It has been a wonderful ski ski season, with tremendous amounts of snow here in Chatel and the Portes du Soleil. We assume that across the whole of Europe, each resort has experienced the same.
Therefore, the last minute rush to ensure people got their ski fix in, has seen all resorts flourish for business.
As a catered chalet we provide our clients recommendations of where to go for ski hire, which ski instructor would suit them or which ski school, or even give advice as to which restaurants are considered best on the mountain for their budget.
A common question asked regarding ski equipment is, do you think these are the right skis, should I buy my own skis or perhaps do I need or should I buy new boots?
In my opinion for people buying skis, I have a mandatory response:
You have to weigh up how many times you will use them over the next 5 years.
Is your ski equipment going to gather dust, only coming out of the cupboard for that once a year ski holiday or perhaps to tackle the 1 inch of snowfall for an hour on the local hill to you, when the UK comes to a stand still? After your initial outlay for the skis, you then have to consider additional costs throughout the course of that 5 years. Does the airline you use, charge for the carriage of ski equipment? Will you have to spend money having your skis serviced? Can they fit in your car when taking them to the airport or in a taxi? Do you mind dragging a ski bag round? There are always many plus points to having your own equipment, particularly the familiarity and comfort. But I suggest with the development of technology and the hassle free service of getting skis on arrival at the chalet, I would rather rent skis.
However, when we refer to ski boots, my opinion differs. I would absolutely recommend you buying your own boots. The boots are the most crucial thing when it comes to your ski equipment. A well fitted boot will ensure the difference between a successful ski holiday and a disaster and I am not being over dramatic!
This season, we have seen 4 lower leg breaks, potentially caused by ill fitted boots. The people involved varied in age and ability. In all but one of these cases, the boots were their own.
How is it possible then to break your leg in a ski boot? If you are thrown over, your body weight and connection to the ski through the boot should allow you to pop out of the ski without any great problem giving you a greater chance of avoiding injury. The issue arises, when your foot and lower leg or ankle have movement in the boot when the boot is too big for example. Your foot and leg will spin or twist in the boot before the boot releases from the ski thus extra movement takes place in the boot, and with the weight of your body, the torque, leverage and pressure against that lower leg in the boot will mean a huge amount of force is exerted in the lower leg region before the boot can finally be ejected from the ski. This can be at a very slow speed or high speed, so this applies at every level.
Why not change the settings on the ski to eject more easily some might ask? The DIN settings are designed to ensure maximum safety both whilst you are skiing and when you have a fall. If the settings are too low for your ability for example, you will pop out of your ski without cause and probably crash. This is just as dangerous obviously, so correct settings are crucial.
Back to the boots 🙂 Therefore, measurement should be taken before your boots are fitted. Before you make judgement, you must try them properly before dispelling them. Some boots do measure different and from experience I know that I have a boot which suits my ability and my foot. I have a narrow ankle and wide forefoot for example, so have researched which make is best for me. As an experienced skier, I require a stronger mould than a beginner to withstand pressures at speed but then I do not wish to have an outer boot to solid which maybe worn by a racer, as this would be uncomfortable as I am just a recreational skier. When I put my boots on initially, they are tight and uncomfortable but if you are a tourist skier, then perhaps this would be only to be expected as you wear soft shoes for 51 weeks of the year and not used to ski boots.
Having made the grunty man noises putting the boots on lol, I then ensure my heel is to the rear of the boot before I commence to clip them up. I clip them up systematically and loosely first ensuring that I gain the shape of the boot and that my foot feels seated well. I then continue to clip the boot further up, adjusting up one notch at a time on the buckles until I feel the boot start to grip my foot. The two important buckles for me are the two middle ones which I believe support your ankle and pull your foot into the rear of the boot. These two are slightly tighter than the buckle by your toes as this may restrict blood flow and thus mean you getting cold feet. The top one by your shin although firm around your shin should not be down up as tight, as you should to be able to flex at the ankle forcing your shin into the tongue. Too tight around the shin may mean you will be stood to upright when skiing which causes other problems. For guidance, if your inexperienced, ask a ski instructor if they think your boot is correct.
My final test is to then wiggle my toes and then try to stand on my tip toes to see how much movement my foot has in the boot. It will not be uncommon to have small heel movement in your boot, but this should only be super minimal. My foot does not slip from side to side and the buckles are not cranked up so tight as this would signify a boot to big for your feet. At the outset my foot appeared too small for the boot as my toes touched the end, but with the boot correctly tightened, and with me adopting a good ski position with flex at the ankles, knees and hips, my foot is forced into the rear of the boot, thus meaning my toes are now not pressed against the ends.
Trying on several different makes of boots will help you find a more accurate fit. It is the same as training shoes, for example, some makes fit your foot better. Our feet are all different shapes from narrow to wide to big calves, to weird shape toes! lol You should be buying your boots from a highly recommended shop or supplier, which in turn means that great care and attention is taken to get the boot right for you, that the inner shell is moulded specifically for your foot. I do not advise buying off the internet! This is a big investment in your comfort and if wrong, will ruin your holiday at best, so do not be afraid to ask questions and find out how much boot fitting experience or what qualifications they have. At the end of the day, the boot fitter cannot get inside your boot and look, you have to feel and let them know. Finally, remember when you are finished in the evening to do the buckles up on the boot. This keeps the boots shape.
To summarise, a boot is a tool designed for your comfort and safety. There is no point in driving a Ferrari if you just passed your driving test, so don’t pick a boot just because of its colour or based on price. Remember to get the right specification for your ability. If a ski boot is very uncomfortable having tried it, many shops have machines which can adjust the shell to the minutest of detail, so it means the boot fits you perfectly. Remember, you may need special insoles or remember to cut your toe nails 😉 Ski boots in the extreme cold will shrink and tighten or in the warmer spring months, the plastic becomes softer. The are many variables with ski equipment and a little knowledge will mean you are armed to get the best from them 🙂
Disclaimer: This information is based on personal experience and is not credited as gospel. I am super interested in any professional body who can enhance on the above information or correct the information if wrong. My aim on this blog is to help people and keep them safe.