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Ask Josh – November 2001

Ask Dr. Flake

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Dear Josh,
On a ski trip last year, my buddy broke his foot. He ended up on crutches and narcotics, so we dragged him from bar to bar in an effort to find him some female compassion. But we were unsuccessful. In fact, he was shunned. How could he have salvaged some fun?

Michael Purvis
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

How odd that you guys were shunned. Usually women find a group of intoxicated men — one of them crippled and sedated — so attractive. Anyway, are you looking for insights into why the ol’ crutch and fracture gambit didn’t work, or for suggestions on what you should have done for fun instead? If it’s the latter, I’d suggest Scrabble, backgammon, or whist. If it’s the former, you’re asking the wrong hombrito. I’m no more qualified to give hints about attracting women than a moth is about coaxing a 200-watt bulb out into the night. But I do know this: The notion that women will come flocking to a big, strong, brave, injured skier-man is absurd. Years ago, when it was less common for women to ski, an air of mystery and excitement might have enveloped a gentleman who looked like, say, Cary Grant, as he sat on his barstool, the cast on his ankle barely wrinkling the cuff of his bespoke lounging trousers. But nowadays, women ski. And if they see you hopping around trying to balance your crutches and your beaker of Jägermeister, they’ll probably figure that you fell on your blue-square butt while trying to ski a black diamond. And perchance they remember hearing you whimper and mewl as you were loaded onto the patroller’s toboggan while they wedeled past.

I watched a downhill competition where a racer’s helmet caught on fire, apparently because of the air friction and the recent paint job on the helmet. Can this really happen?
Martin Boisselle
Montreal, Quebec

Can I just say one thing here? I’m perfectly willing to answer any and all questions that come my way, but could you all just pause for maybe 10 seconds to think them through before sending them? Sheesh. Now, most of us are aware that the friction created when air passes over a surface at high speed can heat up the surface in question. But racers go, what, maybe 80 miles an hour, tops? Have you ever stuck your hand out the window of a speeding car in the winter? Did you ever have to pull it in — Ouch! — because it got too hot? Did you ever have to carefully wipe the drops of gasoline from around your gas tank so they wouldn’t combust when you hit 60? Have I made my point? You would need sustained speeds in the ballpark of Mach 2 (1,400 miles per hour) to get that hot. Emily Brydon of the Canadian Ski Team did practically melt a hole in her helmet at last winter’s Worlds in St. Anton when she fell and her helmet skidded up against the emergency netting, but no skier’s helmet has ever caught fire from air friction. In fact, very few skiers even have flames painted on their helmets.

How does one determine “boot volume”? My wife’s a 7 1/2 wide. So, is her boot volume above average?
J. Christopher Clifford
Fort Myers, Florida

First, a quick review of what foot measurements really mean. Trace your foot on a piece of paper. The flat shape you end up with is the only thing that’s captured by traditional size and width. Now look at your foot. Is it flat? No, it’s a big, smelly, complicated three-dimensional shape. With little pieces of lint stuck to it. A boot’s volume, therefore, is a way of describing this three-dimensional aspect or, in other words, how much pudding a boot can hold. And you’ll find that a Lange and a Salomon, for instance, of the same size hold different quantities of pudding. But knowing how much your boot holds can only get you so far, because you don’t know whether all that pudding is crammed up in the toe area, back in the heel, or wadded up right in the middle. Does your wife have a big basin-o’-pudding instep and a wide sea-oo’-tapioca forefoot? To answer this, you really need to go to a good shop with knowledgeable bootfitters who can look at the shape of your wife’s foot and point her toward some likely candidates. That’s a starting point, but the old gal still needs to roll up her pant legs and try on a bunch of boots. And don’t let her decide whether or not they fit until they’ve been on her foot for at least 10 minutes. It takes at least that long for the pudding to settle.

Do you have a question for know-it-all Josh Lerman? Send it to Ask Josh, SKIING Magazine, 929 Pearl St., Ste. 200, Boulder, CO 80302 or won’t be able to answer all questions.

Former SKIING executive editor Josh Lerman is now senior editor at Parenting.