By Amy Post
This is a quiver.
A skier's "quiver" is their collection of skis, each ski serving a different purpose. The first time I heard the term "one-ski quiver" or the question "What's in your quiver?" I found this confusing. The analogy is: a skier's quiver features several different types of skis for different purposes, much like an archer's quiver would cary different kinds of arrows for different pursuits.
So what is in my quiver? I've got my all-mountain/PSIA exam skis (Head Total Joy, 85 mm underfoot) that I recently converted to my touring skis with the intent to replace, my slightly older, narrow all-mountain skis (Head Pure Joy, 73 mm underfoot) that are now my teaching/rock skis, my powder skis (Volkl Kiku, ~106 mm underfoot), and my Rossignol GS skis that are designed for a teenage boy. And a snowboard I haven't used yet. Then there are the old skis that I never got rid of like my slalom and GS boards from high school. I even have two pairs of boots: the Lange RS 130 and a soft but close-fitting pair of Daleboots. They are extremely different boots with different performances; the Langes are stiff and stable for all terrain, all conditions, but the Daleboots are comfy, easy to flex, and the ones I've been using since my injury.
For the first 10 years of my ski career I only had one pair of skis because that was all I could afford. This is the norm for most skiers, and in truth, most skiers won't really benefit from more than one pair of skis. The vast majority of skiers are intermediate, intermittent skier, so one pair of all-mountain skis is going to get them around the mountain almost every day that they make it to the hill. However, if you never go off the groomed, don't mess around with a big ski; just get a front-side ski and have fun laying 'em over on the corduroy. If you encounter a powder day, or some heavy snow that your all-mountain skis can't handle, you can rent a pair of demos from a local shop or borrow from a friend who is stuck in the office. (If you borrow skis make sure to have a mechanic adjust your bindings. Really. A $25 binding adjustment is cheaper than knee surgery.) Owning a quiver is a luxury, but it can benefit the avid skier.
How to build up your quiver:
1) Get a good pair of boots and have them fitted by an expert boot-fitter. Boots are your connection to the ski, and if your boots don't fit or are worn out, it doesn't matter what kind of ski you're on because the movements you make inside your boots won't translate to your skis.
2) Start with an all-mountain ski. But beware, all skis labeled "all-mountain" are not created equal; they vary in width, construction and performance. Ask yourself two questions: what are my ideal conditions, and what are the conditions I end up skiing most of the time? Do you hit the hill every Saturday, or do the weekends find you driving the soccer taxi and you call in sick on powder days? If you ski all the time, regardless of conditions, you're going to want to buy a ski that can handle groomed, chopped up and/or firm snow (depending on the average conditions of your home hill). This probably means a more narrow, stable ski. If you select your ski days according to snow conditions, buy a wider, easy-to-turn all-mountain ski that will get you some of that float you chase. Folks may try to tell you that you can ski anything on a fat powder ski. They are wrong. Powder skis suck in anything that's not powder. Yeah, I said it. That powder ski won't be very much fun three days after the storm when you finally get to the hill and the snow is all tracked out. Really wide skis are harder to turn, harder to control and fatigue your feet and knees a lot faster than a more narrow ski.
3) Buy a powder ski. Or a race ski. Or a park ski. Buy a ski to suit your favorite conditions or style and enjoy the benefits that a specialized tool brings to your day.
4) Buy a detuned race ski. They're often marketed as "beer league" skis, or front side rippers. They'll make you a better skier, make you feel like a hero, and give you something to do during the January drought.
5) Repeat step 3 until you run out of money.
6) Buy a snowboard. They're fun, I promise!
Shop at ski swaps, end-of-the-season demo sales, second hand stores, or Craigslist (Is that still a thing?) to find affordable options, especially as you work your way down your list. (Click here for my advice on How to Win the Ski Swap.) Always beware the sentimental dude that wants $300 for his 30-year-old skis.
Here's another analogy. My non-skiing friends have teased me about owning more than one pair of skis. But skis are more like a set of screwdrivers than a hammer; you can do most things with one flathead screwdriver, but in order to accomplish all you desire, you need a range of tools.