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# How do you teach "Release"? - Page 3

So true! Maybe that's part of the problem here. releasing what, releasing it when, how are we releasing it? These are all relevent questions with completely different answers. In a lesson I might discuss how hanging onto the old turn too long impedes our ability to transition into the new turn. Ya gotta stop turning left if you want to start turning right, is something I've been known to say. How we do that is by first ending the turn were are finishing and that occurs when we release the edges and let the skis glide.

Originally Posted by michaelA
To me, "Release" can easily be made into a fuzzy concept because there are multiple skier attributes that experience something we might call 'release'.

First, at Apex a skier might begin to 'release' the current turn radius - allowing the turn radius to grow by un-tipping their edges from whatever angle they're at.

Second, at Apex a skier may begin to 'release' their upper-body and allow it to begin migrating across their skis (just the act of "not holding" a given position inside our skis is a kind of 'release' of our CM)

Third, when carving (picture ideal carving) the ski itself may 'release' from the perfect carve and begin scarving slightly. Here, the the skier is still turning but the ski has 'released' from its Critical Edge-Angle and is no longer held in its perfect little rut. This ski might be at an angle of 20, 30, 45, even 60-degrees to the surface, though it has clearly 'released' that perfect grip it had earlier.

Fourth, at some point (depending on slope-angle) a tipped ski will no longer continue turning in the tipped direction despite its continued interaction with the snow. Here, Gravity may pull downhill with a force exactly equal to the Centripetal Force caused by continued edge engagement. This ski is therefore "going straight" and has completely 'released' from any actual turning - yet is hasn't yet become 'flat' to the surface either.

Fifth, the ski may get all the way to 'flat' with respect to the surface (meaning both edges are currently 'released' and no ski/snow-interaction turning force in either direction is being generated). Here the ski itself may not be generating any turning force - but Gravity may be drawing the ski (and skier) increasingly downhill, thus starting a turn in the new direction despite the ski being 'flat' to the surface, unengaged, and 'released' in every way.

( So... which exact definition of 'release' do we want to flog others with today? )

My own use of the term 'release' is kept in concert with the context I'm teaching (one of the 5 items above) so that people know what I'm talking about. How do I teach 'Release'? I don't. Instead, I only elaborate the specific kind of release as necessary for the Task, Movement Pattern or Technical Concept I happen to be teaching at the moment.

This thread is collecting thoughtful, in-depth descriptions of how we use the term "release," and of what it means in terms of ski-snow-interaction.  Clarifying what "release" means down at the level of the snow is technically enlightening.  But in the process the focus on the instructor-student situation has gotten put on hold.

I'm hoping to hear more actual stories describing what instructors guide their students to think, feel, and do as they manage those objects on their feet.  I'm going to try using sideslips the way jasp describes it next season when I return to teaching, my aim being to get some on-slope epiphanies happening.  Are there more stories like that?

Specifically, what do you instructors do in the two teaching situations below?  If you don't teach "release" but handle it indirectly, it would be great to hear a description of how your indirect process plays out on the hill.

1.  A group lesson for never-ever adults.... The snow is man-made and firm. They are learning to do their very first linked wedge turns on a very gentle pitch.  Do you just get them to turn the skis and ignore the issue of release since the skis are so flat anyway?  If any of you tackle this issue in your teaching, I'd like to hear what you do.

2.  A group of seasoned skiing adults who ski parallel, who like to ski fast on hard snow, and who regularly ski groomed steeps as long as the snow is firm....  But it's mashed potatoes out there today, and they don't last long on spring snow or fresh powder because of their rotary bias.  They have probably never felt the skis carving.  They want to learn how to ski that soft snow.  Does a focus on release become part of your progression?

We call the initial footwork on very flat terrain "flatwork" and it very much includes releases and edge engagements. Side stepping, herringbones, skating, and gliding, etc. So long before our students even get to the point of linking turns (either parallel or wedge) they've learned how to release and re-engage an edge. They've done J turns to both directions and they're moving on to linked turns only after demonstrating competence in all of these maneuvers. Even then stance asymmetries occur and clearly indentifying them is important. They are dealt with immediately as well. Beyond that it becomes a question of training? Did our coach follow our training, or did they take a "short cut" and take a student somewhere (technique or terrain) before the student was ready? That's perhaps the hardest part of training new staff. They get excited and a bit impatient, or they simply don't understand the scrutiny and thought behind our recommended methods. That's not to say we don't value innovation, we do. All that means is we've developed methods based on the well worn path used by our most successful pros. We also review and update those methods every fall. So when a relatively new pro feels the need to invent something, we offer the following litmus test. Does their new method out perform our established curriculum. If yes, we share that with the rest of the staff. If it doesn't, the inevitable question becomes why would you want to use a less effective method?

