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A Master Fit Boot Experience

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I have suffered with poorly fitted ski boots for over a decade. Below is my painful story along with just a few insights of a master boot fitting experience that has revolutionized my skiing experience. For anyone who has problems with your boots that perpetuate despite working with professional boot fitters I encourage you to read my story. I think you will find that there is a world of difference between a 'professional' boot fitter and a master boot fitter.

For decades I have worn ski boots which were crippling. The all too common boot fit expression that properly fitted ski boots are not 'sneakers' and are not designed to be comfortable. Rigid, tight fitting, racing fit boots are what you need. One boot fitter when so far to say that it is proper to tighten your boots before the run, and to loosen them when you complete the run to insure you get the best performance from the boots.

Later in life I joined the Ski Patrol. From what I heard comfortable boots ruled. They all sought the 'sneaker' fit as they stood and worked in their boots all day long. Custom insoles were the recommended solution.

My next mistake was custom insoles. The pain of wearing ski boots was now at a 10 out of 10. During an ski vacation trying to go down the hill I had to stop remove socks, soak my feet in the snow and ice, and try to ski the rest of the way down the hill barefoot in the boots. I had to find a solution!

One day while reading the Ski Patrol Magazine there was an article written by another boot crippled person who wrote a glowing review of Mike with Southern Ski in Columbia S.C. Although Mike was a 7 hour car ride away - I was desperate.

I called Mike and setup and appointment. Mike was very sympathetic and worked with me for hours. One of the first things Mike did was to test fit the shell to my foot. The shell by itself was too small for my foot. The custom insoles aggravated the problem as they took up more space in the boot further compressing my foot. He was amazed that I was able to wear the boots. He measure my feet. I have wide, EEEE feet with a narrow heel. At the time of this fitting, I learned that none of the ski boots were available for wide feet. Since that time a few boots are now available. Mike had custom made several of his boot fitting tools. The press he had to stretch the width of the boot used custom components that contoured to the shape of your foot. This resulted in a stretch to the boot that produced a boot that looked like it was a EEEE boot rather than a boot with a half dozen bolt holes pressed out to relieve pressure points.

As time passed Mike ran dozens of tests and measurements to insure the boots fitted properly. To correct balance issues toe lifts were added, and custom soles were added to the boots to correct an 'cant' of the boot which exceeded the adjustment capabilities built into the boots. (Think Bow Legged)

The results; boots that fit! What does this mean? Comfort? Yes! Comfort! I was able to wear the boots for 8 hours and keep them buckled. Properly fitting boots means far more than comfort. My skiing improved dramatically. The boots allowed the skis to run flat and level on the snow when I stood in neutral stance. This allowed me to develop into a parallel skier capable of leaving a set of carved tracks in the snow to be envied. How do I know it was the boots? That's easy – read on!

A few years later I returned to get another set of boots. ATOMIC BOOTS ROCK! Atomic was one of the first if not the first to make a wide toe box boot with a narrow heel. When he initially setup the boots, he needed to order some custom parts from atomic to increase the 'cant' in the boots to meet my requirements, 3 degrees. I could not wait to put them to use. I went up on the hill with my new boots prior to these parts being fitted. The result was hideous. I seriously could not ski. I was devastated. I was on duty in the red patrol jacket and I was confined to the bunny hills. As soon as I moved to steeper terrain my turns were all over the place, and my skis would simply not track together, and on one turn they would cross and the opposite turn the would split apart.

Once the parts arrived Mike was able to complete the adjustments to the boots. My ability to carve the snow was back. I am 100% convinced that properly fitted boots are required to ski properly!

Years have gone by and once again I needed to buy another pair of boots. I have recently traveled to Mike to fit another pair. Mike never fails to surprise and impress me with his knowledge, tools, and his constant desire to achieve the perfect fit. In my earlier fits to assist with balance the toes of my boots were lifted. However, over time they learned this may not be the best approach. Today, the approach to solve my problem (large calf muscles) was to stretch the back of the boot back opening the boot and allowing the leg to obtain a more natural stance rather than being pushed forward beyond the balance point.

Once again I was amazed! Even though I could carve the snow, my stance made me look like a gorilla on skis. To adjust for my legs being pushed forward, my balance compensated by moving my hips back, and bending at the hips. This also had a nasty consequence. Because I was so forward on the skis in hard turns the skis could rapidly load and catapult me head over heels. Why was I so amazed? The new approach to fitting boots allowed me to stand upright on my skis! Being able to stand upright was relaxing and greatly increased my flexibility.

After the initial fit of the new boots I had a couple of problem spots. I heard there was a 'master boot' fitter within 2 hours of my home rather than 7 hours. While I was driving by the boot fitter in my area I decided to stop to investigate their capabilities. When I asked for their master boot fitter the response from the 20+ year old person was that they were all trained boot fitters. Ok - the adjustments I need were minor. Next I asked to see the tools they used and the boots they sold. The boot fitter showed me the "Frankenstein Bolt" press used to relieve pressure points. When we looked at the boots on the way one brand was notably absent; Atomic.

Without another word I had to leave the store. Now that I have experienced the fit by a true master, it is easy to spot the imposters. How can you be a craftsman of your trade if you do not have the tools to do the job?

If anyone is suffering from poorly fitting boots I recommend seeking out a "Master" boot fitter. I cannot speak for the other Master Boot fitters listed on the site, but I do know that Mike with Southern Ski definitely deserves the title, "Master Boot Fitter".

My sincere thanks and appreciate to Atomic and Southern Ski.

The Ex-Hunchback
post #2 of 2
Nice post. Sounds like Atomics work well for you.l
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