Well, I finally got around to hitting the local stores to look for a late-season deal on a pair of skate skis, boots, and bindings. Turned out most places had already put away their winter gear and pulled out the summer stuff! Luckily, the skis I did find were at Fresh Air Experience, where I had $210 in gift certificates given to me by my wonderful students. Erik gave me credit towards skate skis for Christmas so that, combined with slashed prices meant I was able to get set up for a little over $200. Not bad for a package that would have cost me $1200 last fall!
I came home with a nice pair of Madshus Hypersonic skate skis. They are a mid-quality skate ski, 170 cm, medium camber for a newbie like myself. The skis I've been learning on are much stiffer and longer (181 cm) so it'll be nice to try out a pair that are more my size.
For boots, I decided to go with the Rossignol X-9. The men's boot fit better (size 39), probably because I have wide feet, and they were much more comfortable than the serviceable boots I had borrowed. Plus I think I'll have room to tuck a hot pocket into the toes if needed. I liked the colour better than the women's version anyway. :)
I went with the Rottefella NIS R4 race binding (not that means much to me ;). Erik has Pilot bindings but I didn't like the Salomon or Atomic boots so stayed with NIS. They seemed easiest to unclip.
There aren't many skate ski days left, but I'd be smart to wait until after my half marathon next weekend before I try them out. The only downside about these skis is that the ones I borrowed had super expensive race wax on them and I'm sure anything less will feel inferior now. :)