Steamboat Springs A great old pair of skis never dies it just goes to the annual ski swap to be reborn. Some skis will suffer the ignominy of being turned into furniture, a fence or a trash can surround. Others will enjoy a more dignified, albeit brutal semi-retirement, going into some savvy skier's quiver as a pair of trustworthy rock skis. Their job will be to save some newer, more expensive pair of skis from the gouges that can sometimes come with thin early season snow cover. Still other skis will be pulled from the trash heap to play a starring role in our annual Winter Carnival.
Let's face it: Time can be cruel to a pair of boards that once helped their owners channel kinetic energy into amazing arcs down a mountainside.
I had to confront the possibility, on Saturday, that my own favorite pair of skis might be destined for a career transition. I was cruising down a row of skis looking for a pair of classics to write about in a newspaper column I was seeking the kind of skis that looked like they had a story or two to tell, when I came upon my own skis. No, not the exact same pair, but the exact same model. Here's the catch they were in better condition than my own Elan MBXs and exactly 10 years old, like mine.
What you really need to know about this particular row of skis is that it was reserved for skis being resold for no more than $5. I suddenly realized I was skiing on $3.50 boards.
If you have skied for a couple, three decades, chances are, you've been through a shop full of skis, but there was one pair that you formed a special bond with.
For my friend John, that special pair of skis was a set of K2 710 VOs circa 1985. You might remember the cosmetics they were white with pink lettering. Despite the fact that they weren't the prettiest skis ever made, they were very expensive skis, boasting the latest innovation cracked edges.
John admits those skis are somewhere in the depths of the Milner landfill.
Shame on you, pal.
Nancy would never do that to her old red, white and blue K2s. Those things disappeared in the '70s, but she bought a pair out of the $5 row at ski swap last year and skied on them all winter. And Nancy has been known to tear up some bumps runs in her day. This year, she switched over to the new red, white and blue shaped skis that K2 brought out to honor the originals.
Don't think K2 is going to run away with all the accolades two respondents to my informal poll named the Dynastar Omeglass (we used to call them Oh-mi-Gods) as their favorite vintage skis. I never skied them, but I know from trying to keep up with people who swore by them, that they could handle powder, crud and bumps.
There are many people out there for whom the best skis of all time are telemark skis. Brian still has his Fisher GTS skis from the late '80s and is planning to offer them to his brother-in-law I can't be certain of his motives. However, those old teles, set up with crude three-pin bindings, could get it done both on- and off-piste.
Cindy says she paid a lot for her 1998 Ruby Mountain tele boards, even though she purchased them at a September sale. The skis have soft tails and tips, but they can hold an edge and they're forgiving in the bumps.
The skis get their name from a remote mountain range in northern Nevada. All indications are this is a love affair that's destined to endure.
Jules once scored a pair of the ultimate cult skis at the ski swap. If you ever find a pair of the legendary Rossignol mountaineering skis named Haute Routes at the ski swap, don't hesitate, grab them.
Jules picked up on her pair of Haute Routes when a local physician made the mistake of leaving town during the ski swap. His wife decided it was a great time to haul all of is old boards out of the garage and dispose of them. Ouch.
I was tempted, this weekend, to do what Nancy did, and buy those old Elan MBXs for $5 and keep right on skiing them. But I went in the other direction and picked up a pair of year-old demo skis for a bargain price and entered the modern age of shaped skis.
If you're wondering about the fate of all those skis in the $5 row, I have news that will warm your little skier's heart. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which organizes the ski swap, gave Steamboat Springs High School bandleader Dan Isbell his pick of the lot. A couple dozen will be reborn as skis used by the world's only skiing band during Winter Carnival in February.
What more could a well-used pair of skis hope for?
Tom Ross is a longtime Steamboat resident. His column is published every Monday in Steamboat Today.