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heel lifts on hard shells

DeanoskiDeanoski Posts: 727 Crazy Baller
I have a ski partner has use a heel lift under the front foot of his goode shell. I cant make a pass if I don't flatten the shell out and have no heel lift at all. what do most use? stock or flatten the shell out or heel lifts. heel lifts make you sit back so why would you use them?



  • DanEDanE Posts: 819 Crazy Baller
    @Deanoski Totally agree, I cannot ski with any kind of heel lift either.
    Remember the first Connelly Visions?
    Couldn't ski a decent pass with them even if my life depended upon it. Took them apart and discovered thick heel spacers.
    Precursor to Reflex (Ski tec) was no good for me either when you had to stand on the heel piece for the release.
    On Reflex now with a flattened sole.
  • Ed_JohnsonEd_Johnson Posts: 1,837
    I have used a 1/4" to 3/8" heel lift front and rear for over 20 years. Recently locked my forward boot cuff at 20 degrees forward. These Mod's have kept me more forward on the ski and keeps me from rocking back on my ski.

    Loving the Reflex Supershell with R Style Rear !!!
  • FWinterFWinter Posts: 109 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    @Deanoski 'heel lifts make you sit back'? really?
  • ozskiozski Posts: 1,546
    Tried using one in my Vapor boot, things got ugly so I gave up on it pretty quickly.
    'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.'' Boat 2005 Nautique 196 6L ZO - Ski: KD Platinum

  • HortonHorton Posts: 25,331 Administrator
    @FWinter when the World Champion talks I ask questions and listen to the answers.

    It makes sense to me that heel lifts put the average skier in an anatomically awkward position that may lead to dropping their hips back. Please please please shed some light on how you view this topic.

    ( if you are alluding to the time you spent wearing high heels and a skirt I would prefer that we discuss this in another section of the forum )

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  • gavskigavski Posts: 172 Baller
    Heal lifts aren't for has a lot to do with femer length absolutely does not make you sit will however change your CofG and how you are able to flex...

    I have had long chats with @FWinter about this and i am convinced it is a major factor in his rediscovery of total awesomeness...

    A simple test....
    1. stand feet parallel, hip width apart....squat down as far as you can go without toppling back..
    2. As above, but place a 1/4" block (book or flip flop) under the balls of your feet...squat as above..
    3. As above, block under your heals...squat..

    Which one allowed you to squat lower without toppling back? Which one gave you the least amount of squat??

    The problem with hardshells is they force you into the the 'toes higher' situation = reduced range of vertical movement PLUS, your CofG is now aft = sitting backwards...

    This is not a new concept...has been in snow skiing for decades...just look at your shoes - raised heal...

    The correction doesn't have to be huge. I currently have a 3mm heal raise under my is a reflex product - so even they know about it....i tried various heights, but settled on 3mm..note, i have a custom footbed that i have cut to 3/4 length - that will add to my heal height..

    @ozski - the vapor boots are unlikely that you will need a heal raise. Just using the footbed will create enough of a lift...

    Too much lift will feel awful....

    @FWinter has a massive heal lift under his footbeds...anyone comparing before and after skiing will notice a big difference in how he stands and moves on his ski...marginal gains....
  • OldboyIIOldboyII Posts: 530 Baller
    edited October 2017
    It is long discussion in snow skiing - Ramp Angle.
    Looks like it is entirely a matter of personal anatomy - some skiers feel that bigger angle forward puts them back and some making PB with bigger ramp angle.
    Transfering this subject to water ski bindings is more corresponds to angle of binding plate (shims under rear part of the plate) rather than heel lift ....

  • gavskigavski Posts: 172 Baller
    @OldboyII - it all achieves the same result...heal height relative to toes...
  • DanEDanE Posts: 819 Crazy Baller
    @gavski So basically you are saying that with flat soles as for example a Reflex shell that has been flattened there is less need for heel lift?
  • gavskigavski Posts: 172 Baller
    edited October 2017
    Not necessarily, but it is better than un-flattened...remember that they are 'all' hockey/ skate boots..all hockey/ skate boots have a heel lifted otherwise your weight is always backward...

