We stand corrected. So do thousands of others who ski better since they’ve had their equipment adjusted to accommodate the biomechanical alignment of their legs. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of others-most of whom could instantly ski better-continue to be shackled, either by bowlegged stances, which make them catch outside edges, or knock-kneed stances, which make it difficult to release inside edges.
“Stance balancing,” the harmonizing of anatomy and gear, is a complex and time-consuming process, most commonly involving the installation of cants (plastic wedges) beneath the binding to coax the body into alignment. But boot technicians believe that starting with the right boot may eliminate or lessen the need for cants. “Cuff alignment systems help a bit, but some boots are naturally better suited for skiers with knock-kneed stances, others for skiers with bowed legs,” says boot test technical director Jeff Rich.
We decided to test the theory, using the SGS, a new Dalbello boot with cantable sole. (See “Rampant Innovation”) To demonstrate the benefits of a balanced stance, we first set five of our boot-testers up in severe (but not uncommon) knock-kneed and bowlegged stances. The deterioration in skills was comical. Our experts were reduced to novices, arms flailing, legs akimbo. They stopped frequently to rest tired muscles. (Sound familiar?) When returned to their ideal stances, their skills returned also.
During the week, we measured how each model testers tried affected their stance, and noted whether he/she reported liking or disliking the boot. The result: In the same medal-winning boots, testers with moderate-to-severe stance imbalances had polar experiences. Both knock-kneed Janice Morgan and bow-legged Scott Thompson skied better in boots that favored their stances, and disliked boots-even medal-winners-that didn’t. Through this stance experiment we’ve identified boots that best suit either knock-kneed or bowlegged skiers. The results appear in our fit chart (“If the Boot Fits…”).