Short fat chick

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, even


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 you.

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 wimps.

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 short.

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.

Missy Votel




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