Fitting Ski Boots to Wider Feet - Part 2 (The Alpina Intervention)
By: Mark Rajack (2015/02/08)
My most popular XC Ottawa article so far has been this one: fitting ski boots to wider feet.
Wide feet to the extreme
The heavy modifications made to the boots were necessary to JUST allow for me to cross-country ski. However, it was not a long term solution for racing. The reason was, that despite the alterations, my feet were still not able to splay properly through the forefoot. For racing purposes, this means it was too painful to continually kick/ press down through the ball of my foot, as is required to be technically correct in either skate or classic skiing. Needles to say, not being able to ski properly was limiting my progress and was extremely frustrating, not to mention painful as well.
Alpina boots at the newly renovated Fresh Air Experience
Given my World Ski Championship and Olympic goals being within sight, along with my status of being on a National Ski Team, I was extremely fortunate to have Alpina Sports respond to the request for the creation of a boot that would allow me reach my full potential in this sport.
A one-to-one scan of my foot was submitted to Alpina Sports and they carefully manufactured three bespoke models of their Elite level boots. The ESk Pro (skate), ECl Pro (classic) and ED (duathlon) Pro.
The custom "elite" lineup
Alpina has an intuitive nomenclature for their Nordic boots. It begins with the level of boot in the first letter, ie. “E” for Elite, “C” for competition, “R” for racing, “T” for touring, and the following letters denote the model, ie “Sk” for skate, or “Cl” for classic... so a CCl boot would indicates a Competition level boot for classic technique.
A regular size 41 (left) compared with my custom size 39 (right) compared with . Note the extreme width.
Having worked as an employee for one of our amazing sponsors in the past, Fresh Air Experience, I have previously sold Nordic boots to many members of our ski community. I noticed that boots with a quick lace system or strap on the forefoot were features that many customers found favorable and helped make their decision in purchasing those boots. However, it was only until I was able to get my foot into an Alpina boot, that I realized the boot’s unique lacing system design allows for a greater control of tightness and forefoot area without the need for any additional straps or devices, all in great comfort. They are also remarkably light and while racing, they do not burn my shins as easily as my previous boots.
Lots of spill-over across the NNN outsole
For a truly expert review of an Elite level Alpina boot, you can read Karl’s review of the Esk Pro here. Little wonder that 6 members of XC Ottawa’s current team rely on Alpina boots to race in... that’s almost half the team.
A touch of class. My name in the boot.
Because of the custom fit, these boots are DIRECTLY responsible for my most my recent improvements in speed and technique as there was a noticeable and dramatic improvement right after I switched to my new boots. As for my upcoming performance at the World Ski Championships and should I eventually reach my Olympic goal, Alpina would have definitely played a major part in seeing me get there.
Custom Alpina boots in action.
Thank you to Bernard Pigeon for this excellent photo.