Featured You Drive Three Hours to See a Bootfitter!?!

Discussion in 'Ski Boot Discussion by America's Best Bootfitters' started by L&AirC, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. L&AirC

    L&AirC PSIA Instructor and USSA Coach Skier

    Joined:
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    Southern NH
    That’s the comment back to me when I said how long the drive I was going to be making in a few days. Right after saying it, the person made a face like I was trying to pound in a nail with a laptop. The face that lets you know they fully believe you lack the mental capacity to be unsupervised for more than 10 minutes at a time and any decisions you make need to get vetted. I responded stating he’s one of the best in the country, I’ve been going to him for years so he knows my issues and understands me (which is code for “knows how to deal with me”). I wish he was closer but each time has been worth it. They still had this look of “Waste of time.”

    The following Friday when I got to Green Mountain Orthotics Lab (GMOL) in Vermont (right at the entrance to Stratton Ski Resort), we went through the friendly hellos and longtime no sees and Bill Haight (owner) introduced me to the person working with him named Terry. They were finishing up with another patron and I proceeded to get set up.

    I got out my current race boots, Lange RS 130, that had a few issues. You might remember from another thread over a year ago I had messed with these boots quite a bit. When I got them, it was my first time in “real” race boots and when I skied them during the fitting process, I thought it was the increased stiffness preventing me from getting forward because I had never been in such a stiff boot, when it was actually the lack of a heel lift. I take the blame for missing the heel lift as I was kind of pushing things along through the process then because I wanted to get home for dinner and still had three hours of driving to do. I also should have told Bill what I was felling but didn’t. I thought I could ski them a few more times and all would be good, so I just told him they were stiffer than I expected and felt like I needed a punch on my right (medial)ankle.

    This time didn’t have to go through all the regular rigamarole that you usually have to do, because the last time I went to GMOL, Bill made me a new set of custom insoles and I had previously called him to tell him I wanted the exact same boots and why. Since the boots hadn’t changed, we already knew the shell fit was good. Everything was checked, but I didn’t have to try on several different boots to know which was right for me. Even though the boots had all my self-inflicted issues, the Langes have been working great, and were a huge improvement (for me) over my Salomon X Max 120s.

    The reason I needed knew boots was 1) I had a jury rigged/DIY heel lifts in and they were duct taped down and had broken free a few times, 2) because of the heel lift issues, I thought the boots were too stiff for me and cut them and once I corrected the heel lift, the boots were too soft, and 3) somehow at the beginning of the 2018/19 season, I buckled my boots up wrong when I put them in my boot bag and the lower shell overlap (at the instep) were miss aligned and it caused a little indentation in the shell right at the instep. #3 got progressively worse and before you know it, I had a split over an inch long. When I saw it, I drilled a whole to make it stop, but the damage was done.

    Bill asked if I wanted a new Booster strap as well. He noticed mine had elongated and I realized they had about 8 seasons on them, so I got a new pair as well.

    Terry and Bill were sort of tag teaming me and another customer that had come in. They work rather fluently handing things off or assisting one another. They’re both involved in the process and both are fully aware of what’s going on with each customer and seem to be able to switch off at any moment from one another. I’m not sure that’s fully accurate but that is how it appeared to me.

    After Terry realigned the cuff shell to my legs and the insoles were in the new liners and boots, I put the boots on and buckled them up. Terry showed me on one boot the correct process stating “You probably already know how to do this but everyone gets shown.” She then had me buckle up the other boot. To my surprise she gave me a lollipop because I did it right . She probably really gave me one to keep me from asking so many questions, but it was nice just the same.

    Terry had also put in a heel lift based on the one I had in the boots. I was pretty sure they were at 7 mm, but this was based on using a 5 mm heel lift and adding two 1mm bontex shims. I had said they were working fairly well and we should start there. She measured them compressed (to simulate me standing on them) and came up with 8mm. We chatted and went with that since it is easier to decrease than increase.

    After that came the dreaded heat molding. I put on the toe caps and thin ski socks on top of those. I messed up on the socks I brought. Because the liners on my old Langes had packed out, I went to a thicker sock. I meant to bring my thin socks but forgot to grab them before I left. I did have a thinner pair in my ski bag but they were still a little thicker than what I should have. Bill said they would be OK. Instead I opted to buy a pair from him; FITS Ultra thin. Bill seems to only sells products he believes in so I knew I would be getting a good pair. Once the liners were up to temperature, they put them in the shells one at a time and then on my feet. Frickin’ misery, but a necessary evil.

