August 29, 2019

What’s up with ANGLES?

Ski racing is all about angles.  The slopes are at an angle, the athlete creates angles as they interact with the slope for effective technique and their boots and skis and bindings all have angles that assist or in some cases hinder the angles the athlete needs to create. The devil is in the details – putting these angles all together in an effective combination.

Let’s consider boots first.  Boots have several angles. Forward lean is an angle front to back that is necessary for a basic athletic stance. Inside the boot under the liner is a base board or zeppa that has an angle, higher at the back than front and this affects basic balance like the drop in a running shoe.  A more flexible athlete can use less drop or difference front to back for better balance but that determination must be made by an experienced Boot Tech with an understanding of biomechanics, ski technique and binding angles to achieve the best package. The combination of these two angles creates the net flexed angle of the ankle joint, muscle pre-tension in the calf and the ability for the athlete to react quickly and flex throughout the turn. All race boots have a lower clog and an upper cuff and these each have their own angles side to side.  This determines how quickly and powerfully the boot can transfer athletic movement to the ski. These angles again should be determined by an experienced Boot Tech.  If any of these angles are not correct, the athlete may have a very difficult time with proper technique and possibly be pre-disposed to injury. See table at the bottom for the range of each of these angles.

Now we will look briefly at binding angles.  Binding angle will have an effect on the angles of the boot in a forward and back direction and must be considered during boot set-up.  Most binding companies now are close to zero “ramp angle” or have thin shims to adjust angle to best effect. Slight differences for different disciplines are often used. 

We have left skis for last.  Skis have angles both bottom and side edge that affect ski reactivity and ultimate grip in much the same way as Boots have those side to side angles that affect reactivity and grip. Both ski and boot bottom angles have a range of less than 1 degree in almost all cases in racing!  Side angles can have a little more variation depending on snow surface hardness.  These angles do not have the same effect on athletic balance but are equally important for a big smile at the finish line.             

So, what are the numbers?  (Based on strength, ability, snow surface)

Boots:

  • Forward lean: up to 200 rarely less than 150
  • Zeppa drop: between 8mm & 12mm based on athlete
  • Clog angle: usually 0.00 rarely more than 0.50 change either way
  • Cuff angle: usually 0.00 rarely more than 1.00 change either way

Skis:

  • Slalom: minimum 0.50-0.750 base, maximum 30-40 side edge
  • Giant Slalom: minimum 0.70-0.80 base, maximum 30 side edge
  • Super G: minimum 10 base, maximum 20-30 side edge
  • Downhill: minimum 1.00-1.20 base, maximum 20-30 side edge

See you on the hill or in the store………


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