I skied this weekend trying to be sensitive and aware to what my toes were doing when I skied. I don' t know that I was surprised, but I now believe I wasn't fully aware of how they were functioning for me. A couple of observations:
My toes were, for the most part, more neutral than I originally thought. The toe area on my orothotics (in a previously posted photo) is supported/enhanced by a few tape layers. As there is zero gap between my orthotic and toes minimal effort or motion is required to engage the toe area. I think that explains why I might have thought I was pushing down. It was a matter of contact rather than pressure. I think I use the toe area, not so much to add pressure, but to provide fine tuning of my balance point, helping me keep from getting too far forward on my balance point. I found myself at time MOMENTARILY engaging my toes, but I think ever so briefly. It was not a constant pressure. I think it is important to convey that the balance between foot support and shin support is finely tuned so that they work together and don't rely on either one exclusively. I don't like or need exceptionally stiff boots. FWIW I use Booster straps, not so much for extra support, but more for shock absorption.
I was working with a L3 candidate on Saturday and I now believe that some of her issues are directly related to less than optimal foot support. Her orthotic was made by Famous Amos. It was semi-rigid and offered little metatarsal support. Next weekend I'm going to break out my roll of tape to see what happens.
I'm starting to understand why my (adult, ski instructor) daughter pulls up her toes. It exposes the ball of her foot that she rolls onto as her ankle engages the front sidewall of her boot. I'll have to take a photo of her arch with toes pulled up...
From a mechanical standpoint, we often speak of "lifting the little toe edge" of the ski. Though that's what appears to happen, I think of it a bit differently. As my metatarsal is well supported, it acts as a pseudo fulcrum, where I press it lightly, roll onto the ball of my foot, causing my ankle to roll and pressure the front-most side of my boot, just above my ankle. By maintaining pressure on the bottom of my foot while I'm rolled into the boot wall I get a tremendous amount of stability. Because I have resistance that originates at the snow, the larger muscles in my legs have an opposing force to turn against. I have an anecdote about this, but I'll save it for later.
Just thought I'd share my ongoing thoughts after the weekend.