I love skiing! I love the feel of gliding easily, in control, down a ski slope or trail. I get a “floating” feeling that seems temporarily weightless as I rise to begin a turn and begin to essentially “fall” down the mountainside. That is only momentary of course. It might last as long as two seconds or so before I dig in my ski edges and reassert command by completing my turn, thus slowing and controlling the rate of my descent. But only seconds later, I must turn again and again that brief, free-fall feeling sends my spirit soaring.
How a boy from such poor roots as I, ever learned to ski is its own long story which I shall not tell here. Let’s just say that it was a wild combination of serendipity and luck falling on me like rain drops. It happened.
Skiing, after all, is essentially a rich person’s sport. Skis, boots, poles, goggles, helmet, inner wear, outwear, ski rack, lift passes, on-site food, travel, accommodation – better have the money to back you up – or you can do what I did.
Skiing can be as snooty a milieu as you ever might encounter. People to whom money has lost significant meaning naturally are inclined to buy the best of everything. If you’re the type of person who experiences shame at not being able to keep up appearances, you’d better come to this sport with deep pockets, stuffed with lucre.
But there are lots of ski bums too and the hoidy-toidy crowd accepts them well. After all, lift operators and trail groomers and their poor sort (me) are not to be denied the pleasure of skiing just because they look a touch ragamuffin or because they look like they just crawled out of their cardboard-box homes. No, the fashionable set enjoys a brief lift ride with the creatures who equip themselves in hodge-podge delight. It’s the glamski’s version of slumming it and it only lasts to the top of the hill.
I would not be dealing in hyperbole to assert that equipping a family of four in high-end fashion to go skiing (this is before lift passes are added) could easily run in the range of $15,000 – $20,000, including four sets of skis with bindings, boots, poles, goggles, helmets, outerwear, inner wear, a rack to carry skis and a rooftop compartment to be able to lock skis and equipment in place. If the family does not live in ski country, add travel costs and accommodation costs, eating and drinking costs. As might have been said in my childhood neighbourhood, “Ooo-la-la,” accompanied by a limp-wristed shaking of the hand. (I’m not certain of the symbolism attached to that, but I know it inferred, ‘not for me.’)
But it doesn’t have to be so.
Firstly, there are no outerwear police at the ski hill. You can wear what you want. Just keep in mind that as you ski you do turn cold into colder and if you fall, you will get wet.
Solution: buy an inexpensive set of wind pants to wear over whatever you choose to wear for warmth. You should have a good warm parka, mitts and hat but it doesn’t have to look like it’s fresh from the ski-fashion runway in Zurich or Kitzbühel.
Secondly, scout around for equipment. People tend to give up skiing if at first they don’t succeed. Good, used equipment can often be purchased for very little money. One caution is that the boots must fit well, snugly but not crushingly so. If your toes aren’t straight inside the tight shoebox, the boots are not for you.
Thirdly, keep an open mind. Do you want to experience the thrill of the descent or do you want to look good above other considerations? I bought a set of snowblades (essentially short skis, rounded and raised at both tip and tail). They cost less than regular skis, they include the bindings in the price and you don’t use poles with them. Save, save, save. Moreover, since they were designed to allow skiers to do tricks, they are easier to turn than regular skis and no roof-rack is required either. I just pop mine in my secure trunk, no poles to add, and jaunt off to the ski hill, equipment light.
If you do go the snowblade route, at the time this was article written, you will be a rare and novel sight on the hill and fellow lift passengers will be asking you about what it’s like to ski on them. To me, it feels unencumbered. I float down the hill effortlessly with grace (I hope) in my form and joy in my heart. I don’t care a fig about my unfashionable appearance. This is my dance of joy with the snow-laden slope – exquisite!
Just call me Jakeski.