About a month ago, I spent the morning struggling to deliver any power to my turns and to find my balance. My thighs were aching. My internal dialog was unprintable!
- “What is wrong with me? I can’t keep contact with the front of my boot”
- “Reach for a pinch; more angulation”
- “Press that back ski; steer it”
- “Get on edge earlier”
- “Slow your lead change”
Sound familiar? How, how I can yell at myself (quieting my internal dialog is an entirely different story – probably Too Much Information?)
I quit for lunch, reached down to put my boots in “walk” mode. Guess what? Already there! I had skied the entire morning with no help from my boot shells.
No wonder I couldn’t find the front of my boots. No wonder I couldn’t maintain balance. No wonder my muscles hurt. I’d been compensating for hours.
Um, sometimes it really might be your equipment?
Let’s face it, higher boots in heavier bindings drive skis more easily. Big, fat skis smash through mank.
Versus high boots and heavier bindings on fat skis, some of us (me!) telemark partly because the equipment is lighter, much easier on the body for a full day of dancing with gravity.
I’ve chosen equipment that’s on the light side for the kind of skiing that I like (steeper, deep) because I don’t want to be exhausted by the effort. It’s a trade-off that we each have to make (unless you can afford multiples of everything and don’t mind hauling all that around so that you can choose the right gear for any particular set of circumstances? I have too many skis and boots as it is!)
I use a medium boot (3 buckle) that’s extremely comfortable for both kicking and gliding (climbing) in the backcountry and will allow me to have fun coming down. (you can see which one in some of the photos here. No product endorsements)
But sometimes one little adjustment can make a profound difference. I put a booster strap on when skiing in-bounds. It’s almost like a fourth buckle. Plus, my boots tend to “open up” when I’m skiing down for hours when I won’t be changing from climb to ski every little while (which is what happens in the backcountry, yes?) Using an extra power strap eliminates the “opening up” problem at my shin, allowing me to forget about boots and concentrate on skiing. (This idea came from infamous Paul, the now defunct Berkeley Marmot Mountain Works master boot fitter, by the way. Thanks, Paul!)
I was skiing with some folks using lighter 2 buckle boots. Great equipment for climbing and then taking a few modest descents. But I’m wondering if some if the difficulties with steeper, hardpacked terrain might have been due to those low, softer boots? When I put on lighter equipment, It’s a lot more work. Gravity will have its way. (I occaisionally go out for a spin in the woods on my old, Snowfield leather boots. I can make them turn. It’s not necessarily pretty)
Telemark equipment has been changing dramatically. Mostly, I believe these changes make it all easier. There does seem the possibility of making a reasonable compromise?
And, to the point, all the great equipment in the world won’t make up for not using it properly. Apparently, I need to pay a little closer attention before leaping into my day?