Revelations

Is 3D Imaging a Fad or the Future?

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.

Of Podcasts, Archives & Revelations

Of Podcasts, Archives & Revelations

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.

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The Making of a Skier, Chapter XI: Desperate Measures

The Making of a Skier, Chapter XI: Desperate Measures

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.

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Reader Comments on Why Ski Sales Have Shrunk

Reader Comments on Why Ski Sales Have Shrunk

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

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Top Reasons U.S. Ski Sales Have Shrunk

Top Reasons U.S. Ski Sales Have Shrunk

[As I wrapped up an earlier Revelation, I proposed to my beloved readership that they share their list of the top ten reasons U.S. ski sales have shrunk. I elicited only two written responses, so I’ll reproduce both here in their entirety, along with my musings on the subject. Consider these submissions tinder to light a fire under you, Dear Reader, to submit a list of your own.]

From Rick Pasturczak
1. Snowboarding-
I’ve noticed most snowboarders are 12 to 20 years old and once they become an adult, almost all stop. While I noticed most skiers continue on.
2. High school and college sports-
Schools now require practicing sports during Christmas and spring breaks taking away opportunities to hit the slopes and family vacations to the mountains. I’ve been told by many parents the coaches forbid them to ski.
3. Travel costs-
Lodging, airfare, ground transportation, and lift tickets.
4. Video games
5. Cost of lessons make it expensive to improve.
6. Confusing selection of equipment
7. Magazines and movies showing extreme skiing
8. Cruising. We need some resorts to be all inclusive.
9. Baggy pants. Bring back stretch pants and sex appeal.
10. Last, we need mother nature to be more consistent with snow.

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The Making of a Skier, Part X: The Mechanics & Managers Workshop Tour

The Making of a Skier, Part X: The Mechanics & Managers Workshop Tour

When I left Salomon in the spring of 1987, my motivations could be distilled into three principal components:
• The parent company declared it was moving its Reno-based North American HQ back from whence it came. Neither I nor my family had the slightest desire to return to New England.
• I felt I was spending more energy battling factions within my own company than I was out-flanking our competition. I’d worked more or less without a break since June of 1978. My thin veneer of patience cracked.
• I wanted to write screenplays. Not that I had demonstrated any talent for creative writing or had any training in the field. I’d written reams of technical swill, brochure copy, training manuals and memos which created the illusion that I could at least write something, so why not screenplays?

Note that none of these factors involves finding a new job. At the time, I didn’t want to resume wearing the shackles of employment as they would interfere with my ludicrous screenwriting ambitions. Then the stock market went into a tailspin in October, crippling what little equity I’d managed to accrue on my minimalist salary. Oops.

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The Five Stages of Ski Finish Awareness

The Five Stages of Ski Finish Awareness

Don’t let the title fool you. Although it sounds like it, this Revelation isn’t about the degree to which skiing is top of mind among Helsinki society. The purpose of this exposé is to shine a light on a subject about which almost all skiers are woefully uninformed, namely the condition of their skis’ bases and edges.

Just in case you don’t imagine this subject worthy of your attention, I hasten to point out that how well your skis are tuned and maintained isn’t just a factor, it is the factor that determines how well your skis perform. A properly tuned ski, regardless of brand or type, is a delight for skiers of any and all abilities while an untuned ski is such a detriment that even supreme skill cannot overcome its liabilities.

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From Fallible to Foolproof and Back

From Fallible to Foolproof and Back

In the 1970’s, prior to the adoption of the first ski boot sole standard, boot makers were free to concoct any sort of sole they might imagine. Many skiers still used leather boots with laminated soles, even after the industry largely moved on to injected plastic, which enabled shapes and sole patterns leather couldn’t duplicate.

This incoherent jumble of boot designs showed no lack of imagination, but little consideration for how they might interact with a binding. Bindings were likewise free from any standards that might have limited the creativity of their designs, many of which were crafted specifically to reduce or eliminate the role of the boot.

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The Road to Perdition

The Road to Perdition

The road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions. In my experience, the friends and relatives of prospective boot buyers are a wellspring of wretched advice wrapped in bright ribbons of sincerity and concern.

(Let us pause a moment and prayerfully acknowledge the gratitude of bootfitters everywhere that the new, pandemic-driven bootfit protocol discourages the presence of a bootfit entourage composed of family, moral supporters and consiglieri.)

Back to the subject at hand, the particular nugget of advice I’m leery of is the customary admonition to avoid too stiff a boot as it will hurt, you’ll hate it eventually if you don’t detest it immediately, and it will inhibit your skills development. Get only as much boot as you need and no more, goes the conventional wisdom. Racers need stiff boots; you don’t.

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The Making of a Skier, Part IX: The ASTM, Carl Ettlinger and I

The Making of a Skier, Part IX: The ASTM, Carl Ettlinger and I

One of the many hats I wore as North American binding product manager for Salomon in the early 1980’s was that of delegate to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). I believe the first meeting of F8.14 – the sub-committee on ski safety – that I attended was in Pennsylvania. I was flying under the wings of Salomon’s seer of all standards and patents, Gilbert Delouche, and the binding product manager for the North American zone at that time (and my mentor), Joe Campisi.

I was a babe in the woods, but I soon caught on to the game under Delouche’s patience guidance. I recall a debate on the binding specification then being batted around in the technical committee chaired by Carl Ettlinger. Ettlinger wanted language that would require any release/retention setting of 10 or above to be “visually distinctive” from the rest of the scale.

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Why This Buyer’s Guide?

Why This Buyer’s Guide?

Don’t read the 2021 Masterfit Buyer’s Guide in Partnership with Realskiers.com for its 62 ski reviews. I should know. I wrote or edited all of them.

Not that the ski reviews aren’t worth the read. But ski reviews on the web are as common as rice, while the Buyer’s Guide contains something no other publication, whether in digital, print or video format, can claim: the most respected, thorough and dependable boot reviews in the world.

This isn’t mere puffery. The Masterfit Boot Test is so well regarded by the supplier community that nearly every brand not only sends its following year’s line-up in four men’s sizes plus three for women, it also dispatches its top designers and/or product managers to a distant North American site for most of the test’s five-day duration.

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The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect

As I’ve observed in this space before, product managers spend most of their time in the future; the present for them is two years away for the rest of us. So when the coronavirus shut down the 19/20 ski season, it triggered an automatic response in the R&D lobes lodged deep in my noggin: what impact will this have two years down the road?

If I knew the answer to this question with any certainty, I should be running a hedge fund, not scribbling about skiing. But after checking with several of the bellwether players in U.S. market, I have some idea of what’s in store.

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