I believe that the best way to understand how something works is to actually experience it myself, not just take someone’s word for it. When I read articles in ski magazines years ago about how important boot flex is to skiing I just had to try it myself. I was especially intrigued by the claim that only the best skiers have muscles strong enough to flex a stiff race boot. To me this was saying that if you can flex with the best, you can ski with the best. Game on! So I went up on the ski hill one day and tried flexing my boots as deeply as I could under different conditions and in different parts of a turn. I had to try and figure out when to flex and when not to flex because the experts who stress the importance of having boots with the right flex index didn’t say how and when flex should be used. But if the experts said flex is important, I had to find out if they were right. And that is exactly what I did.
Going up on a ski hill and flexing boots during actual ski maneuvers is a lot of work. And to be quite honest, I found it more than a little tricky. Maybe it was just me. But I wasn’t very good at flexing my boots in order to put pressure on the shovel of my ski to start it turning. It didn’t help my understanding of how to use boot flex when I studied the best skiers like Ligety and noticed that the shank angle of their outside leg changes very little especially in the high load phase in the bottom of a turn. It must be an illusion. It’s probably caused by the distortion of the long camera lenses.
So how good a skier you are? Here’s a easy way to find out. Put your boots on and buckle them up. Sit down and place your feet (with the boots on) on a hassock or even a box. Now flex your boot flex muscles and see how much you can flex your boots. If your boots are too stiff you could perhaps prevail on a local ski shop to see if they will let you flex tests some boots. You could even make an afternoon of it. Have a boot flexing competition with your buddies. Find out who’s the best.
If, you can’t flex your boots, better hit the gym. Maybe hire a fitness instructor. Pump those boot flex muscles up. Remember, boot flex is critical in skiing.