    With the 'un-flattened' boot, if you press the flat 'toe section' against a table top, you will notice that the heal will raise by about 5mm...some boots will be more...the more you can eliminate this, the better...i chose to raise the heel instead of flatten the boot as i didn't think the boot needed to be, adding the heel lift under the release mechanism was easier than flattening...
  • OldboyIIOldboyII Posts: 530 Baller
    @gavski ramp angle changes position of the whole boot, and heel lift changes position of the foot inside the boot. It is a quite a difference.
  • mmosley899mmosley899 Posts: 504 Water Ski Industry Professional
    @FWinter is correct, all the hardshell boots we use are designed to have the heel raised. I am using 1/4" spacers under both my front and rear boots. I think it helps get me onto my toes better. I have looked at what many high level skiers, including one World Record holder, are doing with their hardshells and many are using some sort of lift to make the shell sit as designed. It is easy to do with my release system.
    Mike's Overall Binding
    Sweet Home Alabama Skiing
    Senior Judge, Senior Driver, Tech Controller
  • MattPMattP Posts: 5,973 Mega Baller
    Last I checked the Denali guys had some interesting thoughts drawn up why flattening a shell is beneficial. @AdamCord @adamhcaldwell
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 2,687 Mega Baller
    @gavski that's an interesting test.

    I've pondered on this a lot in my various binding tinkerings - There is a disparity between how I think something will work and how it works skiing.

    On dry land pinning a cuff on the shell acts alot like an ankle brace and can "force" knee bend, in that scenario adding a heel lift puts the boot/cuff into relative tibial inclination and causes knee flexion.
    However on the ski that cuff pressure has a different outlet, it can change the attitude of the ski going through the water, and for someone who skis with the front ankle less bent that cuff would likely be better off modified to be more flexible to permit that alignment and not transfer unwanted pressure to the ski.

  • DekeDeke Posts: 362 Baller
    edited October 2017
    @gavski the femur length ratio is huge and a lot of people, even trainers, don't get it. I personally have discovered this through my ice skates. Like anything, too much (or too little) is not good and it takes knowing what you're looking for to find the sweet spot. It is important to note that this is not a performance tweak. It is merely compensation for someone who has a physical limitation.

    Here's a link to a youtube video that explains this relative to squats. Fold-Ability and Proportions
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,516 MM Trick Skier / Eccentric Person
    A stance is pretty adaptable. Couple that with some boot flexibility and ramp angles get lost in the background of other forces and variables. Pressure your feet right and you'll ski well.

    Tricks are a bit more interesting relative to ramp angle as you spend a lot of time backwards (reverse ramp angle?). I used to use a heel lift. Skied well with it. When I lost it, I honestly couldn't notice a performance difference. One less bit of hardware to worry about.

    I have switched to a thick pad under my rear foot. Whole body ramp angle? I like the performance but the effect is really too subtle to have an effect. It is, however, easier to make (no sanding down the foam to make it thinner) so I really like it!

    Use the setup of a top skier and improve your skills. When you start to challenge @FWinter then it's time to play with the setup. Or play with the setup because the experiment is fun. But a couple mm in the boot will not make you great - or ruin you.

  • gavskigavski Posts: 172 Baller
    edited October 2017
    @Deke - is a massively mis-understood subject...btw, that is the exact video that i have been trying to look for...

    everyone is different and no two legs are the same....even on the same person...

    I would agree that it is a performance tweak - in the same way that you get your front wheel tracking adjusted in your this case, it will allow you to move freely and more naturally within a larger range of motion...without it, your body will be making compensatory movements just to stay in balance and as a result blocking your progression....

    Here is a link to the Reflex heel lift...

    I used it as a template to create different sized lifts - 5mm was too much and felt awkward..3mm was on the money...

    Just look at the way Terry and Freddie Winter move....same range of motion and balance as a world-cup mogul skier....apart from being elite athletes, they are in perfect balance....either naturally or with a few tweaks...