    They had me do some things while the liners were doing their Boa Constrictor act on my feet. Again, I think having me do things was mostly to distract me as once the boots were off and my feet got feeling back, we did everything again. Maybe it added value or gave them some clues what was ahead, but all I could think about was how uncomfortable my feet were and how bad I wanted the boots off. I’ve been through the process several times and know it’s worth it, but I don’t like it any more than the first time and I don’t see myself “getting used to it”.

    Next thing I know is I’m absolutely delighted because I hear them say the magic words – “OK, you can take them off.” Or at least words to that effect. Didn’t matter. The misery was over.

    After my feet returned to normal, it was time to go through the alignment adjustments. They had already installed the Booster strap and the cable for my hotronics was ran prior to the molding process. Other than the boots still needing about two or three ski days from being fully broken in, they felt pretty good. It could also be a perspective thing since the last time my feet were in the boots was the molding process. Compared to that, this was heaven!

    I’ve always needed a 1* shim on my right boot. Bill checked and double checked and then checked again. Try this try that. I think Terry had done some as well, though it could have been during the molding process. We kept going through different settings until I was edging my boots left in right in unison and it was repeatable. It appeared to me that after it was set right, they would make a change past that setting and then go back to make sure that was the best one. If I remember correctly, we ended up with a 1* on my right boot but I think my left boot got ½*. This was a first.

    Bill then asked which plates I wanted; smooth plastic or the Vibrams. I debated this a bit because I like the idea the Vibrams are more durable and would last way longer than the smooth plastic ones and I also like they make you less prone to slipping. The smooth plastic ones are very slippery. The down side of the Vibrams is no boot skiing, which as a coach, I need to do now and again. Screw it. I went with the Vibrams as the life cycle cost is lower, even though the initial cost is higher. The smooth plastic ones have to be replaced every season to keep them in spec for Binding tolerance (the metal grate stairs on the building I work out of tears them up). I can always have whichever coach is assisting me demo the boot skiing and since I’m keeping my old boots, if I’m planning on doing boot drills, I’ll wear them.

    I had told Bill that the athletes I coach (U10s) had back to back races the next two days. He told me to wear my old boots for that since I would be standing around a bit and would be miserable. Wise man. Did I listen…no. I wore them anyways mostly because I was thinking this might be my last two days on snow this season and I wanted to get as much time on them as possible before the start of next season. My season usually starts with some sort of Coaches Clinic and I didn’t want to be doing stupid human tricks with my feet in misery while breaking in new boots.

    Once everything was put together, they checked things again and looked at my stance from every angle. All went well so I paid my tab, packed up and headed home.

    Saturday morning, I think I was in the new boots about an hour and started getting pins and needles in my feet. I brought the other boots just in case but decide to suck it up at least until lunch. I kept moving best I could and skied as much as I could and that seemed to help. Sunday was much better. No pins and needles and the standing around wasn’t as bad, plus I was able to ski more since the race was at our home mountain.

    The boots were amazing! I’ve never had such spot-on edge to edge control. I was doing things like high speed rail road tracks and I can’t remember such responsiveness. I felt like a Border Collie going through the Weave Poles in an agility course. It was fantastic. Just skiing around and arcing turns was so enjoyable and felt so powerful.

    The whole time I was thinking about how I wasted two seasons in the last pair of boots. I could have had the same performance I was now experiencing if I had GMOL do the heel lift and not cut the boots to soften them. Lessons learned. I did learn a bit about boot fitting and alignment along the way, and I’m happy I gained that knowledge, but no matter what I understand and can do, it will never match what the experts can do with the proper tools. I was settling for “good enough” all to save a day of driving. I’ll not make that mistake again. Even if it is something small that I think I can handle, I’ll get hold of GMOL and see what Bill says first.

    To those that think a 3-hour drive is a waste of time; keep thinking that and not making the drive, because ounce you do, there’s no going back. You probably used to think cell phones were a waste of time and credit cards were a fad. I know I did and now I can’t imagine life without those either.

    I can’t thank Bill and Terry enough.

