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Boot stiffness considerations for racing

TJP

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I train and race masters in Colorado. In the past I have trained and raced on 130 flex 92mm plug boots from Fischer, Atomic and Nordica.
My skiing has improved considerably in the past year with greater counter rotation and greater hip and knee angulation. On a good day I am in the top third of the results list.

I am now experimenting with skiing in a 150 flex boot equivalent with Lange ZC's.
I know better, faster racers my size (150 Pounds) skiing in 150 flex boots and other racers, also faster, skiing in 110 and 120 flex boots. This is confusing to me.

My coaches have always told me it is important to be able to flex your boots for proper carving.
I am able to make great carved turns with the Lange ZC's even though they flex very little in cold temperatures.

1. Will training and racing on the stiffer Lange ZC's hold back my development?

2. How does one choose the proper boot stiffness for racing?

Thanks in advance for your replies.
 

onenerdykid

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It doesn't matter what flex (or sole canting especially) other athletes are using- they aren't you. YOU need to be able to properly flex the boot in order to maintain a proper balanced position over the ski. If you can't properly control your boot, you will not be able to properly control your ski.

With that said, you can always start out with a 150 and have your boot fitter gradually soften it to a point that makes sense for you but offers more stability and power than your current 130. But this is a conversation to have with your boot fitter and your coach. Work with both of them to find your ideal set up.
 

Sherman89

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I ski/race in a Fischer 140, tried the 150 and found they did not work as well as the 140, took the 150 cuff off and replaced with a 140 cuff. I am 6'1 and weigh in at 210 and 74 and did 105 days this winter. Skied previous in a 130 Technica for several years before going to the Fischer a few years ago. You need to find out what works for you---don't be concerned with other people do what works for you. I ski in a 1`30 when teaching, the 140 when coaching/racing.
 
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Snuckerpooks

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Different strokes for different folks. A talk with a boot fitter and coach would be the best place to start.

It's best not to assume X because of Y.
 
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TJP

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Thank you for the many replies. I got a bit of insight into guidance for ski boot stiffness from Ted Ligety in this interview: Ligety Interview

Key Takeaways:
1. He went to much softer boots when transitioning to the 35M radius GS skis in 2012.
2. He cut multiple slots into his boots to get the softer feel he was looking for. (would be interesting to know where he cut) (Bode has a similar story with a torn boot)
3. He did a huge amount of boot testing to find the proper flex and setup that worked for his skiing.
4. He often skied with different boots on each foot as a way to speed testing of different boot setups.
5. He experimented with different binding deltas.
6. He typically mounted his toe pieces 1 to 2 centimeters back from the norm.

Marcel Hirscher was also known to be obsessed with testing different boot/binding setups. I was hoping for a shortcut.
It looks like the best way forward is to do a lot of in gate boot testing to find the best flex for my skiing and body type.
Seems impossible to predict without on snow in gate testing. 150 flex is probably too stiff for me at least for GS racing.
Slalom might benefit from a relatively stiffer boot.
 

James

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Yeah I heard that interview. The boot I think “he developed” with Head - that B series plug boot, basically has no flex. It’s a wall. The WCR series is much better I hear.
 
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TJP

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Could it be that the forward lean and cuff articulation is working for you, so there's no need to bend plastic?
Yes, That was my thinking. I ski with an unusual amount of forward lean.

Contrary to the trend of more upright stance, both Marcel Hirscher and Reilly McGlashan use two spoilers in each boot in order to increase forward lean according to interviews. Hirscher is also is rumored to have skied in repainted Doberman's which are reputed to have the most forward lean. Ligety also skis with a lot of lift now that he is not regulated according to his interview.

I did not want to accommodate the increased cuff volume of 2 spoilers with relocated buckles, so instead I have added 9mm lifts (non-FIS conforming) under my heal bindings on all my race skis to give an extra 4 degrees of forward lean in addition to using a liner mounted spoiler. So far that increased forward lean has worked really well allowing me to more easily maintain a forward position and consistently apply strong tip pressure at the start of the turn to bend the ski.

