2001 Gear of the Year: Boots

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ATOMIC

Race 10.50

Skier Type

Racer, All-Mountain Expert

Price

$595

Forget that most World Cup podiums already bristle with its skis; Atomic wants to rule the world. That means boots, too. The 10.50 is a benevolent dictator, with a roomy toebox (for balance, though warmth is a byproduct) and a pleasing price. Performance? It's unlike any other, thanks to a radical design that removes much of the sole, allowing flexibility. That lets the ski flex freely, with no boot-induced flat spot. For recreational skiers, the technology is shared by the Race Carve 9.58 and Ride 9.50. At any level, the design marries harmoniously with super-sidecut skis, doing so with elegance, simplicity and an eye-catching look.


NORDICA

K 9.1

Skier Type

Freerider, All-Mountain Expert

Price

$645

Nordica's new Dobermann race boot may be the vicious guard dog of the gates, but the K 9.1 is no puppy, either. To be sure, there's some cuddle: Outlast fabric in the liner regulates temperature; softer plastic yields more humane flex than the Dobermann; and heat-moldable padding conforms to the skier's foot. But let it out of the cage and the K 9.1 is all about performance: quickness, balance and precision in a relatively lightweight package. Meanwhile, a softer flexing W 9.1 lets lighter and/or less aggressive skiers in on the fun, too. It's great to see Nordica, a manufacturer some say had lost its way in recent years, back with a grrr.


SALOMON

X Wave 10.0

Skier Type

Freerider, All-Mountain Expert

Price

$625

Whatever Salomon came up with to replace its popular Prolinks had to be very, very good. The X Wave series-crowned by the precise and powerful 10.0-is. Not that it came out of nowhere: In fact, it's the offspring of Salomon's Course line, which debuted to raves a year ago. Take all that muscle and performance, add detail, comfort and versatility, and you're riding an exciting Wave indeed. The liner and buckling system are as slick and techy as the shell. And as with the Prolinks, fit issues are non-issues: The Wave is uncannily accommodating to a variety of foot shapes. Once again, Salomon makes it look easy.

Note: Prices listed are manufacturer's suggested retail.