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Trying To Understand Boot Flex Better and Racing

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
What I'm trying to understand is the point that a boot becomes too stiff.  They way I understand it, the stiffer the boot the more responsive it is.  I believe the hook is that you still need to be able to flex it enough so you body position isn't stuck in one spot, - "back seat" and you need some flex for shock absorbtion.

I have Krypton Pros with the Gold ID liner and booster strap.  I have them set for approximately a flex of 125; gray tongue, # 8 wedge in the high position and #8 forward lean.

Is the only way to find out if it is too stiff to ski in them?  Is there a rule of thumb on the distance of the flex or is this where a Campbell Balancer really comes into play? 

In my basement I can flex them but not as easily as I could without the wedge in.  I think the 125 boot flexed as much as the 100 boot.  Changed one boot at a time to see the difference and left the Booster Strap loose so there weren't any other influences.  The only difference was adding the wedge.  I know it will be different on the mountain in the cold but there should be a way to at least get in the ball park.

I skied all last year with the flex at approximately 100.  Half way through the year I got into racing and since the flex can be adjusted to 140 on these, I want to set them up more for racing (NASTAR and beer league) this year more than anything else.

I'm 5' 7" and currently 176# but usually closer to 170 or less during ski season.  49 y/o if it matters.  I have strong legs and plenty of leverage from my belly.

Thanks for taking the time to help me with this.

Ken
Edited by L&AirC - 9/15/09 at 7:27am
post #2 of 11

Stiffer is more responsive, but too stiff means the response is a rebound that pushes you into the back seat.  You need the right amount of skill, strength and weight to drive forward without getting thrown back.

I don't think you can get a definitive setup indoors, but one simple thing I look for is the ability to flex the boot cuff forward, showing movement at the hinge without just stretching or deforming the plastic.

I wouldn't really look for a specific distance measured for this movement, but I might want to see a bit more movement indoors for the beginning of the season, and if the weather is very cold.  As you build strength through the season, you should be able to tighten the flex up while maintaining good mechanics.  And when the weather warms up, you will also want to tighten the flex up to balance the general softening of the plastic in the shell.
 

post #3 of 11
There is another school of thought on boot stiffness.  That is, that you want a boot to be stiff exactly so it will hold you in the correct position for skiing.  If your boots are set up correctly and you are properly balanced in them, then stiff boots will ensure you stay in that position.  They will also provide you with sufficient leverage to move back to a balanced stance if you get thrown around.  If your boots are set up properly, you should be able to move your hips over your boots without needing boot flexion (your shins will be firm against the toungue, but you shouldn't need to bend the boot).
post #4 of 11
 Hey L&AirC,


     "Bob Barnes" has written a lot about fore/aft balance that can be found here on the forum, it will agree with what geoffda has written above.
      The big issue that isn't addressed much is the effect the calf muscle circumference has on for aft balance.  Big muscle and to much forward lean or skinny muscle and not enough forward lean will always cause the skier to sit back.  In the case of the thin leg & not enough forward lean the boot will always seem too stiff.  Often folks will leave the upper cuff loose so that the leg/shin can move ahead.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffda View Post

There is another school of thought on boot stiffness.  That is, that you want a boot to be stiff exactly so it will hold you in the correct position for skiing.  If your boots are set up correctly and you are properly balanced in them, then stiff boots will ensure you stay in that position.  They will also provide you with sufficient leverage to move back to a balanced stance if you get thrown around.  If your boots are set up properly, you should be able to move your hips over your boots without needing boot flexion (your shins will be firm against the toungue, but you shouldn't need to bend the boot).

good post above!  If your alignment is off a softer flex will allow you to  find a balance position where a stiffer flex will punish this misalignment.  So, the  stiffer the boot flex the more critical proper  fore/aft alignment  becomes.  A  properly aligned stiffer boot  will reward accurate skiing and aid in quick recoveries when balance  is lost.  Your  particular  flex  needs  would be too difficult  to accurately  assess  over  the  internet  as  there  are  many  variables to consider but a  good  boot fitter  can help guide you in the  right direction.  There  are  four  important  parameters to consider  and  adjust in the  fore/aft plane  to view  some  3D animations of  these  parameters  check  out the bootfitting section  at www.snowind.com
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
All,

Thanks.  I knew there had to be more to it than just being able to flex the boot (i.e. just force).  Reading the posts made the light go on.   If I have it right:
 
You want the boot to hold you in a balance/aligned position. My analogy is the Marine Corps teaches you for Marksmen ship that you have proper body alignment on a target when you can close your eyes, rock back and forth, open your eye and your sites will be on the bull’s eye. If it isn’t, you move your body, not the rifle. This enables you to one, be more accurate because you aren’t forcing it and are relaxed and two recover more quickly because your body is doing it naturally.
 
