A Very Deep Dive on Ski Boots, Part 3: Racers & Race Boots (Ep.60)


  • Marcel Hirscher & Bode Miller’s insane attunement (4:11)
  • How many boots does Marcel bring to a race? (18:46)
  • WC ski racers vs. WC DH bike racers (22:40)
  • Mikaela Shriffin’s boot preferences (33:20)
  • Which racers wear the stiffest boots? (36:40)
  • Forward Lean / measuring forward lean (44:27)
  • ‘Static’ power straps vs ‘elastic’ Booster Straps (59:24)
  • Why it’s so hard to name ski boots (1:12:03)

How do elite ski racers like Marcel Hirsher, Mikaela Shiffrin, Bode Miller, and Daron Rahlves approach their gear, and their ski boots in particular? Today, Matt Manser and I discuss how some of the all-time greats “feel” their gear, and how they are almost superhumanly attuned to the slightest changes of a binding or ski boot.

We also discuss Forward Lean (how to measure it, whether lots or less of it is better, etc.); ‘static’ power straps vs. ‘elastic’ Booster Straps; who is pickier about their equipment — WC skiers or WC DH mountain bikers?; and more.

Couple of G.O.A.T.s : Mikaela Shiffrin & Marcel Hirscher

10 comments on “A Very Deep Dive on Ski Boots, Part 3: Racers & Race Boots (Ep.60)”

  1. Awesome ongoing series! What appears to be missing is the discussion about the importance of boot liners I.e.: matching liners to boots, aftermarket liners (Intuition, ZipFit, injected etc). Would be interesting to hear Matt‘s thoughts…

  2. I also have chicken legs and suffer from shin bang. Matt mentions spoilers that go in the back of the liner….is there a link I can look up for further info?

    • Hi Mark,

      A few things can cause shinbang, including excess volume in the cuff of your boot. First, I would make sure you have a proper footbed that stabilizes your foot, ankle, and leg in the boot. Second, you can take up excess volume by adding a spoiler (basically a tapered wedge) to the back of your liner. Most spoilers are velcro-based and attach to the back as such, but many liners are not built to accept these spoilers. In these instances, it is best to have a spoiler shaped from some type of foam (usually a dense EVA) and glued in place. In either scenario, it’s best to visit your preferred boot-fitter and have him/her find the right solution for you (and there are lots, which is good).


      • Matt, thanks. I need to buy new boots soon….if it’s not too much of a bother maybe you can recommend 2-3 models I should consider. I am 55 74kg 1.86m, skiing since a kid…I can ski the whole mountain (on/off piste) La Grave/Chamonix/St Anton/Ischgl. I have narrow feet/very high arches+overpronate (orthotics)/very high calf muscle insertion=chicken legs. At my age comfort/warmth are important. Can you also recommend a good bootfitter in those places? Cheers.

  3. In episode four I would like to hear more about boot sole angles and internal boot board angles, how they are selected by the manufacturer, how they affect performance, and how these are altered to suit athletes’ needs. Very interesting stuff thus far!

      • Can we expand this topic to also include taking into consideration the multitude of angles that we deal with in ski boots. Not just the forward lean but starting from the ground up: the binding angle, boot sole angle, delta angle, and forward lean and how they work in conjunction with one another to find that optimal feel and performance for the athlete.
        There was mention of how the athlete’s like to feel over the ball of the foot while they ski, but the recent trend in ski instruction is to feel even pressure between the ball of the foot and heel. Would this differ from how World cup skiers view their stance? How can bootfitters begin to find these optimal setups for athletes coming to them, from the boot bench?

  4. @Mark: It doesn’t matter how good the bootfitter is, they still won’t be able to tell you which specific combination of liner/spoiler/shell skis the best for you. As Matt says, most commercial spoilers have the “hook” side of the velcro attached, and it’s simple to contact cement a strip of the “fuzz” side to the back of your liner if it’s not so equipped. Then you can go out and ski with two or three different thicknesses of spoilers and swap back and forth to see which works best.

  5. Matt, I understand that the boots for top WC athletes come out of a special shop in Altenmarkt and are completely custom – no holes for cuff rivets or buckles are molded in, the technicians work off scans of each athlete’s foot, etc. How many people get this sort of treatment?

    How about top level freeride and freestyle athletes? Do they all pretty much ski a stock boot with personal modifications? Do you have bootfitters available for these people or do they pretty much deal with it themselves?

    Are there any American companies active in producing PU-based TPU compounds for ski boots, or is it pretty much BASF and Covestro?

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