Category Archives: Ski Racing

Get The Best Out of Skiing with the Right Boot Fit

Last week we talked about the value of custom footbeds – but that’s just one component of a custom boot fit.

Custom-fit ski boots are the biggest improvement any skier can make through equipment – it gives precise yet comfortable control over the ski while reducing fatigue and even helping with circulation and cold feet.

Too many skiers have boots that are too big or loose, the liners packed out and their feet swimming inside, making for an unpredictable, uncomfortable and fatiguing day on the slope. On the other side of the spectrum, some think the price of performance is discomfort, with boots too tight and not properly fitted, often resulting in serious pain.

True custom ski boot fitting is what Start Haus’s reputation was built on. Google us and you’ll find articles in Skiing Magazine about our boot fitter’s work. And what our boot fitters can do goes well beyond the typical liner warm up in an easy-bake oven – our experts form the plastic of the boot itself to your feet.

That fitting goes beyond comfort – punching and grinding plastic to accommodate the unique shape of your feet – to canting and alignment, which aligns the center of your knee to the center of the boot for superior biomechanics.

Our boot fitters can also alter the performance characteristics of the boot through changing flex, stance and adding on items like Booster Straps.

After that, manipulating the liner of the boot lets our fitter further fine-tune the boot, or they can be replaced with a variety of custom liners made from different materials to uniquely suite your needs.

All that work adds up to a ski boot that’s not only customized to your foot and to your body, but to how you ski. The impact this can have on your experience on the hill can’t be understated. To set up an appointment, give us a call today.

Geeking Out on the Greatness of Custom Footbeds

No skier daydreams about a sweet new pair of footbeds while watching the clock and clicking through ski websites on a Friday afternoon at the office. Well, maybe Jim Schaffner does, but that’s a different story.
Most people pour over magazine reviews of the latest carbon this or rockered that, gear of the year winners and that pair of powder skis that made the latest Internet edit look so cool.

But for most of us, wanting to make a real difference in performance and comfort on the mountain, a pair of custom footbeds might actually be the breakthrough we’re all looking for.

Book an appointment with a bootfitter at Start Haus and you’ll quickly find out that custom footbeds aren’t just about being comfy (although that certainly is one result), but about performance.

If you’re still skiing on stock insoles, pull one out of your boot. Odds are it’s a flat piece of foam doing next to nothing. Flat insoles make for flat feet, bones spread out and toes jammed against the end of the boot. Custom insoles lift and support the arch, align the bones and create a stable platform for you drive the ski properly.

Getting all those little bones in your feet properly aligned and supported has a “from the ground up” effect on your whole body.

The end result on the hill is not only more comfort, but also more precise control over your boot and ski (quicker turn initiation, more stability through crud, more sure-footed power when arcing a big GS turn), less fatigue on all the small balancing muscles and a better experience on the snow.

Common problems like pronation (ankle rolling inward) and supination (ankle rolling out) are also addressed with custom insoles.

While we tend to see the most dramatic results in stiff plastic ski boots, custom insoles are great for your daily shoes, hiking boots or bike shoes. Those same results of balancing all those little bones and muscles make a big difference in any pair of footwear.

Sidas Drop-In Footbeds

Sidas Drop-In Footbeds

Aftermarket insoles like Sidas at $50 dollars can make a difference for those who aren’t sure, but for those who really want to see an improvement, contact Start Haus to book an appointment today. Going through the process typically takes around 2 hours and costs $200.

Always best to make an appointment!

Focus on Performance with Leki Race Gloves

Numb fingers can ruin a day on the mountain – especially if you spend time waiting at the top and your finish time is on the line. Start Haus in Truckee carries top of the line ski gloves for racers and anyone who is looking for ultimate performance and comfort. Leki’s Trigger S system features a glove-integrated strap to click your poles in and out faster with more comfort than ever – used by racers across the globe, including Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin at the World Cup.

Race gloves and mittens provide extra protection for knuckles and fingers, so hitting a gate doesn’t bash your hands. Glove wearers favor the dexterity of gloves while mitt users believe that keeping your fingers together provides maximum warmth and that you don’t need individual fingers to control your poles. The only thing experts agree on is that it’s up to what you/your racer is comfortable with. And that the most important factor in extremely cold temps is keeping your hands as dry as possible, so breathability is key. Leki ski gloves and mitts are made with a combination of Hydrophobic Goatskin leather and high end technical fabrics for extreme warmth, durability and breathability. Here are a couple of picks that will keep your hands comfortable so you can focus on racing at your highest level.

Leki GTX

Leki World Cup Race Coach Flex S GTX & GTX Jr.

Leki’s World Cup Race Coach Flex S GTX delivers masterly designed detail solutions and excellent performance. Their unique ergonomically pre-shaped fingers offer superior fit. GORE-TEX®, Thinsulate and soft inner fleece with their patented Makes Dry lining offer the best protection against cold and dampness. Flex EVA panels in the fingers and wrist area round off the racing model. The Integrated Trigger S system allows lightning-fast and direct clicking into and out of the pole safety binding.

