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Review: Best Ski Boots For Skating Right Now, Part I

On definitions: “best” means racing boots, those used by the world’s elite skiers to compete & win. In 2019 those are invariably carbon-fiber soled – and, naturally, with carbon cuffs for ankle support.

For all SNS fans: sorry, folks – the only athlete we know of still using once-dominant system is Jessie Diggins. Atomic, once a firm ” SNS camper”, stopped supporting it altogether – Salomon is still holding out but, likely, not for long.

Most if not all producers follow a simple maxim: test with top athletes & win the first year of production – sell the next one. In other words, there is often a considerable gap between what you see on TV and what you could actually buy at your friendly local store. We have an issue with that approach but it currently dominates the market.

In 2019 there are 6 established companies that produce racing marvels – plus a very exciting new entrant, for the total of 7.

We present their wares in alphabetic order and will split info into three distinc categories:

– Available in the shops right now
– Being used by top athletes but one can’t buy it yet, at least officially
– Being developed, out for athletes soon

Alpina, Slovenia

A storied manufacturer from Žiri is one of the two top league ski bootmakers without ski production. Which is a problem on a long run as more and more ski makers demand that sponsored athletes compete using their boots – or else. That strategic issue does not change the fact that Alpina currently has a fantastic line-up of products.

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3 year old ESK 2.0 are still great boots used by many a top athlete on the world stage.
Alpina’s top sponsored athletes have started receiving the newest ESK 3.0 right before the start of the World Championships in Seefeld but as of now only a few dozens can boast of having them. Early response from happy users indicate ESK 3.0 are fantastic – alas, they are not available in shops as yet

Atomic, Austria

An established manufacturer from Altenmarkt in Pongau is about ski production first, second and last. However, they do offer Atomic-branded boots – see below

One does not have to be a eagle-eyed to spot that Atomic Carbons of the current generation are but a Salomon S/LAB boots that undergone a minor re-badging. Which is all right, because the boots themselves are terrific – and the most expensive on the market too. And yes, you could buy exactly same boots as twins Tiril and Lotta Weng are using right now
Good news: according to Yann Vallet, Atomic Nordic boss, the company is working on its own ski boots, distinct from Salomon. No pictures as yet, we haven’t been allowed to see them either – but they are coming, perhaps as soon as the end of this season

Fischer, Austria

The giant from Ried im Innkreis dominates every segment of the xcski market – boots included.
Last year it phased out Rottefella-sourced platform in Speedmax boots in favor of in-house developed ( together with Rossignol) IFP.

“Old” Speedmax boots are distinguished by their mostly-yellow soles. They are still in use by many an elite skier and are widely available in shops, often on discount
One could tell new Speedmax IFP by their mostly black soles with yellow elements. Boots were developed in Italy and are produced in Bosnia
Fischer is one of the only two producers that offer top boots in two colors: “Hers” – white is only available in small sizes – modeled here by Natalia Nepryaeva
…and sort of unisex – black is available in all sizes. Your recognized these feet – “JK”indicate that it’s Johannes himself
Speedmax IFPs are available in shops this autumn – Fischer did a good job of producing them in quantity so an ambitious amateur could have exactly same boots as Johaug, Klaebo, Nepryaeva or Karlsson.

As both Alpina and Fischer just put the news models out, we are not aware of either developing the next ones – although, of course, some preliminary drawing must exist already.

In part 2 we will continue with top carbon boots from Madshus, Rossignol, Salomon and that new ambitious entrant, Spine.

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