Archive for October, 2012


By Karen | Filed in Blog

With 50 days to go, I received an email with my first homework assignment.

We are to write down ten goals that we wish to achieve during the course.

Top of my list needs to be to tell the difference between left and right, or it could all go horribly wrong on the slopes!


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The right skis

By Karen | Filed in Blog

Most people who know me know that I do like to obsess over technical details, and I have been having fun conducting extensive and serious research into which skis I should buy for the coming season. Now, the sensible among you may also point out that I have a perfectly good pair of skis in the cupboard that have taken me over the mountains quite successfully for several years.

But that’s no fun! And I do have a perfectly good reason (excuse?) to buy a new pair for my forthcoming adventure.

So I will explain. Skis come in all shapes and sizes, and different shapes suit different terrain, snow conditions, skier ability or more accurately speed, and how exciting, or NOT, the skier wishes their slide down the mountain to feel. The essence of skiing is turning from side to side.  The action of turning puts the ski on its steel edges, which acts as a brake and slows the ski down. So downhill speed is controlled by continuous turning.

On the American West Coast, it snows nearly every day, and skiers expect to spend a lot of time floating on new fluffy powdery snow. Wider skis with a lot of surface to stand on suit these conditions well, as the skier stays on top of the snow and doesn’t sink into it, but they are much stiffer and harder to bend to make a turn.  Thankfully powder is hard to ski through, and acts as a brake, slowing the skis down, so fewer turns are needed across the snow.

In Europe and the East Coast of America, new fluffy snow falls less frequently and so the snow is generally quite hard and compacted, and even icy.  Skis fly over this surface, and get up to high speed quickly, so more turns are needed to control speed and slow down. Skis that suit hard conditions are thinner, and much bendier, to make turning easier and faster, but they do need to be able to handle powder and slushy melting conditions too.

I have a pair of skis that are described as “all mountain” which means that they are a good average for most conditions. They won’t be the best in extreme conditions, but they won’t be the worst either.

Since a ski instructor is mainly teaching people to make well-controlled turns, I’m going to be doing a lot of turning, so having a ski that is more suited to turning on hard pistes will be easier on my tired legs, and I’ll keep the other skis for the days when it has been snowing, and floating on the new powder is the order of the day.

My new skis are wide at the toe and the tail, and narrow in the middle. This makes them very easy to bend, so they will be great fun! They are also a lovely colour 🙂

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