This month make sure to check out the latest Motor Trend Classic for their 2012 ski feature, which highlights the Full Tilt Konflicts. If the automobile enthusiast in you strolls past a newsstand, be sure to pick up a copy while it’s on the shelves.
NBC covered Full Tilt Boots citing the advantages of our original 3-piece shell design and function. With over 30 athletes wearing the boot, a silver medal in men’s moguls and a sweep of the men’s and women’s aerials podiums the boot that has proven it’s advantages time and time again didn’t disappoint in Vancouver.
post originally from http://espn.go.com/action/freeskiing/
(Ed’s note: Consider the source—whether it’s drinking water, Af-Pak insurgents or marketeers, guerilla and otherwise, singing the praises of accoutrement in the vast ski-gear-o-sphere. So full disclosure here: Seth Morrison is sponsored by Full Tilt Boots. Seth has also been riding early incarnations of the same boots since before he was, you know, sponsored at all. So not only is Seth biased, Seth is uniquely qualified to discuss how his feet became intertwined in ski boot history…)
As a kid, I grew up watching World Cup racers dominating in these boots. Strangely, the same boots were the choice of freestyler-bumpers, aerialists and ballet-ists too. Dudes like Bill Johnson and Nelson Carmichael ripped these boots. Why? The even flex and overall softness made this three-piece design the go-to.
I think I even heard of downhill racers using these boots for speed events and then going back to other brands for giant slaloms and slaloms. (Somehow, these boots also became popular with the hard-boot snowboard community.)
Kim Reichhelm got me my first free pair, in 1994, after I’d already been skiing in ’em for three years. Still, I suppose it is with random acts of kindess that most people get themselves indoctrinated into cults. And so it was for me with the Raichle Flexon ski boot, which today fly under the banner of Full Tilt Boots.
The Flexon design was created in the late 70’s by Eric Giese, a former NASA space suit engineer who had come up with the rib technology you see on the arms and legs of space suits. Giese eventually presented his design—with the ribbed floating tongue and ankle hinge—to Raichle. To seal the deal he jumped up on a conference room table in Switzerland with his protype boot on one foot and the then-current Raichle model on the other foot. Bending into the mis-matched boots on the table, he demonstrated the non-shell-bulge flex of his boot versus theirs, bulging out. That was enough to produce the “Flexon.” The year was 1980.
Over the years the boot has changed hands repeatedly, gone away entirely, and undergone some modifications for the better. With Raichle, we saw a variety of colors—mostly all black with green, red, pink, orange and yellow tongues inlays.
A Euro Tongue, as I called it (and not to be confused with the Euro barge), was mostly what the racers used. And it was one of the stiffer tongues out there; all one piece with a big smooth screw head at the bottom of the tongue that was part of the connection to the boot itself.
Later, the boots went to the Thermo Flex liner. This was a big move in the right direction. Like the Intuition Liners today, these were light, warm and fully moldable to the entire area your leg and foot—they put you in intimate contact with the entirety of boot’s inner sanctum.
Rumor has it, in the late ’80s, the then-owner of the then-company was in a car crash and died with his secretary (mistress); his wife apparently decided that she was going to ruin the company since it was his love. By 1996, she succeeded; the company was nearing bankruptcy.
At this point Kneissl took advantage and bought them. But they had some trouble with tongues breaking, and that put the hurt on the re-launch. They did put in an active foot board—a soft foam foot board to help absorb impacts—and this was another good move. But they were weighed down by the fragile tongues and challenges of selling a boot with un-formed liners, which made it tough for people to try them on and know how they were going to fit for real. And so they returned to a regular liner. But, coupled with marketing challenges, it was too late. Kneissl then went under new management and that was that for the boots. They were officially history.
