Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Best Boot Fitter in the North East

I finally made an appointment with Scott at Cooke's Skate Shop to have my boots looked at. (Yes these are the real names. I'm sure they would want me to get the good word out.) I told him all of the problems that I have been having with my boots. He measured my feet at least three times and decided that my boots were the right size but that mysteriously one boot was a double wide and the other was a triple. He said that my feet were evenly balanced so that didn't make much sense. The difference must be small because I can't tell which one is bigger.

He had me put my boots on myself so he could see what they looked like when I skated in them. So on went the bunga pads, nylon socks and skates. He looked very carefully at the various gaps in the lacing noting both the location and severity. He also asked me all sorts of questions about what parts of my foot I could wiggle and which direction I could wiggle in. Basically my heel moved up and down and I could move my toes all over the place. Then he took them away and baked them in an oven until they were toasty warm and very very pliable. He told me he heats them up more than most fitters do. This time he put them on my feet and laced them as tight as I could stand them and had me sit in them for fifteen minutes while they cooled down. Luckily I brought a book so I could sit and read during these long steps. When he was happy with them he had me stand up in them. I could now touch my foot to all the locations inside the boot. Prior I couldn't touch the top edges. My heel was still slipping a bit and I explained that the tongue was too stiff and caught on the padding. He took my boots away again and did something to the heel so it fit much better. He also cut away much more of the edges of the tongue than I did, about 3/8" on each side, and then ground down the edge of the leather to make it wedge shaped so it would slide past the padding inside the boot. This made it easy to cinch the laces down so that my ankle was now firmly held in the boot. It also means that the little knots in the stitching on the tongue that have been leaving holes in my legs were now gone. There is a good possibility that I won't need the bunga pads anymore!! If I don't have to wear those little sweat factories anymore I'm going to be a happy woman.

For the finale he had me walk up and down the store in the boots so he could see the blade placement. After about five circuits of the store he decided that the front of my left blade needed to go in a smidgen. He moved the blade and added some more screws. He was done with another masterpiece and it only cost me $35 for over an hours worth of work.

Today was pudding time. I had my lesson tonight. I got on the ice and the boots felt better than they ever have. I paid attention to my lesson and my skating instead of my boots. My teacher even liked my figure eights which are the true test of edge control/boot control. Much to my surprise I could still do three turns. This made me very happy. My boots felt more pliable than they ever had and I could bend my knees deeply while doing crossovers. This made my teacher happy. We ran out of time before I got to try spinning on them. We were so busy with crossovers, which are in the competition I just signed up for, that we lost track of time and didn't get to the jumps and spins part. We really needed two hours. I am looking forward to skating on Friday. I am going to try skating without my bunga pads and try some spins and jumps and see what happens. I think it will be a few more tries before I am certain about my boots. For right now I am much happier. I should have gone to Scott much sooner. He told me that if I still have problems with the tongue being too stiff he can take it apart and grind off the stiffener that is in the inner layer. Apparently Jackson over engineered these the tongues; it is two layers of leather, then hard foam, then the soft foam that contacts your foot. Trouble is that the tongue is so hard it doesn't want to stay molded to your foot and keep your heel in the heel cup of the boot. Once I do some jumps I will be able to tell better if the boot is behaving itself. Right now I am pretty happy with them.

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