I love to skate ski. It is a sport that constantly challenges me in terms of aerobic fitness, arm strength and leg strength, not to mention technique. Some days I have a great skate and other days, depending on my energy level, I may feel like I’m slogging through. Either way I am always happy to be outside enjoying the crisp winter air and a great workout as my core, glutes and triceps will attest.
Too often, those of us Nordic skiers who also happen to be alpine skiers, take our cross country equipment for granted. Such was the case with my old Rossignol Max Skate boots. When I bought these skate ski boots, more than a few years ago, I carefully researched and demo’d every Nordic boot until I found my perfect match. But when the shells started to break down and the ripcord no longer worked, I knew it was time to replace my tried and true footwear.
Since I live in Park City, I went to “the” place for Nordic boot fittings – the White Pine Nordic Center where I knew I would have a wide array of Nordic boots to choose from. Ben Fick, Director of the Nordic Center, took one look at my old Rossi skate boots and suggested we start with the updated version – the Rossignol Xium World Cup Skate Boot. Even though I’m not a Nordic racer, Ben suggested that I consider race boots since they deliver more comfort and also tend to last longer than non-race boots.
The Benefits of Nordic Race Boots for Nonracers
As a rule, Nordic boots should last two to three years with heavy, heavy use. That means that the person buying these boots skis five days a week – racing, training or simply skiing recreationally. For those of us who ski less than that, Nordic ski boots should last 3-4 years. Over time, the PVC liner breaks down due to sweat and sun exposure and the soles of the boots themselves begin to wear out, which messes with the binding interface. One way to prolong the life of your Nordic boot soles is to avoid walking on them as much as possible. Guess I won’t be wearing my skate ski boots when picking up my post workout latte anymore.
Armed with this new knowledge, I slipped into the Rossi Xium skate boot and it felt like coming home. Ben described the Xium as a low volume boot since it was narrow in the metatarsals and then widened out through the rest of the foot. He also commented that this particular boot was better for Nordic skiers with a high instep, something that has plagued me for years. While the Xium wasn’t a women’s specific boot, I never would have known since it fit my foot like a glove. The Rossi also boasted a full carbon sole, technology borrowed from cycling to make the Xium a lighter, yet more durable skate boot. And, unlike my outdated version, this boot featured a Velcro closure inside the boot for ankle stability, in addition to a precision ratchet system around the outside of the boot that delivered endless micro adjustment options on the fly.
Fischer RCS Carbonlite & Madshus Nanosonic
Even though I was pretty sure the Xium was my replacement boot, I decided to try a couple of the other NNN compatible skate boots, just to be sure. Ben offered up the Fischer RCS Carbonlite, a women’s specific skate ski boot with a carbon sole similar to the Rossi. The Carbonlite offered less micro-adjustment capabilities than the Xium, but it did include a traditional lacing system that would allow me to customize the fit of the boot to my foot. And while the Fischer torsion control system, an additional adjustment strap across the top of the foot, promised improved power transfer, my notoriously high instep just wasn’t appreciative of this new technology.
Next I tried the Madshus Nanosonic Skate boot. Ben informed me that this race boot was typically better for skate skiers with bigger feet since it was designed to be wider throughout. However, the profile of the Madshus just wasn’t for me. The heel felt higher and the boot felt tighter over my instep which was a big disappointment considering the pricepoint of the Madshus and the fact that it featured a thinner sole for better snow feel. It looked like I was a Rossi girl, after all.
Thermo-adjustable Boot Fitting
Since all of the Nordic boots sold at the White Pine Nordic Center are thermo-adjustable, I had one additional step in my boot fitting process. Ben heated the moldable foam in my new boots so that the liners would conform to my foot. Within minutes, my boots were heated to the precise temperature, recommended by the manufacturer. When I put them on and then spent about 10 minutes walking around the Nordic Center, the foam cooled and shaped anatomically to my feet. The result? A custom boot fit worthy of the pros.
If you’ve been wondering if it’s time to replace your favorite Nordic ski boots, check out the Jans and White Pine Nordic Boot Fitting process. Even better, if you’re in town, stop by the White Pine Nordic Center and spend some quality time with one of our expert boot fitters. They’ll be happy to show you the latest technology and more importantly, help you find the perfect Nordic skate or classic boot for you. I promise you’ll learn something in the process – even if it is as simple as protecting your new investment by not wearing them into Starbucks.
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor, jans.com