Master Bootfitter Keith Holmquist will fit you with the ski boot that's right for you
Getting the Right Ski Boot Fit with a Master Boot Fitter by Christine Lynn Harvey

If you want to take your skiing to the best level possible, it's a good idea to pay a visit to a ski boot fitter. Keith Holmquist, a master boot fitter, is also owner of the Pro Ski 'n Ride Shop, located at the base of Hunter Mountain in the Catskills. He is also a boot tester for Ski Press and was a rep for a boot company for a number of years. Holmquist has been in the business over 35 years. As a downhill Nastar racer himself, his expertise is with fitting boots for racers. Bill Gucker, Hunter Mountain's Nastar race coach and instructor, analyzes racers form with a videotape analysis and then sends them back to Holmquist a proper boot fitting.

"Sometimes, we have to change a person's stance to get better performance from their skiing," Holmquist says. "I try to take someone with a physical disadvantage and turn their disadvantage into a mechanical advantage. I've always believed skiing is an individual sport and your equipment is part of that." If you've been skiing a while, you know which boots you should be buying. An advanced to expert skier will want a more aggressive boot which tends to be a stiffer and tighter fit. Women's boots are not as stiff. Some boots are more angulated for more aggressive skiing. By aggressive, we mean black diamond to double diamond trails. If you are serious about improving yourself, you really do need the one-on-one care and attention that a master boot fitter can provide and to learn about all the different nuances of ski boots. Some boots have a removable sole. This reduces the amount of energy making contact with the ski, but a removable sole can be replaced by a new one. When the soles wear out on a solid sole, you need to replace the entire boot. "When we get to something like skiing, sometimes we can get a little too technical and we forget we ski to have fun," Holmquist says.

People expect the skis to do the work. You must perfect your skills first in order to get the most out of your equipment. A heel inclinator helps you create more angle and helps get you more forward on your boots. Some boots have modulator cuffs which support your calves. All boots are made differently, so you can't just assume that because you are a size 9 regular shoe, you need a size 9 ski boot because many boots are made in Europe which has different sizing criteria. Holmquist's shop is complete with a boot heater which helps decrease the break-in time and helps the boot mold faster to your foot for a better fit; he also has an orthotics molding machine and a stance alignment machine.

A skier who is one side-dominant, such as the right side, pressure is placed on the lateral side of the right foot and medial side of the left foot making that skier favor the right side too much when skiing. Holmquist's task in this case is to move the tibia of the leg into the talus of the ankle for better alignment which will make the skier ski more efficiently. This is why Holmquist calls himself a "Pedorthist," someone who designs, manufactures and modifies footwear, orthotics and devices to alleviate foot problems caused by disease, overuse or injury. A cast is made of the bottom of the skier's foot sole after the foot is manipulated into a neutral position on the orthotics molding machine which uses a bed of fine sand to create the impression. Holmquist’s orthotics cast is different than typical foam box castings in that the casts he makes in his shop are based on corrected or proper alignment of the foot and leg.

The alignment problem is not mirrored as it is in a foam box cast. Holmquist then glues posting shells to the framework of the orthotics which are then ground down to fit the inside of the boot shell. Then, the skier steps into their boots on the stance alignment machine where the skier's knees are held into a proper ski stance and boot angles are measured. Shims may be added to the boot to further align one or both legs and create a neutral stance which is the primary goal of the boot fitter. Then, it's back out on the slopes for a video analysis to see how the skier's alignment looks on the hill. Some skiers are "A frame" skiers, meaning they tend to ski with knock-knees which is easily corrected with a proper boot fit. If you are properly fitted, you should not have to overly tighten your boot buckles.

Many people have the perception they have to tighten their boot buckles to the point they can not feel their feet move. This is a wrong perception that only prevents skiers from getting the best performance out of their boots. “To me, it’s like taking a hammer and trying to hit the head of a nail with the hammer too close,” he says. “You need some space, you need some inertia. Inside a boot, you want some room for flexion. If your boot is too tight, you have a weak ankle and you can’t get that flexion you need to put pressure up on your skis where it’s needed.” As the ankle is flexed in the boot, the boot is “grounded” which means the heel is lifted to the right angle. Some boots have automatic heel lifts and if not, the boot fitter can add heel lifts inside the boot. This procedure serves to find the center of new mass alignment. When the skier has proper stance, the knee should line up over the big toe.

Holmquist also uses kinesiology in fitting his customer's boots. "When you are standing, you are putting so much concentration and energy on just standing. When you are standing on an orthotic support, you have less energy focused on maintaining balance and you get more out of your skiing because you are focused forward as you ski down the slope." Getting a proper ski boot fit from a master boot fitter like Holmquist will take your skiing more efficient and help you enjoy skiing more.

For more information on a proper ski boot fit, or to arrange an appointment with Keith Holmquist, please call The Pro Ski and Ride Shop, located at Route 23A, Hunter , NY 12442 (518) 263-5303 or visit www.TheProSkiAndRideShop.com.

Sanding down the outer shell & sole of the orthotics for the exact fit
Aligning the knees over the boot