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With the success of my first 30-second ski lesson, I am adding another lesson to the series. The biggest difference you can make in your skiing happens before you snap into your boots—in fact it happens before you even go up the mountain. Most skiers don’t realize you ski from your feet up.
All skiing happens from your feet first. If you’re not in the proper footwear, it doesn’t matter what skis you’re riding or what skills you possess, your skiing with falter.
I plateaued in my skiing for a few seasons at an intermediate level. I could ski down any groomed run on the mountain but fell apart a foot off-piste. I kept figuring eventually I’d get better, and I did but only fractionally. I finally broke down and took a lesson. My biggest takeaway from that lesson was that my boots were about two to three sizes too big for me—and that a lot of folks are skiing in the wrong sized boot.
Take 30 seconds to tell if your boots are too big:
- When you press your shin into the front of your boot, does your heel pop or slip around?
- Do your toes jam into the boot? You may think this means you need a bigger boot (I did), but what it really means is your foot is slipping around.
- Is it easy to put your boot on?
Now that you know you need a new boot, it’s time to go to the boot fitter (unfortunately this part takes more than 30 seconds and a few dollars). Don’t just go to you local ski shop; a lot of those workers don’t really know what they’re doing on a fit. Go to a shop with a professional boot fitter. They will ask you a few questions and do some measuring before you try on several boots.
Once you find the right boot, you’re only half way there and why you need a boot fitter. The most important thing they’ll do is create a custom footbed molded to your foot (these can be transferred from boot to boot). They can also tighten and loosen parts of the boot to fit you better. For instance my left foot is bigger than my right foot (not an uncommon occurrence). One boot never fits right but with adjustments, I have two working boots.
As much as these fitters are experts, don’t get talked into a boot that doesn’t feel right. I’m an expert skier but short in height. Everyone kept trying to put me in stiffer boot that I never felt right skiing in. I now ski a lower flex and am much happier.
Another tip to get the right boots is to buy them from REI first before fitting them. That way if it doesn’t feel right, you can return them. Still take them to a professional fitter.
For an outdoor adventure without ever having to get outside, check out the Lost Gorge Mystery series!
So helpful! I feel like I made this mistake with running shoes years ago and can see how it could happen with skis. I’ve only ever rented downhill skis but this is still helpful to know what to look for when renting. Thank you!
This is very helpful information. When I first started skiing, my boots were too big and it certainly affected my skiing. When I finally got the right size, it was amazing.
This is super helpful information. I started skiing with the wrong size boots and didn’t progress very far. Once I got the right size boots it was amazing.