Welcome To Fantaski Island

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Much of what you're reading in this issue gives you an idea of products and services skiers will likely see in the future-works in progress that soon will be realized. But this report, prepared with input from all manner of skiers, depicts innovations-no matter how unlikely-that would truly improve our ski experience. We concluded that the ideal ski world isn't all about progress. Somewhere within it there should also be a sanctuary, to honor and protect great institutions from skiing's past that are quickly fading from memory. As with anything else, you never know what you can get until you ask. Our ideal ski world would look something like this:

Snow World Peace There is no more "us and them" between sliders in the mountain community. Most people are multi-glisse-adept at all manner of skiing, riding and sledding-and the tool of the day is a function of conditions. Demo centers have good, well-tuned equipment, so you can exchange your gear (alpine, telemark, snowboard, cross-country, snowshoe) throughout the day.

Ski Instructors Previously, you told your skis what to do, but now they tell you. In an ideal ski world, skis have an instruction option. At the bottom of a run you can get an audio report that rebuilds your turn sequence and analyzes it for speed, skidding, air. This function also has a mute option. Skis have ever-sharp edges and their bases are made of a Terminator 2-like skin that heals itself so you can get the full life span out of your ski.

No More Cruel Shoes Boot liners are composed of a marshmallow-like material that molds to your foot and leg-they are comfortable and maneuverable enough for walking, driving, skiing and après skiing. The pressure-sensitive exo skeleton hardens for increased support as necessary.

Bonding Issues Bindings don't clamp you in-they magnetically attach you to the ski so you're sucked on. When the pressure to keep you attached to the ski exceeds the magnetically monitored integrity of your joint, the seal automatically releases. For theft security, the system is activated by punching a password into the ski's electronic keypad.

Cyber Swaps This global classified is an on-line garage sale-it lets you peruse all the trash and treasures in your geographic area, so instead of harboring aging junk piles, you have a rotating, intriguing stash.

Competition The ski racing circuit is a series of Grand Slam events-one in each Alpine country, plus the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South America-in which men and women compete at the same site for a week at a time. These events are run at the same time every year, with complete TV coverage, so fans can actually follow ski racing without being insomniac channel surfers.

Dryland Training To get in shape, you ski your favorite runs in the off-season too-on the Alpine Torture Master. Like pre-programming a Lifecycle, input the area and the run, and it'll be re-created on the simulator with the appropriate thigh-busting bumps, turns and G-forces.

Subsidized Lift Tickets The quad went to the six pack, and now we ride the "case lift," capable of transporting 24 people at a time. Scientists use these environments as research pods to track behavioral trends, including the societal implications associated with the fall of the double chair, the positive effects of fresh air on the psyche and the relationship of endorphins to altitude. Grant money for these studies subsidizes lift tickets for anyone willing to be part of the research.

Health Skiers chug magic morphing ACL juice that, when ingested, regenerates torn ligaments and cartilage. Tissue beyond repair is treated by injecting self-adhering, bullet-proof Kevlar ACLs and industrial-strength faux meniscus into the joint.

Navigation Computer-generated models of the mountain are linked to current weather conditions. Just plug in the coordinates of where you want to go and the comter tells you what the conditions are like there. It divines light fluffy powder and also predicts avalanches.

Icing On The Cake Snow hosts ditch the trail maps and deliver hors d'ouevres at the end of the day. There are ski-through foot-warming stations, hot chocolate in the heated gondolas, cupholders and CD players on every lift and free parking for all.

Pricing Each person gets five free ski days as a birthright, like getting the standard deduction on taxes. Once that basic human need is taken care of, lift tickets are tax-deductible wellness expenses. Kids under 10 ski free, and those under 15 pay only enough to cover the area overhead, not profits (that comes once the hook is set). Employers of any business can tie into a reward point system to offer their employees free tickets instead of overtime, Christmas gifts or company parties.

And A Place On Memory Lane... History and tradition are also a high priority, so to preserve skiing's past there's one real ski museum deep in the heart of each major mountain range across the country. These are not ski resorts, but ski areas, where people go to ski-in any conditions and in any clothes. Unlike a cheesy disco night, where any tasteless trend goes, these museums only preserve the things that we really miss. And they look something like this:

The Area There are trees placed, well, where they were placed by Mother Nature. Glades where glades happen. Challenging slopes are left ungroomed, so with each run the conditions vary slightly. Powder is served up on a first-come, first-served basis (no matter how much extra you pay) and it comes solely from the sky. Every skier needs to negotiate the speeding rope-tow or the wild, undulating Poma-track test to make it to the upper mountain. The main runs are served by double chairlifts, long enough and slow enough to take in the scenery and have a decent one-on-one conversation. The double serpentine liftline maze ensures you have a fighting chance of meeting people in line.

