From an Instructor: These Boots Weren't Made For Walkin'
Monday, 07 September 2009 22:00I haven't washed my car. I didn't plan a trip to the front range. If fact I really haven't done much to ensure that we are going to get snow anytime in the near future. Except one tiny thing. Maybe.
Okay, I might as well apologize now because if we start to see the weather get colder and wetter (otherwise known as Autumn), it's probably my fault.
I went ski boot shopping.
Yep, I dug out last year's ski socks, wore my tightest sneakers to remind my feet what it's like to not be in Teva's, and had a long chat with my bank account, who reminded me that I really can't afford to even try new gear on. I like to think of my bank account as a living, breathing thing that needs to be fed, but that's probably information I should share with a therapist, not with my other friends in the valley who have forgone meals for sports gear in the past.
Even beyond the sticker shock, I truly dislike getting new boots. I would rather try on swimwear in front of an ex-boyfriend than shop for ski boots. And I know it shouldn't be that way. So many advances in technology, so many dedicated boot fitters, so many bad boot experiences that I have survived-it should be a snap! I've been a ski instructor for 18 years, and a professional figure skater before that, so I'm familiar with my feet. My feet could attain a college degree for their excellence in communication and they let me know what works. It shouldn't be that hard.
Last week at the grocery store I hid a national ski magazine featuring "gear test results" under the lettuce, whole wheat pasta and other items I'd like to appear that I eat. I actually participated in a gear test for this magazine many years ago, and I think I have a pretty good eye for reading in between the lines, but I still waited until I was in a safe, isolated spot before I peaked inside. Just in case the boots I wanted didn't get a good rap, I didn't want anyone to know that I like them....apparently, boot shopping turns me back into a self-conscious teenage girl.
With running shoes, I take a lap around the store before I buy. With pool flip-flops, I let price be my guide. So what makes ski boot buying so much more emotional? I have all of the technical knowledge and experience I have so carefully cultivated on my side. When I work with the professional bootfitters that I trust, I know that they would prefer to give me great fitting boots and then see me in their shop with ski schools clients, rather than continue to hear me blame my boots for my own incompetence.
So why the drama?
I think it's because ski boots are the one item of my professional gear that is so very personal-the literally physical connection between my body and my sport, and that's pretty intimate. My boots float with me on a powder day, cringe with me on icy hard pack, and freeze up with my feet on brutally cold days. My skis are faithful, but they have occasionally abandoned me during a fall (thank you bindings!), and don't even get me started on my fickle goggle relationships.
Or maybe it's so hard to buy new ski boots because it means I truly have to let go of summer...and I never did find that magical pair of hiking boots this year.