Comments have been made that the information presented on my blog is based on unproven theories and/or that my positions on biomechanical issues is flawed. Such criticisms infer that existing ski boot technology and the principles on which it is based that include controlling joint actions, supporting the foot and ankle and (attempting) to render the joints of the foot immobile, are based on sound principles of science and that the design concepts of current ski boots have been thoroughly tested and proven.

It was my initial attempts at embracing the principles of current ski boots, attempts that failed to produce the claimed results, that served as the impetus for me to look in new directions and eventually approach the design of a ski boot from the perspective of a clean sheet of paper.

In 1991, a company I was a partner in called MacPod Enterprises Ltd, commissioned scientists to develop an instrumented research vehicle called the Birdcage and conduct on-snow experiments to study the mechanisms of skier balance according to a  hypothetical model I had formulated on the mechanics, biomechanics and physics of skiing. I deliberately chose scientists with expertise in the lower limbs and with no ties to the ski or sporting goods industry. G. Robert Colborne, PhD, provided oversight on the work of the team and especially my work. He assisted in the development of the patent for my footwear technology by providing an anatomical perspective while ensuring that the biomechanical foundations on which my concept was predicated were valid. At the time that MacPod commissioned Dr. Colborne he was involved in post-doctoral work at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering in Toronto. His area of expertise is the (human) lower limbs, particularly as it relates to walking and other forms of locomotion. His area of research is the kinesiology domain with one aspect being the quantifying of the mechanical moments of force around the joints of the lower limb and the mechanical power generated or absorbed by the muscle groups crossing these joints.

The open-ended objective of the on-snow studies was to either validate or invalidate my model. The outcome would determine whether MacPod would proceed with the development of a new ski boot; one based on sound principles of science. Although the on-snow studies validated my hypothetical model, I was not optimistic that the findings would elicit interest in the ski industry. Even though MacPod spent $130,000 on the research, the results were never published.

In 1995, I was nominated by the Industrial Technology Advisor of the National Research Council of Canada for the Gold Medal in Applied Science & Engineering in the British Columbia Science & Engineering Awards for inventing an interface for the foot and ski or skate blade that allowed the CNS to create the (muscle) skeletal alignment necessary to balance the centre of mass against external forces. The following is excerpted from his letter of nomination.

“The nominee’s technology is believed to be the first example of a footwear system predicated in its entirety on sound principles of functional anatomy.”

In a letter of support of my nomination G. Robert Colborne, PhD stated, “This work represents a tremendous step forward from current thinking in athletic footwear design.”

If there was a problem, it was not that my hypothesis was wrong but that it was right. The problem, one that persists even today, is that the technology I invented, and the principles on which it is based, contradict just about everything held sacred in the ski industry.

It is not a good marketing strategy for any company with a profitable technology to change horses even if a better alternative exists. If a company is profiting from selling Eskimos refrigerators, there is no incentive to educate Eskimos that refrigerators are not needed. It took a company like Tesla to jump-start the electric car. A worst-case scenario is for any company with a successful product to have their product beaten up in a head-to-head competition against another product. Over the following 10 years after the Birdcage tests, a number of attempts were made to develop a new ski boot based on the technology I invented and bring a product to market. All of them failed for various reasons.

Now that all my patents have expired the technology is freely available for all to use. In order to avoid any perceived conflict of interest and/or bias on my part because of the economic potential of my patents with  I intentionally elected to wait until well after all patents had expired before publicly discussing my technology. My position in 1991 was that the only way to study balance in skiing was to study it under real life ski maneuvers and conditions using test subjects of differing abilities. My position remains unchanged today. Any research that is not done under these conditions is at best speculative.

An ideal forum to demonstrate the superiority of a new technology would be a study done using a science-based protocol. I had hoped to do a study that compared my technology to existing footwear technologies. But this was not to be……. or then again, maybe it would be.


  1. G. Robert Colborne, PhD? PhD in what?

    Were any of the “scientists”, experts in biomechanics or applied kinesiology? It is not my intention to “beat you up” over some of your assertions, I just want to find some common ground. Do you have any degrees in mechanics, biomechanics or physics?

    There’s a lot of theory, but tell me which boot manufacturer has adopted any of your patents, in any of their current boots?

    One question: how did the “birdcage” interface with the binding. What was the drop in the boot,and ramp angle of the binding? What were the limits of cuff motion, and how stiff or flexible was the cuff? What did the liner + interfaces, do to fit, flex, and balance? How was a baseline established and what was that baseline? How many skiers, was the theory tested against. How stiff your the skies, and what were snow and visibility conditions. Also, since we know temperature directly affects plastics, at what temps were the tests done?

    We have been talking about biomechanics of the foot, and how we can control abnormal stress in the foot, ankle, leg & knee. Why change the subject?

