By Dan Balkin
HoliMont Snowsports School
Sounds racy, doesn’t it? But I tried it myself – and I think so. It’s not a traditional marriage – it’s a marriage of skiing and snowboarding. What? Yes – skiing and snowboarding have been united in a product that is being offered here in Ellicottville. It’s a revolutionary ski boot that marries the traditional snowboard boot with a ski boot chassis. Better yet, once the ski boot chassis is removed, the boot can actually be used for snowboarding.
I have kicked around Ellicottville for a quarter century, and in that time I have gotten to know a variety of skiing and riding enthusiasts employed in all of our local ski shops. Over the years, each shop owner and various employees have helped me to find skis, soothe a sore spot in a ski boot, or do an emergency repair so I could be on the slopes the next day. As the locals know, each shop has products designed for recreational skiers, but they also all have a distinct personality and market niche. That said, I was asked if I would try this aforementioned non-traditional ski boot. To be honest, I quite like my ski boots, but I was intrigued and decided to give them a whirl.
The boot is known as the Apex. The inventor is something of a serial ski boot tinkerer. Back in the day when leisure suits, disco balls, and rear entry ski boots were all the rage, he came up with the Hanson ski boot. Ten years ago he invented the Apex boot. Like a cat cautiously dipping its paw in the water, one local shop decided to order two pairs – one pair for the owner and another pair for his first (as yet unknown) Apex customer. In the past ten years the shop has seen a steady uptick of customer interest in the Apex boot. And this year, the Apex boot has become a single biggest seller.
As you know, you can while away your time on the internet researching topics such as Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Enduring Contributions to Western Civilization. I have a better idea. Google this phrase: Apex ski boots. They have a great web site that appears magically out of something I don’t understand called cyber space. Therefore, I will spare you all the technical details – you can get them online or go and find them downtown yourself. Simply said, the boot has two components: It is a traditional looking snowboard boot with a nylon chassis that provides ski-boot-like lateral and fore-aft support.
What was it like? Let me first tell you what my ski buddy Wade Cole said. His initial comment was that I can’t tell the difference from the way you were skiing yesterday – your turn to the left still stinks. Ok – he really just said that my turns don’t look any different in the Apex boots. Score one for Apex. The morning I spent skiing the boots had seen a dramatic temperature swing from warm to cold. Despite the best efforts of the devoted crews who groom the slopes while we sleep, the plunge in temperature left the snow nicely groomed but firm and crunchy. I’m glad I tried the Apex boots under these conditions – because they were absolutely superb. The snowboard boot portion of the Apex effortlessly absorbed and smoothed out the firm snow while the “ski boot” nylon chassis provided remarkable lateral support. While testing the Apex, I was also skiing with our Ski School Director, Wendy Frank. Wendy has also previously skied in the Apex boot and had the same favorable impressions of the boots overall performance. I asked several other instructors who purchased the Apex boot to share their thoughts with me. All agreed that the boots were exceedingly warm, comfortable, and fun to ski in. I would agree. If you’re looking for a non-traditional marriage that anyone can embrace, you might want to take the Apex boots out for a first date on the ski slopes. I don’t know if I’m yet prepared to divorce my current boots – but the Apex boot is a suitor you won’t soon forget.