New Short-Shaped Skis Make Things Easy
skis keep invading our lives. We first tried them at Mountain Creek in New Jersey
two seasons back, and they reappeared three times during last season - once at
Jiminy Peak in Massachusetts, and twice more at Okemo in Vermont. We're not talking
about "snowblades," now, which are like in-line skates for the snow. No, these
are real skis. Very short real skis. Elan makes them. Rossignol does, too. They
range from about 113 centimeters to 133 or so. But, they ski like the big boys.
Why short skis? Because
they make learning a heck of a lot easier. You can turn them, get them onto their
edge and control them much more easily, and the minute you get your weight off-center
- boom - you know it. And, even though they're dwarfish, you can ski them anywhere
- they hold great on ice, carve fine turns on the groomed and they're a riot in
We had the most fun with
them at Okemo, where the ski school starts never-evers on them. We rode them first
in December. Typical early season conditions. Hard-packed, patches of ice. We
zipped around on these little guys and had a ball. Handling the ice was a breeze.
Because we could get up onto the edges so easily, they sliced the ice like fine
knives slice tender meat. Even the kids - who first looked at these miniatures
like they were social poison (totally uncool) - got into it. A lot of giggling,
and then some whooping was actually heard.
Then it began to snow.
Hard. We soon found ourselves in fresh powder with a very firm underfooting. No
problem with these shorties. To add to the fun, we got rid of our poles. The older
kids at protested this. Too much like when they were five and first learning.
But, skiing without poles, suddenly gave us a whole new sense of balance. And
then a new sense of freedom. Soon the whole crew was heading into the terrain
park. Builds confidence, too.
- Dad and daughter - came back to Okemo in March, expressly to ski the minis in
the bumps. After a quick cruising warm-up, we followed instructor Rick Weiss into
a mogul field. The kid did fine - took her time. But, Dad rushed in. Just a few
turns and - boom - the little skis raced out from under him. Butt-plant! Lesson
learned the hard way, as Rick pointed out. That butt-plant illustrated the very
reason to use the minis to master the bumps. The skis offer no front or rear support.
They demand that you stay centered. Get out of center, and you know it right away
- they shoot ahead or you face plant. But, stay balanced and there's so little
ski that you don't have to worry about executing turns, just absorbing and extending.
It took a few runs, but
soon we were wiggling our way down Okemo's bump runs, having a ball. The minis
make it so easy to feel when you're on-center, and that's why they can be used
as a learning tool for never-evers, and for bump-fools. Check 'em out next time
you're skiing Okemo - or one of the other eastern Mountains of Distinction. You
can find them in the rental shop. Then look for Rick or one of his instructing
compatriots. They'll show you how to take these little babies through the terrain
park, into the mogul fields or flying down the cruisers.
For info on Okemo see
their KidzResort review