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Assessing and correcting fore/aft alignment - Page 2

post #31 of 84
All right, SCSA--didn't mean to ignore you.

Your legs look good--somehow I'd expected to see a few turkey feathers! (As one whose limbs are usually described as "chicken legs," I feel I can say this. [img]tongue.gif[/img] )

As I noted in my reply to Ydnar above, my only immediate concern from your pictures is that you may want to experiment with a little more forward lean. You are athletic, and I know you enjoy moguls, so you don't want your range of flexion-extension to be limited. If you can't flex lower than your picture shows without losing balance to the rear, a little more forward lean will solve the problem. As Yd pointed out though, your bindings probably elevate your boot heels somewhat, which may be sufficient. If not, experiment!

Do you ever get thrown back when "swallowing" a large mogul? If so, this would support my suspicion.

Did you try Ydnar's suggestion to see how low you can get with your heels elevated on a couple pencils? If not, try it. Flex and extend a few times, seeking to remain balanced. How does it feel? If you like the change, then try to duplicate it on the hill with cuff adjustments (trail maps) or binding wedges (duct tape). Ydnar may suggest an internal heel lift. That would not be my first strategy, but it's also worth a try.

How flexible are your ankles? I'd be curious to see a side photo of you in bare feet, heels on the floor, flexing your ankles as far forward as they will go.

As far as the rest of the photographs go, I'd be curious to see a full-body shot from the side, rather than just from the waist down. Out of curiosity, where exactly, fore-and-aft, do you feel your balance point in these photos?

Nothing jumps out at me from the front-on shot--you appear to be at least reasonably well-aligned. I assume Harald has done some work with you? I'd love to see some photos of you skiing, though. Lateral alignment issues are usually more obvious outside making turns.

Ah-h--it's good to feel useful. Or at least, used! It's a pleasure talking skiing with you, SCSA (when your feathers aren't ruffled).

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #32 of 84
Dear Bob,

So based on your experience, you seem to think I should try some more forward lean, right? FYI, I don't have a problem with being in the back seat. Is this because I couldn't get lower without falling backwards? Should I have been able to get lower? Could you take a picture of yourself doing the same squat, just for comparison? I could post it on the page I made.

How about the front picture? From what you can see, do I see to balanced laterally?

This is interesting. This alignment stuff is just as important as proper movements! I'm going to see Harald next week and I will also post after his adjustments. I hope we'll be able to see some difference.

Finally, how can I get subscribed to TPS?

Thanks again,
post #33 of 84
Dear Bob,

Our posts crossed. You answered some questions.

I will take some more pictures and provide you with the data you asked for. Look for it tomorrow. Go CU!

You're the man!
post #34 of 84
SCSA--I typically have a problem with boots that are too upright also. My lower legs are very thin, so any boot puts me in a more upright stance than it would for someone with larger calves. With most boots, I have to adjust the cuffs all the way forward, and still often need to install additional shims in the back to take the space where my calf muscle ought to be.

Once I get my boots set up the way I like them, though, I can flex quite a bit lower than you are in that picture, without falling over backward.

As for my suggestions to you based on these pictures, remember that they are just that--suggestions. Consider them ideas to experiment with. Especially with the added variable of bindings, I could easily be wrong. With enough binding ramp angle, you might even be too far forward.

In your front-on shots, what I see is boots that appear to conform well to the shape of your lower legs, allowing you to stand comfortably and naturally with your boot soles flat on the floor. Is that what you feel? When you rock your boots left and right, do they easily change edges simultaneously? In that picture, I can't see any obvious space under either side of either boot, so you probably aren't too far off. None of these observations or "tests" is too precise. And none of them takes into account the tipping movements of real skiing, or your own personal preferences. Precise measurements may reveal some discrepancy--please do post after you've had Harald set you up.

Unlike some people, I still think there is a reasonable range of "correct" alignment within which personal preference should rule. Years ago I watched a World Cup downhill race with the two Swiss legends Pirmin Zurbriggen and Peter Mueller. Zurbriggen was arguably the best technical skier in the world at the time, dominant in slalom and GS as well as Super G and Downhill. The turnier the course, the more Zurbriggen excelled. Mueller, on the other hand, was a downhill specialist, especially known for his gliding speed.

They showed a comparison of these guys' boots. Zurbriggen's boots were set up to make it easy to get a lot of edge angle. The boot shafts were tipped way out, which would have put his boot soles well onto their inside edges in a picture like your head-on shot. Zurbriggen had to pull his knees way apart and ski bow-legged to get his skis flat on the snow for a fast glide.

In contrast, Mueller's boots were very upright, laterally. Consistent with his personal preference, it was easy for Mueller to get his skis flat, but he had to angulate his outside leg hard to get decent edge angle.

Both of these guys were superstars. Either was a serious threat to win any downhill race he entered. But their equipment was as different as their skiing styles, and clearly supported their personal preferences.

Some might argue today that both of these champions would have benefitted from a good alignment specialist--and perhaps they would have. But I think alignment will always remain a combination of precise science and black art!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

EDIT--PS--About TPS ("The Professional Skier")--if you can bring yourself to contact the PSIA office in Denver, they might set you up. It comes with PSIA membership, and I don't know what they do for non-member requests. I'd hope they would be willing to accomodate you, but I don't know.

