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Can a 120 flex boot help me?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I want to know if going to a 120 flex boot can improve my skiing? I can easily ski groomed eastern blacks but not bumps or glades, which I want to learn this winter. I'm looking at Atomic B120 boots for it is one of the few 120 flex boots I know of that have a 104 last. This boot also has the riveted joint on the boot’s back side, no walk mechanism.
I’m also looking at the new Head Vector 120, it has a last of 103, but may fit me or can be bulged a little.
Any ideas on which boot is better?

I currently ski in a Head Edge 11 with a 90 Flex. I went from an Atomic x90 in a size 27.5 to a size 26.5 in the Head Edge 11. This improved my ability to feel the ski edges and snow better and  allowed me to actually ski down steep blacks instead of skidding down.  I then had custom ski beds made and the Head boots custom fitted, and this improved my skiing even more, almost as good as going to a smaller boot !   Snow feel, ski edge feel and balance really improved. I then started skiing on Volkl Supersport Allstar Titanium 168cm skis and an old pair of Volkl 5 Star 182cm skis. I found that these skis gave me the ability to ski steep groomed blacks faster, making sharp carving turns and occasionally jump off small skied up bumps which I never could do before. I can now ski faster than my fear level.
 But I do find the Head boots very easy to bend which makes me think maybe the Head boots are too soft for me now. I find my heel lifting at times and moving a little. My toes do not touch the front when skiing, but do when I first put the boots on. I'm 5' 10" 200 lbs, age 65, wear a size 10 4E street shoe.  I tried on (but didn’t ski) a pair of Dobermans and really like the stiffness and feel, but the width was way too small for my wide 4E feet.

Thanks for any info you offer.
post #2 of 11

Welcome  to Epicski!  It sounds  like you have been  taking the right  steps to  improve your  skiing performance and it  sounds  like choosing  a stiffer flex will certainly complement your ski quiver choices and your current abilities!  Good Luck and make sure you have  the new boot fit by a pro  who can  check your  alignment too!
post #3 of 11

     You could try on the Salomon Impact 10 in a 120 flex, they have an easily heat molded shell (along the sides of the foot) that will spread out to 106mm if needed, just by heating the outside, while your foot is in the boot.  
      I agree with Bud it looks like your headied in the right direction.  BTW---Don't guage a boots flex in the shop---it will stiffen when out in the cold.
post #4 of 11
sounds like as these guys say you afre on track, just watch the length of the head vector ...great boot but very long internally so quite similar to the edeg in length...unfortuneately all these boots have replaceable sole pads so it does limit the amount of planing which can be done on most
post #5 of 11
Look at these guys, fresh from summer break and already giving such good advice.  Feet as wide as yours definitely limit your choices, but you are going in the right direction.  I will say that it is imperative you deal with a good fitter.  Not a good puncher.  there is a difference.  It is surprising what can be done to a boot when someone really understands the goal.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
You have my attention. How do I tell the difference between a good fitter and puncher? The guy I use now has been fitting for thirty yrs, doesn't sell boots, sells only custom beds and custom fitting service. During the summer he fits golfers, says skier's and golfer's improve with balance. I bought custom beds from him, had him adjust my boots and he did some grinding on the soles. He pointed out that my right foot has a slight bunion and was making it difficult for me to roll my right ankle and get up on edge. With his beds I was able to ski on one foot for the first time. I had custom beds made by another fitter before, but my skiing didn't improve much with them.

Miketsc has me interested in  the Salomon Impact 10 CS, I'm thinking it's a better boot than the Atomic B120. But the Salomon boot isn't available where I live.  So I'm driving to Albany, NY (3 1/2 hr drive one way) and attend the November Ski Expo, where I know of two shops that sell that boot and offer custom fitting. Are there any signs that might indicate a fitter is really a "puncher"? Should I stick with my current guy? Thanks.
post #7 of 11
"You have my attention. How do I tell the difference between a good fitter and puncher?"

The problem with identifying good boot fitters is that most skiers don't recognize them either so they pass on recommendations to "punchers" as you call them.  Most skiers will recommend a boot fitter based on the fact that he made their foot feel good, without understanding the effects (good or bad) the fitter had on their skiing.

The best thing you can do is educate yourself.  There are several good books out there that discuss aspects of boot fitting.  Warren Witherell discusses the process in depth in "The Athletic Skier."  There are more current books as well.  R. Mark Elling does a good job with this topic in "All-Mountain Skier" and one of the Epic Ski competitors has a very good section on boot fitting in his book.  You need to be able to understand how lateral canting affects balance and edging and how ramp angle, binding delta and foreward lean all combine to impact flex, stance, and fore-aft balance.  The end goal is to have a boot setup that will enable you to maximize your personal body mechanics for the kind of skiing you want to do.

