By: Jackson Hogen
Published: October 25, 2016
Aging isn’t for the faint of heart.
It takes fortitude to slide out of bed when every sinew seems to have ossified overnight. The silver-haired who continue to ski into their dotage manage to do so not because they’ve found the Fountain of Youth, but because they’re able to suppress or ignore the body’s daily attempts to signal for a time out.
It’s as if your skiing self were a dim-witted game show contestant who doesn’t realize he’s lost; your body – the exasperated but ever gracious emcee – keeps repeating:
“Thanks for playing! Time to go now! Take up knitting. Exit’s right over there. What a good sport, ladies and gentlemen! Right this way! No, this way. Where it says, ‘Exit.’”
Thank goodness hearing loss extends to not listening to our bodies’ defeatist palaver. There must be research to support that if you can still bathe yourself, you can still ski, and ski well.
In the absence of definitive science on the subject, Realskiers, in conjunction with SeniorsSkiing.com, has created the Silver Skier Selection, awarded to equipment and accessories that are particularly well adapted to the needs of senior skiers.
The first equipment category evaluated for Silver Skier Selections is the 2017 crop of Realskiers’ Recommended skis, 126 in all, of which 38 were selected for this special recognition. The primordial qualities of an award-winning ski are ease of turning and forgiveness. The essential technical trait is a relatively soft flex that allows the sidecut to engage with minimal exertion.
The reason for focusing on soft flex is that the most limiting factor imposed on skiers by the passage of time is the loss of stamina. The harder one has to work on every turn, the less fuel remains in the tank for the next one. While it’s possible to improve one’s energy retention by striving to be fit, flexible and always in balance, the easiest way to conserve energy is simply to not work so hard.
Perhaps it’s because I’ve provided bootfitting services to countless seniors, but I can’t think of energy conservation and the silver skier set without visualizing the epic death matches between man and boot I’ve witnessed both on the boot bench and in base lodges. I’ve seen red-faced, middle-aged skiers folded over, panting like they’d just run a triathlon and all they’ve managed to do is get one boot on. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that uncooperative footwear is the number two reason septuagenarians quit the sport. (Number one being fear of collision.)
If putting on your boots looks like a rodeo event you’re losing, there’s both an elegant solution and a more rustic alternative. The brilliant solution is called the Hot Gear bag, the greatest ski accessory of all time.
Invented by the ingenious Sven Coomer, the godfather of the modern ski boot, the Hot Gear bag was created for racers who use boots of such unholy stiffness that putting them on at room temperature is out of the question. Plug your bag in at night or on the drive to the area in the A.M. and when you pull your boots out they’ll be nice and toasty and easier to slip on than your socks.
Any radiant heat source, like your kitchen oven or car heater, can perform the same function, only more inelegantly and with considerably higher risk of mishap. Trust me, you’ll be happier with a heated boot bag, and you’ll experience an unexpected uptick in self-esteem. Any skier who procures a Hot Gear bag quickly becomes addicted to its many well-thought-out features. I recommend it unreservedly, not just for Silver Skiers, but for any and all real skiers.
Word on the street is Hot Gear won’t be able to restock retailers until January, so if you see one, you’d be wise to snag it! – JH