Maybe there is no need to bend plastic with my position, however, both Bode and Ligety advocate for a progressive boot flex especially skiing GS with long, stiff, large radius skis. Hard to make an argument against their experience and talent.

Bode's Take on Progressive Boot Flex

Ligety's Take on Boot Flex
 
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TJP

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Also remember, it is not just the flex, it is HOW the boot flexes. The way a Lange/Rossi plug flexes feels significantly different from say a Dobie. At the end of the day you need to work with your coach feedback and try different setups to find what works for you

Totally agree with this. Bode argues for the progressive flex of Full Tilts boot in the video linked above. That is why I have been experimenting with both Full Tilts and Langes this year. They both have a similar progressive flex that is different than the on/off flex of my Fischer and Atomic plug boots. However, my Lange ZA's have very little flex of any kind at my weight, strength and ability. I am considering softening the clog with cuts like Ligety or switching to the ZB or ZC model.
 

Zirbl

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Ligety advocate for a progressive boot flex especially skiing GS with long, stiff, large radius skis. Hard to make an argument against their experience and talent.
Then again, Ligety said he did that for the 35-metre rule, and most of the >27m skis were closer to the current 30 metres, so how relevant is it now?

Bode argues for the progressive flex of Full Tilts boot in the video linked above.
How are you finding the Fulltilts and Langes compare for other stuff, like edge hold? Also interested to know what tongues you have in the FTs, and what year your Lange is from.

However, my Lange ZA's have very little flex of any kind at my weight, strength and ability. I am considering softening the clog with cuts like Ligety or switching to the ZB or ZC model.
Thought you were already in a ZC.

Ligety also skis with a lot of lift now that he is not regulated.
My understanding of the Ligety interview is that he's referring to the overall height of the sole, not ramp.
 

bluefish

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Our daughter is a rising U16 and stands 5'4" and 130 pounds. She is solid. Rossi WCs packed out so badly 2/3 of the way through the season her coach would not let her ski in them. She wound up sizing down 2 shell sizes and got into Lange ZAs. Seems that her ankle is lined up with the hinge point of the cuff and shoe so she bends them just fine. Only took a little grinding of the shell to get her into them and her orthotics had to be ground down quite a bit to be comfortable and she now likes them quite a bit. She moved to a Rossi 157 SL and the Rossi 182 GS near end of the year after competition was over and believes the boot is well matched to the ski. It's all about what works for the individual. Liners are beginning to pack out already so have been giving some thought to an aftermarket like the ZipFit Corsa so she can keep them a while. Has anyone put the Corsa into the Langes?

I have been in Nordica Speedmachines for a while (2d pair) but have now noted my feet feel "dead" in them if anyone can relate. So, after trying some on found a screaming deal on a new pair of Head 140S boots. They will need some grinding to be comfortable and am also thinking about an aftermarket liner and ZipFit also recommended the Corsa. Hoping the Head will provide more feedback from the ski since I've returned to skinny skis for the most part having gotten into Fischer RC4CTs this winter and really like them. Great info on this forum so glad to be here!
 
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TJP

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How are you finding the Fulltilts and Langes compare for other stuff, like edge hold? Also interested to know what tongues you have in the FTs, and what year your Lange is from.
I trained and raced all year in older Fischer Soma 95mm boots with Gara LV liners. I just recently got the 2016 Lange ZC's properly ground at my fifth metatarsals and have added 3 tubes of omfit cork to my 2023 Corsa Zipfit Liners. The Lange ZC's ski well, but as I said, at an equivalent 150 flex, they flex very little, so the progressive flex does not really figure in. I have not been able to run gates with them. I should probably be in ZA's which are equivalent to 130's. With ZA's the quality of flex would be much more noticeable.

