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Powder Days

By Warren Miller

The distant booming of avalanche dynamite woke me up from a sound sleep about 7:15 this morning. I live for powder days! It has been snowing nonstop for the last six days and I have used the opportunity to try half a dozen different pairs of next year’s powder snow skis in this year’s powder.

warren-miller-hucking

These skis come in every color of the rainbow. Some are short, some are long, most have wide tips and tails with extreme side cut, and others are so pig ugly they would make a train run on a dirt road. I have skied a few runs on each pair in untracked powder snow and then tried with my ancient brain to analyze what pair of skis works best for me. I have been looking for that special pair of skis that will knock about 50 years off of my age so that I can get back to the steeper and deeper stuff that my old senior citizen body has been unable to do since they put that 16 inch titanium rod in my broken leg several years ago.

Yesterday was the day of the breakthrough. There is no need to mention what make and model skis worked the best because no two bodies are shaped alike and no bodies ski alike.

When I ski, I tend to lean farther forward than younger skiers because I learned to ski over 70 years ago, when skis were made of wood and had no tortional rigidity in the tips. When you skied on those skis, the tips would twist away from the hill and not carve a turn at all.

In response to my ski style, most of the models I tried had the bindings mounted too far forward for the way I ski. When I got into deep powder, the tips just dove, so I stopped by the ski shop and suggested that they move the bindings back a little bit to accommodate my antique ski technique. The manager suggested I try a centimeter at a time and since I didn’t know how far a centimeter was on a pair of skis I agreed.

The change worked, even though I had already gone over the handlebars at least a half a dozen times. I had neglected to bring along my mine detector on this powder snow morning and on one of those crashes it took me almost a half an hour to find the ski that flew off while I was upside down in the air getting ready to tuck and roll as I landed in the deep powder.

My first run with the bindings a centimeter farther back convinced me that another centimeter, whatever distance that meant, might be the magic bullet to allowing me once again to be able to easily turn in deep snow. The two-centimeter change worked and on the very next run I felt 30 years younger. I managed to make about 50 nonstop turns with two ski instructors from Seattle and their spousal equivalents and kept up with all four of them.

The next day, I was so excited about my new powder skiing potential that I was in a rush to get to the mountain and had a little problem with a different kind of powder. I threw some protein powder into the blender with 10 ounces of milk and some ice cubes. As I lifted the blender, the bottom fell out and leaked onto the eggs that were frying on the stove.

This protein powder when mixed with milk and allowed to dry will harden up and could be sold as the best glue that has ever been manufactured. The goop was all over the counter, the frying pan and the floor. I couldn’t let that stuff dry in place, so as I cleaned I watched over an hour of my powder day disappear.

I finished cleaning up the mess and then almost slid off of the road in my instinctive haste to get to the chairlift. After ricocheting off of the second snow bank, I realized that there would be untracked powder snow here for the next five or six days, even if it stopped snowing. Because of my new skis, I was like a kid in a candy store, but this kid wasn’t going to make it to the mountain in one piece if he didn’t slow down.

I still get to try out three other powder skis and now I remind myself that I don’t have to worry about trying to find a stash of untracked powder. Maybe by the time the lifts close in a month or so, I will have found just the right pair of powder skis for this senior citizen. In the meantime, I suggest you check the bottom of your blender on a powder day. It could mean another hour of skiing in fresh powder.

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