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Ski Boot Response Advice

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I spend about half my time skiing these days, the other half boarding. I am refining my ski technique. Here's the problem with my ski boots. I have a pair of Head World Cup M 103's for my 27.5 EE foot. They fit fine. I ski Stockli Stormrider AT's @ 184 and race stock Nordica GSR's @ 186. Both skis have Atomic 4-12 bindings with no ramp angle.

Years ago I did the custom footbed gig. It was expensive. They never fit well. My feet always hurt. Got ride of them. With the new Head boots, I have been checked by two fitters and I am in alignment with the stock footbeds.

Here's the problem. It only applies to the Nordicas and not the wider Stocklis. When I initiate a new turn in transition, there is a slight lag in getting onto my new edge as I move my CM downhill. I am having trouble keeping in the heel in contact with the footbed. In order to engage the edge , I noticed that I am doing a very mini-stem motion with the inside of my heel in order to get proper pressure on the boot to edge the ski.

No one notices this but me. I'd like the response to be more direct. I've tried different things, like not pushing with my heels, but then I don't get on edge quick enough. It's mechanical, not technical. Any advice?
post #2 of 10
Boardboy--by "mechanical, not technical," do you mean that you think it is your equipment, rather than your movements? What you describe certainly can reflect a boot setup issue, in which case another appointment with a good boot fitter or an equipment-savvy instructor is in order, but I'm not convinced that that is necessarily all that is going on.

You said a couple other things that could also point to the keys, although it is impossible to tell for sure without seeing you ski and learning more about you. First, you said "there is a slight lag in getting onto my new edge as I move my CM downhill." The "slight lag" is the symptom, but I think that the thought "move my CM downhill" may be the cause, as it suggests a focus high up in your body, rather than in your feet and ankles. The thought "move your CM" across your skis often causes just this lag, as it tends to cause the feet to come last, as the hips and center of the body just sort of pull them over. If you think this could be the case with you, try focusing instead on tipping your feet into the new turn, in particular focusing on tipping the downhill/new inside foot, starting all the way back in the previous turn as you begin "untipping" your skis to finish that turn.

Also, make sure that you are "ready" to start the new turn when you start it. That means, be sure you are in balance, and that the edge of your downhill ski is ready to release immediately, with no need for further flattening, unweighting, or anything else. Then just tip your downhill foot toward its little toe edge and guide your skis as needed down the hill. Ideally, this will be one smooth, continuous motion of your body from inside the previous turn, through "neutral," and into the new turn. There will be no "lag," and also no need to think "move my CM down the hill now" to start the turn (because it's already moving that way).

A second possibility is that you may be excessively "levered" forward, possibly intentionally. If your heel is pulling off the footbed, and you're noticing a stem at the transition, these are both signs of being too far foward on your boots. In "neutral" (that moment the turn starts, or the moment when one turn ends and the next starts), you should feel pressure on your whole foot, and particularly some on your heel, and your shins should be "neutral" in your boot cuffs. Your body must be moving forward here, but not pressing forward (which would mean your boots pressing you back--the opposite of moving forward!).

