Huh…I’d Better Get My Ski Agro On…for I’m Wearing Lindsay and Bode’s Boots!

23 12 2010

Last spring I bought some Rossignol SAS Pro 120 boots on sale…they seemed to fit Okay at the time but were a bit quirky to me. For one thing they were all white. Turned out these were freeride boots – it seems Lange and Technica also have white freeride boots! They seemed to fit fine, though the flex seemed soft. Still, I just couldn’t get over the all-white look. Like a blank canvas for painting.

My main objective was to finally get boots designed for shaped skis. I’d heard the flex was softer forward but the same torsionally as before. I was anxious to see how they worked with shaped skis. I made a lot of fun of the white blank boots.

Lindsay does the Rossignol SAS 120 in some kinda style

Little did I know Lindsay Vonn, the downhill gold medalist had done a photo shoot in these very same boots. I just dunno.

Anyway not knowing what to expect, I just figured the new “feel” of the boot was a “freestyle” feel. Come November I finally put the Rossis to the test. And things got off to a bad start. I just could not get the same level of power and precision I had grown to look for in my old racing boots. I tried bigger socks – something I knew was a no-no. Still, I was moving forward/backward in the boot. I went to Hillcrest Ski Shop to talk to Greg Coulter, their master boot fitter. He suggested closing the power strap behind the buckles instead of in front – that would snug up the fit. So, I went out and tried that on the hill. Better, no doubt. But I never got the power and fit I knew I ought to have.

So I returned to the shop and Greg pulled out the liners and said, “step into the boot shell for me.” I did that and then he reached behind my heel and said, “two plus fingers back there. This shell’s too big! Who fit you?” I had a receipt. So then began my career in the Head Raptor, which is the race boot Lindsay Vonn and Bode Miller use today…

Bode in the Head Raptors

Greg pulled out a box with these gray Head boots. I’d never used Head boots before. But his choice was right. I think he heard my talk about race boot experience. I pulled them on, and right away I felt more at home.

Not only did they fit more snugly but they had the familiar race boot feel.

My Head Raptors with the soles boot planed...ready for agro skiing!

I was like, “now this is MORE like it!” I even had the soles shaved/planed to compensate for the natural off-angle of my shins/feet. All serious racers have this done. And only a master bootfitter like Greg Coulter can do it. Your feet do not naturally perfectly sit on the ground flat with the ground, there is always a degree of off centeredness. But it’s best to have your skis flat to the slope. So you can have your boot soles shaved off so that they lie flat on the ground.

Lindsay Vonn takes a corner!

I went out on the slopes with these boots and knew within four turns I had a winning pair of boots! When you just ski with stock boot soles, when you turn, your body compensates for the differences in foot angle. But when you have had the soles planed, both right and left turns are more equal. Amazing!

Bode bombs a GS gate

But now I have no excuses…now I’d better get out there and ski like these gold medalists…! I have no more excuses. I got the fit just like they have!

I intend to make the most out of my new boots this winter! Lindsay just won the Val d’Isere downhill this past weekend.

Should I get a helmet? Hmmmm….

I’m the Luckiest Man Alive – I Mustn’t Take it for Granted!

21 12 2010

Much in this blog is about my passion for an active outdoor lifestyle. If it weren’t for a few big lucky breaks, everything would be different. Or everything would have been over nineteen years ago. I met someone recently who, like a ghost, reminded me how lucky a man I am.

Each December I reflect on a near death experience I went through during the holidays in 1991. Back then I lived in Boston, MA. On Thanksgiving Day my friends all participated in a 10K “Turkey Trot” race. I was in MBA school, had a great part time job, and was headed that night to my ski house in Killington, VT for the long weekend. I had trained for this race and was really excited. But 100 yards from the finish line I suffered a brain aneurysm, fell to the ground, incurred a concussion and was rushed to the hospital.

It took the docs 24 hours to diagnose the aneurysm. My prognosis changed from “you fainted and will go home tomorrow” to “you just managed to survive a brain aneurysm where 75% die instantly, and on top of that you hit your head – that should have done you in!” And, “you have a choice – brain surgery, or no brain surgery. If you choose surgery, you may suffer permanent damage…or emerge OK and able to go back to your normal life. If you do nothing, chances are the aneurysm will rupture again, killing you. You’ll never be able to engage in activity that will raise your blood pressure for that will increases chances of a new rupture.” YIKES.

I chose surgery. I made it. I went back to school. Eventually, I went back to the ski house at Killington. Today, I kayak, backpack, exercise regularly, and have 100% use of all the parts of my body.

How lucky was I? VERY. Another 50% die within a week of a rupture, and another 50% within several months. For those who make it through those hoops, many have significantly diminished body function.

I’m writing this because the other day I met another aneurysm survivor – my first EVER. They all DIE. I was at physical therapy for a plantar fasciitis condition on my foot, and the guy on the table next to me turned out to be another brain aneurysm survivor. But even though he, too, is lucky – he lost most control of the left side of his body – and has not completely recovered since it happened in 1983. He has not been able to return to his active lifestyle. Still he was in good spirits about everything.

It was then I realized maybe I’ve taken my luck a bit for granted…a BIG wake up call…so I say here and now I am one of the luckiest people on Planet Earth. Being alive, and with all my faculties intact. That in and of itself is a gift from above. THANK YOU. Peace.

Let the Ski Season Begin at Mount Hood Ski Bowl!

4 12 2010

Alex, excited with his new setup!

The meteorologists say this is a La Nina winter! In the Pacific NW, this means a good snow year! So far it hasn’t disappointed!

I made it through my first day skiing without incident! Actually a couple of days…ha ha. Last year at this time I was down and out with a dislocated shoulder – suffered at the hands of a 13 year old snowboarder when I was pushing off to start my first run!

So Friday Alex and I headed up to Mount Hood Ski Bowl. Alex showed up with a brand new setup of K2 Rictor skis and Tecnica boots! He went to Hillcrest Ski Shop poking around for goggles and wound up going for a whole new ski package.

Alex got himself a new technology ski – with “all terrain rocker,” meaning the tip has more upturn/softer than the tail section. Here is a video with a so-so explanation… Anyway they should be easier in powder!

Friday was a sunny day in the Cascades and we got a number of photos, what a nice view of Mt. Hood! The high school race team showed up in the afternoon and we checked out the girls team running gates. It was exciting and educational watching their technique!

Looking forward to a great 2010-11 ski season!