t’s hard to believe but the 2011-2012 ski season marks my 40th year on the slopes. Yes, that’s right Four Zero…oh shut up! I’m old, I get it. Most of my ski career has taken place in the moguls. I’ve always loved the bumps and over the years got pretty good at it.
In February of 2003, I tore my perennial tendon (ankle area) out of place while skiing bumps at Copper Mountain. That one required surgery and to make a long story short, it was best if I didn’t ski bumps anymore. On an up note, I think my back and my knees were both very happy that they were going to get a break from the abuse. Anyway, I don’t ski in the same way I once did. I tried snowboarding a few times for something different but I just didn’t like it. This season, I decided to see what the Trikke Skki could offer to a guy that’s past his bone jarring prime but is still looking for a good challenge. I was actually very surprised with my first experience.
Not all resorts allow the Skki, but Winter Park Colorado welcomed me with open arms for my inaugural Skki trip. Since I have so much experience skiing and I ride the Trikke Pon-e, I really didn’t see a need to “baby” my approach to learning the Skki. I mean, a smart man might start slow to get the feel of it and go from there, but that’s not how I role. Like always, the lift with the shortest line is the one we ride so we started the day with a quick 1,600 foot ascent to the top. There were a couple greens to choose from when we got off the lift so we picked one and started down. The green turned into a blue about halfway down and pretty soon we were back at the base and heading back up the lift for another. The second run of the day provided a great opportunity to get familiar with the moguls I love so much. In short, I didn’t waste any time diving right in and by the end of the day, we had covered all of the mountain that was open including the one black diamond that was steep and nothing but ice. So, how did the Skki do? Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good: Obviously, for me, the Skki was pretty easy to learn although I was surprised at how different it felt from what I was expecting. I thought it would be a mash up of skiing, snowboarding and riding the Pon-e but I found it to be a completely unique experience. I think even for a beginner, it would be easier to learn than skiing or snowboarding. The three points of contact with the snow make a stable foundation for riding so there isn’t a huge struggle with the typical beginner balance issues. The front ski played a much bigger role than I had anticipated. I thought that leaning side to side would be the big directional component and staying light on the handlebars for balance would follow. Not so much. I found the front ski and the handlebars really directed the whole operation. Of course different speeds and different snow conditions played into how the Skki handled and what combination of handlebars, feet, and weight distribution was used.
At the end of the day, it was a really positive experience that provided a full day of fun and many following days of sore muscles. It is not unusual for me to experience some muscle soreness after the first trip of ski season but that’s generally brought on by a full day of running up and down the black slopes racking up vertical. I was shocked at the amount of soreness I felt in the days following my first Skki trip. My mid back and quads felt it for sure but my calf muscles screamed for about 4 days. Very impressive since most of the terrain was intermediate at best.
The Bad: The only “bad” comment that I have about the Skki deals with transporting it and it comes with a disclaimer and a possible solution. At most of the ski areas I visit, there is a big space between the ski lift and the parking lot which means there’s some walking time. One of the best things about the Skki is the absence of uncomfortable foot wear which makes walking from lot to lift a breeze. Add 38 pounds of metal and skis and it becomes a little more challenging. That’s the only thing I didn’t like about it. It’s awkward to carry when it’s folded up and has skis attached, which brings me to the disclaimer. The three skis for the Skki are not permanently attached and have their own carrying bag. I attached the skis when I was in the parking lot before hiking to the lift. I think this was just a rookie mistake because it will carry better with the skis unattached.
The Ugly: We always say “if you’re not falling, you’re not skiing hard enough”. Chances are that you will fall at some point and like any sport, there is potential for it to be ugly. Both of my spills that day involved catching an edge which halted forward progress and threw me off the Skki. The first time I hit all snow but the second time my body caught a piece of the Skki on the way down. I didn’t get seriously injured but it did hurt and made me aware that there’s a lot more metal to negotiate with when you fall. In addition, there’s roughly 10 inches of additional drop from the deck to the snow so there is potential to fall hard if you crash right. Again, I’m not putting this out there as a deterrent but rather a heads up. Being prepared in your awareness of risk and the safety equipment you choose will help minimize the potential for injury.
The reality is that the good, the bad, and the ugly should be left to Clint because this was all good. The reason I like to “Stand Up And Ride” is because it offers fun new challenges in an already familiar environment. As I get a little older and wiser it’s nice to do the things I enjoy in a new manner that allows for the thrill without the punishment to my body. Like all my rides, it gets a lot of attention. I think I talked to every ski patrol and lift operator on the mountain and got great comments and questions from everyone I talked to. I got a great workout, it challenged my abilities, and I had kid-like fun. What more could you ask for from a day of playing in the mountains.