EDIT again--My wife, Susan, and I will be leaving tomorrow for a couple weeks back east to visit family. I will be out of touch for at least a few days, beginning tomorrow evening, but I'll look for your additional photos as soon as I get a chance.
post #35 of 84
Thread Starter 
Bob, I've got to disagree with you when you say that SCSA "may want to experiment with a
little more forward lean." I think there's too much forward lean/cuff angle in those boots already (i.e. the cuff to boot sole angle) and the cuff needs to be positioned more vertically (unless of course he is an unusual case - no pun intented [img]tongue.gif[/img]). While internal heel lifts would open up his ankles, it's hard to know if that's needed from the info given. I suggested the increase in ramp angle (between boot sole and ski) partially to compensate for a decrease in forward lean (more vertical cuff angle) and partially to move him a bit more forward. I thought that Ydnar was of the same opinion on the cuff angle when he said "I think that we would be standing the cuff of your boot up straighter if thats possible".

SCSA, I would bet that when Harald tells you that you "lean too far forward" and that he wants to get you to "stand taller" in your boots he is talking about first decreasing the forward lean (adjusting the boot sole to cuff angle) and then adjusting either (or both) internal or external lift under the heel as needed. I don't think he is necessarily telling you that you are too far forward in your skiing. From your picture I wouldn't guess that, although that may be the case from what SnowKarver is saying. Certainly the ramp angle built into your bindings and/or lifter may provide adequate or even too much lift to move you forward. SnoKarver's observation that you can flex further when on your skis is most likely due to this increase in ramp angle from the bindings. I would suggest that you provide pictures with you clicked into the skis. That will give us a much better starting point.

Edit: Oops, I see that while I was writing and posting this Bob was writing his own post and bringing up the binding ramp anlgle issue.
post #36 of 84
Si--you may disagree--and the "real world" of real turns on skis with bindings that add ramp angle may show you to be correct. But I can tell you for sure that if SCSA's lower legs were forced any more upright, his range of flexion would be even more restricted.

SCSA--you can demonstrate this easily by elevating the TOES of your boots a little and repeating the flex test. If you get a chance, it would be truly instructive to show a picture of your lowest balanced stance with your heels, and then your toes, elevated 1/2 inch or so.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

EDIT--another simultaneous post, Si. And you're probably typing away again as I "speak"....
post #37 of 84
Thread Starter 
Bob, I'm in synch now. I'm not sure you folllowed me exactly. When you tell SCSA to elevate the toes I don't think that relates to what I was saying - which is, the cuff to boot sole angle is too far from verticle. This is where I would start in SCSA's case and I suspect it is what Harald is saying as well. This would open up his ankle and allow for increased ankle flexion. After that I would then consider the ramp angle between the ski and boot sole or ski and footbed based on an on-hill (or at the very least on-ski) assessment.
post #38 of 84

Ok, now we're beginning to get a little much needed info. Harald's comment is a great help as is the knowledge via SnoKarver that you ski with more ankle flex and have a broad range of flex. You use this flexibility and leaning forward (not forward lean but leaning forward with the upper body if I take Harald's comment correctly) to keep out of the backseat and keep yourself moving forward. In my way of looking at the fore/aft alignment issue you are aligned to the rear but have discovered ways to compensate for this. When skiing steeps/crud/powder/bumps and you get tossed do you feel that you are riding the backs of your boots to recover or are you fighting not to go over the handlebars. What I am advocating doing, a heel lift and standing the boot cuff up, will give you the taller more natural stance that Harald is looking for. Also someone mentioned that you like bumps and the taller your stance is naturally the more flex you have available to deal with them.

As to lateral I will say nothing until I ask a couple questions. First, what has been done for your lateral alignment? Second, did you like the changes? Was there anything, right at first, that you didn't like?


I would do the ten minuet lodge stop with SCSA to put in heel lifts. I would do this because I like the results I get with heel lifts (yes I'm prejudiced but what am I going to do), because I believe the correction needed will be much more than we can safely do between the boot and binding and finally I want to bring the tib/fib angle closer to 90 degrees and raising the boot heel will do the opposite. I think that after lifting the heel we will see some improvement in stance toward the taller stance Harald and I would like to see but in this case the boots are going to have to be operated on to allow SCSA to really stand tall. Please be patient, I'll prepare a post to explain further why I would do it in this manner but the sucker is likely to be a long one. Maybe I'll entitle it "Everything you ever wanted to know about fore/aft alignment and aren't you sorry you asked.".


You are right that very few people are properly aligned to ski after all we evolved to walk and run. Fortunately, most people are close enough so that they can compensate in some way and have a blast skiing. Still, as you point out, the more serious they are the more important proper alignment will be to them.


Thanks, I needed that. I totally agree that lateral should be done first but after fore/aft is addressed lateral alignment should be rechecked, going from flexed legs and body to a taller stance can change things laterally.

Thanks to all for keeping me thinking,
post #39 of 84
SCSA is standing duck footed in the second photo. This means that all photos are suspect and absolutely no assesment can be even approximated as the leg and foot bones are rotated putting fore/aft aligment out of wack.
post #40 of 84
Well, there you have it, SCSA. Two different prescriptions based on the same observations--you'd think we were doctors or something!

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Your idea of forcing the leg forward will increase the tib/fib angle (from the perpindicular) and bring his ankle closer to being fully dorsi flexed<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ydnar--I am not necessarily trying to close his ankle, particularly if he already lacks flexibility (although apparently he does not). I have advocated EITHER tilting/shimming his cuff--which would close his ankle a bit--OR tilting his entire boot, which would NOT close his ankle, and which will happen to some extent simply by stepping into his bindings. Indeed, the "boot tilt" will increase his ramp angle very similarly to your internal heel lift. Assuming SCSA's boots are stiff enough that HE can't significantly bend them forward, then if WE don't tip them forward, who will?

I've done enough of this stuff to have been surprised by more than a few unexplainable, even contradictory results. So I won't completely discount your prescription, Yd. But I have to say it sounds doubtful to me!

You have said yourself that SCSA appears "aligned to the rear" and noted Harald's alleged comments that he leans his upper body forward to compensate. That would make him him "Skier A" from my first diagram (though surely to a more subtle degree). So we do not disagree on our observations!