    Life is good,

    Ken
     
  2. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Subaru driver and winter lover Skier

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    Part time Vermont resident
    We drive close to 3 hours to see our boot fitter and it's worth every mile and we thank him internally for all he does for us every time we ski. I don't think one can put a price on this because it's invaluable to us. So...worth....it....Glad you found someone that works well for you guys and had such a great experience.
     
    Big J likes this.
  3. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

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    Belleville, Ontario,/ Mont Tremblant, Quebec
    I'm 3 hours too...spring and fall...after that it's a trip to Whistler!!

    They are magician. That's all I know!!
     
    surfsnowgirl likes this.
  4. François Pugh

    François Pugh Out on the slopes Skier

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    Well fitting properly aligned ski boots are worth what it takes to get them. A three hour drive is a very small price to pay.

    Some people may have the "stock" feet that made the mold and perfect "standard" alignment. They will never understand.
     
    Big J, scott43 and surfsnowgirl like this.
  5. Jerez

    Jerez Out on the slopes Skier

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    Location:
    New Mexico
    2.5 to Taos

     


  6. EBG18T

    EBG18T Eric Skier

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    VT
    I’m lucky to have a handful of good boot fitters within 30 min or so from the house.
     
  7. NZRob

    NZRob Skiing the Rock Skier

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    Location:
    New Zealand
    We have a 4 hour drive to the mountain every weekend anyway and the bootfitter/ski shop of choice is a regular part of that commute
     
  8. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Reno, eNVy
    And yet you have to drive further for a Costco. ;)
     
  9. EBG18T

    EBG18T Eric Skier

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    VT
    Yep. Luckily Just down the road from PJ Dewey for my boot work.
     
  10. scott43

    scott43 Making fresh tracks Skier

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    Toronto, Canada
    I drove an hour outside of Toronto to buy hockey skates..and I live in Toronto! You can't swing a dead cat here without hitting a store that sells skates...
     
    James likes this.
  11. givethepigeye

    givethepigeye Really, just Rob will do Skier

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    I get on an Airbus 32x and fly 3 hours
     
  12. BaconTowel

    BaconTowel At the base lodge Skier

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    New England
    This is an awesome write up, thank you for sharing. As someone with difficult feet, I often times find myself skiing in pain for most of the day. I've had a lot of work done on my boots but they are not perfect, but because they are only a couple of years old I'm hesitant to invest in another pair. I'm hoping that working on my form will help lessen the foot pain.

    Can someone try to share when adding a heel lift is necessary? Should your heel never leave the bottom of your boot?
     
  13. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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  14. LiquidFeet

    LiquidFeet Out on the slopes Instructor

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    Heel should never leave the bottom of the boot. Right.
    Boot fit can make this impossible to accomplish, if the volume or length of the boot is wrong for your foot.
     
  15. Coach13

    Coach13 Out on the slopes Skier

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    No. VA
    3 hours ain’t nothing to visit a good fitter. On the right day in the DC area that might only be 20 miles!
     
  16. Pat AKA mustski

    Pat AKA mustski Out on the slopes Skier

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    Ha. Ha. Ha. I drove 9 hours to the bootfitter- Big Bear, CA to Reno, NV. It was totally worth it and I am doing it again next week for an adjustment. It’s also a good excuse to ski Tahoe!
     
  17. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    Heh. I laughed. I cried.

    If you use the airport access road trick you can often get around the fusterclucks on 66 and 50, but 28 and 7 will still kill ya. FWIW my messenger bag fits 317mm+ BSL in L7 orientation and, especially weekend afternoons, my fixie is likely faster to Leesburg.
     
    Tony S, RuleMiHa and Coach13 like this.
  18. DoryBreaux

    DoryBreaux Friend for Hire on Powder Days Industry Insider Pugski Ski Tester

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    Having more fun than you
    I'd never drive more than 30 minutes
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    Because I (hopefully) would never live more than 30 minutes away from one I trust.
     
    Tony S, RuleMiHa and Philpug like this.
  19. whumber

    whumber Booting up Skier

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    Killington, VT
    Was it Terry or Teryn?
     
  20. Thread Starter
    TS
    L&AirC

    L&AirC PSIA Instructor and USSA Coach Skier

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    Southern NH
    Teryn, but she introduced herself as Terry. At least that's what I heard but according to my wife, I'm partially deaf.
     

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