27 Sep Ski or Not to Ski… now there’s a question..?
Skiing or traveling over snow on wooden runners, has a recorded history of almost five millennia. Various nationalities claim to have invented it, but frankly, who cares, it’s great and I love it. Well it must be good fun because people are still talking about it today (5 millenia later) and thankfully for us people still go on ski holidays! Technology has changed, shape and design have progressed and skiing is once again “the new cool”.
Modern snowboarding began in 1965 when Sherman Poppen, an engineer from Michigan, invented a toy for his daughter by fastening two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so she would have some control as she stood on the board and glided downhill. Now, read that again. Fastening two skis together, attach a rope so she would have some “control”…..really. Control…..? Clearly things havent really moved on that much in the last 45 years. Two skis have become one “big ski” fastened to your feet and the rope has been ditched. The same lack of control and danger still remain! Only the fashion of extremely baggy ski clothes, the brightest colour goggles (to be worn at ALL times, including in the bars and restaurants) and a beanie pulled as far over your eyes as your loud goggles will tolerate, has really changed.
The age-old “rift” between skiers and boarders, I think, has passed. Skiers have got used to boarders sitting in the middle of the slopes and taking up space. Skiers now tolerate the boarders scraping away the good surface snow as they “edge” downhill in the ever impressive “falling leaf”. Resorts have been kind enough to recognise the “Old feud” is a thing of the past and have very kindly improved snow parks and built bigger kickers and longer rails, so the “park rats” can scare themselves even more and probably break a rib or two, leaving one or two less boarders on the slope for the rest of the week. Or indeed just sit around, with a beer and loud goggles, watching everyone else hit the kicker and pretend that they could do it if they really wanted to. Also, in some more well renowned resorts they have very kindly put in a good distance of flat piste, connecting to the next lift, to access some great skiing. What constitutes a “good distance”, I hear you ask? Simply it’s anything long and flat enough that brings about the often loudly voiced boarder complaint “This resort aint very f***ing boarder friendly”, as they unclip the back foot and push their way up the ensuing hill towards the lift station, bringing on enough sweat to steam up the overly loud goggles. Leaving those great runs for the more serious skiers amongst us.
‘Tis true, if you have never done either before, you are sure to pick up boarding quicker than skiing, the learning curve is steeper and the gain is greater, certainly within the usual one week ski/board holiday. That is of course if you haven’t broken a rib, bruised your bum, jarred your funny bone, dislodged your kneecap or concused yourself on the first few days on a board.
Granted, boarding does have one distinct advantage. The boots. Those boots were made for dancing and dancing is what they will do. Perfect for apres ski in every way. Comfy (ideal for dancing on tables), breathable (for when jammed packed in apres ski bar), functional (perfect sole for jumping off the table and into a crowd surf), soft (for when said crowd surfer catches young girl in back of head) and relatively smart as well. Very much unlike the ski boot.
Skiing opens up more doors. A good skier can be uber cool if required, trendy oversized pants and outrageously baggy jackets for the twin tip fat ski park days and loud apres ski bars. Sensible gore-tex gear for the deep powder days followed by a gluhwein and bit of jazz and of course the smart sensible fitted ski suit and Oakleys for those blue sky days and long lunches in the Michelin restaurants! Boarders, well, let’s be honest, it’s burger and chips from the imbiss while sat on your upside down board stuck in the snow, so your overly baggy, masking taped ski pants don’t get even wetter.
As you can tell, I am very impartial about the whole Ski or Board debate…….
As the season draws closer and the snow has already fallen. St Anton woke up to an all white resort to 1300 meters the other day and the glacial resorts have had a good 40cm covering. Pre season camps and training tend to begin in mid October on the glaciers, so bodes well we hope. Courchevel is due to drop a lot colder with rain and possibly snow being forecast for the week ahead.
Its round about now that we can expect all our favourite ski journalists to start writing about the season ahead. Making their predictions and uncovering some new secret resort somewhere. Reporting on all the trips they went on last season and offering up the best deals, with the best companies. But just who or what makes one company better than the next……maybe I’ll save that one for the next blog….
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