Are your ski boots too loose? At Stratton's On-Snow Demo last week, every boot rep I talked to concurred that 70-80 percent of skiers and riders are wearing boots too big and loose for their feet. They also agreed that a proper boot fit is the single most important factor in your ski technique - more significant than the ski or board you are on. A snug fit, and a dynamic but comfortable stance in your boot results in transferring power directly to your ski. Obviously, boot discomfort cramps your style, and shortens your ski day.
Another boot tidbit: Most skiers start the day on the wrong foot by buckling from the toe up. You should start in the middle to assure your heel hold is snug before clamping the toe buckle or top cuff, and the power strap is not just a convenient over the shoulder boot carrier - the Velcro strap is designed to tighten the boot tongue against your shin.
Here are a few 2011-12 ski boot innovations in next year's gear:
Full Tilt is a new boot company that resembles the revered Raichle boot of old, for good reason. The designer of Line skis reintroduced Raichle's patent with a new line up including an expandable kids boot (that grows three sizes) and freeskier park boots like the Tom Wallisch, Full Tilt's spokesperson.
Fischer introduces a new vacuum boot fit system to the game, claiming the vacuum seal will bring a new level of comfort and performance as your boot is molded exclusively to your unique foot.
Atomic's livefit is revolutionary for a recreational skier with a wide foot. The outer shell actually stretches to accommodate width. Atomic's flexible sole is also unique, the boot shell actually bends with the ski in a carved turn (though I tried this and found it a bit disconcerting when I felt the lining shift under foot).
Dalbello continues to flaunt its unique three piece fit (and Kermit the frog green colors) with a center buckle that offers uncompromising fit and flex. It's good enough for Glen Plake when paired with Elan skis.
Lange, long known as a serious stiff, slender racer boot that required modification to fit most feet, has redesigned their line with a Control Fit comfort aspect without losing performance. Result: Lange sales are up 85% now that they are wearable out of the box, especially with "choose your width" options. My husband defected from Salomon to the Lange RS after sampling the new comfortable, but still classic blue boot.
I stepped in to a pair of Rossignol Electra boots just for fun, I was lured by the furry liner, and found the boots to be incredibly snug and soft on the inside but precise on contact with the skis. Rossi calls it Sensorfit, I call it sold (tootles Technica).
A good boot fit means better turns, and more time on your boards. Even more simply put - if you feet aren't happy, you aren't happy.
Photo by Greg Burke. For more of Heatherís ski tips, go to www.familyskitrips.com:
Eric Wilbur is a lifelong recreational skier who spends most of his winter and spring in the mountains of New England. He does not ski in jeans. You can read more of Eric's work here.
Heather Burke is an award winning ski journalist with over a decade of ski news coverage. As a former ski instructor and a ski parent, she knows the ski biz from the inside out. She and her family visit New England ski resorts, as well as the West and Canada, to report on the latest trends and their best family finds. Her husband Greg takes all the accompanying photos, and their work can be seen at www.familyskitrips.com and www.luxuryskitrips.com.