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Long days on the slopes just got more comfortable.

Thirty years ago, in a small garage in Park City, Utah two brothers, Bob and Russ Shay, set out on a mission to create the best fit and performance in a ski boot. Today they have 23 stores in 6 countries and have fit nearly half a million pairs of custom boots.

We caught up with Kyle Ballinghoff, the manager of Surefoot’s Steamboat location (one of Surefoot’s op performing locations), to find out why custom boots make all the difference.

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Estes Park, Colorado snowboarding at Eldora with my family. Back then you could add 5 days at Steamboat to your Eldora season pass, so my family would come here every year for spring break, it was the dream place to snowboard for me.

When it was time for me to start looking at colleges I came to Steamboat to check out Colorado Mountain College and learned more about their ski and snowboard business program and knew that’s all I wanted to do.

My first year as a student in the fall of 2007, I became a part time boot fitter at Surefoot. The person that hired me didn’t look at my resume and didn’t see that I had never put on a ski boot in my life. Despite this I was promoted quickly and took over running the shop in 2011. Currently I am the manager of the Steamboat location and I direct the North American training.

I decided to stay in Steamboat not only because of the opportunities I have been given but also this great community. I have real, authentic friends living these real, authentic lives and through big snow years and thin snow years this town has a consistent character and feels like home. Even when you’re coming here on vacation each year it can feel like home.

Why custom boots?

Our founders realized a flaw in the mass production of boots, “ski boots were and are designed to fit everyone- without fitting anyone”. Ski boots are one of the most uncomfortable pieces of footwear known to mankind but with custom boots you no longer have to worry about discomfort and can even improve your ski performance.

One of our custom boots will last about three times as long as a regular boot, about 250 days of skiing. If you’re only skiing a few weeks per year, you’ll have the boot for a better part of a decade. Surefoot boots are completely satisfaction guaranteed. If you ever find that the boot isn’t performing the way you want, you can bring it back and we’ll make it right. This guarantee spans across every location, so no matter where you are, our entire staff at all 23 locations stands behind you.

The best part of going to work for me is that we can make someone’s skiing experience better, make their performance better and get people to enjoy skiing.

Tell us about the process.

First we take a scan of your foot using a digital computer that gives us a 3D image of the anatomy of your foot. The technician then aligns your foot to the strongest natural position for skiing. Essentially this image allows us to optimize your balance and body alignment.

From there we can use the information from the scan to compare you to the entire ski industry to pick the best possible boot for your foot, no more trying on boot after boot to find the right one, we find it for you. Then we make a custom orthotic and custom memory foam injected liner. This liner takes the space between your foot and the plastic shell and molds it to the shape of your lower leg and foot.

Tips from the experts:

Most people misunderstand that a lot of issues come from poor buckling. Boots are a piece of specialized sports equipment. They are designed to be clasped down to hold your foot and we find that most people are not buckling tight enough.

The buckles at the top of the boot, on your legs, you want to tighten those the most. This is where all of your control is and what helps you into that angle… embrace the angle. The difference between a boot that fits and one that doesn’t is the ability to embrace the angle.

If you’re interested in learning more or getting a pair yourself, head into Surefoot in the base area. 7 days a week, 8am to 6pm. 

Surefoot

2250 Apres Ski Way, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487