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Bootfitters and Age - Flamethower Thread

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
There's no simple Rx for finding a good boot fitter. There are geniuses and dweebs out there of every imaginable stripe.

However, I've encountered a consistent, prevailing coefficient throughout my boot fitting encounters: age!

This observation will incite blistering condemnation from many who'll consider this treatise ageist, vile and an abomination of all that's Holy.

Regardless, it doesn't alter my reality: over the past 30 years,whenever I've had a boot problem and sought assistance from resort shops staffed with young boot fitters, I encountered further foot pain - sometimes worse than the initial condition.

Often, the more soaring a young boot fitter's initial confidence, the more painful and disappointing the result.

To be fair, I've also encountered disastrous experiences from guys with silver in their hair. But, they've been relatively few.

Thus far, the successful bootfitting's I've received have been from guys with a couple of decades worth of experience. I can't recall an exception. (I'm not just referring to installation of a footbed).

Is my experience a statistical anomaly? Or, does it take time to accumulate experience necessary to correctly diagnose and treat significant fitting issues? What's your story?
post #2 of 9
I agree. The older ones seem to think about it more, and have the exact right trick to try. The younger ones, generally, have the same bag of tricks and try the same things. I think the older ones listen a bit better too, and seem to communicate better.
I will have a few issues to fix up when I get to my US resort this week, and I'm heading to a shop run and staffed by two very old blokes!
post #3 of 9
This is not only a bootfitting problem. There is no better education in life than life itself and time spent "present" in this world (disclaimer: intelligense does not grow in your beard). Younger people have less to draw from when it comes to experiance and usually they also tend to think that they are somehow superior in the field of modern technology and technique. The problem is usually that a young person cannot picture himself after 20-30y (and thats going to happen sooner than he thinks).

Anyway, I agree fully with the Captain, most of the good bootfitters that I have encountered were not under 40. They have all fitted boots for many years and they ask a lot of questions. They dont tell you where and how you should ski and on what kind equipment. They dont tell you you are wrong in anything they just ask why you think or feel in that particular way. They ask you were you ski and for what kind of use your boot will be. They will try to solve your problem with finding a boot that fits and is comfortable and stands up to your needs rather than selling you the newes and most expensieve boot.

I will give you some examples of resent young crazy bootfitter advise that comes to mind. Note that Im a 40+ semi professional ski-instructor and I need one pair of boots for everything I doo from teaching all levels to recreational off pist skiing and everything in between. Not racing.
- if you can have your boots on for 15min without fainting because of pain they are ok! Im shure we all have different pain level for fainting so his advise seems a bit inaccurate...
- if your normal shoe size is 29,5 the Doberman 28 should be perfect.... should I order a pair for you?
- all our boots are foam...... hot foam!
- the traditional foam boot is completely outdated and old technolgy that nobody uses anymore...
- no I have never made a foam boot but I can order you one if you want... no big deal, Im shure I can handle it.....
- No, I cannot profile the footbed to the shape of your toes because then you will not be able to take off your boots.... Wonder how Im supposed to put them on in the first place?
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato
There's no simple Rx for finding a good boot fitter. There are geniuses and dweebs out there of every imaginable stripe.

However, I've encountered a consistent, prevailing coefficient throughout my boot fitting encounters: age!

This observation will incite blistering condemnation from many who'll consider this treatise ageist, vile and an abomination of all that's Holy.
ok. i think this needs to be re-adjusted and focused.

i will point out that you refer to the young bootfitters at resorts...do you know why so many of them are young and in experienced? because, with few exceptions, they are the only ones who can take the horribly low wages prevalent in resorts. these young kids come up for one season, and often leave after that season. they have no experience. i watched a first time friend of mine go through the rental process. the kid who fit her boots hadn't a clue what he was doing. that's because he's seasonal and he's here to party and hook up with girls, and ski or ride. he has no buy in to the industry.

generally speaking, if you go to a good (and when i say good i mean the local non box store non chain place) local shop not near the ski hill - i.e. in the city, that anyone they let touch a boot fit will have enough experience to steer you in the right direction.

of course, if you've had bad experiences with younger boot fitters i have an excellent solution: find ONE bootfitter who works for you, spend alot of money to get exactly what you are looking for so you never have to visit an inexperienced young bootfitter at the mountain, and solve all your problems with boots with your one and only boofitter.

(i drive 2.5 hours to get my skis tuned and to work on my own boots at a shop that i trust with my equipment. i used to work there. there are a million shops where i am. i would never let them tune any of my gear)

more importantly, as one of those 20 something year olds, i am going to have to point out to all of you that if the 20 somethings are not given a chance and accpeted into the ageing ski community, this industry is going to continue to decline at the rapid pace that has been taking place over the last decade.
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by unionbowler
ok. i think this needs to be re-adjusted and focused.

