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Ask Josh: March/April 2003

Ask Dr. Flake
posted: 03/03/2003

My local boot fitter says ski boots pack out after about 100 to 150 days of wear and should be replaced. I'm a ski patroller, and I do ski a lot of days, but I need some guidance-is this legit?
-Miles White, via the Internet

If you're wondering if ski boots really can pack out (a term that refers to the gradual compaction of the boot liner through use) after 100 days, the answer is yes, they can. But if you're questioning a ski shop employee's assertion that because your boots are loose, it's time to buy new ones, then the answer is no. I will assume that you love your boots, that you're happy with their performance, and that the soles aren't worn down to translucency. If so, by far the easiest and least expensive option is to have some custom fit work done: A shim or two will snug up the forefoot; some padding on the outside of your liner will once again lock down your ankle. So the total might come to what? Fifty bucks? The alternative your "boot fitter" seems not to be mentioning is that you can order replacement liners for many boots. It has to be done through a ski shop, which will probably be annoyed not to be selling you new boots (could that be why they didn't mention it?). Be prepared for rejection. One shop guy told me that replacement liners have never been available. This would come as a surprise to the Lange rep who told me replacement liners would cost around $150.

-Jason Horowitz, via the Internet

It would have to be one hell of a big cliff. Terminal velocity is the point at which the air resistance of a falling object equals its acceleration and speed remains constant. The best example is a skydiver, who, over the course of 10 seconds and 1,800 feet, plummets to a terminal velocity of 125 miles an hour until his chute opens and he slows to around 15 miles per hour. A skier jumping off a cliff is going to experience something pretty similar, only without the slowing down part. Like a skydiver, a skier would have to fall more than 1,000 feet before reaching terminal velocity. If you're hucking a 50-foot cliff, you're going maybe 40 miles per hour-hit anything but puffy snow on a steep slope going that speed and you're liable to damage yourself. At 100 feet, you'd be falling at maybe 55 miles an hour. By 200 feet you'd be traveling closer to 80 miles an hour and carrying some serious momentum. What's the takeaway here? People who jump off cliffs are either brave or stupid. Which makes me either really smart...or a massive wuss.

When you first start your car on a butt-cold morning, will the car heat up faster if you crank the fan on high from the get-go? Or is it faster to wait until the air coming out of the fan is warm?

<-Gerard Burns, via the Internet

You might consider purchasing some thicker undies. No matter how fast you get your car to warm up, it's unlikely to have much immediate impact on the temperature of your hind-end, wedged as it is against cold vinyl. Anyway, it's fastest to turn the heat to hot and the fan to full and let it rip with the vent set on recirculate. Of course, with this method you run the risk of fogging your windows by recirculating increasingly humid air, and you have to tolerate chill breezes in your vehicle. Which means the alternative, waiting for the engine to warm up and then putting on the heat, isn't crazy either. My advice? Quit whining, eat a donut, and muscle through those frigid four minutes.

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