From the recent newbie's perspective: Bad boots almost ruined it for me, AFTER I was already hooked.I was a recent 'never ever,' and I think that there is some merit to the idea that bad boots really can ruin it for beginners; they almost did for me. I think there's a lot of chance for beginners (maybe especially women) to get steered wrong by someone who just thinks that we need to be 'comfy.'
The experience I had:
I learned to ski on rental equipment the season before last. My husband took me to Stratton in late February, and spent a lot of time patiently teaching by example. It took me about an hour to find a pair of rental boots i oculdn't jsut about pull my feet out of even with the buckles closed, though - fortunately he was there to tell me that that was no good; and we found the best we could manage. In retrospect, they were still a bit too big; but at least I had someone to TELL ME to go down in size - otherwise I never would have known; and I was lucky to get a patient rental shop guy.
We were there three days, and I was amazed how fast I learned. I don't know how much was his teaching, and how much was my being lucky or whatever, but there was just this 'click' right away where i got a feel for things, got the skis parallel, and off I went. I don't think the rental equipment was holding me back; but I would never had learned that fast without someone to tell me to keep going down in bootsize.
I say that with confidence because when we dedicded to buy me my own gear for the next year, since an addict had been born, I ended up with boots that turned out to be so large that my 6'1" husband could ski in them. I didn't understand what he meant when he said they should be "tight;" and unfortunately the person selling them to me was more concerned with me being "comfy." I didn't know any better, and he couldn't really tell what was going on inside my boots for me.
We went back to Stratton, and I was so excited to ski again, and have my own equipment. Up the gondola we went, and turned to a blue trail I'd had a blast on by my 2nd day the year before.
This time though, I felt like I could barely stand up straight on my skiis, and I could hardly keep them from alternately crossing and sliding away from one another; seriously wrenching my legs around.
It was so bad, and SCARY that by the morning of the second day I was standing at the top of that trail refusing to go. A friendly mountain guide came over to make sure I was ok; and I explained what was going on inside my boots. He said if I wanted I could ride the gondola down, and I should get my boots checked because if they were that wobbly I could seriously hurt myself. I did; and I was as miserable and humiliated on that download as I have ever been. I was heartbroken, because what had been fun and exciting the year before had become scary and painful. If I buckled to boots tot he last notch, they cut off my circualtion but were still loose enough to just pop open on me. I thought that maybe i'd been lucky that first trip, and I actually s---ed at skiing after all.
If I had had to keep on with those boots, or had had something like that my first time, I absolutely guarantee you I would not have come back, or would have stopped skiing even after deciding I loved it. I was so discouraged that I, as a grown woman, sat in the gondola on the way down the mountain crying.
Fortunately, my ever-patient husband met me at the bottom and drove me down to a ski shop, where they took one look at me, and the boots on my feet, and said "way too big." We explained what a miserable time I was having, but that we didn't have teh $$ to buy me expensive new boots, and asked if they could help us.
it was my lucky day, because the man there had some last-season left over that he took the time to get me into. These boots saved skiing for me. They're ove 2 sizes smaller than the original, and he took the time to drill extra holes to fit my chicken legs into them, among other things.
When he had me stick my feet in them the first time, and I felt whatn a firm grip they kept on my heel, it was like a lightbuld going off. I turned to my husband and said "OH, this is what you meant by TIGHT!" I had, originally, thought TIGHT mean PAINFUL, not "supportive and snug."
I love those goofy looking Jr's race boots to death, and will be eternally grateful to Dean @ Norse House. We drove back to the mountain; and I was honestly nervous that I'd still be having terrible problems. Not so. I put me skis on and we started slowly down that same trail; and I could instantly tell the difference. I felt like every move I made, the boot follwed me, and the ski followed the boot; I couldn't believe the difference in control and security I felt.
Since then, I've become a total monster, hence the nickname; and continue to push myself to improve. Without boots that I feel like i can trust, I'd either be stuck on the easy trails in a frightened wedge, or at home/in the lodge waiting for my husband to get tired and finish for the day, afraid to try again at something I truly loved - or, i'd have kept at it and really injured myself.
SO; that's my story. I'm sure that there's plenty of other reasons people give up and I really know nothing of how the industry is run; but from one recent beginner's perspective; sometimes bad boots can even overpower the memory of a good experience. Those of you instructors who are taking the time to explain how the boots should be acting, even if a student has to suffer through a lesson on too big gear, are really doing a lot for someone who might otherwise think it's just because THEY are no good, and never will be - I know I very well would have gone on feeling that way, even after having had a good first experience!
I felt compelled to share the story of my experience here, since I almost lost out on something I now love more than just about anything else, all because I didn't know any better about how my boots ought to fit. If there were some more explanation about that, maybe I would have known better - maybe not; but it couldn't have hurt; and maybe could save someone from the sort of miserable experience through ignorance I had. If I had had those huge boots my FIRST time, I probably would have spent the remaining days of our vacation in the lodge or hotel room and been reluctant again.
So; I guess my point after all that drabble, is that most beginners probably don't have the same idea of "tight," and an explanation would really help. Just asking if it is "tight," doesn't get you far, because we have NO clue at all and don't know any better about how a fitting boot should even feel. I didn't even really understand then that a snug fit was important for control to be honest.
ETA: I left out the kicker to show how truly huge those boots were - my husband's boots were a little loose for his taste; he asked for suggestions, and as it turned out my "women's" boots were a good fit for his size 11 feet. He used them the rest of our trip and then got himsef better boots later that year, too.