Marcia and I arrived for the Gathering on Saturday Feb 25th -- we arrived in Reno early afternoon after a long trip from the East coast (we got up at 4am for an early flight). I had been thinking about getting new boots to replace my Krypton Pros ID sometime over the next year or two, and it seemed like a good opportunity to do it now, because we were staying at the Grand Sierra Resort for 2 nights (where Bud's shop is located) and Bud was my coach at ESA last year so he knows how I ski. I was not unhappy in the Kryptons, but I was a little weary of buckle repairs, and wondered if an overlap boot might provide me with a little more 'precision' in my skiing.
So, we check into the hotel, grab a coffee at Starbucks, and mosey down to Snowind Sports. After a hug and a chat to catch up, Bud and I get down to business... As all good bootfitters do, Bud examined and measured my feet, checked various angles, looked at/measured my stance, at one point watched me walk, and asked me what my skiing goals were. I was surprised that he felt that my old footbeds were fine, because they are over 15 years old -- but that was fine with me! While looking at my feet, he pointed out some issues that i never noticed, such as a slightly bowed achilles tendon on my right foot from multiple sprains (I knew about the sprains, but never looked at the tendon, i guess).
Next was trying on boots: Bud pulled out a number of 95-98 last boots, and I was looking at a flex of '130'. I was a little surprised that he actually put me in a slightly larger boot size than my Kryptons -- I usually expect a bootfitter to tell me that my previous boots were too big. Previous to the Kryptons, I was in a 26.5. The 26.5 Kryptons swam on my feet, so I went down to 25.5 (BSL 296) with some toe punches. Bud put me in a 26 shell. We were trying boots a level or so below 'race'. The Lange (RS130?) and Technica (Diablo?) both felt weird on my feet. The Dalbello Scorpion (SF?) 130 just felt a little too stiff, even at room temp, and was really squishing my toes. Finally, Bud had me try on a Nordica Dobermann Aggressor 130 -- this boot is from 2 years ago, I think, and Bud was able to reduce the price somewhat. More importantly, it felt 'right' on my feet and was almost 'too' comfortable out of the box. After some hemming and hawing, I went with the Nordica. Supposedly this boot has a slight duck stance, but i did not notice this in the shop (nor when i skied the boot).
I decided to add in an Intuition liner (Bud sells a lace-up liner, with tongue), because I have dreadfully cold feet. Bud molded the liners, did work inside th boot to get rid of the pressure points near my gigantic big toes, adjusted the cuffs, canted me, and did whatever magic these guys do. Then (approximately 4 hours later, all together), I was ready to go!
When I went skiing the next day, I immediately noticed a better feel of the snow and a quicker, more precise edge change. I also noticed that they a lot harder to get in and out of! As the week went on, I got better at getting into the boots, but I may have to ask Bob Barnes what brand of hairdryer he uses to get his boots off... I also noticed that I would feel a little more 'jarred' when going over irregular terrain, but this was expected in going to a stiffer boot with less shock absorption -- as the week went on, I got to experience a variety of conditions and really play with the snow. I went back to Bud's shop after the first day to have some tweaks to my gigantic big toe area of the boot, but after that the boots were great! Curiously, they felt warmer than my Kryptons, but despite being stiffer, they were just as comfortable (once i had them on my feet!)
My conclusions: going to good bootfitter makes all the difference in the world! I am looking forward to years of use out of these boots, and I appreciate all the time that Bud put into his craft!