June 15, 2018

New Ski Boot – Fit & Set-up

Ski boots are the single most important piece of equipment a ski racer must chose.  This is the heart and soul of the ski, boot, binding package.  The performance, comfort and safety of the athlete depends on the choices made in the process of choosing brand, model, flex and most importantly the boot tech.  A great boot tech is far harder to find and access than any other person that the athlete may interact with throughout the year.

The boot fit process the boot tech will go through is outlined below;

  • A comprehensive set of measurements will be taken including foot length, width, heel/instep circumference, arch length, arch height, weight. Most important is the heel/instep as this determines if the volume of the rear foot is compatible with the length of the boot.  If not, the foot will never be secure in the boot to offset the forces generated in ski racing.  At this point the decision as to what type of footbed will be required is made based on the total of these measurements.  The best choice is almost always a custom bed as it will accurately match the bottom of the foot allowing maximum contact and sensitivity 100% support. The flex of the boot can be chosen carefully at this time as well. Flex is a determining factor for performance but also facilitates overall balance.  A softer boot will allow a developing athlete to acquire good balance.
  • Once the footbed has been crafted the boot tech can determine what if any shell modifications are necessary to allow comfort and proprioceptive mobility. The later is often overlooked but the key to the snow “feel” inherent with a successful skier.
  • With footbed in hand and the first round of shell modifications having been done, the alignment process can begin. Alignment- so often referred to and so misunderstood by the majority of bootfitters, athletes, parents and coaches. A great boot tech understands the essential difference between a merely a comfortably fitting boot and a boot adjusted for performance.
    • With the athlete standing in the shell on the footbed, the tech will ensure the athletes center of knee mass is slightly inside the centerline of the boot shell. If not, this can be corrected with angled or “canted” undersole shims. This adjustment determines the grip of the package on snow.
    • Next, the fore/aft balance can be assessed and adjust several ways to move the weight of the athlete slightly to the forefoot.
    • At this time the lateral angle of the cuff of the boot can be adjusted. A good starting point is a neutral angle as this adjustment determines the aggressiveness of the boot. Too aggressive just like too sharp on the ski tune can be very slow and discouraging for younger athletes.
  • We are now ready to decide if any wedges may be required in the back of the cuff to adjust for a slim calf along with the decision to exchange the factory power strap for an elastic BOOSTER STRAP- this will adjust the sensitivity of the boot and facilitate more movement in rough conditions.
  • Finally, to protect the investment, boot lifters should be installed and will both give more ground clearance for a cleaner edge grip and take the wear and tear of use and be replaced at a fraction of the cost of a whole new boot.

We have not yet mentioned boot heating and will only say the only way to do this in 2018 and forward is with heated socks.  They are far more manageable and functional than the old school heated footbed.

SKI TIPS are brought to you by Sporting Life, Alberta Alpine’s Official Retailer, with two locations in Calgary; Market Mall & Southcentre.

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