Monday, January 17, 2011

Sunday Ski

Another fine day of California skiing...

This season, we've still had more days of skiing in Canada than in California. California skiing really is different from Canada skiing. As you can see in the photo, it's nice and sunny. What you can't see is the temperature--it's about 10 degrees C/50 F. We gave up on skating by noon; when the skis hit the snow, they went "sploosh," making skiing a steep hill similar to trying to run up a waterfall. So, we were striding. The Real Doctor chose to use waxless skis (a choice endorsed by the Wax Curmudgeon*), while I opted for klister to grip the snow. "Klister" is Swedish for "glue," which begins to describe the stuff. You can get klisters appropriate to different weather conditions and water contents, and I had to use the warmest klister in my box, KR70--sold for use in "extremely wet snow or slush." Once you open the tube of KR70, it acts like the demonic child of superfluid Helium II and epoxy--it oozes like it has a mind of its own, and it is unbelievably sticky. I have a love/hate relationship with klister: it let me have a happy day of skiing, but now have to clean my skis, my gloves, my jersey, my pants, one of my shoes...

Skiing in Canada is a whole different ball of (kick) wax.

In this picture, you can't see the sun. You also can't see that it's -9 degrees C. This is the perfect temperature for skis. No sticky, gunky klister. The perfect wax is VR40, better known as "blue." Blue grips wonderfully, and gives you a smooth glide, transforming skiing into a sensuous experience. It's easy to use--no goopy gunk all over the place, no sticky tubes and tacky skis, and the wax itself has the consistency of a crayon. You have to go through a whole series of waxes for progressively warmer conditions (blue, violet, purple, red, orange, yellow) before you start to need klister. Conditions are constant enough at Sovereign Lake that you can apparently put on some blue in December and you're set until March.

So, Canadian skiers are a little spoiled, as a conversation with one revealed. Shortly after I took this picture in Canada, I met another skier--a local. As it was the top of the mountain, we were both tired, so we didn't mind stopping to chat:

Local: "Nice day, eh?"

Me: "Lovely. This is so much nicer snow than home!"

Local: "Not from 'round here, eh? Where ya from, then?" (The man spoke like a stereotypical Canuck; he really did say "eh" at the end of most sentences.)

Me: "Sacramento, in California. We're here for a ski vacation, taking in your excellent snow. Are you a local?"

Local: "Yeah. What's the snow like there in California, eh?"

Me: "Not this nice. We practically never use blue. We usually end up using klister for a couple of months each year."

Local: "Oh, that's too bad. Round here, we just use blue all the time, eh? Every once in a while, we might have to use violet, but we look on that as a real hardship."

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