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Let's talk DIRTy

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

In another thread a question arose about the elemental nature of rhythm while skiing. While it's certainly an essential element of linked ski turns I questioned if it's something we would consider a fundamental skill, or if it is something else. I have some personal opinions that I would like to share but I'm thinking that this subject tends to be relative to each skier and no one answer would suffice. So with that being said I would love to hear from everyone about their perception of what rhythm contributes to their skiing and how we can help our students discover their own unique rhythm.

 

 

DIRT is the term we have assigned to the idea of all of our movements being related and timed to produce specific outcomes. So while still in the technical world, it's very much in the tactical world as well. For example, Making twenty turns in twenty meters would require an almost staccato rhythm. Change that to twenty turns in two hundred meters and an entirely different rhythm would be required. In addition as that rhythm changes the intensity and amplitude of our movements change. Or said another way the blend of fundamental skills changes along with the rhythm. In my world, the act of balancing and the movements we use to accomplish that goal, varies as the vector sum of the system of forces changes. Which is a long winded way of saying that we move differently while executing those two different turn types I mentioned earlier.

 

Ski Mango Jazz might be able to articulate what I'm trying to say here since skiing is very similar to playing music. At least when it comes to DIRT and more specifically RHYTHM.

post #2 of 40
Thread Starter 

I got rhythm, I got music, I got good turns, who could ask for anything more...

;D

post #3 of 40

Old man pivot, I don't mind him, you won't find him - round my door.  smile.gif

post #4 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post

Old man pivot, I don't mind him, you won't find him - round my door.  smile.gif



 

 I can't carry a tune and I lack rhythmic skills, but I sure can pivot when needed.

post #5 of 40
Thread Starter 

O.K. As promised I have an thought or two to share about the role of rhythm in skiing. Let's start with the idea that linked turns require us to first decide what type of turn is appropriate for the terrain. Bumps and gates being two good examples of our line being defined by external challenges. Trees and chutes being examples of two additional external influences. So when we're introducing the idea of rhythm and how it is related to line, it's always a bit easier if we bring that concept into focus by mentioning where we would want to use the moves we're exploring. It also give us the opportunity to set our students up for success long before taking them into that terrain. For argument's sake let's say the student wants to ski tree more aggressively. The first concern would be if can they execute a variety of turn sizes and shapes at will. If not helping them would include setting up a line through pylons or ski pole gates that features a variety of turns. As they become more accustomed to negotiating that artificial obstacle course we might reset the cones / poles to prevent course memorization and keep them in that active read and react mode. Eventually when they are competent enough there, it's time to move into the woods.

So what about the simpler task of linking like sized turns at a constant speed? The rhythm doesn't change but can that skier execute the turns without losing slowly accelerating during every turn? Helping them might be as simple as getting them to complete their turns more, or as complex as changing their turns entirely. Imagine a skier who relies on edge sets to control their speed encountering a steeper pitch but they can't seem to link ten turns because they get going too fast. Getting them to bring the skis around a bit further before the strong edge set might not be the best long term solution. But I'm going on and on here and I want to hear from others. So what would you change? What type of turn would you recommend? Why do you feel that would work?

post #6 of 40

To me, rhythm is like being in "the zone" Anyone else feel this way?

 

"The Zone" is that time when everything is in sync. Everything is happening as it should no matter what the conitions, what the terrain or where the terrain happens to be. It's like that day you happen to ski bumps and every run happens like beats to your favorite song. Or that favorite tree run when turns an spaces become ticks on a metronome.

 

It's like a Waltz carving down your favorite groomer. It's like that last slow dance at the disco when you know it's closing time an you've foun the girl you're going home with. You squeze her tight, close your eyes an flow with the rhythm an the smell of her hair as your heart beats a little faster. ( the 5 Rum and Cokes didn't hurt either)

 

The rhythm, if you feel it, is what skiing is all about. You are the dancer, the snow is your partner, the terrain is the perfume, and the conditions is the beverage of choice.

 

When you feel the rhythm and you're in the Zone there's nothing that compares to it.

post #7 of 40

So, is it something like you either have it... or you don't... or can you teach it? Like JASP said: how does it link to the other skills?

post #8 of 40

Couldn't our skis contribute a rhythm of their own affected by flex stiffness, weight of skier, and side cut?  