Just a couple things to think about and play with. I don't know if these are your issues or not, without skiing with you--but it's possible!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 10
If your feet hurt after a custom boot fit it really sounds like you got unlucky and had a poor job done. I'd say give the custom orthotics another try and get a complete boot fit. Find a really good fitter, and don't give up until you're satisfied. It may mean stretching the shells themselves to fit your feet. My orthotics and shell adjustments absolutely transformed my skiing. The degree of control and feel for the ski and snow I get are, to me, unimaginable with a stock footbed. Since they don't flex under your foot, a quality orthotic for an alpine boot should last you quite a while so the cost is spread out over a number of years. I am in Tecnica Icon Carbon boots and the same orthotics made 6 years ago. The only adjustment I have had to make was to shim up the entire sole of each footbed a couple of millimeters after five years of skiing (average probably about 35 times/year). I think that's from the liners compressing above the foot slighlty over time - I can't measure any compression of the footbeds. The shells are a full size smaller than my street shoe size and I have what they call a "performance fit" not quite up to the standards of a "race fit" but still very good. I love this fit - comfortable and warm, and I can't imagine skiing without at least this degree of control. My fitter was one of those who is now listed on this site. My ski mentor is an ex US team member and pro racer. He's now nearly 60 and tells stories of using a surform to grate styrofoam into silly putty, blending the concoction over heat! and making his own orthotics. This was long before instaprint, etc. but it worked, and that's how important a good base of foot/boot/ski connection was to them. He used to tell me "Skis come and go but boots are everything". That's really proven to be the case for me and i have never regretted spending the money for a quality boot and a great fit job.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Bob & Midfielder, your time in giving me advice is greatly appreciated. I saw a bootfitter this morning. He explained I have a few options. We are first trying a 1 cm ramp on the heel in the shell under the liner. I was really having trouble, once I flexed my legs even a bit, keeping the entire foot down. When I flexed, the heel came up and the hinge point of the cuff felt much higher than the hinge point of my ankle. I felt like if I got my heel all the way down in the boot, I had to really dorsiflex my foot in an exaggerated way. The rear of the boot just felt too deep for my foot/lower leg. With the ramp, all seems much better. I'll know tomorrow when I get on the snow & I will report back here.
post #5 of 10
On the gear side of things... check both bindings for lateral-tipping play. On a flat, hard floor, step into the Nordica on one foot and the Stockli on the other foot. With someone standing frimly on top of each ski-forebody try to slowly tip both skis while watching the boots.

You're checking for binding play so if one binding allows more boot movement than the other you may have found the culprit. Exactly why the play is there is another matter requiring further investigation.

Another possibility is the combination of your typical technique as applied across both models of ski.

If your tendency is to enter a new turn by moving your CM quickly across your skis and then slightly twisting the skis to an edge to start a carve - different skis will react to this technique differently. With this technique a longer/stiffer ski will seem to 'hesitate' before the edge feels well engaged. A shorter/softer ski will more easily and quickly twist to its edge and provide an immediate sense of firm edging.

Another Technique & Gear related cause might be where the skier uses a extra tip pressure to enter the new turn (intentionally or habitually) as Bob suggests above. Here, I suspect the shape (and degree) of a ski's sidecut will have an impact. A ski with a mild, balanced sidecut will not respond as quickly to this technique as a ski with greater sidecut or with a pronounced tip width.

As Bob points out the skier who deliberately applies extra tip pressure at turn entry (or is 'too far' forward habitually) will also have that 'heel lift' indication right at turn entry as they shift their body forward and the heel comes along.

In a nutshell, minor technique issues (or choices) may be amplified by our choice in gear.

post #6 of 10
HMmmm.. on the heel issue - I too have had heel-lift issues in the past. My calf is very large and tends to be supported by the cuff of the boot - taking a great deal of pressure off the heel. It felt like I could only hold my heel down when doing the forceful dorsiflex thing or piling on with all my weight.

In the end, a heel ramp inside the boot helped a lot but the real fix for me was two-fiold.

First, I stretched out the back of the boot cuff to gain room allowing my heel to fall much more heavily onto the footbed. Second, I now apply a layer or two of athletic tape around the back of each heel under my socks. This increases the friction between foot and sock and slightly expands the heel area - to be better-pinched by the boot liner.

post #7 of 10
If you want to try to test yourself, you can see a new idea. Try the self test in my web site to see if you might need some internal canting to get the lag out of those movements. Let me know what you think.
post #8 of 10
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post
Second, I now apply a layer or two of athletic tape around the back of each heel under my socks. This increases the friction between foot and sock and slightly expands the heel area - to be better-pinched by the boot liner.

This sounds like the perfect way to develop pressure point blisters. Why not pad the outside of the liner either with duct tape or some of those self-adhesive pads made for tightening the heel cup? That way you only have to do it once.
post #9 of 10

instep pads?

Read this thread Boardboy. Might help you sort this out.


I think of it as the difference between having our pump already primed when we need it versus having to reprime the pump every time we use. Your descriptions tell me that maybe this is something you could try.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Wow! Really intelligent advice, which I will work through in the next few weeks.

The ramp really helped. I went out and skied today. I could pressure the entire foot through the entire turn and did not need to distort to keep my heel down.

May thanks to all you BB's our there!
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