Any serious attempt at bootfitting begins with an assessment of the customer’s feet and lower legs. This appraisal can be as superficial as measuring each foot for length or as detailed as a complete skier profile accompanied by a few basic biomechanical evaluations.
Better bootfitters gather further information from a litany of details that lie outside the scope of the usual foot-measuring device, such as a Brannock. The veteran bootfitter watches how the customer walks, sits and assumes a skiing position, for starters. The savvy fitter can even spot limb-length differences and redistribute pressure around the foot in places no measuring stick can quantify.
If this sounds like a pretty sophisticated skill set, well, it is. Yet many, if not most, prospective boot buyers approach the bootfitting exercise with the same enthusiasm they usually reserve for a root canal. Suspicions are often confirmed when the first boot proffered seems crazily short. Even the most knowledgeable fitter is obliged to re-establish his/her credibility just to move the bootfit process pass square one.
According to my tight-knit circle of advisors, idolaters, sycophants and astrologers, I was made for this medium.
Of course, any garden-variety sycophant will whisper words of inspirational twaddle, but the faint note of sincerity I detect in the smarm-storm of platitudes meant to buck me up has proven sufficient to spur me to action. I quickly acquired a very professional looking microphone and a pop filter to knock down my fierce sibilants. To preserve my objectivity, I opted not to take any lessons, follow any tutorials or otherwise prepare myself for this venture. By the powers vested in me as the Pontiff of Powder, I declare myself to be, now and forever after, a podcaster.
I’ll give you a moment to recover.
When Head humanely, if rather brusquely, terminated my tenure in 2001, the ski business in the U.S. was already facing stiff headwinds, a brewing storm that would turn into a full-on debacle when 9/11 disrupted all commerce. I became unemployed just in time for the job market to implode.
I don’t handle inactivity well. I started writing a very long, very dreadful novel, composed a handful of scripts for Warren Miller – and later, Jeremy Bloom – to recite and scribbled batches of brochure copy and white papers for industries as diverse as accounting software, instrumented football helmets that registered concussions and risk assessment based on location.
The pickings were slim, but they wouldn’t have amounted to anything at all were it not for a little help from my friends. Andy Bigford, who I’d worked with at Snow Country, hired me for the Warren Miller gig. A college chum kindly engaged me to write white papers on accounting fraud. But it was Dave Bertoni, an erstwhile colleague from Salomon days, who joined me in creating Desperate Measures: A Training Method for Selling Technical Products at Retail.
In this week’s Revelation, I posted my top ten (twelve, actually) reasons why skis sales have shrunk, along with the musings of two Dear Readers on the subject. Note that the topic’s focus was ski sales at retail, not skier or skier/rider participation rates, subjects that are certainly related but just as certainly not the same.
Below are verbatim reader responses culled in the last 48 hours. I’ve corrected the odd typo, but otherwise left these contributions intact.
My thanks to all who took the time to tell their tales. – J