 

Perhaps the snow has a certain rhythm of it's own affected by moisture content and density?  

 

Maybe each skier has a preferred rhythm based on flexibility, fitness, fast or slow twitch muscle bias?

post #9 of 40
Good observations Bud. Since it's an blended interaction situation all the components would need to figure into the final outcome.

With that in mind, what if implementing a rhythm can also create a handicap?

Rhythmical turns by definition have an operational constancy, a set rate or cycle. This might work fine in well-groomed terrain and highly consistent slope/snow conditions - but what if the snow is chopped up crud over lumpy or bumped up terrain? In this situation duration, intensity, rate and timing would need to be in a constant state of change relative to each other to accommodate the uneven, inconsistent terrain.

Trying to impose an artificial constancy of cycle here would likely make skiing such conditions a real challenge.

.ma
post #10 of 40

I think Michael, rhythm has to change as conditions and terrain changes.

 

Skiing groomed relates to a Waltz or Disco.

 

Skiing cut up crud relates to Nine Inch Nails headbanging music.

 

Rhythm is a state of mind incorporating your skiing skills. As is the Zone.

 

You can't really teach rhythm but you can teach the skills that allow you to experience it. Once you experience it, then how you use it is up to the individual.

 

You can teach skills, you can't teach feelings, intensity. I coached Football, hockey and baseball for years. Teaching skills was easy. teaching feeling and intensity was much harder if not impossible.

post #11 of 40
Thread Starter 

Actually Lars,

I teach rhythm all the time. DIRT is the connection between technique and tactics but rhythm is a direct outcome of matching the DIRT to the desired outcome. A simple example being, How many turns you make in a specific distance. A more complex example is tree, or gate skiing where your route and thereby your rhythm are defined for you. In that circumstance variables like DIRT are how we maintain that line. So I'll offer a few activities (from simple to more difficult) that I use to establish a baseline rhythm.

  • Counting to five during each turn. Start the turn as you speak the number one, finish it by the time you speak the number five. The outcome will be a medium radius turn. Varying the number allows us to naturally change the rhythm and the DIRT but the important thing with this is not to force a skier to adopt that as their own unique rhythm, it just establishes the idea of consistent turns. It also important to ask those students to use more than one number because it allows them to experience different rhythms and this leads them to discovering their own preferred rhythm. It starts as a guided discovery activity but eventually shifts to a problem solving activity as because they make the decisions about what rhythm is their favorite.
  • Set the rhythm with gates, cones, etc...
  • Follow the leader, it's not often though of in the context of rhythm but it establishes a specific line and rhythm, ulsess of course you make the mistake of establishing a turn / traverse line so you can look over your students as they follow you. A better option is to rotate leaders. Do twenty turns then move to the back of the group, sort of like bike racers using an echelon in a team time trial. If the group can't do that on the fly, stop long enough to rotate to the back of the pack. It builds reciprocal student participation as well as gives you a chance to view your students from a variety of positions within that pack.

 

 

Beyond that Bud's idea of equipment and conditions influencing rhythm is worth investigating. My feeling is habitual movement patterns are very much influenced by both of these. Your default movements and rhythm are established by what you do most often. Change equipment or even where you ski and the rhythm naturally changes. At least to a point. Somewhere in your skiing you will discover the ability to impose your rhythm on any terrain while using any ski. It may not be as easy as matching your rhythm to the skis natural properties but it's one quality all good skiers own.

 

 

Which brings me to Michael's suggestions about variable terrain and snow and how that affects rhythm. In crud establishing a rhythm is often very important because it eliminates the hesitation (turn shopping) we typically see from intermediate level skiers. Same goes for bumps, establishing a rhythm is important since it eliminates one variable in a highly variable situation. That's not to say changing rhythm shouldn't, or doesn't occur. All I'm suggesting is that even though conditions and situations influence our tactical rhythm choice, consistent linked turns are the hallmark of good skiers and boarders. Especially in a bump field, the ability to define and execute a variety of rhythmic but different size turns is important. Can you turn on every bump, turn on every other bump, turn on every five bumps? It really doesn't matter which you choose, the ability to execute any of those lines equally well is how experts think in those situations.   

