Back when the season began, you started skiing in your “oh-so-tight” race boots, thinking they would get better.

But guess what? They got worse.

During the past few months, every time you hit the hill, the liner got hit, too. It’s been compressed. That means the shell can’t hold the heel down and back into the rear of the boot as well.

If the hard and bony parts of your feet have gotten bigger, redder and angrier — perhaps even sprouting a bone spur — during the course of the season, that means your boot fit has changed.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that these are all normal changes with boots that have been properly sized. And even more good news: You can fix them in time for your championship races. (It’s just going to take a bit more than the sparkle Megan McJames is applying in the photo above.)

Here are 5 ways to find happy feet for the finish line.


1. Neoprene

By adding a piece of neoprene — 3 or 5 millimeter, nylon 1 — to the tongue of the boot, you can help the middle buckles hold the foot down and back into the boot shell.

2. Air

Yep, this is as simple as opening up a pocket on the hard plastic side of the tongue above the instep bump to relieve pressure on this specific spot while trying to tighten up the rest of the boot.

3. Shims

Thin strips of simple material in thicknesses of 1, 2 or 3 mm between the boot board and bottom of the liner are slam-dunk fixes. Be careful, though, because if you can fit a 3 mm shim easily into the boot, that’s a good sign the boot is too big.



4. Liners

A step up from shims, the other solution to too much boot volume is a liner — foam-injected, ZipFit (cork) or Intuition (heat-moldable) — added to the area or areas around the ankle, Achilles, instep and collar. Use contact cement to attach your padding to the liner. If you have a lace-up liner, be sure to cover the fit material with a thin layer of smooth vinyl that will allow the liner to go in and out of the shell without tearing off the added fit padding.



5. Cat Tracks

These devices from Seirus and similar models on the market help protect the integrity of your soles so that worn-down boots don’t cause alignment changes.

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Jim Schaffner
- Jim Schaffner started his career with Salomon North America and has built race boots for athletes of all ages and abilities since the early 80s. He is currently the owner/operator of the Start Haus ski shop in Truckee, Calif., where he continues to follow his passion for helping young athletes achieve their athletic goals with perfectly fit and balanced ski boots.
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