REVELATIONS FROM THE FIS GS SKI RULING


The controversy that surfaced in 2011 over the FIS decision to increase turn radius on GS skis revealed a lot about what the various authorities in skiing knew and, especially, what they didn’t know, about the mechanics, biomechanics and physics of skiing. Some critics of the ruling took the position that the reduced sidecuts would actually increase the risk of injury. An article in Ski Racing called, Black Diamond: The Deaf Ears Of The FIS, reviewed the various positions on the matter. And while some critics of the FIS ruling had very strong opinions, no one seemed able to put forth a position based on sound principles of science. In what had to be the height of irony, Guenter Hujara, director of the men’s World Cup was reported to have said, The facts are the facts. If you want safety this is a step you have to take.

Since 1977, I have been stressing the importance of the feet in skiing as the transmission path for forces transferred from the skier’s centre of mass to the snow. Knowledge of the forces acting between the soles of the feet and the snow surface is the arbiter of knowledge as a whole in skiing.  At last, a World Cup official was finally talking about taking a step. But my elation was short-lived. Hujara was talking about new regulations for GS skis, not my long hoped for new regulations for ski boots.

Two statements pertaining to injury mechanisms and ski safety were telling; Scientists at the University of Salzburg determined through a subjective study of 63 experts that the main risk factor was the “system ski, binding, plate, boot,” and By their own (FIS) admission, boots are too complex, and plates are, too. I say, ‘wait a moment’. The common denominator in the ski system/skier interface with the potential to cause injury, especially knee injury, is moments of force (torques). To be more specific, an unbalanced inversion moment of force present across the inside edge of the outside ski and the associated joints of the ankle-complex. By association, an unbalanced external (out of the turn) vertical axial moment of force acting on the tibia that tends to rotate it out of the turn against a well-stabilized femur or, worse, a femur that is being rotated into the turn by the powerful hip rotators. Between the tibia and femur lies the knee; a fragile joint with only ligaments holding the two bones in proximity to each other.

Mechanisms of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury in World Cup Alpine Skiing  (The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. XX, No. X DOI: 10.1177/0363546511405147), states, under Background,

There is limited insight into the mechanisms of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in alpine skiing, particularly among professional ski racers.

My US Patent No.  5,459,949 published on or about November 29, 1994, goes into great detail about the importance of positioning the foot within in the ski boot and especially positioning the ball of the foot in relation to the inside edge of the outside ski of a turn so as to facilitate the setting up of moments of force (torques) into the turn with which to oppose externally generated torques out of the turn and the avoidance of mechanical relationships that result in unbalanced torques, It can be debated whether the presence of an unbalanced external vertical axial moment of force causes or contributes to an injury. But there is no debate that an unbalanced external vertical axial moment of force is a predisposing factor to injury.

 

Here are some excerpts from the subject patent that discuss moments of force acting about the inside edge of the ski with my notes and emphasis (bold) added. Due to the relatively short moment arm, aligning applied and ground (snow) reaction forces in opposition to each other or even creating an alignment where the applied force is on the inside turn aspect of the inside edge of the outside ski is not, in itself, sufficient to engage the external forces that drive a ski into a turn. It is merely a prerequisite. The factors that multiply moments of force once an over-centre mechanism is initiated are much complex than a simple misalignment of opposing applied and snow reaction forces.

SOLE ADJUSTMENT

While the adjustment of medial forefoot counter 2201 enables the foot 2001 of the user to be correctly aligned on rigid base 2100 yet another problem has arisen. The alignment of the head of the first metatarsal of the foot 2001 of the user has been altered in relation to the appliance affixed to the sole of the footwear, in this instance, a snow ski, in comparison with the alignment of the appliance in relation to the head of the first metatarsal as shown in FIG. 63.

Alignment of the center of the head of the first metatarsal is an important factor influencing physiological mechanisms which balance pronation/supination moments acting transversely across inside edge of appliances such as snow skis. The contact point of such an appliance with the surface on which it is acting can act as a fulcrum and, in so acting, establish a moment arm pivot in situations where the ground reaction force and the force applied by the user are not acting linearly in opposition to each other. In monopedal stance (pronated) the weight of the body acts substantially through the center of the head of the first metatarsal.

It is important, in activities such as snow skiing, that means be provided to allow the center of the head of the first metatarsal to be positioned so that the force applied by the user can be aligned in opposition to the ground reaction force when the snow ski is placed on its inside edge. If opposing ground reaction and applied forces can not be aligned, a moment arm will be created with the effect that the force applied by the user will tend to rotate the foot in the direction of either supination or pronation.

The location of the inside edge of (the outside ski) a snow ski tends to favour a supination moment arm since the ski edge generally lies medial of the center of the head of the second metatarsal. If the force applied by the user is sufficient in the presence of a moment arm to rotate the foot in the direction of either supination or pronation, the long axis of the tibia will also be caused to rotate through an intrinsic mechanism within the tarsus of the foot.

The means to adjust the transverse position of the foot in relation to the inside edge of a snow ski while maintaining the means to independently adjust the position of the foot on the longitudinal axis of the sole of the footwear is important and advantageous to the user and is thus an object of the present invention. FIG. 70 shows substantially the same view as FIG. 69 except that the ground reaction force FR and the force applied by the user F are shown substantially as they would be when the user is in monopedal stance (pronated) with the foot correctly positioned in relation to the inside edge of a snow ski affixed to sole 2101.

FIG. 71 shows substantially the same view as FIG. 70 except that the snow ski shown affixed to sole 2101 is wider on its medial aspect in comparison to the snow ski affixed to sole 2101 as shown in FIG. 70. The position of the inside edge of the snow ski in relation to force F applied by the user is such that the ground reaction force FR and the force F applied by the user are not acting linearly in opposition to each other. The transverse offset between the ground reaction force FR and the force F applied by the user creates a moment arm MA which acts lateral of the ski edge with the result that force F applied by the user acting on the moment arm MA will tend to rotate the foot in the direction of supination when the ski is placed on its inside edge.

Fig 70-72

FIG. 72 shows substantially the same view as FIG. 71 except that sole 2101 has been shifted laterally in relation to rigid base 2100 so that the ground reaction force FR and the force F applied by the user are now acting linearly in opposition to each other with the result that the moment arm MA as shown in FIG. 71 facilitates a countering muscularly generated torque from internal rotation of the leg at the pelvis.


The link to US Patent No.  5,459,949 is:

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5,459,949.PN.&OS=PN/5,459,949&RS=PN/5,459,949