Give your Skiing the Boot

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about boots, of late. It’s happened with enough frequency, that I’m taking to my soapbox for a Public Service Announcement. Get thee to the boot-fitter, stat.

I know, you and I may not know each other. But in my un-scientific sampling of friends, I’m noticing a trend. Nobody’s skiing comfortably in their boots. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I was one of those folks for a few weeks.

Remember, a couple of years ago when I found Boot Nirvana?

Well, I realized, a couple of weeks ago, that Nirvana had left the building. I found myself committing all manner of cardinal boot sins. Like clamping down my buckles, for instance. Bad skier. Baaaaad.

Then, there were signs that I should heed the warning my boots were sending me—in the form of achy joints after skiing (doesn’t happen when my boots are fitted properly) and knees that felt “tweaked,” for extra measure.

I heard instructors telling tales of students showing up in tears because their boots were ill-fitted and causing them extreme pain.

I skied with a friend who was skiing in boots that, to my non-professional eye, were at least two sizes too big. And her husband, who was skiing with 99 percent of his lower-body wardrobe tucked into the cuff of his boot. (“Repeat after me,” Jeff scolded, gently. “Nothing goes inside the boot except your sock.”)  I’d dismiss this as a rookie error, but another friend, who’s a lifelong skier, was making the same mistake.

Then, a girlfriend injured her ankle, skiing at another resort. It was a really bad sprain—she’s off the hill for at least a few weeks. “I think my boots are kind of loose,” she admitted. She’s an expert skier. She should know better. But, she’s also a parent, and in the habit of deferring nuisance tasks like gear maintenance in favor of other tasks related to her kid’s skiing safety gear, etc. I get it.

Finally, after all that, I marched myself in to see “my” Boot Fitting Dude at Jans. No sooner had I put down my boot bag than he was extricating the boots from it, spiriting them off to the shop in the back and asking me questions as he went. “Mm hmm, mmhmm,” He nodded his assent to my “complaints,” and then disappeared. Moments later, he was back. We were trying the boots on. There were some minor tweaks. My awesome fit was restored. It took—wait for it—fifteen minutes.

Even if you think your boots are fine, do yourself a favor and spend fifteen minutes with a boot fitter. The good ones (and there are a lot of them in this town) are never going to try to sell you on a new boot if you don’t, honestly, need one. They’ll just fix you up and get you back on the hill. You’re welcome.

“Get it in Gear”

Opening day may be more than a month a way, but in our household, ski season is ON. How did I know? For one thing, Big Guy, age 7, appeared in our bedroom last Friday morning at the crack of early to exclaim, “It’s going to snow on Monday!!!” He’d been checking Doppler Radar on the computer, apparently.

 The weather defied his prediction, however, offering a dusting that very evening on the top of Bald Mountain. Thus, our preparations kicked into high gear.

First, we adjusted the fit of the helmets. Little Guy, age 3, now fills out his helmet just a bit past the smallest setting; Big Guy’s fits on the largest setting of his. Little Guy is otherwise well-equipped with hand-me-down ski clothes from big bro, and the too-cute-for-words 16cm boots, which were a gift last year from his “ski Aunt and ski Uncle” and Elan Spyder skis purchased for him last year by his parents and the grandfather known affectionately as Parka. You can see him modeling the boots, along with his erstwhile companions, Dine Dine and Ding Dong, below. You’ll notice that he’s sporting them indoors—and while their intrinsic value as an any-outfit accessory is unimpeachable, I must put in a plug here for the age-old tradition of letting your kids play in their gear inside the house. Find a carpeted area and have them practice putting on, walking around in, and taking off the boots, then help them click in and out of the bindings and help them shuffle their feet along the carpet a bit. The more playtime they have with the gear indoors, the easier it will be to get their buy-in to put the stuff on when it counts. And believe me…no ski day was ever enhanced by a gear-related meltdown.

 

But, the gear has to fit in order to play this game. In this spirit, we piled into the car with Big Guy’s ski gear and headed to the local shop to whose Grow-With-Me program we are subscribers. He’d burst through three shoe sizes in the past 7 months, so it was no surprise the boots were too tight. Even less surprising, it was time to jump up 10cm in ski size—and the tech told us as we departed that he’ll count on seeing us mid-season for a longer ski yet.

Next stop, the outlet mall, where we replaced the ski jacket that had been lost—yet again!—at the end of last season. (Am I the only parent who has considered having jackets surgically attached to her kids?) Also purchased, some après ski mocs for Big Guy.

Next on the list: new goggles and some new gloves for the Big Guy, too. I can’t stand the shoddy make of most kids’ ski gloves, so if you’ve had luck with a particular brand, leave it in the comments section.