I don’t know how it happened, but between last season and this one I lost my custom foot beds. They were made about 15 years ago when I purchased my first Surefoot customized boots and, like the boots, they were pricey. Those beds stayed with me over the course of three or four subsequent boots. Then they were gone.   

Foot beds can improve ski performance by stabilizing the feet in a way that helps maximize the ski boot’s primary role: transferring energy from body to skis. That, admittedly, is a gross oversimplification. There are master boot fitters with medical-grade knowledge of foot anatomy, especially as it relates to skiing. I plan to solicit an article or two from one of these experts about the intricacies of creating an effective foot bed.

Brannock Device

But this week I needed new foot beds and visited the Dale Boot store in Salt Lake City to have them made. The whole process took about 20 minutes. The fitter started by measuring my feet with an old-fashioned Brannock, the same device that fascinated me as a kid in my grandfather’s shoe store in Schenectady, NY.  Next, I placed my feet in a Masterfit machine that took an impression of the contours of my foot soles. He then placed Masterfit foot beds in the machine where they took on the shape of the bottoms of my feet. That was followed by cooling the beds with cold packs and trimming some excess material before placing them in the boots. 

Patrick, the boot fitter, clearly knows his stuff and approaches his job with the same quiet pride I’ve noticed among other boot fitters. Boot fitting is a craft in which many of its practitioners appropriately treat it as a profession. He attends educational workshops including Masterfit University and related courses. He mentioned the pleasure he gets sharing war stories about helping all kinds of people with and without foot problems to get the most out of their boots.

Quality ski and boot shops provide boot fitting as a service built into the boot’s cost.  Getting foot beds customized (typically a $100 – $200 add-on) or purchasing boots with the help of a professional boot fitter is clearly a smart step to greater comfort and performance. A resource for well-trained boot fitters is America’s Best Bootfitters.com.

A few months ago, Jackson Hogen of RealSkiers.com, suggested rewarding the work of these pros with a gratuity. Given the critical service provided by fitters like Patrick, I could not agree more. 

Fire Claims Aussie Ski Resort; Others Threatened

Australia’s devastating fires destroyed Selwyn Snow Resort, the country’s most northerly ski area. The New South Wales resort employed 60 during the season.  Falls Creek and Mt. Hotham  in Victoria are being evacuated. 

Bait and Switch at Northstar?

Two older skiers are suing Vail Resorts for breach of contract and fraud. The essence of their complaint is that Vail, which owns, Northstar Resort (CA), sold non-refundable season passes before announcing a parking fee. According to the claimants, the cost of parking will add thousands of dollars to their cost of skiing at Northstar. Each is seeking free parking and $200,000+ in damages.

Good News For Taos Skiers

Taos Air is now servicing the Carlsbad-San Diego and Hawthorne-Los Angeles airports, starting at $125, one way. The service is available Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays through March 29. The airline started last season with daily direct flights to Taos from Dallas Love Field and Austin-Bergstrom International. The airstrip is 30 minutes from Taos Ski Valley.

Tree Well Safety

Courtesy Ski California

Suffocating in deep snow is a concern for many Western skiers. Evergreen branches capture snow, cusing deep pits to form around the tree’s base. Skiers falling into these “tree wells” are subject to breathing in powder snow. The problem is exacerbated by landing head-down or injury. It’s extremely difficult to get out, even with help from others. I had the experience years ago catskiing in the Canadian Selkirks. Fortunately, the well wasn’t too deep and the person I was with got me out quickly. Fifteen tree well deaths have occurred in California since 2001, the most in the nation. Tree well safety advice is available from Ski California, the state’s ski area trade group. Click here for more.

Winter PrideFest Jan 30 – Feb 2

Winter PrideFest, the multi-event weekend celebrating diversity and inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, will hold its third annual gathering January 30 – February 2 in Bend, OR and Mt. Bachelor. Activities include  skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice skating, panel discussions, and evening social functions. For information or to register, click here.

Senior Deals at Belleayre

Belleayre, the venerable Catskills ski area north of New York City has great deals for senior skiers during the second week of January, February and March. Skiers and boarders who are 65 or older get a lift ticket for $10, when they go with anyone with a paid lift ticket, and they can purchase coffee for $1 and breakfast sandwiches for $2.

Happy 80th Harriet!

Harriet Wallis, a prolific contributor to this publication, celebrated her 80th birthday at Alta earlier this week. What a silly helmet cover!!!

Alta Old Timer Celebrated in New Video

Lloyd Johnson moved to Utah for work in 1973, having never skied before. One Sunday, after an Alta church service, a friend convinced him to give skiing a shot. Now, at age 87 and almost five decades later, Lloyd is still making beautiful tele-turns at Alta,  His kids and grandkids follow his tracks. This short video tells his story, one that reflects the lives and loves of many dedicated skiers.



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