There comes a time in a man’s life when he must set aside the toys of his youth. Or in this case, an old man must set aside his old ski boots and by new ones. After talking for a year about the need for new ski boots, my wife finally pushed me into it.
All last season, I noticed that my trusty Salomons weren’t quite the boots I remembered when they were new. They weren’t as comfortable and I began to notice that the shell was starting to show some signs of wear. Also, spraying Febreze into the liners was starting to become a weekly event.
So, a couple of months ago, I started to research new boots. When the Ski magazine 2014 Buyers Guide came out, I dug through the pages and read the reviews about moderate- to high-performance boots that would fit a person with long and wide feet (size 12 EE). There were a couple that I thought might fit the bill. I followed that up with online research to see what skiers in the real world were saying about those particular boots. I finally had all the knowledge I needed, but my all-knowing wife knew I needed a push.
Two weeks ago, before my weekly Saturday morning ski event with the “Regular Group of Idiots,” my wife announced that she would be meeting me at our after-ski beer and sandwich locale in the village. Next thing I knew, she was dragging me down the street to the City Garage Ski Shop. Well, not really dragging — The City Garage is my favorite ski shop and I’m always looking for reasons to go there. And buying new boots is the perfect reason!
We arrived at the shop with my skis and old boots in tow. I brought my skis knowing that if I did buy new boots, the bindings would have to be adjusted. I brought my old boots, because I was hoping to save a few bucks if I could use my old orthotics (more about those later) and heaters.
Now, in my mind, I thought I had my old boots about eight years.
Tim Cummiskey, the master bootfitter at The City Garage, took one look at them and said, “I’ve been here 10 years and I don’t remember that model.”
Shop owner Sean Lowes said, “I’ve had the shop 14 years and I sold those for only the first year.”
Ok, I’ve had these boots for 14 years. Yep, I definitely needed new boots!
The challenge was finding boots to fit my large feet. Shops don’t carry a large supply of boots for people like me. Sean didn’t have my size for my first choice, but he did for my second choice and I was quickly sent to Tim for the fitting.
The boots I wanted were Salomons, but Tim didn’t want me to limit my choices, so he pulled out a Lange in my size that I hadn’t considered. I slid a Salomon boot on my left foot and a Lange on my right. I don’t know if it was my bias toward Salomon, or if the Lange really was a bit tight, but I quickly decided on the Salomons.
Once the decision was made, Tim started to work his magic custom fitting the boots to my feet. His job was made a lot easier after he determined that he could use my old orthotics and heaters.
A word about orthotics — custom foot beds. I believe that they make your boot fit better and make it more comfortable. In a future article, we’ll chat about the process of how Tim and Sean can make custom orthotics for you right at their shop.
Tim pulled the liners out of the shells and placed my old orthotics and heaters into the boots. The liners were then heated for a few minutes. The boots were then reassembled and I slid my feet into my new boots. As they cooled, they molded themselves around my feet for a perfect fit. Wow, did they feel good!
But would they continue to feel this good on the hill? Well, after skiing a full day on them, I can report with an unqualified “yes!” I pulled them on in the morning and didn’t give them a second thought all day — and no sore spots the next day either.
Next time, I won’t wait so long.
Disclaimer: Even though I went to The City Garage, you will find that other members of the Regular Group of Idiots swear by their excellent experiences at the other fine ski shops in Ellicottville. My challenge as an old man is that I like routine, plus it’s the only shop I remember how to get to without getting lost in the village.
Remember: Experiences are individual, and results and side effects may vary. So try all the shops until you find your fit.