Skis are funny. There are so many of them out there with so many bells and whistles. I posted in a few facebook groups, asking for recommendations. And I rarely got the same answer twice. The answer I really got: go out and demo.
The thing with demo'ing skis is that it takes time. Typically, you rent demo skis, meaning, you are on that set for the whole day. Want to try something different? Rent another pair and spend another day on the slopes. Not that this is a bad thing. It just takes multiple weekends and usually an extra $40 each time to demo.
I began searching the interwebs, looking for ski reviews, recommendations, and demo days. Demo days can vary. Sometimes its one ski manufacturer bringing gear to the mountain for you to try... sometimes its a ski shop bringing lots of different skis to try. After some searching, I finally found that Outdoor Divas was hosting their third and final demo day at Loveland on March 1. Sweet! Loveland is reasonably priced ($59 walk-up, $50 on Liftopia) and I was able to take the day off of work.
|brr.... 15 degrees, windy, and snowy. But its a powder day!|
|First up - Volkl Kenjas|
I do this thing at new ski areas where I don't even bother looking at the map. I just head up the nearest lift and figure I can ski my way out. I hopped on Lift 2 but, even though there was a warning about 2 miles something-or-other, I didn't expect that the lift would take for.ev.er. Wow. It was slow and didn't even go up the hill that high. And it was WINDY. So windy that they built a wind-screen at the lift dismount area. (I would have taken a picture, but my hands would have frozen off). Also, notably, there weren't many trees. At all. Mostly windblown snow and rock. Which, as I understand, is the typical Loveland experience (and probably the reason why I haven't skied here before).
I hopped off the lift and immediately felt like the skis were squirrely. It could have been that this was my first run of the day. or powder. or wind. or the fact that it was white-out conditions and I couldn't see. And of course, new fancy skis with a whole bunch of technology that I've never skied on before. Fortunately, it being Thursday, there weren't any people to witness my "I feel like I have never skied before" behavior.
I took a deep breath and went into the powder. That's all there was - powder, at least 7 inches of it. And powder scares me. Mostly because I was a spring skier and never did much powder sking. The little that I did, was hard and I would spend the whole time slightly terrified that I would catch a tip and faceplant. Powder was fun, but mostly in the sense that you felt it was your obligation as a skier and native Coloradan that powder should be fun. Dammit.
I made my way down and was a bit wobbly at first but was otherwise ok once I got the hang of things. For such a long lift, there sure wasn't much vertical drop. I had one blue run then I was stuck on a wide green thing, headed back to the base. Boo. Back at the base, I looked at the map and decided that Lift 1 had the best terrain options in proximity to the Demo area. I headed up that lift (much shorter) and took a blue down. And experienced barely-tracked powder. Wowzers. So much fun - I kept giggling to myself on the way down. Kenjas were zippy and easy to turn, and felt like they had some speed. Back up the lift and did a small stretch of bumps. All was well.
|barely tracked powder. life was pretty rough at this very moment.|
Next up, I was really hoping to try the Rossi S7Ws. They look cool, one guy at a ski shop suggested they might be good for me, and I'd read good things about them. Problem was, they're a powder ski... and it was a powder day. The demo girl said that I wasn't going to get a chance at those skis for hours. Boo. Nothing else in the rack was on my wish list. The demo girl suggested that I try out the Volkl Auras. They were wider and more stable. In my head, stable = not responsive. There really weren't any other enticing options, so I grabbed the Auras and gave them a go.
|hummingbirds - pretty!|
|the road is I-70 and where the road disappears is the tunnel. weird!|
By that point, even though I was having a blast, it was noon. And I had these skis out for over an hour. I lurved them, but I didn't want someone else to have to wait for a chance. I headed down the black run, which was really weird. It was 3 tiers of black, ski-width tracks which wrapped around the mountain. Each track had a steep dropoff. All you could really do was wedge or side ski down them. And once you got the the tunnel, they had an employee at the entrance who ensured that you took your gear off. Once you could walk, you went under the tunnel, which was gravel and not snowy at all. Then you magically pop out on the other side of I-70 at the base.
Once back at the demo area, I was hungry but also saw that the Rossi S7Ws were back. People must be out at lunch! Even though I was hungry, I didn't think the S7s would stick around for very long. I decided to postpone lunch and take a ride on the S7s.
|oh hey, the sun is out for this one!|
Full disclosure: I took them and then headed in for a bite to eat. It was 1 PM and I was hungry. Also: do not get the chicken sandwich at the base. I thought something was fishy when the chicken sandwich was cheaper than a burger. I asked the guys at the counter if it was real chicken. They said yes. Then I made some comment while I was walking away about just wanting to make sure it wasn't particle chicken, and they looked at me funny. I paid for it, opened it up, and it was an anemic formed chicken breast. Not cool.
Now that I had a full belly, I wanted to test the Auras out on this nice long-ish bump run on the far side of the area. And perhaps play in the powder some more. I was very happy to see that the Auras handles well on the bumps. The bumps were still a bit powdery/soft but were controlled and I could do quick, tight turns. YAY. And then on the flats, I could zoom with stability and a bit of speed. It seems that these could be the skis for me :)
It was now a bit past 2 PM and I wanted to try out yet another pair of skis. I'd overheard the demo girl call Kastles "the Porches of skis" and I was curious. She spoke highly of them and why not? It was free to try them out.
|pronounced Cast-Lee. fancy! Also: the orange was see-though. double also: this was |
taken after 2 PM and look at all the powder that' still there!
|Represenation of my adventures at Loveland|