Ask Josh: December 1998

Ask Dr. Flake
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I know that most ski areas ask skiers to remove pole straps while getting onto the lifts, but I usually don't. Is this okay, or should I start following the rules? Why?
Jeremy Polk
St. Clair Shores, Michigan

No reason you "have" to take your pole straps off your wrists, but there are several sound reasons why it might be a good idea. Reason #1: If your pole gets caught on something and is still attached to your wrist, you will be dragged from the lift to either your great embarrassment or great perdition. Reason #2: If your pole is strapped to your wrist, it is more likely to get caught under the chair and bent, or get stuck in the snow and lever forward, shattering your ulna against the safety bar. Reason #3: If the straps are still on your wrists, you will have to lift your hands above your head in order to keep the poles off the ground. This will make you look silly. Reason #4: Without straps on, you can grab the lift with your free hand. Reason #5: As you swing around to figure out where the chair is, and whether you are standing in the right place, you will not become a windmill of 50-inch-long pointy-tipped aluminum or composite spikes. Reason #6: Because the sign says so-is it such a big deal, Mr. Causeless Rebel?

Is there any way to have a career designing ski trails? If so, how do you prepare for it?
Patrick Nelson
Otis, Colorado

Well, the main problem with a career in ski-trail design is that each year there is a national net decrease in the number of ski areas. There were something like 800 ski areas listed in the 1978 White Book of Ski Areas; in 1998 the number was closer to 500. Now, it is true that the biggest ski areas in the country are getting bigger, and someone has to design the new trails. But the 20 or so new ski trails added to the nation's stock each summer hardly represents a booming industry. That said, there are several ski-area-design firms you might send a résumé to, the most prominent being Sno-engineering and Eco Sign. These are soup-to-nuts ski-area consultants, offering everything from base-area layout to mountainside hydrology reports to snowmaking-needs analysis to lift placement. The people who work for these companies have varied backgrounds, in everything from ski instruction to civil engineering. Cutting ski trails is a very small part of it. Most important qualification: Know what people consider fun. Second most important qualification: Know how the resort owner can make money from people having fun.

Is my ability in skiing related to my ability with women?
Barney Nelson
via the Internet

Why am I not surprised that your name is Barney? In my youth, there was a close correlation: I wanted to be a much better skier than I was, and I likewise wanted to spend more time in the company of attractive, affectionate women. As I've aged, the connection has diminished: There is clearly no correlation between my sexy, smart, and funny wife and that sloppy collection of butt-wiggling, elbow-throwing over-rotations I call skiing. As for you, there are too many variables to answer the question fully. I am told that women find men "cute" in ski clothes (but they have to be clothes designed for skiing or winter sports, not clothes worn while skiing; so your straight-leg Wranglers and Buccaneers jacket are out of the question). Furthermore, if the woman in question is a skier, it's not going to hurt if you ski well, and it may make you appear initially more appealing than a similar man who does not ski. Women, of course, are almost as shallow as men and will often be impressed by athletic prowess. If she is not a skier, she may even be impressed by your false claims of athletic prowess. But hey! Here's an idea, Barney: Forget skiing into a gal's heart, and instead try conversing, listening, treating her with respect, maybe even a little wooing.

What is the best way to store skis? Together with bindings llocked, apart, vertically against the wall, in a rack, on the floor in my bag ...?
M. Kronenberg
via the Internet

The best way to store skis is in a dry place with a thick layer of wax on the bases. In the olden days, you stored your wooden skis base to base with a block of wood sandwiched between them to keep them from warping and to keep the camber in them. If you were born before 1970, you might remember how one used to store wooden tennis rackets-same principal. Nowadays, none of that is needed. Better to store them where it is cool and dry than hot and moist, but it's not the end of the world if you can't. The wax will help protect the bases from dings and the edges from rust. And keep them in the bag? Why not? It will not hurt your skis to store them locked together with the brakes, but if you truly loved your skis you'd set them up side by side in your living room, where you could see them every day in all their curvaceous, muscular splendor.