A perfect ski boot? Max is your man!
He studied sports rehabilitation and has worked as a boot fitting specialist at some of the top addresses in London and Zermatt. His customers also include some of the world’s most successful ski racers. He has been part of the Stöckli family for the past two years and is dedicated to finding the perfect ski boots for his customers together with his team. Meet Max, boot fitting specialist at Stöckli and deputy branch manager in Cham.
“My work as boot fitter begins the second my customer walks in the door. Even the first handshake tells me quite a bit about the person standing in front of me, and I always keep my eyes open during our walk together to the boot fitting station. The customer’s gait and posture both give me a lot of information that’s important for my work,” comments Max. As an expert in sports rehabilitation and a boot fitting specialist, it’s no surprise that he is well versed in the human anatomy.
But why is the boot fitting process so important? The answer is simple – not all ski boots are the same. As a result, a boot is not always suitable for everyone. “A lot of factors play an important role in finding the right boot. On one hand, we have the length, width, height and flex of the boot itself and, on the other, we have the customer’s posture, height, leg length, upper body length, previous injuries, past experiences and the distribution of pressure in their feet.”
A previous shoulder injury, for example, can have an impact on how pressure is distributed in the feet and thus on how the customer moves when skiing. Maybe one side of the body is weaker as a result of the injury, or maybe their body is slightly twisted or even slightly deformed. Ultimately, this may then be one of the reasons why a skier is weaker when turning left out on the slopes, for example.
In other words, it is sometimes very small factors that play a role – but ones that can have a huge impact when it comes to selecting a boot. This is where Max comes in. He has to read the customer’s body, interpret it correctly and understand it in detail. Max’s strategy is thus to take the time to get to know each customer better – to analyze and scan them, look at various aspects and understand them and their needs. “It’s very important to book an appointment for a boot fitting so that we have enough time and I can address all the customer’s individual demands.”
But what does analyze, look and understand mean in practice? Analysis is made both with the naked eye and the Sidas boot fitting scanner. Looking and understanding comes from talking to the customer and putting experience and know-how to good use.
The first thing that Max does in a boot fitting appointment is to create a 3D image of the customer’s feet and legs using the Sidas boot fitting scanner. This gives Max all the information he needs, such as length, width, instep height, calf circumference and pressure distribution. These figures then highlight which problems may occur inside the boot and which models are suitable (and which aren’t).
“We can find the right boot for any foot.”
Once the data from the boot fitting scanner has been analyzed, Max then uses his years of experience to work out which boots are the best match for the customer. One thing is important here: “Boot fitting is not like a conveyor belt – it is a process and an experience. The sale itself should not be the first priority here. Once we have found a boot that could work, an unbelievable amount of things can then be tweaked to make it absolutely perfect. We can add personal insoles, mill areas to size, adjust and reshape things, move the buckles and add foam. Essentially, anything is possible. In this way, we can find the right boot for any foot.”
The process of finding the right boot for any foot can be a difficult one, as demonstrated by the many extreme cases that Max has had to deal with over the years. Feet of different sizes (and not just a millimeter or two but one in size 9 and the other in size 13), artificial limbs, a complete loss of feeling in the feet, a missing shinbone and damaged toes are just some of the many examples. “Helping people is what I enjoy most about my job, regardless of their past experiences or requirements.
“The better the boot fits, the more comfortable it is. This results in better performance, improved load transfer on the ski – and added enjoyment.”
This is exactly what my job – and boot fitting as a whole – is all about. I can make a difference and offer my customers a tailored service. And ultimately, we also shouldn’t forget one of the most important factors. The better the boot fits, the more comfortable it is. This results in better performance, improved load transfer on the ski – and added enjoyment. This after all is what skiing is all about – having fun.”
In addition to finding the perfect boot for his customers, Max has another important role – namely training boot fitting specialists. On one hand, this involves internal training for the specialists at the Stöckli branches. Here, Max has developed his own step-by-step training program for taking both professionals and newcomers to the next level. On the other hand, he is also a boot fitting trainer at Sidas Switzerland, and carries out an ASMAS-certified training program once a year for various sports stores across Switzerland. He is also a member of the Salomon Blue Circle, a group of the 20 best boot fitters worldwide who assist with the continuous development of Salomon boots.
It’s clear that Max is a busy man. However, this is something he enjoys. “It’s not only a pleasure to help out our customers, but also my team as well. They are like a second family and my job is my second home. We all follow the same goals each and every day – to find the perfect boot for all of our customers, tailored optimally to their individual needs and requirements.”