New gear... and a question about tipping a boot fitter.

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New gear... and a question about tipping a boot fitter.

Postby flyover » Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:57 pm

So my health and orthopedic history have been . . . complex over the last 14 months. I couldn't ski at all last winter and haven't been too sure about this winter, but about three weeks ago my orthopedic surgeon gave me a somewhat-reluctant thumbs-up for "gentle skiing" this winter. I avoided getting into a detailed discussion with him about how to define "gentle." I'll assess and manage my own risks, thank you very much.

To begin that assessment I've gone out and tooled around on the local mole hills a couple of times and have come to two main conclusions: 1) I'm confident I'll be just fine as long as I avoid air, zipper-line bump skiing, and hard falls onto hard surfaces, and 2) I will be a safer and better skier if I ski with a fixed heel this winter. My wife is a physical therapist with an orthopedic specialty. She has identified some slight, but lingering left-sided weakness and diminished proprioception that I had not recently noticed until my experiments skiing over the last couple of weeks. Simply-put, my tele turns to the left hurt and feel less precise and dependable than I am used to. Fortunately, my parallel turns are painless and still feel bomber. A fixed-heel DIN setup will also help to manage risk in a couple of other ways. First, like someone else on this board once said, I don't fall much, but when I do it tends to be spectacular. In my case this is almost always due to a hooked tip after failing to put enough weight on the back ski. If I'm not making tele turns, obviously, I won't have to worry about weighting the back ski and should, in theory, fall less often. Second, it really seems like DIN releasable bindings might be an extra-good idea for me now. So for the first time in exactly 20 years I will be skiing with a fixed heel (although I plan to keep a set of rock skis set up for tele and to use them on the local mole hills.)

Toward that end, I purchased a pair of last-season's Salomon QST Pro 130s for a significant discount, and am mounting a pair of Guardian 13s on my lightweight all-mountain skis (so I can still occasionally tour around the U.P. and elsewhere), and a pair of Warden 13s on my powder boards. The QSTs are the first new boots I have bought in about 12 years. I purchased them online after trying other Salomon models in local shops. They fit reasonably well out of the box, but the foot beds were not to my liking and I needed more room in the toe boxes and insteps. I interviewed a couple of local boot fitters and chose the best listener (pro) with the most-accommodating schedule (perhaps a pro or a con). On the first visit last week, we molded custom foot beds. Today we heat-molded the liners and shells to make additional room in the insteps and in the toe boxes. I haven't skied the boots yet, but they felt so right in the store today, that I'm pretty sure we've nailed it.

To review: I did not buy the boots from the shop where the boot fitting was done. The boot fitter very patiently spent about 15 minutes discussing my skiing history, skiing style and priorities before I decided to work with him. He also offered helpful advice prior to my purchase of the boots. Work on the custom foot beds was pretty standard and took less than 30 minutes although he was very thorough about familiarizing himself with the design and construction of the QST shell, boot boards and liners in the process. Heat molding the shells and liners and adding needed volume to the boot took about an hour today. Also today, he personally intervened with his shop's techs to circumvent the current long wait (about two weeks) for mounting my new bindings (I'm picking them up tomorrow). Further, he spent the time to take my tele binding off of my boards while I was still in the shop today so that there would be no confusion about whether the skis could be mounted again and no confusion about the precise manufacturer's center line. All in all, I took about two hours of his time today. He charged me for the footbeds and standard shop rate for the binding mounting, but did not charge me for the shell or liner heat molding.

So here's my question: like I stated above, I have not purchased new boots in a long time, what's the current etiquette for tipping an attentive and thorough boot fitter? I'm picking up my skis and boots tomorrow and feel like I should offer him some kind of gratuity.
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Re: New gear... and a question about tipping a boot fitter.

Postby EMSC » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:18 am

Probably a day too late, but sounds like a $20 spot or several 6 packs of brew for the whole shop would be appropriate.

Although not sure why you would want a boot with a 130 flex given your history of Tele and recent orthopedic issues. I'd think you would want a much softer flexing boot than that.
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Re: New gear... and a question about tipping a boot fitter.

Postby flyover » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:04 am

Thanks. I went just a bit higher, but at least now I'm reassured the gratuity I gave him was in the ballpark.

With regard to the flex, I did my homework. I was drawn to the QST 130 by the fit (100mm last), the light weight, its down hill performance, its versatility with respect to binding compatibility, and the deal I found online. Frankly, the claimed 130 flex was offputting. However, the QST Pro 130 turns out to be a rather extreme example of flex relativity. It has way more foward flex then many of the much "softer" boots I tried on in the local shops. I knew this was likely to be the case before I ordered them online by reading several pretty good reviews of the boot and by trying on other Salomon touring boots. It seems to have very good lateral rigidity, which I am used to, coming from a big 4 buckle Garmont tele boot. I hope to take them for a spin this weekend and I'll post a couple of sentences about what I think after I do that.

