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Ask Josh – October 2000

Ask Dr. Flake

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What is the name of that half-ski-half-bike contraption the Beatles rode in one of their movies?
Russel Gardin
via the Internet

The Beatles never said what they called the ostensibly enjoyable device they rode in Help! (1965). In fact, in that particular segment at an unidentified Austrian ski resort, the Fab Four didn’t say much of anything, nor, indeed, did they do more than project an aura of unconvincing joie de vivre. In its current design (a bikelike frame with a seat and handlebars and short skis where the wheels should be), the device in question is called a ski bike. Personally, I find it to be utterly ridiculous-yet another ski invention that aims to solve a problem nobody had. The problem here, I guess, being fun. But since I tend to think actually skiing is always more fun than feigning pleasure while astride awkward ski-related devices, I guess I’m not the ideal customer. After all, you pretty much always have to sacrifice skiing time in order to experiment with this faux-fun apparatus. So while you can try one at several ski resorts across the country ( has a list of them), why bother? You’ll only be hurling yourself into that riotous cataract of despair and anxiety that brims anew each time you sacrifice time on skis.

I can only jump a vertical distance of eight inches. Will this effect my attempt to master mogul skiing? Can you recommend any low-impact exercises other than cycling to condition my legs for moguls?
Joseph Logue
West Orange, New Jersey

First of all, don’t worry: There’s no correlation between vertical-jump height and any part of your body. As for any connections between vertical jumping and mogul skiing, take some comfort in the fact that I can jump 14 inches yet have never met a bump that couldn’t toss me so far into the back seat I had to reach in front of me to open the trunk. Anyway, skiing moguls is not a matter of brute strength; it’s a matter of finesse. But certain exercises will improve your endurance. Try leaning back against a wall and sliding down until your knees are at right angles. Do it for 10 seconds longer each day until you can do it for a really long time. That hits your quads. And try lunges: Take giant steps around your yard, getting low enough that your front thigh is parallel to the ground. When you can do a whole bunch of those easily, do some more while holding a pail of water in each hand. This hits your hammies and glutes. Then do various kinds of sit-ups. Many people focus solely on their legs, forgetting that the seat of human power is in the trunk.

I’ll need to replace my rear-entry boots pretty soon. My problem is finding a boot that I can get down on. I ski with a lot of knee and ankle bend, and none of the boots I’ve tried let me ski that way.
Richard Doner
Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Isn’t that kind of like me saying I like to break my leg while skiing, but none of the newfangled bindings I’ve tried let me? Most modern ski boots go out of their way to impede the deep bending of your ankle and knee. It’s hard to ski in a crouch. So you could try to modify your technique, as these newfangled boots just might improve your skiing. But you know the expression about dogs and tricks, and I’m assuming that you belong to canis antiquus. So you want a soft boot. If you’ve got lots of greenola and want to tithe France, try the new Salomon 1080 Pro Model. This is a boot for those members of canis demens who like above all else to jump (or as canis novus schola likes to say, huck). To accommodate the airophiles’ ever-thinning menisci, Salomon has made the 1080 quite soft, with a mushy, shock-absorbing sole. It’s probably going to be as close as you’re going to get to high performance coupled with palpable, intentional softness. It’s also coolly, hiply, iMacly translucent. You could also try a women’s boot, as they tend to be softer flexing aand have a slightly lower cuff. Or you could choose a boot that fits really, really well-stiffness be damned-and have a good shop put some slits in the shell to make it more flexible.

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 e-mail him at

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Former Skiing executive editor Josh Lerman is now articles editor at Parenting.