  • WishWish Posts: 7,273 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Since 2001 I've built plates and mounted a wide verity of hard shells to them. From the beginning I've always thought the skate shell should match the ramp angle it was designed for with varied heel lifts needed to get them there. They just looked abnormal being flat on the ski with toes up off ski. Not very scientific I know but they were and are designed to put skater on the ball of the foot. Always had some lift under both. Currently have 1/4" lift front and tad more back Did recently try a lot more heal lift on back boot in an attempt to move COM forward. No good for me after many sets trying to get used to it. Also have used Reflex no lift and that's no good either. After reading this thread and my experiences so far, I think there is marit to heal lifts as well as finding the hight of the lift right for you. I don't think it's a one hight helps all. Also looking back at old rubber style boots (and some current) you can see the significant lean forward up the back of the boot...puts COM forward. Set a skate boot on a ski and cuff is generally straight up and down. To me this also limits forward adding to the argument for lifts. Been an interesting read so far.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
    JC McCavit
  • epnaultepnault Posts: 185 Baller
    I wouldn't mind seeing some pics or details on what you are using for lifts and how
  • danemechlerdanemechler Posts: 1 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    Everyone talks about heel lift, but has anyone tried a vertical binding cant (not lateral, but vertical) like many do in snow skiing? I personally matched my hardshell binding to the angle that my leg makes when I stand on a slalom ski. I think this is a big advantage of having rubber boots. Switching from a single wrap Wiley to a PowerShell a year ago, this was the only way that I could handle the change. After vertically canting my front boot, when I stand straight on my ski, my ski is in a neutral position.

    Many people with a front hard shell and a rear toe piece are unknowingly putting pressure on the left edge (as a a LFF) or the right edge (as a RFF) when they stand neutral. This has a couple major disadvantages, including having to roll their ski much more into their off-side turn to allow the ski to cast out.

    Give it a shot. I like to think many people would benefit from doing so. This was the biggest advantage that I found to have a rubber binding, and once I was able to make this change to my hardshell, it was the obvious choice. Not to mention a much easier offside turn.

    ... I also do have my front heel lifted.
  • WishWish Posts: 7,273 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited October 2017
    @epnault if u are referring to me, that would take this thread way off topic and the focus would probably be on my home brew plates with a release or no release. It's my stuff so if I get hurt its on me. If someone copies what I made and gets hurt, I'd feel pretty bad. Obviously Reflex has there solution and most likely a tested one and by many skiers. Use theirs or another tested system. I'm just interested in the concepts and understanding why going with lifts may have been a good call way back then.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • BraceMakerBraceMaker Posts: 2,687 Mega Baller
    @danemechler - my current revision i've made a slightly different decision, the cuff is going to run inside of the boot shell, it is going to start off 0 motion and tilted forwards, as the rear of the cuff is trimmed off it will pivot backwards and allow more motion towards up and down. And i'll gradually trim - which is that same concept - trying to match the natural leg angle on the ski, the question is how many degrees of leg angle occur through the entire course.
    JC McCavit
  • chris55chris55 Posts: 274 Solid Baller
    Last spring I went from Animal HO binding to Reflex white cuff and I really liked it a lot except I found it harder to have front foot pressure. After comparing the 2 bindings I noticed a big difference in the angle between Animal and Reflex. Reflex is straight I did put something to raise my hill and I was much less on my back foot just coasting. But reading this thread I realize I should explore more how much I have to raise my hill and I think it would bring my CG more forward too. Really interesting to read all of this, thank you all
  • gavskigavski Posts: 172 Baller
    edited October 2017
    @danemechler - i played around with 'lateral canting' of my hardshell..i even had a 3deg cant manufactured to sit underneath my reflex binding plate...i ran with this for about 12 months with great success...
    I was eventually convinced/ coerced to remove it and just compensate.....anyway, long storey short, i cut my hard shell down, added some 2" cuts between the forefoot buckles, added a heel lift, added a back stop and my boot is now perfect.....

