The Art of Bootfitting

“I like to know that when someone walks out the door, they’ll have as good a time as I do. That’s what it’s about…fun,” says Corty Lawrence, left. “I enjoy it,” added his son Zach. “You apply what you’ve learned.” Both Lawrences are bootfitters at Footloose Sports in Mammoth.
“I like to know that when someone walks out the door, they’ll have as good a time as I do. That’s what it’s about…fun,” says Corty Lawrence, left. “I enjoy it,” added his son Zach. “You apply what you’ve learned.” Both Lawrences are bootfitters at Footloose Sports in Mammoth.

Corty and Zach Lawrence are artists. Most people think they are skiers and master bootfitters, which they are, but in their souls they are artists who apply their artistry to all their pursuits, with equal passion.

Corty has mastered the art of charcoal, pastel and pencil drawings and Zach is an accomplished musician; he plays guitar and trumpet, and records the music he improvises. “I play every day, I could play for five hours,” Zach said.

Consciously or not, both have transposed their artistic spirit into the art of bootfitting. They talked about art, business and sport in their lives early one December afternoon at Footloose Sports.

Corty started out working at Footloose 32 years ago when he asked owner and boot guru Sven Coomer for a job. “He taught me everything he knew,” Corty said.

“Sven brought bootfitting from caveman days to a science. He knew how the body worked biomechanically, and he came up with SuperFeet,” Corty said. With these insoles the feet are supported, stabilized and aligned from beneath. Thus … better edge pressure, better control, better balance. “What Sven understood was that the best solution is underfoot support.”

For both Lawrences, father and son, bootfitting is problem solving. “They both know how to listen, then they’re able to explain it back to the customer so they understand,” said Mary Lawrence, Corty’s wife. “People skills are number one: relate, listen and explain.”

The senior Lawrence is happy to have his son working in the boot department at Footloose, of which Corty is co-owner (along with Tony and Andrea Colasardo). Zach grew up in Mammoth, in Footloose, went to college in Durango, Colo., and he and his wife Shaina came back to Mammoth a few years ago when their daughter Andrea was born.

“The opportunity was available and I didn’t have anything else lined up,” Zach said, implying that music might not always pay the bills. “You can’t sell your own art,” Corty added, having spent about nine months in Southern California after college trying to sell his art before coming to Mammoth to work.

Zach was almost born at Footloose, where both Corty and Mary were working in the winter of 1983, a big snow year. “I worked until I was ready to explode,” she said.

“Zach came to work with us, stayed in his infant seat. He hung out with us, we took him everywhere. I suppose he learned the business through osmosis. We had to keep moving the merchandise, like sunglasses, higher and out of the youngster’s reach,” Corty said.

Tony and Andrea Colasardo’s kids, Michael and Daniella, as well as Zach, grew up in the store and worked there during Christmas, holidays and school breaks.

“We like to think of ourselves as a family store, so it’s a great thrill for us to have them come back,” Andrea said. “Zach has been great. He jumped right in. It’s second nature to these kids; they grew up in the store.”

Skiing is also second nature to these people named Lawrence. Corty’s mother Andrea Mead Lawrence, well known to Mammoth, was the first American alpine skier to win two Olympic gold medals (for giant slalom and slalom in the 1952 Oslo Olympics when she was only 19). Corty has been skiing all his life. “Skiing is like breathing. I don’t remember learning,” he said.

Zach “skied right off the bat.” In fourth grade he switched to snowboarding, but he’s been back on skis for four seasons now. Corty remembers that the two of them were riding up Chair 2 a year or so ago when Zach said, “Dad, this [skiing] is a lot more fun than snowboarding.”

Theirs is an extraordinary legacy. On the skiing side, the excitement the two men feel is palpable. At 60, Corty is as much of a nut for skiing as he ever was. He still gets that shiver in his belly on a ski day. And, this winter Zach, who is 32, will extend that legacy when he introduces his four-year-old daughter to the sport.

As they sat on their boot-fitting stools in the boot sanctuary at Footloose, finishing each other’s sentences, laughing and talking, it was clear they’re having a ball. Through the science and art of boot fitting, Corty and Zach get stoked when they can increase their customers’ joy in skiing.