Every year we try to up our game by doing continuing education. This year we sent five boot fitters to Masterfit University for three days in Reno. Masterfit is the group we have spent the most time with over the years. I got my first Master Bootfitter certificate from them in 2002. Since then we have graduated many fitters and this year we got five more certified. They were getting their Masters or Masters Plus certificates. Masterfit is a great organization that has helped bootfitters in North America, Europe and even in Australia learn to help make lots of skiers have more comfortable feet!
We then had a fitter (Greg Winkels) go to Montreal Canada for a BootDoc clinic which is another entity that does Bootfit training. BootDoc is part of Wintersteiger. Wintersteiger sells the big tuning machines (some costing $500k or more) that ski shops use to tune skis. They have developed a great boot fitting catalogue now as well. “Winks” has been through all the Masterfit training already and so went to this alternate school to broaden his scope. Being in Eastern Canada, the classes were taught in both English and in French. Very exotic. Winks now claims that he is “internationally certified”.
In a few weeks we will have a World Cup fitter who works every year on the “circuit” in Europe at the highest levels come here to give us insight and tips from the elite levels of ski racing. His name is Jules and we really enjoy it when he comes to visit. He has great stories about things like breaking Bode Millers boot the day before an important race and using duct tape to make the repair!
This last week was my turn to go to an event. BootDoc had a three day clinic at the Wintersteiger headquarters in Salt Lake City. I went with our head fitter Paul, as well as Eric and Lace. This clinic was taught by Brent Amsbury. Brent works with Wintersteiger to develop the BootDoc product lineup. Brent is a great guy that I have known for a long time now and I respect his competency as an instructor. He is a master bootfitter as well as a Certified Pedorthist so his technical knowledge is very strong. Brent tours the northern United States providing stance / alignment services, and gives lectures on the bio-mechanics of ski boots to PSIA (instructors) groups from Big Sky, Montana to Buck Hill, Minnesota. He also owns Park City Ski Boot in Park City, Utah and provides fitting services from entry level skiers to U.S. ski team members and coaches. (see more on Brent at http://www.parkcityskiboot.com/BrentBio.html)
We went with the intention of working with their foot scanner, learning more about their brand of foam injected liners, and gleaning more information about Brent’s ideas on stance alignment. Stance alignment is something which we have been getting more involved with. In addition to her exceptional general boot fitting skills, Lace has a masters degree in Kinesiology and is in Med School to become a Podiatrist. She is really into alignment. Really really into alignment. And good at it. Therefore we are using her knowledge to add more of this to our services offered. We also got some good insole work in and talked a lot about all the new materials being used to lighten ski boots. We discussed how to heat, stretch, grind, and punch these new and exciting plastics. Plus we all got to do injected foam liners for our own boots. You know, the usual stuff.
In addition to the three days at BootDoc training we were able to get over to DaleBoot which is only about ten minutes away. DaleBoot partners with us to make custom ski boots. We take a series of measurements and send them off to DaleBoot. Your boots are then built by them to the exact specifications of your feet. Awesome! We have worked with them for a number of years. I have been to the factory several times (as I spend a lot of time in Salt Lake City anyway) but the rest of the crew had a great time seeing the only ski boot manufacturer building their boots in America. Big plastic injectors and industrial rivet machines are very exciting to us don’t ya know? more on DaleBoot at: (http://www.daleboot.com/en/)
The second night after clinics we spent at Fischer’s Salt Lake City office. We work closely with the Fischer crew. For this meeting we were very excited to see products that will be available in 2019/20 and beyond. With a professionally presented power point presentation by Scott Ford and lots of boot samples to play with all I can say is “WOW!” Fischer is coming on really strong. Adding people like Scott and Mike Hattrup to the team has taken Fischer to another level. It is apparent in the current and upcoming products that North America’s influence is combining with the Austrian side of the world to really produce some great stuff. Vacuum boots and Ranger skis plus so much more! Fischer will continue making big waves in the industry. Mark my words on that one. I would tell you more but then they would have to kill me- sorry! Fischer is at: https://www.fischersports.com/us_en/
So the four of us had a great trip. Three days and two nights chock full ‘o boots! What a great job! Toys and more toys! Life is good.
So…This season we sent 10 fitters to three venues to gain knowledge. These events are expensive but hopefully well worth it. It is always great to get instruction and to hang out with our peers. We come back with lots of tidbits and sometimes big conceptual changes too. We continue to distill it all and see if we can raise our game here. We had a bootfitters meeting this morning for an hour to debrief and talk footbed concepts. There will be several more brain storming sessions to follow. Our Best Practices and methodology will continue to grow and improve.
And so it goes. We try to bring a better product to our customers. We try to grow as fitters individually and as a group. I feel blessed to work with such talented colleagues here. Many master boot fitters work in a very solitary environment. We get to all work with each other as a team. We push each other and learn from each other. It is very collaborative. We fit individually but also very much as a team. I like it that way. We think you like it that way too. We think it gives you the best experience plus the best fit. And that’s why we go to work every day. Usually in Berkeley. But sometimes in Reno. Sometimes in Montreal. And sometimes in Salt Lake City. Whatever it takes to make what Paul likes to call “Happy Feet”. Come on down and get some happy feet too! We will see you then!