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Do "better skiers" always prefer stiffer boot?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I recently visited a well recommended bootfitter, he suggested my current boots may be too stiff for me and I am thinking ... perhaps he is right. I have never skied many boots and therefore am a neophite when evaluating different flexes, BUT, my preconceived notion is that "better skiers" always prefer stiffer boots. In no way am I suggesting I'm a better skier - that is not the point - more precisely - I'm asking about the accuracy of my "preconceived notion".
post #2 of 21
a better skier can has more strength, and knows how to use that strength to make the ski move, and can handle the ski when it moves faster and more powerfully. This stiffer boot will allow for less mistakes, and a higher end skier makes less (or knows how to deal with them)

Think of does a better race car driver need stiffer suspension in the car. Yes they go into the turns faster, brake harder, have a faster car.

There are many other things that go into this too : angle range of motion, skier weight, leg length, terrain, ski size, etc

but a lower end skier needs a softer, more forgiving boot in gerneral
post #3 of 21
Another consideration of using a stiffer boot. a stiffer boot set up and properly aligned, especially fore/aft, will reap accuracy and power. Conversely, a stiffer boot poorly set up and aligned will punish the user severly and cause many compensatory moves just to remain in balance.

In general, I believe that boot sales people and the industry in general err on the softer flexing side of the spectrum which allows the skier to manipulate the boot easier to compensate for poor set up alignment.

So the bottom line is yes, a stiffer boot will perform better for you, IF it is properly aligned fore/aft and laterally.

Stiffer is relative to factors mentioned above by mntlion too.
post #4 of 21
A stiff boot limits range of motion, putting one into the back seat when absortion occurs. Whereas a softer boot allows one the absorb and keep centered on the skis. Going back to Bud Heishman the boot has to be set up correctly for anything good to happen in your skiing, and you should have a proper footbed.
post #5 of 21
A stiff boot does limit range of motion which in turn requires the skier adjust the way they absorb and flex to stay in balance which is very attainable in a very stiff boot. If you did not make any modifications in the way you flex and extend, Raycantu's statement would be true!

When flexing in a stiff boot to absorb terrain the skier must involve the arms moving forward as the hips move back. Do you see world cup racers flexing their ankles deeply???? Hmmmm?
post #6 of 21
The question is, are the arms moving forward and the behind moving back a very stable position. It would seem that the ability to flex and stay centered over your base without moving your hands or behind would keep you more in balance. The racers have tree trunks for legs which enables them to flex any boot, but the every day skier, even the experts could use a more flexible boot, enabling them to absorb all kinds of terrain.
post #7 of 21
A properly aligned stiffer boot not only rewards accurate movements more quickly, it also facilitates quicker recoverys from imbalances. kinda like power steering in your car, smaller movements needed to transmit energy to the skis! As a beginner who makes gross body part movements to balance, a stiff boot is not desirable however; as balancing improves and imbalances are detected sooner or anticipated better, a stiffer boot will be more desireable and rewarding.
post #8 of 21
Originally Posted by RayCantu View Post
The question is, are the arms moving forward and the behind moving back a very stable position. It would seem that the ability to flex and stay centered over your base without moving your hands or behind would keep you more in balance. The racers have tree trunks for legs which enables them to flex any boot, but the every day skier, even the experts could use a more flexible boot, enabling them to absorb all kinds of terrain.
Ray, I respectfully disagree! I am a perfect example as I am not a world cup level skier and do not have tree trunks for legs but ski quite happily in a Nordica Aggressor 150 as do a few others around here and we are all quite happy in them. There isn't alot of ankle flexion available in this boot and certainly not the full range of normal ankle flexion. So why then do we all prefer these boots over softer versions?...

When first skiing in a stiffer boot it takes time to learn these new flexion movements but once this occurs the benefits begin to shine brightly! Bob Barnes has a few great graphics and animations that demonstrate this. See the backpedalling through the bumps man and notice no ankle flexion and the arms extending forward to maintain balance.

Why would hands moving forward as hips move back be any more unstable than flexion sans boots? Remember this is not a "position" to stay or ski in, it is merely a place along a spectrum of movement.

To each his/her own but since discovering stiffer boots along time ago, my skiing has improved rather than suffered and if this was not instantly noticable I would still be in a softer boot!

This is one of the areas I am excited about exploring more with all the boot fitters. The fore/aft alignment is very important to skiing in balance and finding the optimum static position in our equipment is one key to this formula.

If we did not have these long lever arms attached to our feet I might agree with you more, however; since we do we need to control them and to do this we need to transfer leverage along their length to regulate turning and balance.

A crowbar transmits more leverage than a string of spaghetti. Something in between these two extremes is where we will find a happy medium between balancing and leveraging in a ski boot.
post #9 of 21
Bud The problem is we each have our ideas of what is right or wrong with our equipment, and I know that the ski companies promote stiff boots. I have found that a more flexible boot is more benificial and less strenuous for skiers, but that is my opinion.I'm sure your experience shows a stiff boot better for skiers. I have worked with skiers who swear by softening the boots after we got done with them, and there are some who said they couldn't press into the tongue and they felt insecure in the boot. We then had the stiffen the boots again.
post #10 of 21
That's true.