Leki WC Ti Mitt

Leki World Cup Race TI S Mitten Speed System

For the coldest days on the mountain, many competitive racers use Leki’s World Cup Race TI S Mitten. It features an advanced race fit grip and pre-curved finger styling, allowing for enhanced pole grip as well as a flex cuff. These mitts provide excellent knuckle and finger padding as well as long padded gauntlet protection in the gates. The heavy duty wristlet provides a good, tight fit.

Dust Off Those Boots and Get a Re-Fit!

At Start Haus, our boot fitters work year-round because our clients race all over the world, but you don’t have to be a pro to benefit from expert boot fitting. Now is the time to drag your boots out from storage and make sure they haven’t become a mouse’s home (this actually happens) and decide if your old boots and liners are up for another epic season.

Don't try and heat mold your own boots!

Don’t try and heat mold your own boots!

If you love skiing, you know that properly fitting boots is one of the best indicators of whether you’ll have a great day on the mountain. Not only does a good and properly fitting boot increase your performance, it ensures that you can shred all day without foot pain. Too often people buy ski boots at big national sports stores or at a sales shop with seasonal workers and end up with a size too big because they buy what feels good off the shelf, not accounting for proper molding of the liners or customizations of the shell. If your boots are too big, your foot will shift, putting painful pressure on your toes and shins.

Taking care of a hot spot

Taking care of a hot spot

Boot fitting is personal. Everyone’s feet and skiing styles are different. Experienced boot fitters can help guide you to the best boot for your needs. And boot fitting is a technical art, requiring expert measurement and molding. So don’t be fumbling trying to put together your equipment on the first powder day like the locals in the line wrapping outside the door at Stone’s Tires. Come into Start Haus and talk to our boot fitting team and get stoked for ski season!


Race Weekend 2017

Athletes!  Join us October 7th and 8th for our annual Race Weekend.  Meet your reps and sort out your gear.  Ski reps from Atomic, Blizzard, Fischer, Head, Nordica, Rossignol, and Volkl will be on hand to answer any questions you have on race equipment.

All race skis & bindings are marked at race price!

Questions on tuning or race setup?  The West Coast’s best tuners will be available too to help you and your coaches dial-in the right edge angle or stack height.

All race supplies are limited throughout the country- place your orders and be done with it the weekend of October 8th!  See you there!

Summer Prep for Race Training

Every year around late July and early August we get our annual influx of ski racers heading to the whiter pastures of the Andes and Southern Alps. Others are heading up to the summer camps of Mount Hood. This presents a good opportunity to take a look at your gear and see if it’s still up to the task. Have you outgrown your boots? How many holes are acceptable in race gloves? How about socks? What are the condition of my ski boots and skis?

We all have heard time and again that your boots are the most important article of gear- which is certainly true for ski racers. It’s hard to race when you’re hobbled in pain, or if your canting is catawampus. Summer camps are a great place to dial in gear and work on techniques or work on overcoming bad habits.

The following is a list of things we see and think are great items to be looking into at summer camps.

Ski Boots

If you’re in the same boots as the previous season approach the obvious questions first. Have you outgrown your boots? If yes obviously shop for some new ones, if not take a look at them and examine their condition. If you’ve been in your boots one entire race season odds are your liner is shot. If you’re anything like the vast majority of the racing population your toe and heel plates are also on the endangered species list.

To be brutally honest we really feel like at the Far West racing level race boots only last one year. Yes even at the U10 U12 level- perhaps especially at the U10 U12 level. The fact is those lucky kids spend and extraordinary amount of time in their boots, it’s fairly obvious by looking at them that their simply worn out. Remember, with the amount of days in them the liner is packed out and the material inside simply isn’t holding the foot the way it should. That being said, it makes total sense with a growing kid to wait until the last possible second to spring for a new pair of boots, which is generally somewhere around the month of November.

For the older kids summer is a great time to play with canting. Canting is planning the sole of the ski boot to match the natural stance of the athlete, particularly the relation of the center of the knee to the center of the ski boot. Some of the tell-tale signs that an athlete needs canting is that one turn is significantly better, i.e. left footers are always better than the right or vise versa. Another symptom would be excessive A-framing or cheating one knee over in the turn excessively. Coaches will often have a few methods to play with to determine if canting is necessary.


There are a few things one can do to prepare skis for the season. If you’re lucky enough to pick up a new pair of speed skis, hot boxing them is a great idea. A couple of cycles in the hotbox will ensure that the bases are super fast and ready to rip. Remember: the more you ski a speed ski in the faster they will be. If an athlete were so inclined she could play with changing edge angles the off-season would be the time to do it.

Coaches in the Lake Tahoe area do a great job of determining what edge angles they would like their athlete’s skis tuned to. Likewise, Tahoe coaches have a handle on what lifts they would like between the bindings and ski. For example max height or some variation of ramp angle is generally prescribed. If you were unsure of edge bevels or ramp angle, summer camps would be a great place to try some variations. ***Disclaimer*** Ski bindings are a major safety issue. Only certified experts should be working on ski bindings.

