FEATURE POST – THE PURPOSE OF THE SKI BOOT


After the skier, the most important piece of equipment in the skier/ski equipment system is the ski boot.

The conventional ski boot has the biggest influence on who rises to the top technically. Those who are able to connect with the snow through their feet so as to enable the use of their natural  mechanisms of balance are unlikely to lose the resulting kinaesthetic association. When these skiers try on a new boot, they usually know within seconds whether it will work for them or not without even having to go on snow. But for nine out of ten never-evers, the initial skiing experience involves such a severe disconnect from familiar sensations, especially a compromise of balance so unsettling that their first day on skis is also their last day.

It is for this very reason that the consensus of the previously cited authorities is that a ski boot should be adapted to the functional requirements of the user and not the other way around. It is particularly important that the ski boot not incur functional compromises on the part of the user.

A properly designed ski boot should enable the user to utilize mechanisms of ski control that are complimentary to and consistent with, their innate mechanisms of balance.

THE PURPOSE OF THE SKI BOOT, was originally published on February 9, 2016. The entire post can be viewed at  – http://wp.me/p3vZhu-1lX

 

5 comments

  1. Continue to enjoy the passion that you express in these articles and in particular the connection that you make so eloquently between the effect that balance and boots have on performance. It’s definitely helped to accelerate my evolution as a boot fitter and coach and for this I thank you. Having someone like you willing to share their study of the subject and back it up with some science has allowed me to have more confidence that my own small steps in these fields has some validity rather than being based on what I have seen in my long career as supposed expertise based on opinion and anecdotal evidence alone. How else do we explain this myth of immobilisation and its corollary “the better you are the stiffer the boot” having lasted so long. I will be travelling to Whistler in April and its there that you work now correct? I’d love the chance to connect.

    1. Thankyou for your kind words. I believe that those who seek to learn do so in small steps that never end and that the best we can hope for when we leave this life is to know more than when we came.

      One small detail, You said, “How else do we explain this myth of immobilisation and its corollary “the better you are the stiffer the boot” having lasted so long.” I think you meant to say, “the tighter the boot”. Because plastic ski boots can and do become unstable and deform under load I ski in the stiffest boot I can get my foot into. The ability to flex my ankle 10-12 degrees is accommodated through shaft buckle, power strap adjustment.

  2. hi David,

    i’ve been following you blog for some time and am coming to Whistler this weekend for 8 days.

    I want to replace my very old boots. I’m a very good recreational skier, 59 years old and get around 20 days a year.

    i’m not sure if you have the time to engage but I’d be interested in discussing the possibility of pursuing your methods to maximise my boot experience.

    Let me know if this is an option.

    Regards,

    >

    1. Hi Mark,

      The reason I started this blog was to help skiers such as yourself make every day on the ski hill magical by imparting information on how to set up boots and skis so one can use their hard-wired processes of balance and movement. When this happens, skiing can become as easy, natural and effortless as walking. The key is to be able to successfully modify the ski boot. The problem we face is that the industry has sold a ‘cover story’ to skiers that equipment makers and ski/boot shops are making money from. So the equivalent of Newton’s Laws has kicked in where anything that questions the ‘cover story’ is vehemently opposed and discredited with a campaign of misinformation.

      The saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t (try) to fix it” is appropriate. My wife and I are both skiing at a level far beyond anything we had hoped for. But she is skiing in a Head boot at least 15 years old as am I. In order to adapt the Head boots to her requirements, I had to disassemble the cuff from the shell lower, trim it so it is more upright and canted properly for her leg then reassemble it. Trying to make the liner work was next to impossible. I managed to get some soft fabric Lange racer liners from from a racer I used to work with. Even then, I had to drastically alter the liner and make a special tongue. Total time for the work? About 50 hours. My boots were less labour intensive to modify. But still, I did a lot of tweaking.

      Three years ago, I considered getting new boots for my wife and I. But I quickly changed my mind after I started to check the construction of available boots. In terms of ability to modify them, ski boots are getting harder and harder to work with. Liners are the worst component to modify. At this point, with both our boots dialed-in, I plan to make them last as long as possible. Before I try to set up a new boot, I would almost rather quit skiing.

      Before you jump, there are a few things to consider.
      1. What is the shape of your feet and legs? I am 5’11”, 155 lbs. I have a US men’s size 12 moderate width foot and a skinny leg. My feet have become much stronger by doing exercises such as the short foot and going barefoot as much as possible. So my foot and leg work very well in my Head boot.
      2. What brand of boot are you skiing in now?
      3. What condition are your boots in?

      If you really do want to get into a new boot, I am happy to assist you. I do very little work on ski boots these days except for boot boards and liner mods. Shell work is done by a few local boot-fitters I know. The problem you face if you walk into most ski/boot shops is that staff will try to upsell any boot purchase with footbeds and custom liners. Shops can make far more profit from a footbed and/or a custom liner than they can from a new ski boot.

      If you want to try and find a new ski boot, please get back to me when you know when you will be in Whistler.

      Regards,
      David

  3. “After the skier, the most important piece of equipment in the skier/ski equipment system is the ski boot.”

    And I thought the skier’s only importance was a source of money!!

    In truth you’re 100% correct even though less than 1% of the industry believes your statement.

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