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# Square at transition? Square at fall line?

When do we get "square"?

Does "square" happen at different times for different types of turns?

Are there some turns when it doesn't happen at all?

Does it matter?

Do we all mean the same thing when we say "square"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet

Do we all mean the same thing when we say "square"?

We don't all mean the same thing when we say square. There can be subtle differences, but it does matter what we mean by it. Some people take an IMHO overly simplistic view of what square is and just define it as body pointing the same way the skis are going. Not moving and on deadflat ground (probably somewhere else too) that would be correct. When you are actually skiing though, my idea of square is that your feet, hips, shoulders, etc. are all parallel.

This is the part where I say that there is a reason why I teach on snow and not the internet. It's so easy to demo and a little harder to find 100% accurate words. For years, I struggled with the first part of your question, because others have the same problem. I can take the words literally, and get ginked up if they aren't right. I had the privilege of skiing with Shaun Smith for a week, and he cleared it up forever with drills that made it crystal clear for me.

Well, there's the rhomboid thing - everything pointing in the direction you're headed, but inside half advanced.  I think of that as a rhombus, not a square.

But I digress.  My focus is where does it happen, and when?

At the fall line (I've read this) or between turns (much more familiar) at transition?  It really can't happen at both in the same turn, can it?

Good question LiquidFeet. Im probably as guilty as anybody for using the word "square" loosely but IMO its basicly as epic puts it: feet, hips, shoulders are parallell. But this usually happens when you are facing the wind. Facing the way you are skiing. What we usually assosiate with the word square. The exception to this is when you are inclined or tipped into the turn. Then your feet and ski tips will not be perpendicular to where you are headding. Your inside ski will be ahead. Still your hips and shoulders can be facing in the direction of where you are turning. Typical for ski racing is that you can have your hips countered/anticipated but your shoulders square. Or your hips square but your shoulders countered or anticipated.

Square, is that square in the rotational axis?  As in, square is when are not countered?

With respect to rotational squareness, I'd say, you should be more square at the fall line, you should be more countered at transition.

Beyond that, it's more complicated than I could possibly discuss on the internet on a Friday.

-l2t

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet

My focus is where does it happen, and when?

At the fall line (I've read this) or between turns (much more familiar) at transition?  It really can't happen at both in the same turn, can it?

Yes it can happen at both places, all places, all the time....or in neither place, no places and none of the time.

If I were trying to figure this out...I would be asking "Why?" does it happen...the when and where will then become obvious.

OK.  Why?

Well there is actually a fair bit to the why, so I will leave it to you to look up.  But here is a "lesson plan" to help:

1. Understand the concept of Steering Angle - why it is important, and when we use it
2. Understand there is 2 ways to create a Steering Angle - understand which one would leave you "Square" all things being equal, and which one doesnt (but to be clear both methods are equally valid)
3. Understand then in skiing all things are not equal...ie, look up and understand the concept of converging and diverging BOS and COM paths (particularily at transition) and look up and understand the benefits of artificially inducing counter to enable greater edge angles.

I think that about covers it.....

Thank you, SkiDude.  That was so informative.  I'll be sure to look it all up.

No worries....but you know as well as anybody, if I actually tried to write it all out, there is so much there that it will never work on this site.  You cant even write basic stuff without it getting all mangled to hell by the peanut gallery.

Oh come on.  It's all in good fun.

I'll try to give you a "Coles Notes" in blue....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72

Well there is actually a fair bit to the why, so I will leave it to you to look up.  But here is a "lesson plan" to help:

1. Understand the concept of Steering Angle - why it is important, and when we use it We use a steering angle when turning, no steering angle, no turn.
2. Understand there is 2 ways to create a Steering Angle - understand which one would leave you "Square" all things being equal, and which one doesnt (but to be clear both methods are equally valid) You can create a steering angle by bending the ski (tipping) or by pivoting.  Tipping leaves you square, pivoting doesnt.
3. Understand then in skiing all things are not equal...ie, look up and understand the concept of converging and diverging BOS and COM paths (particularily at transition) and look up and understand the benefits of artificially inducing counter to enable greater edge angles. Converntional wisdom says face the way you are going, or "face the wind".  In transition your COM is moving across you BOS, ...now in say GS turns or bigger the rate of convergence is minimal so the transition will be pretty close to square...but in short turns, convergence is greater hence you may not be square in these transitions.  Further in really high end skiing, you may want to induce some counter to enable greater angulation...typically by the fall line, so you might not be square here as well, even thou are you are skiing really well...of course if you are pivoting, then you wont be square at all, except for maybe the transition before you pivot into the new turn.....

