Boot fitting expert Fabian-Stiepel from Bründl Sports on boots, feet and why the ski is not the most important thing when skiing.
What are the options for ski boot fitting?
1) The simplest option is to heat the shell in a special ski boot oven to adapt the soft plastic to the leg or foot. There are differences in the material used by different manufacturers, as some allow more mouldability than others. Some only create a change potential of 1-2mm, which in many cases is simply too less to solve certain problems.
2) The most common variant of bootfitting at present is the selective treatment of problem areas. This involves first analysing or identifying the problem zones. These are marked on the foot or the shell. The shell is heated to the correct temperature using a hot air gun. The shoe including the inner shoe is put on, closed and held in the correct position until the cooling phase is completed. This technique is suitable for most commercially available ski boots and performed within relatively short time.
3) The use of expression presses is also possible, but usually takes longer.
4) Due to the thicker shell, racing boots can also be ground out at certain pressure points. This is not possible with lightweight shoes such as touring ski boots. With conventional commercial models, grinding out the shell would only be possible in the heel area, as these also tend to have a thinner shell wall.
5) Inner shoes are pre-shaped by the manufacturers in a 3D process. The shape corresponds to an "average foot" which means that your own foot may well deviate from this average of all feet measured by the manufacturer. After the 1st or 2nd day of skiing, you should feel if there are any problems. Here, too, a heat process is used to adapt the ankle pocket of the inner boot to your own ankle. The ankle is taped to create more space in the corresponding area.
Which ski boot problems are you most often confronted with?
Shin: For 90% of the guests, the fit in the cuff area is too loose. This causes poor pressure distribution in the shin area and creates potential for friction. The shoe tongue should provide even pressure from the ankle to the end of the tongue. There should not be a palm-wide gap between the calf and the shell.
Little toe - medial malleolus - navicular bone: Problems in these areas often occur together. The cause is an inward bending of the lower leg/ankle. This causes the pressure points on the inner ankle and the navicular bone, and at the same time on the opposite side on the little toe. The solution here is often to use an insole to prevent pronation, the inward migration of the ankle and navicular bone.
Are there dangers or negative consequences of ignoring shoe problems?
Ganglions can develop at ankle pressure points. The little toe gets big and causes increasingly bigger problems in the ski boot. Pressure points and friction points can lead to blisters and, in the worst case, to inflammations that can mean the end of the season. Ski boots that are too small can lead to bloodshot toenails, among other things, due to permanent impact forces.
What mistakes should you avoid at all costs when buying ski boots?
Don't buy too big: sluggish power transmission, friction points and "swimming" in the boot should be avoided at all costs.
Don't buy a too high flex: A high flex is not necessarily better. The hardness of the shoe must suit your ability and area of use.
The sole length should be kept short. A precise fit is important for power transmission and.
You don't buy a ski boot in passing by. You should plan at least one hour for the purchase of ski boots.
What else do you think is important about this topic?
The ski boot is the most important tool of a skier, if it doesn't fit, the best ski is useless. The boot is the connection between the body and the ski. It is better to invest 200-300 euros more in the boot and save a little on the ski than vice versa.
You should make an appointment with a good bootfitter to have your boot properly fitted.