My particular orthopedic issues are in the bone of my pelvis and muscle attachments and tendons disturbed by surgery to repair the injury to that bone. So forgiving boot flex, while not irrelevant, maybe a little less important than if I were dealing with a knee issue for example.
Last edited by flyover on Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New gear... and a question about tipping a boot fitter.

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:32 am

I avoided getting into a detailed discussion with him about how to define "gentle."

Mustang would not qualify as "gentle" by many people's definition, but powder skiing delivers very little shock to the body if done efficiently. I had a back spasm on one cat trip, which was very uncomfortable riding the cat and driving the car afterwards, but not while skiing. Taking to the air is not good. The sensitivity of physical problems to moguls seems to vary by the individual and the specific problem.

I sure wondered about that 130 flex too. Salomon boots being way more flexible than their nominal rating? :-k That's what we found during Liz' boot soap opera. And there are ways to loosen that flex aftermarket if necessary, much easier than the reverse.
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Re: New gear... and a question about tipping a boot fitter.

Postby flyover » Thu Dec 14, 2017 2:05 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:
I avoided getting into a detailed discussion with him about how to define "gentle."

Mustang would not qualify as "gentle" by many people's definition, but powder skiing delivers very little shock to the body if done efficiently.


Exactly. I'm defining "gentle" as "soft."

Tony, you and I skied together 4 days in 2016:

1 day at Apex (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12063), and

3 days at (Mustang viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12065).

If I were to do all of the skiing we did over those 4 days in my current condition, I think I would only feel significantly more cautious about the skiing we did at Apex. Especially the bumped-up terrain we skied near the end of the day skier's-left of the lift on the runs with firearm-themed names (22, Peashooter, Dirty Hairy, etc.). Put another way, at Alta, I think I might be more cautious about warp speeding across the high traverse than I would be about making turns on many of the runs the high traverse provides access to. My days of enjoying MRG to its absolute fullest are probably over, but I'm pretty sure I could still cautiously but efficiently finesse my way through moguls if I have to. My overall fitness is pretty close to where I was during our last Mustang trip, so I'm pretty confident that even if I ski with a bit more caution, I'm not likely to slow the group down.

Tony Crocker wrote:I sure wondered about that 130 flex too. Salomon boots being way more flexible than their nominal rating? :-k That's what we found during Liz' boot soap opera.


On the carpet, I found the QST Pro 130 to have a softer forward flex than the Technica Zero G Guide which has an advertised flex of 110. For that matter, I also found the QST Pro to have a softer forward flex than the MTN s-Lab which is another Salomon AT boot with an advertised flex of 120. :-s
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Re: New gear... and a question about tipping a boot fitter.

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:44 pm

Those 4 days illustrated the shortcomings of MY level of fitness. :lol: The day at Apex was great, but I was not at a desired fitness level at Mustang as a result of pushing fairly hard on the three prior days. I usually plan my schedule to do most of the lift served skiing in Canada after Mustang. In 2016 I had to go home soon after Mustang as we were leaving for Indonesia shortly thereafter.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
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Re: New gear... and a question about tipping a boot fitter.

Postby flyover » Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:04 pm

So after 3 hours skiing nonstop molehill laps this morning in the new boots I'm happy with them so far. No hotspots or pressure points, out-of-this-world heel lock, grippy snug but with good wiggle room in the toes, firm-but-comfy all around with no shin bang or pressure on the ankle bones. The flex felt good. IMO, someone looking for a "crossover" boot around 110 should not automatically rule this boot out. At the same time I think someone who has their heart set on a true 130 boot would probably want to rule this boot out. Of course my opinion on the nominal flex of this boot should taken with a big grain of salt as today was the first day I've skied in any alpine boot for a long time. I should also probably mention that although I'm just a hair shy of 6 feet tall, I have short legs and very small feet (the boots are 25s), so I'm probably making it flex more than the average skier that would fit into my size boot.

My only concern about the boots is that even with the good wiggle room my toes were on the verge of getting cold after 3 hours between 22 and 27F. On the other hand, this may have something to do with the fact that I was a little chilly overall today. I dressed the way I always do for those kind of temperatures, but without the tele turns I didn't seem to be keeping as warm as I usually do.

It did take me at least an hour to get mostly used to having a fixed heel again. I didn't catch myself trying to drop knees when turning, but over and over I kept trying to walk through the lifelines. :lol: I was also somewhat surprised by how precise the new gear felt ( The QSTs + Salomon Guardian 13s on 2-year-old Atomic Vantage 100 CTIs). When carving turns at speed, I felt like I was getting a lot more information about the snow surfaces through the soles of my feet than I would have if I was skiing the same skis on my old tele gear. It was kind of like the difference between watching a movie in high-def digital, rather than actual film.
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