Understanding Waterproof Ratings & How Testing Is Performed
By Treas Manning
Every sales associate in every ski shop talks about the waterproof rating of a particular piece of skiwear. Many depend on the manufacturer’s product hangtag and some actually pay attention during the product clinics given by the company’s tech rep. But sadly, very few ski shop employees really understand the testing technique or what the rating actually means. Here we go, a straight forward description of waterproof testing and what those darn mm numbers mean.
STATIC COLUMN TEST
The Static Column test is remarkably simple and widely used throughout the textile industry. The Static Column is an acrylic cylinder that’s one inch in diameter and open on both ends. The bottom of the cylinder is outfitted with a watertight gasket or footing. The gasket is designed to keep the water from spreading out sideways once the cylinder is filled with water.
The cylinder is marked from bottom to top 0, 1-1k, 1k-5k, 5k-20k, 20k-40k. These numbers reflect the amount of water pressure on the fabric when water is filled to a particular mark.
The Static Column is placed on a suspended swatch of fabric and water is poured into the cylinder. If water starts leaking through the fabric at the 1k mark, your test is done and the fabric is assigned a 1000mm or 1k rating. Translation, the more water pressure a fabric can withstand before leakage, the more waterproof it is.
See, I told you it was pretty simple…but wait, there are some outside forces that can mess the whole thing up. Let’s say you’re wearing a pair of 40k backcountry ski pants and you sit in the snow to move around and get comfortable. Believe it or not you are applying more pressure to the fabric. That’s why the seat of your pants will get wetter, sooner than other areas. What does this all mean? Now don’t be disappointed, but even a highly rated garment can, under the right circumstances, give way to water penetration. Bottom line, waterproof rating is not an exact science.
HOW YOUR SKIWEAR IS BUILT AND WHAT IT IS MADE OF WILL AFFECT HOW WATERPROOF IT WILL BE
2 LAYER SKIWEAR . GOOD
A 2L or 2 layer is a garment that’s constructed with 2 layers bonded together. The face or outside fabric is bonded to a waterproof breathable membrane. A 2L ski jacket is going to be lightweight, and tends not to be as bulky as a 3L, therefore it will be easier to stuff into a backpack and takes up less space.
Now remember, the waterproof breathable membrane is on the inside of your ski jacket and exposed to wear and tear from rubbing again whatever you are wearing underneath. It is also likely to absorb sweat and oils from your skin and this is definitely going to effect the long term wear and performance of your garment, that’s the downside. The upside, like we already mentioned, the 2L tends to be lightweight and packable. It is also likely to cost less than a 2.5L or 3L garment.
2.5 LAYER SKIWEAR . BETTER (with some trade offs)
2.5L is a step up in the longevity of your skiwear item. Improved wear is achieved by spraying or coating the membrane to protect the garment. The upside of your garment is obvious, the life of the membrane will probably be longer if you haven’t really added much in the way of weight or bulk. This is a nice compromise if you are concerned about packability.
3 LAYER SKIWEAR. BEST (also with some tradeoffs)
A 3L garment is made up of the face fabric, the face fabric is bonded to the waterproof breathable membrane, and the membrane is backed with a protective woven fabric. The third layer is commonly known as scrim.
A ski jacket made with 3L construction is going to be more durable. It is also going to be heavier, thicker, and not as soft to the hand, but the life of the waterproof dependability will be greater. The downside, by adding the protective scrim to the membrane your garment will not be as breathable.
Lots of things to consider when selecting your skiwear. Cost, longevity, weight, packability, waterproofness, and breathability.
WATERPROOF BY CONSTRUCTION
CRITICALLY TAPED SEAMS
Seam tape has been added to the seams of your garment to the seams of your garment that are the most exposed to the pressure of driving snow or rain. Shoulder seams, seams down the front of your garment, and seams on the seat of your ski pants should be the areas taped. Seams that might not be taped would be the areas less affected by the elements. Side seams and under arm seams, and seams at the cuff are not as exposed to driving rain or snow and therefore are probably not taped.
The upside, not as costly as fully taped seams and not as much weight is added to your skiwear garment.
FULLY TAPED SEAMS
This one is pretty self explanatory, all seams are taped giving more protection from
leakage. The downside, added cost and weight.
Seam welding is pretty cool technology. The panels of your garment are either glued together instead of stitched, or they are bonded with a sonic technique actually melting the seams together. The seams are less constricting than taped seams, and they're also less bulky. The seams will actually have a bit of stretch making your skiwear more comfortable, and because there is not seam allowance fabric or tape, your garment will be lighter than 3L. If that's not enough, welded seams are much more waterproof as they are stronger and more resistant to water pressure.
Yes, you guessed it; the process of welding seams is going to add to the cost of the garment.
It is important to consider your needs and constraints. Budget can be an obvious constraint. How much use will your garment experience? Are you a backcountry skier where packability, breathability and waterproofness are a big concern? What about comfort?
FYI: A little side not. Ever wonder why Gore-Tex costs more than many other waterproof breathable treatments?
Gore-Tex understands that outerwear is only as waterproof as the design features of the garment. A ski jacket can be built with top of the line 3L waterproof breathable membrane. But if the seams aren't taped or welded, if the zippers are not waterpoof or protected with an inner and outer storm flap, water will eventually find its way in.
That's why Gore-Tex requires that manufacturers seeking to construct their garments with their membrane technology, must submit a prototype to be put through the riggers of waterproof testing. A Gore-Tex garment must also be waterproof by design.
There are many ingredients to a properly fit ski boot. One of the most underrated and overlooked aspects are stance or balance which is both lateral canting and fore and aft balance. Being canted and balanced correctly not only improves your skiing experience but also helps your comfort level tremendously because you are now standing in the boot where the manufacture intended you to be, not pre-loading the boot with your foot sliding to the outer sides of the boot. In this article I will be discussing lateral canting as well as fore and aft balance, or stance.
First, it is imperative that the skier is fitted with a custom unweighted insole built with the foot in a neutral stance. After the insole is built and installed into the boot, the method commonly used to correct the lateral stance issues is called cuff alignment, which utilizes the movement of the upper cuff of the boot and aligns it with the skier’s leg shaft or a neutral cuff cant. The neutral cuff cant is the preferred method in most situations, but many times there is more correction required than normal. When the knees are severely rotated to the inside or out, we use the movement of the cuff to forcibly move the lower leg in or out to achieve our goal of the proverbial flat ski. Many times just moving the upper cuff is all that is needed, however we find that most of the time, the cuff is not adjusted enough and more adjusting done.
Next, in order to determine if any more correction is necessary, we use our laser guided balance system along with cant strips placed under the boot sole at varying degrees to mimic the feel of a flat ski. Years ago we found that what a plumb bob or laser showed to us was more of a reference for us to follow to see what additional correction might be needed, NOT the perfect answer to balance a boot.
We also found that what the skier feels is the bottom line and what we are looking for in a shop situation is when the skier is on a hard flat surface with feet skiers width apart, they should be able to roll the boot in on edge without forcing it, and it should then return to a flat boot without slapping; thus, creating a smooth transition to get on edge and back to a flat ski. Our technique enables the skier to feel what we are trying to achieve, and also allows them to understand what canting or balancing a boot really consists of. Once the cuff has been adjusted, if further adjusting is still required, we use one of two techniques.
The first technique is the planing of the boot sole. More often than not this method takes the boot sole down to be incompatible with the binding tolerances which then requires a lifter, which is normally 3mm thick, and is installed on the bottom of the boot. Next, the top of the heel and toe lugs must be cut with a special router bit designed to cut the boot lugs bringing it back to D.I.N binding tolerances. The lifts not only bring the boot back to binding tolerances, but they also increase the skiers leverage, putting them a little up off of the ski which is something that many coaches like. Here at Granite Chief, we lift and plane ski boots on a regular basis. However, the only drawback to this technique is that if the canting is not quite right and or the skier does not like the way the boot skis, you have basically locked the skier into a situation that is difficult to correct.
The second technique we use here at the Chief is a correction technique called posting, which is achieved by adhering a high density beveled material to the bottom of the custom insole, in turn moving the foot inside the boot. The advantage of this technique is that the correction can be skied with, and changed later on if necessary. We find this technique especially useful for young racers who are still growing, because the cant can change several times throughout the season, so they won’t be locked into a planed boot with nowhere else to go. We see the scenario way to often where a skier or racer either has too much edge with a chattering in the turn, or they can’t get on their edge and their ski keeps washing out. Once any needed changes are made using the posting of the footbed, and things are skiing correctly, the posting can be duplicated in planing the sole of the boot.
