Canting and stance balancing have been getting a lot of
attention these days in the alpine world and yet for some reason
telemarkers have not really embraced these concepts. Just as
telemark ski design has improved and benefited from the influence
(and R&D dollars) of the alpine manufacturers, we tele skiers
can also reap the rewards that this wave of attention to good
boot fit and alignment has brought to the subject.
Why Telemarkers Now Need to Emulate
the Alpine Crowd
Alpine skiers are generally riding one edge at a time,
the inside, big toe edge. This makes the inside edge critical
to the alpine carve. Tele skiers are riding both skis, pressuring
with two different parts of the foot, the big toe and the little
toe. Perhaps this is why canting has not gotten the attention
in the tele community that it deserves. The benefits are less
obvious: if a telemarker is bow-legged, for example, he will
have a hard time pressuring that inside (lead ski edge) but unlike
the alpine guy, he has the outside (trailing ski) edge to fall
back on and it just may be that being bow-legged may help that
ski get up on edge. Still, this imbalance can only hurt by keeping
the telemarker from achieving the balanced fore and aft carving
stance we are all looking for.
Surprisingly, I have talked to telemarker'
s with newer T-1's who have ignored the cant control on
their cuffs. One even told me that the guy he bought his boots
from told him not to bother with them and that they were just
For many years canting for tele skiing was not as important
as it is today. Modern tele boots with those stiff, high upper
cuffs make lower leg alignment just as crucial as it is for skiers
wearing stiff alpine boots. The downhill crowd has known about
this for years, now telemarkers need to take a good look at canting
First Step: Check Your Alignment
On Snow Checks
Try this out for yourself on the snow: on a gentle hill
try to straight run while picking up one ski, try to maintain
a straight line, can you do it? Do you tend to turn? This is
a sign that you may want to check your alignment.
Another on snow check, suggested to me by telemarker and
alpine instructor Jim Brown, is to do 360's on a gentle slope.
If one direction is more difficult than the other, or one set
of edges tends to grab, it is another definate sign of alignment
An Off Snow Check
A way to check if your legs are bowed or to
determine if you need special
adjustments with your sports shoes or boots is to stand straight
your legs together by gradually sliding your feet until both
ankles OR knees
touch. If your ankles and knees touch at the same time your legs
aligned. If your ankles touch first, you're probably bow legged.
Conversely, if your knees touch first, you're probably know-kneed.
cases, you may need canting your equipment.
Are you bow-legged or knock-kneed? or are you one of those
rare people who has neither of these traits? Alpine boot techs
will tell you that about 80 to 90 percent of skiers benefit from
some kind of canting. Take a look at your running shoes, is the
wear pattern on the heel to the inside (pronation) or the outside
(suprination) of the shoe. Bow-legged folks are generally suprinators
and knock-kneed people pronators. I discovered my own alignment
problem a few years back by simply looking in a mirror, I saw
that my lower legs looked a bit bow-legged and that if I rolled
my my weight onto the inside (big toe) part of my feet that my
legs immediately looked straighter. I then took a look at the
spot on my legs where the hair is permanently rubbed off from
friction with the boot top. Sure enough, the bald spot was not
centered on the front of the shin but markedly off to the outside
on both legs. What had this pressure on the outside portion of
the cuff been doing to my skiing all this time?
My neutral bare foot stance
Stance with weight on inside part of foot
My neutral booted up stance
Step 2: Figuring Out What To Do About
From the pictures it is fairly easy to see my problem.
The shot on the left shows a bit of bow-leggedness. It even looks
as though my left big toe is off the ground. In the middle picture
I tried to roll my feet in and get my weight on the inside part
of my foot. The lower leg now has a bit better alignment, this
tells me that building up the foot bed on the outside will help
with the upper leg alignment. The photo on the right shows clearly
the effect of my neutral stance with a stock foot bed and no
cuff canting adjustment. My weight is on the outside of the boot
sole and the inside of the boot is off the ground. Locked into
a tight cable binding this force to the outside would be transmitted
to the ski. The middle picture gives us a clue to the course
of action and it is obvious from the right picture that a cant
adjustable cuff would help.
Step 3: Doing it
Ideally the best course of action is a custom foot bed
and a cant control for the cuff like on the Terminator 1. Before
consulting an expert though I decided to try something for myself.
I experimented with my old T-1's, I glued strips of neoprene,
cut from a Dr. Scholl's insole from the drug store, along the
outside edge of the stock Scarpa foot bed. (building up the inside
part of the foot bed may seem like the way to flatten out the
ski, but for a knock-kneed person this seems to send the lower
leg further out of whack and puts more pressure on the outside
of the cuff). I immediately noticed a big difference in my skiing,
it was much easier to get up on the inside edge, I didn't feel
like I was fighting it like before. This experiment cost just
few dollars and encouraged me to seek out a custom foot bed.
Now, with a foot bed made for my situation, and an adjustable
cuff, I find my skiing more effortless then ever before. Even
without the adjustable cuff, building up the foot bed made a
big difference in my lower leg alignment.
The difference is noticeable even in pictures!
Take a good look at your neutral stance, both bare-footed
and with your boots on. Do you see anything going on there? Look
at your tele boots, is there wear to one side or the other on
the heels from hiking? If so, experiment a bit before spending
the big bucks on custom foot beds, find out what might work for
you then take this knowledge to a good boot fitter and get in
proper alignment. You will be glad you did.
One more note, this short article is by no means complete.
I just wanted to produce a simple story on a complex subject.
It is an attempt to spark your interest in canting and alignment.
I am in touch with some professionals in this area and hope to
have more on the subject in the future.
A Couple of Questions
I suppose you could try canting the binding, have any of
you out there tried this?
Is there anyone out there specializing in telemark boot
canting and fit?
Let me know if you have any input on this subject, thanks,