Altitude Sickness

The joys of responsive skis, two excellent choices in my quiver

After a few years on some frustratingly unresponsive BD Warrants (it wasn’t BD’s fault, they were just the wrong skis, I bought them without trying them), last year I bought a set of the previous years Head Motorhead Rock n’ Roll skis (named for a great old metal band). They were on the shelf at a discount at Base Camp, and I bought them for a song. I had them mounted up, and took them for a ride.

I was very very impressed with these skis from the get go. They were 187cm (a bit short for my 6’4” frame), had a 16 meter turning radius with a moderate front shovel, no rear shovel, and a twin tip. They measured 132/94/119, moderately stiff, with a full sidewall. They were extremely responsive, held an edge well, and worked beautifully in powder, bumps, and trees.

These skis were very turny, and as a duckbilled telemarker I appreciated the responsiveness of a ski that turned when I simply looked to the left or the right.

These soon became one of my all time favorite skis. But they did occasionally have a tendency, when I was carving a deep telly turn, to engage the shovel and hive me in a neck-snapping takeoff in the direction of the turn in which I had already engaged. This never turned me sour on them, but was a surprise for quite a while.

These skis maintained their snappy, good-as-new performance until about 65 days into the season, when they seemed to exhale a bit, and lose their snap. I quickly adapted to this modified performance, and it stayed consistent and enjoyable through the 200th day, including more than a month of hard riding in spring bumps. I absolutely loved these skis, from the performance to the graphics.

This year I bought a pair of last years Line Sir Francis Bacons (named for a great English philosopher and statesman) at the Basin, again for the price of a song. They are rather massive —a luxurious 190cm, 140/108/136, with a 20M sidecut radius, and a mild front and rear shovel.  When I bought them, I had no idea that they would not fit in the ski slots on the gondola (I looked like a Gerry trying to get my skis into the snowboard slot, not knowing that they should go bindings toward the car), but so be it.

These skis, quite simply, are phenomenal, albeit very different. They are stable, rock solid on edge, and quick without the pounciness and occasional neck-snappage of the Motorhead Rock n’ Roll, these skis do exactly what I tell them to do without any sort of back talk. They perform beautifully on groomers carving both shorter radius turns and massive long slashes.

In last weeks powder (both here at Killington and in the wilderness at Bolton), they perform like they were designed solely for powder skiing, floating above the hidden obstacles, and riding like the Cadillacs they are, while performing like Porches.

They perform beautifully in both alpine and telly turns, in fact the only real deficiency they have is riding bumps, because it is just an awful lot of ski to fit in there.

I am deeply in love with both of these skis, and will have trouble buying anything else the next time around. I am happy to have both in my quiver, and will ride them both until they snap like twigs!

As for Pip The Impaler, I have learned how to snuggle him for certain: just wait until he is napping and grab him, and snuggle the crap out of him until he wakes up. One thing confuses me though: I can approach him carefully and gently, and while petting him, he will bite at me and run away. But if I run the vacuum cleaner, the loudest most calamitous thing in his environment, he is literally up on the edge of the cage straining to get closer, trying to find out what it is. One would think he would be afraid… not this little fellow!

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