What level skiers do you generally deal with there in New Jersey? I am not advocating stiffer boots for average recreational skiers, but at the same time am not discouraging them for expert skiers. Don't have to be world cup to like a stiffer boot. Oh and by the way the boots the world cup guys are using are generally stiffer than any retail boot available.

I think the notion that EVERYBODY needs to be able to flex their ankle through a large range of motion to balance effectively is a falasy.

I understand your point of view as I used to think the same thing.

I respect your viewpoint
post #11 of 21
Our very own Eric Ward "MOSH" skis in AT boots (unlocked) most times and skis very well (Aspen ski school trainer) so some people do like softer boots! I would bet though if he started racing in gates or skiing very steep and gnarly he may opt for a different boot? We should ask him.
post #12 of 21
Bud: It is a little deriding asking what skiers I generally deal with in New Jersey. Actually i worked with all levels of skiers from beginner to Instructor or Racer in Aspen for 10 years, I am a Pedorthist and have been in the ski business for over 20 years. and you seem to be putting down skiers in New Jersey, that's not fair is it.
post #13 of 21
I am not putting down New Jersey skiers. Just trying to note that recreational skiers (generally ones that live far away from big resorts and generally ski small hills, short seasons, and probably ski more infrequently than the customers you had is Aspen) appreciate softer flexing boots. I am from PA and know what skiing is like there and the average skier ability.

Are you suggesting that the majority of racers and instructors you worked with prefer softer flexing boots with a fuller range of flex? The only expert skier I know to date that skis in a softer boot is Mosh, not to say there are not more but that they are the exception not the rule. And Mosh was not charging hard when he was skiing with me so it would be interesting to see what happened when he was charging in those boots?

I respect your opinion about expert skiers needing softer flexing boots though I disagree with this blanket statement. I also take exception to the statement that stiffer boots relegate skiers to the back seat when absorbing terrain. This is simply not true IMO.

I appreciate your perspective and don't wish to scuffle. I only wish to justify my thinking and statements.
post #14 of 21
Not at all Ray, was just suggesting that recreational (generally live farther from major resorts, ski fewer days, at smaller hills) skiers generally benefit from a less stiff boot. I am from PA and know what the skiing and general skiing abilities are like there. No offense just thinking that perhaps your customers now generally will be happier in softer flexing boots.

mtbakersnow asked if his perception was correct and I was agreeing that MOST better skiers prefer the benefits of stiffer boots provided they are aligned properly. You offered a counter point and I gave further justification of my thinking.

The market demands dicatate what the manufacturers offer, so if expert skiers preferred softer boots that is what they will build and sell. The evidence of the proliferation of plug a like boots and more racing models being offered by boot companies is indicative of the demand from the public. If it didn't sell the manufacturers would not make it.

I am sure there are exceptions and not every expert wants a stiffer boot but they are the minority.
post #15 of 21
Sorry, thought I lost my first post so I did a second then could not get the first one to delete?
post #16 of 21
Bud I think we can agree to disagree. Flexability of a boot is relative to the person skiing. I would say that up to Instructor level, boots could be more flexible. This said, the person must be set up properly with well adjusted footbeds and boots and proper canting so that a skier will be more balanced and in control.
post #17 of 21
post #18 of 21
For more on the relationship of stiff boots to performance, read this classic (hall of fame) thread linked from the Supporter Area Classic threads. Proof that a good subject never goes away.

Stiffness of boots related to performance?
post #19 of 21
do you think someone [with agreement from the parties concerned] could delete this little argument and go back to the original question...please
post #20 of 21
I heavy, bad skier may need a stiffer boot than a good, light one.
post #21 of 21
Well I will try to add something here without muddying the waters any further. The question was, is stiff or soft better?

In my often not so humble opinion, I would have to say YES. I mean that they both can teach you subtleties in your skiing. I have been around for a while and had many opportunities to ski in race stock boots, recreational high performance, as well as my current pair, which are AT boots.

This stiff boots I found to be very useful in learning some basic balancing movements. I found that to enjoy the ride I needed to move ahead of the boots. That is centering my Mass before the boots centered me. If this makes any sense. This taught me how to balance pro-actively.

The high performance recreational boots did not force me anywhere in particular so it was just like cruising, No painful or scary lessons to learn

With the AT boot I found that eventually I was able to find my balance and once I got used to it I began skiing in Walk mode because the play in ski mode, messed up my balance more than leaving them loose. By doing this I found my ankle joint and I think it helped my touch with the snow. What an amazing feeling to ski with your feet. Not blocks of plastic.
I would say that most average skiers would not enjoy the ride because your balance has to be spot on. Which is a lesson I learned in stiff boots. So the point of all this is that It is not a better worse scenario it is more about the learning journey. Where are you in your journey and are you ready for what a particular style of boot can teach you about skiing.

I whole-heartedly agree with Bud about me not skiing as aggressively in a racecourse with my AT boots. However I have tried, and the bragging rights that go along with kicking someone’s ass and doing it in the AT’s and monster 88 is just so sweet. But when it comes to off piste and bumps I can hold my own, and if I stink it up being on AT’s they become a great excuse.

Bud you will be happy to know that I am moving back to a stiff boot which I have been looking forward to for a while just to see if I can retain the touch with the stiff set up. Stay tuned.
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