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Thread Starter 
A huge thank you to board as a whole, and to those that responding to my boot fitting dilema. Specifically, the posts from SYWSYW, fischermh, and uncle crud were very helpful.

I went to another Cincinnati store, got sized, and they fitted me up in a Head Edge 9.7, in a 27.0 shell. The fit was good in width and overall volume, but the shell was simply too long. The guy fitting me didn't think so, but the shell fit was 2 1/2 fingers. His solution was to tighten the buckles further, which caused additional issues. He did not have a 26.5, in that line to try. We did try a 26.5 Nordica Beast, which was a total 'no go'.

Through e-bay, I found Level Nine Sports, out in Utah, and they had last years Head Edge 10.0 in a 26.5 shell for $129. I got some good vibes talking with them, and took the gamble. They are pretty darn snug, but there isn't any toe curl. I had to take the footbed out, and wear them around the house barefoot for a couple of hours, but the shell sizing is perfect; about 1 1/2 fingers. After the initial packing, I added a Sole brand footbed, wore them around the house some more, then added a thin ski sock and another hour or so of walking around the house. It's like they are an extension of my foot.

Last night, I got them out on the hill for the first time. Wow, wow, wow. I never realized how badly my sligthly oversized, clunky Salomons were affecting my skiing. Flex on the Salomons was pretty much fore and aft, with no progressive force buildup, the Heads are smooth. I had just picked up some nice used Volkl Vertio Motions this year, and was initially less than thrilled by their ability to hookup. With the change in boots, that issue has completely disappeared. I can now feel a progressive loading on the tongue of the boot, which directly transfers to the shovel of the ski. As if you can't tell, I'm thrilled beyound belief. I never expected a new set of boots could make this level of positive impact.

BTW, although they don't have a very broad selection, I was very happy with the buying experience from Level Nine Sports. They had what I needed at a ridiculously low price, answered my questions on the phone, shipped when they said they would, immediately providing a tracking number, and charged me appropriately. He even offered to ship two pair, with a single $10 shipping charge, if I wanted. The boot itself is far more than I expected. Might just have to try some Head skis next.

In case there is a doubt, I have absolutely no connection with the vendor, other than being a satisfied customer. I would have prefered to buy boots local, and would have been willing to pay far more, but couldn't find anyone that was really able to fit me correctly. I will say that Chris, over at the Perfect North Slopes Ski Shop, made the best effort, even doing a hot fit on the Tecnica Diablo Flames, but it was still wasn't right. Not his fault on that one though.