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. 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. 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. In the past 10 years, one local shop has seen a steady uptick of customer interest in the Apex boot, and this year it has become a single biggest seller.

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 my ski buddy Wade Cole said, “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 snow grooming crews, 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 boot’s 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 I won’t soon forget.