Sam Bauman: Ski equipment updates and a fine movie



Snow is hanging these days on Slide Mountain with more on Mt. Rose. So I figure it’s time to talk about seniors getting ready for winter sports season with new or old gear. I’ll limit my discussion to skis as I never got past the “falling leaf” move on a snowboard and I’ve never owned one.

If you’re a senior skier, you undoubtedly have last year’s gear stashed in the garage. If it includes those old wooden 7-foot skis with bear trap bindings, mount them on the wall of your den; you don’t want to ski with them anymore.

If your skis are contemporary skis, say shorter than the old longies, and have good release bindings, you may not need the newer ones. You’ve got to scrape off the old wax if you’re going to apply the new; otherwise, let the ski shop where you get your skis waxed and tuned do it.

If you’re going to wax yourself, check the Internet for a guide. You’ll need new wax, an old electric iron, a steel or plastic scraper and a vise to hold the skis. Before you take your skis to the shop, check the bases for flatness. If the edges are high you’ll be skiing on rails, harder to turn and tending to ski in a straight line, railroad tracks. You can’t fix that at home, you’ll have to let the ski shop grinder take the edges down. And if the base is higher than the edges you’ll want to get it down level to avoid wandering in the snow.

Wax is critical on skis. New skis often are waxed at the factory because makers want their skis to perform well, and wax is critical. It makes skis not only faster on the slopes, but it makes them easier to turn.

There’s one area where DIY-ers can’t check — the safety release bindings.

Ski shops have a special tool to measure bindings for safe release, not too light nor too tight. Often ski resorts will check biding release for customers.

Boots of cast plastic don’t change much, but you might want to put them on and see if they are comfortable. Do it with thinner socks. Take your boots along if taking skis to the pro shop.

If you’re going for new gear be prepared to write a healthy check. Early in the pre-season there is not much price cutting by ski shops. And most skis now come with bindings in place by the manufacturer. Recent seasons have seen a growth in wider skis in the midsections, fine for powder but how often do you find powder in these days of groomed slopes?

Ski shop salespeople pretty well know their merchandise so when you’re shopping be frank in describing your skiing level. Don’t upgrade yourself into racing class skis when you’re happiest on cruising blue runs.

Here are SKI magazine’s top four men’s groomed slope skis, with MSRP prices:

HEAD Super Slope i. Rally, $1,150 with bindings, Best in Test. Uses Graphene for strength.

Völkl, RTM84 UVO, $1,150 with bindings, also best in value.

Stockli LASER AX, $1,469 with bindings, good rebound.

HEAD Supershape, i.Titan. Good for big-footed guys who can bury an edge, $1,150 with bindings.

Women’s skis for groomed snow:

HEAD Super Joy, best in test, $875 with bindings.

Völkl, $1,065 with bindings.

Atomic, Vantage, $850 with bindings.

Dynastar, $800 with bindings.

In days past ski markers used to hold a day for ski shop employees to let them test new skis. I used to go to those meetings but since I no longer teach skiing I’m not invited so I have to take SKI’s report.

An Important movie

Seniors who wandered to later revival shows and public screenings in their youth of D.W. Griffith’s racist “The Birth of a Nation” of 1915 will probably want to see Nate Parker’s current film of the same name.

“The Birth of a Nation,” Parker’s first feature as a director, presents a complex case which dramatizes the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in Virginia in 1831.

Nate Parker produced and directed this 2016 film “The Birth of a Nation,” based on the 1831 slave rebellion led by Nat Turner.

Parker: “I’ve reclaimed this title and re-purposed it as a tool to challenge racism and white supremacy in America.”

“The Birth of a Nation” is a tale of righteous, bloody punishment. It is most powerful when Parker dismantles some of the lingering mythology about the Old South.

Nat Turner’s owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), was his childhood friend. Samuel’s mother (Penelope Ann Miller) taught Nat to read. Nat grows up with a perverse pastoral calling, traveling the county to preach obedience to his fellow slaves. (Samuel takes the money for his services.) Nat witnesses tortures and deprivations that are also entirely routine. As he ages, his eloquence, his charm and his knowing scripture become weapons.

The sexual violence of slavery is shown when Nat’s wife, Cherry, (Aja Naomi King), is raped by a gang of white men. Later, Esther (Gabrielle Union), married to Nat’s friend Hark, is ordered to have sex with one of his friends.

Such rapes were the everyday reality of slavery. In “The Birth of a Nation,” the assaults show the vulnerability of enslaved women and the powerlessness of enslaved men.

This is a movie of beauty as well as cruelty and perhaps seeing it will help resolve some of our social ills.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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