• 2017
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How Can I Guarantee Comfortable Boots? Part 4

A short story for your edification about of all things skis, but as with many stories really a metaphor, in this case about our trained attitudes.

I was talking with a man, a Lake Louise skier as it turns out, about his skis. He was in the store to buy skis and I was tentatively exploring the information he provided me about the gear he was currently on. The skis he was using I knew well, since I had skied them myself for an entire Snowbird season. He also spent much of his time skiing Whitehorn I and II along with the Alphabet chutes. It is my playground, so I felt very safe with the ski recommendation I was about to make. But first to firmly ensure I was headed in an acceptable direction I asked, “Don’t you find your skis challenging and unforgiving back there?” To which he replied “Yes, but I don’t mind earning my turns.”

Astounding!  Like when your mechanic says your car is badly out of alignment and pulling hard to the left with every bump, and you reply “Don’t fix it. I enjoy the challenge of keeping it on the road.” Personally, I enjoy the challenges difficult terrain serves up but I want my skis to make skiing it as easy and predictable as possible. I want to enjoy the terrain, feel the excitement and accomplishment from skiing it well without becoming part of it.  I want to feel enticed to keep going back to the great terrain Lake Louise serves up in abundance, not instead approach it with trepidation each time I go in.  I want my skis to accommodate the way I ski and not vice-versa.

My approach to boots is the same. I don’t think I can break my boots in.  Plastic, when cold, doesn’t change shape from the pressure applied by my feet. Besides, I know it hurts, sometimes a lot and for a very long time.   I instead break-in my boots on a boot press or with a grinder to reshape them before I go out.  I expect day one to be pain free.

It means instead of trying on many boots and solving discomfort problems by finally selecting a larger size, I buy a boot same size length as my foot measures in Mondo, with the same general shape and volume as my foot, then confirm the choice with a careful shell fit.  That boot I will then modify until all pressure points are gone and my foot is free to naturally move through the natural pronation and supination movements required for turning and edging.

Buying boots in this way is certainly different. It requires trust in the knowledge the sales person possesses; a belief they can do what they say, an acknowledgement that comfortable boots in the store often are not comfortable boots on the hill, acceptance of the fact buckling tightly is buckling hurtfully, understanding that for most people comfortable boots are made and not hatched complete and finished from the box, and finally, trust that it is possible for boots to be comfortable all day every day.

The rewards of success are great.  They include comfortable, all day boots.  Dramatically improved ski performance and skier balance.  Toes that no longer hit the front with every landing, heels that stop moving up and down while painfully blistering and arches that don’t cramp and of course a litany of other unique but crippling issues.

Next, we’ll talk about the process of actually buying boots and then on to performance issues that include the effects and reasons to vary binding position from the manufacturer’s recommendation and binding ramp angle and its effect on balance.

As always, call or write info@lous.ca with any questions.  Or simply stop in.  Have a great rest of the season.                                       

Check out  www.lous.ca for more details.

Published - March 7, 2018.

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