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Help me understand boot flex

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi all. My girlfriend went to get fitted for a new pair of boots last weekend, expecting to get fitted with a similar boot to her old ones (she has had a pair of salomon Xwave 9 for many years, and had her eye on the new Idol 8's). Anyway the bootfitter commented that he thought the idol 8 was a little stiff (aftere seeing her stand in and flex the boot). Needless to say, she left the session confused and without any new boots!Anyway my question is how much is too little (and indeed too much) flex, and also what is the purpose of boot flex?

Thanks in advance for any guidance


post #2 of 5

i cannot know for sure based on your short description, however it kinda sounds like your guy does not believe that your girl friend has much physical talent for skiing. to get a better answer from this esteemed panel of experts it would help if you could give us a bit more detail on her skiing skills, her size, her skiing goals, what type of terrain she skis, and any other factors that may have lead your fitter to come up with his choice.


the big problem is that ( and i am just guessing because you are showing ireland as your location) is that many shops do not even carry a range of flexes for women. you can buy soft, soft, or slightly softer boots. the ski boot suppliers and the retail shops are a one trick pony for women.


the simple answer is that you need flex to be able to open and close some range of motion in the ankle joint to be able to re-center your hips over your feet every time you finish a turn. also for harder snow conditions and higher speeds, stiffer boots can offer better edge grip and power transmission. however boot flex generally is looked at in a feature/benefit view. usually talking about the product like it does not need a skier to get down the hill. that is a big mistake.


that said, when you go into an average ski shop you will be told the easy to understand story that typically is generated from the supplier. that story is that weaker, lower level, lighter, less aggressive skiers need softer boots, and stronger, higher level, heavier, more aggressive skiers need stiffer boots. my opinion of the supplier/average ski shop story is very low.


it is a story based only on the product and marketing, not really taking a good look at the human being that is going to buy the boot.


so what are the important human factors that should be the impetus for the flex that you are seeking?


1. OK the obvious ones i already listed age, weight, ability (self described & realize that women under estimate and men over inflate), skiing performance goals, etc.


2. Range of motion assessment of the ankle joint. when the ankle joint is either very stiff ( low range of motion) or very flexible (hyper mobile) these body types call for generally call for stiffer boots. bummer that most shops do not carry them, especially for women. normal ankle range of motion can generally be put into any boot based on the details from point #1 above, and that fits well.


3. how the boot is fit, and the natural line up of the human angles vs the boot angles play a big part in the a skiers ability to flex or drive through the boot. so once again it is not just the boot, but the way the body fits the shape and the stance angles that determine whether the skier can flex the boot for their needs.



post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your thorough reply Jim. In terms of ability etc she is actually a competent skier, ie will ski the whole mountain but focuses more on technique than on speed etc. This move away from speed is probably due to being a little older and wiser now (mid 40's) She is smaller than your average skier  (5'3") and weights about 9 stone. She has skied for many years, but as you correctly recognise coming from Ireland we only do a couple of weeks a year. We actually do have a couple of good ski shops here, although given the state of our economy they might not be around for long!

Thanks for the advice anyway.


post #4 of 5



based on your description of her skiing skills, and without being able to assess her ankle range of motion, i would say that finding the best fitting 80 to 100 flex model would be the target for your girlfriend to look at.


just follow all of the other basic rules of a good boot fit. proper measurement, shell sizing, good general match of the foot shape, proper sock, some form of foot support, and a fitter that you can go back to if any problems arise.


good luck, a happy girlfriend is a happy girlfriend,




post #5 of 5

nigel, are you in the north or the south of the country, Jim sums it up pretty dam well so can't add a lot to it, as he said take a read of the wiki at the top of the page and you will have a better idea about the whole shell fit thing, the idol is an 85 flex so i don't see her having any issues with that unless there is something else going on


good luck


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