 


Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/6/11 at 10:12am
post #12 of 40
Dunno. Guess it depends on whether we see rhythm as an input or an outcome.

In a dancing scenario the dancing person is 'syncing' their own movement to an external beat. They deliberately manage their movements to remain in time with the given beat and generally that beat is quite consistent so it's easy for the dancer to sync up and remain in sync. The rhythm source is an external, highly detectable and consistent beat.

In skiing what decides the beat? Bud's observation that ski flex, snow conditions, terrain (and such) have a large influence suggests only one point of consistency (the ski's flex pattern) with a whole lot of inconsistency - variable snow conditions over variable terrain. With these externals being highly variable I think a skier needs to implement an ever-accommodating ever-variable set of movement patterns rather than trying to impose a particular rhythm from within. Sure, there's the outward appearance of a consistent cycle (when done well) but I think that's simply an outcome.

I tend to think of rhythm seen in skiing as being purely the outcome of variable inputs well-matched to the intent in the given terrain and snow conditions on the given gear. Apply DIRT properly across your inputs and you'll likely see a rhythmical outcome.

.ma
post #13 of 40

As in skiing and dancing, just because the song and the rhythm of that song is fantastic, doesn't mean the guy trying to dance is any better. If ya can't dance, ya can't dance. Same with skiing.

 

No matter what the conditions, what ski you are on, what boots you have, how tight your ski pants are, you still control the situation. You ski the terrain the way you want to. You adapt to the flex of the ski and you make do what you want. You have the rhythm, you control it.

 

I see what you're talking about JASP. It's a great approach  but teaching rhythm still is a hard thing to do. Goes along with coordination.

 

Music? Rhythm? I remember skiing moguls all day with my mini cassete player blasting out Rock tunes. Always seemed smoother back then.

post #14 of 40

I have the the most fun skiing based on fib ratios i.e., I will spiral a fib number of turns larger or smaller in a row (1,2,3,5,8,13) with the average angle coming accross the fall line equal to the pitch of the hill. ( based on subjective observatiion of tracks) I like to spiral my weight from front to back of the ski so the speed accelerates so if charted it would form the golden spiral. The building of compresion I like it to also accelerate throughout the turn so tracks form spiral shape & I have the most fun when aprox .382% of the time Iam building compresion & .618% of the time is the releasing of the compresion Since the body is a tapestry of fibonacci relationships I find it most natural & fun to apply it to skiing. I prefure to ski this way when the density of the snow increases (moat likely in a fib ratio) as the skis sink into it while skiing. I like to swing my poles for counter balance & timing in a spiral shape & use my 3 bottom fingers as triger fingers for accelerating the speed of the spiral as poles start to come in closer to the body as well the bending of the fingers causes the poles to form a spiral path.

 

 Iam not certain if my turns form precise fib ratio but by feel & observing tracks & or holes left in snow I think Iam somewhat close. Maybe with pics & a precision ratio compass one would be able to measure better 

post #15 of 40

Did any of you try to have your students participate in synchro skiing? How did it work?

I'm thinking this should help develop the skills because the follower has to match a body position, a turn type, shape, speed (technique).  He/she would also have to match the DIRT, plus evaluate the distance and react quickly. And it's fun! And you feel like you're being part of something.

post #16 of 40
Snownat,

Yep, I've done that a few times myself and that too is an external tempo as it's supplied by the lead skier. Synchro skiing is about matching the rhythm of the lead skier but to achieve it requires sufficient skills in the trailing skier.

As I see it, the follower can't simply match the lead skiers 'beat' by being a rhythmical person. Instead, they need to implement the appropriate DIRT-adjusted inputs to their own skiing so that once again the outcome is being in sync.

.ma
post #17 of 40
Thread Starter 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post

Dunno. Guess it depends on whether we see rhythm as an input or an outcome.

In a dancing scenario the dancing person is 'syncing' their own movement to an external beat. They deliberately manage their movements to remain in time with the given beat and generally that beat is quite consistent so it's easy for the dancer to sync up and remain in sync. The rhythm source is an external, highly detectable and consistent beat.

