I'm a beginner skier. I am afraid I just got sold a boot that's way too stiff for my skill level. I would greatly appreciate your feedback and advice on what I should do.
Based on friends' advice, I found a shop with reputable fitters in my area, and went in there willing to pay the higher price for proper professional help. I did not know specifics about FLEX ratings, and depended on the fitters's advice and judgement. He ultimately sold me Salomon X PRO 120. The boots fit very tight, but had no pain and no pressure points. Fit felt so much better than any rentals I tried. I think they did a great job on finding the right fit and molding the inserts. After buying the boots, I went on the internet to read about boot care, and tumbled into stiffness explanations that have me very concerned now.
Here's my background as I explained to the fitter at the start:
Current skill level: I'm 33 and male. I did 6 days of downhill skiing in my life, all of them this spring. I did 2 days in the Midwest and 4 days in Alta. Last 2 days in Alta, I progressed to skiing their easier blues (without having a bad time) and making wide, more or less fully parallel turns, though I'm not "carving" and my edging is inconsistent. I skied in beginner rental boots and short (160 cm) beginner skis.
Future expectations: Modest and limited. I hope to ski ~20 days per season. I hope to eventually be able to ski single-blacks at the real mountains, and maybe learn some easier off-piste skiing. I don't intend to progress much beyond this level of challenge, which I will call "lower-advanced". I don't expect to ever be skiing super fast. I am learning skiing in my thirties. I am not well coordinated and don't have good balance skills. While I'm in shape, I never did sports or developed balance skills as a kid, and so likely have a lifetime low ceiling for those skills. I am not doing this for athletic challenge, adrenaline rush, or high risk, rather, I do much trail running, backpacking, kayaking, and see skiing as a fun outdoors winter activity to complement them, cruising and exploring the mountain.
My size and strength: The fitter didn't even ask my weight, but I'm 6'1 @ 180 lbs (187cm/82kg) and have a lanky weak build by genetics and mostly do endurance, not strength, based activities (I drop to 170-175 lbs in the summer when I do trail running and hiking). I don't plan to ever do barbell leg exercises for the sake of this hobby.
The fitter put me in 5-6 boots with a wide range of flex rating. He said I couldn't even properly flex a 130. He said I was just fine with the 120. He described the boot as "ideal for blues, but fine for blacks and greens, and should handle occasional double-black".
Here are the things I picked up from researching on this forum later :
1. For men, general guideline is 80-100 flex for intermediates, 110-120 for advanced, 130 for expert. It's better to buy a boot slightly ahead of current ability to have room to grow as you progress, but much too stiff will regress skill, control and safety, keep throwing the skier into the "back seat", and sabotage the learning progress. It also would be more unforgiving, turning recoverable balance errors into falls, and would be harder on the knees when the novice is making mistakes.2. While flex rating is not absolute precise measurement and vary by brand and model, Salomon boots generally are average of the pack and more or less "true-to-rating". So what I've been sold is an "upper-advanced" boot, one notch from the stiffest outside of specialty/racing.
3. Boots are tougher to flex in colder temperatures. Since I could not even flex 130 properly in the warm shop with all my weight/levers, I may have trouble with 120 in the cold.
4. While there are ways to soften the boot (removing screws in back or making flex cuts on sides), they all generally compromise its proper function and integrity to some extent, especially if adjustment is more than one notch (to 110), and the cuts are irreversible. So I'd get much better results buying less stiff boots to begin with. Source:
So I'm now worried that I was sold a wildly inappropriate pair of boots for my current skill level, and an overkill for what I ever plan to do with my skiing. The last of local resorts just closed, so I won't have a chance to test them until next season, unless I make one more ski trip out West this spring (I'm tempted).
Do you agree with the above assessment? Are points (1)-(4) above correct in your opinion? If the next few times I go skiing I have no control and the boots are way more than I can handle with no obvious progress, would you advise asking the shop to make a small/large softening adjustment or asking for a replacement boot in the 90-100 range (intermediate boots are generally cheaper)? The shop has a satisfaction guarantee and good reputation of standing by it. They certainly charge a good premium for the boot.