Full tilts have three problems that make them non-optimal for racing. First the stiffest #12 tongues rated 130, which I use, would be more accurately rated at 110. Even at my light weight of 150 pounds these tongues seem too soft to use for racing. Bode had stiffer tongues specially made for him. The Full Tilt rep messaged me that stiffer tongues would not be available as they were too expensive to produce. Secondly the width at 99mm is too wide for a proper race boot. I downsized from my regular 25.5 to 24.5 in the Full Tilts and am using a thicker zipfit liner to help compensate for the wider shell. I plan to C-clamp and heat the shell in an oven to make them narrower when I find time. The third issue is that the bottom buckle protrudes from the shell in a way that it is likely to boot out on the snow with high levels of angulation. This can be fixed by installing a reversed buckle which I have not done yet. All that being said, The Full Tilts have a remarkably different flex from all other race boots. The tongue actually stores energy when flexed and returns the energy when unflexing. They are great fun to use for free skiing. I did not have time to try them in gates, so I can't really evaluate how well they will edge hold on ice. I am concerned I would not be able to properly apply high pressure to the ski tips because of the soft flex. It is a shame the Full Tilt/K2 product managers have no interest in marketing and developing the boot to racers.
 
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TJP

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Our daughter is a rising U16 and stands 5'4" and 130 pounds. She is solid. Rossi WCs packed out so badly 2/3 of the way through the season her coach would not let her ski in them. She wound up sizing down 2 shell sizes and got into Lange ZAs. Seems that her ankle is lined up with the hinge point of the cuff and shoe so she bends them just fine. Only took a little grinding of the shell to get her into them and her orthotics had to be ground down quite a bit to be comfortable and she now likes them quite a bit. She moved to a Rossi 157 SL and the Rossi 182 GS near end of the year after competition was over and believes the boot is well matched to the ski. It's all about what works for the individual. Liners are beginning to pack out already so have been giving some thought to an aftermarket like the ZipFit Corsa so she can keep them a while. Has anyone put the Corsa into the Langes?

I have been in Nordica Speedmachines for a while (2d pair) but have now noted my feet feel "dead" in them if anyone can relate. So, after trying some on found a screaming deal on a new pair of Head 140S boots. They will need some grinding to be comfortable and am also thinking about an aftermarket liner and ZipFit also recommended the Corsa. Hoping the Head will provide more feedback from the ski since I've returned to skinny skis for the most part having gotten into Fischer RC4CTs this winter and really like them. Great info on this forum so glad to be here!

I use Corsas in my ZC Langes. Beware the Corsas have very little cork in the heal pockets. I have already added 3 tubes of cork and may need as many as three more. I estimate the Gara LV has 8 to 10 more tubes of cork in the side pockets than the Corsa. Corsas will likely need several tubes of cork added to fit properly in the Lange. Be prepared for that.

Head 140S boots are 96mm narrow boots. The Corsa is designed mainly for 92 to 93 mm narrow boots like the Lange Z boots. Depending on your foot width, I would first try to fit Gara LV's or World Cup sidewinders in the Heads with heating the liner and shell and using a race type entry. That will avoid the frustration of having to add many tubes of cork to the Corsas to get a proper fit. I ski the Gara LV in 2 pairs of 95mm narrow race boots with great success.
 

Zirbl

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First the stiffest #12 tongues rated 130, which I use, would be more accurately rated at 110. Even at my light weight of 150 pounds these tongues seem too soft to use for racing.
Interesting you find that. Probably a good example of how indidvidual it all is. I found the 12 tongues to offer no resistance as you move forward, but when you get to the end of the range, they're a solid wall, and I'm much heavier than you, with long levers.

So with the caveat that someone else's experience only counts for so much, have you skied with them much since grinding for the fifth met? My own experience is that if work is needed there, I can't get forward whatever the boot flex.

Something else you might want to consider if you're shopping for a new shell: from what I've been told, both on here and by a bootfitter with a lot of Lange/Rossi athletes, since the colour change the boots have been softer.

Another question: are you working with a bootfitter you trust?
 

James

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A za is pretty soft, probably softer than many 130’s. I’ve also heard from a fitter that plugs are getting softer in general, so a za from 5 years ago may be stiffer than one this year.
 

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