Famed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was legendary for his winning streaks, his coaching style, and to a lesser extent his lessons on footwear. At the beginning of each season, he would sit his players down and teach them how to put on their socks. This often baffled his players, many of whom would go on to win NBA championships. Wooden would stress the importance of ensuring each sock fit perfectly. He meticulously checked each sock for wrinkles, to avoid losing valuable playing time to blisters. This was meant to be not only simple life advice, but also a metaphor for vigilant preparation.
Like Wooden's players, skiers and boarders alike empathize all too well with the agony of a wrinkly or ill-fitting sock. There's no worse feeling than cutting short a powder day due to chafing soles. Fortunately for the SnowSquad, the kind folks at SmartWool hooked us each up with a pair at the beginning of the season. I've gotten 13 days in on mine so far, and I'm already a convert.
To be fair, up until this season I really didn't care
about my ski socks. I would wear whatever I could find and on occasion I've just worn standard athletic, or even dress socks beneath my boots (I credit a powerful mix of apathy and laziness). When I put on the SmartWool PhD ski sock, I knew I was wearing something entirely different. I was having trouble thinking of a way to give a review of the sock, when it hit me. Last week, I dug back through my closet to find my old go-to ski socks. I put an old one on my right foot, and the SmartWool on my left (see photo), and took them out for a day at Keystone to evaluate the differences. My verdict?
They slip on easily, give extra protection in all the high-friction areas where the other socks typically wear out (heel and ball), and the ribbed cuffs hold snug to the calf and ankle area to prevent slipping down into the irretrievable, wrinkly abyss down in my boot. After several outings and days of rigorous use, the fabric shows no signs of any sagging or stretching. They also ventilate well, and don't seem to retain moisture like the other wool socks I've worn.
To call these socks comfortable would be quite the understatement. Wearing the PhD ski sock is like what I imagine having a litter of adorable newborn puppies hugging your feet and ankles all day would feel like. In short, if there's a skier or snowboarder on your list this holiday season, definitely grab them a pair of SmartWool socks to keep their feet toasty and comfortable.
Coach Wooden gave his famous lesson on socks because he wanted the best out of his players. If you want the best out of your day on the mountain, heed his advice, and don't take your footwear for granted.
(Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)