This then brings up two schools of thought. You can move the boot to the foot by planing, or move the foot to the boot by posting. The latter gives the bootfitter much more flexibility in fine tuning the lateral balance of the boot and obtaining that flat ski. So, maybe the answer is a little of both, especially when working with large degrees of correction which sometimes will lead to the skiers biomechanics and physiology to actually fight the over-correction.
So when it comes down to it, what seems apparent as to the amount of correction as per plumb bob, laser, etc., is too much. However, this is easily adjusted when using posting material. Another school of thought we have used is to get the skier close to being balanced as possible through planing the boot and then finishing the process with posting the footbed. However, as far as the fore and aft stance goes, there is no perfect rule of thumb regarding alignment. The way we look at this is that it goes by almost 100% feel. The bottom line is what feels right and skis right, is right.
For individuals who aren’t familiar with the proper feel, we are able to demonstrate what an unbalanced boot feels like by having them stand on a flat hard surface and then adding lifts to varying degrees under their heels or toes, duplicating what too much pressure or too little pressure feels like on the ball of the foot. By doing this we are looking for equal weight or slightly forward pressure between the ball of the foot and the heel. Too much pressure forward makes the initiation phase of the turn difficult, thus burying your tip; while too little pressure makes the initiation phase difficult, while putting you in the back seat at the finish of the turn.
When it comes down to it, skiing will be the true test of the fore and aft balance. Luckily, it is very easy to change this stance if after you go skiing, it still doesn’t feel right to you. We have also been told that it even feels better to walk in when the boot is balanced correctly. This being said, come stop by the shop and see us! Let us show you what a properly balanced boot feels like.
Every year it seems that a ski company comes out with a new ‘revolutionary’ design that is supposed to change the industry. Some of these innovations stick, others fade away as quickly as they came. As for the 2013/2014 ski season, Volkl is the company in question as they unveiled the new Volkl V-Werks Katana, “The World’s most technically advanced big mountain ski.” Weight is the name of the game with the new V-werks Katana, with a reduced weight of 15% and carbon fiber layers, this ski will most definitely change the game in the backcountry.
The unique construction catches your eye immediately, with a carbon fiber topsheet, and paper thin in the tip and tail, it is unlike any other ski before it. Once you stop staring at this weirdly shaped future ski, the next thing you notice is the weight. The carbon fiber layers make this ski feather light, ideal for soft snow and touring. With a pair of dynafits these things would be unstoppable in the backcountry, a lightweight and solidly built ski would kill it.
Last spring one of our backshop techs, Mike, got to test these weird looking future skis out at Alpine after a couple inches of fresh. The first couple of runs were weird, this ski is unlike anything you have ever skied before, and takes a while to get used to. However, after those few initial runs, Mike was ripping down the mountain with a giant smile on his face. Mike ended up loving the skis, and would highly consider buying a pair, they are a ”super fun ski, lightweight, and they just rip soft snow.” We got similar reviews from everyone who tested the skis last spring, the new Katana is a super lightweight and fun ski.
With full rocker, a wide turn radius, and at 112mm underfoot, the new Volkl V-Werks Katana is going to change the face of big mountain skiing. While some innovations prevail, and others seem to fade away, we’re pretty certain that the V-Werks Katana is here to stay. “It’s new, it’s cool, and it’s fun, it’s the ski Batman would ski.”
July 2, 2013
By Andrew Tarca
A proper fitting hiking boot is a key ingredient to enjoying your summer months on the trails. Toe bang, blisters and sore feet don’t need to nag you on your adventures or take away from your experience exploring the outdoors. These annoying foot issues can be avoided by focusing on a couple main points while selecting your next pair of boots. One thing you want to acknowledge before selecting a boot is the style of hiking you will be experiencing. The style of boot you chose for a day hike will be much different from a boot used on multi day backpacking hikes.
The first thing to consider before purchasing a boot is the type of hiking and terrain you will be experiencing. A recreational day hike such as the Five Lakes trail or the Shirley Canyon hike in the North Tahoe region does not require the same boot many use to hike sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Short day hikes allow the hiker to select a boot that is lighter weight and more breathable because of the shorter time spent in the boot. Hikes such as sections of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Tahoe Rim Trail may require a boot with a little more support because of the terrain you will experience. Support can be found in many different areas of the boot. Sole stiffness is something to pay close attention to. Sole stiffness will provide better support and comfort over variable terrain. The stiffer the sole, the less you will feel rocks and roots underfoot. Waterproofing is also an important issue in a boot being used for variable terrain. If many of the hikes you will be conquering are spent at higher elevation, having a boot made with Gore-Tex can significantly enhance your experience. Stumbling across snow patches or wet terrain is always a possibility. Gore-Tex will help keep your feet dry and decrease the chance of “swamp foot” and blisters.
Once you have determined the style of boot that is appropriate for you, making sure it fits properly is the next and most important step to getting on the trails. The ideal characteristics of a proper fit are boots that are snug through the heel, ankle and forefoot, with a little room for your toes to wiggle. Toe room decreases the chance of your toes smashing the front of the boot, which can cause swelling and overall discomfort. Making sure the boot fits snug in the ankle and heel region will increase support. Too much heel room is the leading cause of blisters. The more support you receive from the boot the less you are relying on your stabilizing muscles to do all the work. If those muscles get a chance to relax we will get far more performance out of our boot and ourselves.
The real question is “How do I accomplish a proper fit?” The best time of day to try on a boot is the evening because your foot is a little swollen from being on your feet all day. The easiest way to find the appropriate size is to slip your foot into the boot with the laces untied. Once you have your foot in the boot, slide your foot forward so your toes are just touching the front of the toe box. When your toes are touching the front of the boot you should have just about a fingers worth of space between your heel and the heel of the boot. Make sure the boot is also the right width. If the boot is too narrow it may cause “bridging” of your foot and result in numbness across your metatarsal heads. A boot that is too wide may also cause discomfort by forcing you to use your toes to stabilize your foot instead of the boot. Instep pressure is a concern for a lot of people. One simple way to relieve instep pressure is to skip a row or two of eyelets over the affected area. This will decrease the pressure in the isolated area, without sacrificing performance of the laces.
Finalizing your fit with the right sock and footbed choice can bring your fit to the next level. Make sure when choosing a sock that you find an option that is either Merino wool or a synthetic material. These two options will wick away moisture from your foot and keep your foot as dry as possible while logging miles on the trails. Whichever option you chose, be as consistent with your sock selection and try on your boots with the same sock you will be using for your hikes. For example, a thicker sock takes up more volume inside the boot, and will make the boot fit a lot tighter. Finding an appropriate footbed for your boot can also enhance your fit by keeping your foot in a neutral position in the boot. By adding structure to your foot with a proper footbed, you will decrease the dependency of the boot to structure your foot. In return this will increase the lifetime of the boot and create a proper foundation for your foot.
To make sure you get in the right boot with the right fit, visit your local mountain shop for advice and fitting. The biggest mistake people make in their purchase of hiking boots is buying them online. Getting fit in a shop allows you to get expert advice by choosing the right boot for your needs and foot structure. This method is far more reliable then typing in your credit card number and hoping the boot fits right when they arrive, and soon to find out on mile 5 of a hike that you made the wrong choice.
MINIMAL RUNNING SHOES: What they will do for your running.
As I see what is happening with running shoe design it brings me back to a conversation I had many
years ago with Tamara McKinney regarding ski boots and how they should fit. Tamara liked a close fitting
boot, wrapping her foot but without stifling rigidity. She wanted the soles of her to feet to feel the subtle
transitions in the terrain. Unlike many of the ski racers of the time Tamara preferred a softer flexing
forward lean in her boot. It was all about skiing with your feet, feeling connected to the undulating race
course. McKinney, unknowingly was a head of her time as todayʼs running shoe manufacturers seek to
engage the runner with the terrain and elevate efficiency with improved posture and balance.
The focus of minimalist running shoes offers three main benefits; connection to the terrain, body
alignment, and strength. Letʼs take them one at a time.
1. CONNECTING YOUR FEET TO THE TERRAIN
Running shoes have traditionally had about 12mm of drop or ramp angle from the heel of your foot to
your toe. Minimalist running shoes are constructed with between 4 to 8mm of drop attaining a close
connection to the ground. Most runners fall into the 4 to 8mm drop category, effectuating beneficial
connection to the ground. Minimalist shoes are also built with less cushion than traditional running shoes.
Traditional shoes tend to be over built and over cushioned hindering your natural stride and reducing your
footʼs connection to the running surface.
There is also the barefoot 0mm drop and zero cushioning school of thought, this is where we first saw the
primordial barefoot shoe phenomenon. Who wears this shoe? The experienced, ultra strong,
fundamentalist. The runner that heads out the door with the purist barefoot running shoe is in perfect
harmony with the alignment of their body from the soles of their feet, through the knees, hips, spine,
shoulders and neck. This runner has developed and perfected form and stride over years of running.