In skiing what decides the beat? Bud's observation that ski flex, snow conditions, terrain (and such) have a large influence suggests only one point of consistency (the ski's flex pattern) with a whole lot of inconsistency - variable snow conditions over variable terrain. With these externals being highly variable I think a skier needs to implement an ever-accommodating ever-variable set of movement patterns rather than trying to impose a particular rhythm from within. Sure, there's the outward appearance of a consistent cycle (when done well) but I think that's simply an outcome.

I tend to think of rhythm seen in skiing as being purely the outcome of variable inputs well-matched to the intent in the given terrain and snow conditions on the given gear. Apply DIRT properly across your inputs and you'll likely see a rhythmical outcome.

.ma


Here's the thing Michael, Rhythm and Tempo are objectives, so the question isn't so much if they are an input or an outcome. They're certainly an outcome but we have to decide on how we're going to acheive that outcome. So they're a tactical input based on that desired outcome. At higher skill levels that choice might move more towards unconscious competence but we are still making tactical decisions based on our ability level and a specific objective in mind. If the objective is to read and react on the fly and constantly varying our tempo is the stated objective that also would include a strong focus on varying the DIRT used to produce that variable outcome. That was exactly the tree skiing objective I was talking about in the first half of post 5. I would love it if you would share some additional activities you use to keep students in the read and react mode and how a strong focus on variable rhythm and tempo can be explored before exposing the class to a tree run.


Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/7/11 at 12:02pm
post #18 of 40
Thread Starter 

Here's another thing to consider. We all have a unique mix of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers among other physiological differences. So the human machine we dwell inside has a profound influence on our turning preferences. A great example of this is the style differences between the Harvey twins. They ski differently. It's not like they can't ski the same, they can. They just don't. Why? What about the Mahre twins? World cup champion level skiers and still slight technical and tactic differences exist in their skiing. It happens at that stratospheric level and it also happens in the beginner corral. We just can't forget that fact when attempting to teach rhythm.

Another thing to consider is success and how that influences our tactical choices. If we make great short slalom turns but suck at downhill turns, what type of turns do you suppose we will naturally prefer? What type of turns will we make more often? The ones we perform best! It's also a primary factor in the equipment we purchase. We saw this back in the late seventies and early eighties when Stenmark dominated the slalom and GS races but avoided downhill races like the plague. FIS even changed the rules to coerce him to enter more downhills but if anyone remembers his downhill results, he didn't do much more than survive them.

 

That's why I keep harping on the idea that teaching Rhythm and Tempo are all about helping our students discover their own unique skiing style. Teaching that begins with a consistent baseline but that's just a starting point. Slowly over time a skier will naturally develop their own sense of rhythm and tempo and as their coaches it's up to us to help them discover that, instead of imposing our unique sense of either. To take that idea one step further, no one skis without rhythm and it influences our tactical line choices everywhere. Especially as a coach, varying the rhythm of our demos and activities gets us out of our preferred mode and gives us a better chance of helping our students discover theirs.   


Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/7/11 at 2:26pm
post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Here's another thing to consider. We all have a unique mix of fast and slow twitch muscle fibers among other physiological differences. So the human machine we dwell inside has a profound influence on our turning preferences. A great example of this is the style differences between the Harvey twins. They ski differently. It's not like they can't ski the same, they can. They just don't. Why? What about the Mahre twins? World cup champion level skiers and still slight technical and tactic differences exist in their skiing. It happens at that stratospheric level and it also happens in the beginner corral. We just can't forget that fact when attempting to teach rhythm.

Another thing to consider is success and how that influences our tactical choices. If we make great short slalom turns but suck at downhill turns, what type of turns do you suppose we will naturally prefer? What type of turns will we make more often? The ones we perform best! It's also a primary factor in the equipment we purchase. We saw this back in the late seventies and early eighties when Stenmark dominated the slalom and GS races but avoided downhill races like the plague. FIS even changed the rules to coerce him to enter more downhills but if anyone remembers his downhill results, he didn't do much more than survive them.