But Skier A's boots are already too upright. Making them moreso will only increase the problem. Either tilting the cuffs back, or tilting the entire boots back--will align SCSA's hips even farther back, forcing even more forward lean of his upper body to compensate. Unless, of course, he stands bolt upright!

SCSA--I do have a couple questions--how stiff and how snug are your boots? And how well do they fit? You use siliconed ZipFit liners, don't you? So I'm guessing that they fit pretty close. I'm still wondering how flexible your ankles are--apparently that's not a problem, but a photo of you barefoot, flexing your ankles as far as possible will tell. Finally, what is the ramp angle of your bindings?

IF your boots are soft, allowing your ankles to flex the boots, and IF your ankles lack flexibility and are already "fully closed" (dorsiflexed), THEN Ydnar's heel lifts will give you the added forward flexibility that it appears would help. (But if your boots are that soft, I'd get new boots anyway!)

BUT--if your boots are stiff, thus preventing you from bending them much (which I think they should be--others may argue), and if they fit well--no play in the cuffs and snug around your feet, then you will need MORE forward lean in order to increase your range of flexion (to flex lower in the static test).

If your ankles are sufficiently flexible, you can accomplish this by tilting your cuffs forward or shimming them.

If not, you will need to tilt the entire boots forward (which your bindings will do to some extent that we don't know yet), OR install Yd's internal heel lifts to allow the ankle flexibility needed to tilt the cuffs. (Either of these options has the same effect of increasing the ramp angle of your foot.) But if your boots closely fit your feet as they are, internal heel lifts will throw that perfect fit off.

Again, Yd, I could be wrong and I'm really curious to see what ultimately happens, but from what we've seen and learned, I have to think your prescription of heel lifts and more upright cuffs is completely backwards--pun intended. Unless, as I noted above, his boots are soft enough to bring boot flex into the equation. If his boots are that mushy, then I'll agree that your prescription will give him more range of flexion. But he'll need new boots.

Yes, standing his cuffs even more upright will certainly give him an even taller stance. But if he can't flex deeply without losing balance aft--which he already cannot--then he really has NOT gained more range for absorbing bumps.

My prescription for SCSA--more foward lean, either from a cuff adjustment alone or from tilting the entire boot forward. If needed for more ankle flexibility, a heel lift MAY be helpful, especially combined with the cuff adjustment--if it even fits in the boot.

Ydnar's prescription for SCSA--heel lifts to open the ankles and increase ankle flexibility, combined with more UPRIGHT boot cuffs, allowing a taller stance.

Both of these options are worth experimenting with, and I've been surprised before. The truth may be that SCSA needs nothing anyway! SCSA--you aren't that far off in any event, and your bindings may provide all the added ramp angle you need.

Experimenting will tell--any suggestion is just a starting point. There's still some critical information that we don't know yet. All this discussion may help us understand, but a couple quick experiments on snow will prove conclusive. Now we just need some snow!

SCSA--it would be great to see some video of you before, during, and after all this experimenting takes place. I don't suppose that's possible, but it would be instructive.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

"See" you all in a few days....
post #41 of 84
Good morning everyone, I think my brain is functioning again.


You are so close to a major breakthrough in your understanding of skiing. You see someone like HH and are rightly impressed by his tall strong stance and the powerful skiing that stems from this(and good movement patterns). Then you see someone like SCSA and they look bent and folded in comparison. You think, wouldn't it be great for his skiing if he adapted the tall stance that I see in HH. Indeed it would but he can't, his stance and the movement pattern that goes along with it are a result of his trying to deal with a misalignment of his body in relation to skiing. Its in the same class as someone who is bow legged and adapts a very narrow stance to try to compensate for that or someone who is knock-kneed and pushes their ski out from their bodies to try to establish an edge at the start of a turn. Both these alignment related problems can be addressed only after the skier is progerly aligned in the lateral plane and SCSA's stance/movement pattern can only be effectively addresed after he is properly aligned in the fore/aft plane. Do this and he will stand taller and become a more efficient skier. What the heel lift does is to achieve this alignment which is why I always look there first. I would be willing to place a bet that if HH were to try the squat test that he could get very close to all the way down if not all the way down and that at most he would only need a mm or two (to account for the ramp in his ski/lifter/binding set-up) under his heel to get all the way down and bring his hands into his chest without falling backwards.

Bob, who I fully respect as an excellent instructor/technician, has argued the mainstream thinking in PSIA circles on this subject which seems to boil down to "We can't align people in the fore/aft plane so we will work on ways to help them cope with the alignment that they have.". I say we can align them and that then they can stand and ski like someone like HH who is naturally aligned for skiing.

I am assuming that HH's alignment is natural, for all that I know he might make modifications to his boots as a matter of course before he skis on them because he knows that if he doesn't he won't like the feel of his new set-up. I know several instructors who do this. one lowers his heel in his boots and wouldn't dream of skiing until he does and then plays with finding just the right height for his heel to get his skiing feeling just right. Another sticks trail maps under her foot-bed and then skis and adds more maps or removes some untill skiing feels just right. Interestingly enough when they get it "just right" their performance on my squat test is what I consider optimum. I say that we can use the squat test to determin how far off from this optimum a skier is and then make the adjustments that they need. Conventional thinking in ski-instruction circles is that this "balance point" or whatever it is (I'm not sure yet just what it is that we are measuring here but I am damn sure that we are mesasuring somenting) can't be changed by adjusting the tilt of the foot in the way that I am advocating. Well, I've done it, seen the results and say its time that we change the theroy.

Again please bear with me until I can prepare a post on just what I think it is we are measuring here. This is a little difficult because as I said above I'm not absolutly sure just what it is that we are measuring although I do have a few ideas on the subject.


