Existing footwear does not provide for the dynamic nature of the architecture of the foot by providing a fit system with dynamic and predictable qualities to substantially match those of the foot and lower leg.
MacPhail, US Patent 5,265,350 – November 30, 1993
Of all the figures who have influenced the development of the plastic shell ski boot over the years, the Australian, Sven Coomer, stands tall as one of the most significant and innovative. More recently, Coomer was involved with the development of Atomic’s race boot, the Redster, used by Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin. Coomer claims that the Redster allows the skier’s forefoot to flex and move naturally within the confines of the shell.
A 2014 article by Jackson Hogen quoted Coomer as saying:
This liberation of the previously stunted, frozen and crushed forefoot is what allows for the subtle edging and foot steering that initiates the slalom turns of World Cup champions Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin. (1.)
Four years, later Hirscher and Shiffrin are dominating the technical disciplines of the World Cup circuit.
The ability to establish balance on the outside foot and ski in milliseconds is dependent on the ability of the forefoot to fully spread and acquire fascial tensioning that extends to the ankle and knee. This is called time-to-stabilization. Although Coomer doesn’t mention them, a myriad of other factors are also critical; including the alignment of the big toe on the long axis of the foot and the optimal ramp angle.
Coomer suspects that if racers would only fit their boots more accurately, coupled with a dynamic molding inner boot medium between the foot and shell, and without down-sizing into short, narrow, thick-sidewall shells, their results just might improve. (1.)
In order to realize their maximum potential it is critical that racers and even recreational skiers have a ski boot fit with dynamic and predictable qualities that substantially match those of the foot and lower leg. Yet Coomer readily acknowledges:
Many racers believe they need downsized, super-stiff, ultra-narrow boots. The most accomplished alpine ski boot designer of the plastic era, Sven Coomer, believes that’s changing.(1.)
But then, he seems to retract his optimism when he says that after forty-five years as the Cassandra of the ski boot world, he knows all too well that just because you can prove you’re right, it doesn’t mean your advice will be heeded.
My observation is that since Hogen’s 2014 article, the situation with downsized, hyper-restrictive ski boots that severely compromise the dynamic nature of the architecture of the foot, has gotten worse. I have seen instances where after having ski boots properly fit, it took several full seasons for the competence of the balance to be fully restored after a skier or racer’s feet and legs were constrained for years in ski boots that were too small and too tightly fit.
Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin have heeded Coomer’s advice. Others choose to ignore him at their own peril. In so doing, they handicap their efforts and limit their race results.
In my next post I will start a series of posts on how to build a ski boot from the snow up; one that provides a fit with dynamic and predictable qualities that substantially match those of the foot and lower leg.
- The Master Boot Laster by Jackson Hogen: The International Skiing History Association – Article Date: Tuesday, June 3, 2014