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Dr. Flake

Ask Dr. Flake
posted: 01/22/2003

MOONBOOTS, TRUCKER HATS-WHAT'S THE NEXT IRONIC FASHION TREND?
Some folks say fur. But Flake won't put his money on hides ripped from defenseless critters. And besides, a quick trip to Europe or Aspen or Dallas will prove that fur never went away, and hence can't come back in the retro-ironic manner of trucker hats or Moonboots. If Flake had his way, the next ironic accoutrement would be the bota bag. With its narrow spout and pliant squeezability, the bota acts not just as a portable booze vessel, but as an alcohol squirt gun. But the hydration-pack craze seems to have wiped botas off the face of the earth. Thousands of youngsters, sadly, have never skied with red wine or schnapps sloshing around in a bladder of Spanish goat leather. Dangling a bota around your neck in 2006? That's irony, baby. Or is it camp? Flake can never tell them apart.

WHERE'S THE BIGGEST GLACIER FOR YEAR-ROUND SKIING?
Glacial shrinkage is happening alarmingly fast. By 2050, the global supply of skiable ice will, according to some scientists, fit inside a single muskie-bait freezer in International Falls, Minnesota. For now, though, we still have options. In North America, the Blackcomb Glacier offers about 50 acres. But it's dwarfed by the biggies in the Alps--like Sölden, Austria, where the Tiefenbach and Rettenbach glaciers yield nearly eight square miles of turns. Hanging above Neustift, Austria, is the nation's single-biggest year-round ice cube, the Stubai Glacier, which keeps 21 runs open in summer. Interestingly, three Alps ski areas claim to have the biggest glaciers. In France, Tignes (home to the Grande Motte Glacier) and Les Deux Alpes (starting point for the Glacier de Mont de Lans) both boast an impressive 2,200-plus feet of glacial vert. But Zermatt, Switzerland, which Flake has crowned the king of summer snow sports, has nearly 3,300 feet of July vertical-and that surely takes the cake.

CAN YOU REALLY DRINK RIGHT OUT OF THE STREAMS IN SWITZERLAND?
H2O flows clean and tasty in Switzerland. More than 80 percent of the country's drinking water comes from Swiss ground- and springwater. A large portion of that delicious liquid needs no processing or disinfecting. In fact, dysentery sufferers will be envious to learn that the Swiss flush their toilets with liquid that meets the purity requirements of bottled mineral water. Must be nice. Credit that to strict anti-pesticide laws and a dearth of high-altitude cows. So you're probably safe to drink right out of a Swiss stream-as long as Flake hasn't camped near it.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO ACCELERATE OUT OF A TURN?
Hell, yeah. Even though the start of a turn is a braking-or decelerating-move, skiers speed up again after the turn's apex by releasing edge pressure and letting gravity hurl their mass downhill. Skis are glisse-dependent you see. They don't have a gas pedal; they rely on gravity to accelerate. And a well-waxed ski suffers little from friction and can haul serious butt. Racers, however, need to go faster still, so they accelerate more by adding centrifugal force to their gravity-they hold a sharper-than-average edge through hyper-tight turns and lean their skis over in a way the rest of us don't. Then they push against the snow with their feet and lower legs, driving their hips down ze hill faster than gravity's girlie-man pull would seem to allow. Puny gravity.

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