Yes, his feet aren't perfectly parallel in the second photo which is part of the reason I refrained from jumping in with any comments on his lateral alignment. In the side views I made the assumption that they are parallel enough to work with and with someone as out of kilter as SCSA is in the fore/aft plane if they aren't perfictally parallel it doesn't make a lot of difference.


Yes, I think your fore aft alignment is way off and I was suprised to find that you had the range of ankle flex to compenaste for it, few people would. You must look like an accordian when you ski.

Its about time for me to accomplish something so I'll check back here later
post #42 of 84
This post is being posted to reply to the posts that were posted while I was busy posting my last post and wouldn't it be easier if we could just get together and yell at each other.


Your idea of forcing the leg forward will increase the tib/fib angle (from the perpindicular) and bring his ankle closer to being fully dorsi flexed (that's bent all the way for you non-techies out there if there are any left at this point). SCSA already is doing this to compensate for his miss alignment. You just want to build the compenastion into his equipment. I'm out to re-align him in the fore/aft plane so that this compensation is not necessary.


If all you do is force the leg to stand straighter then you take away SCSA's means of compensating for his misalignment and he will be in the back seat. We have to align him first that's what the lift is for.

There I managed to agree and disagree with both of you at the same time, I think.

Its too late to do this see you tomorrow
post #43 of 84
Thread Starter 
Yd, I am confused by your last comment to me. Yes, I do believe that the amount of forward lean (cuff to boot sole) in SCSA's boot is too great and would not allow most skiers to find much of the efficiencies of a more vertical (not all the way!) stance which are gained (at least in part) by allowing the load to be carried to a greater degree through "skeletal" stacking. However, I think that this would necessitate more ramp angle as provided by either internal or external heel lifts. The only difficulty in SCSA's case is we are not shown or told anything about his binding ramp angle. Thus, I think I am in close agreement with you. I would reiterate, however, that the thing I feel most confident about from looking at his picture is the need to straighten that boot cuff (but probably not without further ramp angle adjustment to account for this backward moveemnt of his CM and what may already be a backseat alignment to begin with).

On heel lifts. I have played around with heel lifts for both my daughter and wife, both of whom are very good skiers but still clearly need to be brought forward. In my wife's case she has a Dolomite boot with a lot of built in ramp angle and sizeable heel lifts but it still doesn't do the job. (Boot choice was based, however, on a very difficult to fit foot and a six hour session with one of the best boot fitters I have ever met (and I have spent time with a number of the best, Boot Doctor, Kenny's Double Diamond, ....). In my daghter's case as well, the internal heel lifts have had little effect on moving her forward in her skiing. However, in my case heel lifts made a substantial, immediate difference. I added these even when HH suggested (based purely on observations of my skiing) they probably wouldn't do much good and that I really should try some cants under the heel of my binding for increased ramp. I still would like to try a little additional under-binding heel cants for increased ramping and will probably play with some small shims this season to evaluate. I would even more readily try to add such increased ramp for my wife and daughter but I don't know where to find fore/aft cant material. Any advice?

I don't want to stray too far from the subject but I'm not quite sure what you were saying about my desire to have SCSA or anyone in a taller stance. Yes I do think that it would be desirable in general but I very much believe that fore/aft alignment is an extremely critical component to do so. BTW, I didn't really get my appreciation for a taller stance from HH but I have gotten good help from him on how to get there. I realized the effenciency of a tall stance from skiing with some very good skiers and comparing what I saw. I have had the opportunity to ski with a number of world class free skiers (and one Olympic downhill gold medalist) who run the range from a tall stance and "smooth" style to a more crouched stance and "athletic" style. Across the range I'm talking about some of the very best skiers around. Yet, as I have observe their skiing (and evaluated the mechanics and dynamics of skiing) I have come to the conclusion for myself that the tall stance is more efficient and promotes a smoother style and these entice me. My problem was that I always thought of and tried to develop myself as the crouched/athletic styled skier (not of course in the same class as the people I'm talking about). To be honest it has taken a few years of degenerative hip disease, hip replacement, some help from HH's PMTS approach, new skis, new boots, and some new alignment to reach the point where I think I am starting to effectively use this kind of posture in my skiing. (Of course I've only been skiing seriously for 10 years and so this has been a substantial part of my experience). My biggest motivation for this post is to learn more about fore/aft alignment issues as from my own personal experiences well as those with my family, friends, fellow skiers, boot fitters/alignment specialist, instructors, and coaches, I think that huge gains can be made by many skiers and learning can be dramatically accelerated.
post #44 of 84
Bob, I am I right in thinking that in softer flexing (in a fore/aft direction) boots, this fore/aft alignment somewhat takes care of itself? And if this is the case, wouldn't that benefit outweigh any performance gains to be had with stiffer boots, for the average recreational skier? And do we really need to pressure the front of the skis as much as stiffer boots will allow us to (as compared to softer boots)? Please explain.
post #45 of 84
I'm still seeing confusion so lets go with a few different definitions.
Cuff angle - Medial/Lateral angle (side to side) of the boot cuff to the tibia.
Forward lean- angle of the rear cuff of the boot in relation to the boot sole.
Ramp angle- Angle of the bottom foot plane in the boot to the bottom of the boot sole (internal)
Delta- angle of the bottom of the boot sole to the longitudinal plane of the ski (caused by ski design and binding design. (external to the boot)
Tibial dorsi angle- angle between the tibia bone (lower leg) and the top plane of the foot. ankle flex
Heel lift internal- heel lift placed between the foot bed and the inside of the liner- affects tibial-dosi angle and is used to lift a skier higher in the liner to affect fit.
Heel lift external- heel lift between the boot board (zeppa) and the bottom of the liner. Increases ramp angle and decreases tibial-dorsi angle. used primarily for lack of ankle flexion but sometimes for short leg long leg considerations.
Heel lift boot bottom- a lift on the bottom of the boot sole. The purpose is to increase delta
Toe lift boot sole- purpose is to decrease delta.
Cant- wedge shim placed under the binding to move lateral angle of tibia. (flatten ski to snow)

