In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Steamboat Springs Lately, I've been contemplating one of life's more enduring questions. I don't mean the simplistic, easy-to-answer stuff such as, "What is the meaning of life?" Everyone knows the answer is chocolate.
The question I have been agonizing about is a real keep-ya-up-all-night type of conundrum, the type of question I am sure many Steamboat residents have grappled with from time to time: Is it the ski or the skier?
This niggling philosophical question probably is best contemplated while listening to waves slap against distant shores (research has shown a distinct correlation between listening to ocean waves and improved brainwave function), but because the economy has left me landlocked, I decided to take my question to the experts over at Steamboat Ski and Sport. Chief philosopher and ski guru Mike O'Brien agreed to share his theories with me on the chairlift and was kind enough to let me try a few pairs of demo skis.
Because I know some left-brain readers will want to know the technical aspects of my scientific research, let me share with you how I conducted my highly scientific experiment. Because it is so complex, I have reduced it to simple, layman's terms.
- This was a double ski study, meaning I wore a placebo ski on one foot and a demo ski on the other.
- For the purposes of this extremely scientific study, I skied the same run, Vagabond, with each pair of demo skis.
- To prevent bias and maintain complete objectivity, I wore a blindfold, wig and fake moustache. Mike wore a helmet.
Before you can really demo skis, it is important to understand how to talk about skis intelligently. For example, you would never want to make a ski faux pas by saying, "That ski was awesome." No.
In order to sound like an expert skier, it's important to sprinkle your sentences with adjectives like chatter, carve, skid, rebound, float, pop, dive, grip, flex and forgive. In other words, skis do everything a mother does while in pursuit of a 2-year-old. Unfortunately, skis have not yet been created that can do the really hard stuff, such as laundry.
Armed with this new lexicon, I stood at the top of Vagabond on a pair of Nordica Olympia Mints. I can't tell you about the graphics because, as previously stated, I was blindfolded. However, I can tell you that these skis moved. Just trying to stand still was like trying to restrain a race horse. Once in motion, they didn't grip the snow. Maybe they were too soft or I was too hard, but we were not a match.
Next up: The One Luv. I loved this ski from the get-go. In the interest of complete disclosure, I already ski on the True Luv, so maybe I was predisposed to this ski. It was easy to carve and hold a turn. Wherever I wanted to do, the ski took me with a nice easy ride.
At Mike's suggestion, the third ski I tried was a beginner ski, the Voodoo Rossignol. No, no, no. Although the ski was soft and more forgiving, it chattered like a 3-year-old on a sugar high. In ski lingo, I overskied the ski. I was better than it. Yay!
For my final run, I demoed an expert ski - the Vokl Fuego. Halfway down the run, I thought about Mike's answer to the ski/skier question. He theorized that for a beginner, the ski makes all the difference - they need every advantage to shorten the learning curve. An expert skier can ski on any ski and look good. However, he forgot to mention that intermediate skiers, like me, only need one thing to look like they're ready to star in a Warren Miller movie: a reward at the end of the day.
It's really that simple.