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First boots

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I know there are a lot of posts with no0bies asking for boot advise... so here is another!

First off I know that the best advise is to find a great boot fitter and put yourself in there hands, however from the posts here it is equally obvious that the elusive great boot fitter is a hard animal to find. And although experts may enjoy taunting lesser fitters before getting the boots they intended to buy all along, this is not an option for us that have no clue!

Recommendations for boot fitters in Chamonix are gratefully received

I have a staggering 17 days skiing under my belt, which should put me in the OMG you are so new! category, however when I look at the guides in the mags I seem to come about 3-4 out of 10. My greatest ski was the red run from 1/2 way up "les grand montet" in cham last year, and I was pretty happy anywhere in "le tour". I have yet to ski a black, however in Cham the distinction seems to be based on groomedness rather than steepness, and I definitely struggle in the softer stuff.

The thing is I am not sure what I should be looking for in a boot, the metric seems to go from soft comfort, to stiff racing. And the argument is that learners make more "random" foot movements, which a softer boots transmits less off to the ski, so the learner "gets away with it", the racer only makes moves deliberately so everything they do should be transmitted to the snow.

I am not quite sure if I have this right, but it seems to me that I would prefer a boot where my actions were reflected in reaction from the ski, even if that puts me face first in a snow bank every now and then. If i am getting away with slack movements then my learning will be retarded.

I would also be grateful for information as to what extras are worth getting with my first pair of boots. I am fairly convinced that custom foot beds are a good idea, I know some people that have had 3rd party heat formed liners which they swear by.

I am happy to hand myself over to a boot fitter, but I want to understand what decisions have been taken on my behalf... especially if it's going to cost me £300!

Sorry for the ramble and thanks for your input if you got this far I wont ask for specifics as I have no idea if I have a narrow heel or fat calves!
post #2 of 6
Sorry I didn't read all your ramblings. I believe there is a boot fitters guide in the site somewhere. Hope you checked it out. I'm sure Tom from Chamonix well be able to help you out. He has not been on the site for a while, I think he said something about being back in the states for a while, try and PM him.

As for what to look for, Don't go into a shop knowing what you want. A good boot fitter will inpsect your bear feet, have you stand up, watch you walk, chech your everyday shoe's, then recommend a boot after talking to you. Mine still does this after selling me boots over the last 15 years. IMO if the fitter doesn't do that, IMO don't buy your boots there.
post #3 of 6
No. You do not want to transmit your incorrect movements to the snow. What happens is that the body will sense that everytime it tries to move, it produces an instability. So, it will lock up and you will have NO movements. When you do move, the movements will be very defensive -- all designed not to fall. This can happen to more experienced (eg. high intermediate level) skiers too.

The goal is to first get used to sliding. Learning the correct sensations cannot be done when you are locked up.

IMO, you should choose a softer boot as your first boot. DO NOT BUY A RACE BOOT! The learner should be able to get away with mistakes. Do NOT buy a boot with characteristics that are useful to only very experienced skiers. Putting a beginner/low intermediate in a race boot is a very big mistake.
post #4 of 6
I have now had time to read your ramblings. I agree with BigE you don't want to much boot, it's as bad as to much ski. Talk to the boot fitter and be honest, don't try to be more then you are. The proper equipment will help you progress to the next level much quicker. Don't be scared to take lessons. I try to get in one or two a season. I 've skiing been for a long time.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for reading my ramblings!

I am not someone who just runs out an buys the most expensive simply because its what the pro's use, or think that pro level equipment is what a learner should be using. However in skiing i don't know where to draw the line It seems to me there is a lot of equipment sold on marketing speak, and perhaps designed down to a budget.

The point about locking up if the boot is too pro is well made, I saw a post somewhere else saying that you don’t "grow into" more pro skis, i guess for much the same reason.

The sport that i do know is Cycling, and I know that simply buying Lances bike wont make me a pro cyclist, however I do know where to spend money (wheels) and where to save (frame weight). I also know that I can trust MY local bike shop, because they know I know what i want. I have seen them not take the care I would like taken over newer/less experienced cyclists (which i don’t like them for... ) I can generally get what I want from any cycling shop as I can ask the right questions, and have the right demeanour/confidence.

I guess what I really want is a bluffers guide to boot buying and any tricks for working out if the person is competent.

I am certainly not scared to take lessons! I have booked a couple of weeks this year and I will get lessons on about 1/2 the days I am out.
post #6 of 6
As with everything there is a range and some room to manouver and a trade-off.

I understand where your coming from. I couldn't afford to buy good boots until after a few years of struggling with mushy rental boots (I actually first learned to ski in WWII surplus skis with bear-trap bindings and leather lace-ups that were worse than what you could rent). I hated the sensation of giving the command and not having my ski respond fast enough. I likened it to trying to drive fast with my hands attached to the steering wheel of a car by elastic bands instead of a good grip. I thought this "forgiveness" was a crock. When I did finally get boots, I got the hardest stiffest racing boots I could find. I also had very good control and physical coordination compared to most people, and was well able to ski all runs on all hills with no fear or need to slow down when I got my first real boots. I also skied at speeds where a possible mistake could easily kill me, and what I most didn't want to do was wipe out in spite of issuing the correct command to the ski, though I would have accepted the consequences of me making a mistake. I paid for my choice by having more than the necessary share of tumbles, a cost I gladly accepted. I don't know if I made the right choice. I can think of a couple of close calls that the mushy boot probably would have meant me not being here today, but maybe I would have been better off with a little less recklessness, and a softer boot.

With proper technique you can do almost as much with a slightly softer boot. Having some give in the boot makes it easier; you can be more versatile in what your doing, you don't have to be going at warp 9 to flex the boot and use it to abosrb energy and act as a suspension of sorts, and you can apply the same edge pressure to your skis from different body positions. Unless you are skiing at 70 mph and need instant reaction from your skis, I think you should not get a full-on race boot. Tell your boot fitter that you prefer control to forgiveness and find a boot maybe one or two level down from the full-on race boot.
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