Originally Posted by Landshark
Hi Jeff -
Thank you for taking your time to help us all with our boot issues! Finding good, knowledgable, experienced people is quite a challenge. Kudos!
Just went skiing yesterday (Oct. 30th, good start for me!), and am now certain I need new gear. The first problem I need to solve is my boots, and I'm hoping you can provide any suggestions.
I am male, 35, 5' 8", been skiing since age 5 but max # of days in any one year is probably 25. I ski in the East, and am an advanced skiier. My skiing varies based on conditions and year; in smooth groomed powder with no one on the mountain, I'm skiing fast GS turns. On normal east coast mid day churn, in crowds, I'm carving quick turns at moderate speed, passing about 70% of the other skiiers. If there's any powder cover (rare in the NE), I like to get in the trees and ski glade trails. If I get in a lot of days (as I plan to this year), by the end of it I'm usually skiing well enough that I'm looking for bumps. My goal is to continue improving my technique, as opposed to branching out into racing or something.
I have what has been described as a hell foot by ski industry friends, and paddle feet by my family: Size 8.5, Width EE/EEE, minimal arch, and high instep. My ankle's relatively normal. In addition, my feet aren't a classic wedge shape - they get wide quick, widening suddenly at about 1/3 the distance from heel to toe, hitting max width about 1.5" past there, and continuing at that width until the tip of my little toe, which is about 1.5" shorter than the tip of my big toe. Basically, like a paddle.
My current boots are Salomon SX9.0's 26.5's (I think that's them), bought about 6 or 7 years ago. At the time, the shop where I bought them blew the shells out as far as they felt comfortable doing, which was a lot. Even with that, when I ski, I have to remove the footbed and wear basically no sock. On the bad days it feels like someone's hitting me on the soles of the feet with a rubber hose. With the footbed in (just stock, no custom orthotic) it's even worse, pretty much unbearable. I don't even buckle the front two buckles over the instep. No hot spots, not great circulation, and the length, however, seems fine; when I get thrown on my heels, my toes get jammed in the front, when in flex, they're off the front.
1.) With my foot, what are my options? Am I better off just going for a custom liner such as a foam injected one, or will I be better served with a regular boot that's been well modified?
2.) If custom is the way to go, which is better, a moldable solution (like Zip Fit) or injected foam (like Surefoot)?
3.) If regular, could you suggest a boot or brand? Amazingly, one of the better boots I've had were some old Lange XRIs (the Pink Panthers). Shocking since Langes usually run so narrow. In your posts from last year you mention the Nordica beast 12, Salomon XWave 8.0 and Technica Diablo Fire: Have the models been updated/renamed?
4.) With regular shoes, I usually just give up and get size 9's and live with the extra length. I know this is a sub-optimal approach for ski boots, but am I going to be able to find a boot that can be blown out wide enough?
5.) The Tecnicas offer some HVL (High Volume Last) boots - do they actually make changes to the shell to increase the volume, or just the liner?
6.) Finally, you recommend the folks at Green Mountain Orthotics Labs for good fittings - any chance there's someone closer to Boston? Should I just rely on ABB to find a closer shop, or should I make the trek to Stratton?
Thanks in advance, and think snow!
As a member of the chicken brotherhood, we hail our comrades the paddlefoots! No doubt, paddlefeet are difficult feet to get into ski boots. Here are some answers to your questions.
1. Unfortunately, paddlefeet sometimes have to look at ski boot shells and liners separately. What you generally need are wider, flatter shells and relatively thinner liners. (Like what comes with the HVL Tecnicas.) The problem is who has this combination. Last year Nordica sold a Beast boot they called the Speedmachine, which had a thinner lace up liner with a wide shell (This boot is based on the Beast shell, not this year's Speedmachine shell.) This combination worked very well. Another wide shell/ thinner liner combo is the Salomon 1080. This is a good boot, but is sometimes too soft for the skiers who require the high volume fit. While I prefer to avoid foam liners in most situations, there are cases where they are necessary. Still, with good boots and good bootfitting you should be able to do so.
2. I rarely use either, and prefer to use stock liner. It is possible that either may could work, but I would start by focusing on fitting the shell.
3. Those pink panthers were not wide, but they did have a thinner liner. The Nordica Beast as well as the new Speedmachine may be good. You may also like the Tecnica Vento HVL, the Salomon 1080 or XWave 7 or 6. Still, my preference (if I were working with you) might be for the Nordica Beast.
4. I occasionally have skiers go into boots that are slightly long for them. Sometimes I add a little material to the toe of the liner.
5. The only difference is in the liner.
6. It sounds to me that you may need to see Green Mountain Orthotic Labs.