately a half dozen and they are taking up as much space as the tools in my shop. Then again work has always gotten in the way of my skiing, perhaps I should just give in. You can of course try to sell some old pairs. I do this when I can (otherwise I would have lost complete access to my shop and probably my marriage and home); but reselling has become an increasingly difficult proposition. If I don’t have some deep core shots in my ski base by April then I don’t consider the season a success.
Overwhelmed by old stuff I have come up with a likely solution; don’t take the easy way out of purchasing yet another set of skis. Make your old skis new again! What if that raggedy ass pair of old K2s had a brand new golden top sheet? A trip to your local hardware store, a little spray paint and voila; they are the very picture of good taste. If this seems like a superficial fix then I say get with the times; if it’s good enough for Pinterest it’s good enough for me. Stickers are always a good option, and I don’t mean one or two discretely placed; I mean full lamination tip to tail. Another possibility is a completely new top sheet. There are actually companies that will take your mountain inspired design, or pictures of your cat, and emblazon them on a .5 mm nylon top sheet you can adhere to your ski. Personally I prefer to go it alone. I have started to paste backcountry topos and old trail maps onto some old skis. These may not be as durable but new trail maps and long lift lines will give one ample opportunity to reapply, perhaps with staples and gorilla glue. Who doesn’t love sharing their passion for arts and crafts? I know I do.
I hope those suggestions are helpful and I hope some of you will try them out; that way if I see you on the slopes I can find out if they worked. Although, that might make for a strained introduction in the unlikely event that anything went wrong, like your skis delaminating completely. Know that I am with you in spirit at least and admire your economy and pluck. However, I must admit I had to by new skis again this year. This was a somewhat selfless act on my part and done mainly in the interest of accurate reporting.
The Rossignol Experience 100 was a ski that I highly recommended last year and so I thought it only right for me to commit to a pair this season, an issue of credibility really. Besides these skis are the perfect mix of maching on groomers and chopping up crud, as my powder days become sadly fewer this will be the ski for me till well into my twilight years, or at least the twilight of this season. Anyone want to buy a pair of lightly used Ranger 108s?