01 Overview

On Boot fitting

This following formed the basis for a topical lecture/discussion about the role of the ski boots in skiing, how they should work, the problems one encounters, and some notions of what to do about all that. (Winter 2011-’12)

Most would agree that the boots are the most important piece of skiing equipment. They should provide warmthsupport the foot, and provide a mechanical/ communication link between the skier and ski.

After a boot purchase, most skiers assume they are all set.

I like to suggest that unless the boot designer has your photograph and vital measurements on their desktop, what you have just purchased is a package of partially refined materials.

Many skiers hate their boots; and for a number of reasons.

E.g., How do your feet feel at the end of the day? .

No one should have to ski in pain, suffer frostbitten toes, or grow nasty red calcium deposits here and there.  Many take lesson after lesson, and struggle to to correct some ‘bad’ skiing habit,  not realizing that the problem may be directly related to alignment and/or poorly fitted boots.  Even when the boot has been loosely identified as the problem, few accurate solutions are close at hand.  Just one reason why the number of participants in skiing has been more or less flat since the 70s.

I got into bootwork in part to solve my own problems.

I am not a talented athlete.

While my feet are better than average in terms of structure,

I have ‘banana’ tibias and protuberant medial malleoli.

My left leg is shorter than my right by about 5/16 inch

My left knee tracks with a twist, to the extent that I mount my left telemark binding toed-in by a degree and a half. (This does not seem to make much difference while making alpine turns on the same skis).

I have to make some of my own bicycle drivetrain parts in order to get any power to the pedals.

I got my first set of footbeds in the winter of 85-86.

I began building footbeds commercially the winter of 97-98.

Qualified to teach in four disciplines, I have been certified in three.

While they initially appear quite different, there are a number of significant similarities between alpine skiing, telemark skiing, XC skiing and snowboarding.  To do each well, one simply needs understand how the equipment interface affects the movement options of an electro-mechanical construct on a slippery surface.  Remove the obstacles to ‘free movement’ and what remains is the path to higher performance.


The goal of bootwork

A ski boot should function as a supportive but unobtrusive exoskeleton for the foot, ankle structure, and lower leg.  When a boot is fit correctly for the skier and their intended mode of skiing, it should seem ‘transparent’, which is to say, the skier should be relatively unaware of its presence.

Fit, and what it means.

Fitting is comprised of two components: Volume/contouring, which affects support and comfort; and geometry, which affects stance and thus performance.  Sometimes, these two overlap.