SCSA, I see very little problem with fore and aft balance as you display in the photos. Photo one shows your knees nearly in line with your arm pits this means your duck footed to the floor. This rotates your toes out effectively decreasing forward lean and moving your CM rearward. This probably explains the reason some think that you need a heel lift. The third and forth photos show a pretty good forward/aft stance. The second photo to me looks like you have a slight lateral imbalance that could be a short leg long leg or just the way you are standing. Do you now have a cant under one foot but not the other or opposite cants? Do you tend to sprain your ankles when running? HH does not check for this and it occurs in about 15% of all skiers. By the way, I think that you are pretty well aligned fore and aft on the floor but the minute you click into a binding with positive delta you will be in the front seat just like you say. The bindings you use have about 5 or 6 degrees of positive delta. lowering the boot zeppa is the easiest fix but not necessarily the right one.

Si you are correct that fore/aft balance is tricky but it isn't voodo science necessitated by experimentation on the hill either. Fore and aft balance is really dictated by a number of things. One, the boot selection makes a BIG difference. A good stance boot for one person is a poor stance boot for another. Your heel lift experiment could easily be the difference between brands of boots on different feet. Fore aft balance is also strongly dictated by ankle fexibility, foot flexibility in the mid foot section and foot abnomalities changing the patterns of where the weight is bearing on the foot thus changing where the balance and strength is comming from in the foot. A good alignment specialist will evaluate all of these things before adjusting fore/aft balance.
We can all achieve good balance in a static position and bend our ankles beyond the range our muscles will bend them but the minute you start to slide only your muscular/joint range of motion will determine where you stance ends up. NO amount of compensation will correct stance once in motion. These defects must be corrected in the alignment process not in the ski school.
Just my two cents worth.
post #46 of 84
Bob: The fore / aft alignment continues to intrigue me. After perusing all that has been said no one has addressed at what point in a skiers development, ie-level (4)(5)(6)(7)ETC., should we consider the alignment analysis? Unfortunately my experience has always been with adults, who have strong interest in improving their skills, as opposed to children. Can you provide some feedback on your experience with a broader spectrum of students ages, skier levels, etc. ? Thanks.

post #47 of 84

I have played with this alignment thing over the last couple seasons until I have reached the point where I can use my squat test to make adjustments on the ramp angle of a skiers foot that will benefit the skier in certain ways. I know that if I lift SCSA's heel (inside or outside the boot) and straighten up his boot cuff he will ski in a taller stance and in a more efficient manner. I know that if someone falls to the back in the squat test and doesn't have the range of ankle flexion to compensate for their alignment that they will ski on their tails and lifting their heels will allow them to ski centered on the ski in a tall efficient stance. I know that if someone can resist being pushed over backwards in the squat test that they will ski on their tips and lowering their heels or raising the toes of their boots(which might actually work better for these people) will allow them to ski the center of the ski and they will lose a bent legged almost seated look that gives the visual impression that they are back and they too will be able to ski in the tall functional stance we have been talking about. Now before anyone accuses me of trying to force everyone into the same tall stance any of these skiers would be able to ski in a more flexed stance, what Si calls crouched/athletic, if they so choose the point is the choice is up to them they are not forced to ski in a particular way by their alignment as SCSA is forced into a flexed crouchy look. Perhaps forced is the wrong word here, these people ski the way they do because their bodies have discovered what stances and movement patterns work to get them around the hill on skis. And we can teach around these alignment issues. If SCSA wants to look taller and not do anything to his fore/aft alignment I have something that will help. Next time he skis if he will contract his abs as if doing a crunch then he can draw his chest, shoulders and head forward moving his CM forward which will allow him to straighten his ankles a little which will give him the taller look and move his CM back to where it was. This will work to give him the taller stance but soon his abs will get tired. Do the alignment adjustments that I am advocating and the taller stance will be natural and unstrained and if he wants he can ski in a more flexed stance.

So anyway, I have these observations and a predictive test to go along with them, some of the observations can be explained and understood with current ideas concerning fore/aft alignment and what tipping the foot and/or modifying the boot will do but some of them go almost totally against these ideas so I am looking for a new idea that will explain all the observations. Below is my idea

