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Bottfitting Tips For Newbies

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Considering that many skiers spend as much or more on boots and fitters than they do for major dental work or a typical car repair it only seems right to do your homework ahead of time and get it right the first time. Hopefully this might help some considering major fitting for the first time avoid some of the mistakes I have. The following tips are based on 3 years/6 fitters of experience. Feel free to add your tips.

- Fitting is not something to be taken lightly. It takes time and patience. If you or the fitter do not have both of these then you more than likely will not get the optimal results. Count on spending the first half day getting all the evaluations and boot work. Count on spending some time on the snow after to check for feel and to break things in. You will likely be going back to the fitter possibly 2-4 times for more work such as punches, grinds, or further allingment work. They can get you close in the shop but on-snow feel is a totally different story. Fitting is part trial and error.

- With the above in mind make sure that you have access to the fitter for at least the next 3-5 ski days. If you are going on a ski trip and plan on getting major work done on the road make sure you make an appointment for the first day of the trip.

- Even when making an inquiry with a reputable and well known shop or fitter if they appear extremely busy or stressed go elsehwere. You do not want to be rushed through this process. Before seing any fitter call them on the phone to make an appointment or stop in to chat. Ask lots of questions. If they are pushy, sound stressed, or are annoyed that you are asking them questions this is an indication you are better off working with someone else.

- If a fitter readily bashes the work of others this is a red flag. Also, if a fitter is overly eager at first to tell you he/she fits world cup skiers this can indicate 'this guy knows what he is doing' or possibly 'I have fit top level skiers so I won't have to try as hard with you the average Joe Q Skier since your needs are not as important and your problems are simple'. Beware of overinflated egos.

- Before you commit and put down the money make sure there is a gurantee on the work and that adjustments are available after on-hill testing are included. I have found some fitters are not really happy to see you once the payment has been made.

- If the fitter does not ask you lots of questions when you go in for the evaluation beware.

- Get all the work done by the same fitter if possible. Getting major work done at one shop then later at another often leads to trouble. I have found fitters have different theories and methods of measurement and these often conflict. At minimum once you get the work done have the fitter write down everything that was adjusted in the event you need to get more work at another shop.

- If you are told you need new footbeds after you have had major work like canting be cautious as the footbed needs to be built up prior to any alingment. This can seriously mess you up and cause not only pain but likely will take you out of the allingment that the canting put you in. I learned this the hard way.

- Don't let price be the deciding factor on which fitter to see. My experience has taught me going for the lowest price is not an effective decision making strategy.

- At all costs avoid getting any type of fitting done in ski/bike chain shops in non skiing states(like Ohio). This includes footbeds. These shops typically do not do sole canting or other major work and their remedy for any and all issues is a heel lift. In these shops you will find you probably know much more about bootfitting than the boot salesman on duty.

- Don't place too much stock in one or two negative reviews you see from a customer. I made this mistake on my first attempt. I let the opinion of one reviewer sway me from a particular shop which turned out to be the ultimate fix for me later on. Likewise, just dont show up at a shop and say 'here I am' simply because an instructor or a respected skier spoke highly of a fitter. Do your own inquiries first. Shop around. Ask questions, reserarch. Use fitter reviews like ski reviews-to decide which ones to demo. They are your feet and do not belong to anyone else.
post #2 of 4
A number of great points condensed into one easy-to-find post. Great job!
post #3 of 4
Also go in with an open mind. Like any professional, a boot fitter has years of knowledge and experience that took years to earn. He or she has the depth of product knowledge you may not have. Communicate clearly what selections he/she chooses fits well and is comfortable. Don't dictate that the boot should be *this* brand or *that* brand. Let their knowledge guide you through the decision process.

One other tip:

- Wear a well-worn pair of shoes into the shop. Show the boot fitter how the soles wear. She or she can easily spot knee/foot alignment problems that are severe impairment to your skiing performance.
post #4 of 4

If you're really serious about being correctly fit for a pair of boots, MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. Even the best specialty ski shops get swamped sometimes. Can't tell you how many times people show up on a Saturday afternoon expecting to get a bootfit while we're up to our eyeballs in customers.
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