Not Your Typical Training
During Christy Sports’ annual boot fit training, Joe Liefer opens the day with a celebratory recognition of the company’s 60th Anniversary, showcasing the value and the history of our industry experience.The boot fitters then broke into groups with experienced leaders to focus on specific facets of boot fitting
Once the star-worthy group leaders and eager boot fitters covered the utmost importance of placing the customers needs first and molding (no pun intended) the boot fitting experience to their expectations, they broke into groups to cover various facets of the process.
Bones with Bob Gleason
First, Bob Gleason stressed the invaluable tidbits a boot fitter must gain from a customer before they even talk tech. The boot fitter must get to KNOW the customer and their skiing habits- where do they like to ski? How often do they ski? Have they tried a brand of ski boot that they liked/ disliked?
Then, Gleason covered the profile and shape of the skier’s foot in a way that only his imaginative mind could conjure up, with packs of Crayola markers and a skeleton leg slung over his shoulder. Bob had his group partner up and draw on one another’s feet, circling bumps, twists, and turns that may affect the comfort of a ski boot. Then, he demonstrated the differing anatomy of feet with various props perhaps not seen by many since high school anatomy. Bob made sure to lament how difficult it can be to go through security with various skeletal objects being toted across the country before addressing the sizing of the customer’s feet.
Kyle Grow’s time with the group was spent by the boot wall and on the boot fitting benches as he went through the more technical aspects and fits of each ski boot, and securing them on the customer. Kyle and his group mimicked the actual, hands-on process of a ski boot fit, from slipping the customers foot into the boot all the way to liner and shell modification for prime performance and comfort.
Along the way, Kyle discussed giving the guest advice on buckling, cuff adjustment, and even the right socks to hang out between their skin and their new ski boots. Kyle gave the group many cool tidbits, like, if a customer is experiencing discomfort in a boot, he recommends having them wear it for ten minutes walking around the shop. When the boot and sock are removed and the blood flow returns to their feet, you’ll be able to see where the issues are in red for further troubleshooting. There was a lot of exchange among the group around insider tips and tricks from the various experience levels.
Bob Olsen and Mike Shaw brought their industry knowledge along with the knowledge of their product to the group. Fitters learned that the foot by nature is mobile and this fact will cause the foot to move against the shell. The addition of a well-made custom foot bed will hold the foot in a stationary position, preventing rubbing and allowing custom alterations to remain effective throughout the lifetime of the boot. After discussing the numerous benefits of a molded foot bed, the team moved on to hands-on insole making, including selecting the insole and size, heating and molding the insole, and grinding it for a proper fit inside the boot.
Joe Liefer Wraps it Up
Joe Liefer started his career with Christy Sports as a boot fitter over 20 years ago and has spearheaded the boot fit training since 2011. Joe split his time between getting feedback from the boot fitters in order to improve the training year after year, and discussing troubleshooting boot fit issues that may be afflicting guests walking through the shop doors. Boot fitters have to be highly adaptable for the differing slopeside scenarios, as there is no “one fix fits all” approach. But the group discussed starting points while bouncing ideas off of each other and sharing the personal touches they add to the process.
How did the group of boot fitters feel about the training?
One boot fitter from our Colorado Springs store stated, “So much knowledge from experts being passed along.” Another boot fitter from our shop in Boulder declared, “Having it every year and repetition is the only way we learn.”
Boot fitters love hearing the phrase “you are a boot whisperer.” They want customers to ask, “what did you do back there?” like it’s some sort of magic. On the inside, many of them are so experienced and comfortable troubleshooting and fixing boot issues that they jokingly coined the term “arts and crafts.” An art and a craft it is indeed and we have some of the best artists and craftsmen on the market receiving some of the most comprehensive training from experts in the field.