Instead of skis I have attached our boots to a block of wood just as long as your boot sole. This block has a special shape, I have cut it on a diagonal that runs from just under our boot toe to a point about a third of the way back along the length of the block. We're going to stand on that block. Just standing there will be no problem as we naturally balance over a point toward the rear of our foot and the block easily supports us. Now if move our center of mass forward by flexing our ankles or leaning our upper-bodies forward then we can tip the block forward when the CM moves beyond the end of the diagonal cut. We have a pivot point. The next thing I want to do is to relocate that pivot point. I want to take the person who was able to do the squat test and bring their hands in to their chests and then be easily tipped over and use them to establish the pivot point. I want to drop a plumb from their center of mass and put the pivot point just a mm or two in front of that line. The subject can still stand on the block but the slightest move forward will tip it. Now I'm going to put the person who fell backward on the squat test on that block (by the way all these people are in identical boots). Now from the squat test it seems to be obvious that this persons CM is a little further back than the subject that we used to establish the pivot point so for them to tip the block they will have to flex their ankles a little more and or lean forward a little more to move their CM far enough forward. Sound like anyone we know.
Perhaps if the subject has very inflexible ankles and we tell them not to bend way forward at the waist they will be unable to tip the block. Is there a way that we can help these people tip the block more easily? Well if we raise their heels what happens? A little raise of the heel moves the CM forward a lot because we are dealing with a pretty long fulcrum here and the system tips but other things happen when we raise the heel, we compensate by straightening our ankles a little and standing a little taller so we negate a lot of the forward movement of the CM but not all of it (if nothing else raising the heel shortens the effective length of the foot and this alone would move the CM forward). Lets assume that the CM moves just far enough forward so that it now lines up with the CM of the first subject. What happens? For the flexible subject it now becomes possible to tip the block without a lot of flex and lean and for the inflexible subject it might now be possible to tip the block because we have done two things for them, made tipping the block require less ankle flex and given them a little more flex to work with (remember that they straightened their ankles a little to compensate). Finally, I'm going to put the person who could resist being pushed over on the blocks. Because their CM is a little forward the block tends to tip whether they want it to or not and because their boots limit any change they can make in ankle flex or tib/fib angle they bend their knee and straighten up their bodies to keep from tipping forward. Now raise their boot toes or lower their heels and straighten up their cuffs and we tip the whole system back. What's interesting here is that I don't observe any compensating movements. Why? Not sure unless its because the body/mind is so relieved to not be tipping forward that it just accepts the correction and is happy to feel stable or we are somehow going along with a compensating movement that the body wants to make but is prevented from by the equipment. Anyway we moved the CM back until it too lines up with the position of the CM of the first subject and now this person can also easily control the tipping of the block.

OK, Yd, that's very interesting but what the heck does it have to do with what we are talking about? Instead of a pivot point under our feet lets postulate a point under the foot that if we move our CM past we go into forward motion. In the non-skiing world we have to start walking if our CM passes that point but on skis the whole system can begin to slide forward. This is why I advocate what I call neutral alignment, not forward and not back but on the edge and ready to move forward with minimal effort and movement.

There you have it "Yd's Theory of Fore/Aft Alignment". Please to take shots at it so I can see if I can patch the holes.

The weatherman just said two to three feet of snow in the mountains in the next week I have to go wipe the drool off my chin.

PS Si, I think that your wife might be artificially over ramped which creates its own set of problems one being looking, feeling and being back. We can't force someone forward we just want to put them in the best alignment to move forward.
post #48 of 84
Thread Starter 
I don't think I have enough personal experience to directly comment. Our little preliminary experiment only opened up a lot of questions - ones that are worth pursuing I think. However, I certainly have met a few instructors/alignment specialist who have found that internal heel lifts (in particular) and external heel lifts (increased ramp angle between boot sole and ski) do not necessarily work as expected based on expert observation of on-hill results.

In terms of my wife's situation - If I just saw (measured) her current ramp angle (combined total from binding, boot, and heel lifts) and observed her skiing I might raise the same question you have. However, a missing piece of information is that the change in her skiing when she first got this set-up was a definite improvement (forward) in terms of her fore/aft alignment. The trouble is she still could be a bit more forward. Now maybe we're beyond some point of optimal ramp angle and a little less would actually improve the situation. I don't know, but my feeling is the best way would be to have some on-slope adjustments to experiment with.

It doesn't seem that difficult to design a binding with adjustable fore/aft ramp (as well as lateral cant adjustment). The Dalbello boot with adjustable lateral cant on the sole certainly handles one of these but is only one style boot which certainly is (heavy and) not the right boot for everyone in terms of fit and performance. I think that the main barrier to such technology is the the fact that we have not yet integrated alignment issues well enough into ski instruction and common knowledge so as to create a viable market for such a binding. I for one would jump at the opportunity. The idea of being able to set my alignment optimally (perhaps even with different settings for different skis) through on-slope experimentation (and most likely some expert assistance) is an enticing one to me. I am convinced that finding the alignment I have achieved at this point at an earlier stage would have noticeably accelerated skiing improvements for me.
post #49 of 84

You for-aft balance test is very logical and I would suggest that it would be time well spent for anyone to try it. Your test would also work with Bob's prefered approach to adjust cuff angle, rather than ramp angle (although I am sure that Bob, or any other pro, would try either adjustment depending on the situation).

Here is my experience when I tried your test. First, I have no problem going into a full squat in my boots. I can even do it with my hands behind my back - although that brings me to the edge of falling backwards. I can easily tilt forwards or backwards with some hand movement. I cannot do that by flexing my ankles since the boots are too stiff (while in the squat position) and I have zero room in my cuffs, as my calfs are rather thick. So according to your system, I should not need any heel ramp angle. But ...

What about my cuff angle? I have a Technica Icon XR (on hill I find them relatively soft, which is the way I like it) and the cuff angle is set to minimum (18-19 degrees, I think). According to the discussions here and looking at SCSA pictures, my boots are at least as tilted, probably even more tilted than SCSA's boots. So the question is, what is the right cuff angle? How does one decide? My answer to that is that there is no answer. It is purely based on preference and preference comes with experience.

The latest trend is to have a tall stance. I don't agree with that, mostly because I tried it and did not like it. The best position (for me) to react to terrain is the "mid-flex" where you can extend or absorb terrain as the need arises. You may argue that such a position is not sufficiently "stacked", but why should it be? Do we ask tennis or soccer or basketball players to stay/guard in a "stacked" position to conserve energy? Of course not. Maybe as I get older I will prefer a taller stance, but for now I will stick to a dynamic position.

