Ski Boot alignment – To Cant or not to Cant?

CANTING! What is it?
Some people might not even know that most ski boots have ‘Canting’ or similar on the sides of the cuff, but what’s it for & should you touch it?

Really it means alignment, to make sure the Ski boot & your lower leg line up perfectly, but it’s a bit more complex than you might think! With the help from our friends at Solution 4 Feet, we’ve given you an overview.

To Cant or not to Cant

Canting is described wrongly in many cases, mostly as people have been lead to believe something which is not true…. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and along with some boot manufacturers labelling parts of a boot as “canting” instead of “cuff adjustment” this adds fuel to the fire. So what does each type of adjustment actually do and why is it confused.

Alignment starts with both feet to find your best position

Cuff adjustment /shaft alignment (often wrongly called canting) This is the adjustment at the ankle pivot points of a ski boot, the purpose is very simple…. By adjusting this setting we are aiming to get the boot to follow the contour of the lower leg… so if the tibia is bowed outwards (genu varum) the cuff would be moved out, if the tibial shape is more knock kneed stance (genu valgum) then the cuff would be moved inwards.

The ultimate aim is that the ski sits flat on the snow! This adjustment is not designed to try and correct a bow legged or knock kneed skier as many people think, and by adjusting the cuff of the boot as such, the most likely result is a skier whose body will resist the changes and forces the ski further onto the edge that you were trying to stop them standing on.
To make the adjustment is very simple, it is not something you can do alone on your own boots and it is not something to be doing on the hill when boots are cold and wet. The liner should be removed from the shell and the foot put into the empty shell but on top of the custom footbed, pull the foot and footbed to the back of the shell and stand in a neutral position with the cuffs loosely clipped and feet hip width apart…. The adjustment is correct when the skiers leg sits equidistant from either side of the cuff at the top…. If the leg sits closer to the inside then move the cuff to the inside in an effort to get the spacing equal either side of the leg. Often the adjustment on the boot does not allow enough throw to get the leg perfectly central and this is when a bit more creative adjustment is required… do the opposite if the skiers leg is towards the outside edge of the shell (move the cuff outwards)
As you can see this is an accommodative adjustment not a corrective one, we are simply accommodating the shape of the lower leg within the cuff of the boot.

Checking alignment on each leg is important as you will weight one ski more than the other when you ski.

Inside the boot (again not true canting) there is a method of altering balance inside the boot using shims by SBS an American company (shim balance system) these shims are used to fine tune the fit of the footbed and boot by adding a wedged shim between the liner and the base board of the boot, whilst again this is not true canting it can have an effect on balance and for many people if used in conjunction with a well-made footbed in the correct boot can be beneficial.

Under boot Canting
Under boot canting is true canting this adjustment tips the entire ski boot and can have a dramatic effect on knee position, this is the way that a knock kneed or bow legged stance is minimised. It can also be used for performance reasons with speed and technical discipline athletes to build a better stance for the particular needs of the athlete.

For many people this is a revelation in skiing the difference between not being able to find an edge and having a precise grip on the snow throughout the turn. The very first thing I must say about having these adjustments made is select your boot fitter carefully! Whist there are a lot of shops out there proclaiming that they can adjust canting only a few have the correct tools and knowledge to do this job properly. Many will adjust the cuffs of your boot and claim that the job is finished.

Prior to any canting assessment it is critical that the boots you have are a good fit, the footbeds you have a stable and doing their job properly and that you have no pre-existing injuries that you have not disclosed. Any issues in the above will result in a poor outcome at very best.
We have already discussed the cuff adjustment and its purpose of getting the skier to stand on a flat ski, true under boot canting is taking this one stage further and having the skier stand on a flat ski with a strong neutral stance (no knock kneed or bow legged position)

Assessment is the key to getting a good result and there are a number of differing systems on the market and these, along with the good old fashioned plumb bob and a tape measure can be used to get a good idea of how much adjustment is required. It is critical that both a static and a dynamic assessment is carried out, things can change in some cases from standing on a hard surface (static) to a floating surface (dynamic)
Obviously (well maybe not that obviously) there is a limit to how far we can cant a boot, the industry norm is 3 degrees if we are tipping the boot outwards, but only 2 degrees if we are tipping the boot inwards, this is to protect the joint space of the knee. Even with these limits it is important that the skier has sufficient joint space in the knee and hip to allow the adjustments to be made, often times I have found a skier where perfection would be 2.5 degrees but reality states that 2.0 was more comfortable for them… essentially putting this skier where they should be hurt their body, they felt muscle strain and pull, yet by backing off even just a little they got a better stance and no pains. Each and every case is individual sometimes you are going to get the skier flat and with parallel shins, other times you might have to settle for flat skis and a bit of deviation in the legs.
In days gone by (think long straight skis) the ideal position was for the centre of knee mass (not always the centre of the patella) to be between 1 and 2 degrees inside the centre line of the boot, with a modern ski (due to the shape) we need to be aiming for dead centre, if not the ski will constantly be on its edge.

The number of boots which can be canted has taken a massive leap forward over the past couple of years, in the past it was only solid soled race type boots which could be adjusted and this required a very specialist boot milling machine, now a vast number of boots can be adjusted by using either own brand cant shims or a 3rd party product from cantology which allows you to insert an angled milled shim between the shell of the boot and the replaceable sole pads. Below is a list of boots which can be canted using a shim system of some sort, it is correct at time of writing but you must check with your shop if they offer the shims for the particular boot you have, all solid soled race boots can be milled for canting and have lifters added but this requires more specialist machinery so again check if the store has the equipment to do this work.

Rossignol / Lange: all current alpine models and WTR soles
Salomon: X Max
Tecnica: Mach 1 boot range
Full Tilt: seth morrison/tom wallish/first chair
Nordica: current GPX and Speed machine
Atomic : Hawx Ultra
Head: Vector evo / Adapt edge

To check what can be done to your current boots or to book a full alignment assessment call

Solutions 4 Feet on 01869 244424 or your nearest certified boot fitting store.

Content JCSki & Colin @ Solutions4Feet

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