In summation the point is if you’re going to play with gear, the summer camps is one of the best times to do it rather than mid season when you’re doing your best to get on the podium. Most importantly summer ski camps should be fun! Don’t ever forget that while you may take racing seriously, it also one of the most fun things in the world to do! Yes train hard, but remember to make the most of it and have a ton of fun.

Getting the Most Out of Your Ski Boots

You’ve heard the old refrain, “boots are the most important part of your gear setup.” This is for good reason; a pair of uncomfortable boots can ruin a weekend, an expensive ski holiday, or a whole season. After buying a pair on sale that were too big and a rushed job you finally bit the bullet went to the reputable boot fitter and got yourself a pair of well fitting boots that are snug, relatively comfortable and can take your skiing to the next level. Now you’re thinking “Well now what?”

We’d love to pass on some tips to help you protect that expensive investment and get the absolute most out of your prized ski boots.

 Custom Footbeds

 Custom footbeds are one of the best upgrades you can make to your boots! We all want our houses built on a solid foundation, and you should demand the same with your ski boots. Custom footbeds give you the solid platform that will get your foot in a powerful neutral position creating less foot fatigue throughout the day. At Start Haus we carry Sidas heat molded custom footbeds and have several different options to choose from: Custom Pro Mesh offering a great blend of comfort and performance, to our low volume Custom Race blank which takes up minimal boot real estate and gives great performance!

Liner Upgrades and or Replacements


Various aftermarket liner options

Various aftermarket liner options

Many of our customers ask about a liner upgrade as they are trying on ski boots. Generally at the Start Haus we recommend sticking with the liner that comes with the boot, barring any extreme fit issues or pre-existing conditions. There are several good reasons for this: modern liners are by and large really, really good! In the decade I have been fitting ski boots liners have improved by absolute leaps and bounds. Thanks to advances in laser scanning, CADD software, and injection molding foams “stock” boot liners ski well and fit great.

However, if your boot liner is packed out or if you’re fit isn’t feeling quite right, going to an aftermarket liner can be a wise move. Intuition liners have proven quite popular and boast several upsides. First and foremost, they are light and warm (relative to other liners). Secondly, they offer a custom fit. If you have a boney prominence on the foot an Intuition liner can be an excellent solution! Intuition liners feature a heat-moldable Ultralon foam that conforms to the shape of the foot and the liner offering (generally speaking) a good snug fit without being over the top tight.

Zip Fit liners are both a fit and performance upgrade that will make the boot snugger fitting and much more responsive. In fact, if the fit is too tight, we often struggle to get the Zip Fit liner in the boot at all. One excellent feature of the Zip Fit liner is that it is the only boot liner I know of that one can add material to, so as it packs out over time a boot fitter can simply add more material to it in specific zones to dial in the fit. Due to its snug fit the Zip Fit is often the choice of the expert skier how has a low volume foot that feels as if they can never get a tight enough fit.

Foam liners are the third and final aftermarket liner available from the Start Haus. Foam liners create a tight and uncompromising fit for the skier who doesn’t want their foot going anywhere! Foam is injected into the liner with the athletes foot in the liner and shell and will create a snug and precise fit. The molding process itself is quite intense and the liners take quite a while to pack out. If you’re looking for the snuggest fit possible or are just a foam fanatic from way back the Nordica foam liners we carry are the best in the business!

Canting and Alignment

Jim Schaffner uses a plumb bob to check a client's knee position over the feet. The procedure tells Schaffner whether a skier is knock-kneed or bow-legged.

Jim Schaffner uses a plumb bob to check a client’s knee position over the feet. The procedure tells Schaffner whether a skier is knock-kneed or bow-legged.

 Canting is the relation of the center of the knee to the center of the ski boot. Skiers can be misaligned or out of balance in several ways. As it relates to canting, a skier can be bow legged, knock kneed, or windswept (in on one boot and out on another). None of these are desirable and some are worse than others. Depending on how much correction is needed, canting can either be the best investment you can make in your skiing or just a pleasant upgrade. To properly cant an athlete we would plane the sole of the ski boot, then raise the height by attaching lifters to the soles, and then cut the toe and heel back to the specific height to be DIN compatible.

Start Haus Partners with Blizzard and More

Start Haus is pleased to announce a 2017 Speed Ski Leasing program!

Partnering with Blizzard (with more to come) our racers are now able to lease DH and SG skis for a fraction of the cost of owning a pair!  With so many racers needing a pair for just one or two events late in the season, the speed ski leasing program is the best way to grab a fresh and fast pair of SG or DH skis.

The following Blizzard skis are currently available for lease:

Down Hill Speed Skis in a 212cm and 218cm

Super G Speed Skis in a 185cm, 205cm, and 212cm.

Pricing starts at $125 for a day, $75 a day for 3-5 days, or $50 per day for a week lease.  These skis are ready to mount to your boot specs and tuned to your preferences. Contact us for more information!