Step out of our tropical Central Oregon December for a moment. Imagine it’s cold — about 20 degrees — but the sun is shining and there is plenty of snow. It’s time for you to break the mold and seek a thrill.
Why not try something new? Why not make this the year you learn how to ski? Take the plunge, and you can do it with the help of the alpine installment of The Bulletin’s winter sports guide.
The idea of sledding down a hill is daunting enough to some, so envisioning standing up on two separate planks and zooming downhill may seem unfathomable.
The truth is, alpine skiing is not as hard as is looks. Nor will beginners take on a gigantic hill to start. Most first lessons are spent on relatively flat ground and eventually — once everyone in the lesson group is ready — the bunny hill.
All novice downhill skiers learn differently, and progress comes at a varying pace. Some pick up the basic skills in as little as half an hour, while for others it may take several hours to master the snowplow and turn maneuvers. Simply be patient and relax.
Most modern alpine skis are wide and rounded at the tip, narrower toward the binding, and wider toward the back. This design is called a shape ski, and it helps riders carve turns more easily than with the old, straight ski style. Basically, these modern skis react to slight movement. Downhill skis are designed with sharp edges that dig into the snow for better stopping and turning.
Poles assist skiers with balance and starting a turn. They are also handy for gaining momentum on flat ground.
Binding systems allow ski boots to connect with the skis. Quality bindings adjust at the toe and heel to fit various boot sole lengths so that the boot is centered on the ski. Clicking into the bindings is simple: Step the toe of the boot in and push down on the heel, and the release lever will lock the boot into place. Release levers are designed to open under pressure for the skier’s safety during a hard fall. Brakes are connected to the levers to prevent skis from taking a trip down the hill without the skier.
Rental shops will go over equipment details before sending skiers on their way.