As a boot fitter you tend to be asked the same questions day after day, the most regular one is “What is the best boot?”, and this the one question that an ethical technician should never answer! My scripted answer is, of course, “Whichever fits best!” This response is almost guaranteed to raise the hackles of certain customers, and these are the people that are probably best served by the ski supermarkets, they really are probably unable to appreciate the finer points of the art that we will be demonstrating. If you already feel that I’m being condescending then I’ll try and explain why as we go on. What ugg boots to buy online as a gift for my child. Well if she does love skiing it would be the best to buy a skiing boots.
Whichever fits best!
Our task as boot fitters is very complex and should be an individually tailored experience for each of our customers. Those that follow a scripted routine are doing a huge disservice to their clients and are most likely doing a very poor job indeed. We must remember that not only are peoples feet individual, but also that people are individual as well. However, having a certain routine to follow is not all bad if we are flexible in our application of the process. If a routine is followed then it tends to ensure that we have done the job adequately, if the routine is customised as much as the boots we fit, then the job is done excellently. So if we follow our principle of “Customised Boots, Customised service” then this leads us straight to the answer to the original question. “What is the best boot? Whichever we fit that is best for you!”
In the beginning was the foot!
And it was good. Firstly we should examine the feet, taking note of the overall shape, size and potential difficulties involved. For instance the foot may be exceptionally wide, deep, the ankle bones may be extra protuberant. We may be dealing with bunions, scars from surgery, or other problems that the customer may have. Now this where our skills in personal relationships come into play as the talented Zen boot fitter should be able to inform the nervous customer without totally insulting them. Although if we read our customers mind correctly this should not be a problem as our personal Zen empathies will allow the higher levels of acolyte to resonate in harmony with the supplicant. With our highly tuned senses we must then attempt to select the correct size of boot.
Never mind the quality feel the width
For a successful fitting we must consider not only the shape of the foot and the ability of the skier, but how snug the skier will need the boot to fit. This will be as individual as the individual skier, the higher performance the skier, the snugger the fit. Bode Miller buys his boots two sizes too small, this gives incredible feel and accuracy but at the expense of incredible pain. Now, your regular recreational skier does not need or want this level of control, however a degree of snugness is desirable. A welly is not the ideal footwear for skiing! In fact, it would be a bit of a giggle to get an old pair of skis and fix a welly to them and take them down a slope. It would indeed take mystical powers of the highest level to be successful at this event, could be a good idea for uni student ski holidays. This exercise demonstrates the level of control needed for successful skiing, many skiers when choosing boots are swayed to a comfort fit by choosing a boot that is a comfortable initial fit. This is almost always far too big. The skier should bear in mind that if the fit is really comfy out of the box then it will end up being sloppy and too big after a fortnight of skiing. Your boot fitter will be able to make the boot bigger but padding the boot to tighten the fit is not practical or desirable, this is rarely a successful venture. It is more accurate to start with a smaller boot and change the shape of the shell so that a fully customised fit is obtained. However for this approach to be truly successful it is important to start with the best possible starting point.
To achieve enlightenment keep trying
In order to find the perfect ski boot then one must try as many possible options as are available. This aligns somewhat with the Buddhist reincarnation beliefs, in order to achieve Nirvana one must live many lives! It’s an article about Zen after all, so if I ramble a bit – so what! Trying lots of boots on will probably involve a lengthy stay in your ski shop, be prepared for a stay of several hours. It’s a good idea not to take small children on this expedition, as they get a little stressed as you try on hundreds of different pairs of boots. The boot you choose should feel snug but not painful, it should respond well to the movement of your foot, your heel should be retained in the heel cup really well so that the rear part of the foot is firmly fixed in position. If all this is correct then you will achieve a communion between your feet and the ski. I feel, that when you find the right ski boot, the feeling is easily recognisable and the boot is in tune with the foot.
After choosing the boot, some further time needs to be spent firstly in heat moulding the liner to the foot. This should be done by the store where you purchase the boot; they should know the correct procedure for the heating and moulding of each type of liner. The moulding process should take around 15 mins for most liners, flexing the boots whilst nice and hot will press the imprint of the feet into the liner. After this then the next part of the fitting should be to take the boots to your local ski slope and try them out. This is very important, as you cannot accurately simulate skiing by standing around in a ski shop. Dry ski slopes are excellent testing locations for ski boots as the high levels of edge pressure needed to make a reasonable carved turn are great for finding any hot spots in the fit. Any painful points will need another trip back to your boot fitter to adjust the shape of the boot shell. In our experience many of the shops in the Alps seem to be reluctant to stretch the shell of a boot, as many of the ‘boot fitters’ employed in these resort shops are merely guys out to work the season, having little incentive to look after the needs of the client. After all, next week you will be gone, and next season they will be working in a different resort. So are you, as a customer being fobbed off with the old line that, after a week skiing the liners will bed down and be fine? There is some truth in this old statement but if the boots are tight enough to cause pain, rather than just annoyance, all is not well! In this instance we would rather alter the outer plastic shell of the boot. However altering a boot shell tends to be a bit of a one-way path. We can easily blow out any shell but as yet, it is almost impossible to press it back in. I did find a new technique, after much meditation and fasting it is possible to use telekinesis to press the plastic molecules back into shape. However this needs about 30 days to shape one pair of boots, so it is not really a practical method!
Reshaping your sole (soul)
As effective as reshaping the boot shell is it is a somewhat destructive method for fitting boots. As violence should only be used as a final last resort, we tend towards a slightly more holistic approach to a fit solution. By the careful fitting of a custom footbed, the shape of the foot is altered, by preventing the foot from spreading out so much when weight is placed down. This has other desirable effects too, by creating a custom fitted heel cup in the boot the whole foot can be stabilised allowing for better control while skiing. The foot being stable will prevent the dreaded heel lift and spread the load evenly throughout the whole of the boot, reducing foot fatigue. This also helps to prevent ankle roll due to the arches being correctly supported. I cannot emphasise how much these insoles will help your skiing Karma. The Zen boot fitter should always reach for the foot beds before considering a more radical solution.
Following these few simple guides will help you find the perfect boots to pair with your skis, and assist you in getting to ski boot heaven: 1. Don’t buy them too large! 2. Try many, many boots! 3. Test them, and then tweak them! 4. Modify slowly, try them regularly! 5. Buy footbeds! Peace, Love and Powder!
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