Spring skiing - until this year only for the fortunate few who cam make it to the far north or west.
Now, however, we can really enjoy the benefits of spring skiing - that time when the ice has turned to corn snow, the weather is comfortable, down jackets have given way to windshirts, yellow goggles to sunglasses, and the cafeteria hamburger to a wine and cheese picnic at the top of the mountain.
Just because it's balmy in the city doesn't mean there is no snow on the slopes. Call your favorite ski area in New York or New England for conditions. The weather if nice enough to take a longer drive than you would during winter snowstorm threats.
I learned to ski on corn snow, the product of the alternate melting and freezing. It's slow and smooth and delighfully forgiving. I highly recommend it for beginners, because it's so slow without being sticky. But be sure you have real ski pants, not just dungarees, because corn snow is shockingly wet when you fall down.
The problem with corn snow is that by midafternoon it often turns to slush. However, if you don't mind a little splashing, slush is not bad for skiing. Just remember to ski a little more aggresively with a little less edge.
You can take advantage of the corn and the slush in trying slopes that you wouldn't have dared tackle earlier in the season. You can ski the fall line through a steep mogul field when before you would have traversed the whole thing. It also gives you an opportunity to perfect some of your maneuvers, since you have time to think about your skiing.
But beware of skiing too slowly. Changing conditions can make your skis come almost to a full stop while your body is still moving, which causes terrible ski accidents. A good hot wax job before you get to the slopes, with red or silver wax, is vital.
And please don't forget the sunscreen. While a lovely tan can be the rewars of skiing on cloudless spring days, so can a painful sunburn.
And mud. Often the top of the mountain is, to all intents and purposes, snowless, leaving you with a careful trek through the mud to a snowy, sheltered slope. The trick is to lift your skis with each step, rather than sliding them, as mud is often filled with the little pebbles that wreck havoc with ski bottoms.
The disadvantages of spring skiing, however, are nothing compared to the disadvantages of crowded January weekends when the slopes are glare ice. For one thing, there will be no lift lines. It has been said thay you can ski more in half a day of spring skiing than in a full day of winter skiing.
Another advantage is that skiers are more relaxes. The hotrodders who bomb the slopes will be home trying to decide who to terrorize over the summer. The neophytes who ski slowly and stiffly in rigid and endless traverses will head for the tennis courts. The mountain will belong to you, the diehard skier who thinks skiing is fun.
But after your spring skiing, you may find that your skis look like they are not worth saving. Don't despair. A little cleaning up is all they need!
First, wash them. Although afficionados are horrified at the thought of running water on skis, I find it the best and fastest way to remove the crud. Just dry them well so nothing rusts.
Check the bottoms and fill in all holes and gouges, then wax the bottoms and metal edges with paraffin.
Set the bindings at zero: tension on bindings over the summer can wear them out prematurely. And this will force you to have the release settings checked in the fall. Leave the heel binding in the unlocked position. Spray the whole binding with a silicone spray.
Hang your skis to store them, and do not store thme in your hot attic or basement near the furnace. Even miracle metal and fibreglass skis can warp under those conditions.
Boots should be cleaned with a damp cloth, and the insides sprayed with a disinfectant.
Stuff them with newspapers and use leather softener on all leather parts of boots. Buckle your boots to keep their shape, and store them near the skis.