Trick skis no flash-in-the-pan
From snowblades to twintips, trick skis are the latest trend to hit the slopes and according to the South Shore ski industry, their popularity is here to stay.
“Snowblades are the closest thing to rollerblading that you can find on the snow,” said Rick Muller, owner of The Sportsman in South Lake Tahoe. “It’s just a short ski that kids can do tricks on. The longest is about 50 centimeters.”
In order to see what all the hype was about for this new wave of skiing, Sierra-at-Tahoe gave me a chance to test my skills on the Dynastar twinboards.
Carrying the skis in one hand was my first realization of how truly little they were. Upon clamping into them heel to toe with regular ski boots, I was ready to conquer the beginner run.
Along with Sean Sweeney, sales manager for Sierra-at-Tahoe and Jim Grant, Tribune photographer, we tentatively looked down at our little skis as we approached the end of the lift. For the first time in years I was actually thinking about how to get off the chair.
The sensation that followed felt like my foot had grown a few centimeters. After attempting my first few turns, it became readily apparent I better stay centered or I was going to go down fast. Finding my edge was also interesting because it was easy to get my weight on my uphill ski, which as any skier knows will throw your balance completely off.
At first I was using poles, but I soon followed suit with Sweeney who was carving and doing spins without them.
Taking air and spinning was by the far the advantage of skiing on these miniature skis. Maneuverability was much quicker, so when I entered into a rotation, it spun me around so quickly that I began to get dizzy, especially after consecutive spins.
The all-terrain park, with its rolling jumps was the perfect place to try my luck at catching air. As in most jump scenarios, you definitely want speed so you can launch off the lip. Unlike with regular skis however, landing is completely different, as your feet really feel the impact with the snow. It made me realize how much a normal ski absorbs the landing.
By the end of our lesson, I felt comfortable with the small boards beneath my feet, and was carving like I would a longer version. It was also a lot of fun to make quick turns and ski backwards.
“This was more fun than I thought,” Sweeney said. ” I’ll definitely do it again.”
As for myself, I would definitely try them out again and I now know the attraction of the snowblades’ versatility and definite adrenaline rush. Next time I would like to try the twintip skis, which are like snowblades but are closer in length to their traditional counterpart.
A strong advocate of the twintip ski is former U.S. Ski Team member, Curtis Tischler, who has mastered the art of catching huge air and has taken spinning and skiing backwards to the next level.
“You can ride a half-pipe, take off backwards or do spins,” Tischler said. “They carve really well so you can ski the whole mountain on them, even in the moguls.”
Tischler is confident this dual-tipped ski will remain a dominant force in the industry, primarily due to the increase in the all-terrain parks ski areas have created.
“It just adds a whole other element and gives smaller resorts something extra to offer,” Tischler said.
Kevin “Coop” Cooper, owner of Cutting Edge Sports in South Lake, agreed.
“Kids use them on the whole mountain and huck way bigger than before,” Cooper said. “Twintips are the new action of the industry and really help to develop your ability.”
With local ski resorts catering more and more to this style of skiing, House of Ski manager, Jeff Sullivan, said it would remain a permanent fixture in his rental shop.
“The twintips are here to stay,” said Sullivan “It’s the new wave of how skiing is going and it’s taking it to a whole different level.”
Twintip and snowblade rentals range from $15 to $19 a day.
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