For best performance, a bootfitter will select the right size boot for each
racer by checking:
Foot length — measured from the heel to the toe, as well as from the heel
to the ball of the foot.
Foot width — primarily measured across the ball of the foot.
Instep height — which, with foot width, will determine the amount of
boot volume needed.
Many racers buy boots that are too large. “If it fits right out of the box, it’s
too big for you,” says Lindsay. “In fact, it should feel uncomfortably tight when
Randy Graves, former Rossignol product manager and World Cup tech,
adds that you shouldn’t get a longer or bigger boot just because it feels more
comfortable at first. “Instead, work with a good bootfitter to create the wiggle
room and comfort you
need,” says Graves.
You should also allow
no more than 0.5 inches
of space behind your heel
when you’re standing in
the shell of the boot, says
former World Cup tech
P. J. Dewey of Race Stock
Sports in Waterbury, Vt.,
“And less for masters,” he
says. “Don’t buy too big a
boot.” Jim Lindsay at work on a boot in Aspen.
How your body moves is equally important when selecting race boots,
Tibial angle. Are you straight-legged, bowlegged or knock-kneed? An upper cuff that adjusts side-to-side can help accommodate this.
Tibial tracking. Do your knees travel straight forward or off to one side
when you flex forward? Different boots have either symmetrical or offset upper cuff hinges to accommodate this.
Net Forward Angle. This is a combination of the forward cuff angle and
zeppa angle. How much your lower leg flexes forward at the ankle in an athletic stance is called dorsiflexion, and normally measures 10 to 20 degrees. A
bootfitter can help you choose a boot whose forward lean (cuff angle of 12 to
19 degrees), minus the zeppa angle (an under-footbed support that lifts your
heels 4 to 8 degrees higher than your toes), most closely approximates your
personal dorsiflexion. This puts you in a neutral, balanced and powerful fore-to-aft position with your weight evenly distributed between your forefoot and
heel to deliver greater performance, as well as help prevent a myriad of other
fit and comfort problems. Take time to get it right, since “forward lean is like
tequila,” says Lindsay. “A little can make things better, but a lot more doesn’t
make things a lot better.”
Boot ramp angle. This is a measurement of how flat your foot sits inside the
boot. Most boots raise your heels higher than your toes; this usually measures
around +1 or +2 degrees. If the toe sits higher than the heel, it’s measured as
-1 or -2 degrees. For technical events, some World Cup racers prefer a flat or
negative (toe high) boot ramp angle, which is sometimes referred to as the
“gas pedal” since it allows them to knee forward and press down ski tips with
more force to initiate quicker turns in tight gates. Conversely, racers often
prefer a positive (heel high) boot angle for speed events where they have more
time between gates and don’t need or want to initiate turns too quickly.
Binding ramp angle. This is a measurement of how high bindings lift the
toes and heels of your boot sole above the ski. The binding ramp angle can
be very unpredictable since it can vary between binding brands and models,
as well as with the same binding depending on if it’s mounted on a plate or
rail system. It also varies depending on the sole length of boot — usually creating a higher angle with short boots, and less for long boots. Binding ramp
angle can be adjusted by using binding toe and heelpiece shims of various
thicknesses. Again, the help of a good bootfitter is valuable here.
Talk with winning racers and knowledgeable coaches to find out who they
recommend. Try to find a good bootfitter nearby, since fitting a performance
race boot often requires a few return visits so you can provide feedback and
get the fit dialed-in perfectly.
“Choose a bootfitter you can communicate well with and be absolutely honest with them so you don’t end up in a boot that can hinder or hurt you,” says
Parents need to be involved when junior racers get boots, says Lindsay, “in
order to gain confidence in their bootfitter, as well as better understand the
need for and value of true race performance.”
Good bootfitters are smart and observant. “I start evaluating clients before
we even begin talking, by watching them walk across the room, and by shaking hands,” says Lawrence. “The firmness or softness of their hands usually
reflects what I’ll find in their feet.”
In addition to the price of the boots, expect to pay $250 to $300 for a winning race fit, including custom footbeds.
Jack Moore is the founder of Tognar Toolworks ( tognar.com), a worldwide purveyor of
ski tuning tools and waxes
Recommended race boots for juniors and masters
Most boot manufacturers build three different versions of their race boot in order to better
meet the individual needs of athletes.
First, there is the high-performance, stiff, stripped-down “race plug” boot. This model
typically features the narrowest (up to 95 mm wide) shell with extra thick walls (for greater
stiffness and to accommodate more custom grinding) and a thinner inner boot liner. These
boots rarely fit out-of-the-box and need to be custom-fit by a good bootfitter.
Next, there is a more relaxed race model (aka, “soft plug” or “plug lite” boot) featuring
a slightly wider (98 mm) shell with thinner and softer walls, a thicker and more cushioned
liner, plus a greater variety of features and adjustments. In many cases, these boots are
ready to go out-of-the box or with minimal custom fitting.
Third, there are junior models that are characterized by softer flexes, lower cuff heights,
fewer features and less expensive liners than adult models.
RC4 WC PRO 95
Raptor 150 RD
World Cup R2006
Dobermann WC EDT 150
Dobermann WC EDT 130
Dobermann WC EDT 100
Radical WC RR
Radical WC R
Salomon X3 LAB Soft
Tecnica Diablo Race R
RC4 WC PRO JR
World Cup Team
Dobermann Team 90
Dobermann Team 70
Dobermann Team 60
Radical Jr WC 90
Radical Jr Pro 70
Radical Jr 60
X3 Jr Pro
Diablo Race Pro 90
Diablo Race 70
Diablo Race 60