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Out with the old - James Cove
Saturday October 12, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

Today I retired my ski boots. They have served me well over the past 10 years but the passage of time has taken its toll. They are now down in the cellar collecting dust having visted more resorts than most people see in a lifetime.

Most people laugh when they see my 2002 Salomon Crossmax boots. 

They are ancient, scratched and a long time out of fashion.

One of the top buckles on the right one has been missing for a few seasons now, but tightening up the strap seems to do the trick and I like a bit of flex anyway.

For the buckles remaining I couldn't care a less whether they are scratched or shiny.

My old boots are not only comfortable, but also they work. 

They transmit all the necessary forces from my legs to the ski. 

When things go wrong on the snow it is operator error, not equipment malfunction.

I have skied on them for a total of 118 weeks over their decade of life. A back of an envellope calculation puts resorts visited at 125+.

I am lucky as I get to ski around 12 weeks a season across Europe and North America and they have been with me every step (turn) of the way. 

Skis comes and go, but good boots don't.

Retirement timeRetirement time
















So, why am I changing them?

The heel has worn down so much that it now does not release correctly from the rear binding.

They are not safe.

Seen better timesSeen better times












It was though with some trepidation that I went to Profeet, in London to get a new pair. You see I rather like them.

When I showed them to the boot-fitter, Bernie, I was expecting him to burst out laughing or turn his nose up in utter disgust.

He did neither.

"They have seen a bit of action, but if they fit and do the job then that is all that matters," he said

"You will get more support from a new boot and it should help but if you are a decent skier and your feet are relatively normal then these are OK. But it is probably time to change them with that worn down heel."

I liked and trusted him at once.

I had been told Profeet is one of the best.

The former British racer, Konrad Bartelski and the current skier cross athlete, Emily Sarsfield, had recommended them to me over on Facebook.

And when in the shop I saw the X-Games gold medalist and Olympic hopeful, Jenny Jones, has benefitted from the Profeet service.

The choice of prosThe choice of pros














Profeet has a long list of celebrity clients that I won't name - but personally I don't hold much account of celebrity recommendations as I am unsure what knowledge they actually have on ski boots.

It was interesting to know that Profeet had gone to Clarence House to fit boots for Prince Charles. The Duchess of Cambridge and her sister, Pippa, also have their boots from Profeet.

Well poor old Bernie was slumming it. He just had me.

It started off with what seemed a few pleasantries - how often do you ski, what level are you, do you go off piste a bit, do you ski aggressively, which resorts do you like? He was working me out.

Then it was socks off as he measured my feet, prodded them and cupped them in his hands. He tested the strength of my big toes, examined my calves and spent a worrying amount of time studying the soles of my feet.

He generally looked like he was trying to get to know them.

The exact Profeet process can be seen here but suffice to say there was a bit of high-tech science involved.

I stood on some pads and a computer showed the pressure points of my foot. I was none the wiser how this helped things, and what all the colours meant, but Bernie nodded sagely at the red spots.

Getting scientificGetting scientific













Next I stood on some sort of gel or foam-filled pad and a mould was taken for the insole.

The insole was heated and then paced in the mould to be shaped to the soles of my feet.

Shaping the insolesShaping the insoles












Next it was time to chose the boot itself.

"Some people get a bit too concerned about colour and look, but what is important is comfort, fit and getting the right type of boot," he said. "When people say they want such-and-such a boot and I don't think it is the one for them, whether it be their skiing ability or shape of foot, I can generally get them to change their mind without too much trouble."

I had already decided he was the expert and I would simply take whatever he offered.

At one end of the spectrum for me is a tight racing boot and at the other is a lightweight touring boot.

"I do a little bit of racing now and again combined with some pretty fast sking, plus a bit of hiking so I would like a boot that can do both but lean more towards on piste," I said.

He produced two.  Both were the correct shape for my foot and both were good all-round boots. One was more of an on-piste boot, the other for off piste.

I liked the blue one.

(Anything to do with fact my Crossmax boots have a bit of blue on them?)

Once on they both felt snug and supportive. Bernie examined where they were a bit tight and where they would need to be altered. He produced a torch to peer through the translucent shell.

Spoilt for choiceSpoilt for choice












Going through the pacesGoing through the paces












I stood on a machine that you swing on from side to side to give them a bit of a work out and to see if they felt OK. They both did.

So, which one to go for? 

"I prefer the blue one," I found myself saying and hoped Bernie would agree. He clearly knew more about it all then me.

Bernie then vanished into the workshop for half an hour where he cut the insole and generally moulded the outer shell to the shape of my foot.

He looked like a craftsman at work.

Work beginsWork begins












I sat back and read the Skier & Snowboarder magazine that is edited and produced by my good friend, Frank Baldwin.

It was, as always, a good read.

A good readA good read












When Bernie returned it was back on with the boots and they felt remarkably like my old ones - snug and comfortable, though a little bit tighter.

New best friend?New best friend?















The real test will come on snow. Profeet gives a no quibble gaurantee and I am welcome at any time to come back to have them adjusted. 

I am off to Solden in the Austrian Tirol this week to make my first turns of the 2013/14 season and to test my new boots.

In the nicest possible way, I hope I don't step back into Profeet for another 10 years.














For the spirit of the mountains

Hautes Pyrenees




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