 

That's why I keep harping on the idea that teaching Rhythm and Tempo are all about helping our students discover their own unique skiing style. Teaching that begins with a consistent baseline but that's just a starting point. Slowly over time a skier will naturally develop their own sense of rhythm and tempo and as their coaches it's up to us to help them discover that, instead of imposing our unique sense of either. To take that idea one step further, no one skis without rhythm and it influences our tactical line choices everywhere. Especially as a coach, varying the rhythm of our demos and activities gets us out of our preferred mode and gives us a better chance of helping our students discover theirs.   



Awesomely correct post JASPicon14.gif

 

post #20 of 40

Imagine a blues band that has a rythym section.  They are different than the tempo, or in this case the rate (R in DIRT).  For me, when the DIRT is right, then rythym and flow appear.  It is hard to have good rythym if your duration, intensity, rate and timing are off.  Rythym is a by product of the DIRT.  Flow is when the we change the rythym and we still look like our DIRT is clean.

post #21 of 40

Back in my jamming days I observed two 'endpoints' for a jazz musician's improvisation process: a highly intellectualized use of modes and chordal structures to impose an often exquisitely elaborate order on the sound space, or what I thought of as listening for the next note that needed to be sounded in that moment with this piece and these particular musicians.  Both methods, when done well, required tons of time mimicking others, fooling around, playing structured pieces, and generally twiddling with your axe (in my case, a flute).  Both require an intense connection between the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind.  And both created an awe-inspiring sense of flow.

 

Being intelligent but without much talent at abstract thought, I worked with the second process.  Improvisation became a dance with letting go and engaging, with mystery and simple physicality, with what Zen calls big mind and little mind.  With a background of piano lessons and a few years of playing in the concert band, I was dragged by my buddies into jam session after jam session.  I began by learning solos from my jazz albums note for note and tone for tone, which taught me to play 'by ear'--to instantly reproduce anything I heard.  But then I started making these annoying mistakes and someone said that my music was in the mistakes.  Finally I could play best only when I became ears and lungs and lips and fingers, with nothing in between.

 

So first I had to learn to do it the way it was done.  And then I had to be myself in the music.

 

I may be pretty early on in my skiing career, but in today's high wind and whiteout, grinding ice alternating with baby's-bottom-smooth wind deposits, not always able to tell whether I was going uphill or downhill, I don't know that I could have imposed an order, and I didn't want to.  Instead I counted the space between the turns the hill gave me and found some great alternating 5/8 and 7/8 beats, along with some short stretches of Grateful Dead psychedelia.  So I guess I'm lucky to have found rhythm in spite of being a white girl from Connecticut.

 

Can you teach it?  No.  But you can do what you do--teach the structure and then let the student find her own rhythm in her deviations from the pattern.  And perhaps you can then help her identify where she is stepping out and encourage her to experiment with where that stepping out takes her.

post #22 of 40


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by litterbug View Post

Back in my jamming days I observed two 'endpoints' for a jazz musician's improvisation process: a highly intellectualized use of modes and chordal structures to impose an often exquisitely elaborate order on the sound space, or what I thought of as listening for the next note that needed to be sounded in that moment with this piece and these particular musicians.  Both methods, when done well, required tons of time mimicking others, fooling around, playing structured pieces, and generally twiddling with your axe (in my case, a flute).  Both require an intense connection between the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious mind.  And both created an awe-inspiring sense of flow.

 

Being intelligent but without much talent at abstract thought, I worked with the second process.  Improvisation became a dance with letting go and engaging, with mystery and simple physicality, with what Zen calls big mind and little mind.  With a background of piano lessons and a few years of playing in the concert band, I was dragged by my buddies into jam session after jam session.  I began by learning solos from my jazz albums note for note and tone for tone, which taught me to play 'by ear'--to instantly reproduce anything I heard.  But then I started making these annoying mistakes and someone said that my music was in the mistakes.  Finally I could play best only when I became ears and lungs and lips and fingers, with nothing in between.

 

So first I had to learn to do it the way it was done.  And then I had to be myself in the music.

 

I may be pretty early on in my skiing career, but in today's high wind and whiteout, grinding ice alternating with baby's-bottom-smooth wind deposits, not always able to tell whether I was going uphill or downhill, I don't know that I could have imposed an order, and I didn't want to.  Instead I counted the space between the turns the hill gave me and found some great alternating 5/8 and 7/8 beats, along with some short stretches of Grateful Dead psychedelia.  So I guess I'm lucky to have found rhythm in spite of being a white girl from Connecticut.

