29 Mar 2012, 10:21am
Colorado Shopping Skiing & Snowboarding Telluride:
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Spring Skiing, Spring Shopping

Finishing Out the Season with My Ski of Choice: Volkl Kenja

It’s hard to believe we are just over a week away from the close of the ski season here in Telluride. We’ve had many super warm days and the base is melting fast although there’s still lots of fun to be had, especially if you love snowsporting on corn snow beneath sunny, breezy skies. This is the time to kick back with your skiing and riding—have a big, late breakfast, enjoy the mountain for a few hours, break for a frosty beverage, then get in a few more runs before the lifts close. This scene—punctuated with the usual springtime panoply of colorful garb and flowered shirts—gives new meaning to Margaritaville. Although Telluride closes April eighth, this festive tableau will be played out at other resorts across Colorado well into early May. Be prepared for all kinds of weather during this period, since a spring storm can bring with it all the ferocity of winter and much to our delight, leave a pile of powdery fluff in its wake at the most unexpected moments.

Spring also marks a fantastic time to take advantage of killer deals on clothing and gear.  Most ski shops are looking to move their inventory fast to make room for their summer goods which typically focus on biking, hiking and rafting. Shopping for everything from base layers to puffies will set you up in grand style for next season at prices that will astonish even the most seasoned shoppers.

Shopping for skis—a major investment by most everyone’s standard—at this period can make the most sense of all. Some of the most highly rated skis might already be sold out, yet you’ll still find a lot of top-of-the-line models available. And have you ever thought about demos? If possible, I recommend demoing skis before you buy them (although lots of people don’t and make out just fine). You can also snatch up a pair of demo skis at impressive end-of-the-season savings. I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill rentals. No, I’m referring to high-end demos that have only been taken out sporadically throughout the season. By this time of year, most shops are willing to let these babies go for a fraction of the cost.

I’ve actually been skiing on a pair of demos for the past month. And I couldn’t be happier. I’ve never been big on secondhand or used anything but my “new” skis have worked out beautifully, the price was right and I didn’t have to fret about that dreaded first scratch. After just a day or two on them, they quickly became mine. Best of all these stunningly beautiful Volkl Kenjas represent the successful culmination of having tried out over a dozen pairs of skis (some a couple of times each) over a year of demoing. Don’t think I’m crazy. I’m actually a very decisive shopper and believe it or not, I never demoed any other skis that I owned before—those just worked. No, I haven’t gone wacko although I might be a little more discriminatory now that I’ve been a professional ski instructor for eight years. It’s really about the technology. Skis have evolved so much (just like boards and boots) that there’s a vast difference in how they feel beneath you these days. You also have to consider what type of skier you are, the snow conditions, whether you’re skiing moguls, groomers, powder, crud. You get the idea.

Getting Hooked Up with Demos at Bootdoctors

Thank goodness as a ski instructor local shops such as Bootdoctors and Telluride Sports allow us to demo skis ad infinitum during the not-so busy times. I began my arduous process of trial and error just over a year ago at Bootdoctors. If I found a ski I liked with the ski boots I was accustomed to wearing, I’d dare to throw them on with the brand new Salomon boots that I had been fitted with for the October 2010 SKI MAGAZINE shoot. This complicated matters considerably since I could barely walk in these oh-so canted boots without feeling like I was going to topple over—skiing with them on new boards seemed inconceivable. By the last day of the season last year, I thought I had found a ski that worked although I wasn’t convinced enough to purchase them.

I was beginning to think that the heart of the problem revolved around my souped up boots. Before I went to dear old Dr. Bob Gleason at Bootdoctors for yet another adjustment on the cant, I decided to start this season off with the new Salomons. The short walk from the locker room to the base still felt tipsy-turvy, however, after a good amount of perseverance, I began to feel comfortable in the boots—both on the snow and off. Finally, I was reaping the benefits for which the boots were fitted. I felt noticeable improvements in my skiing and was getting on edge like I had never done before. Adieu, the travails of a knock kneed girl!

Demoing Skis on the Last Day of the Season Last Year

After breaking myself and my boots into the new season, I began demoing skis after the holiday rush. It seemed as though I had more to choose from than last year. Front rocker, full rocker, full camber, traditional—the choices appeared endless. I knew I wanted a good all-mountain ski that would help me out in the bumps. I needed to take my skiing up a notch and I was determined to find skis that would make that possible. (I purchased my first computer after I landed my first book deal—that did not make me a writer, however, it did improve my writing.)

I found my bliss in Volkl’s Kenja, a highly versatile ski that won me over by its feel and look. Not surprisingly, my boyfriend—an awesome skier—was already smitten by the Volkl Kendo, the male version, which he had been touting throughout the season. Sadly this much-in-demand ski was not available at bargain prices a month ago, so I decided to opt for Bootdoctors’ demo pair without even blinking an eye. Riding the chairlift a couple of weeks later, a fellow instructor informed me that my fair ladies had received number #1 ranking from SKI MAGAZINE this year for gold medal gear in mixed snow. No wonder I fell in love with them.

Perfect Form for SKI MAGAZINE

And so I’ve come full circle with my SKI MAGAZINE photo shoot that was actually carried out just two years ago. I’m now cruising around on fabulous boots and skis that are making a huge difference in my turns. The photo that featured me in perfect skier form on edge in SKI MAGAZINE earned me kudos from many, including the top dogs at Ski School. The truth is though that it took us hours to get that one shot. Most of my turns were crap and I felt like I was going to break my neck in the process. Why? Because I was skiing on very canted boots (a whole new world) on skis that were totally foreign to me. It ended up being so bad that I went down the rest of the run in a power wedge, practically in tears, fearful of making a turn that would send me sailing.

Here’s the moral of the story:  only mix up one part of your gear at a time and persevere, persevere, persevere. Bob and his team do an excellent job at bootfitting at Bootdoctors whether you just want footbeds or a full cant. Expect, however, to be patient with them and allow yourself time to adjust before beginning to demo skis. Once you do this, the demoing part should be fun although there, too, you might have to put in some time. Or, if you’re like many people, you can just say you’re looking for certain specifics such as a front rocker, full camber, narrow waist, deep sidecut with foam to go with your skinny, Venti triple latte. Yes, that’s it—just like with gourmet coffee, there are skis out there for everyone’s taste. It’s up to you to find your combo.

Now is as good a time as any with deals sprouting up full and fresh as the crowds are dwindling. There are still fat days of skiing and riding left in Colorado and a whole bouquet of buys to be enjoyed. Your savings would more than pay for your trip out here and you’d become tanned and toned to boot!

Note that you can easily demo/rent skis at Bootdoctors (tel.:  800-592-6883) and if you decide to spring for a pair of skis you’ve tried, the rental fee will be deducted from the purchase price.

For more stories on spring skiing in Colorado, go to What a Glorious Day, What a Beautiful Week, Skiing, Smores and Storytelling at Snowmass, Spring Fever Hits Colorado Big-Time, Skiing and Spa-Going:  Part One in Vail and Skiing and Spa-Going:  Part Two in Aspen.

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