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Helena Artmann has a bachelor degree in Communications with a vast experience in PR and the online world. Before moving to Canada in 2005, Helena published a variety of articles in Brazilian magazines and websites, mostly about travel, adventure, outdoor, gear, environment and her favourite activities, mountaineer and hot air ballooning. This is her website: http://artmanncommunications.com

How to Fit Ski Boots?

Ski bootsI had an interesting experience today: an hour with Dave, a ski boot specialist in a store called Soul, in Banff (203A Bear Street). I booked this appointment after my 2-hours free lesson (for Family Pass holders) I had yesterday. Olly, my instructor, saw me for the first few meters on the green run and told me that I was putting all my weight on the wrong skis when turning, adding that something was wrong but he still couldn’t figure it out.

One more run and he found the reason, my boots. ‘Can you move your feet sideways?’, asked me Olly. Sideways? I can move everywhere! These boots are anything but tight. So he told me that if I wanted to ski better and get the responses I was trying to get from the skis, I should buy better boots, recommending Soul in Banff. I booked the appointment right away, as the last runs of the day was noticeably hard to do, with the improvement in technique from the lesson.

Olly spent a great deal of time showing me how to ski properly. I was being coached and I wanted to enjoy this opportunity. I told you before, ski is everything but natural… And the way I want to do it, even more complicated. I do want to learn it properly and, for that to happen, so many variables are involved that makes it quite tricky and certainly a challenge for me. I want to ski comfortably not on groomed runs and, eventually, ski powder. Quite ambitious, I know.

It is also a very expensive sport, hence the three years for me to have the courage to invest in new gear. I was skiing with crappy gear because I thought I didn’t know how to ski, so why I was going to spend money on that? I don’t regret my decision as this made me improve enough to recognize the difference a good equipment will make. Better yet, I am being able to choose a good equipment based on my feelings and own judgment – and some coaching from experts, without breaking the bank.

‘Your belly is a big eye and should be seeing where you are going’, told me Olly, adding that ‘you should have a separation between your upper body and your lower body’. I heard that before, but doing it is not that easy. ‘I want you to get to the point where your feet will naturally turn under your waist’. What? ‘Bend your knees. Exaggerate it. You are too upward!’ And you thought skiing was easy?

In March I added the poles to the equation. Yesterday, I improved the usage of it. ‘Pole plant is just for timing your turn’, explained Olly. ‘It’s a wrist movement’. If you are curious, you can see more about it on the video below.

With all these ‘details’ added to my ski technique, rolling down the hill consumes a lot of my mental and physical energy, making sure I am doing the right thing until it becomes natural, if ever. I always end up very tired, with burning thighs and knees. Like climbing, it is a form of meditation, when the only thing in my mind is my next turn.

‘No wonder you are scared of black runs’, mentioned Olly, referring to the fact that I was not using a proper technique. And he ended the lesson saying that I should be very proud of myself as I doubled the speed in just two hours – the speed came solely because of the improvement in technique. But the boots were bugging me by then. I could see the energy I was spending to make sure the skis responded to my commands. And feeling the heels moving was worse than noticing the whole foot moving sideways.

Dave was there waiting for me at 1pm today. We started talking about my experience, doing some measurements and he said he was going to try four or five different types of boots and see how they go. He also showed me how big my old boots were – a good 1.5 to 2 centimeters! We could go with the old boots and have it improved by 30 to 50%, not more than that.

I am registered on the Ladies Only Multi-Week Program and I just bought new skis. So I decided to go with the full package and try some new boots. I put the first one and Dave said that I should complain about it being very tight. I didn’t. And I started telling him that I was a mountaineer and a climber – he got it right away as I seemed used to the discomfort in my feet, adding that ‘your skis boots should fit more or less like your climbing shoes. Tight enough for you to control your turns, but not comfortable enough for you to ‘belay”. Gotcha.

I tried the second one, tighter than the first, but still with a bit of room to move. The third was a smaller size and I could feel it in my right toes, my biggest foot. But my heels were not moving anymore and I liked it. He then brought a bigger size but narrower. I liked it. Not too stiff though. Almost comfortable. To compare this one with another similar one, he gave me a high performance Nordica boot, for races. It is a very stiff, narrow boot. I ended up choosing the Nordica boot for various reasons, being price one of them as it was with 40% discount!

Dave said that he was going to be happy with any of the two last boots I chose, knowing that the Nordica were more technical but a much more uncomfortable boot to hang around with my son. ‘You are not just a recreational skier’, told me Dave. In the price tag is included 2 years of fixes, adjustments and anything I may need from them. And I should need something. A stiff boot can be turned into a more soft one, but not the opposite. A bigger boot can be turned into a smaller one, but not the opposite.

Now I have the right size (two sizes down from my previous one!) and the right fit for my feet. I also have room for improvement as the boots should adjust to my feet and I may end up needing to adjust the buckles. Thinner socks and not closing the top of the feet are some of the details I will have to pay attention to at this beginning. Other than that, strap it on and enjoy the performance a perfect fit piece of gear will give me.

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4 Comments on “How to Fit Ski Boots?”

  1. Blandina January 1, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    Bem, o fato você já tinha me dito e achei legal a precisão das botas. Mas o que quero dizer é que como você está escrevendo tão bem em inglês! Parabéns!

    • helenaartmann January 1, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

      Que bom! Este eh o motivo do blog: melhorar meu ingles escrito. 😉 bjs!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Double Black | Simmering - January 11, 2014

    […] I am getting used to my new boots. It is amazing the difference it makes in my confidence level and my ski. Not sure about the style […]

  2. Skiing in the Canadian Rockies - Twomey Travel - December 15, 2015

    […] stop was at a ski shop in Banff called Soul and I had a great experience there, learning how to fit ski boots and buying a descent pair. I also tried two demo skis, and settle upon a short Fischer KOA 84 model […]

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