Equipment Skis are as straight as a picket fence and require speed, force and technique to turn them. The reward: An exciting ride and an honest workout, even on mellow runs.

Clothing Typical wear includes hand-knitted wool hats (not a speck of polypropylene), cotton turtlenecks with the necks stretched out of shape and parkas with only one zipper and two or three pockets instead of 19. The core of every skier's wardrobe is the ski sweater-it is beefy enough to ward off the bitterest cold, stylish enough for après ski and has a tight weave that deflects spilled food and chairlift grease all season-until its annual drycleaning.

Events All races are theme events and revivals of the classics. Some are brave feats like Sugar Bowl's Silver Belt and Aspen's Roch Cup. Others (most) are shameless excuses for a party: family races such as New Year's Cups and Easter Slaloms, end-of-the-season bashes like Stowe's Sugar Slalom and Snowbird's Last Chance and Shake-and-Bake bump races when the corn snow makes monster mush moguls. Racing Kids train anywhere on the mountain-as long as they carry the gates and ski-pack the hill. Bamboo gates teach them an honest turn, and they learn as much about technique by finding new ways to the course through the woods as they do in the gates.Technique Three words: wedeln, wedeln, wedeln.Image Robert Redford returns as skiing's sexy but authentic poster boy.

Off The Hill You pay paper money for a paper ticket, so there's no electronic chip leaving a record (for the IRS or direct marketers) of where you've been. Restaurants in utilitarian, rustic lodges serve up good-tasting, bad-for-you food and good company. The condiment bar is stacked with saltines, as well as relish and chopped white onions, to make authentic ketchup soup. For sunny days, there are rugged picnic tables outside and plenty of places on the mountain for picnics on the rocks, featuring heart-stopping salami and cheese and boda bags filled with some nonvintage product. Après ski-with goggle-eyed guitar-players-is mandatory.

Not Invited Just as important to the experience is what's not in the ski area museums: no fancy shuttles-you must walk through the dirt parking lot to settle into your boots and remember what you forgot in the car before it's way too late; no preferred parking or attitude enhancers of any kind; no lattes-sorry, water-based super-sweet whipped hot chocolate only; no salad bars-hail to hamburgers and chilidogs; no coin ops-all races are real events; no snowmaking-Mother Nature rules, and she decides when we're supposed to begin and end our season. Also, none of those big orange "slow" or "skiers only" signs, and very certainly, NO CELL PHONES.Down the scuffed wooden stairs of each museum's base lodge there is also a wax museum to showcase past sins so realistically that we are vividly reminded not to repeat them. In it there is neon, knee-high boots, parablocks, rear-entry boots, one-piece suits with fur collars and a remote-controlled ballet skier. Recaptured in live inaction form are models of the final FIS Council (just before being disbanded by a group of alpine and snowboarding insurgents), where officials were plotting evil schemes to create more complicated rules and ridiculous schedules to make skiing and snowboarding universally boring and confusing to spectators.

Price No frivolous lawsuits are allowed in this historical area, which is staffed by volunteers and overseen by curators-deposed small ski-area owners on extravagant consulting retainers from the big corporate owners who are trying to find a way to recapture skiing's soul. So the ticket prices at these ski areas are far less than at ski resorts, making them a great place to take the family.ng heart-stopping salami and cheese and boda bags filled with some nonvintage product. Après ski-with goggle-eyed guitar-players-is mandatory.

Not Invited Just as important to the experience is what's not in the ski area museums: no fancy shuttles-you must walk through the dirt parking lot to settle into your boots and remember what you forgot in the car before it's way too late; no preferred parking or attitude enhancers of any kind; no lattes-sorry, water-based super-sweet whipped hot chocolate only; no salad bars-hail to hamburgers and chilidogs; no coin ops-all races are real events; no snowmaking-Mother Nature rules, and she decides when we're supposed to begin and end our season. Also, none of those big orange "slow" or "skiers only" signs, and very certainly, NO CELL PHONES.Down the scuffed wooden stairs of each museum's base lodge there is also a wax museum to showcase past sins so realistically that we are vividly reminded not to repeat them. In it there is neon, knee-high boots, parablocks, rear-entry boots, one-piece suits with fur collars and a remote-controlled ballet skier. Recaptured in live inaction form are models of the final FIS Council (just before being disbanded by a group of alpine and snowboarding insurgents), where officials were plotting evil schemes to create more complicated rules and ridiculous schedules to make skiing and snowboarding universally boring and confusing to spectators.

Price No frivolous lawsuits are allowed in this historical area, which is staffed by volunteers and overseen by curators-deposed small ski-area owners on extravagant consulting retainers from the big corporate owners who are trying to find a way to recapture skiing's soul. So the ticket prices at these ski areas are far less than at ski resorts, making them a great place to take the family.