K2 bought the molds shortly after that, in the fall of 2004, but did nothing with them. Then K2 acquired Line Skis (Summer 2006) and almost instantly Line decided to do Full Tilt (Fall 2006). Years earlier Line had tried re-launch one of the wider Raichle models, but it didn’t do very well. So they had the right idea back then, but now they had the cult classic.
Meanwhile, people like me hung onto old boots and boot parts in order to continue skiing them. At one point I had 12 pairs of boots, 20 sets of tongues, boxes of cables, 50 buckles, power straps, boot boards, 5 liner sets and 20 replacement heals. Some were new boots, some were almost worn out, and some were only slightly used.
Sometimes I was able to get new and used ones off eBay or at ski swaps and shops I’d routinely scour for parts: Summit (County) Recycle Ski and Sport and places in Vail, Breckenridge and Keystone. You never knew where they would show up.
There was a period of four years before Full Tilt started that I was on the hunt all the time. Once I found some at a shop in Whistler. But they said I’d have to pay full pop since it was their best seller—even though they hadn’t been made in a few years. (I passed on that.)
During a bout of temporary insanity I once even thought that being sponsored by another company was going to PAY off. I tried the Dalbello version and other styles and other brands; opportunites were there. This eventually led to a realization: If I ever ran out of old boots and parts I might as well retire from skiing. Of course this was after almost breaking my shins from a big cliff drop—I’d sold off my old Raichles from my ski racing days (broke college kid).
A few of my friends had used them because Glen Plake did or they’d broken a leg, “boot-top style,” and they didn’t want to go back to the boots they were using (Rossignol). (They went to Raichle because they came up higher on the shin—so the fracture line was in the boot, not above it.) But originally for me, I was using them for their fit and performance. Boot bang became a thing of the past with these boots.
Thus far I’ve worked with all the companies, but pretty much I’ve been in the boot full time since 1991. I’ll never try anything else. Now Full Tilt has been going for four years and they’re picking up where the others left off. Tight new graphics have been the most noticeable addition, but Full Tilt also added moldable liners built by Intuition, cable guides for the tongues, and a variety of tongue flexes that offer more options than ever.
So naturally I’m pretty stoked to have a Pro Model with them now too. And maybe it has all paid off. I stayed in what works for me, through the thick and thin and the ski swaps and closets full of boots and parts. And now I only have eight pairs in the closet—just in case.
Utah native and Full Tilt skier Suzanne Graham tossed herself and her Full Tilt Soul Sisters off this this sizeable cliff to snag the cover of Freeskier Magazine‘s November Womens Edition. Erik Seo was the trigger man for the shot and here’s a few words from Suz about how it came to be:
“Erik Seo, Jen Hudak, and I headed up to Alta for a 7 AM chair hoping we could make it out to this specific area before anybody else. The goal of the day was to get some good shots of us sending it off some cliffs. When we got out there we weren’t totally sure how soft the landings were so we spent some time assessing the situation. Nobody had been out there since it snowed and with a cliff that big the snow really needs to be deep and soft enough- after throwing a lot of snowballs into the landing and building a small lip off the cliff I decided to give it a shot first. The photo on the cover was from the first hit of the day, where I decided to go for it off the bat and do one of my favorite things in the world, a big laid out back flip. Both of us got some fantastic shots (huge thanks to Seo) and called it a day early to go ski some pow. 🙂” – Suz (http://suzgraham.com/)
A bit about the shot from Seth ” The shot came from a trip we did with Oakley while filming TGR’s “Re:Session”. We were at Bell 2 with Last Frontier, this is in Northern BC. This shot came about as we were working the lower section of a run after hitting a wind lip on the upper section. One turner with a nice part of a glacier that’s out of focus in the background. It was a fun trip and a great place, hope we get to go back. It’s great to check out new terrain.”
Full Tilt Boots was recently featured on the homepage of the world’s 6th largest website! The Classic was shown along with other consumer products that were born from NASA innovations! Cool! CLICK HERE to read the full story.
a nice piece about the evolution of the brand and it’s products.