Originally Posted by epic
Would you agree that there is not that much you can do when you don't know what is inside the boot in terms of fit or footbed? I personally just like to use my cant strips to prove to the client that there is a problem and that it can be improved upon and then send them to the bootfitter (I'll often call him from the slope with the client and tell him what I see when he is skiing).
I think if you are able to create and awareness that the client's skiing performance could take a noticeable leap forward if they had properly aligned equipment and refer them to a specialist for assessment and adjustment, you have done them a favor. You can certainly take their boots off inside the lodge at lunch and assess their feet and ankles checking dorsiflexion, arch flexibility, first and fifth ray mobility, inversion/eversion, pronation/supination, forefoot varus/valgus,...and discuss how a custom footbed could be beneficial not only for comfort and even pressure distribution but the first step in proper alignment which improves skiing performance.
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet
Doesn't the issue of the back angle not matching the shin angle sometimes reflect a skier's misunderstanding, lack of proprioception, or skill level? I get the other parts of your post, but this part surprises me. Is it always or even often a gear issue?
LF, this is certainly possible but the body will seek balance and move how it needs to move to find it. A perfect example is watching the skiers who have center mounted bindings ski by and look at their body positions! While you may think their shoulders back stance with their hands down by their sides is a statement of coolness and style, it is actually indicative of their bodies finding balance over the sweet spot of the ski which with the bindings moved way forward on the ski, is much farther aft on the skis than a traditional mount, and therefore requires this stance to be over the ski's sweet spot. If on the other hand the bindings were mounted at the other end of the spectrum we would see the "spine" tipped at a steeper angle than the shins to compensate. So poorly aligned equipment on the sagittal plane will affect the back or spine angle. So when I see excessive tipping forward or a very upright spine angle I consider whether the cause could be T.echnique, or E.quipment, P.sychological, or P.hysical. Many times it is caused by poor alignment.
It is a gear issue more frequently than you may believe and fixing it will yield the quickest improvement in skiing performance of any other area of TEPP.
Originally Posted by Pierre
Before any of you play around with a clients boot fitting other than buckle and strap adjustments you need to find out what the resort policy is for doing such things and find out what kind of insurance coverage you are under. The liability umbrella the resort has you under as an instructor can vary considerably from resort to resort.
Policy may be that you touch nothing and keep your mouth shut until the end of the lesson. Some resorts may want you to have some formal education on the subject of boot fitting and experience before they want you messing around and opening Pandora's box. Some students will end the lesson based on what you have said and rightfully so but where does that leave you with the ski school director. Policy matters, check it out.
I have been a boot fitter for thirteen years and been through the Masterfit Program 3 times including Dark Arts (Mt Snow this year). Most of the people I work with on alignment have significant issues and have been to other boot fitters already. I work exclusively with custom built footbeds using lots of expensive equipment and always work towards a performance fit. With all of my knowledge I am still careful what I say to a client. Just because the client may not have footbeds and has a few issues does not mean its a waste of time to work with them in a lesson. Just because you think the client needs expensive work does not mean that the client is inclined to go through the process either. I have worked with many ski instructors whom have come to me for help only to be reluctant to go through the whole process believing that part way through the process is good enough. They never seem to get it so don't be surprised if the student feels you are pushing something unnecessary on them. Most are appreciative.
I will not stick temporary wedges between anyone's boot and the binding. I have on occasion given someone I know a couple of wedges with strict warnings they are playing with fire.
What I will do myself within a lesson but caution others on, are temporary fixes, after careful discussion with a student. All temporary fixes do not involve the boot binding. I carry some pieces of different thicknesses of EVA, a few heel lift wedges, a few spacers that would go under the footbed or on the zeppa. I also have a few soft EVA Eliminator tongues for those canary bird legs, a couple of booster straps and a roll of duct tape. With those items I can do a lot of quick temporary fixes that go a long way to improving the lesson without a cancellation and convincing a student the alignment process is worth it.
With those items I can tighten up loose boots, relieve hot spots, move boot cuffs change forward lean and affect their skiing in a big way. Making these kinds of temporary fixes requires a good working knowledge of boot fitting in general. Many of the students I get are referrals with suspected alignment issues.
I hope I did not throw cold water on anybody. That was not my intension.
Each instructor or coach needs to feel comfortable with how far they will go with experimentation and adjustments. Personally, I have been focused on this stuff for over 30 years and have not reservations changing cant angles with tape or temporary wedges, or changing ramp angle with napkins, wedges, beer coasters, or changing delta angle with 3mm bontex shims, beer coasters, etc.. I have done many torque testing experiments in my shop with tape on the AFD's and shims between the binding and boots and know they will still release within the acceptable range if I stay within certain thickness limitations and material hardnesses. I have placed folded napkins between the boot cuff and leg to change forward lean and cuff cant. It comes down to what you are comfortable doing. As I said, I have been doing this for over 30 years and have never had ANY problems with bindings not releasing when the needed to or rereleasing. I know that bindings are designed to accommodate some snow and ice build-up between the boot and binding so using shim material of 3mm or less does not cause issues. I also know that when I am experimenting with shims or tape I keep my clients on unthreatening terrain well within their ability levels.
I regularly offer clinics for PSIA instructors on foot and lower leg biomechanics and do on snow clinics with a quiver of skis I have modified cant angles, delta angles, binding mount positions to allow them to feel how these different parameters affect performance and visual cues.
You can choose to stick your head in the sand and ignore these important issues exist or you can learn all you can about it and offer a tremendous service to your clients by being able to recognize and address these important performance inhibitors. I believe it is malpractice to ignore equipment alignment factors. We lose many skiers because they struggle with balance and edging because of undiagnosed and corrected equipment and alignment issues. This is an area that has huge potential to improve skier retention and improve skier safety.
I have taught skiing for over 30 years, examiner since 1987, been a sales/service rep for a major ski binding and boot manufacturer, owned a ski shop for over 20 years, been planing, balancing boots for over 25 years, Selected by SKI magazine as one of "Top 15 boot fitters in USA", owner of "Synergy Coaching" which combines ski coaching with equipment alignment, so I know a bit about what I am telling you here.
Don't be afraid to learn more about this topic, you will be a better instructor for it! Smoking is bad for you, learning more to help your clients is not!
Edited by bud heishman - 10/30/13 at 11:22pm