Anyone watching World Cup ski racing last season (here in the US…whaddaya new?) may have noticed the prevalence of black boots on the podium. Count on there being good reason for that; Nordica makes good stuff! They have been doing so for a long time.
There are numerous ski boots from the archives at Nordica that established benchmarks in the industry; the Grand Prix has a place at the top.
The Grand Prix had a life of its own long after model changes occurred. The boot was so desirable to those at the highest level of the sport it showed up for many years with cosmetic treatments that reflected the current ski boots you could buy off the shelf.
The success of the Grand Prix was due to the simplicity of the shell, the quality of the liners and the rigorous use of biomechanics as a design stricture.
There have been some notable successors to the Grand Prix; the original Doberman and the Doberman Aggressor. Now there is the Doberman EDT.
The Doberman Pro EDT makes two changes of note; first and most significant is the EDT (Efficient Dynamic Technology (gotta have something slapped on a ski boot!), the zeppa or boot board that lies underneath the liner in each boot, is now formed with carbon. This is noteworthy because the original EDT was firm, hard foam-normal in a boot-except it was molded into an aluminum frame that was bolted through the boot soles from both sides of the toe and heel lugs. It was very cold.
The first generation Doberman Pro EDT was, despite the cold feet, very effective at what it was meant to do…turn the existing torsion at the boots soles into direct response on the skis. The current carbon EDT is as effective but reduces the weight of the boot along with keeping the feet warmer.
The other change in the Doberman Pro EDT complements the change in the zeppa-there is a bit more internal volume…better space for the instep and the girth around the heel/anterior ankle joint. Otherwise the Doberman Pro EDT is unchanged.
The Doberman series, including the Doberman Pro EDT, the Spitfire and the Patron Pro, is fairly low volume. The Spitfire and Patron Pro have conventional bootboards.
This is where numbers can be deceiving; at 98mm one might assume the Doberman Pro EDT to be as spacious as other boots in that width but, even with the changes in certain shell dimensions, the Dobermans are a very snug fit; mid-foot and heel provide solid support throughout, the instep is pretty low and the toe box becomes fairly narrow.
The Spitfire and Patron Pro feel slightly less constricted because of more compliant liner materials.
Nordica boot flexes tend to run on the burlier side; the Patron Pro 120 feels more like a 130, the Spitfire 100 feels more like a 110 or 115. Even the flex of the Doberman Pro EDT 130 is stout enough so that Nordica does not offer that boot in a 150 flex…they consider it unnecessary.
The Doberman series skis very well, they are clean and crisp edge-to-edge. The ramp angle is neutral-not as flat as some, more so than others-and with the cuff pretty straight up the stance keeps the skier fairly well stacked (skeletal).
The spoiler is robust…turn finish can be abrupt at first but because the skier can stay much more centered the fore/aft motion should be minimized and as the ROM is established this not as much of an issue.
The EDT does have a distinct function and feel on snow. Some of the abruptness at the finish of the turn is also due to the rigidity of the soles…this loads the rear binding as the ski flexes increasing the rebound as the skier completes the turn.
I am not sure how much torsional flex most of us mere mortals actually feel underfoot when skiing but what exists will never be an issue in the Doberman EDT. The EDT boots are very exacting and powerful when it comes to tipping the skis up.
The carbon composite of the zeppas gives a consistent feel for the environment while attenuating high frequency vibrations.
New from Nordica last season and replacing the Speedmachine in the meat-and-potatoes 100mm width category is the Firearrow series; the Firearrow F2 and Firearrow F3W.
The Firearrow has some big shoes to fill (pun fully intended!) and is eking its way into the consciousness of the constituency Nordica has targeted…basically the former Speedmachine skier.
The Firearrow has been designed with “new school” technique in mind. With shaped skis in general and recent wider shaped skis in particular, the real difference in their utility necessitates a wider stance-hip to shoulder width apart.
As a result of the geometry and construction of current skis, boots do not have to be as stiff flexing as they used to be. They need to be very stiff laterally.
The Firearrow from the ground up complements the functional attributes of the newest and the best of the contemporary crop of skis.
The Firearrow is a three-piece shell. The lower that encases the foot has an open throat that starts at the instep and follows the contour of the ankle and shin to the boot top. This permits an open, unrestricted flex. The flex is contained and defined by the tongue of the shell-component # 2-and the interaction between the cuff and the posterior of the lower shell-component # 3.
Creating shells with the medial and lateral flanges of the lower shell contiguous to the top of the boot provides tremendous lateral strength for tipping the skis up, transferring edge-to-edge and modulating turn shape and length.
The Firearrow has a carbon EDT zeppa fixed through the soles. This EDT is wider underfoot than that of the Dobermans. This, particularly for those regularly skiing skis over 78mm in width, augments the leverage needed to engage and hold an edge through turns and has good feel underfoot.
The Firearrow F2 and Firearrow F3 W are three buckles. The top and instep buckles are in the usual spots on the shell; the middle one is mounted to the shell in front of the hinge rivets so that it pulls the feet into the rear of the boot. It works well.
The forefoot and toe box are roomy. Last season the room over the instep was pretty limited-in this year’s boot it is much better. Mid-foot and heel are not as compact as in the Doberman series yet support through the area is not lacking…just not as close.
The heel cup is not as severe as in the Dobies however once the shin presses into the tongue the purchase at the rear of the heel and the stability improves.
The medial wall is conducive to foot steering-there is just a little room for the mid-tarsal joint to roll into.
The Firearrow F2 and F3 W reward current technique. I repeat this because skiers in love with the Speedmachine and still skiing with a narrower stance will have to adjust some things to benefit from the design parameters of these boots. Once that is accomplished however, the Firearrow will put a big wide grin on your face.
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