For boots that means the alignment, when considering all parameters, gives you the same effect; your neutral position is perfectly balanced. The stiffer your boots are, the less FROM neutral/balanced you have to travel to initiate something - a turn, correct something, recover etc. When you do travel from neutral, your body wants to get back to it and does it naturally. You should only have to think about leaving neutral, not how to return to it.
 
Whether shooting or skiing, it doesn’t mean that having alignment makes you an expert, but it does mean that you will be performing to your full potential. For a skier it maybe more trickier with stiff boots since the stiffer boot is less forgiving.

I have two opportunities this year to visit a boot fitter that will be combined with other travel so I should be able to at least get the "That's OK but we can make it better" service from one of them. There might be other boots that are better for me but I think my current set up has me at least at a B- and I’m sure a bootfitter can get me to at least an A.

I'm attending a race camp this December and want to have this all worked out prior so the only thing I'll have to work on is my sucky technique.
 
Thanks,
Ken
post #7 of 11
 Sounds like you get it  Ken!
post #8 of 11
Geoff, Bud, Mike et al.  Great points.  That is one of the clearest and most understandable explanations I have seen!
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
So I'm off to see the boot fitter tomorrow.  We are going to go through the alignment process.  We talked on the phone a bit and he understood and was in agreement with what I was trying to do (increased boot stiffness so need perfect alignment.)  He was surprised I didn't have custom foot beds.

I'm leery of changing the footbeds (have green superfeet) because:
  1. The Gold ID liner in Krypton Pros was molded with them in there
  2. I have NO discomfort with my feet, though I do need to unbuckle at the end of the run.  I think this is because the forward lean is set to max at 15 deg and the boots are snug.
  3. I'm pretty sure if I get custom footbeds, I'll have to have the liners remolded and they've already been molded twice.
  4. I feel I already have custom foot beds because of the heat molding.
  5. I believe my foot is fairly evenly balanced.  Two months ago I was getting new work boots and they had one of those doohickies you stand on in just socks and it shows your weight distribution.  They said I was well balanced (well my feet anyway).
From reading through the archives, it sounds that there are instances where a custom footbed isn't required and though I want the set up for racing it might not do anything for me than make me lighter in the wallet.

Assuming the bootfitter is top notch, can a custom footbed improve performance so much that it is worth risking my concerns above (currently no discomfort, liner life - can only be molded 4-5 times)?

If this was a year ago when the boots were getting molded the first time, AND if I knew I was going to get hooked on racing, I probably would have gone for custom footbeds.

Am I underestimating what a custom footbed can do?

I'm not trying to buy a 1/2 second or anything like that, but I do want to ski better and one of the first things I'm doing is eliminating all my excuses.  Once the boots are aligned I'll be down to technique.

Thanks,
Ken
post #10 of 11
It is also possible that many overestimate what a foot orthotic can do.  But it is very difficult to answer accurately here because the answer is specific to your foot alignment and to the skill of the person making the footbeds.  In my opinion, a really well done boot setup including binding position can make more difference than the footbeds.  But again it depends on your feet.

Lou
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Lou,

I guess my question was along the lines of "Is cherry pie better than apple pie?"  There's the cooks ability and the palette of the person eating it.

Surprisingly the alignment that I thought was good, lateral, was off, so that is being corrected with planing.  He strongly suggested a conformable footbed but agreed that the footbed could be done later.  He said you should start at the foot and work out but since I was so hesitant to change for the reasons in post #9, he agreed we would wait. 

On top of that, I realized from the first time I ski this year until the race camp, there is only one week.  Even that is provided there is snow by Thanksgiving.  So if I did do the footbeds, which would have probably required a re-molding of the liner, I would have only a few days to get any issues corrected.  That would have been difficult for both of us.  I think the bigger improvement is going to be the alignment anyway.

Thanks,
Ken
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