I think that about covers it.....

Hi LiquidFeet--great question! I too would prefer to reject the "rhomboid" definition of "square," because by definition, a rhomboid is NOT square--it is a parallelogram with no right angles and unequal length adjacent sides. In other words, if it's square, it's not a rhomboid, and if it's a rhomboid, it is not square. If we replace "rhomboid" with "parallelogram," then square would be a special case but still not an equivalent term.

In any case, the relationship Epic described--of the inside half of the body advanced such that lines drawn across the ski tips, feet, knees, hips, hands, shoulders, and so on, would all be parallel (roughly) as in the image of Jerry Berg here--is a good one to note, at least as a "default" movement pattern.

###### Jerry  Berg--dated outfit, but still contemporary movements--demonstrating basic parallel relationships across the body

While real skiing involves all sorts of situational variations, the sound basic contemporary technique of active legs tipping and rotating beneath a stable upper body (pelvis up) will yield these parallel relationships. When you watch a technically solid and disciplined skier, you will see that these relationships tend to remain pretty consistent throughout most turns, most of the time--especially in the fore-aft plane. When the lines are consistently far out of whack--for example, when the outside hand and shoulder move ahead of their inside counterparts at the end most turns--it often indicates a technical error or bias such as upper body rotation.

So if "parallelogram-ish" is what you mean by "square," the answer to "when do we get there?" is, essentially, "always" (by default, at least, with situational exceptions). This simplified illustration, which I have posted before, shows the parallel relationship of the hands and ski tips, throughout the turn (note the thin, light-gray parallel lines in each figure):

###### Illustration of various "default" principles of basic, linked, contemporary turns

And here are a few sequences showing the same relationships in real life:

###### Me again, steep crud on Arapahoe Basin's East Wall

---

But if your question really is about "square"--meaning the body faces the same direction as the skis, with no lead of either ski or either side of the body, it is well worth exploring and understanding when that happens--and when it doesn't. It is a common misconception--contradicted by all of the images above--that "square" should coincide with the moment of transition from one turn to the next--the moment I like to call "neutral"--frames 4, 12, and 20 in my illustration of the Dynamic Parallel Turns above. As you can see, the skier is still "countered" at that point, with the uphill ski and uphill half of the body still leading, as in the turn that just ended. This is clear in my illustration, as well as in the photo-sequences.

So when does "square" happen? My illustration shows it in the first frames after "neutral" (#5, 13, & 21) but the truth is that in real skiing it will vary according to a number of factors--speed, turn radius, hill angle, edge angle and skier inclination, to name a few. With solid technique, in most turns "square" will happen somewhere between the initiation ("neutral") and the fall line (straight downhill). Next time you ski, observe your own turns and see where (if ever) it happens.

---

Regardless, it is important to note that these alignments are an effect of good movements--not their cause. Primarily, they result from the legs rotating independently of each other in the hip sockets, beneath the pelvis and stable upper body. Other factors include the "long-leg--short-leg" phenomenon in most turns--the fact that the inside leg (knee and hip) will generally be more flexed than the outside leg through most of the turn, moving that foot ahead.

Observe these "parallel" (or not) lines in your own skiing as a diagnostic indicator of your fundamental movements, more than as an end in themselves. If you (like many, many other skiers) tend to use upper body rotation to twist your skis into the turn initiation, you will rarely find yourself "aligned." But the solution will lie in addressing the upper body rotation--not in trying to become "square" or some particular degree of "countered" in some part of the turn.

Best regards,

Bob

Too funny, "Square to the skis" describes a relationship just like the question "is that door square?"

It has nothing to do with the geometric shape. I know that sounds simplistic to some but it is that simple.

As far as the rule of parallels it's an ideal and like Bob suggested it's not a pose, it an outcome that occurs when we move and ski a certain way.  Does that mean it always occurs? Nope, especially in the race world and the park. Sometime like below you throw away that rule.

Rules are only for training, JASP!

I think it was Thomas Edison who said something like, "Hell, there are no rules here--we're trying to accomplish something!"

Skiing is about purpose and outcome, not rules or poses. Real skiing has no rules, but great skiers certainly show the disciplined fundamentals--the "default movement habits"--that only come from practicing "the rules" when the opportunity allows. I'd say that the great Ron LeMaster image of Jimmy Cochran that you posted shows just that--the last thing on Jimmy's mind there was probably "rules," but the "rules" still show through in his movements. In the training clip I posted (actually, a free run between the two competition runs that day), he looks somewhat more composed, perhaps dialing it back a bit from the edge and focusing on ... something!

