April 2, 2010, Newsletter Issue #292: Anatomy of a Ski Boot

Tip of the Week

Gaining an understanding of the components of a ski boot will provide insight into how the boot is supposed to function. It will also help you make the best ski boot choice. The hard plastic outer shell of the boot may offer varying degrees of support. A softer plastic shell will flex easily and be more forgiving.

In contrast stiff plastic ski boot shells are more rigid. However, these shells make the boot more responsive, thereby enhancing movement precision. In fact, the more rigid the boot shell, the more power you can exert on the inside edge of your ski. Beginners should choose a shell that is soft enough for flexibility, but supportive enough to support a correct skiing stance. As your skills improve, moderate shells will allow you to ski different types of terrain. Although these are stiffer than soft boot shells, they are still relatively forgiving. Stiff shells are designed for recreational racers, whereas ultra stiff shells are designed for pro racers.

The ski boot liner is composed of soft foam, which can be removed from the plastic shell. Boot liners regulate foot temperature and aid in moisture management. After you have broken in your boots, the liner eventually conforms to the shape of your foot.

Intermediate and advanced ski boots have specialized adjustment mechanisms that can vary the support needed for various conditions. For example, ankle flex will translate into more movement. However, high performance conditions require less flex.

The forward lean adjustment, along with the ramp angle, can change the angle of the boot cuff. These mechanisms are sometimes used to correct skier stance. If you are knock-kneed or bow-legged, the lateral upper-cuff adjustments can be helpful.

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