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How re-usable is the alignment setup info?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
We just got my girlfriend's skis back from the shop. After the first 3 days out this year (on new-to-her skis, and new boots), she felt like she was skiing worse than last year on rental equipment. We took the boots back to Ski Center a few nights ago, worked with a fitter there to square up some of the issues she was having with the way the boots felt, but when she mentioned that she felt like she was sitting back on the skis, he suggested that we look at the ramp angle of her bindings. He got her up on a Bio-Stance platform, and began playing with different shims to find one that felt more neutral to her. (He did comment that bindings on rental equipment would tend to be a little more neutral than her binding setup, which had a 7mm heel raise, so we were looking to find something that would minimize that.)

After 45 minutes or so, she felt very comfortable with what he'd found, so he began checking for canting adjustments. He determined that there were no canting adjustments needed at this time, so he marked stuff up and sent it to the shop. We got the skis back, and they pretty much took out the stock heel riser and put some black shims in its place.

These skis were picked up at a ski swap as a starter set, but I can see that in the next few years (if not next year) that we'll need to upgrade. So the question is, after spending the time and the money to have this done for these skis/bindings, do we need to figure on doing this every time the equipment changes? Or can we hold on to the information that she likes such and such a ramp angle, and then just make sure that any new equipt is set up the same way? I'm guessing that because of all of the variables (binding placement, ski length, ski width, etc) we'd need to go through this again, but that's a wild uneducated guess...

Am I right or wrong on that?

post #2 of 6
The information from alignment and balancing should be kept so future setups can duplicate this. Keep in mind that new boots, or bindings will subtly change those angles, but that the ideal alignment for balance can be restored by changing up some shims.

This is a really good question. Would you mind if it was placed in the boot fitter forum for a while?
post #3 of 6

Great question! You and your girlfriend have discovered what most have no clue about, the affects of equipment alignment on functional balanced skiing. Most skiers are randomly skiing through life without a clue that they are making varying degrees of compensatory movements, caused by their equipment, just to maintain some resemblance of balance.

There are Two basic planes affected by your equipment, one is the fore/aft plane and the other is the lateral plane.

Variables in the fore/aft plane include:
1) binding "delta" (the angle created by the stand height differential of the heel rest and toe afd) which changes between binding brands and models as well as with the length of the boot sole
2) ramp angle determined by the boot board or zeppa inside the boot including any angle created by the footbed
3) forward lean of the boot
4) binding placement on the ski relative to sweet spot or balance point.

variables in the lateral plane include:
1) internal zeppa angle (includes angles created by boot board, footbed, or SBS shimming)
2) external cant angle of the boot (pertains to the angle created by the boot sole in relation to knee position, which affects edge engagement)
3) shaft angle (correctly used to match the angle of the lower leg while standing in boots on footbeds sans liners)

With the help of a professional fitter versed in boot alignment, the optimum angles for a particular skier can be found and recreated with future purchases in equipment. The first step is to record these angles present in your current equipment when you think you are close. I say close because continual experimentation in smaller increments will help zero in even more. I still experiment and fiddle after over 30 years of skiing, but I am testing more or less to continually varify that I am in fact where I want to be. Knowing your angles will expedite the proper selection and alignment of future equipment. For example, if your girlfriend found that she feels well positioned in a relatively flat delta angle binding, choosing either Salomon or Atomic bindings would be a better starting position than say a Rossi or Look which tend to be on the steeper end of the spectrum. From there less shimming would be necessary. Also you would know that it would make sense to use the exact same binding on all your skis to eliminate this factor from the scenario. The boot can then be plated to change this angle just once so that all your skis would have the same deltas.

I hope this helps and I look forward to further discussions here on this topic as it is a very important, though often ignored or rebutted facet of skiing which will do more to increase your enjoyment and success at this sport than any other tact! Get this right and your path to skiing success will be paved with unrestricted, uncompromised progress!!

post #4 of 6
Not everyone gets so lucky to find someone knowledgeable when they are only at the beginning stages of skiing. I think you will find that most of the angles will stay relatively the same throughout her ski career so record everything and duplicate them again as she advances.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Bud - we got the "upgrade" footbeds put in when she bought the boot, but they're definitely not anything too fancy. How much of an impact will they have on the ramp angle, if any? Or is that more determined by the boot board unless you specifically design a footbed to create more/less angle?

The fitter used an interesting tool to check for canting adjustments, but I'm not even really sure as to what it was doing exactly. He put it on her knee, and used a marker to put a dot in the center of her kneecap. Then he did something similar on her foot, and determined that her knee and foot were properly aligned, and said there were no changes needed. Obviously that was while she was at rest in a neutral position. Does that change significantly based on how she moves when she skis? How do we know if we need to revisit that?

Also - you mention that you continually play with alignment variables to zero in on the "perfect" setup. I'm guessing you guys (fitters) can do that more easily and more cheaply than I could on my own (since I'd have to pay you to do it). What's a good clue that I need more tweaking vs. just working to improve my technique?

Sorry for the laundry list of questions, but I really appreciate your insight on this!

We're hoping to go out this weekend and give the newly adjusted skis/boots a try. This had better work, because we're headed to Vail in a few weeks, and right now, skiing is frustrating her. That's something I thought we'd be avoiding by getting her own equipment for her, but I guess I didn't figure on this breaking-in phase...


PS - It's interesting that you mention Look bindings as being particularly extreme in their delta angle, since that's what were on the skis. I have Salomon bindings on my skis, and didn't really notice anything, so it didn't occur to me when we bought her skis that the binding could have that much of an effect.
post #6 of 6
Scooter, a footbed should not affect the ramp angle unless the heel thickness and thickness under the metatarsal heads is different.

There are a few different devices and methods of checking canting out there. The bottom line is an accurate center of knee mass must be marked, the boot must be "trued" to insure the sole is flat (many new boots out of the box are not), the boots must be buckled tightly, the boot must be perfectly flat on a level hard surface. Then plumb line from the mark on knee can be positioned over the desired position over the boot checked with a plumb bob or I prefer a carpenter square. Once the desired postion is found using cant strips under the boots or another device which will reposition this alignment, the boot can be planed then plated and routered to permanently change the cant angle and return boot to D.I.N. specifications. It is important to have the proper tools to make these changes so I would ask the shop doing the assessments how they will affect changes to the cant angles if they need to?? Sometimes the boot fitter will tell you no adjustments are needed because they do not have the ability or tools to make these changes!!

Once you have been canted properly or aligned in the fore aft plane in the shop, it is relatively easy for you or anyone to experiment on hill using small shims to change lateral and fore aft angles. I carry 1.5mm and 3mm bontex shims as well as cut up pieces of cant strips in different degrees in my parka all the time to make on hill adjustments when I see a customer who may need it or just wants to create an awareness to how these changes affect their skiing. Your shop should be able to supply you with some shims to fine tune or experiment on the slopes.

While you are in Vail look up Greg Hoffman who has a boot fitting shack on the mountain and facilities in the Mountain's ski shop in village! He is one of the best around and is well versed in alignment methods!

Enjoy your trip!!
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