Friday, January 7, 2011


This is a new kind of ski tale for me. It doesn't involve some high altitude locale. No fancy gear or magnificent vistas. I sent 2010 out on the slopes, kicking it retro-stylie. So get ready for a blast from my past.

On a recent visit to Rochester, NY to see family, we were invited to Bristol. Mountain . I spent a lot of ski team time there as a teen. Before I had capacity to ski the big mountains. At the time, I preferred Swain, though. I had a theme - do not follow the Herd. The Herd went to Bristol, but I never understood why. Swain was in the Southern Tier, which had a bad rap. The income bracket was lower, the roads less traveled and the lift attendants didn't look like they came out of a GAP ad. But the snow was as good as it gets in that neck of the NY woods, the crowds, if any were small and that is where my school ski clubs and ski teams went. So that was where I spent most of my time.

Growing up in the snow belt of upstate or Western NY, you either loved the white stuff or hated it. As you know, I love it. There were tons of things to do outdoors in the winter. Otherwise, you spent potentially six months indoors. Sledding, ice skating, skiing. I love it all.

Despite the fact that I have skied since I was five years old, I have only owned 2 pairs of skis. The many years of ski club were spent renting. And my sister was kind enough to donate her minimally used skis to me when I wanted to join the ski team. So I used them for years, lovingly caring for them, sharpening and waxing them and treating them as precious cargo. Eventually I gave them back to her and got my own. Thanks, Sis! Circa 1992, if memory serves me correctly.

So, pre-road trip back home, I decided to pull out my old skis in an attempt to be frugal. This ski trip was anticipated to be more social than anything else. It would probably only last a few hours. Why not save the money and use the vintage straight Rossignols? Scott and I cannot recall the last time I had used them. Since 2000, we have always had to fly to ski, so it was cheaper and easier to rent great skis at local shops. I did take them to Utah for an amazing Christmas ski trip in 2002. But I cannot recall when I have used them since. Maybe I haven't. I thought I took them to Austria. That was in 2004. I upgraded to new boots then. Traded in the old rear entry Salomons. Anyway, it had been a long time.

So we get to Bristol and it is 50+ degrees! But there is snow. If you look at the photo on top, you can see the top of the mountain behind me. That's it. No more. I go to put on my skis and break one binding, then the other. Perhaps they were not fit to my new boots? Either way, they were finished. RIP Rossi's. You served me well. You took me all over the US and Canada for many years. You were great skis. It was a good run.

Off to the rental shop to get a pair for the evening. Luckily, it was only $12 because of the holiday. These Elans were the biggest,fattest parabolic curve I have ever seen. I was skeptical. But they worked well. Take a look at the chunk missing from the edge of one!

Expectations were exceeded. Fun was had. The snow was good. It was fun to catch up with family. And somehow, Bristol Mountain grew to twice its size since last I was there. It didn't get any higher, but there were a lot more runs to choose from. Hanging in the old neighborhood, pulling out the old skis, and skiing at night under the lights. All in all, it was a very good evening.

Just like in Switzerland, people were celebrating Winter, doing what they love in the snow. Even though I wasn't in the Alps, I was loving the one I was with. Snow is snow, wherever it falls.

And the Elans, despite their girth and melanomas, they were lightweight and responsive. Being at Bristol again brought back a few memories. And this trip, a ski appetizer, allowed me, on New Year's Eve, to look at last year, look at life in general and see from where I have come.