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buyers guide 2011

Boots: Test Team

Sure you want to be a boot tester? It’s a special breed, because testing can be an uncomfortable ordeal. But our testers are happy martyrs, since good boots are the key to every skier’s success.

› Carol Blackwell, 46, 125 pounds, instructor; former SKI Magazine Top 100 instructor

› Scott Blackwell, 53, 165 pounds, instructor, staff trainer, Mt. Bachelor, Ore.; bootfitter, Mt. Bachelor Ski & Sport › Nick Blaylock, 33, 180 pounds, founder, head bootfitter, Mount Snow (Vt.) Boot Works; instructor, Masterfit University Boots Test Team

Boots: How We Test

Boots: How We Test
how we test boots thumb
We returned to Mt. Bachelor, Ore., last spring and called in the pros from America's Best Bootfitters and Masterfit University—the guys who teach bootfitters how to fit boots—to help us evaluate the 2012 offerings.

 To test boots, we returned to Mt. Bachelor, Ore., last spring and called in the pros from America’s Best Bootfitters and Masterfit University— the guys who teach bootfitters how to fit boots—to help us evaluate the 2012 offerings. The question we get asked the most? Easy: “Why are all the reviews positive?” The answer is simple. We begin the test only with boots we think are going to be good. Once the skiing starts, boots that don’t meet testers’ standards are eliminated from further review. So what’s left? Just the best of the bunch.

Boots: What You Need to Know

Buy boots now › Boots are the conductors between your legs and your skis. A sloppy fit and— zap—the lights go out. (Frankly, we’re surprised newbies in rental “mush buckets” ever stick with the sport.) Boots are the single most important piece of ski gear, and getting the right pair will make you a better skier.

Skis: What You Need to Know

It may seem like rocket science. But if you learn how to decode some basic information about gear, it goes a long way in helping you find your perfect setup. Here’s your key.

Understanding Dimensions › We know how intimidating numbers can be. But nothing tells you more about a ski than its tip, waist and tail measurements. They illustrate what terrain a ski is best suited for, as well as how forgiving it may be, so pay attention.

Waist Width:

Narrow waists (under 85 mm) are quick and grippy, built for groomed.

Skis: Test Team

Olympians, freeriders, coaches, retailers, our testers occupy every niche in the industry. They do have one thing in common: They know gear— and how to use it.

› Kim Beekman, 35, 115 pounds; SKI’s managing editor; Colorado native

› Erik Boller, 40, 190 pounds; repair manager of Rennstall for Jans ski shop in Park City, Utah; ex-racer

› Todd Casey, 42, 190 pounds; PSIA Level III alpine and telemark instructor at Copper Mountain, Colo.

› Joe Cutts, 48, 245 pounds; SKI’s deputy editor and equipment-test director; Vermont native

Anatomy: Boots

Your first step to improving your skiing? Your boots. Here’s a look inside.

1 › Boot board The platform inside the boot shell on which the liner rests; usually removable; also referred to by its Italian name, zeppa.

2 › Footbed The removable platform— located inside the liner— on which your foot rests.

Skis: Understanding Rocker

No longer new and innovative, rocker’s here to stay, part of the ski-design landscape.

- WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT ROCKER? No one has any trouble understanding the primary benefit: flotation. If you’ve ever seen a water ski you can imagine how reverse camber—rocker—would make a snow ski more buoyant in powder. But rocker has become just as important in everyday, all-mountain conditions. Why? Two reasons: shock absorption and, well, call it “pivotability.” By rockering the tip, thus relieving its downward pressure on the snow, manufacturers can make skis smoother riding and easier to balance on in rough terrain.

Last Chair: Salomon's Bertrand Krafft

Bertrand Krafft
BBR photo
Ski designer Bertrand Krafft’s singular mission? Have a blast—and take you along for the ride.

Shape-shifter Bertrand Krafft, alpine ski developer for Salomon, lives near Chamonix, but brings a surfer’s soul to the snow. The creator of several pioneering ski designs, Krafft (aka “Beber”) has an eponymous ski launching this season, the BBR.

SKI › You created the X Scream and twin-tip Pocket Rocket, both of which challenged design conventions—and sold well. Now you’re launching the V-shaped BBR. What inspired it?

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