Once you have decided to learn how to ski you must turn your attention to the most important matter for beginners, advanced pupils and "big shots" alike - the equipment. The smallest mistake in your equipment or bad advice when buying it may mean all the difference between pleasure and misery, success or failure.
The best advice I can give is that you should combine chic with utility. Unfortunately a great deal that appears chic serves no useful purpose but, on the other hand, to be practical does not necessarily mean that you must be inelegant.
Let us start from the feet upwards. The boots must fit as though the feet had been poured into them. When you buy a pair, try them on wearing a pair of thick and a pair of thin socks. Most boots give a little in the course of time, particularly those made of raw hide. For racing they must be secured so tightly that on reaching the goal they must immediately be unfastened. Let me say at once that a pair of ski boots can never be a comfortable pair of ballroom slippers.
It is absolutely essential that the foot sit firmly in the boot so that one has a firm stance. How could the body obtain a firm contact with the ski if there were any play in the boot? Today it is taken for granted that you wear long, tapering trousers which prevent the snow from getting in the boots far better than the outmoded plus-fours. An important question today is whether to choose gaberdine or nylon. In recent years I have found nylon to be excellent. This material complies with all the demands of the fashion-conscious ladies.
For the upper part of the body, apart from a warm vest, a pullover and an anorak or windcheater are essential. It is advisable when going on a tour to wear these garments since when the weather changes it is far better to have too much clothing than too little. Gloves must never be forgotten. The types with fingers are the smartest although in very cold weather, well-lined leather ski gloves are more comfortable and suit their purpose better. Even when it is warm you should never take off your gloves for the descent. The slightest fall can lead to very unpleasant grazes on your hands caused by brittle snow or hidden rocks.
The shape of skis in the past few years has been greatly standardized. The very broad types have fallen out of favor. The skis on sale today are usually a combination model, a composite type which has developed from the slalom ski and the special downhill ski used in competitions.
The measurements of this model range at the tips between 8.6 cm. and 9 cm, in the centre between 7 cm. and 7.4 cm, and at the heel between 7.8 cm. and 8.2 cm. Skis for ladies and children should be in proportion to their height and, above all, have plenty of elasticity. The shorter skis are usually far too rigid. The so-called short skis, which are very broad, I can really only recommend to elderly people (over sixty).
Just as important as good boots and good skis is the connection of the body via the boot to the ski. Everything that goes on in your brain, every reaction must travel this course as swift as lightning and the binding must therefore remain firm. Downhill skiers today use special long straps in order to secure their boots even more firmly. They may be of use but personally I have never found that they made much difference and, as a normal skier, you will find that a simple binding which helps you to have a good heel grip will be sufficient.
Today there are also safety cables and levers so that when falling forwards, in other words under excess pressure which your Achilles tendon and muscles can no longer bear, you can come out of the binding.
Now you have the equipment, you are ready to ski!
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