The KPS Cant Gauge (Knee Perpendicular to Ski)

The ideas we are advancing on this website are not new. Back in the days of leather boots the problem of misalignment did not occur because the boots were comparatively flexible. It appeared when rigid plastic boots were introduced. It got worse as the boots became taller and stiffer, and it has become even more important in recent years as the modern 'carving ski' has been developed.

The late Warren Witherell first tried to popularise these ideas decades ago in his books 'How the Racers Ski' and 'The Athletic Skier'. The simple truth has been lost and rediscovered many times. Today many of the top World Cup racers have their boots very carefully set up, but virtually nobody else has access to this expert service. Fear of litigation seems to prevent all but a small elite minority of boot fitters from giving this advice or making the required adjustments. We hope to educate them all, because fully corrected alignment should reduce the chance of injury. We wanted to provide links to professionals who will do this work for you, but this has proved difficult. It is impossible to exaggerate the resistance within the boot fitting industry to the simple concept we are advancing. Warren was frustrated by the same attitudes decades ago, and we feel the same frustration today.

The moral is clear: skiers themselves must take responsibility for their own equipment.

The KPS Cant Gauge that John Gorman has developed is a simple tool that allows quick and easy measurement of the misalignment of any ski boot on any skier. Then it is simply a matter of following through; and having the determination to make sure your boots are adjusted to achieve perfect lateral alignment with the 'Knee Perpendicular to the Ski'.

Remember the first thing to use is the cuff-canting system built into your boots. It is unlikely to give enough adjustment, so the next step is to add material inside the top of the shell at the side to correctly adapt the lateral lean of the boot to your own leg shape. You may have to consider different boots. Remember that insoles and footbeds are valuable aids to optimum fit and comfort of the ski-boot. But they do nothing at all to adjust the lateral alignment. And this is the most vital single element which determines whether the boot will allow your skiing to progress or block any further progress.

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Comment by Peter White

Regardless of the instructions printed on the KPS Gauge and in John Gorman’s booklet, I would encourage all skiers to aim for exact alignment with the centre of the knee on the zero mark. In fact I also believe that ski racers will find that they may want to go a little beyond this into slight ‘over canting’, particularly for slalom.

If you are an elite skier or racer you will undoubtedly feel errors of much less than a full degree and your final adjustment will be made according to how it feels on the snow. Also remember that your leg will change shape through the season if you are skiing almost every day. Check your alignment regularly. If your performance falls off for no apparent reason check it immediately. And, just like your muscles, ski boots can change shape during a hard season. That too can cause you to drift out of alignment.

Remember that John’s KPS Cant Gauge is simply a useful aid. You can work on your boots relying solely on observation of the stance you adopt on drag-lifts and the way you feel on your skis.

Warren Witherell noticed that the last incremental change towards optimum alignment had the biggest effect. I have experienced this myself and I am sure you will discover the same thing. Good luck and happy skiing.

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Make your own KPS Cant Gauge

John’s manufactured version is now sold out, and there is no immediate prospect of resuming production as costs are high and demand is fairly low.

However, in order to help those skiers who would like to use this effective piece of equipment, John has provided instructions and a template for DIY construction.

It is easy to make one out of plywood and you should find the effort well worthwhile.

Click the button below to open the PDF file and print it out on A4 paper. This will give you full instructions and a correctly dimensioned template for your home build.


John Gorman adds this message:

I have been supplying these since 1980 and sell about 10 a year. I purchased the last batch in 2002 and unfortunately it has just run out.

In the last ten years, manufacturing has moved on and it seems to be impossible now to order a small batch, or indeed any batch, at a price that I can afford. I attach therefore a detailed picture of the gauge and suggest that you make one yourself. 12 millimetre plywood would probably work fine. The production gauges were six millimetre PVC but this is more difficult to obtain and to cut.

Note that the slot for the boot must be flat and perpendicular to the line up to the zero degree mark.

Although I claim copyright on the design, I am happy for others to make them for personal use and I'm always interested in feedback and in cooperating with any manufacturer.

The results of any feedback and knowledge gained will be published on this website by Peter.

By Peter White