An affordable upgrade to my ancient XC gear
I’ve been looking like an escapee from the Nordic Ski Museum for more than a few seasons now. My gear, scorned as obsolete by the local cross-country center, among others, has attained the far more respectable status of “old school” in my mind. Vintage, even.
I purchased a pair of Norwegian-made, sleek, black Epoke track-style skis (waxable, naturally) in 1982, along with a pair of Trak poles and boots. The latter resemble running shoes with a plastic, squared off piece jutting off the toe to clip into the three-pin bindings. Each shoe has two sets of shoelaces – one in the usual location and a second that wraps around the heel to help tighten the rear of the shoe to the foot.I’d been happily cruising nordic tracks for more than two decades in what was clearly a built-to-last setup. Until this, the winter of my discontent. I just couldn’t get the comfy shoes to stay tight enough on my feet any longer. But new boots would mean new bindings since, as an incredulous nordic center employee put it: “No one uses three-pin bindings anymore.” Yeah, because you can’t buy them anymore, not because they don’t work.But I happened upon a pair of Salomon cross-country boots made for classic-style skiing at a shop in Basalt. They were my size – and on sale. They sat in a box in my closet for more than a month until I made a swap deal with a friend, acquiring her wax skis with the new-style binding to fit my new boots.
Fittingly, the skis are Madshus – made by the Norwegian company that acquired Epoke. Thanks to a very warm March, I’ve only had once chance to use the new setup since it all came together. On a balmy spring day, I found the boots to be properly snug and, as they come up above my ankle, more supportive than my old ones. Of course, slippers would be about as supportive as my old Trak boots. The Salomons were also warm. Hot, actually.I look forward to outings next winter on those cold December and January days when my tired, old boots did little to combat cold toes.
By then, I should have the old Epokes outfitted with new-style bindings. They’re the best skis I’ve ever owned, and no amount of scoffing by the uninformed will convince me to give them up. With two pairs of skis now in my possession, I can keep one set at the office and one at home. More gear. It’s the Aspen way.