When my first Alaska Permanent Fund dividend hit my bank account, I did what every Alaskan wants to do, no matter how fiscally responsible they are — I bought something.
The winter before, I had been shifting back and forth on buying a new pair of skis with every glide of my old skis. I didn’t need to upgrade from my Craigslist-bought Madshus, but as I grew as a skier I convinced myself that the old skis were holding me back in some way.
They were a little short for me, had a ding or two here and there and I wasn’t excited about the bindings I had bought in a snow-fueled tizzy two years prior when I operated under less financial flexibility.
I had driven to Nikiski on a cold January night preparing for the kind of Craigslist encounter they warn you about, but I drove back to Kenai with a new pair of skis — no more, $80 less.
And then I skied, and I skied a lot and I was happy. By the end of the following winter, though, I got it into my head that I should upgrade. The better the gear, the better my skiing would be, I told myself.
So I bought better gear. The same day the Alaska government put a healthy dose of oil money into my bank account, I put a healthy charge on my credit card and waited.
Turns out, no matter how excited you are to try your fancy new skis out, you can’t force it to snow.
My skis sat under my bed while I sat on my hands and we waited. November passed, December trickled along and, finally, some snow fell and I skied.
With my new skis underneath me, I traversed over hills and along lakes and up and down roads.
I drove farther than I would have liked for groomed trails and I winced as I took the shiny new skis over less than groomed terrain. I put miles on them quickly and was happy about it.
But things were slightly off. My shoulders twinged as I powered up hills and my tips flew out and into the sides of the trail. On the flat lake, no matter how hard I pushed forward, I couldn’t find the speed that I had in the past, even on those rare windless days.
But I continued and trained harder, with the Tour of Tsalteshi creeping closer on my calendar.
Race day came and I made a game-time decision. I didn’t pack the new skis.
I waxed my Craigslist treasures and put them in the back of the car for the drive from Seward to Soldotna without a second thought.
And I skied. I skied the 20-kilometer race without a twinge of the shoulder and with all the speed I felt I could muster. I flew down the hills with ease, my skis an extension of myself — a flow state.
After the race, a man I had been toe to toe with throughout the race said to me, “You looked so comfortable on your skis, strong,” and I knew.
The Craigslist treasures didn’t have the allure of the fancy new skis, but they were the right fit for me. I knew them in and out, and although I could give time to learn my new skis, too, my shoulders and hips told me not to bother, not to force it.
A few days later, I mentioned to a friend that I was thinking of selling the fancy new skis. She said to me that she was looking to buy a pair of fancy new skis. That was that.
You can’t force things, it’s always better to go with the flow.
By KAT SORENSEN
For the Clarion