As with most cutting-edge advancements once it hits the market the design and technology tend to settle
into real life application. The majority of devoted runners will benefit greatly from a minimalist shoe with a
4 to 8mm drop and minimum cushioning.
2. POSTURE AND NEUTRAL BODY POSITION
Traditional running shoes encourage striking the ground with your heel, this puts your hips and knees
behind the heel of your foot. Your heel is taking the brunt of the force of hitting the ground, thatʼs why
traditional running shoes are built up at the heel with cushioning and ramp to help absorb the blunt force
on pounding the pavement. A minimalist running shoe with less ramp angle will actually put your body in a
more forward moving motion. As a matter of course you will strike the ground with a mid-foot landing.
Your head, hips and feet are in alignment and working together to absorb shock resulting in less fatigue
and injury. Your overall posture is in a stable position and you will be more balanced and ready to react to
3. JUICE UP YOUR FEET AND LEG MUSCLES
Your body is aligned and moving forward reacting to the propelling motion of your legs. The ramp angle of
traditional running shoes force your leg to stretch forward and promote heel striking which leaves your
knees, hips and torso lagging behind the forward motion of your legs and feet. With your feet position
closer to and under the body your leg muscles are able to react quicker and absorb shock, resulting in
Minimalist running shoes have less bulk allowing your feet to move as nature intended. The muscles in
your feet are meant to be engaged and so is your arch. The arch is flexing and contracting to cushion and
absorb shock, it also adds springs to your lift off.
Many of our customers are skiers and as skiers know new technology that puts your body in a different
position takes some time to get use to. Remember when “parabolic” skis first came out, it took a few laps
to find that athletic balanced position. Minimalist running shoes will take some getting use to as well. Here
are some helpful tints to get you in a forward moving, balanced, ready to react posture.
1. READY YOUR POSTURE
Standing up straight get your body over your mid-foot. Just like your mother used to tell you; get your
shoulders up and slightly back, opening up our chest. Your shoulders should be relaxed not tense and
your arms should be bent between 45 and 90 degrees.
2. STABILIZE YOUR FOOT LANDING
Your foot landing should be essentially “pancake” and beneath your hips not extended away from your
body. Keep your knees slightly bent and flexible.
3. ADJUST YOUR CADENCE
Your stride should be short and efficient. To achieve a minimalist stride count the number of times your
feet strike the ground per minute. A count of 180 steps will shorten your stride, keep your posture in
balance and improve efficiency.
As in skiing it may take a couple of laps to reposition your posture and stride but once youʼve got it,
thereʼs no going back.
Gore-Tex takes on the running apparel industry by manufacturing it's new light up of "Gore Running Wear".
By Treas Manning
Why would a big company like Gore-Tex want to get into the business of producing running apparel? One simple reason; there's money in it; running is one of the fastest growing fitness sport, and just maybe Gore-Tex thinks they can do it better than anyone else.
For years Gore has been producing waterproof breathable laminates for the biggest outdoor clothing manufacturers in the world. It seems that companies like The North Face, Arc teryx, Marmot. and the likes will now be purchasing Gore product from their competition.
Gore-Tex has the most extensive product development and testing labs in the world. The standard they hold themselves and the manufacturers they sell to is among the toughest in the industry. Companies that want to hang the Gore tag on their garments have to prove that their designs are up to strict Gore-Tex standards and compatible with the functionality of the company's products.
Now Gore takes testing and development to a new level; a level that meets superior athlete performance. That's right testing on real people, in real athletic situations. We know that Gore is going to keep us dry from the inside out as well as the outside in, that's a guarantee! But now the giant is pledging to provide world class running wear able to stand up to the rigors of everyday use, outdoor performance and maximum comfort.
Gore-Tex has built its reputation on innovation and living up to their word. When the company says their product will do this or that you can be confident it will. They have honed a product management process that includes micro managing to the nth degree. All manufacturing factories are Gore certified and monitored under the company's eagle eye watching for quality; each required to meet a set of stringent criteria.
We are always being asked why garments made with Gore-Tex are so expensive. Companies like GoreTex that invests this level of effort, testing, and lab time, produce top notch products; products that last and perform as promised tend to cost more. You can shell it out once or you can shell it out several times, it's your choice. But if you're like the typical runner you'll want to reach for dependable quality when you're heading out the door; quality that Gore Running Wear has promised you, the athlete.
Check out our selection of Gore-Tex Running Wear, we think you will like it and we expect to grow this exciting new line of running apparel in our trail and road running department.
Ski Boot Design Is Evolving Because of the Way We Ski
By Herb Manning
As ski design has evolved with new sidecuts, rocker, and reverse camber, ski boot manufacturers are faced with the challenge of having to adapt to the new way we ride our skis.
In the old days when skis were narrow and long a skier had to direct energy to the tips of the ski by driving their knees forward, loading up the tips. This was necessary to initiate the turn because the ski's sidecut was so minimal compared to the sidecut of the modern ski. The technique that strong skiers had to master was the timing and power needed to set the ski in reverse camber, at the end of the turn when the camber was released the ski reacted to that energy release by launching and accelerating the skier forward with a dynamic increase of speed. Ski boots had a big ramp angle, (the difference in height between the heel and toe of the ski boot); this was referred to as forward lean. That lean was meant to help the skier keep the hips over the feet directing the skier's body weight over the front of the skis.
The way we stand on our skis has radically changed with today's modern ski design. We now stand on our skis with a neutral upright stance, more balanced toward the center of the ski; we ride the ski more under the foot. This skiing stance takes a lot less physical energy and gives the skier better balance. Ski boot design had to change the ramp angle of the boot board from 7 degrees of forward lean to only 4 degrees. The skier depends more on ankle roll then driving action from the knees so not only has the ramp angle changed but the forward lean of the ski boot cuff has lessened from 16 degrees to 12 degrees.
Skiing technique has changed to a more centered balance point and to a sideward motion to initiate the turn, allowing the sidecut of the ski to do the work. Ankle roll controls the amount of edge pressure to control the arc of the turn. The greater angle of ankle roll means more pressure on the ski edge resulting in a shorter radius turn, the opposite is also true, less amount of ankle pressure on the edge translates into a longer radius turn.
The best news regarding today's modern ski and ski boot technology is that it has made all of us better skiers. It has shortened the learning curve for beginner skiers, it has allowed the terminal intermediate skier to break through that barrier, and expert skiers are skiing faster, managing more extreme and variable terrain with ease. The bar has been raised for all of us; let's hear it for modern ski technology.
Fit-All-Fit-All Ski Boot Fitting Doesn't Fly At The Chief, and here's why...
By Gunner Wolf
Your ski boots are the connection to your skis. Even the best skiers in the world can improve their skiing performance by dialing in the fit and alignment of their boots and if custom fitting can give them the edge think what it can do for you.
This is not only what we do but Granite Chief is where it all started. We are the pioneers of ski boot-fitting; we developed fitting techniques out of sheer necessity. Many of those early techniques are still used today by boot fitters across the country. Out team of ski boot fitters is always innovating; inventing the Laser Guided Balance System, a recent brainchild that has proven to be more precise then the old plumb-bob technique. Many shops and fitters are still using this antiquated technique, something that we backed away from years ago. Our Laser System allows us to line up the center of the knee and the mid-mold mark on the ski boot. We have also developed a caliper used to definitively find the center of the knee mass. As boot fitters, the tools and techniques we have developed allow us to work within micro tolerances, something no on else can achieve.
With our Laser Guided Balance System and our Tipping Technology we are years ahead of our competitors. What really puts our work head and shoulders above the others is our experience, and that experience has taught us that there is no wham-bam fix-all system. Many shops have adopted a set system of fitting and run with it on all skier types, all types of fit issues and problem solving. We've been around long enough and we have a high volume of repeat customers to know that one fix solution does not work for everyone. An example is boot planing; yes boot planing is a great new technique especially for elite skiers and racers, we do a lot of boot planing. But after talking with some of the best coaches in the area we have found that planing may not be in the best interst of young athletes that are still growing. With these athletes we may be better off achieving balance and alignment from the inside of the boot. This is true for a couple of reasons; as a developing athlete's technique improves the skier may need to be at a different balance point in order to ride a flat ski and make an effortless, smooth edge transition. Once you have planed you have moved the ski boot to the foot verses when working inside the boot you are moving the foot to the boot, both accomplishing the same end result. Ski boot planing is an expensive endeavor, if your young racer is still growing how much irreversible boot fitting are you willing to sink into a new pair of ski boots every few months. Coaches are telling us they will ski behind an athlete to view stance and balance, what looked good early in the season can be way off by the middle of the season. Concerns expressed to us are that planing in many cases is too permanent and changes in the young skier's technique often overrides the previous balance point of the boot and if the ski boot has been planed the feel the skier once felt is gone, simple solution new ski boots otherwise we are faced with having to reverse the planing by working inside the boot which is what should have been done in the first place. In these situations we feel it is better to achieve balance with a less permanent technique.
