Hi all, I'm a new poster here from the UK. I've got a few skiing problems and of the whole internet this seemed like the best place to start asking some questions! I'm not fortunate enough to live near a decent/reputable boot fitter in the UK and I won't be heading back to any skiing towns in Europe this season to ask there. So it's DIY time! Sorry for the essay, but figure it's best to give as much information as possible.
I've skied around 60 days over the last 18 months, the last 50 days of which were in my own boots/skis. Rentals for the first 10 days, which sucked! Happily skiing any pisted run, any non-pisted marked run, and easy off-piste lines. Loving powder, and I don't really get scared by steeper things. Small drops up to around 5/6 foot onto powder are fun, but not very good at the landings (see below!).
This is my (only) setup. Scarpa Maestrale RS (26.5 mondo, love them!) with Fritschi FR Pros, on 165cm Atomic Panics. I got that setup for around a 50/50 mix of piste days and ski touring/ski mountaineering in the UK and the Alps. They're well suited to what I want them for, barring the issues below.
Since day one I noticed I was slightly in the back seat, but not enough to worry about or concern me. As I've developed my skiing from easy pisted runs, to skiing down steep chopped up crud with a 30 pound climbing bag in the dark or carving steeper pisted runs, problems have started. In no particular order this is what I can think of off the top of my head:
Definitely noticing I'm in the back seat a lot, most of the time.
Quads burning more than other people skiing the same things as me.
I don't seem to be able to absorb bumps/landings with my legs. In order to bend my legs my body moves backwards. I'm used to riding BMX so not being able to absorb bumps with my legs is frustrating!
Landing small jumps/drops (to hardpack or powder) I quite often fall over backwards when I absorb the landing, I just can't keep my weight forwards on impact with the landing (see point above!)
I lean forward at the waist to absorb bumps/moguls. I've had a few bits of excellent coaching along the way, but feel I'm limited by my setup at the moment.
I've just spent the last month ski mountaineering around Chamonix (excellent!), but have developed peroneal tendonitis as a result. I'm 95% sure this isn't from the day tours/off-piste as I've been doing that before this trip, but rather from the combination of a heavy bag and a back seat stance. In order to keep myself forwards my peroneal muscles (outside lower calf) have been working overtime, resulting in it being painful to walk in trainers and I've got mild tendonitis around the back of the ankle bone. Strapping boots on hurts now, let alone skiing. Pisted runs are painful but bearable, crud and bumps are not even close to bearable! It's slowly clearing up now I'm back from that trip, and I'll not be skiing for another few months yet. Now's the time to make sure it doesn't happen again! I figure that if I can fix the back seat position, then skiing with a bag won't be such a painful experience in the future.
I've read a lot on here (excellent site) and the net in general, and a few books. I've got a basic understanding of delta, ramp, forward lean, heel lifts etc. So anyway, this is what I've gone through so far:
Somewhere I read that if you strap your boots on and do a full squat on a hard surface, you should just be able to go the full way down without falling over backwards. I can't, I fall right over when I'm about half way down. Adding 5mm under my heels fixes this and I can just do it. Success! I thought, I'll just change the delta by lowering the toe piece and/or shimming the heel piece and that'll fix it. (I can change the forward lean on my boots, and setting the FL further forwards helps this a little, but I still need the 5mm shims.)
Then I got confused by reading that a lot of people are in the back seat because of TOO MUCH ramp and delta. The 'optimum' is thought by some to be around 2.5 to 3 degrees, so I thought I'd measure mine. I have a little over 1 degree of delta in the binding (front/rear difference of 5mm with a BSL of 305mm). The ramp angle of the boot board is between 4.5 and 5 degrees. So the net delta/ramp angle is somewhere around 5.5 to 6 degrees, a lot more than the 'optimum' of 2.5 - 3 degrees.
Then contrary to that (again!) I've read a lot about people finding the delta of the FR Pros to be too flat, and removing the plastic under the toe piece to help compensate by creating more delta.
So for the last two days I've been putting shims in various places (under boots and inside boots) to experiment at home to find a comfortable stance that lets me absorb bumps with my legs (i.e. squatting) without falling backwards. So far the best I've found is to raise the boot heel with a spacer between the binding and boot sole by 20mm. This puts me further forwards, I can squat without having to use my toes/peroneal muscles to stop me falling backwards. But 20mm seems a lot, and is completely contrary to reducing the ramp angle to under 3 degrees. So now I'm totally confused, unable to find a decent boot fitter nearby and feel like chucking the whole thing away!
If it's any use, I'm 150 pounds and 5'7". My calf at the boot tops is a 10" (26cm) circumference, and I've got quite high calf muscles from cycling/climbing. The bottom of my calf is just at the top of the boot cuff. I've got Intuition liners with green Superfeet. Reasonable dorsiflexion, but not amazing.
If anyone can give me any advice about whether I should be increasing or decreasing the ramp/delta I'd love to hear it. Should I be shimming/grinding the boot board, or shimming between the bindings and top sheet? Any tips to give me some direction would be much appreciated, because the more I read around the more contradictory advice I'm seeing! I know everyone is different, but some pointers would be much appreciated, especially if anyone else has had the same/similar setup and had the same problem.
Oh yeh, sorry for the essay... Hope this is in the right forum.