By Dan Balkin
HoliMont Snowsports School
One can only approach Mother Nature with awe and reverence. That said, I’m writing this article to lay down a challenge. Please, Mother Nature, let it get really cold for string of days in January so that the ground will freeze and our heroic snowmaking and grooming crews (who often work while we sleep) can finish what they started. I have never feuded with Mother Nature, so I’m hoping that she will heed my request. When it does get really cold, here are a few tips and tricks that I have learned while whiling away the greater part of my lost youth at ski areas.
Rule #1 – While skiing, warm feet always trump hot legs
* Wait until you are about to ski to put on your ski socks. Your feet will start to perspire if you have your ski boots on indoors (eating breakfast etc.) or if you are walking or driving to the ski area. That perspiration can contribute to cold feet while skiing. If your feet are more prone to sweating while skiing, it is an excellent idea to switch to a new pair of socks at lunch.
* Buy real ski socks – the thinner the better. Almost all good skiers ski in thin ski socks. Thicker socks and ski boots are bad combination as they tend to bunch up a create pressure points on the feet. Given that your ski boots fit correctly, thinner socks wont pinch the arteries at the top of your feet that keep warm blood flowing through your lower extremities.
* Like all technology, boot heaters have continued to improve. If you are perennially plagued by cold feet – boot heaters are invaluable.
* Have some means to dry your ski boot liners. If you put the boots away wet, and the next day is cold – that moisture will create cold feet sooner than you can say “ It is ok to sprinkle a wee drop of water into single malt scotch because it opens up flavors that were not evident by drinking the whiskey straight up.” Well maybe you would actually have to say that twice – but you get the idea. I use a ski boot specific portable fan that I can insert in both boots at night. Taking your liners out at night is another option – but that is often a cumbersome process and it creates a lot of wear and tear on your liners if you do it all the time.
* Don’t ever put your ski boots in front of a fire. The last time that I was multi-tasking by sprinkling water into a glass and gazing affectionately at my ski boots I had an epiphany: Ski boots are made out of plastic!!! Plastic gets weird when it is overheated. Ski boots that morph into new shapes through overheating tend to be uncomfortable. This is especially true if one of the great boot fitters in town has grinded, punched, or otherwise adjusted your ski boot so that you can ski in blissful comfort – overheating your boots can undo their expert modifications.
* Don’t stow your ski boots in the trunk on the drive to the ski area. The warmer and drier your boots are when you put them on – the longer you will ski in comfort on a cold day.
* A product called the “Dryguy Ski Bootglove” also works great on cold days. It is a neoprene “bootglove” that effortlessly attaches over your ski boots. It really helps to hold the heat within your boots.
Rule #2 – Don’t ever let Vladimir Putin get mad at you. None of these tips work in Siberia.