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A revolutionary new ski boot has a streamlined shell of rigid fiber glass

The new Rosemount ski boot may look as futuristic as an astronaut's space shoe, but it is touted as a practical breakthrough for the recreational skier. Rosemount, a Minnesota company, is primarily in the business of designing aero-space instruments. Its current ski project, though, got off the pad several years ago when President Frank Werner got hooked on skiing. Intrigued by the design possibilities in the ski-boot field, Werner assigned a team of technicians to develop a prototype.

The problem, as Werner defined it for his staff, was to design a boot with adequate forward flection at the ankles that still would maintain the lateral ankle rigidity required for proper edge control. Leather, Werner thought, was a poor material—it warped in snow and ice and weakened with age. A typical ready-made leather model takes a painfully long time to break in. When it is broken in and finally comfortable, the leather is already beginning to deteriorate and does not provide the maximum support.

This spring the firm introduced the new boot and startled the ski industry with its radical design and appearance. At first glance the boot is a shocker, particularly to a skier accustomed to the trappings of conventional boots. The Rosemount boot is jet-black, and its smooth, glossy shell is made of rigid fiber-glass-reinforced epoxy. A black elastic band encircles the boot about ankle-high and covers the two working parts of the boot: a hinged cuff, which permits forward movement, and the shoe itself. The degree of forward flection can be adjusted for the comfort and safety of a skier. The cuff, too, can be angled inward or outward to vary the lateral pressure upon the ankle.

A skier does not jam his foot into the boot—he slides it in. An entire side of the casing (shoe and cuff) swings open to allow the skier to place his foot inside. Two buckles, one on the cuff and one on the shoe, then lock in the foot.

Rosemount has lined the boot with a complicated system of mysterious padding (the company says they don't have a name for it) which molds to the contour of the foot and ankle. To accomplish this, there is a system of seven individual pads at strategic points of fit, plus a padded insole.

The fitting process may prove to be a difficult and time-consuming one for the ordinary ski shop. The space-age price tag is another hurdle. The company plans to sell them for about $130 per pair, with an initial output of 900 pairs. The boots will undergo severe testing from the experts this winter, and with a price like that they had better be good.