Realskiers: Bootfitting Brings Hope For America’s Future
I recently attended two days of seminars on advanced boot fitting techniques under the aegis of Masterfit University. The folks who run this worldwide roadshow also orchestrate the annual ski boot test whose results appear on the pages of realskiers.com.While the Masterfit on-snow evaluations are a valuable resource in understanding today’s alpine boot market, their value to American skiers pales in comparison to the irreplaceable service provided by their travelling training program.
To get to the point, skiing is all about the feet and how they are able – or unable – to function in a ski boot. If your boots do not function properly in concert with your lower extremities, your skiing will always be limited, if not downright painful. Tens of thousands of skiers tolerate pain they have no reason to endure, all because they never sat down in front of someone trained in the arcane art of fitting a ski boot.
An alpine ski boot isn’t just a big, heavy, expensive shoe. It’s the most complicated piece of footwear you’ll ever experience. When the incomparable boot designer Sven Coomer, whose imprint is on nearly every boot currently made, laid out the design criteria for Nordica’s first serious effort at a plastic boot, he identified 173 specific details that required attention in every size. That was 40 years ago.
While today’s boot models look different from those pioneering plastic shells, the complexity of making a great boot hasn’t changed because the complexity of the ankle in action while encased in a hard shell running halfway up the calf hasn’t changed. Take a look at your bare tootsies: think how intricate and problematic the foot is all by itself. Then lock this amazing mechanical device in a cold plastic boot that only attempts to follow its shape and hurtle the lot downhill at 60 mph. Bon voyage!
A Competent Bootfitter
If you are at all serious about improving as a skier, or you are one of the legions who suffer on a daily basis, get yourself in front of a competent bootfitter and your life will change. To paraphrase the great apostle of carving technique, Warren Witherell, an hour with a good bootfitter will do more for your skiing than a season’s worth of private lessons.
Warren wasn’t exaggerating. I once looked on in horror at a woman who had been heinously misfit by a supposed “specialty shop.” She might as well have had her ankle fused. Standing next to me was the best instructor in all the USA, Mike Rogan. I asked Mike what he could do for her. Bear in mind, Mike is not only enormously competent, he is equally compassionate and kind, yet his answer was as short and cold as a gust of winter wind: “Nothing.”
When the talents of the best ski instructor extant can’t overcome the obstacles imposed by a brutally mismatched boot, you get the idea of how serious an impediment an ill-fitting boot can be.
Many people ski in pain as if they were paying some sort of masochistic dues, when it’s completely unnecessary. And for every skier in pain there are two others who have limited control or fatigue easily due entirely to boot issues.
Whatever ails your skiing, chances are problems with your boots, whether they pain your feet or not, are contributing to your woes. Don’t go through another season suffering with the status quo. Get thee to a great bootfitter without delay.
You won’t find great bootfitters at a mass merchant sporting goods store. Proper bootfitting is service intensive and requires years of training and experience, all of which sounds as much fun as drinking hemlock to the chain store.
The best bootfitters are often found at destination resorts, but don’t necessarily overlook the nearby city shop. Master bootfitters are dispersed all across this great land of ours. realskiers.com will direct you to a network of specialty dealers dedicated to the craft of accurate, biomechanically functional bootfitting.
Whether you aspire to be a better skier or you just want to be free of pain, you’ll benefit from the attentive care of a qualified bootfitter. To be blunt, you need to give your business to the shops where they practice their art, not just for boots but for all the gear that goes with them.
Specialty retailing is under siege, thanks to the cybernetic bordello that is the Internet. The skiing community needs to support shops willing and able to deliver on the promise of a great ski experience as only master bootfitters can. Do your part to keep hope alive. Spend some time with a great bootfitter today.
Photo: Masterfit University (realskiers.com)