 

Can you teach it?  No.  But you can do what you do--teach the structure and then let the student find her own rhythm in her deviations from the pattern.  And perhaps you can then help her identify where she is stepping out and encourage her to experiment with where that stepping out takes her.


I think I like you. 

 

post #23 of 40

I don't know much about anything, but I know enough about some things to get by.

 

Obviously, today was a very good day on skis.

post #24 of 40

I mean I LIKE you.  wink.gif

post #25 of 40
Thread Starter 

Cool story Litterbug,

I didn't even think about skiing in a whiteout. Skiing by feel is how we often describe that. But if you think about it if we wait to react to tactile feelings wouldn't we be late. So even though we say we rely on our other senses, how do we decide on turn size and shape when we can't see where we're going? Given the lack of external sensory input available we're forces to rely on internal timing cues like our internal sense of rhythm and movement timing.

Crud likes you but I love you for sharing your story. Can I use it in a presentation I'm putting together?

post #26 of 40

I'm gonna have to use this line later tonight, "I love you for sharing your story. Can I use it in a presentation I'm putting together?"  Smooth and any story will work really.  biggrin.gif

post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Cool story Litterbug,

I didn't even think about skiing in a whiteout. Skiing by feel is how we often describe that. But if you think about it if we wait to react to tactile feelings wouldn't we be late. So even though we say we rely on our other senses, how do we decide on turn size and shape when we can't see where we're going? Given the lack of external sensory input available we're forces to rely on internal timing cues like our internal sense of rhythm and movement timing.

Crud likes you but I love you for sharing your story. Can I use it in a presentation I'm putting together?

Use away, if you are in fact preparing a presentation. 

 

The key is not to wait.  Do you wait to pull your hand away from the hot stove?  That's what reflexes are for.  But it only works within limits; on a track that had changed a lot over the past few storms I found myself crossing a steep ice-covered slope with wind tearing down and across my path and a tree-filled gully beneath me, lurched reflexively, and popped my downhill binding, and it was windy enough that I just took my skis off and walked 30 feet to get past the gully and most of the wind.  Some guys zipped past me as I was getting ready to reassemble myself because they were lapping one of the runs  But the rest of the day went fine because I stayed on very familiar runs where my legs had already been, so the bumps and hills actually marked the terrain for me.  That happens in improvisation too, though I never did think I was about slide 50 feet down an icy gully while playing with the guys in the chapel. 


Edited by litterbug - 4/8/11 at 11:27pm
post #28 of 40

[deleted]


Edited by litterbug - 4/8/11 at 11:27pm
post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrudBuster 
Imagine a blues band that has a rythym section. They are different than the tempo, or in this case the rate (R in DIRT). For me, when the DIRT is right, then rythym and flow appear. It is hard to have good rythym if your duration, intensity, rate and timing are off. Rythym is a by product of the DIRT.
This is similar to what I was trying to say from a different perspective. I think any rhythm seen in a set of turns is an outcome of well-applied DIRT, not an input of any kind
Quote:
Originally Posted by LitterBug 
[about rhythm] ... Can you teach it? No. But you can do what you do--teach the structure and then let the student find her own rhythm in her deviations from the pattern. And perhaps you can then help her identify where she is stepping out and encourage her to experiment with where that stepping out takes her.
I also agree with this - that we really can't teach rhythm to another skier - just demonstrate movement patterns that result in the appearance of rhythm. If the patterns we demonstrate are not achievable by our observing student (due to differing ski or skier characteristics) then it's likely that they're trying too hard to emulate our own exact DIRT patterns rather than implementing the movement patterns using their own gear and personal characteristics.

.ma
post #30 of 40
Thread Starter 

Easy Crud, PM her with that stuff. I was sincere about updating a sensory deprivation clinic I used to do but stopped doing because of the liability issues involved. Litterbug's story captures that essence of how the affective influences our skiing. Her rhythm helped her negotiate that terrain without the tentativeness usually associated with vertigo.   

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