Here are a few things that, after my many lessons learned, I know to be truths:
1. Your skis are too short.
This one is a classic. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, your friends have done it. Let’s stop this madness here and now. More ski-to-snow-contact will give you more stability. The fear of not being able to control a ski because it is too long is all in your mind. If you are reasonably athletic then you can manage a longer ski. A ski performs at its best when it is properly sized for you. I am 5’6” and 160lbs and I’ve found that 175cm-180cm length in a ski that is around 100mm underfoot works well for me. This is not necessarily a hard and fast rule for gauging ski length, you also need to take into account your skier type, and where you ski but it provides a rough guide. If you’re skiing on something in narrower than 90mm underfoot and sking in the East, then you can probably get away with a slightly shorter ski.
2. Your boots are too big.
I only recently come around to accepting that my old boots were too big. I constantly had cold feet and I attributed this to my boots being too tight. As it turns out, my feet get cold in any ski boot so this was easily rectified with heated insoles.
Your ski boots should not fit like your shoes, they are nothing like your shoes. They are solid, tilted forward, and by nature, difficult to walk in. If you are engaging in a proper athletic stance while you ski, your toes will not get crushed. If you find that you are constantly reefing on your buckles or you feel that you are simply not connected to your skis, it’s probably time for a smaller pair of boots.
3. Your equipment is outdated.
Old equipment like skis and ski boots are doing you a disservice. Technology is constantly changing in ski equipment which allows for easier use and efficiency. While you may love your K2s from the 80s, save those for slush cups or tight and bright parties in the spring. These old straight skis also make excellent shot skis, chair backs, and wall art. I recommend renting or demoing a high-end pair of current skis if you’re not willing to let go of your old skis just yet.
Outdated helmets not only look dorky but can also be dangerous. If yours has had a significant impact, it’s time for a new one. Some companies suggest 5 to 8-year expiry dates for helmets… and while some scoff at this being just a marketing gimmick, if your helmet looks visibly worn, sun-damaged, or dented, it’s time to replace it.
If you don’t wear a helmet, you probably also ski in jeans and don’t believe in thins like science… so you can stop reading here, hop in your Chevy Astro and drive away unbuckled. How do you even have the internet?
4. You refer to yourself as “just an intermediate” skier
Imposter syndrome, the confidence challenge, call it what you may. It’s is the feeling of not being good enough to call yourself an advanced or expert skier. If you have the skills to get down any run (including double blacks) then you are an advanced skier. Maybe you’ve only skied with your kids in the past decade so you think that you have forgotten how to ski. I think the analogy “it’s just like riding a bike” applies here.
Having the confidence to call yourself an advanced or expert skier will help you make better decisions when you’re buying equipment. Most salespeople are looking for a quick transaction, don’t give them an excuse to sell you “just a ski”. Make them earn the sale and sell you the best ski for your ambitions. There’s an old saying that is as true as the day is long: “nothing is more expensive than the wrong gear”. Thinking of yourself as more than ‘just an intermediate” It will also allow you to venture to new, more fun parts of the resort that you may have not explored in the past. (See the next point for more on this.
5. (tie) You don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Are you the type of skier that just does the same 2 chairs and picks the same lines every time? You feel like you can’t progress as a skier a that you are content in with where you are. The gratification you get from conquering a new challenge is like none other. You will find you become a better skier overall by overcoming new obstacles. Take baby steps every time you get out on the slopes. Start by popping in and out of trees, take a different line than you normally would, go down that ungroomed run for a change. You will surprise yourself with what you can do.
5. (tie) You buy a pair of skis because they’re “cute”.
I have been guilty of this WAY too many times in the past. I’ve bought skis because they are pretty and not because of their performance. Boy oh boy, have I paid for that. I always end up having the worst time on the slopes with the wrong skis. What can I say? I like pretty things. If you’re like me and are too big for the European man’s idea of “a woman” and are, therefore, too big for women’s skis then buy a man’s ski! I’ve found that a better way to express your personality on the slopes is to invest in cute clothing. You’ll be much happier if you have a ski that you love and an adorable outfit. If you’re lucky enough to find a pair of skis that are pretty and perform then buy two pairs of them!