Once we have the absolute leg shaft alignment we then use our Tipping Technology to achieve a neutral and comfortable balance point. We do this by adding shims bit by bit to match the predetermined alignment points. But again there may be a need to move slightly beyond or behind the alignment points. We are striving to achieve a smooth transition from an on edge position to a flat ski and vice versa. When we use shims to tip the skier's stance to balance boot alignment and ski feel we can apply micro adjustments to maximize comfort and performance.
If we are working with an accomplished skier we can start planing the boot from there but if the skier isn't quite sure of the on snow feel they're looking for we will work from the inside of the ski boot. This way the skier can experiment to establish their optimum balance and alignment point. When working with the boot's inner-footbed, (most likely custom/personalized footbeds), we can continue to make adjustments to accommodate what the skier or the coach is trying to pinpoint with stance and balance. This is where we like to start even with the most experienced skiers, that way the skier can go out on the hill and verify the balance, alignment and the required ski feel. From there we apply the more permanent planing process. Work done on the inside of the ski boot can be un-done, re-done, and adjusted. That's why we typically recommend starting here when working with young-skiers and more recreational skiers.
All in all our boot fitting and selection process is an educational one. We will take you through the basic boot selection process choosing the manufacturer and the boot model according to your skier profile; including your foot shape, skier type, where you ski, what you ride and how many days a season you're out on the hill. Yes it is a process but an informative one and truly custom one, that's what we do. You won't find a blanket fix-all, fit-all solution at The Chief.
And if you think for one minute we haven't seen everything in our 36 years of ski boot fitting, you could be right. We have built ski boots that have won gold and silver medals on the World Cup and the Olympics, built boots that have skied Mr. Everest, not to mention thousands of happy recreational skiers, we know that there is always a ski boot challenge out there. We are looking forward to putting our knowledge and expertise into action, helping you select your ski boots and helping to achieve a comfortable performance fit.
New Technology Brings Custom Comfort To Your Ski Helmet
By Sarai Stroup
There have been vast improvements in helmet design technology. When rummaging through your ski gear take a look at your helmet. Even if it's in good shape you might want to spring for a new one. The new generation of helmets offers improved comfort, convenience, and customization.
Smith has developed a new fit system with added adjustability called the Boa Fit System. By twisting a small dial at the back of the helmet you can relieve annoying pressure points. This adjustment feature allows micro-adjustability so you can get a perfectly tuned fit. Check out these Smith helmets featuring the Boa Fit System, the Vantage, the Variant Brim, and the Intrigue.
Salomon is coming on strong with their Custom Air fit ski helmets. The air adjustment system also focuses on micro-precision adjustments, final result, a comfortable even fit. In the padding at the back of the helmet Salomon has inserted an air chamber that can be inflated by depressing the pump valve to achieve a custom fit. Don't worry if you over inflate just press the air release valve. Out lineup of Salomon helmets with The Custom Air system consists of the Patrol Custom Air, the Poison Custom Air, and the Divine Custom Air.
Keep in mind that each helmet model is designed for a specific fit so it is still important to try on the different models. Once you have determined your helmet model start working with the micro-adjustment feature to refine the fit. We think you'll be pleased with the comfort and performance of this new generation of customizable helmets no matter which brand you choose. Salomon and Smith are the innovators of this new category of micro-adjustable fit systems, we highly recommend them.
Yoga, a mainstay for althetic performance and overall health.
By Treas Manning
Yoga is hardly a trend; it has been practiced for thousands of years. Though relatively new in the US more than ten million Americans have discovered the benefits of a regular yoga routine and the benefits have a wide range of effects on physical health and mental well being. Yoga, in its many varied applications can improve muscle tone, balance, and flexibility, not to mention yoga is a powerful stress reliever.
Yoga has also become an important tool for competitive athletes from a wide range of sports. For skiers, yoga poses that improve balance is an obvious benefit. Flexibility is another key component to a skier's top performance. But those are not the only betterments for the many skiers that have included yoga in their training program. A skier's muscle mass is usually bigger and stronger in the lower part of the body, after all skiing is predominately a lower body sport. Many ski coaches and skiers are finding that a more balanced upper and lower body strength ratio is important for endurance and injury prevention, especially in speed skiing events.
As skiers we are all aware of the injuries that can happen to the knee. Many serious knee injuries happen when the skier is trying to recover from a backward leaning fall or loss of balance. Because a skier's thigh and inner thigh muscles are so strong these are the force points of recovery which can add more tension than the knee can handle. A stronger upper body will improve overall balance and can better aid in an off balance recovery attempt while skiing. Another benefit of yoga is increased body awareness. This can help us in our everyday life with proper posture but to an athlete, body position awareness and the ability to move with fluidity and precision is in fact what makes an average athlete a superior athlete.
There are several styles of yoga and each has a different focus. Ashtanga and power yoga are more dynamic than others and really focus on muscle tone. Hatha and lyengar yoga concentrate more on precise alignment and can improve strength and endurance.
The truth is yoga in all of its forms has immense benefits for the athletic body as well as the aging or recovering body. Yoga can aid in improved health and the body's ability to ward off injury and disease. That's right disease; studies have shown that a regular routine of yoga has been associated with decreased cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and known for slowing the heart rate.
The imputation that many westerners have given yoga is gone with the wind. Yoga is no longer considered a practice for wacko vegan spiritual types. Although I never really understood the connection between wackos, vegans, and spiritual beings, the image did keep many of us from reaping the benefits of yoga. Today yoga is accepted by many for many different reasons. I guess you can say we have been enlightened.
Barefoot shoes- a whole new controversy is shaping up in light hiking and running shoes. Just when we finally get through the traditional shoe verses the minimalist shoe the footwear manufacturers throw the barefoot running and hiking shoe into the mix.
A traditional shoe like the Brooks Adrenaline ASR7 has a large padded heel strike area protecting your feet and knees by reducing the amount of shock impact. A shoe like this promotes heel striking and then rolling forward and off the ball of your foot. A minimalist shoe like the Saucony Progrid Peregrine is a very light, low profile shoe without a lot of padding for efficient and experienced trail runners, though the body mechanics are the same. We get it...then along comes the barefoot running shoe and the ballgame changes.
A barefoot shoe like Merrell's Trail Glove is designed to allow your feet to find their natural landing pad by moving you off your heels and onto a mid-foot landing with lower impact and a more aligned and efficient gait. In a barefoot shoe energy impact is absorbed with the ball of your foot, the ankle, the knee, and your hip rather than a padded heel of a shoe. The barefoot shoe manufacturers have design a shoe that puts the runner in a different body position resulting in a more consistent forward moving motion. Picture the "Keep On Truckin'" guy, when he plants his heel it almost acts as a brake and it also put his body in a slight backward leaning position and then with the next stride his body regains its forward motion. In a barefoot shoe the runner is landing on his mid-foot and the body stays over the hips and continues moving forward throughout the stride.
The barefoot running or walking shoe is not for everyone, you need to be open minded. Giving this new shoe technology a shot takes some time for your body to adjust to a new set of rules. Take them out one or two days a week on your daily run to allow your leg and ankle muscles time to stretch and get used to a different feel.
Granite Chief has a good line up of all three types of shoes, stop by and we will lay them out and go over the benefits of each. Try them on and take them for a spin on our treadmill. We guarantee you'll have lots of questions about this new running and hiking shoe technology. We're here to sort through and answer all of your barefoot shoe questions.
You Bet they are and I’m here to sell you one or two.
By The Chief
How things have changed…it wasn’t that long ago when skiers wore wool knit hats and toted bota bags. When we needed a little extra rocket power we would simply take a squirt of liquid libation. Our headaches were mostly caused by draining the bota, not from crashing at high speeds into a band of rock and ice
Today’s core skiers wouldn’t think twice about heading out without a ski helmet and most sport a hydration pack. Skiers, especially North Lake Tahoe skiers, ski hard and proper hydration is an important factor in staying strong and skiing long. In recent years the rapid advancements in ski technology enables us to ski harder and faster than ever before. Excess energy expended while skiing in dry mountain air can lead to extreme (there’s that word again), dehydration, and that can be dangerous or at least cut your ski day short. Hydration packs are almost as commonplace as helmets. And why not? Who wants to give up early because you can’t keep up?
