Reduce ACL ski injuries

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The Short Tails of FLO Skis Can Help Prevent ACL Injuries
Aft-mounted bindings for knee protection and greater maneuverability

The   shock-absorber’s counter-weight on the ski tips allows bindings to be set back further than on a conventional ski, which provides three major advantages:

    •    The short, soft tail virtually eliminates the risk of ACL injury by preventing “phantom foot syndrome”.  (See Q and A) (Link to orthopedic surgeons endorsements)
    •    Improves short-radius maneuverability, particularly in crud and moguls where tails can get caught up during a sliding turn.
    •    Encourages better fore-aft balance. The tail does not provide the “back-seat” found on conventional skis.

Common questions

Q: What’s phantom foot syndrome?

A: Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur when a skier falls backwards with the ski tail caught under the skier (as if an invisible foot was holding it in place). As the hips drop below mid-thigh level or more (so that the knee angulates between 45 and 140 degrees), tension on the ACL builds until it tears.
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Q: How do FLO Skis’ short tails prevent phantom-foot syndrome?

A: The tails on conventional skis are usually much longer and stiffer than those on Flo Skis. Their length acts as a powerful lever with which to exert force against the ACL. The stiffness keeps the ski’s edge locked in the snow, preventing the foot from slipping out from under the skier that would alleviate catastrophic forces building on the ACL. In contrast, Flo Skis have softer, shorter tails which are able to flex and slide away from the skier’s body, relieving pressure on the knee.


Over the past  years, ski manufacturers have introduced skiboards, little skis- usually not more than 100 centimeters long with non releasable bindings. They have been been surprisingly popular. They've also amounted to what Jasper Shealy calls a "gruesome, serendipitous experiment". Because when Ettlinger, Shealy, and Johnson decided to track injuries on these devices, they discovered that skiboarders are at extremely low risk for ACL injury.

What then accounts for such low incidence of ACL sprains? Skiboards have no tail to speak of, so no "phantom foot syndrome", no boot- induced ACL injury. Tail length of skis plays a crucial role in the injury of the ACL.


Ski Magazine - "The Phantom Tail" by John Fry

Discovering something new in skiing may simply be the result of where you happen to be standing in the lifeline. Guys have met their wives this way. Last winter I discovered a new variety of skis. Their tails were only a foot long.

It happened at Mid-Vail as I was searching the crowd for my wife (no, not a new one, the one I already have). Suddenly I was staring into the 52 year-old choirboy face of John McMurtry, former U.S. Ski Team coach. And next to him, one time Ski Team strength trainer John Atkins. Both men work in the Vail clinic of Dr. Richard Steadman, who repairs the busted nees of famous pro athletes and ski racers. So great is the incidence of knee injury on the World Cup that the number of racers on the circuit today is equally to the number of knee surgeries performed on them. There's growing agreement that the tail of the ski may play a significant role in knee injury. It can happen when the skier falls backward and no binding release occurs. 

McMurtry led me to where four skis from different manufactures were lying on the snow. I eyed a pair of 163 cm Flo Skis.   They looked different  because the bindings were mounted  far back. "We're checking them out," McMurtry said. "Why don't you take a test run?"

"I hate short skis." "You'll be surprised." he said. In front of me was what looked like a the forebode of a 180-cm ski. "It will feel even longer because of "The Flo ." Named for its inventor, one time NASA engineer Adrian Floreani,  The Flo  is an anti-shock vibration damper of lead shot in synthetic oil, contained inside a translucece. That's Flo .

"OK," I muttered, "I'll try them."   At the summit, I smoothly glided toward a blue run.
Imagine throwing an overripe tomato against a wall. Thud. No bounce As I accelerated in a straight schuss, I sensed none of the instability I often feel on short skis. The theory behind The FLO  is that each ounce of weight adds the equivalent of 2 centimeters to the ski's length.

"I'll just ski the same way I do on my long Head skis," I said to myself. I made long arching GS turns, pressuring the edge early. It was a pleasure to ride these odd-looking boards. The high Full Flex riser furnished a sense of effortless edge control. Yet it appears the benefit comes without leveraging your knee - of interest to the Steadman Clinic.

Like binding safety expert Carl Ettlinger, who has long advocated "knee-friendly skis," Floreani believes the FLO ski's tail should reduce injury in recreational skiing. In effect, he has created a "phantom tail" to battle the "phantom foot" that Ettlinger believes to be at the root of many ACL injuries.

I wish him success. For years, I've suggested that manufacturers offer recreational skiers gear that puts a premium on comfort and reduced knee stress, as well as competition-caliber skis and high, stiff boots. Floreani will undoubtedly be mocked by the high priests of performance: "What serious skier would want to ski on something with a short tail? It cannot perform!" To which Floreani responds: "Why do we ski? Is it to wear a pair of skis that the industry claims has the greatest performance? Or to have fun, avoid accidents, ski with little effort and treat our bodies in a healthy way?"
If you want protection from ACL injury and/or you have weak knees from a previous injury or age, consider buying a pair of FLO Skis. The short tails of FLO Skis reduces your risk for ACL injuries.