Nordic Ski Instructor

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Equipment: [ viewpoint | waxes | skis | bindings | footwear | poles | clothing | extras | novelties ]


No skier will ski well without footwear, and that should be blindingly obvious! But for all the attention that is devoted to footwear, one may as well ski without them. For the instructor, who may be asked to teach skating one hour and crud telemarking the next, the choice of boots is difficult - and even more so for the students.

Regardless of the type of boot or shoe required for the task at hand, it is of paramount importance that the footwear fits comfortably, for any period of time. It would also be an added advantage if the boot remained impervious to snow ingress, and therefore keep the feet warm and dry., especially for instructors who stand around a lot (thicker sole materials add insulation - avoid some racing shoes).

Many skiers advocate wearing two or more pairs of socks for comfort, and although this may help to insulate the feet, it can also account for a certain degree of sloppiness in the fit. On the other hand, if the extra socks create a very tight fit, circulation will be reduced to the feet.

Whatever the final choice in socks, there should be enough room and flex in the toe-region of the boot to allow the toes to move around comfortably, and this is doubly important with those boot-binding systems that rely on boot flex (the boot does all of the bending), rather than binding flex (when the binding does most of the flexing). Allow about 0.5 - 1.5 cm for this, which includes sock thickness also.

Binding-flex systems (left), and boot-flex systems (right)

To determine which boot will have the correct length (but not always correct width or height!), it is helpful to use European boot sizes, which are 1.5 times the inside length of the boot. Therefore, as an example, someone with a bare foot length of 28.0 cm should fit a size 43 binding-flex boot, or size 44 boot-flex boot.

Ankle-support is one aspect often considered when evaluating which boot to buy, although the amount of support to be gained by an average high-cut track shoe is practically nil. If you disagree with this viewpoint then take a closer look at the skating boots used by top racers in modern international competition - the ankle-support consists of very thick, but still quite flexible, plastic collars (some with alloy inserts) with a significantly greater amount of ankle-support than found in your average high-cut shoe - or lightweight boot. And if that isn't enough, look to telemark racers (who need even greater ankle-support) footwear, which has so much support that it is difficult to flex the collar sideways at all. That is the judge of real ankle-support. The cost of these 'diving boots' is in weight, and every extra gram that needs to be swung on the end of the leg adds up at the end of the day...

Equipment: [ viewpoint | waxes | skis | bindings | footwear | poles | clothing | extras | novelties ]

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