The hydration pack technology has gotten very sport specific. Packs designed for lift access skiing are typically 1 to 2L capacity, while backcountry skiers might carry a larger 3L reservoir. An important feature for skiers is insulation to keep your water from freezing. Aside from the obvious, (it’s hard to drink ice cubes through a hose), frozen water can damage your reservoir, drinking tube, and bite valve
You’re probably thinking; one pack for skiing, one for hiking, another for mountain biking…that’s a lot of sport specific packs! Fear not, manufacturers like CamelBak have add-on accessories allowing you to “winterize” your all-purpose hydration pack. There are kits that include tube and bite valve covers and reservoir insulators. If you’re a multisport athlete this would probably be the most cost efficient way to go, (it hurts me to say that; I’m in the business of selling you packs for every sport imaginable), but if you’re a season pass holder with a lot of vertical under your skis, go for a ski-specific pack. You won’t have to mess with adding and stripping away accessories, plus, if you’re like most of us, you can’t find the darned accessories when you really need them.
There are several hydration pack companies on the market but CamelBak still rules the roost. You can even find skiwear manufacturers that have pockets at the back of their jackets equipped with equipped with removable hydration systems. For me that would not work. I can see it now; I forget to pull out a half full reservoir and head to Bar One at Squaw looking like a hunchback. Not that there is anything wrong with hunchbacks, it’s just not the look I’m going for. I’m going for the “well hydrated extreme skier thing”
There you have it; if you’re dough heavy, go for multiple packs. If you’re living in the back of your Subaru, go for the insulator kit.
Most importantly, ski hard and work up a thirst.
December, 22, 2010
The Arc'teryx Advantage.
by James Donahue
Year after year manufacturer Arc’teryx has proven to be a leader in performance outerwear, producing revolutionary game changing technical pieces. Arc’teryx started life with a mission to improve climbing harnesses, which at the time were bulky, restrictive and uncomfortable. Arc’teryx revolutionized climbing harnesses and built a cult following among the hardcore, and shortly thereafter began revolutionizing the outerwear and skiwear market by engineering some of the finest products available today. In this edition of Tech Talk I will illustrate many of Arc’teryx’s manufacturing techniques and product features, the company’s use of the highest quality materials, and the functionality and fit of Arc’teryx outerwear pieces.
Arc’teryx has developed many innovative product features and manufacturing techniques. Not the least groundbreaking of these manufacturing techniques is the use of Tiny Gore seam tape to seal their seams. As many know, any effective ski jacket should have sealed seams to prevent water leakage. This is most often achieved by “taping” the seams with material. The tape ensures that the seam will not fail when soaked with water. The highest quality products are 100% taped seams, meaning that every seam is taped. Upon close inspection you can actually see the tape under the seam, and one will notice that the tape is much larger than the seam; sometimes the tape measures ¼ of an inch thick, and often slightly more. The Arc’teryx approach has been to make the tape much smaller with Tiny Gore seam tape, the tape still does a magnificent job of completely sealing the seams, but Arc’teryx Tiny Tape reduces bulk, improves mobility within the piece, therefore creating a much more comfortable outerwear garment.
Another excellent manufacturing technique that Arc’teryx has been using is laminated Watertight zip, featured on almost all Arc’teryx outerwear garments. What Arc’teryx found was that a traditional zipper flap, designed to repel water, creates mores seams in the garment allowing more places for the piece to fail. The Arc’teryx approach to this problem was to eliminate the flap entirely and create a sealed water proof zipper. The laminated Watertight zip creates a tight water seal, while eliminating the zipper flap reduces weight and bulk to the piece.
The third fine manufacturing technique that I will touch on is their use of micro seam technology. A traditional ski jacket or pant is stitched by folding the material back and stitching it together. This creates excess material, and again, adds bulk and weight. Arc’teryx has reduced this material as much as possible creating tiny seams that measure 1.6 mm, far smaller than traditional seams. The benefit of the micro seam is that it reduces weight and bulk making the garment more comfortable, lighter, and allows greater freedom of movement.
As you can see, Arc’teryx has led innovative techniques to make their outerwear fit better, and more comfortably, while enhancing the performance of their line.
Throughout their process of making the highest quality outerwear, Arc’teryx has used only the highest quality materials in their manufacturing. Arc’teryx has partnered with the Gore Company and uses Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex Pro Shell on all of its outerwear pieces. Gore-Tex material has set the industry standard for waterproof and breathable technical materials. Only the finest materials are selected in house, and are rigorously tested, leaving the finished products incredibly durable and waterproof. Lastly, all Arc’teryx products go through a painstaking quality control ensuring none of their products are subpar.
If you are seeking the best winter outerwear (or layering pieces, for that matter) then give Arc’teryx a big look. Each garment has been designed with the most demanding users in mind. Arc’teryx stands behind their products 100%, and Granite Chief employees have done extensive product testing through dumping snow storms, frigid temperatures, and rigorous climbs, and have found the Arc’teryx line to be comfortable, stylish, and uncompromising in its performance.
November 20, 2010
What you need in the backcountry.
by James Donahue
Backcountry skiing is a constantly evolving and changing discipline. As equipment gets lighter and stronger, skiers are able to push further into the backountry, skiing more terrain in a day than previously possible. As the amount of terrain increases so does the liklihood of being caught in an avalanche. Any skier willing to venture beyond the ropes MUST have a minimum of five things; a partner, an avalanche beacon, a shovel, a probe, and the knowledge to use them.
I'll start from the beginning, a partner. Unfortunately I cannot make you more desirable to ski with, assuming you're showering regularly, (no one wants to be stuck on a long car ride with a smelly skier) if you're not showering regularly start there. Seriously though, your partner should be of a similar ability and fitness level as yourself, preferably has lots of backcountry experience, and most importantly a level head. Back flipping off a cornice on a three foot day may look cool, but is a BAD idea. Multiple partners are best, but remember, you want people you trust, this is your life we're talking about. Statistically women are much less likely to be caught avalanches, so if you can find a female partner to ski with then bonus points. Ideally you and your partner will have spent lots of time skiing together, know each other's style, and read the mountain in a similar way.
Second on the list is an avalanche beacon, also known as transmitters. Buy one you are comfortable with and is easy for you to use and understand. Practice over and over again, you can never practice too much. This entails actually bringing it in the snow, on a slope would be best. Have your partner place it into a backpack and bury it deep, then work carefully with your beacon. Understanding how beacons recieve is a must, read your manual. Often patrollers practice blindfolded, consider this. Avalanche beacons come in different quantities of antennas. Three antennas in your beacon is better than one, but again, find one you are comfortable with and practice, practice, practice.
Avalanche Shovels have come a long way since their inception. Modern shovels are lightweight, strong, and collapsible to fit in your backpack. If you are skiing with a ten or more year old shovel, consider upgrading to a new one. Modern shovels are a great way to shed excess weight, and decrease bulk, due to their collapsibility. I prefer aluminum shovels, avalanche debris can be rock hard, in which case an aluminum shovel is far more desirable than a plastic one. Find a shovel you like, and that interfaces well with your packpack.
Avalanche probes are another necessity. Your probe should deploy rapidly, be strong and lightweight. Modern probes stow nicely and deploy very rapidly often with a draw cord system (if you still have to manually connect links it's time to retire your probe). Probes give you an idea of how deep the vitim is buried, and will give you the ability to triage in the event of a nightmarish multiple burial situation.
Last, take an avalanche awareness course. At the very least it will be an eye opener and encourage you to asess and reassess your decision making. The cost of an avalanche course pales in comparison to a lifetime of mental or physical pain that can follow an avalanche tragedy. Avalanche courses have been streamlined to assure a quality education. Local Lake Tahoe courses feature instructors with years of backcountry and avalanche experience that is absolutly invaluble. Avalanche courses at the Basic level will introduce you to snow science, digging snow pits and reading snowpack, and will discuss route finding, a very important skill set in the backcountry.
Once you've acquired these tools, a partner, and the ability to use them all a world of fun awaits you beyond the rope. Have fun, make lots of turns, and most important stay safe!
November 5, 2010
Best of both worlds, computerized patterns with hands on control.
by Herb Manning
Our new Montana Crystal SR is one of the industry's best machines. That's why this stonegrinder is used by so many world cup teams. Just like world cup tuners we can assign your structure pattern a coded number and call it up for your skis. We can also take your pattern and tweek it for current snow conditions. The number of vario structures is endless and all of them can be saved to a chip card. No more guess work, we will work with you to find your preferred structure and have it ready for you at all times.