So my advice to SCSA: keep at least 17 degrees of angle in your cuffs (to force a minimum of knee flex). Then work with heel ramp angle (including binding angle) to be able to get into a squat position. Don't ski tall just because HH skis that way. Find your "ideal" position by experimenting and keeping an open mind.
post #50 of 84
Yadar, I don't think your test is way off the target, you can certainly use it to convince someone of the need for proper alignment. Proper alignment being that the person see a specialist in alignment procedures. The trouble with that is that many good boot fitters simply don't know what good fore/aft stance is in the boot shop. Most, even the good ones do not take into consideration what binding the person is skiing on (how much built in delta that there is).
TomB, I must disagree with you that there is no right forward lean on our boots (what you are calling cuff angle). Any of us can stand there on the floor or snow and flex our ankles with full weight on them and achieve any stance we want. The minute we move, balance becomes dynamic and we no longer can flex and achieve any stance that we want. We will seek one stance for balance and are now, completely at the mercy of how much the ankles can be flexed with just our muscles. Normal ankle flex is 14-24 degrees. Lets say we have a normal person with 18 degrees. The boot zeppa is normally around 6-8 degrees positive ramp. The forward lean on boots is usually between 8-18 degrees. We will say our normal person climbs into a boot with a forward lean of say 14 degrees and and ramp of 8 degrees. Our normal skier now has 6 degrees positive tibial-dorsi angle and has a range of motion of 12 degrees of flex. Our normal skier can ski pretty well with this in not to stiff-normal boots. Now lets take me. I have 10 degrees of ankle flex. put me into a boot with 8 degrees ramp and 14 degrees forward flex. I now have 4 degrees of effective ankle range. When I flex forward in a normal boot one of two thinks is going to happen. My heel is going to lift off the footbed or I am going to flex at the knees and go in the back seat. I have two adjustments, I have heel lifts or forward lean or both. Using both will correct for lack of ankle flex and put a skier in the correct fore/aft stance. In my case I have around 3/8" of heel lift and a forward lean of 11 degrees giving me a more normal range of ankle motion of about 9 degrees while putting me in a normal stance. I use Atomic bindings which have near zero ramp angle built in and I am happy. With my body design and flexibility I can not tolerate much delta.
A more upright stance allows for more effective range of flexion and extension. Boot makers and binding makers are behind the times probably because these things are no where near as important to Europeans as they are to Americans.
post #51 of 84
these things are no where near as important to Europeans as they are to Americans.
Why is that?
post #52 of 84
Thanks to everyone for the responses I want to reply to everyone but it might take a couple of posts to do it. You see I do have a life beyond this forum.


Please comment, you are a keen observer and your comments are always insightful and well thought out. Don't let the fact that you aren't a "PRO" get in the way, hell in the world of fore/aft alignment there ain't no "PRO's". (it has generated a lot of prose though)

About your wife, you may well be right, I brought up the over-ramped idea because I've seen it happen. Without seeing her on skis, walking, doing the squat test, etc I really don't want to make further comments. I just don't have enough information.

Yes, it would be great if we had an on hill way to adjust fore/aft alignment but until we do all we can do is tinker with the set-up off snow and then observe what happens. The more we do this then the more accurate our tinkering can become. This is one of the problems with getting people to do the alignment thing. Initial evaluation/set-up can take a couple of hours in the shop and then the tinkering around when back on the snow. Since most people can achieve fore/aft balance even if they aren't in optimum alignment (as SCSA can) and have a blast skiing I understand why they might be reluctant to undertake the process and hassle of getting properly aligned fore/aft. Its just more fun after ideal alignment is achieved.

Tom B.

Your situation of being able to get all the way down and not fall back even when you move your hands behind you is less common than not being able to get all the way down so I don't have as much observation on this "aligned forward" stance but I will share what I have learned and try to apply it to your case.

One thing is that the "fixes" for being aligned forward are much more difficult to accomplish than those for being aligned back. What we would want to work on for you is to decrease your ramp angle and straighten up the cuff of your boot. Decreasing the ramp can be accomplished by putting a shim under the toe-piece of the binding, grinding down the heel of the boot board, putting a "toe lift" under the ball of the foot. Putting a shim under the toe piece is a good way to go because it also acts to straighten the boot cuff a little. Its draw backs are that you need a shop and the proper tools to do it safely, there is a limit to how much correction can be made before you take the binding setup out of din specs and compromise the function of the bindings, you are in alignment only on skis you have modified so demoing skis is harder. Grinding the boot board also works well but it is irreversible if you grind to much off you can't put it back. This leads to the situation where the boot board has been ground down and then a small heel lift is used to get things just right. Trying to use a "toe lift" often creates fit problems which must then be dealt with. Straightening the cuff up presents its own problems especially if the cuff is riveted and some lower shell boot cuff interfaces don't allow for it. Before I start unriveting and re-riveting or grinding on material stops to adjust the cuff I like to check with very knowledgeable boot techs or the man who got me started on this alignment thing and has done a lot more of this than I have. Going to a binding with less built in ramp (delta) can also help. Personally what I would do is put a shim under the toe piece of the binding on your favorite pair of skis, from what you said about the squat test try about 2mm, and go skiing. See if you like the difference. Get a pair of expert eyes, preferably someone already familiar with your skiing, to give you feedback on any changes in your stance. If you like the change but want to be able to click into any pair of skis you can then look into modifying your boots to accomplish what the shim did. I know of one person who just shims all their skis.

Finally on the tall stance thing. My opinion is that if our alignment is off then we must compensate for that in our stance to achieve balance. With your alignment when you tried the taller stance you were compromising your fore/aft balance so it's no wonder you didn't like it. When properly aligned you will tend to find your most comfortable/natural stance. It might be taller and it might not. It all depends on how you ski, where and what you are skiing, your body type and other variables that I am in no position to comment on because I only know you from a couple of posts. As to athletes in other sports, we don't tie their heel down, restrict their ankle flex, and make them play on a tilted playground sliding instead of walking and running. And for all the talk of an athletic stance I don't see those in other sports as flexed as they move around as most skiers are.

