Of sore feet and other various body parts
To the chagrin of my five loyal readers, this is the final installment of a two-part series. As you will recall, it was the fascinating topic of ski boot footbeds that probably didn’t hold your attention all week. As you know, I left you last with the details of how I was challenged to test a pair of custom, handcrafted insoles for which my friend Ed would foot the bill. I also relayed to you the process of my favorite ski boots being forever altered in what my fine foot-fitting “expert” Bill Thistle calls an “alignment process.” I told you that he told me that his customers told him that these footbeds and boot alignment would make my feet more comfortable, improve my skiing, reduce my chance of injury, and leave me less tired at the end of a day. But, all of that is just talk. And, if that is all you are interested in, I suppose you have signed up for a season’s worth of private ski lessons already. Now it’s time to give you what my editor pays me for. Here is my on-slope test report: The first time I tried my modified ski boots was a day on the tail end of a continuous series of storms propelled by a jet stream dubbed the Pineapple Express that dropped approximately 6 feet of powder snow on our beloved mountains. Very sweet!I slid my boots on in the veritable bowels of Kaelin Sports that morning. Miracle of miracles, my feet felt good! There was none of the usual “discomfort” I feel on my protruding ankle bones the first few runs each day before my feet numb to the stiff plastic bite of the cruel shoes that God made a necessity for skiing as punishment for spending our free time in such an idle pursuit. As I walked to the gondola, I noticed how squarely my feet struck the stairs leading up from the plaza. It wasn’t a test that had anything to do with skiing, but my feet were making a nice “clop-clop” sound as opposed to the “ker-thud, ker-thud” that has always been a portent for my ski day. Once seated in the gondola, I didn’t have to unbuckle my boots. There were no spasms in my arches. I think I was wiggling my toes. I’d never even felt them in my boots before!At the top, there was nothing to do but click into my bindings. It was strange not to tinker with buckle tension or make sundry adjustments to my boots. They were snug, not tight; my heel held firmly in place.Through the knee-deep snow, I pushed and skated to the Face of Bell for my first run. Holy cow! Both turns down to Lift Six were effortless! I rode up and hit Silver Queen. It was the best run of the year! Linking turns on Slalom Hill to Lift One was as efficient skiing as anyone has ever experienced. The skiing and I were magnificent!The rest of the morning was beyond compare. After lunch I met up with my sister-in-law, Charlotte. It was a chance opportunity for me. We have skied together plenty of times and she is familiar with my “style.” If I was skiing better, she would be able to tell.After several runs, she hadn’t mentioned how amazingly good I looked slicing through all that powder. Although the skiing was awesome, the fishing was difficult. I hadn’t caught a compliment all day. I decided to throw out a little chum.”Charlotte, you’re skiing great!” I exclaimed.”Oh?” she smiled. “You think so?””Yeah, really great.” “Thank you.””I mean, really, really great.””Well, I do feel pretty good,” she said and headed off to Corkscrew. Oh well, the powder was awfully deep, it was snowing hard, and the fog hung around all day. She probably hadn’t gotten a good look at me.I went home and was beaming as I relayed the day’s ski events to my wife. I told her that I hadn’t skied that well in a long time. I went on and on about Bill Thistle and his magical footbeds.”Give me a break,” she said. “There was 3 feet of fresh snow. Do you imagine that anyone out there didn’t feel like Ullr himself?”Have I ever mentioned that my wife has an exceptional ability to put things into perspective? She convinced me to withhold judgment for another, less soft day. The next time I went out, the snow was harder. I was tired. My new skis were a bit railed at the tips. The wax was wrong. And I could barely stay way ahead of my friends because I was working on making more precise turns than they were. My boots were as lackluster as everything else that day. The footbeds weren’t enough to pick me up. Then one Friday, due to special, secret circumstances that I will describe in great detail next week, I skied from 8:15 a.m. until the sun set. The next day we put in another six hours on the snow. We skied hard and fast both days. I felt great! All my gear worked exceedingly well.So, what’s the final verdict? With the insoles and alignment process, I like the way I ski, just as I did before. For the 2,456th day of skiing in a row, I didn’t blow out my knee. And, at the end of the day I’m not so tired that I can’t be talked into another run, as always. The only thing different is that my feet don’t hurt anymore.However, my decisive moment about the footbeds came on Sunday morning. My wife, having skied the previous day with me and knowing the particulars of the long day before that, was worried. She knew that I hadn’t been able to ski three consecutive hours since I lost a spinal disk to infection eight years ago. Normally, half a day of skiing leaves my back cramped up worse than a constipated mogul skier on Walsh’s right after a Sundeck chili lunch.”How does your back feel?” she said hesitatingly.My eyes lit up. I hadn’t even thought about it. I should have been in agony all night. But I wasn’t. My back felt great! Now honestly, I have been very dedicated to strengthening my core muscles this year, but it is still quite a coincidence that my back felt that good after two strenuous days of skiing. All things considered then, here are my final words on the footbeds: They are worth every penny my friend Ed paid for them, after all.There are things Roger Marolt doesn’t understand. Some of them work anyway. Bill Thistle’s footbeds and alignment process fit the mold. Empty your sole at firstname.lastname@example.org
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