Boot fitting is a science so a good fitter needs to have some understanding of biomechanics, but it is also an art.  Even among the best bootfitters there are differences in approach.  For example, some bootfitters believe that static analysis works best and will do all of their fitting work in the shop.  Others believe that an on-snow evaluation is necessary to gain that final 5% of performance.  You'll need to decide what you believe in.

Boot fitting philosophies also vary based on the fitter's understanding of how skiing works, so you want the fitter's understanding of skiing to either match yours, or you need to be able to tell the fitter *exactly* how you want your boots set up (and be able to defend that setup so you don't get talked out of it).  For example, you are talking about needing a boot for bump skiing.  Some fitters will tell you that you need a flexy boot to absorb shock.  Others will tell you that you want a stiff boot that will hold you when you move forward (shock can be absorbed purely through knee flexion).  These are two very different approaches, so you need to know which one will work best for you.

Once you know what you are looking for in a fitter, you can get some referrals.  When you get a referral, question the person giving it to you and find out their basis for it.  If somebody tells you, "yeah, they identified that I was 3 degrees undercanted in my left leg so they built custom heel and toe plugs for me and they also added heel lifts because I didn't have enough dorsi-flexion with the forward lean, and all of that improved my skiing by 200%" then that would be the kind of recommendation that would be worthwhile.  If they say, "they made my boot feel like a slipper" that doesn't really tell you anything. 

If you can, seek out recommendations from technically excellent skiers (usually racers) who are picky about their equipment and who you respect for their technical understanding of the sport.  Those are usually the kind of skiers who can actually identify the best fitters.  The Epic Ski instructors can point you to good fitters and I believe that they usually have optional alignment sessions with excellent boot fitters as part of the Epic Ski Camps.

Also, interview prospective boot fitters and understand their approach to alignment.  If they don't understand the question, run away.  Ask the boot fitter if you should wear shorts to the alignment session.  If they say no, run away (if they can't see your knees, they can't properly align you).  Ask them if you should bring your skis to the session.  If they say no, ask them what their philosophy is on binding delta and its affect on stance.  If you don't like their answer, run away.  If you are going to have foot beds made, find out whether they do rigid, flexible, or something in between and why.  Footbeds of different rigidity ski very differently so understand exactly what you will be getting in advance.

Finally, don't buy your boot before working with a fitter.  It is better for everyone if you buy the boot that is right for your body and make it work for your skiing rather than the other way around.  The best boot fitters will work with you in advance (that is, they will meet with you and examine your feet and alignment) to identify what that boot is and what shell size you need.  Then you can buy that boot and take it back to the fitter for modification.  While there will likely be some up front cost for the advance consultation, it will save you money in the long run (because less modification will be required) and you will end up with the best boot possible. 

If you are serious about improving your skiing, seek professional help with your boot selection.

Good Luck!
Edited by geoffda - 9/18/09 at 9:07am
post #8 of 11
Wow, that is a lot more words than I would have put down ( fingers have limited durability) but would say it about sums it up.  I think a puncher is someone who says where does it hurt and then immediately punches there.  A fitter is someone who more understands the cause/effect relationship.

An example is: my sixth toe hurts, puncher punches sixth toe.  Feels great in shop skier leaves.  Skis and is immediately back.  My sixth toe hurts, so puncher punches more.  Feels great in shop, skier skis and is immediately back.  Puncher scratches head and punches more.  Feels great in shop despite fact that skiers foot is now loose inside overly wide boot.  Skier skis and comes back with continued pain.  Puncher throws in the towel.

Fitter looks at foot in shell and sees that medial malleolus and navicular are hard against shell which pushes the foot laterally while skiing.  Makes small punch in ankle and navicular area and does what is possible to shrink back mondo 6th tow punches.  Feels good in store and on hill.  Skier rides off into the sunset.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
All of these responses have been helpful. This last two responses explained to me that my first "fitter" was actually a "puncher", and my current guy is a boot fitter. And Geoffda's recommendation of seeing the fitter before I buy the boots makes a lot of sense to me, and I do see the value to pay the additional up front fee.
post #10 of 11
Have  a good season!
post #11 of 11
Thread Moderation Notes:

Posts made by members other than the origianl poster of this thread and the boot fitter's replies have been move to General Gear Discussions new thread can a 120 flex boot help me? (Continued), in accordance with posing rules of this forum.  Permissions for posting are scheduled to be implemented on 10/15/09, which should avoid some of this confusion.
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