Pierre eh,

You are so right about boot fitters not knowing what a good stance should look like then add in the fact that the stance can change once the subject is out on the hill sliding. Not that I'm blaming them they already have a hard job and here I want to complicate it even more. We can't all be expert in all things.

One of the reasons for my becoming such a nut on this subject is that I believe that someone in proper fore/aft alignment can be in balance in a broader range of stances rather than being forced into a very restricted range because of the necessity to compensate for alignment and achieve fore/aft balance. This allows them to use the forces available when skiing to flex the ankle and not be dependent on just their muscles.

Because its hard to measure all this stuff in degrees I tend to work with height in mm measured at the heel and under the ball of the foot when I am working with ramp/delta. As to forward lean I'm still in the experiment and play with it stage. I know which direction I want it to go with a subject and whether I want a lot of change or a little but that's about as accurate as I can be right now. Its an adjust, ski and appraise, adjust a little more kind of thing.

The adjustments you have made certainly sound spot on and with a 2mm spacer (the height difference of most Atomic bindings) under the heel of your boot I would guess that you would preform very well on my squat test.

Your comments about an upright stance are why I like it and tend to recommend it and I couldn't agree more about boot and binding makers.

If I can't ski I like to think and talk about it so thanks again to everyone for helping me do that,
post #53 of 84

Its because they ARE Europeans. Hell, some of them are even French. :

post #54 of 84

I owe you guys some more pictures. If you'd make a list of what you'd like me to do next, I'd be happy to do it and post new pictures. I can't make any adjustments until I see Harald. Then, once I see Harald, I could take some more pictures and post them.
post #55 of 84
Thread Starter 
Yd, That's nice of you to say. I am tied up right now but will try to respond in the next couple days. My response, however, will be from of a theoretical nature because of limited experience. Additionally, I will tell you about a slightly different approach to off-slope I have thought about.

Tom B, You said that you tried skiing with a taller stance and didn't like it. In some ways I felt the same way when I first began trying it. However, with some change in technique and alignment I have now found it to be a more effective and efficient way to ski (and I'm sure I still have lots of room for improvement). I don't try to ski this way because anyone in particular does, only that I have decided for myself that it seems to be a "better" way. HH is certainly not alone in advocating for or skiing with a tall stance. I think many PSIA instructors advocate the same thing. I think its great to have you or others express your preferences based on your own personal experiences but let's assume that the same is true for all of us.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 09, 2001 09:18 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Si ]</font>
post #56 of 84
Pierre eh!

That was a nice technical explanation for having a more upright stance. My ankle flex seems to be about 20 degrees, so that may explain my tolerance for a less upright stance. Nevertheless, you bring enough "food for thought", that I will continue to experiment (when the snow comes [img]smile.gif[/img]).

Ydnar, Si

I could consider a more upright cuff position, but I cannot imagine decreasing my ramp angle. It simply feels too good as it is right now. Besides, in a deep squat I am already biased towards my heels, which tells me that they should not be any lower. I admit that I use my weightlifting experience to determine what feels "right" in a squat, but for now, that will have to do.

Anyway, thanks for the responses guys, they got me thinking, for sure. Unfortunately we have to wait for snow to start experimenting and dialing into the right stance.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 09, 2001 12:05 PM: Message edited 1 time, by TomB ]</font>
post #57 of 84

I'm going to see HH on Thursday. How about I post some pictures after that?
post #58 of 84
Thread Starter 
SCSA, That would be great. It would be nice to see you on your skis as well as just standing on your boots.
post #59 of 84
Thread Starter 

I think the paradigm you describe and the conclusions you draw fit my theoretical conceptualization well. One consequence you discuss that may not fit theory closely is that internal heel lifts move the CM forward. If we assume that the cuff is fixed at it's forward lean setting (or at least we consider this to be the neutral position) and the cuff fits around the leg snugly then the only thing that internal heel lifts do is open up (palntar flex) the ankle and raise the leg in the cuff. As I think you've alluded to, this may move the CM forward but much less so that external heel lifts. In practice, however, I agree with you that this may produce more substantial forward movement of the "resting" CM position. It certainly appeared to do so in my case where I feel that I got both improved ankle flexion as well as a more forward position of balance (which I needed). I have talked to a few people who do alignment (and consider themselves to be experts) and it seems that the more experience they have the more they want to use external vs. internal heel lifts for moving the CM forward. This position seems to be generally based on reported experience with inconsistent results from internal heel lifts (for CM movement forward).

A second issue I would raise about the procedures you describe is the lack of accounting for delta (binding ramp) angle. Bindings, lifters, and some skis with built in ramp really throw quite a bit of variation into the equation.

Nevertheless from what you've described I would enthusiastically participate in an assessment such as the one you described and expect I could learn a lot about my fore/aft alignment as a starting point. However, let me throw out another idea on an assessment method that is very much along the lines you proprose but more quantitative and inclusive of delta.

Let's have people stand on their skis and lock into their bindings. Then let's place a scale both right in front of the boot toe and behind the boot heel on both skis (requiring 4 scales). Now let's do the squat test and/or have the subject stand in any number of positions. What we have here is a poor man's force plate that gives a quantitative measure of fore/aft alignment. With this setup I think you could very quickly develop some quantitative standards relating to percent weight distribution and a set of assessment postures based on your experience and current assessment procedures.

OK, if this is as simple of an approach as I think it is, why hasn't anyone tried it? Obviously, the requirement for 4 scales is somewhat limiting so there's still a place for the simple squat test (in the cafeteria during a break). Otherwise, what's wrong with this idea?
post #60 of 84
Just a thought: Due to ramp angle, when demoing skis, the binding could affect whether or not a ski feels "right" to you.
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