During the realm of this ski season I have come upon a surprising number of new participants – all adults - to skiing. Like any ski acolyte I was very curious to get each person’s take on their experience. Was it fun? Do you think you will do it again? Were you intimidated? What made you jump in?
Each person responded with enthusiasm and an ease to being introduced to the sport. Frankly, I was surprised. I hearkened back to my first experience skiing at 26 with decidedly mixed emotions. On one hand I was absolute in my determination to master skiing but it took a while and my ego took some lumps in the process. And in my journey to bring others with me? Well let’s just say we lost a lot of good men and women on the way.
Skiing often appeared to be one of those most cloistered of sports. You could literally feel the sense of “outsiderness” when you were out on the mountain awkwardly making turns and avoiding certain perceived death on the green slope as seemingly accomplished skiers were making the slope their own personal landing paths to après ski. Skiing felt like one of those sports that if you were not born to it then it was not a sport that exactly offered up the Welcome Mat. That vision of skiing is outdated and should be mothballed permanently: the ski industry has put tremendous investment towards instruction and amenities for skiers of all abilities, but perhaps there is nothing more significant than the change in ski gear and apparel that now offers a considerably smoother introduction to skiing.
The beautiful thing about skiing – like the car racing business – is that retail products are borne out of the crucible of competition. We used to see 230 cm straight-edged harpoon planks strapped to downhill racers. Over time however the shovels and tails of skis started being modified and widened, the waist of the ski decreased, and the sidewalls were beveled radically reducing the length and more importantly the effort required to carve turns. Boots – once a clumsy afterthought that evolved into toe crushing torture chambers - are now so customized that packaged with modern bindings and shaped skis offer a fully integrated ski system that really has shortened the critical path to ski accessibility and enjoyability. We simply don’t have to work as hard to get motivated on skis these days.
Clothing – there is some romance associated with skiing in the early days with alpine pants, heavy-duty sweaters, coat, gloves and socks made of wool. Wonderful, scratchy, warm when dry – hell when wet -wool. Non-permeable nylon materials eventually started showing up but technology has really taken off and has now rendered skiing garb perfectly capable of providing comfort on the hill all day long in all conditions. Of all strides made in skiing just within the last 10 years this surely has to be on the top of the list. Nano-technology that allows apparel’s breathability and its attendant wicking properties has transformed the need for warmth and flexibility in ski clothing into a serious game changer.
Clothing and gear are two breakthroughs that have removed great obstacles that once confronted new skiers. A clarion call should be issued for those with a sense of adventure with the message the game has not passed them by. Quite the contrary. Skiing has never been more accessible and available – unleash your mind and spirit.
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The views expressed on Snowmamas are those of the individual authors, who are independent contractors of Park City Mountain Resort, Copper Mountain Resort and Killiington Resort and may not be factually accurate. These views are not intended to reflect the opinions of Park City Mountain Resort, Copper Mountain Resort, Killington Resort, its owners, its management or its employees. Snowmamas' will receive compensation for their participation as an author.