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It’s not the boots, it’s the stinky feet inside

Mark Maynard/Tahoe.com

It’s nice to know that just by showing up at the slopes to ride I am evoking the image of “Camelot.” Maybe now I’ll stop spending so much on hair gel and teeth whiteners.

I have a pair of Lange boots myself, however mine are purple – the one true color of royalty, let’s not forget. You are right to say the boots project status on and off the mountain. As a matter of fact, I was married in a lime-green pair of Nordicas that set off nicely with my elegant tuxedo.

Needless to say, buying gear to project an image can get prohibitively expensive, which is why most of us skiers select gear that we actually want to ride. Any stylish couture is simply and inadvertently a by-product of our savvy gear selection.

It is rare that a skier’s entire kit has the same model year. If a skier is riding new skis, he or she is most likely skiing in boots that are two or three seasons old. Poles are usually only bought if one or both have been lost, or have been so bent by falls that the basket and the grips actually touch, coming “full-circle” is it were.

Remember also what we are getting when we pay twice what you do for gear. We get independent left and right suspension with four edges to your two. Ski boots are high performance equipment that respond to minute changes in pressure at high speed – you can ride a snowboard wearing galoshes.

Even poles serve a function, helping establish rhythm like the pistons in a high performance engine. And the whole kit is self-propelled by the skier wearing them while a snowboarder is like a broken-down car always looking for a free tow.

I know many skiers who never ski on new gear, waiting for rental and demo equipment to depreciate for a season and picking it up for a fraction of the original price. Most of us keep at least one old pair around – the ubiquitous “rock skis” that we ride when the cover is thin.

You see, we may look filthy rich in our flashy boots, but most of us worked hard to pay for our gear and take better care of it than our cars and homes. Many a pair of skis have had season-extending surgeries thanks to a 45-cent P-Tex candle and a cheap Bic lighter.

Although our carefree attitude and regal bearing on the slopes may belie our cheap, frugal nature, we would rather spend hours doing repair work than money buying new gear.

While there are a few well-heeled skiers who must have the newest, flashiest skis, boots and poles every year, most of us “blue collar riders” become so fond of a set of boards, boots and poles that we often become hopelessly attached to them, often even naming them.

The point is, just because our gear may be costlier doesn’t mean that we are all in a higher socio-economic bracket. Don’t let the fact that we are mostly better looking and more charming than the average boarder delude you into thinking we are loaded.

It might surprise you how many high-priced ski outfits were purchased with hard-earned minimum wage cash scrimped and saved from dishwashing, bartending and food service night jobs – keeping the days free to go carving through powder on boards that took three seasons to save for. We all know that once you step out over the edge, how good you look depends on how good you ski, not what you are wearing.


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