Short and fat: Two words that, when used in conjunction,
conjure up less that attractive images. Danny Devito.
Bugs. Big toes. Ralph Furley neckties.
So naturally, when the whole short and fat ski revolution
hit, I was a bit apprehensive to jump on the short bus.
See, like many of us who can remember skiing in a Mother
Karen's jacket know, short skis are for sissies. Any rad
hotdogger worth his or her weight in Nastar pins was taught,
before being told not to sit down on the T-bar, that
the amount of space between one's head and the tips of
one's skis was directly proportional to prowess on the
slopes. Who cares if all you could do was point 'em down
and hope for the best? It really wasn't about looking
good back then how else could you explain stretch pants
and neon? It was about going fast and, occasionally, throwing
in a turn if you were lucky.
It was this line of
thinking that I carried over to my telemark skiing career (despite
the fact that the sport, by its very nature, is one of the slowest
and most inefficient modes of traveling downhill). My first pair of
teles were hand-me-down, three-pin 205 Merrells (apparently, they
made skis at one time) that wobbled if you even looked at them
hard. From there, my roommates and I moved on to a pair of 210
Hexcel splittails, also mounted with three pins (for those of you
born after 1980, it's the reason you have those holes on the bottom
of your boot). We would take turns torturing ourselves in the bumps
with them and I'm sure it wasn't pretty. But much in the same way a
cowboy hangs onto that bucking bronc for dear life, so did we,
working toward that elated moment when we actually linked a few
turns. Being able to walk (or even limp) away from a ride on those
was a pride thing, breaking the skis before they broke
Now, before I digress to
reminiscing about my Asolo Snowfields and walking uphill in the
snow both ways, allow me to get back to the point: It's a good
thing Merrell no longer makes skis oh, and short skis are for
OK, OK, I've heard the
whole parabolic spiel (typically coming from someone trying to
justify the sissy sticks on the end of his feet) how when the ski
is on edge, there's actually just as much surface area coming into
contact with the snow, so they ski a lot longer; how the hourglass
shape facilitates turning.
Skis that supposedly
turn for you? Sounds to me like cheating. That and a plot by ski
companies to make us all run out and buy new gear, or at the very
least, a ploy by the bad skiers to make the rest of us look stupid,
too. The whole parabolic thing (aside from being the punchline for
a really bad joke) was just a passing fad, I prophesized. Shaped,
fat, mid-fat, who cares? Just shut up and ski.
Of course, as I often
do, I eventually found myself eating those words. It was a free
demo day, and I strapped on a pair of fatty, flame-bedecked K2s and
kissed my Tele Sauvages good-bye forever. And while I embraced the
shaped technology wholeheartedly, part of me clung to those old,
lofty ideals. My mach-skismo would not allow me to go
For the next few years,
I persevered in my chauvinism. That is until a friend, who I
greatly admire for the ability to board, tele and parallel all in
the same day inquired about the length of my skis. When I proudly
proclaimed that I was still in the 190s, there was no sign of
approval, no inkling of respect, just a look of shock and
revelation. "No wonder!" he declared.
No wonder what, I never
quite did understand. But I gathered from the guffaws that it was
time to put aside the ego and start taking steps to conquer my
short ski phobia once and for all. All around me people were going
short and fat and proud of it. It still didn't seem right there was
no suffering, no humiliation, no hurky jerky through the set-up
crud, no pretzel man contortions as the long, skinny tips plummeted
through the trap-door sugar snow.
But, you can only mock
something for so long before you realize that, while you're
standing there being bitter girl with the tweaked knees from
throwing your way-too-long skis around in 3 feet of notorious San
Juan snowpack, everyone else is having fun. And yes, if everybody
hucked themselves off a cliff in the stupid, stubby things, I guess
I would, too.
Granted, the conversion
was slow. It took a few years of 10 centimeters here, another 5
there. But, I have finally arrived at the point where I can stand
tall, hold my head high and say "I am taller than my skis barely."
That's right, my skis are now shorter than my first pair of Hart
Gremlins in sixth grade and wider than a Mac truck. But then again,
so is my smile.
And that's the truth,
short and sweet.