Best regards,

Bob

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes

Rules are only for training, JASP!

I think it was Thomas Edison who said something like, "Hell, there are no rules here--we're trying to accomplish something!"

Skiing is about purpose and outcome, not rules or poses. Real skiing has no rules, but great skiers certainly show the disciplined fundamentals...

Best regards,

Bob

Discipline and purpose are great within reason, Bob. Beyond the learning phases and disciplined practice you mentioned, a whole world of situations exist where just like Cochran shows us, the objective doesn't include adhering to the rule of parallel. That doesn't mean and I wasn't trying to imply that his skiing lacks discipline. Here's another example of a great and very disciplined skier () breaking that rule,

The first frame doesn't show a lot of tip lead (notice the shadow cast by the skis) yet your shoulders, hips, and knees all show a varying degree of counter. In the air most of your body is lined up along parallel lines yet your shoulders are not. Even in the last frame where the body has started to develop counter in the opposite way, your shoulders are still not parallel to the ski tips, feet, knees. I love the upper body discipline and stable core but I want to stress the fact that this turn is dynamic enough for you to break that rule of parallel. There's even an A frame so the rule of parallel tibias is being broken as well. That being said the vast majority of skiers and PSIA coaches  wish they could buy this turn and ski at your level.

I know it's hard to re-live one turn but if you could walk us through this montage I feel it would add so much to the discussion of where and when square, counter, and even the two rules of parallel fit in that wider world of expert skiing.

Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/16/11 at 9:30am

I could be totally off base (again?) but my take is everything about skiing is situational and a stance where we are square to the skis is only an incidental outcome and a position we pass through somewhere in linked turns. Same goes for everything lining up along parallel lines. It may, or may not be congruent with the intended turns and may not alway occur at the same place in those turns.

Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/16/11 at 9:56am

Quote:
my take is everything about skiing is situational

Exactly, JASP! It's a great paradox that we as instructors must somehow identify what is "good technique" when every turn represents a different situation, when conditions run the gamut from "pond ice" to "chokinonit" weightless powder, and when intent can change moment by moment across the spectrum from pure braking to pure carving. How do we teach both the default fundamentals and the vast range of variations and choices that comprise great skiing? How do we develop both disciplined, habitual movements and the ability to break the rules--along with the judgment and reflexes needed to know when, and how much?

These are among the challenges of great teaching, instruction, and coaching. The "perfect turn" (I like to call it the "Q-Turn," as in "quintessential") cannot possibly represent more than the default movements in a sport where every moment is a unique situation. It can be no more than a reference, not a constant goal, and not a value by which to judge the quality of all turns. Intent dictates technique.

Two things, to me, really separate the great skiers from the good skiers. First is the purposefulness of the movements and techniques of great skiers. Their purposes may vary and change, but their movements always reflect purpose. Technique is the means to an end, rarely an end in itself. Nor is it ever just random.

By contrast, most recreational skiers, most of the time, seem to have at most the vaguest sense of purpose. "Why do you turn?" "Um...that's an odd question...never really thought about it much...I turn for 'control,' I guess."

"Control of what?"

"Um, control of speed? ... to avoid obstacles? ...to change direction? ...."

And typical techniques reflect this vagueness--a mismatched hodge-podge of conflicting movements. Great skiers, on the other hand, rarely make a turn, or a part of a turn, without a clear intent for exactly where they want their skis and body to travel--the path they want their feet to follow--as well as a definite intention for which direction they want their feet and skis pointed and traveling at each point on that path, at every moment. (Of course, many recreational skiers actually do have a more clearly defined sense of purpose--they turn almost purely for speed control, to scrub off speed, and their movements reflect this defensive intent.)

The second attribute of all great skiers is the ability and willingness to break "the rules," to ski through imbalance, and to change purpose with lightening-quick speed when appropriate. Weems might call this "touch," and it lives on the same polarity axis as "will" in his Sports Diamond™ (with Power and Purpose on the other axis). Whether that means subtly "feathering" a carve or abruptly shifting from pure carve to pure slip or skid mid-turn, or throwing in a big counter-rotation or blocking pole plant "correction," or something else, great skiers do these things seamlessly, without thought, second thought, or regret--but always with purpose!

