Tom and Irene

For the past couple of posts I’ve been writing about leather ski boots.  Saturday, January 8th, I was on the Perry Merrill trail when I spied a pair, well actually two pairs, of leather boots!  I chased the couple down and met Tom and Irene Light.   They were skiing in leather Alpina Telemark boots.  To use those in an Alpine set-up Tom had employed old Look Nevada toe pieces (50’s vintage with the short wings) that would handle the square boot toes combined with some 80’s vintage Salomon step-in heel pieces.

Tom tried plastic boots in the 1960’s when they first came out, but found he had to change his technique to use them.  He proceeded to demonstrate a wedeln series of turns with his feet locked together.  He said he didn’t feel an equipment change should force him to learn a whole new way of skiing! 

Hmmmmmm? Interesting.  I guess I always accepted those technique adjustments as progress.  I definitely ski a whole lot different today than I did in the 1960′s and a lot of the differences relate to equipment!  Shaped skis finally forced me to keep my skis apart – well, at least further apart than I used to have them!  Now my new boots have less forward lean so I’m making that adjustment.

Tom Light holds a patent on a plastic device that would go over the sole of a leather boot to make it compatible with modern DIN release bindings.  You can check details of his patent here.

He says he did not have the funding to pursue his idea as a product, but believes there would be a market for it.  He thinks that even new skiers would appreciate the comfort and flexibility leather offers.

When I suggested Tom was a true RetroSkier, he replied that he might actually be an avant-garde skier, ahead of his time!  With that Tom and his wife Irene wedeled their way down the Perry Merrill.

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3 Responses to Tom and Irene

  1. John Light says:

    Ha! You caught my parents, not always an easy task. They’ve introduced a number of people to leather boots. The general consensus is that you can ski smoothly and in comfort. Freeing the ankle allows you to stay directly over your feet as you absorb bumps instead of throwing your weight back forcing you to lean forward. Being able to release your edges with the ankles makes side-slipping more fluid. It also relieves stress from being applied to the knees (no, it doesn’t lead to broken ankles either). Leather isn’t for racing, but it still works fine in bumps, jumps, and anything a resort hands out. The only thing that tops the comfort factor is the powder performance. Leather boots with soft skis float through powder like nothing else. Your not fighting the hill, but flowing down it like water. That’s my opinion, at least.

    • Greg Morrill says:

      I caught up with your parents again Friday (Jan. 21) and rode up the gondola with them. We had a great chat. They were surprised that I had actually looked up his patent. Hopefully they bought a copy of the Stowe Reporter to see their names mentioned.

  2. Amanda Silver says:

    Although my brother’s comment covers the mechanics of soft equipment splendidly, I have to add that this set-up allows for the skier’s style to flourish like no other. I am very proud to say that, although I strayed to some somewhat harder boots in my 20′s, (mostly because it was difficult to find leather ones to fit) Dad later got me the Alpina’s which I hope never wear out! It is pure joy to ski alongside my family who has stayed true to the Master Style of alpine skiing. Even our sister, who skis full-time on all telemark equipment has retained the beautiful motion while adding the finesse and economy of a freestyle professional skier. (That is not to belittle in any way my brother’s incredibly smooth and fast technique which never was quite tested in the professional field.)

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