Christian Xavier Talk

Reporter: Alan Brown

Christian was originally booked to come and talk to the Club after the AGM's business, but a chance mention of demo skis, and I was on the task of smoothing his entrance to Chill Factore, and arranging for him to show off some of next season's skis to interested members in a ski session before the AGM started.

It was a most worthwhile session. He had 20 pairs of skis and about ten members enjoyed a couple of hours having Christian select and fit skis to try. I'm always amazed how different skis can feel so different. I tried four pairs and most liked the Movement Yaka only to be told that it had been discontinued! Do I go with his reassurance that the Zip model is just like it? Maybe I'll have to go on the Ski Test Week he's offering to members in Cervinia next April to be sureā€¦

Anyway, fast forward past a quick meal in Wetherspoons and the AGM business (see Ian's Chairman's Report elsewhere) to Christian's second appearance as speaker. A record turnout of 45 heard a very informative and entertaining talk about boot fitting and choosing skis.

He explained that there are many things to take into consideration when choosing the right boot. Be prepared to be interrogated by the fitter: what kind of skier are you; weight; any problems or injuries. Basic features to look for are: metal buckles (won't break), thick powder straps for comfort, mouldable liners, flex (softness), replaceable heel and toe pieces and canting adjusters.

His main tip about the fitting process was to take your time. Also the standard boot should be 90% right before any fine tuning is added, a good-fitting ankle is critical and the boot should feel a snug fit before any clips are tightened as the liner will crush.

He suggested that we should ignore 'orthotics' unless we have them in our everyday shoes. They can add comfort and more control and are often necessary after injury, but he warned that footbeds can limit the arch's natural ability to absorb shocks and so cause stress fractures up the ankle and lower leg.

Christian was just as helpful when it comes to skis. Before talking about specific skis he suggested a few general considerations: where do you mostly ski; what type of runs; how aggressive are you; weight age and experience. With the right technician, you should come away with a suitable ski. And of course that brings me back to his session with demo skis. I think maybe I will go on the Ski Test Week to be sure I invest my money in exactly the right ski.

He did of course add countless 'asides' to keep us on the edge of our seats. Who knew, for instance that Salomon and Atomic are joint-owned, as are Vokl/K2/Nordica/ and Rossignol/Dynastar/Lange/Look? Or that the ski test results we pore over in the magazines are skewed in favour of the models our main retailers will stock? Apparently it's no coincidence that they stock the skis with the best ratings!

Thank you Christian, for providing us with so much to think about. Shame his shop is so far away. When you do go though, don't forget to take lunch with you!