New ski boot bears checking out

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This season's new ski boots are almost as high as their prices. You can now pay from $200 to $275 for plastic sheathing clear up to your knees. The result, besides a lot lighter wallet, can be incredible turning power.

The new high boots obviously provide a skier with a longer lever with which to transfer edging power from legs to the bottom of skis.I tried a pair of the Nordica Polaris last Winter, and the results were impressive.

Hoever, critics can point to some important disadvantages that should be considered. The higher boots generally don't allow the same subtle movements of feet and ankles that finish and refine a turn as do lower cut models. Moreover, critics say the high boots tend to force the knees to absorb the shocks and strains of bombing over the bumps and down a moutain, rather than allowing the entire leg to perform the chore.

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Salomon, the bindingmaker, on the other hand, has joined the we-try-to-fit-you-better bootmakers with its new boot, the SX 90. It contains a system of cables and pressure distribution plates that conform the inner boot to the skier's particular foot shape. The outer shell has a single buckle closure which is independent of the clamping function, making for easy entry and exit, a hard plastic shell that does not have to conform to a tender foot, and supposedly precision performance. Reports are good, but prices may hurt more than a bad fit: $235 ($260 for the SX 90 Equipe for competitors and experts).

You don't have to pay stratospheric prices for a good pair of ski boots though. check out the used boot department of a good ski shop. Often, you'll find an excellent boot at a bargain rate. The main requirement for decent boots is patience in ensuring you get a good fit. Everything else is secondary.

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