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Race Boots - Am I an idiot?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Because I consider myself an expert skier, I have always gravitated toward boots in the classification of Expert or Race. Generally the meaning of those two categories seems to be translated as "stiff".

I am re-thinking my position on boots.

My favorite skiing is trees. The place I ski is one of the overall steepest hills in N. America.

Occasionally I will tighten my buckles extra tight depending on the conditions but as a rule I ski with my boots pretty loose. I NEVER buckle the bottom buckle and seldom buckle the second from the bottom.

Given these two factors (that I wear my boots loose and where I ski is steep trees), should I be looking at a softer boot?
post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by worldfishnski:
Because I consider myself an expert skier, I have always gravitated toward boots in the classification of Expert or Race. Generally the meaning of those two categories seems to be translated as "stiff".

I am re-thinking my position on boots.

My favorite skiing is trees. The place I ski is one of the overall steepest hills in N. America.

Occasionally I will tighten my buckles extra tight depending on the conditions but as a rule I ski with my boots pretty loose. I NEVER buckle the bottom buckle and seldom buckle the second from the bottom.

Given these two factors (that I wear my boots loose and where I ski is steep trees), should I be looking at a softer boot?
Yes
post #3 of 20
I ski in old Lange TII's. I have the bottom buckle buckled but barely. The rest of the buckles fairly tight, but not super tight. Comfort, they're comfortable enough so that I never have to loosen them on a chair ride, or even at lunch. They give me all the support and control that I could ask for. They do weigh a ton though.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
"Yes", I am an idiot? Or "yes" I need a softer boot? Or both?And if I need a softer boot, what am I giving up and what are the advantages?

I unbuckle my top two buckles (the only ones I close) while on the chair but not for comfort but to help my feet stay warmer.
post #5 of 20
What boots do you current ski in?
post #6 of 20
Because you ski with your buckles loose, I would suggest a softer boot.

Benefits:

- You will be able to get the same range of flexion while being able to do up your buckles tight, which will increase responsiveness.

- Being able to do your boots up tight will be easier on the shins, given that you won't be smacking around as much. This is especially a factor since you spend time in the woods alot.

Basically, softer boots will allow you to get the same feeling as your your loose race boots when they're tight.

Loses:

- Had you been doing up your race boots tight, you would be losing some sensitivity and power. But since you keep em loose, this is not a factor.

Stiff fore/aft flex is not as important good lateral support.

Also, with softer boots, you will find that, when carving on groomed, your range of vertical movement will increase with ease because of the extra flex.

But what boots do you have now? If you are a good skier, and like performance, I'd look for a boot that is part of a race platform, but not the stiffest, in order to get a good fit e.g. Rossi Race 9.3 etc...
post #7 of 20
Some boots (like my Dalbellos) have adjustable flex. It may seem like a waste, but it makes a noticeable difference when you switch it around. This may allow you to fine tune your preffered flex.
post #8 of 20
Hi worldfishandski, check your email. I sent you an interesting boot article that you may find helpful. :
post #9 of 20
worldfishnski, please note that modern plug boots, even, are much softer in fore/aft flex than they were even a few years ago. When I bought boots in fall 2000, I was looking for a more "detuned" boot than the consumer race models I had been in for years. Unfortunately, the XWave10s that I ended up with were just wrong for me feet. In this review I describe my experience with my new "plug-like" Tecnica XT17s.

I am not saying that these will work for you, necessarily, but that a good boot fitter/alignment specialist can help you understand the best boot for you based on your foot shape, skiing preferences, etc. And that "plug" or "near-plug" boots have characteristics that I believe many serious skiers would find valuable.

(BTW, by "plug-like" and "near-plug" I mean boots like the XT. The interior is actually shaped much like a foot, unlike a true plug. The XTs I have required very little modification, and that was only for alignment, not fit.)
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
My present boots are Tecnica Explosion TNS.

I read Carvemeister's article and my conclusion is that since I (fortunately) get to ski lots of powder, super-stiff boots are probably NOT what I need. I do like pounding through the bumps as well but my main terrain is tight trees (where a stiff boot would help). I am almost never on a groomer.

Just to be a littler clearer, I ski with my top two (shin) buckles tight. It is the toe and instep buckles that are loose.

I also don't care at all how hard the boots are to take on or off.
post #11 of 20
softer boots are better, but don't go too soft... none of the new "soft boot" technology will work for an aggressive skier.

I skied softer boots for many years when upper-level equipment (skis with massive longitudinal stiffness) demanded stiff boots.

When I got a chance to return to skiing in 2000 after a 10-year hiatus, I started with a medium-stiff boot (Tecnica Icon X) which I skied for 1.5 seasons, then ditched when it packed WAAAAAY out. After that I got some stiff boots (Salomon Course X-Scream) that responded instantly, but were a bit much in bumps, trees, pow, softer snow. In those conditions, I often made the upper cuff fit more loosely to soften the shin bang.

I'm always behind the curve.

Anyway, I just got some Rossi Bandit B2 boots that are a bit softer in forward flex, but still responsive laterally. My skiing isn't hindered by an overstiff boot anymore.

I strongly recommend a modern boot, they are much better designed for modern skis that require more lateral stiffness but less longitudinal stiffness in a boot.

[img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #12 of 20
Regarding how stiff boots should be for whatever you're doing, you may want to review this post by Bob Barnes. It provides a very comprehensive perspective on how boot flex contributes to performance in skiing.

