swoodyut wrote:2. Any particular places to start looking? I have on my list Bent Gate, Colorado Ski & Golf, Wilderness Exchange, Christy's Sports, Boulder Ski Deals. Looks like Sierra Trading Post and Backcountry have good sales going right now, but if I'm able to buy a boot locally from anyone that gives me good service I will.
I got super lucky because my foot is apparently one of the last sizes to sell, so I got my Garmont Mega-Star AT boots at REI on sale for cheaper than on steepandcheap a few weeks later. SAC will have boots on this spring- maybe you could see what Backcountry has on sale, go try them on somewhere, and then watch for them on SAC? That has worked for me before.
I was hucking (small) cliffs today in my AT boots at the resort, and I was totally fine. My friend who learned to race when he was younger can't wear AT boots at the resorts because he says they're not stiff enough. It's personal preference, I think. Doesn't bother me that much, but maybe I'm not a good enough skier to tell the difference.
The one problem I have noticed with my AT boots is that they are much colder than my downhill boots- I actually got frostbite this year wearing them at the resort when the temp was below 10 deg F. Just something to think about it. Also let me qualify that statement by saying that I grew up in Tennessee... I know 10 deg F is balmy for you Colorado types.
Go AT. You won't go back, IMO.