    However, i think i should have stayed with my canting plate, as there is a lot more at play than just relieving a lateral bias to the hard shell cuff = awesome onside, crap offside...i had a custom footbed that i robbed from my snow ski boots that at least holds my foot in correct alignment...

    As i said, huge subject...often misunderstood by coaches/ manufacturers and athletes alike....

    Note: the new reflex supershell has canting screws incorporated....this will go someway to reduce the imbalance in lateral cuff pressure...but this is only half the equation with lateral canting....your knee needs to be central over your foot - then it needs to track straight when you flex....
  • nicktoryousnicktoryous Posts: 7 Baller
    Definitely an interesting discussion and extension of the parallels with a sport like snow skiing (albeit with the caveat they are still extremely different sports) not always being given full consideration when applied to the adoption/development of water ski equipment, technique etc. It's all well and good to borrow the notion that a rigid boot with strategic flex points can better transfer the inputs required to edge a ski but it shouldn't stop there, particularly when it was originally designed to sit on a rollerblade chassis.

    Even as a now ex ski racer with no intention of touching another gate it still took a season and a half of repeat visits to a boot fitter to get my current boots dialled, while the generally accepted steps to switch to a completely new (to me) system in a water ski binding entailed only a few screw turns and 5 minutes of a liner in the oven (which a few sets of getting wet proved would have been better spent broiling the other side of my toast)... point being we can be quick to make certain equipment changes we think will make us better - especially when we see them in the upper level of the sport - without doing the full due diligence and understanding the principles/variables behind them. But we can also spend hours adjusting fins within .001" without necessarily understanding that too...

    Not to suggest something like switching to a hardshell can't be beneficial anyways (I've felt it has been), or that fin settings aren't important (and I certainly won't claim to have a full understanding of those underlying principles) but with so many variables no piece of equipment can ever be plug and play and expected to be optimized for everyone, including the best binding setup.

    It's interesting to hear ideas/modifications (canting, custom footbeds, trimming cuffs etc.) and it is positive that the discussion is taking place here but the sport could definitely benefit from greater emphasis on equipment fitting more generally, particularly as it is already so prevalent with fin tuning.

    All that to say I guess I should probably take my Reflex to my boot fitter...
  • bkreisbkreis Posts: 277 Baller
    a lot of people who tried heel lifts in the past have had knee pain from doing so. it will go away when you remove them..... food for thought.
  • DanEDanE Posts: 819 Crazy Baller
    It´s one thing having ramp angle on rollerblades and skates vs a slalom ski where you stand with one foot behind the other in line.
    When I try heel lift all I can feel is I get caught standing on my heels, taking away all control from the calf muscel.
    Not saying heel lift is a bad thing, just does not work for me.
    Using top pros as an example isn´t an exact science, think of all the great scores done by pros in Wileys and T-factors where the footbed is flat. Heck Mapple didn´t even have a footbed just some anti skid tape in the bottom of the boot.
  • DekeDeke Posts: 362 Baller
    edited October 2017
    I think we're sort of missing the point here. As I mentioned above heel lifts, ramp angle, whatever you want to call it, is not a performance tweak in and of itself. It is merely a compensation for balance based on your personal anatomy. To say just adding a heel lift will change your skiing for the better is like saying moving your fin forward is what everyone should do to ski better.

    BTW I don't use heel lifts currently. However I absolutely see the value in it as long as you understand what problem you are trying to solve.
  • WishWish Posts: 7,273 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited October 2017
    @DanE To me, yes those bindings are flat bottomed. But unlike hard shells, they have a significant forward angle to them up the back of the boot along with ones toes and ball of foot being smashed down into the ski (feet fell asleep fast in those). Hard shells toes up and ball of foot has some freedom as shells tend to tighten across the foot and not down. And agree that old style boots have their advantages over hard shells which is probably why someone like Nate and a few others still use them.

    My additional question is how does the ramp angle of the ski moving across the water factor in? Skis don't ride flat...ever.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
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