Britain’s leading specialist ski guru, Terry Bartlett, has given us his top 5 tips for ski comfort, starting with your most important piece of kit – YOUR BOOTS.
Good, well-fitting boots are the key to performance – and follow Terry’s advice and cramped toes, foot pain, and injuries caused by falling a lot – are a thing of the past.
Terry has been running his Ski Bartlett store in Hillingdon, London, since 1965 and is one of the most qualified techies in the land, fitting out not just top ski racers, but leading figures in the ski world, including the Good Ski Guide. Here’s Terry’s top tips:
1. Get proper ski socks. Are you aware you should have socks made for right and left foot? Terry recommends German brand Falke, which brags it precision-engineers the socks – Merino wool with impact padding on shins, ankle and calf -and when drying them don’t leave on radiators, as they dry naturally overnight,
2. Make sure you get your boots fitted by a proper technician in a specialist ski store and never buy or get fitted at ski shows. Take care your fitter measures your feet both seated and standing, assesses your feet for potential problems, including ankle and knee alignment and foot stability, and asks about any previous problems you may have had. This should happen before you put your foot in a pair of boots! Your bootfitter should then shell-checks boots for space around the foot inside the shell without the boot liner.
3. Once the boot is on ensure the boot length is correct by standing up straight – you should be able to feel your toes on the end of the liner. When you flex forward in your boots you should be able to wiggle your toes, though you may still be able to brush the front of the liner. Check the flex of the boot is suitable for you, there are no hard and fast rules, appropriate flex depends upon your height, weight, ability and ankle flexibility. You should feel the front of the boot is supportive, but not rock solid, and equally you should feel some resistance when you flex forward, if you fold the boot in half it’s too soft.
4. Be sure there is no heel movement when you flex forward, your feet shouldn’t slide backwards and forwards when walking, and if you roll your feet from side to side the boot should feel like it’s moving with your foot. Expect to spend five or ten minutes in each boot you try, to let the liners soften with the heat from your foot. The whole process should take at least an hour and a half. When the fitting is complete the boot should feel like a firm handshake, with even pressure all around, but never as tight as a vice.
5. Finally enjoy your skiing and at the end of your skiing for the season remove the boot inner and dry it thouroughly in a warm place. Buckle up the boots to help them keep their shape, and store them somewhere away from extreme temperatures and mice, that means not in the garage or the loft!
Happy feet mean happy skiing.