Interview with Eric "Hoji" Hjorleifson
"Now I´m standing at the summit, waiting for the others to finally be ready."
Where did your idea for the Hoji Pro Tour ski touring boot come from?
For some years now, I’ve been working on the development of ski touring boots and have gained a lot of experience in this field. I’ve observed that all boots with a ski-walk mechanism have certain performance limitations. All boots actually have the same disadvantages:
1.) Limited freedom of movement = poor walkingperformance
2.) Weak, sloppy connections between the main structures of the ski boot = poor skiing performance
3.) Difficult, complicated process to transition between walking and skiin
In addition to the performance limitations of the previous boot models I’ve mentioned, there was a further restriction I couldn’t accept: Ski touring boots were developed with either a focus on the ascent or on the descent. But as Fritz puts it so well: “I can hardly change my ski boots on the top of the mountain!”.
Somehow, no one had properly dealt with the fact that today’s modern skiers would certainly benefit from ski touring boots that were equally impressive on the ascent and on the descent. So, we decided to pursue this goal.
The crucial difference is really the combination of excellent descent performance and efficient ascent.
How did the collaboration with Fritz Barthel, the inventor of the pin binding, come about? Can you tell us a bit more about your relationship and your friendship?
What was the greatest challenge in developing the boot? Did you ever get to a point where you thought, “We’re not going to manage this”?
There were definitely a lot of challenges. After all, we were developing a ski-walk mechanism that is absolutely new and completely different from all the other boots on the market. During the entire development process, Fritz and I were entirely focused on combining the best downhill and uphill performance. This strong focus caused us to encounter quite a few stumbling blocks. But over time, we analysed the problems systematically and were able to develop solutions that we then tested in practice.
How many prototypes did you make until you had the final boot ready?
Fritz and I built four generations of prototypes for a total of seven pairs of boots. Each boot represents several hundred hours’ work. So, it really was quite a bit of work, however it paid off, considering the result.
What is the USP of the Hoji Boot and what are its advantages? What makes the boot so special?
The Hoji Boot is hailed as the “revolution of the ski touring boot”. That’s a very strong statement. How has the boot earned this praise?
You’re a professional freerider yourself. What’s the difference when you ski now, wearing the Hoji Boot, compared to previously?
The crucial difference is really the combination of excellent descent performance and efficient ascent, including an easy transition between these two elements of ski touring. “Pants down always” is what we say to that. There’s no more annoying fiddling, and you can keep your trouser legs down all the time. Now I’m always standing at the summit and waiting for the others to finally finish fumbling about with their ski boots.