Since my first version of the stance ramp assessment device I have made a number of significant improvements. The series of photos below are of the fifth generation device.

The bottom plate or base of the device is approximately 18 inches (46 cm) wide by 16 inches (41 cm) deep (front to back). I intend to make the next version about 22 inches (56 cm) wide by 18 inches (46 cm) deep. Size is not critical so long as the top plate is deep and wide enough for the feet being tested.

Stiffness of the plates is critical. Three quarter inch thick (2 cm) plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) are suitable materials. I added 1.5 inch x 1.5 inch wood reinforcing ribs on the sides, middle and rear of the top plate.

The photo below shows the heel end of the device. Two 1/4 inch drive ratchets turn bolts threaded into T-nuts in the top plate that raise the heel end up.

The photo below shows the top plate hinged to the bottom plate with 4 robust hinges.

Four telescoping hard nylon feet are set into the bottom plate to enable the device to be leveled and made stable on the supporting surface. It is important that the device not tilt or rock during testing.

The photo below shows the details of the interface between the top plate on the left and the bottom plate on the right.IMG_3409

I used gasket material purchased from an auto supply to shim the forefoot of my boot boards to decrease the ramp angle so as to obtain the 1.2 degree ramp angle I tested best at.Shim pack

The package contains 4 sheets of gasket material that includes 3 mm and 1.5 mm sheet cork and 2 other materials.Gasket

I cut forefoot shims from the 3 mm cork sheet as shown to the right of the boot board in the photo below.BB w shims

I adhered the shims to the boot board with heavy duty 2-sided tape and feathered the edges with a belt sander.shims installed

I corrected the ramp of my boot boards in 3 stages. Once my optimal ramp angle is confirmed, I will pour a boot board into the base of my ski boot shells in place of the existing boot boards using a material such as Smooth-Cast 385 Mineral Filled Casting Resin. More on this in a future post.

Ramp Angle Appears to User Specific

It is important to stress that although there appears to be a trend to optimal boot board ramp angles for elite skiers in the range 1.5 degrees or less, there is no basis to assume a  ramp angle that is optimal for one skier will be optimal for another skier. Recreational skiers are testing best between 2.0 and 2.5 degrees.

It is also not known at this point whether the initial optimal ramp angle identified with the device will change over time. Based on the impressive results seen so far in the limited number of skiers and racers who were tested and ramp angles adjusted there is no basis to assume that ramp angle is not a critical factor affecting skier balance and ski and edge control. Studies on this issue are urgently needed and long overdue.

It is important that testing for optimal ramp angle be preceded by kinesthetic stance training. This will be the subject of my next post.


  1. A question about the pieces of cork gasket material; does the ball of the foot rest upon the smaller cut out piece also or does that ‘curve’ rest against the forward aspect of the ball of foot? Thanks in advance:)

    1. You’ve opened up a very large can of worms with that question. In testing ramp angle reponses, I am finding significant problems in boot boards which seem to be all over the map even among different models of the same brand. Some are unstable. Others quite literally rock and not in a good way. They appear to have a high point in the center and rock fore-aft.

      Insofar as my temporary cork shim setup, I want continuity across the MT heads especially under the 1st MT (ball of the foot). There can be (and is) a gap betweem the MT heads and the ends of the toes where they apply pressure. This is where the cork shim is located. The heel can be (and is) a discrete entity. Although there are separate support bases for the heel, MTs and ends of the toes, there is continuity in the plane of support. I am experimenting with good success with thin shims under the end of the big toe.

  2. The last paragraph sums things up very well; without a question, from my experience, it is great to start with a correct ramp angle BUT any little thing can throw off what is then the optimum once one is on snow. What i found this winter was that those that refuse to give up their foot beds seemed to need a higher ramp angle than those without. Unfortunately i didn’t think to test that aspect on the same ramp angle; footbed versus no footbed.

    Interestingly enough a big breakthrough for my boot fitting was toe separators between the big toe and second toe (only because the ones like Correct Toes,between all toes, didn’t fit into my boots). For myself it made my left ski the most functional ever since a knee injury in the ’70s. After the original toe separator helped so much I added 1/8″ more to align my big toe with the first ray better and the increased control of the ski was unbelievable. For another person with severe A-frame for whom I was rearranging the boot cuff, using a toe separator on the more severe side minimized the amount I moved the cuff and didn’t need to re-rivet the other one at all. I think ultimately big toe alignment can effectively replace ‘arch support’ via footbeds.

    In all probability David’s method of identifying ramp angle; using that as the basis for the feet platform and proceeding from there will have only one drawback; either a factor adjusted improperly or one not known (such as the big toe business for me prior to this year skiing and learned from this site and Dr. Splichal) may force one to make small adjustments to Net Ramp once one goes skiing.

  3. David,
    your STANCE RAMP ASSESSMENT DEVICE (what a term) is exactly what I was lookin for! Having a young racer in my family myself and suffering each year again with new ski gear (different ski models, ski length, different heights, plates, boots etc.) and therefor completely different angles. Completely differing conditions on each discipline (SL, GS, SG and free skiing) throughout the last couple of years, each year and each day!

    I will try to get the ramp device ready to check things out and find one base angle setup for the coming training period.

    Whats your opinion, would you prefer to include the angle adjustments in the boot board (as shown in your pictures) or would it be a better idea to adjust the boot lifters?

    chriskapeller from Austria

    1. Hi Chris,

      The first step is to identify the plantar/ski base plane angle that optimizes foot-to-hand tensegrity (see my recent post). Muscle and ski response can be tuned through small variances in the optimal base ramp angle. I will post on my theories on these issues soon.

      Based on my analysis of WC video it appears as if racers like Marcel Hirscher are experimenting with these variances. Since you are in Austria you might try contacting the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Biomechanics in Skiing and/or Erich Muller at the Department of Sport and Sports Science at the University of Salzburg. This should be an obvious field of research. But so far, I have not seen an indication it is being explored.

      An obvious area for innovation is an engineered boot board with ramp angle that can be externally adjusted to allow ramp angle to be changed for piste conditions. A similar technlogy would allow binding toe or heel piece heights to be easily and quickly precisely adjusted. Innovations of this nature would allow muscle and ski response to be tuned for piste/course conditions. Erich Muller commented on the potential to tune muscles in a recent paper. So he must be aware of this.

      Please let me know how the assessment works out for your racer. Any questions or suggestions you might have are welcone and appreciated.

      Best regards from Whistler

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