Meet Your Merchant: Elite Feet keeps boots around the Lake Tahoe Basin fitting right
Special to the Sun
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. – As fall shifts to winter in Tahoe, it’s time to dig out the warm layers from the depths of the closet and grab the skis out of the garage.
With mountains opening, it’s also time to check up on your riding equipment, and get new gear if necessary. With two convenient locations, Elite Feet is open and ready to get you set up for skiing and snowboarding season.
The stores, founded and owned by Christian Denis and Robert Campbell, opened in Squaw Valley in 1995. The duo has decades of experience in boot fitting and tuning. Originally from Killington, Vt., Denis has been working in ski shops since he was fifteen.
Denis and Campbell met while working at the former Squaw Valley Sport Shop. After about five years of working together, a retail space at the Resort at Squaw Creek became available. When Elite Feet first opened, they only worked on boots.
“We slowly expanded over the years,” Denis said.
Elite Feet expanded from providing just boot fitting to selling hardgoods and most recently, providing full tunes at the Squaw Valley location. The store previously didn’t offer tuning services, but is happy to offer it this upcoming winter.
“The tuning part (of the business) is a natural extension for us.”
The stores carry brands such as Salomon, Nordica, Lange, 4frnt Skis, Elan and Armada.
Both locations offer ski in/ski out service, which Denis says is a plus, as it allows for his staff to work on the equipment as soon as a problem arises. Customers are encouraged to call ahead, however, if they are looking to get their boots fitted. Fittings usually take about an hour, Denis said.
The shops pride themselves on customer service. Denis explained that most of his employees return year after year, adding that one employee has worked at Elite Feet for 12 years.
“We’re very service orientated. I don’t think anyone gives customer service like we do, as far as boot-fitting goes,” Denis said.
Denis noted that boots are the most important piece of equipment for enjoying a day on the hill “by far.”
“You have to be comfortable to be happy and enjoy the sport,” he added. “Getting in the proper size and boot for your ability is the most important thing by far.”
Denis explained that he often sees customers who are in the wrong equipment, and added that there are four “golden rules of boot-fitting.” The first is to have the proper size boot. Secondly, you must choose the right boot for you ability. Thirdly, the boot has to have the proper support, often in the form of a custom footbed. Lastly, the boot must be balanced and canted properly.
He stated that the most common problem he sees is that boots are not the right size, often too large for the customer. Whether you purchased your boots from Elite Feet or not, staff there will work on your equipment. If you do purchase your boots from Elite Feet, staff will fit the boot for the life of the boot, as well as guaranteeing all work.
This winter, Elite Feet will host three separate Demo Days at Squaw Valley, allowing customers to try out equipment before purchasing it. Dates are to be determined, but will be posted online once confirmed.
If you’re looking to get a new setup this winter, or just want to make sure your boots will be comfortable for the upcoming season, stop by one of Elite Feet’s locations. The stores will be open all winter for your ski and snowboard equipment needs.