It’s a revolutionary change. Both good and not so good. It involves retraining brain and body. Forgetting about the past.
It’s taking a solid intermediate skier, comfortable at that level, and putting her in a self-driving race car with no seat belts.
Enter the Women’ K2 First Luv Skis that are billed as perfect for a skier like me who can always use help turning so as to not lift my ski, and who loves exquisitely groomed trails only. Somehow, I felt them moving under me and leaving me behind.
Let’s be truthful about change at this point in life. There are those who learn to snowboard at 65 and love it, and even teach it. I am in awe of them despite the loud, scraping noises this kind of equipment makes at high speeds.
But we are talking habit and comfort here. My husband and two daughters, who have been on snowy mountains their entire lives, always felt the need to swerve, jump or go really fast. And I would follow as they waited for me to take my time on the way down. My skis did what I told them to do with a bit of assist on the turns.
My real skis, the Women’s Dynastar Sensation, now listed on eBay for $229.99, plus $24.99 shipping, probably have been in our ski closet for about six years. They are a bit balloonist. If you ski them correctly with relaxed limbs, they will largely do the turn for you and you follow. Voila! They are advertised for intermediate and advanced skiers.
Please let me find the sweet spot of my old skis that allowed me to practice bringing them together to carve a graceful turn, linking them. Another, and then another.
What a waste of time. Now skis are fat, shorter and ridden about hip width apart. They are supposed to offer ease and stability.
And I don’t doubt this because Dan Lewis of Stan and Dan’s in North Conway, N.H., has been picking and fitting my skis for the past 40 years. (I started very young.) It was a system that worked. They picked, I skied.
Stan and Dan’s is one of the best ski shops in New England and far beyond. We have schlepped to them skis and boots from Washington, D.C., and then Pittsburgh, where we now live.
Sure, people who saw skis and boots in our car in July thought it was strange. It wasn’t. We were dropping off our equipment in August so it could be tuned and waxed for the next season. We would pick them up after Christmas.
So why wouldn’t you depend on them to pick the best new ski. Why would you trust anyone else?
They knew your gnarled old feet, your orthotic that needed constant adjustment, your fear of expert trails, and your utter dependence on them to pick the right thing so you could progress a teeny bit and not kill yourself.
OK, let’s get to how new skis look, feel and perform for someone who loved her old skis, but from a technical viewpoint, had no idea why.
A pair was picked, fat, short ones. The first pair was a disaster. I claimed they would not turn for me.
I got rid of them immediately and erased everything about them, including their name, from my memory. I vowed never to ski again.
Stan and Dan were patient. Another pair was produced, the K2 Luv things. Those got their first runs at Mount Cranmore and I felt like I was being time transported back to my truly green days. A kind ski teacher took me for a run, pronounced I was skiing like a person stuck in the intermediate world, and skied off with a smile.
I persevered and tried again on a perfect day at King Pine, a small, lovely, well-groomed family place. It was slow, my balance was off, and the skis seemed to be turning like crazy. From there, I picked up some speed. Or rather, the skis did.
I could see a big learning curve ahead, not because of the proficiency of the K2s, but because of me. Back to the greens.
I knew I had to update my skis and outlook, but I hated to jettison old things and memories.
I am old enough to remember the recently departed Durgin-Park in Boston.
In North Conway, a town where I have hiked, biked and skied for 40 years, there are many things that have gone away along with straight skis.
Gone: The restaurant Bellbuoy North; Sandwich World with abundant pickles on every sub; Jack Frost Ski Shop, an elegant place to buy woolen ski sweaters; Carroll Reed, purveyor of plaid pleated woolen skirts; and, of course, the Skimobile at Cranmore whose “chairs” have become lawn ornaments. The Bernerhof had German food — spätzle and schnitzel. At the Oxen Yoke, weekends rocked with Them Fargo Brothers.
Added: The Met on Main Street, the best coffee in town; a sharp new ski museum where you can buy a plunger with a ski pole for the handle; and the successor to Stanley’s, the Sunshine Shack, that offers big breakfast bowls overflowing with eggs and add-ons. There is a sign that says, “Breakfast Brews.”
I like these things. They make it a pleasure to come to the Mount Washington Valley. The question is, can I ever be young enough to Luv my new skis?
Cindy Skrzycki, a senior lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh and visiting professor at McGill University in Montreal, has been skiing for a half-century.