For 34 years we have been setting the standard in ski tuning and boot fitting. Our new stonegrinder is one more step up, setting us apart from others that take their ques from The Chief.
Granite Chief's new Montana Crystal SR will be up and rolling next week so stop by and we'll go to work on your custom ski base structure.
SKI BOOT PLANING OR CANTING...Is trickle down World Cup technology right for you?
by Herb Manning
Boot fitting techniques are constantly evolving and along with these evolutions come confusion and debate. In our 30 years of fitting boots one of the things that concern us is the rush to push World Cup trickle down techniques on the recreational skier.
One of the concerns is ski boot planing verses canting. Having fit boots for some of the world’s best skiers, be they World Cup competitors, Squawllywood film stars or hardcore North Shore skiers we plane a lot of ski boots. The caliber of skiers we see is quite different than, let’s say the skiers from Big Bear or Snow Summit. Therefore planeing and lifters are in high demand but that does not mean it is right for every skier. An expert boot crafter will know the difference.
With boot sole planing we can vary the degree of sole ramp or angle by as much as plus or minus 5 degrees resulting in quicker energy transmission and precision weighting of the ski. Now obviously, when you’re on a race course every nano-second counts and not just on the clock, but every ounce of energy exuded translates into a more precise turn and again, more efficient energy transmission. Improved efficiency equals less strain and fatigue on the skier, a skier’s run is effectual from top to bottom.
The skiing skills of many of our Squaw and North Shore skiers demand and warrant boot sole planing. It is not cheap and it is not reversible. It is important to get it right the first time that’s why we have the skier stand on a glass balancing stand, we then go through the process of applying shims under the ski boot to achieve a neutral stance. Shimming determines the degree of planing. Once we have planed your ski boot we add lifters. To ascertain the amount of lift is another critical piece of the puzzle. There are rules and regulations regarding lifter height for FIS racers, your boot fitter needs to be in the know. The other considerations are the skier’s technique, skill level and aggressiveness. The last step in boot sole planing is to grind the toe of the boot to acquire proper binding interface and DIN standard.
You’re probably starting to get the picture of just how involved this process is and that it is not for everyone. This is where ski boot canting comes in. Being in the ideal position on your skis will improve your skiing, no matter what level of skier you are, but if you are a recreational, non-aggressive skier, canting is a far better solution for you. There is another set of skiers that should work with canting and hold off on ski boot planing and that group is young ski racers that are experiencing a quick rate of growth. Canting makes a lot more sense when a young racer is changing ski boots every season or halfway through the season. We can still get a lot out of canting your boots with shims and leg shaft alignment. The canting process can be quicker and less painful on your pocket book.
Both techniques have their place and our boot crafters are experts at both. We believe that you, the skier, should understand that just because World Cup skiers and the best skiers at Squaw want and need ski boot planing doesn’t mean it is right for everyone. As you can see there a many considerations. When you seek advice on custom boot fitting make sure you are talking with an honest, experienced source. Ask questions to educate yourself so that you and your boot fitter come to the right decision, based on your needs. It’s your money, it’s your ski boot, and it’s your precious ski experience.
No matter what you use to get around on the snow, tuning is crucial. Granite Chief tuning specialists use the latest technology coupled with decades of experience to provide you the best possible tune for you application.
Using the Montana Crystal Glide System allows our technicians to produce literally an infinite number of different structures. Structure is the pattern that a stone grinder puts into the base of a ski. This pattern can be deep or shallow depending on the type of snow conditions (wet, dry, old, new, soft or hard). The pattern can also be linear, cross hatch, broken linear, or a complex vario structure. What is the purpose of base structure? Base structure breaks up the surface tension, allowing the snow crystals to track down and away from the skis. How aggressive the pattern of the structure should be is determined by the water content in the snow. The greater the water content the more coarse the snow crystals will be, dictating a wide open pattern to track the snow and release the tension between the base of the ski and the snow surface. The multiple combinations mean we can match your tune for your needs. It doesn’t matter if you ski powder or race the gates on firm snow, Nordic, alpine or snowboard your equipment will perform better when the appropriate structure is applied.
In order to have ultimate performance a hand finish tune is recommended. Our machine tune is great but our hand tunes are unbelievable. Our tuning specialists have years of experience working with some the world’s best skiers from a wide range of disciplines; race, freestyle, snowboarding, big mountain and yes we even tune skis for Nordic skate and classic skiers. Hand tuning techniques vary with the type of skis, conditions, as well as the skier’s preferences. We will cater the base bevel, side bevel and edge sharpness to your needs. That means maximum performance no matter the situation. With years of race and free ski tuning experience we have you covered.
Now that the correct pattern and tune is on your sticks it’s time to make them glide. The base of any ski or snowboard is porous like a sponge. That sponge needs to be filled with wax in order for them to go fast. The wax melts the snow and the structure lets the melted snow flow down the surface. The base hot wax process does a good job of lubricating the base of the ski. This is done by hand with a specific iron and temperature specific wax. This can be done several times throughout the season. It is crucial to keep up with this because if the base gets too dry the pours can crack and the ski will never be fast again. This is a must do no matter what type of riding you do.
To take gliding to a world Cup level requires what is called a Hot Box Cycle. Granite Chief has a custom built Hot Box that is used to bake the wax into the base of your ski or snowboard. The temperature and duration of the bake depends on the wax type and ski or board. The idea is to keep the base warm and the pores expanded to absorb as much molten wax as possible. Once this is done you will not believe the way you glide through the snow. This is for more than just racing. Smoke your friends in the powder and crud. The process will also lengthen the life span of your bases.
Granite Chief Ski Technicians have the tuning solution for you no matter your ability level or terrain preferences. Stop by and drop off your rides for the works. You will not be disappointed; in fact we’ll put a big smile on your face.
Waxing your skis on a regular basis will save you money, increase your fun and prolong the life of your skis. Wax not only helps you go down the hill faster it also helps prevent damage to your bases. Filling the pores with wax hardens the base of your skis making impact damage less severe.
Most skiers only wax when the ski’s glide becomes sluggish. Skis should be waxed on a regular basis. Waxing your skis should be as routine as changing the oil in your car or vacuuming your carpet, but perhaps with a little more frequency. As a general rule it is a good idea to wax every three to five days of skiing.
Some snow conditions require even more frequent waxing. If the snow is manmade or has gone through several melt freeze cycles the snow texture will be coarse. These aggressive snow crystals will pull the wax out of the ski base much faster than soft snow; using a harder wax will help combat this problem.
Spring skiing also requires more attention. As the snow warms and melts oil, dirt and other contaminants come to the surface; your ski bases become dirty and slow. Use a base cleaner or better yet perform a hot scrape to clean it up. A hot scrape is done by scraping wax from your skis while it is still in a liquid form, this will pull all the junk out of your ski bases. Be careful not to burn your bases with the iron!!! If you aren’t comfortable with this process have a reliable ski shop hot scrape your skis for you.
To take ski glide to a world Cup level requires what is called a Hot Box Cycle. Granite Chief has a custom built Hot Box that is used to bake the wax into the base of your skis or snowboard. The idea is to keep the base material warm so that the pores expand allowing maximum molten wax absorption. Once you have your skis Hot Boxed you will not believe the way you glide through the snow. The Hot Box treatment is for more than just racing; smoke your friends in powder and crud. The Hot Box process will also lengthen the life of your skis.
Bio-Mechanics Is A Confusing Word
That All Skiers Should Know.
All people move differently. All ski boots move differently. The combination can be great or it can be detrimental. Bio-mechanics addresses how the body moves. In this case how the body moves in a ski boot and on a ski. If the time is taken to set everything up correctly the end result can change the way you ski for the better.
What is Boot Stance Alignment?
Boot stance alignment is a system we use at Granite Chief to put your body in the correct position for skiing. It starts with a good custom footbed. The Footbeds put you in a neutral position. The footbed satisfies many if not all of most peoples needs. If the footbed does not solve everything there are many other tools to correct the stance. These include cuff alignment, sole alignment and footbed correction. All of these can adjust how one stands and moves.
What Are The Reasons To Do A Stance Alignment?
Everyone should do a stance alignment. There are race applications, ski school applications and recreational applications. The main reason to do an alignment is to ski better. It can also help alleviate knee and foot pains. We can do an alignment to fit whatever your needs are.
How Does Stance Alignment Affect Your Biomechanics?
The goal is to make the skier and the boot to work as one. How the knee naturally tracks has to be matched by the boot. How the ankle flexes has to be matched by the boot. The lateral movement has to be matched by the boot. All of these things can be addressed by a good stance alignment. The end result is a boot that works with you instead of against you. There is really no effect on your bio-mechanics instead the boot is changed to work with your personal bio-mechanics.
