Clueless Newbie Alert - How do I know what I need / want?

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  1. #1

    Clueless Newbie Alert - How do I know what I need / want?

    Hello everyone,

    I just started skiing towards the end of last season (March 10th or so) and got in about 8 or 10 days before the end of the year. All of it was on rental equipment, and as I intend to ski much more this year (and in future years) I'd like to get my own stuff.

    I've read around here a bit, and know that boots that fit right are the most important thing, so I know what to do on that front... I'm a little more confused on the ski / binding / pole issue. I walked through the Sports Authority at the mall yesterday at lunch and they had a couple packages on sale (boots, skis, bindings, poles), for what looked to be decent prices. Is it worth giving these a shot? How much of a realistic shot of the boots fitting right do I have? Or am I better off piecing something together? If so, what would be a decent budget to start with? I don't want to repeat what I did when I started fencing... I bought a "starter set" and replaced almost everything from it before the end of my first season fencing... I'd rather make the 'right' initial investment that will keep me happy through at least the whole season. I'm thinking of getting one of these packages, and if the boots aren't perfect, replacing those fairly quickly, reasonable strategy?

    Also, when people replace equipment, is it due to wearing it out? Stepping up to something newer and better? Progressing in ability past what you've got?

    Sizing: sizing of boots is easiest... but what about skis? I'm 6'4" and about 230lbs, what should I be skiing on?

    As for ability, towards the end of last season I was able to negotiate blues without much of an issue, but doing so with people passing me on my way down the hill. I could feel myself improving each time out though, so hopefully that will continue this winter. I made it down a couple of blacks without falling, but very cautiously with back and forth across the trail... not really skiing it.

    I'm trying to learn about equipment and get it all figured out before it gets cold enough to hit the slopes.

    I bought a bronze pass for Wachusett this winter and will hopefully be going a couple nights a week after work, and making some weekend trips up to Sunday River (a friend has a place at brookside).

    Thanks in advance for any help / suggestions / guidance.

    -w


  2. #2
    Stay away from sports chains like the sports authority, especially for your boots.

    Find a local ski shop; Strands in Worchester? Even Mountainside at WA, especially since you plan on skiing there a bit. Most boots aren't perfect to start with and need some tweaking to make them comfortable. If you buy them at a ski shop they will work with you to make them work for you. At sports authority you are on your own when you walk out the door. As far as skis go, again, a real shop will be able to give you advice on what would be the right pair of skis for you.


    I did a quick search and you have Sport Loft right in Chelmsford and Zimmermans in Westford. Check either of those places out and you will get much better service and help than at a Sports Authority. Maybe you pay a little more, but you get what you pay for especially in the expertise and service department.
    Whatever hits the fan will not be distributed evenly.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by wa-loaf View Post
    Stay away from sports chains like the sports authority, especially for your boots.

    Find a local ski shop; Strands in Worchester? Even Mountainside at WA, especially since you plan on skiing there a bit. Most boots aren't perfect to start with and need some tweaking to make them comfortable. If you buy them at a ski shop they will work with you to make them work for you. At sports authority you are on your own when you walk out the door. As far as skis go, again, a real shop will be able to give you advice on what would be the right pair of skis for you.


    I did a quick search and you have Sport Loft right in Chelmsford and Zimmermans in Westford. Check either of those places out and you will get much better service and help than at a Sports Authority. Maybe you pay a little more, but you get what you pay for especially in the expertise and service department.
    That was the feeling I had about SA, but didn't know if the fact that they were a big chain was more of the reason for their pricing (since they can buy a much larger quantity of inventory), but thought they might be the Wal*Mart of ski shops...

    I also work in Woburn and there's a ski market here and ski haus over in Wilmington that I'm going to make a visit to. Any of these have a better reputation than others?

    thanks again,

    -w

  4. #4
    hammer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WJenness View Post
    That was the feeling I had about SA, but didn't know if the fact that they were a big chain was more of the reason for their pricing (since they can buy a much larger quantity of inventory), but thought they might be the Wal*Mart of ski shops...

    I also work in Woburn and there's a ski market here and ski haus over in Wilmington that I'm going to make a visit to. Any of these have a better reputation than others?

    thanks again,

    -w
    Never been to the Ski Haus but they seem to have a pretty good reputation. Did a little window shopping at the Salem, NH store and the prices were pretty good.

    I'd suggest that you also check out Ken Jones or Zimmerman's in Nashua...I've shopped at both and have had good service. Prices at both are also reasonable...look for closeout specials or last year's models if they have them.

  5. #5
    Ski Market has some knowledgeable people working at most stores, but it's hard to find any good deals there. Don't know Ski Haus.
    Whatever hits the fan will not be distributed evenly.

  6. #6
    Greg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WJenness View Post
    Sizing: sizing of boots is easiest... but what about skis? I'm 6'4" and about 230lbs, what should I be skiing on?
    Welcome WJenness! To the forums and the great sport of skiing. Don't assume your street shoe size = ski boot size. If you find yourself in a shop that isn't shell sizing you first, leave.

