All a heezy with the

All a heezy with the sheezy

That's what it read on one of the whiteboards hanging
near the lift line at Crystal yesterday. Translated from
hip skiier speak it meant that it was an epic powder day.
For a ski day to be "epic," as Sang called it yesterday
on the drive up, a few factors must converge. First comes
the snow, lots of it. Second, it has to be cold enough that
the powder stays light, fluffy, instead of becoming wet
or sticky. Third, the sun has to appear up on high.
We were blessed with all three on Saturday.
I tried out my new snowboard, boots, and bindings for
the first time. I decided to go with strap-in bindings,
a soft boot system, for comfort and control. It all worked
out beautifully. The first few runs were a bit shaky as I
tried to adjust to the new equipment, which still needs to
be tuned for me a bit. But once I figured it out, it felt
great. This board is a 158, and I was riding a 163
before. The 163 was definitely too long.
Skiing and snowboarding are two sports where finding
the right equipment is absolutely critical to enjoying the
sport. I venture that half the people who give up either
sport or never learn to love the sports suffer from faulty
equipment fit or quality. I think yesterday was my most
enjoyable day of snowboarding yet, and the equipment
was key. No one should have to be cold, or miserable,
or in pain, when skiing or boarding. So, if you're out there
and had some unpleasant experiences with rental
equipment, try getting fitted at a specialty store with
clerks who know what they're doing.
I'm definitely a proponent of strap-in metal bindings.
Plastic bindings just aren't stiff enough, and the strap-in
system feels much more secure than step-ins. Like
clipless pedals in cycling versus clips.
Another reason to head out on epic days, besides the
sheer pleasure of being out in the sun on fresh pow, is
the fact that I think it's days like that when a beginner
can become an intermediate and an intermediate can
become an expert more easily than ever. I haven't had
a great powder day since two years ago, and I felt
like my skills in boarding were stalled at the intermediate
level. In fresh powder like yesterdays, even black diamond
slopes feel very manageable, and speed isn't nearly as
intimidating as it normally is.
For once, I felt like I could keep up with Toni, who was there
with me when I first picked up a snowboard two years ago.
She and Sang were fast enough to push me up and down
the runs. Now if I can just find a day when the slopes are clear
enough so that I can listen to my MP3 player on the way
down, I may just retire and become a slope slut.
All in all, an important day on the mountains. Now I'm
really hooked, and Whistler calls next weekend.