How Does Stance Alignment Help Your Skiing?
The end result of a stance alignment is better skiing position. Good stance alignment creates a flatter ski. A flatter ski creates more balance and faster edge to edge response. All of these things feel like power steering. Ultimately skiing is easier and more fun, something we all want.
By Mark Featherstone, Squaw Valley Manager
& Gunner Wolf, Chief Boot Fitter
It's the ski season start we've all been hoping for, feet of new snow and we're skiing top to bottom. By this time you've had your skis tuned and your gear stuffed in a duffle bag ready at the door, but I bet there's one thing you haven't thought about. Have you had your bindings tested to ensure proper release? I thought not; having your bindings function tested is probably the most over looked of all preseason preparations. Most people are of the opinion once the bindings are tested at the time they were mounted they never need to be tested again, that certainly is not the case. Think about it; ski bindings are mechanical devices, mechanical devices can fail and sometimes do. It's every skier's responsibility to do regular equipment maintenance to keep it all in good working order.
The Chief has always recommended that bindings be tested at the beginning of every ski season. A certified binding technician can find a potential problem before it becomes a real problem and a real injury. Over time your binding's spring tension can change and the screws that adjust toe height can loosen up. Some models of bindings have wings on the toe pieces and if these screws pull out there's nothing to keep you from pre-releasing. Another problem we see are worn ski boot soles, most skiers don't take this seriously. It's important that your boot and ski bindings work together as a unit enabling the binding to perform smoothly and safely. There's also the problem of dirt, grit, and grime build up that can constrict binding release. Let's not forget about all those hours spent in the bar after skiing, beer resin and peanut shells can play havoc with the safety of your bindings. Okay just kidding about the beer and peanuts but the rest is no joke.
In this economy we are all looking to save money and cut corners but binding safety inspection should not be ignored. It's no fun getting hurt and it's no fun sitting out the ski season. GET YOUR BINDINGS TESTED AT THE BEGINNIG OF EVERY SKI SEASON!
Not long ago the only skiers wearing helmets were ski racers, my how things have changed. I remember the first big rush of skiers purchasing helmets; it was right after the death of Sonny Bono at Heavenly. Within a month of that horrible accident we not only sold out our complete inventory in a matter of days but the availability of product from the manufacturers was nil, nada, completely sold out. Since then non-helmet wearers are a scarcity and now most ski areas are requireing that all employees when working on the mountain wear ski helmets. It has become shocking to see a knit hatted skier on the slopes. One thing we do see are people wearing helmets improperly or mis-sized. Let's see if I can clear things up regarding proper ski helmet dawnage and sizing.
* DETERMINING YOUR CORRECT SKI HELMET SKI.
Every store should have a measuring tape hanging near the ski helmet display, take the tape and wrap it around your head just above your eyebrows. The measurement is at the point where the tape overlaps. Bonzo Mega Head, you just successfully determined your garganous helmet size. But hold on, you're not done yet....
WEARING YOUR HELMET LIKE A PRO.
Take the helmet by the side straps and working front to back, starting just above your eyebrows roll the helmet to the back of your head.
* CHECK FOR UNSIGHTLY GAPPAGE
The pads of the helmet should be flush with your forehead. If the helmet comes down and around the sides of your face check for gappage as well. The hard part of the ski helmet should not touch the nap or back of your neck. some models have soft padding that drops below the back of the helmet, if this touches your neck that's okay. Other models have an adjustment ratchet to tight or loosen the area at the back of your neck; go for comfort but do not cut off the blood supply to the brain.
* THE WILL YOUR HELMET TWIST OFF YOUR HEAD IN A CRASH TEST
Have the salesman or friend place their hands on the sides of the helmet and hold it in place as you turn your head from side to side inside the helmet. If your head moves freely you have way too much room and you need to size down. Next try to roll the helmet off your head, if the skin on your forehead moves with the helmet that's a good sign. Now you need to determine if the helmet you have chosen matches the shape of your head. Let's say you have an egg shaped head; the side side test show too much movement and the front to back test seems to be a good fit, try on a different model, it might be that your egg head will fit better in a ski helmet built for egg heads.
* DO NOT WEAR YOUR HELMET LIKE MY BROTHER IN-LAW!
Your ski helmet should be worn so that the front edge is just above your eyebrows not slanted back like some inter-city bad boy. If you wear your helmet like this what is going to protect your forehead in a forward crash???? It's not a bonnet, it is a protective ski helmet; wear it like you're a seriously skier not like you're out on a Sunday stroll.
SUMMATION: Measure you head to get a size starting point. Beware of gappage and if the size determined by measuring your head moves around too much try on different makes and model. Find a ski helmet that compliments the shape of your head. First and foremost pick out a color that compliments your ski outfit. We don't want no egg head skier out there with clashing colors.
Granite Chief has been fitting and building ski boots longer than anyone in the area. At the time when The Chief implemented custom ski boot fitting and repairs to its already successful ski service center the craft was in its infancy. Many of the techniques used today were developed by of these early ski boot fitting pioneers. Gunner Wolf was one of those that helped to develop and refine various approaches to fit solutions. When you talk with Gunner about the evolution of boot fitting techniques and the industry's product development, on one hand he is excited and fully endores most of what has come down the pipe. On the other hand he expresses growing concern over the industry's move toward one fit solution products and the marketing behind them. According to Gunner in all his years of boot fitting he has yet to come across a single boot brand, liner or technique that works for all individuals and to Gunner this is the very thing that sets a great boot fitter apart from a good boot fitter. Great boot fitting is an art that involves listening, talking and analyzing each individual. A great ski boot fitter must be versed in all of the tools and techniques available and know when to apply them.
It's not just about the foot; it is also about a skier's ability, skiing style, body weight, mass and strength. How big are the skier's legs, where does the foot, ankle, and calf ride in the ski boot? Does the skier stand flat on the ski, or does he pronate or supanate? These are just some of the things that need to be addressed in order to determine the appropriate product and fit solutions for an individual skier.
Granite Chief boot builders tend not to be the first to jump on a product's band wagon. Our core boot staff has been around long enough to approach new tecniques and product develpment with a healthy critical eye. We don't want our skier to be used in a marketing push for the latest one fit solution. Most of the developments in ski boot fitting, building and product innovation are worthy of the early praise they receive, but not all and definitely not for all individual skiers. The skill is to stay in tune with new advancements and to determine the appropriate application. That is the way Granite Chief has approached boot fitting since the beginning. Gunner has headed up The Chief's ski boot department for over 30 years and has built ski boots that stood on the Overall World Cup podium, on the longest ski descent on Mt. Everest, and ski boots that won five Junior Gold Medals, and an Olympic Gold Medal. All of our ski boot techs have been trained and certified by Granite Chief's Gunner Wolf; think what they can do for you and your feet.
Back in the old days before Granite Chief was a Lange dealer we spent an inordinate amount of time fixing fit problems on Lange boots that we didn’t sell. We referred to the big “L” as job security. Now days Lange is a major player in our shops, while Lange has moved away from a very specific fit, we have found that a lot of the fit problems skiers brought to us were not so much due to Lange’s boot design but mostly attributed to issues of poor initial fitting at the time the boots were purchased.
There’s not a boot on the market that will properly fit very type of foot, the problem as we see it is there are quite a few inexperienced bootfitters out there that just don’t understand the very basics of selling boots. Most people walk into a ski shop with a particular boot in mind, it is the bootfitter’s responsibility to examine the customers foot type, ask questions about skiing style and ability, then fit them in a boot that best suited to their particular needs. With that said most ski boots still need additional customized fitting to completely dial in comfort and performance. Just like all boot companies Lange has made many design changes and upgrades over the years, changes that have made entering and exiting the boot easier. Their new buckle system enables a more precise fit with expanded adjustability. The one I really like involves the lower shell, which includes a near vertical medial wall allowing the foot to sit closer to the inside edge. More power baby!
While the Lange race boots still touts a close narrow fit the all mountain boots have a 98mm forefoot, while still somewhat of a narrow fit compared to other brands, it is quite a change from the old fit. The company’s all mountain boots come with an elastic power strap, this seemingly minor feature really gives the boot a round even flex and does away with the stiff sometimes restrictive feel of Velcro straps. Boots in this category feature a Vibram sole, great for walking around icy resorts and also handy when hiking off piste.
Granite Chief features a wide-ranging variety of Lange boots for men, women and children. We have had great success with the Junior Race program. While most junior boots at this level only have three buckles, Lange makes one of the best junior four buckle boots, plus they’re using softer plastics and lining materials to support growing feet. In this economy that is a major bonus.
