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A boot fitter is a skilled professional who typically fits skiers for boots but can adapt his or her skills to fit people for hiking boots or skates. The fitter determines foot size, weight-bearing needs and how mobile or rigid a customer’s feet and ankles appear. Height and weight are also considered before he or she chooses the proper boot for a customer. A good boot fitter will choose a boot that fits well with minimal modification.
A boot fitter can learn on the job as an apprentice to a master boot fitter or can attend a boot fitter education program. Introductory and associate courses are offered by these programs, and many graduates of these programs are found working as boot fitters in ski shops. Fitters will learn techniques for stretching and grinding boots, and they will learn about stance analysis. Salesmanship and customer service skills are also learned. Casting foot beds is a skill that a new master boot fitter will use continuously in his or her work as a boot fitter.
Communication with a customer is essential in the boot-fitting process. In order to establish a rapport with the customer, the boot fitter will ask a lot of questions about skiing habits. Gathering as much information as possible to understand the ski habits of the individual is the goal. A fitter will measure bare feet and measure the feet again with socks. Measurements will be taken while sitting and standing so that weight bearing, stance and balance can be evaluated.
Boot fitters select the type of boot that best fits the needs of the customer. Minor adjustments can be made for comfort and fit after the correct boot is chosen. Major adjustments usually are reserved for a post-skiing visit if the customer has complaints. A fitter can also make foot beds to support the customer's feet within the boots. These special orthotics are molded precisely to each foot's specification and will keep the feet positioned correctly within the boots.
One adjustment that might be required is flattening the bottom of the boot soles and boot boards. Sometimes, this is needed because boot soles are left twisted in the manufacturing process. If the customer experiences pressure on the sides of his or her feet, the center of the foot beds can be raised by the fitter.