Stance & Canting

Canting Ski Boots to Correct Skier Stance

Healthy human beings align themselves naturally in any athletic activity. It requires no thought or effort as our joints simply fall into alignment. In the lateral plane the knee joint aligns perpendicular to the applied loads. In simple terms the knees are vertically above the feet. Knock-knees or bow-legs are rare. But in skiing misalignment is very common, most often producing a knock-kneed stance. If you don't walk like that why should you ski like that?

This problem lies not with your ski technique, gender, age, nor with any inherent problem with your legs. It is simply that the ski-boot forces many skiers into an unnatural and inefficient stance because the built-in angle of lean of the boot cuff is incorrect for the shape of their lower legs. So to keep both skis flat on the snow they have to move their knees to the inside or, more rarely, to the outside. It is simple geometry and a big problem that is not too difficult to fix.

Using the KPS Cant Gauge this error can be measured and then it can be corrected. The result will be better skiing. Edging the skis will become a part of your natural movement rather than something that requires a concentrated effort. Skiing on and off piste will be much more fun. That is the bottom line.


Try to find a boot-fitter who is interested in this subject. The cuff angle adjustment built into many boots is the first option. Then material can be added inside the cuff to correct the fit. Finally it is possible to add canting shims under the binding or to machine the boot-sole to the required angle (don't try this last method at home!).


But I must warn you that you will find it difficult to get professional help in this area. ‘Qualified’ boot fitters are taught that cuff-canting has a different effect from that gained by grinding the boot-sole or fitting shims under the ski binding. In fact all these methods modify the skier’s stance in the same way and it is absolutely essential to get this geometry correct. Somewhere there must be boot-fitters who understand this issue but I have not found any yet. Some do make a start on this adjustment, but even they seem unwilling to make a full correction. Perhaps they fear litigation, but remember that this adjustment actually reduces the strain on your knees and hips, making skiing safer as well as easier.


But do search for someone who will do this for you. Be aware that many will try to tell you that it is not necessary. They will simply be repeating what others have told them. But in the end, if you can't find anyone who can understand the importance of this, do it yourself (except for machining the boot-sole: that can interfere with your binding release and is a job for professionals only).


Make final adjustments according to the way it actually feels on the snow, and particularly how you look a on a Poma or T-bar drag lift. Get a friend to check or to photograph you from behind. You should be standing up straight with your feet at hip width apart.


And remember, that while the KPS Cant Gauge is very helpful, you can do all this without one. It will simply require a bit more focus and determination. And it will take a little longer to complete your alignment canting.


Then you will be on a level playing field. The rest is up to you! As Warren Witherell said:


“If you apply the correct edge angle and pressure to a ski, and just stand on it,

 it will take you where you want to go.”

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By Peter White


IF YOU ARE A SKI RACER


To have shown the early promise that allowed you to advance beyond children's ski-racing you must be lucky enough to have a shaft angle of your lower shin that is a fairly good match to the angle built into the average race boot. But you aspire to be better than fairly good in performance and it is unlikely that the configuration of your lower leg is anything other than individual. During your career so far you have probably discovered that some boots feel good and others not so good. And we are talking performance here not mere comfort! This probably reflected the differences in built-in canting. Believe us when we say that this can be a very big issue and if you want to achieve peak performance you must address boot alignment and not simply squeeze into the latest race boot available from the team pool, your favourite manufacturer, or ski race supply shop. Educate yourself and gain a real insight into cuff-canting and boot alignment. The KPS Cant Gauge should help you to work towards perfect equipment alignment for yourself. A level playing field will be opened up to let you achieve your full potential.


In the September 2011 issue of Ski Racing Magazine, USA World Cup skier Steven Nymen explains that he runs zero degrees of cuff-cant (perfect KPS in other words) and comments:  


"Some guys are one degree in or out. It sounds crazy that one degree changes that much, but that's the way it works."


We can only agree. You will even feel the affect of a half degree change!



IF YOU ARE A RECREATIONAL SKIER


Whether you are a beginner or an advanced skier you can benefit enormously from a knowledge of ski boot alignment (or canting). The KPS Cant Gauge is a tool you can use to check your alignment. Optimise your equipment and, whatever your level, your progress will then be limited only by your fitness, application, and desire. Don't let your boots block your progress or your enjoyment of this great sport. A level playing field will make skiing much more fun.


Even novice skiers taking their first steps into the sport will make much more rapid progress if their ski boots are correctly aligned. The rental boots you are using could be adjusted quite simply, or exchanged if you cannot bring them anywhere near correct alignment. The KPS Gauge cannot teach you to ski; that is a job for your instructor. But if you can utilise the gauge to avoid skiing on grossly misaligned boots you will be better able to perform the basic exercises that your instructor will be introducing and progress quickly to the satisfaction of you both. I should add that most complete beginners are rather preoccupied with the on-snow lessons and are unlikely to see the point of messing around with ski boots, which seem like mortal enemies at first. So someone, you perhaps, will have to modify their rental boots for them. Unless they are lucky enough to stumble into one of the tiny handful of ski-schools that will take the trouble to sort this out for them.


EVERY SKIER


Every skier needs to wear boots that allow a natural stance. It is as important for the novice trying to master the rudiments of the sport as it is for the expert trying to extract maximum performance in difficult terrain. And it is just as vital for everyone in between.

 
YOU should ski on a level playing field!

GET your ski boots aligned. CHECK that they are by using the KPS gauge.