    1. A few things Robert. First, disclosure. Anything you say is biased if your activities are compensation based. You have a vested interest that precludes objectivity. I assume you don’t work pro bono. So please post a schedule of your fees. Second, read the material in my Appendix. It’s all there. A PhD who is a professor of functional anatomy and who was doing post doctoral work in biomedical engineering when we commissioned him? His area of expertise is the human lower limbs? You question his credentials? Seriously, Robert do you actually read my posts. Or do you just make this stuff up? And by the way, even your own association admits there is little, if any, science behind orthotics. So how about being forthright about the absence of any real science behind what comes across as your opinions. Have you forgotten that Einstein was a patent clerk. Do you arbitrarily dismiss everything he said?

      1. Well said David. I’m biased which is why in my last post I didn’t divulge all my secrets publicly as yet because I would like to profit some day in two ways: first I would like to see my ideas used in a way that is affordable to the common folks. Second, if I could recoup a fraction of what I’ve invested(smaller than your figure but enormous for my wallet!!) that would be kind of neat. From the little, unscientific work I have done on foot gear for just about every “walk” of life outside of skiing, the results have been dramatic. So the benefits could reduce injuries to workers etc. For example a golfer, who was always slicing the ball could hit the ball straight after an almost insignificant adjustment to his golf shoes. He is a retired MD who loves playing golf now more than ever and cheats on his scoring, so that his brother-in-law doesn’t get embarrassed by him having such good scores!! David has done more science than I have (see Steve Podborski’s World Cup results) but I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t experienced all the different things that I have I wouldn’t understand any of his explanations and probably believe nothing until I tried it. My personal experience is a miniature version of David’s, if anyone thinks anything he says about how the industry operates is erroneous, they haven’t tried anything new because for some reason, in spite of dwindling skier numbers the industry doesn’t want anything to change other than prices going up. I still see people rip on museum era 205 straight skis for crying out loud!! I haven’t checked new models of Lange boots in about four years but design wise nothing had changed from that pair to the old pair from the 70s or 80s that I have sitting in my closet. I’m currently out of the ski industry per se but learn more each year than I did when I skied 120 days/year and was told everything was correct in the equipment. The Athletic Skier opened my eyes because in that book is stated that ones ability to ski or not is 100% dependent on the equipment and it is true 100% true.

        My previous dig about liability has also to do with my disdain for scientific research. When working for a ski shop I went to the binding accreditation courses. First binding manufacturer let us use an open manual for taking the test. Second binding company read us the answers. I’m not sure how many you had to get wrong on that one to fail!!! So I can trust the tech after that joke? Especially since most were drinking alcohol, etc. while doing the boring evenings work. And I can guarantee they did a better job than I did being sober because there was something I just didn’t get about making foot beds with their methods!! A number of years ago I bought a used pair of skis without the binding, because I had a pile of them (probably out of date etc.) but was too cheap to pay extra for the ones on there already. When I went to mount them up without a jig, I was looking at both pairs of skis thinking how odd it seemed that both skis appeared to have the toe piece off center. I measured it and both toe pieces were off perfectly by about 1/8″ so that means that the jig was off so everyone for however many years had their bindings crooked. Never would have known it from watching the previous owner, a former speed skier, ski on them or I wouldn’t have bought them!!

        We can all haggle about the explanations that David is giving us. It keeps me entertained, thank you very much. In the end the “proof is in the pudding.” I have already benefited from the whole ankle flex thing. After being unable to run for about three decades, my knee is now healthy enough to try running again in spite of 3 surgeries (don’t ask me how because the healing methods are more far fetched than anything that has been posted on all of these blogs put together) but kept having these annoying little muscle pulls etc. So finally I got wondering about my Converse High Tops. (I’m in those because I believe in the “Born to Run” theory even though it negates most of the work I’ve done on footwear if you just run around barefoot) So I unlaced the top of the sneakers and just lace over the instep loose enough where I don’t have to unlace them to get in and out, and now I am running free of injuries. All the scientists in the world can tell me I’m doing the wrong thing because it is such a minor change but I don’t care. I don’t think that anyone can imagine the joy of being able to run now after not for three decades. Thanks David if I hadn’t already!!

        When I skied on a daily basis I changed my equipment setup almost daily sometimes it was better and many times it was worse. All the locker mates were pleased because it was a great thing to make fun of, most was good natured and some was downright………. I tried everything because after spending my life farming I had a lot of catching up to do. Now there is more for me to try from David’s info and I can’t wait. Then all our haggling will be meaningless because either it will work or it won’t. If it doesn’t, then I probably didn’t do it right and might have to make a trip to see the “expert!!”

        Switching gears here, evolution is a scientific fact(?) according to what I learned in school. Milking cows for 23 years and having experienced the birth of over 700 calves, we had 2 absolute deformed calves that were dead on arrival. 1 calf had a minor defect that should have started a new strain of cattle; it was born without a exit to it’s large intestine. What an absolutely efficient animal, I should have patented it and I’d be the richest man on earth because no manure to deal with. Unfortunately between myself and the vet we couldn’t figure out how to keep it alive. So as of this moment I can’t believe that I evolved from an amoeba or the other way around because evolution is just a speculative theory with no bona fide proof!!!

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