How to Stuff Your Boots and Achieve Alignment

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Alongside is the  sketch that I made several years ago - and yes, it was on the back of an envelope - to explain to friends how one could go about adapting a ski boot to conform to the legs of the vast number of skiers whose leg shape falls outside the range that the boot manufacturers presently cater for.

There has not been any need for me to change this basic advice.

If you are under-canted just follow this procedure to correct your boots and enjoy skiing in alignment.

I can testify that the rewards will far outweigh the small amount of time and effort involved.

It may reassure you to hear that this is not a unique insight that I have gained through Yogic meditation in my lonely attic bedsit. We are seeking alignment here not enlightenment. All this is firmly in the domain of the real and the observable.

Lange race boots used to come with small stick-on shim material that could be applied to the inside or outside of the inner boot to make small canting adjustments, and it was an Austrian race-coach who told me years ago that, if one of his junior racers was A-framed or too knees-out, he would simply stuff some padding inside their boot cuff to fix the issue:  “Ya, simple absolutely.”

Needless to say, this conversation took place as we drank weiss beer in a bar below the Hintertux glacier long after all the junior racers were asleep in bed…

The photos below should make it clear just how simple this process is:

This is one of my own boots. A total thickness of 3 cm  of material has been attached to the inside cuff using duct-tape. I used several boot spoilers - the plastic pieces that are attached to the rear of the shell to increase the forward lean. Built up one on top of the other they form a wedge that cants the inner boot, and my leg of course, to the outside. The result really looks a mess. Ugly and crude. Although it looks terrible it works perfectly. The cuff now effectively leans outwards to match the natural angle of my lower leg. Thus my knee is centred over the ski, my stance is no longer distorted by the boot, and my skiing is more powerful, efficient, and fun. And also less tiring and much kinder to my joints.

The fit of the boot appears to have been compromised, but in fact it remained comfortable despite the gross changes around the top of the cuff. The way the buckles fasten gives a surprising tolerance to these modifications. And the Booster Straps which I always use enhance the fit greatly.

The boot in these two photos has been modified by the addition addition of wedges made from carpet material covered in duct-tape to prevent it from becoming waterlogged or frayed. Again notice that the wedging that the owner needed was quite thick. Needless to say this made an enormous difference to their skiing. You can also see that these are very old and worn Lange junior race boots. They have been blown to accommodate the owner’s feet and have become rather leaky. Hence the duct tape applied to the toe box. Ugly boots but efficiently modified at virtually no cost.

The next series of photos shows how a new Lange Women’s boot - the RX100 - has been cuff-canted using self-adhesive high-density foam. The result is much neater and the look more professional. But the result is the same: boots that are correctly adapted to the owner’s legs. Thus allowing a natural stance and skiing that is no longer held back by an ill adapted boot. This boot has already been modified by adding the elastic Booster Strap, which I strongly recommend.

First the adjustable cuff hinges were moved to the position that gives maximum outward lean. Afterwards the KPS Gauge was used to estimate how much material needed to be added to further increase the outward lean of the boot to match the owner’s legs.

Layers of material were added to re-align the inner boot - removed during the process - at an increased angle of outward lean

After testing on snow more layers were added until the skier was happy with the result. During the process the cuff clips had to be moved out by one hole so that the boots could still be comfortably fastened around the skiers calf and the additional material.

The result looks neat and tidy in this case because of the material used. But aesthetics don’t really matter. All that matters is that the lean of the boot cuff is correctly aligned with the skiers leg so that the knees sit vertically above the centre of the flat ski. We are aiming for KPS.

Using these methods everything can be undone if you get it wrong or if this doesn’t work for you for some reason. You may as well try it.

You really don’t need a lot of kit or much skill to do this for yourself. All you need is the will to try it and sufficient determination to see it through. Just do it. See how it feels. Refine it. And enjoy it!

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By Peter White

Just a couple more things to bear in mind. Note how much adjustment has been made to the Orange Salomon boots. Almost 3 cm of packing was added, which is a huge modification. So don’t be afraid to make big changes.

On the other hand if you are a ski-racer, an instructor, or any other elite-level skier you wouldn’t have got as far as you have unless you are already somewhere in the ballpark. But the last small incremental changes actually have the greatest affect. You may be amazed to discover that a relatively small adjustment will push your skiing even further.

Whatever your level explore the other pages on the website. There is a lot of repetition, but this is in the spirit of a ski instructor trying to get the a point across by explaining it in several different ways to get the whole class on board. Happy skiing.