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Back in ’89, I broke my right tib/fib. I fell at Hunter, slid through a wood snow fence, and over some vertical terrain. I sat up at the bottom with my legs straight out in front of me, thinking how lucky I was to not have been hurt; that was when my right Sollie SX91 flopped over. Happily, someone heard me screaming and notified patrol, who rappelled down to me, put me in a sled, lowered me to an access trail, and took me to the base.

When it healed, I had a right leg about 2 inches shorter than the uncustomized left one. Over the years, various things were tried with my street shoes: heel lifts on the inside, thickened soles on the outside. But nothing was done on my ski equipment.

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Fast forward to April 2011, around the time I met many of the fine folks on this website. Phil took a look at my skiing and suggested we try to make up the discrepancy on skis as well. I left my pair of skis with him (such an innocent time, the days of a one-ski quiver…), and he put a 20mm plastic plate under the binding of one of the skis. At no extra charge, he labeled my skis "left" and "right," since they were now dedicated to a specific foot. It made for good fun if someone wanted to try my skis (or if I clicked into the wrong skis), but the end result was it changed my skiing and allowed me to turn left and right in something approaching symmetry. I ended up having five pairs modified over the next couple of years, from WC SLs to DPS Wailer 112RPs.

The 20mm lift that I have been using the last four years was decided upon with the prevailing suggestion that an old (25+ years) leg length discrepancy should be addressed by making up about half of the difference. It was explained to me a while back, but I forgot why exactly. I can say that it feels natural, and that more than half feels kind of awkward (Phil and I played around with a few different heights in the initial stages).

In 2012, I upgraded my boots from Nordica Speedmachines to Tecnica Inferno 130s. In switching to a more solid boot (literally: I believe there are no cavities in the sole), we were able to deal with some of the discrepancy on the boot itself. Tecnica made factory plates up to 7mm that could be installed without much modification; this helped a bit with walking and demoing other folks’ skis.

Then, in 2014, I moved to Colorado and was introduced to boot fitter Jeff Bergeron. He suggested putting all of the lift onto the boot. Another solid boot (this time a Fischer Vacuum RC4) was chosen. After grinding off all of the toe lug and much of the heel lug, Jeff bolted 20mm toe and heel plates to the bottom, so that I now click into the binding with the plate instead of the boot. It added a fair bit of weight, but now I can click into any ski that accommodates my boot sole length, without needing right- and left-specific skis.

Here are today's boots:


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About author
FairToMiddlin
Height: 5’8” - 5'10” depending on leg in use

Weight: 190 lb

Years skiing: 10ish

Days per year: 50-70

Home mountains: Loveland, Copper

Preferred terrain: Powder. Failing that, off piste. Failing that, groomers for zoom and technique progression.

Skiing style: Power

Preferred ski characteristics: Directional (flat tail), minimal early rise in the tip, shorter-radius sidecut -- call it 20m or less, thereabouts. I prefer metal for its ability to iron out irregular surfaces, and a tip that doesn’t deflect in crud. Also, If we initiate turns by releasing out of the old turn, and tipping our skis into the new, then the tip should assist with that; give me positive response and feedback, not reluctance and vagueness. My reference skis are WC SL skis for frontside, Blossom White Out and Kästle MX78 for mixed days, and Salomon Q-Lab for pow.

Boots: Fischer Vacuum RC4 150, with major mods for a ~2" leg discrepancy. Because of this, I pretty much cannot demo boots in a meaningful way.

About me: Typically, I ski the I-70 corridor (I have passes for all of it), but I have the freedom to storm chase anywhere within an 8-hr drive of Denver metro. Often, it's taken me to Wolf Creek, Aspen, Sunlight (one of the best gems in the biz), and Park City. I crave pow! Failing that, I seek crud, bumps, and endless progression of skills. If we can suck at a higher level today than we did yesterday, we're doing it right.

Replies

I'm working on the same thing with a 19mm discrepancy. I've fabricated some lifts out of ABS blocks for my SpeedMachines, but am wondering what kind of adhesive you used to attach them to the sole? I don't have a lot of faith in just using fasteners for something that will see this much force.
 
Question: what is the immediate target/guideline/goalpost when building these up? Level hips? Is there long-term muscle tension/bias that needs to be accomodated, perhaps gradually?
 
Question: what is the immediate target/guideline/goalpost when building these up? Level hips? Is there long-term muscle tension/bias that needs to be accomodated, perhaps gradually?
The guideline is usually 50% of the discrepancy. So if it is 1.5", we tend to do .75"
 

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