    To shell size you, the salesperson should pull the liner out of the boot and have you put your foot in the empty shell. Move your foot all the way to the front so your toes are touching the front of the shell. You should then only be able to slip one or two fingers between your heel and the back of the shell. Any more than that is too big. With this approach, you may find the correct sized boot is 1-2 sizes smaller than your street shoe size.

    Once you have a few models with the proper shell size try them on with the liners back in and wear them for a while to identify any hot spots. Depending on your budget, you might want to consider a full on boot fitting (orthotics, balancing, canting, etc.). It might not do all that much for your skiing this early on, but not doing it might hold you back a bit once you become a solid upper intermediate. Provided the boot fits well, you can always do this later if cost is an issue. Look for an upper intermediate-lower advanced level boot you can ski on for 3+ seasons and grow into skill wise. Boots are the most important part so don't skimp, do your research (this thread is a great start) and don't get pressured into a premature purchase. The correct shell size is the single most important thing. The rest of the fit can be improved by a good boot fitter.

    I don't have specific recommendations for skis. Sizing might vary based on model/ski type. Probably any modern solid intermediate ski should work. At your size, I would think you should be in the 160-175 cm range. Don't go too short. Again you want something you can "grow into" a bit.

    Hope this helps.
    I ski double black diamonds.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    Welcome WJenness! To the forums and the great sport of skiing. Don't assume your street shoe size = ski boot size. If you find yourself in a shop that isn't shell sizing you first, leave.

    To shell size you, the salesperson should pull the liner out of the boot and have you put your foot in the empty shell. Move your foot all the way to the front so your toes are touching the front of the shell. You should then only be able to slip one or two fingers between your heel and the back of the shell. Any more than that is too big. With this approach, you may find the correct sized boot is 1-2 sizes smaller than your street shoe size.

    Once you have a few models with the proper shell size try them on with the liners back in and wear them for a while to identify any hot spots. Depending on your budget, you might want to consider a full on boot fitting (orthotics, balancing, canting, etc.). It might not do all that much for your skiing this early on, but not doing it might hold you back a bit once you become a solid upper intermediate. Provided the boot fits well, you can always do this later if cost is an issue. Look for an upper intermediate-lower advanced level boot you can ski on for 3+ seasons and grow into skill wise. Boots are the most important part so don't skimp, do your research (this thread is a great start) and don't get pressured into a premature purchase. The correct shell size is the single most important thing. The rest of the fit can be improved by a good boot fitter.

    I don't have specific recommendations for skis. Sizing might vary based on model/ski type. Probably any modern solid intermediate ski should work. At your size, I would think you should be in the 160-175 cm range. Don't go too short. Again you want something you can "grow into" a bit.

    Hope this helps.
    Greg,

    Thanks for the reply... I meant sizing the boot was easy because I'd have someone help me at a shop... as for the orthodics, I already have some in my street and fencing shoes (Plantar Fasciitis is a bitch), should I reasonably expect to be able to use the same ones in ski boots (and obviously put them in while I'm trying boots on), or am I more likely to need a different solution?

    Thanks,

    -w

  8. #8
    Greg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WJenness View Post
    as for the orthodics, I already have some in my street and fencing shoes (Plantar Fasciitis is a bitch), should I reasonably expect to be able to use the same ones in ski boots (and obviously put them in while I'm trying boots on), or am I more likely to need a different solution?
    I'm not qualified at all to answer that. That's a question for a boot fitter. Try here:

    http://forums.alpinezone.com/17325-2...er-thread.html

    I would guess if the orthotics you have are usable, they may need to be trimmed to fit in the boot liner. Again, ski boots are generally fit more snugly than street shoes. Jeff Bokum (our "resident boot fitter") is in Concord, NH and may be worth a visit, especially if you have a condition like you describe. See the above thread for contact info.
    I ski double black diamonds.

  9. #9
    Go to Ski Haus in Wilmington and ask for Mark or Steve(owner). They will set you up for your ability.
    Live, Ski or Die Trying!!!
    "Life is not measured by the numbers of breaths we take, but by the ski runs that take our breath away."

    SKI THE EAST!!!!!!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg View Post
    I'm not qualified at all to answer that. That's a question for a boot fitter. Try here:

    http://forums.alpinezone.com/17325-2...er-thread.html

    I would guess if the orthotics you have are usable, they may need to be trimmed to fit in the boot liner. Again, ski boots are generally fit more snugly than street shoes. Jeff Bokum (our "resident boot fitter") is in Concord, NH and may be worth a visit, especially if you have a condition like you describe. See the above thread for contact info.
    Depends on the orthotic...but its likely they won't fit into a ski boot, the heel cup in most street shoe orthotics is deeper and wider than what will normally fit into a ski boot. If they need to be trimmed to fit your ski boot it may mean they'll no longer fit into your street shoes...best bet is to go see someone like Jeff...a C.Ped (certified pedorthist) who is qualified to build prescription orthotics but also has a solid understanding of ski equipment and the dynamics involved in the sport. Plan to spend the most time and $$ on your boots...you can get into a new ski/binding system for around $499 to $599...less is you can find last year's stuff on sale. Any one of the previously suggested shops can take good care of you...Zimmermans, Ski Haus, Strands, etc...check a couple out and see where you get the best service and feel most comfortable making your purchase.

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