One of the concepts I'm learning as I develop a modern technique on my new equipment is that when I stop thinking of my boots as they great big levers to force my skis around, stop using them that way, and start to enjoy the connection, I find that the stiffness of the boot does not impact me in the ways that it used to. Instead, it's there to help me stay in balance, to use subtly to direct the skis, and to provide some support for standing on the skis. It seems easier to me...
post #13 of 20
I love that Bob Barnes post on boot stiffness. I keep losing it and then it resurfaces and I get to read it again.... Thanks for bringing it back to our attention.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Bearberry:
I love that Bob Barnes post on boot stiffness. I keep losing it and then it resurfaces and I get to read it again.... Thanks for bringing it back to our attention.
You're welcome. Search is my friend!
post #15 of 20
I ski in the Lange L10. In a race fit. That's a step below their race flex boot. For me it works great. I ski it with the instep and lower cuff tight. the Toe very loose and the upper cuff not as tight as the lower. I use the Power strap but don't crank it too tight. Basically I'm thinking that the instep and lower cuff hold my heel in the pocket.

I ski pow and trees as much as possible. For me this setup works great. This is a pretty stiff boot than many although not full race. It is a nice compromise in comfort (hey Lange's aren't exactly known as a comfort boot and I ski mine with a very tight shell fit.) I use two sets of footbeds. One is a comformable that has the toe area ground very thin. I use those on a cold day to get a little more wiggle space in the toe box for warmth and a set of corks that take up some additional volume. Not for everybody but it works for me ...

OK - so last week I was free skiing with a very, very fast race coach from Park City. This guy is just a rocket on the rails. Loves the groom and leaving trenches. I had serious trouble keeping up, fortunately he doesn't mind waiting. During one of our lift rides we talked about boot fitting. He dumped the race fit and ski's his boots really loose. This from a guy who coached at the Olympic level ... I tried it for a few runs and tightened back up ... Loose works for him - way to scary for me!

His theory is that the foot at rest is a flexible instrument and he is getting better snow feel and more subtle control over his edges. Me - I'm not in that class. I'm pretty good - but this guy is on another plane. I'm keeping those boots buckled ...
post #16 of 20
As far as the new soft boots not working for expert skiers, you really can't say that unless you have tried them. I have spent considerable time in them and can tell you they work for everything but higher level racers and would even work well for some speed events, just not the technical events like slalom. Currently most of the Rossignol Freeride team is using them and they are all top level skiers who could just as easily be skiing a traditional hard boot from Rossignol if they thought it was better. I have skied for 37 years, raced and coached for most of those years and tested ski equipment for the last 23 years. The soft boots should be a consideration for any level skier especially those whose skiing is mostly of the free sking (i.e. non-racing) type and looking for a high level of comfort.

post #17 of 20
I prefer a boot that is a level or two below the race model. I like to have a fuller range of flexiblilty; race boots just seem too twitchy to me and every little movement is reflected in the edging. The tongue of the boot is your accelerator pedal and I feel I can control the radius of my turns easier with a little more flex.
By tightening up the boot before I get in the gate I can get the sensitvity I want but free skiing (groomers, moderate bumps and crud) the rest of the time I keep my buckles at the first or second notch.
Just my .02 [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the thoughts and advice.

One question and then my plan.

Question: It appears that there is agreement that stiff boots are not right for powder skiing. But since powder is the most forgiving of snow conditions, why would it not be right?

Now my plan: I will get boots that are stiff but not race/plug boots that are super stiff. Probably one level down from race boots. I will probably choose one of the Head-Lange-custom heat fitted models. I want to buy 3 extra liners so that these boots last me forever.

I conclude that the new "soft" boots would work for me but I feel that their main benefit is comfort and I expect the heat-fitted boots to be just as comfortable. In other words, they have little benefit over the "custom fit boot" and in some circumstances would not perormas as well.

Comments? Thoughts? PLEASE.
post #19 of 20
I had the Icon XT17's last season. They were the best performing ski boot I ever put on my foot. Unfortunately, they were also the coldest.. very cold because of the skinny liner and close fit plastic. I finally gave up and went to the Icon Alu's this year, but I sure don't get the performance out of them that the XT's delivered. But now I don't have to duct tape the toes to keep air from coming in, and my feet are warm again. Someday somebody's going to make a very comfortable boot that performs like a race boot too. Of course, a lot of it is just plain luck - if your particular foot fits a particular boot well that is..
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by Sudsysul:
I had the Icon XT17's last season. They were the best performing ski boot I ever put on my foot. Unfortunately, they were also the coldest.. very cold because of the skinny liner and close fit plastic. I finally gave up and went to the Icon Alu's this year, but I sure don't get the performance out of them that the XT's delivered. But now I don't have to duct tape the toes to keep air from coming in, and my feet are warm again. Someday somebody's going to make a very comfortable boot that performs like a race boot too. Of course, a lot of it is just plain luck - if your particular foot fits a particular boot well that is..
Interesting. I added a pair of boot gloves to my XTs and, so far, have not even taken them off during long days of teaching 4-year-old kids. I had them on all day one day when it was 3 degrees (F) and blowing at Eldora. They have passed my "are these going to be too cold?" test with the Boot Gloves. I did notice that when I tried them without the boot gloves, they were not as warm, but I think that was due to the liners getting wet either from snow or from my feet...

Clearly, YMMV. I love them!
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