Let’s go skiing! | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Let’s go skiing!

Sam Bauman

It’s unfortunate that Bay Area skiers and to a lesser degree boarders (they don’t care if a run is half-brown dirt!) don’t think it’s worth hitting the slopes until a couple of major dumps have covered the trails. Right now, the skiing around the Lake is very good to excellent, thanks to a lot of work by snowmaking teams.

At Heavenly, they are hoping to open Stagecoach this weekend, and Homewood got in operation Wednesday with all eight lifts going. At Homewood Friday is Ho Ho Homewood Toy drive. Bring a new toy ($10 value please) and ski for $5.

At Squaw, KT-22 and Granite Chief runs were being skied along with



Siberia and Shirley Lake. Also open are the beginner runs at High Camp.

Boreal has Jibassic Park ready for snowboarders along with night skiing, 3:30 to 9.



At Kirkwood, the back bowl opens this weekend as chairs 7 and 9 will swing into operation, bringing the area to 100 percent going. Also at Kirkwood this weekend, the opening of the new $1 million children’s center.

Mount Rose is 90 percent open with all lifts running. And from Dec. 20 to Dec. 24 you can ski with Santa. Kids get free candy. How sweet it is!

***

I received a call from Bob Valiquet, a former Heavenly ski instructor when they were called ski instructors, about the practice of canting ski boots or bindings to achieve a neutral stance. This was in response to last week’s column.

He said that planing or grinding ski boots was after all acceptable as while the boot sole was no longer parallel due to the removal of plastic, it was possible to return the boot to a parallel status by adding tape or plastic inserts on the TOP of the ski boot. The would return the toe and heel binding to satisfactory purchase.

And he is right. But … I checked with several ski shops around the Lake and they said, yes, he was correct but it was a practice that should be reserved for professional skiers, such as instructors, racers and those who truly understood what they were getting into. And there is a catch even yet: boot and binding warranties may be voided by treating the boot so.

“Yeah, we do it now and then for people we know, but we don’t advertise that we do,” said one techie who for obvious reasons didn’t want to be identified. “Often the cuff adjustment alone will correct bowlegs or knock-knees. For the consumer, when that isn’t enough the safe way, we go with with wedges installed on the skis under the bindings.”

Of course, with planed boots, you can indeed jump from one pair of skis to another without problems. And speaking of ski testing, read on.

We had the chance earlier this week to test the new K2 Merlin VI, a ski so new they haven’t even printed brochures for them yet. It was thanks to the Ski Renter shop on Ski Run Boulevard that we had the opportunity.

Last season, we borrowed a pair of K2 Merlin Vs and were impressed with how well the skis glided. And fast! It was was easy to get pushed into the back seat on the Vs.

Now the VIs appear in shaped ski format, new cosmetics and a new shape: 97/62.5/84cms. Lengths are 183, 188, 193 and 198. I tried the 193s. The change from the V is basically the addition of a twin-layered titanal-glass construction.

The “titanal-glass” construction means the addition of a titanium-alloy plate in the ski for additional torsional rigidity.

The skis carry the same technology as the rest of the K2 line, using a piezeo-electronic construction (now called “turbo-charged 3-pack Smart Structure” since nobody could figure out what piezeo electronic meant) .

And they aren’t cheap! Carrying a list price of $780, you’ll probably see them discounted to $680 at once, in line with ski-pricing tradition.

On the snow they handled beautifully. On Ellie’s Run they moved like supercharged, so much so that at one point I got over my head and went out in the carved-up crud to one side of the trail. But they carried me though as if on rails despite the bumps and troughs. And in pure gliding I zipped by everyone.

These are great skis, and they’re quick to tell you when you get in the back seat as the tips start to wander. But that’s all to the good. These skis are not for beginners but intermediates ready to move up.

How the Ski Renter got these skis even before actual release is a question I won’t pursue, but I’m glad I got the chance to try them. Now, bring on the rest of the new post-spring-intro skis like the Volant Titanium Supers.

***

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that in a collision on the slopes you can no longer sue the supposed offender. Seems the court figures skiing/boarding is inherently risky, so you do so at your own risk. By extension this might mean that ski areas will no longer have to fear being sued no matter what the cause. Maybe.


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