How much would you pay to be a 10% better skier? Years ago, the day I got my first footbeds my performance jumped from a level 6 to an 8 just like that. Much cheaper than a lesson and my performance jump was huge. It got me thinking. What else can we do to the physical aspects of the fit that will improve the dynamics of the sport? So then, I'd suggest that a serious skier, someone who is motivated to improve, would be willing to pay for even a 1% improvement. That is a huge jump for the higher end skier. Of course these numbers are subjective but make the argument that we can maximize the impact the equipment has on our performance and consolidate it with practice and technique. I'd say, and I don't have a race background per se, that much of what I see being taught in our instructional clinics for ski instructors and being passed onto our students are techniques to overcome the deficiencies of the equipment. Here's a simple example I alluded to above. I bought footbeds and I improved. This was after I bought higher end boots and skis when I got into the sport knowing my athletic profile. I did not get turned onto them by the guy who sold me the boots. Nor any of the instructors who saw me skidding my way down the hill and having difficulty engaging an edge and feeling as if my weaker left knee was about to blow out. No, it was my non skiing mountain bike buddy who is a physical therapist who heard my complaint about my knee while riding in Colorado and Moab. He made me a quick set of orthotics in his lab and I asked if they might work in my ski boots. He was shocked I already didn't have a set for them! So, we can buy performance. Otherwise why would people buy new equipment every year or so? Then it comes down to value. At Bode's level, I'm sure if he could fork over money to accomplish a 0.1% improvement he would.
Now, what is the standard? Well, there is none. We have a DIN standard. That is quantifiable and definable. There are, I'm sure some who might argue that it is suspect but it is what it is. With boot fitting there is no standard. And yet we engage in these discussions and everyone seems to have their own take on things. Masterfit is attempting to establish a standard. So is Mr. Harb as are bootfitters who read this site and work around the nation or the world. But as yet, I could argue with myself as how to proceed with each individual that comes into the shop for assistance with his boot. What aspect of modification should be stressed? If he says money is no object that is different than a fellow with a $10 budget. A dialog here might serve well to establish a common language and discern the relevant elements that contribute to better alignment.
How we go about it is the key. If we are more efficient wouldn't we be working less, have more energy at the end of the day and/or ski faster if that is the goal? I look for the purity of the carve. Speed is secondary to me. Others want to get to the finish line and couldn't care about the aesthetic appeal of their form or technique. In that regard I like the Rahlves v. Miller point made above. But as I suggested earlier, doesn't it beg the question if Bode was aligned better, even if this is just a rhetorical point, wouldn't it be likely that he'd ski faster and then take it up that notch where the stresses of the sport test his limits and not the stresses of the equipment.
One other point that JDISTEFA above asked. If you ask 50 of your best ski buddies/instructors, skilled skiers, which leg do you ski better off of I'd bet the number who would pick one leg over the other would probably be close to all of them. So, in that light, I'd say that it is the rare skier, pro even, that could not benefit from an alignment modification. They are all trying to change things to their boots so that alone answers the question. They are all misaligned and seeking that perfect place. Don't confuse the equipment with the skier!