(i drive 2.5 hours to get my skis tuned and to work on my own boots at a shop that i trust with my equipment. i used to work there. there are a million shops where i am. i would never let them tune any of my gear)

more importantly, as one of those 20 something year olds, i am going to have to point out to all of you that if the 20 somethings are not given a chance and accpeted into the ageing ski community, this industry is going to continue to decline at the rapid pace that has been taking place over the last decade.
It's like the old axiom, that you need experience to do the job but how do you get experience until you get the job. I've worked with a couple of young bootfitters in the past that gave conflicting solutions to my boot problem. It got to be very frustrating. I ended up doing a lot of reading about boot fitting on my own and after talking to many boot fitters from lots of different shops a few over arching themes on boot fitting were apparent. In the end it's hard to know who is full of it if you don't know the first thing about boot fitting.

Generally the folks who use a boot fitter are on vacation at a resort and need some help with a fit problem that wasn't apparent from the usual one day a weekend ski day. When they are on a ski vacation and are skiing multiple days, that's when they notice that their toes hurt or the arch hurts or the ankle or whatever is bothering them. So you end up using a boot fitter at a resort ski shop. If you're lucky it will be a resort shop in a nice little ski town that has a boot fitter who is invested in the sport. I think of the shop in Steamboat where the locals live and ski and work. My wife was fortunate enought to have had a boot fitter that outfitted her with a boot that worked for her foot and invested the time in getting her out fitted with custom foot beds. It made a world of difference in her skiing and her on slope enjoyment. Based on all the comments and my own experiences with boot fitters, we ended up getting a lucky role of the dice. Shops don't want to invest in training employees. They just want to hire the cheap labor and what was said before, with wages what they are in the ski industry, you either do it because you love it or because it's a way to earn some dough for your ski habit.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by unionbowler
(i drive 2.5 hours to get my skis tuned and to work on my own boots at a shop that i trust with my equipment. i used to work there. there are a million shops where i am. i would never let them tune any of my gear)

more importantly, as one of those 20 something year olds, i am going to have to point out to all of you that if the 20 somethings are not given a chance and accpeted into the ageing ski community, this industry is going to continue to decline at the rapid pace that has been taking place over the last decade.
An insightful and well-written post.

It's true that resort fitters are the last line of defence, largely due to the economic and life-style issues associated with resort jobs - as you indicated.

Therefore, if you take refuge in a resort shop due to boot problems, you've likely lost the battle before it begins.

After 4 frustrating, unsuccessful fittings on my Lange Comp 120's at resort shops, I took them to a local shop commandeered by a crusty old German named Eric (former member of the German Ski Team).

I wanted new boots, and he said "not necessary".

He looked at my feet and at the boots, stating: "Ach, Lange. I know vat exactly iss ze peroblem". And he did. 20 min later, I cinched-up the boots, and the hellish, foot-deforming misery was gone - for good.

I have his driver's license and passport numbers. If he ever moves, I'll find him.
post #7 of 9
Bootfitting is "ALL" about experience not age.
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Atomicman
Bootfitting is "ALL" about experience not age.
Agreed.
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6
. Younger people have less to draw from when it comes to experiance and usually they also tend to think that they are somehow superior in the field of modern technology and technique. The problem is usually that a young person cannot picture himself after 20-30y (and thats going to happen sooner than he thinks).
I don't get it. Young people are usually technically superior, in a modern sense anyway.
Quote:
- if you can have your boots on for 15min without fainting because of pain they are ok! Im shure we all have different pain level for fainting so his advise seems a bit inaccurate...
- if your normal shoe size is 29,5 the Doberman 28 should be perfect.... should I order a pair for you?
- all our boots are foam...... hot foam!
- the traditional foam boot is completely outdated and old technolgy that nobody uses anymore...
- no I have never made a foam boot but I can order you one if you want... no big deal, Im shure I can handle it.....
- No, I cannot profile the footbed to the shape of your toes because then you will not be able to take off your boots.... Wonder how Im supposed to put them on in the first place?
Hmm, you've talked to some real winners. The shop I was working at last year had one of those, and I took every possible opportunity to pull rank and send him to organize the backstock whenever I heard him spout something along those lines of idiocy. Seriously, you have no idea how much it embarrassed me and made my skin crawl to hear those things being uttered by an employee.

The foam boot comments are interesting. Outdated? No. Less popular? Yes. I've watched the best foam boots, and I've watched those who are merely very experienced foam boots. Its not objectively difficult, but the challenge is to know the bag of tricks and be able to do everything precisely and quickly with a very small timeframe and a large chance of error. As it is, the foam boots are so rarely used that I have little interest in expending the resources getting comfortable doing it. I'll let the old experienced guys do it.

Back in 2003 a vendor came in and had their pro do foam boots for a half dozen managers at a quality shop I was working at. These were all mostly young guys who probably never spent time in foam boots during their heyday. Interestingly, after a couple of weeks only one of the guys was still using the foam boot.

The toe comment is interesting also. I've seen people benefit dramatically from support correctly built from the metatarsals forward, and I've also seen people that were very uncomfortable with well built fully posted beds see a world of improved comfort with the toes simply heated and flattened out.

It just goes to show that speaking in absolutes about ski gear doesn't do anything but make you look young, dumb, and full of crap.
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