Now is the time. Not to go skiing, but to prepare for frolics to come. Most skiers wait until the last possible moment to rediscover that the boots that caused so much distress last season are still lurking in the back of the hall closet. No time like the present to pull them out, slap them on and wonder, “Is this the best I can do?”
The defining trait of an “all-mountain” ski is versatility, a talent for adapting to any condition from brittle hardpack to tracked-up trees to fluffy freshies. The ideal all-terrain ski is ready for whatever is on the mountain’s menu that morning.
Among the many ways to define the boundary between good skiers and true masters is that the former tend to be obsessed with technique (the better to breach said boundary), while the latter rarely, if ever, think about it. We think about it often here at RealSkiers.com.
No question about it, alpine skis are pricey. Middle-of-the-line models run for over $500, top-shelf all-mountain skis routinely check out for around $700 or more, unmounted, and some exotics seem to reach second mortgage territory. One has every right to wonder, what am I paying for?
Eventually, all skiers learn the importance of getting their boots properly fit. It may take more than a season in rental boots, hand-me-downs or Craig’s List re-treads, but in time, even the most plodding intermediates figure out that maybe it’s their boots that are holding back development and impinging on their enjoyment of the sport.
In 1985, there were 727 lift-served ski areas in the U.S. Today that number is 427, a decrease of 40 percent.
If you’re in the market for new skis, you’ll discover a wild diversity in prices. Skis that sell with bindings for $399 are arrayed alongside models with sticker prices well above $1,000, bindings not included. What does the $1,000 ski have that the $399 model doesn’t, other than the hope of fishing a minimum of 600 more dollars out of your income stream?
I recently attended two days of seminars on advanced boot fitting techniques under the aegis of Masterfit University. The folks who run this worldwide roadshow also orchestrate the annual ski boot test whose results appear on the pages of realskiers.com.