---

But now I'm seriously off-track as far as the intent of this thread, aren't I? LiquidFeet's questions ("Square at Transition? Square at Fall Line?") surely ask about the default movements of The  Quintessential Turn--not the infinite exceptions. And to that end, the answers are "no," and "no"--"square" happens somewhere between the transition (initiation, "neutral") and the fall line, as all of the illustrations and photo-sequences posted so far reveal. The higher the speed and the more open (long-radius) and carved the turn, the closer it will be to the beginning of the turn. Pivot Slips, with very active rotary from the legs to pivot the skis, but no turn shape or edge engagement, represent the other end of the range. Here, the skis and body will be square only mid-pivot, when the skis point straight downhill (the fall line).

Best regards,

Bob

Quote:
I know it's hard to re-live one turn but if you could walk us through this montage I feel it would add so much to the discussion of where and when square, counter, and even the two rules of parallel fit in that wider world of expert skiing.

Really, JASP?   You expect me to remember that one turn transition?

Well, first, we should ask, "what was my intent or purpose" at that moment. I believe that this sequence was from a run in which Ron asked us to demonstrate "check turns," marked by an edge set and rebound in the transition. It was a task we struggled with a bit, tending at first to overdo it--over-exaggerating a movement pattern that is not usually our--or at least, my--default preference. This turn (finally) represents a fairly subtle version of what I would describe as a "situational" turn initiation.

Although I am slightly knock-kneed in general, the pronounced a-frame in this sequence reflects probably two primary things. First is the intent to set the edge of the downhill ski quickly at the end of the turn, with a quick increase of the edge angle of the downhill ski--combined with a simultaneous movement of the upper body and uphill leg into the new turn. Second, I believe, is the boots I was wearing at the time, which tended to increase my a-frame. This is another story, but in brief, those boots are Nordica Aggressors, with the rotated "duckfoot" stance. I had originally thought that they'd help with my tendency to over-pronate (contributing to an a-frame). But after skiing them for several months, I finally concluded that they had the opposite effect, making the a-frame worse. When I switched back to my older "straight" Dobermanns--identical in every other respect--I found instant improvement.

The rest of the movements in this sequence also reflect the intent to demonstrate a check/rebound turn. Although I am still somewhat countered, with the uphill ski and uphill half of my body somewhat ahead, at the end of the old turn (and I believe that there is more uphill tip lead than it may appear from this angle in the photograph), my alignment reflects the slight upper body rotation that I use to initiate these turns (notice, in particular, the movement of my arms and shoulders from frame 2 to frame 3). Though subtle, this is consistent with and appropriate for the intended turn type. As the skis rebound and "unweight" from the edgeset, the momentum of the upper body rotation gently turns them into the new turn. There is minimal lateral displacement or twisting of the skis here--at least compared with what is possible and common with this type of turn initiation.

My rotation (upper body) here is subtle, but it does lead me to be less countered (more square) through the control and completion phases than, for example, the two sequences of me in my post #13 (although the first one, in orange, shows a subtle edgeset as well--before the turn ends). A more exaggerated version of this turn type would likely show the upper body rotated uphill into the old turn at the turn completion, with the downhill hand reaching forward of the uphill hand, and a much more pronounced rotation of the shoulders and arms prior to the rebound/release.

For what it's worth....

Best regards,

Bob

Checking generally needs something to check.  Therein is where your difficulty with the task likely resided, Bob.  You weren't skidding enough.

Very possible, Rick! Although as instructors we're often demonstrating different turn types and movements, for any number of reasons, when someone turns on a camera and says "make turns that you don't really like," it suddenly becomes a different ball game. And you're right--when a turn is that fundamentally different, you cannot just change one component of it without changing the rest to make it all fit together right. Furthermore, "demonstrating" almost always involves technique for the sake of technique, rather than technique that fits a genuine, real, purpose. The purpose must be fabricated as much as the movements.

Still, it shouldn't have been that tough!

Best regards,

Bob

###### Me

Bob , this really shows me what you mean by the  GO there in skiing that you talk about. You are looking exactly where you want to GO from the 2nd frame down even though that was the end of your right turn. Looking at your head and eyes tells the whole story of where you are going. Great stuff, look at that grin, you can't be having too much fun out there huh?

Thanks Bob for the walk through and yes I did expect you to remember it on some level. I'm a bit surprised how clearly you remember that run but perhaps the struggle to do the demo made it more memorable. To bring this back to the OP's questions, Squareness matters in the sense that in any series of linked turns a chronic asymmetry in our stance would have a very negative affect on our ability to perform symmetrical turns. So moving through "square" needs to occur but that doesn't mean we need to stay there very long.

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