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Ask Josh - March 2000

Ask Dr. Flake
By Josh Lerman
posted: 03/30/2000

dear josh,
At the end of a recent winter, I became depressed. I lost weight and became irritable. When the next ski season began, I was on top of the world again. Then it was over, and I again found myself slipping into depression. Is there a mental condition associated with the end of skiing that can result in postseason depression?
Meg Spillane
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I don't think there's an official "post-ski season depression" designated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but this is clearly a real condition, with two possible explanations. The first is that you are depressed in general, and the ski season functions as a palliative, restoring a healthy psychological state. The second is that over the course of the ski season, you become dependent upon, or functionally addicted to, your adrenalized skiing high. Without the shots of adrenaline you've become used to, your brain isn't able to maintain your mood. You may be physically dependent on skiing for maintenance of normal brain chemistry, and you may also be psychologically dependent on skiing for feelings of well-being and self-satisfaction that you can't experience without snow sport. Early Scandinavian advocates of skiing cited its benefits to overall well-being (sound-mind-in-a-sound-body kind of talk). It was thought to be good for the soul. That all kind of got lost once the folks up at Dartmouth got hold of the sport and started turning everything into a competition, but it's a notion that can surely be applied to your situation. You are merely experiencing-somewhat more extremely-what all skiers go through. As for cures, if you're uncomfortable with fluoxetine hydrochloride, it is winter in South America and New Zealand while it's summer here.

Years ago I recall seeing promotional materials from Stowe heralding the return of the mountain lion to Vermont, but the hubbub seems to have died down. What's up? Are there any mountain lions in Vermont?
Christian Ayala
Hamden, Connecticut

The mountain lion has been thought to be extinct in Vermont (and in the entire eastern U.S.) since the late 19th century. So any sightings fall dangerously close in credibility to Sasquatch encounters. That said, in the past 100 years, there have been numerous reported sightings of large cats in the eastern U.S., including Vermont (the mountain lion can still be found-in small numbers-in the western U.S. and northern Mexico). As for Stowe, apart from some minor Goat maulings, there has been little indication of activity by carnivorous beasts, and the only cats you're likely to see on the snows of Mount Mansfield have treads and tillers rather than claws and fangs.

I mostly ski bumps, but as far as I can tell, nobody manufactures bump skis anymore. I've tried shaped skis, but they don't feel right when I take them straight down a tight line. What skis do World Cup competitors use?
Tom Lowum
Wilmington, North Carolina

You're right to think that ski manufacturers have forsaken you. Dwindling sales of traditional mogul skis had already thinned the ranks of available models when the shaped-ski revolution swatted them largely off the map. This despite the fact that most shaped skis refuse to dive down the zipper-line in the old-fashioned way mogul cognoscenti prefer. As a result, most World Cup bump skiers are using custom-made skis (as opposed to ones available to the public) with relatively little sidecut. Interestingly, these skis are getting shorter every year: Most male World Cup mogulists are now on skis in the 185-190 range, down 10 or 15 centimeters from a decade ago. (Why? Mostly because aerial maneuvers have become more demanding, and it's easier to throw a short ski around in the air.) Where does that leave you? Up a distinctly malodorous creek sans a paddle. Of course, you can take shaped skis through the bumps; tons of people do, and they have fun doing it. But it does feel differentt, and you're not obligated to like it. One day there will be a reaction, of course, and ski makers will again start mass-producing relatively curveless bump skis.

Do you have a question for know-it-all Josh Lerman? Email it to:askjosh@skinet.com.

Or write to Ask Josh, Skiing Magazine, 929 Pearl St., Ste. 200, Boulder, CO 80302. We won't be able to print all questions.

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