It was always perplexing when skiers would buy boots off the wall in another shop and then bring them to us to fit. We would then have to turn around and charge them to make the boots right. When we sell you a boot, one; we get you in the right boot and two; any additional fit customization is included in the purchase price. You’ve got to remember I have been fitting boots longer than anyone around. Not to toot my own horn, but I have worked with World Cup skiers and total newbies. I understand the needs of both ends of the skiing spectrum and everyone in between. It’s my job to train our staff at Granite Chief, giving them the knowledge gained from my years of experience.
It’s been awhile now since we added Lange to our boot lineup and it fits in nicely with the other brands we carry. Lange has come full circle honoring their race heritage with a close one finger fit to a little more relaxed fit with their freeride all mountain boots. But if Lange just isn’t your boot we can cover you with Tecnica, Salomon, Rossignol, or Nordica. We’ll know what boot is for you just by simply talking, listening and anylizing. That’s what we do, that’s how we roll at Granite Chief.
Jetboil cooking sytem is the best thing to come along for backpackers and campers since mosquito repellant. To say that the advent of this product has changed the way we think of cooking outdoors is an understatement. Years ago when I hiked the Tahoe Yosemite trail, (in both directions), the most dreaded part of my day was mealtime. Not because I wasn’t hungry but because I was. By the time I assembled my stove, primed it, waited 20 to 30 minutes to bring the water to a boil just so I could start cooking my meal, I actually started thinking about snacking on my leather boots. But then where would that get me, probably sick and barefoot.
These lightweight compact stoves use FluxRing technology which concentrates the heat to make Jetboil a faster boiler than traditional stoves. With minimal setup time and an amazing one cup per minute boil time you can get food into your stomach quickly and save the leather for the trail.
We are all concerned about fuel efficiency and Jetboil’s 80% efficiency stats blow the lid off standard cooking stoves that typically range from 30 to 40%. A 100-gram Jetpower canister can boil 10 liters of water. Now we’re saving energy and money.
It gets even better when you discover that Jetboil components and accessories, including the fuel canister, nest neatly within the cooking vessel saving space in your pack.
One of the accessories I like best is the French press coffee maker, great coffee in no time at all. The truth is there are lots of reasons to upgrade to Jetboil. Check them out in our Camping & Hiking department either online or in our brick and mortars.
This is a question we get asked all the time, “are you sure you’re not just trying to sell me another pair of shoes?” The honest answer is yes and no. How’s that for a good sales pitch? But here are some facts that might clear things up; if you are running 15 plus miles per week on a specific surface than yes you need a shoe designed for that purpose. Most of us that live in the mountains fulltime run on trails and have very little need for road shoes, but in the Tahoe area many of our second homeowners or regular visitors run on paved surfaces when at lower elevations and trails when they come up to the lake. These individuals definitely need two types of shoes, road and trail.
Let me explain some of the features and benefits of trail shoes. Anyone who has rolled an ankle on a trail run understands the importance of a trail shoe’s low profile. Low profile means your foot is close to the ground, the thickness of the sole is much less than that of a road shoe. The benefit is foot to ground feel which enables you to quickly react to the changing terrain. Women know all about the danger of turning an ankle when stepping on to an uneven surface in tall shoes, like high heels or platform shoes. It’s similar to trail running in road shoes, there’s a lot of shoe between your foot and the ground, making it hard to read the terrain. You really don’t need as much sole thickness and cushioning when running on trails, the surface is normally softer than pavement. If you do need a bit more shock absorption an aftermarket foot bed insert will generally do the trick.
Most trail shoes are built in a neutral stance whereas road shoes are built to compliment your specific stance, pronation or supanation etc. When trail running the ground varies so much that the ground actually dictates your foot strike so being in a neutral last is recommended.
There are also construction and design features that are common to trail running shoes and not to road shoes. The tread is more aggressive to give better grip and they tend to be made of a softer material to assist in gripping the surface. Typically the shoe will have more durable material around the toe box for added protection.
So I guess you could say yes you do need a trail specific shoe if you are spending a fair amount of time on trails. If you live in the mountains and you are training for a road race you are probably training on pavement and you should be wearing a road shoe. To answer your original question, yes we do want to sell you a second pair of shoe, but only because most of us lay down some serious miles running both trail and road. Remember there are considerable construction differences that will make your run more comfortable, more efficient and safer.
There's nothing like a good dinner table debate. One that recently sent sparks flying at our house was the use of GPSs verse map and compass. Just like debating film photography and digital the lines were drawn between generations, but that is the beauty of a healthy debate, if you have an open mind you will learn and appreciate the merits of both.
The GPS is a great new technology and like all new technology the purchase price eventually falls in line with consumer based pricing, meaning they are much more affordable today than when they were first introduced. Compasses are extremely affordable and every hiking enthusiast should have one, one each that is. Here's why...
1. A GPS can pinpoint your location within a few feet while a good compass in the hands of an accomplished user can get you within a few hundred yards feet. If I'm searching for a buried treasure, (and I have been since I was eight), I'm going to want a GPS unit. If I'm in the backcountry and want to know what canyon I'm in and how far up that canyon, a compass is probably ample. If you find yourself lost, by sighting two or three landmarks and drawing cross lines on your map you can get a good idea of where you are. Depending n the terrain around you as well as your physical condition this technique may not five you enough information to get you back on track or to assist a rescue team in assessing your exact location. If I'm lost and injured I want a GPS.
2. Like a compass a GPS can tell you if you are heading north, northeast, etc. but the backcountry is full of obstructions like mountains, canyons, and cliffs; traveling in a straight line isn't likely. So you still need to carry a map and you must be knowledgeable in map reading, contour lines and the likes. Now if you are carrying a map and you had the foresight to plot your trip on the map back home you can enter a series of way points into the GPS and that will tell you which direction you should be heading. A compass used in conjunction with one of the new altimeter watches can be very effective at pinpointing your location as well as being very cost effective.
3. GPSs operate on batteries and batteries can lose their charge. Drop your GPS and well it's not much use if you have smashed it all to heck. what happens if it gets wet or you find yourself in a deep canyon with a severe overhang covered by dense trees? For many people there is something very satisfying about relying on tools that are more closely related to the natural world. they may enjoy tinkering with new technology at home but choose to leave those items at the trail head. Utilizing magnetic north verses satellites placed by man, using air pressure reading to estimate altitude, leaving the cell at home, for of us that is what getting into the backcountry is all about.
4. A compass, map and solid down to earth route finding skills are good things to have in your arsenal if you spend a lot of time exploring the wilds. There is something fun and rewarding in learning these skills.
For me personally I would never head out into the unknown without first plotting my intended route on a map and I would always carry a good compass. the GPS is another great tool that can come in handy especially if you get yourself turned around and way of course.
Like photography it's a good thing to know the basics of taking a film picture and developing it and that knowledge can only benefit your artistic and technical skills in today's digital world. Good advance map plotting only adds to the excitement of your upcoming trip. Compass and map are great old proven tools. the GPS is exciting new technology and getting better all the time. why not use both?
Friend of The Chief & Leader of Route Finding Workshops in Sequoia NP
The Duke binding is not a binding for the masses but it is a dream come true for big mountain free-skiers.
Those of us who hike to find the ultimate snow and terrain have had to boot up for the thrill of those sweet
turns on the descent. There have been some pretty good randonee bindings come along in the last ten years,
sporting walk and lock down features for climbing and descending but performance has always been a compromise.
Marker’s Duke binding has changed all of that by taking the best of both worlds and building them into one
With a 3 position integrated climbing aid, a free-ride brake, and a inter-pivot step-in heel system this
binding rocks! The Duke also has a DIN range from 6 to 16 accommodating most alpine and backcountry skiers
as well as a big bad Tom Wayes type skier with confidence, (sorry Tommy; he is sponsored by the competition,
Tommy won’t be riding the Duke). The skier weight range is 130 lbs plus, again a binding for all big mountain
enthusiasts. There is also the Barron version of the Duke that has a DIN range from 4 to 12. Both versions
share the same features mentioned earlier along with the triple pivot elite toe system giving added confidence
and security when falling and pre-release is not an option.
The binding comes in 2 sizes, small-265 to 320 and large-305 to 370 boot sole length and the binding
only weighs 2600 to 2630 grams, much better than booting with your skis on your shoulder.
The big bonus of owning Marker’s Duke binding is its rock solid performance when skiing both lift assisted
runs as well as skiing out of bounds and backcountry. This 2 fun in 1 binding make the $495 suggested retail a
bit easier to swallow when Marker’s Duke does it all.
Come on in and check it out and take advantage of Granite Chief pricing at $429. Our price on the Barron is
Darren Padgett Custom Boot Fitter & Hardgoods Associate