Originally Posted by ScotsSkier
Because... thinking stiffer=better
Will ignore the Freudian implications and just add that the same attitude applies to skis as well as boots. My premise: What Phil likes to call Big Boy Skis are (IMHO) usually too stiff for the person on them. I spent most of yesterday watching Universal showing Maribor races while my son competing. Was struck by how pros and we differ in what we mean by flexing a ski.
I'm more guilty than most here for using F=mxa as a mantra. So Big Boys going 50 mph will generate Big Force, right? And you'll twist your skis and boots into noodles if you don't watch out, right?
I'm thinking, no. And maybe F doesn't matter half as much as I've made out. Why? Because what that perfectly valid equation leaves out is the stack: From COM to hip to knee to ankle to edge, from great arm position to looking ahead two gates, pros actually use waaay more of the force they generate. They're so much more efficient. So the 140 lb women with their hips and inch off the ground were seriously bending skis that are a touch softer than say two years ago but still most of us could only park and ride; don't even bother to think about the men's gear. Yes, many of us here proudly announce we rip along at the same GS or even SG speeds they do. But are we using that F? In fact, are we even thinking about it correctly?
On a mortal level, most of us see this when we try to mimic the tracks of a level III. Who in turn aren't as efficient as a pro. Yeah, we can sometimes follow nicely, but how much more effort are we expending than the instructor to achieve the same end? Some of the loss is obvious: we probably don't have quite as deep an edge. Our timing is a little off. Other bits are additive: too much movement in the arms, bad hand position, not quite early enough into the turn, COM not quite forward enough, and on and on…That's why instructors and coaches exist; biomechanics matter. But we tend to think they only matter in terms of "getting better." We don't stop and wonder about what that means. Each little niggly mistake robs us of some of that F. Which robs us of some ability to shape and control our turns. Which robs us of some ability to navigate tough terrain with a full bag of tricks. Get on a steep icy face and find out what not being able to stack plays out as.
So at the end of the day, how much do we actually bend our skis to shape turns? How far over do we get? I'd say not as much as we think, on average, and not very consistently turn to turn. We're blowing off a lot of that F generated from our speed and weight. And I think this even applies to videos I see where folks get complements on their form. There are a lot of very good skiers here. But If their form is "good," - and I do not qualify to be in that group - what does that make a pro's form, in terms of efficiency?
For me, this challenges the time honored solution to getting better: Get super stiff boots and super stiff skis that'll be super efficient in transmitting force. And become a real Big Boy in the process. (Sorry, but this tends to be a guy thing, regardless of size or skill level.) But what does that achieve if we're dissipating twice as much energy with our mediocre mechanics? Or if we're not always hitting Mach 3? Boots that don't respond to our pressure and skis that we hang on to rather than shape, and brag about how they bash everything into submission. My hunch is that the pretzel thing is more about longitudinal flex; running flat and hitting different density snow. Modern skis' lateral stiffness, especially with a modern boot-binding interface locked onto the ski, is so great that I doubt anyone is bending pretzels that direction. Solution? Stop running flat or low edge angles and blaming our gear for deflection.
Would welcome critique here. And I realize a gear forum is supposed to be about how much gear is going to make us happier. Just wondering if we're thinking about flex all wrong. Are you big guys really folding skis and bending them into pretzels, or over flexing boots as much as you think? Are any of us? Are you really over on your edges and have your heels behind your butt when you do it? Are any of us?