The second scenario doesn't make much sense, an excessive rotary bias on steep icy slopes? Really? Anyway, If they're having trouble in crud or powder, it often is a matter of not being patient and allowing the skis to come around.  It's important to remember how the skis are moving relative to the snow, in soft snow the skis are planing through the snow, not sliding / carving on the surface. So while I understand the idea of calming down the excessive rotary, perhaps a better way to present that is to mention objectives. If you're trying to do whippy slalom turns that outcome is a lot harder since the snow is sheering under the load imposed by the skier. Not to mention the extra friction involved (in crud and powder skiing) make skis react slower. So tell them to follow the tips a bit more and be a lot more patient. Then show them some impeccable turns using that tactic.

Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/22/11 at 2:55pm

I introduce the concept of the release to my students right after they can do a stable controlled straight wedge in our magic carpet area. I demo making one ski flatter then the other ski flatter, I let the students practice flattening one ski then the other statically. Then I have them start their gliding wedge down the hill and half way down flatten first one ski and then the other. We spend the next little while exploring how flattening a ski makes us go in that direction and what the other outcomes are of this flattening.

fom

I tend to think in terms of functional inputs and outcomes when teaching. In effect, what I posted earlier drives what I actually teach. Taking your scenario as an example:
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet
1. A group lesson for never-ever adults.... The snow is man-made and firm. They are learning to do their very first linked wedge turns on a very gentle pitch. Do you just get them to turn the skis and ignore the issue of release since the skis are so flat anyway? If any of you tackle this issue in your teaching, I'd like to hear what you do.
... And using my #4 as a functional basis...
Quote:
Fourth, at some point (depending on slope-angle) a tipped ski will no longer continue turning in the tipped direction despite its continued interaction with the snow. Here, Gravity may pull downhill with a force exactly equal to the Centripetal Force caused by continued edge engagement. This ski is therefore "going straight" and has completely 'released' from any actual turning - yet is hasn't yet become 'flat' to the surface either.
... I can build a simple progression from knowing what's really needed.

In your cited case the skier is on very mild terrain with minimal slope and is skiing in (hopefully) a Gliding Wedge. If so, this skier is on the inside-edge of both slightly-tipped skis. Instead of Gravity overcoming the turning-force created by the edge-angle, each ski's edge-angle overcomes the pushing force of the other. Since both skis are trying to 'turn to the inside' equally, I don't really need to adjust the edge-angle of either ski in order to turn effectively - all I need to do is implement Independent Leg Steering (ILS). No 'release' is actually necessary at this point - just the steering of both skis!

Once the skier is effectively turning in both directions (via ILS) I can introduce a more efficient way to turn through slight releasing of the edge of the downhill ski by tipping it just a little bit off of its inside-edge. Note that I didn't say, "tip onto the little toe edge" or anything like that. I don't want them tipping that far - I just want them releasing that ski's hold a bit to get the advantage of less resistance in that direction.

The effort at Steering is to be maintained while this goes on. Chances are the skier will find the right range of tipping motion (via 'feel') on their own. If not, I'll ask them to experiment with greater ranges.

This progression isolates steering/rotary patterns and gets them turning easily with no need to worry about fine edge control nor pressure control. Only when this is working would I move on to edge-angle control - and only to the degree necessary to achieve reasonable outcomes. This way I've taught them to turn effectively without 'release' - and then later I can build their existing turns further by introducing a slight 'release' of the downhil ski. No effort is made to discuss re-engagement of a ski on its outside-edge because it simply isn't an element of a Wedge Turn.

.ma

Originally Posted by justanotherskipro

We call the initial footwork on very flat terrain "flatwork" and it very much includes releases and edge engagements. Side stepping, herringbones, skating, and gliding, etc. So long before our students even get to the point of linking turns (either parallel or wedge) they've learned how to release and re-engage an edge. They've done J turns to both directions and they're moving on to linked turns only after demonstrating competence in all of these maneuvers. Even then stance asymmetries occur and clearly indentifying them is important. They are dealt with immediately as well. Beyond that it becomes a question of training? Did our coach follow our training, or did they take a "short cut" and take a student somewhere (technique or terrain) before the student was ready? That's perhaps the hardest part of training new staff. They get excited and a bit impatient, or they simply don't understand the scrutiny and thought behind our recommended methods. That's not to say we don't value innovation, we do. All that means is we've developed methods based on the well worn path used by our most successful pros. We also review and update those methods every fall. So when a relatively new pro feels the need to invent something, we offer the following litmus test. Does their new method out perform our established curriculum. If yes, we share that with the rest of the staff. If it doesn't, the inevitable question becomes why would you want to use a less effective method?

The second scenario doesn't make much sense, an excessive rotary bias on steep icy slopes? Really? Anyway, If they're having trouble in crud or powder, it often is a matter of not being patient and allowing the skis to come around.  It's important to remember how the skis are moving relative to the snow, in soft snow the skis are planing through the snow, not sliding / carving on the surface. So while I understand the idea of calming down the excessive rotary, perhaps a better way to present that is to mention objectives. If you're trying to do whippy slalom turns that outcome is a lot harder since the snow is sheering under the load imposed by the skier. Not to mention the extra friction involved (in crud and powder skiing) make skis react slower. So tell them to follow the tips a bit more and be a lot more patient. Then show them some impeccable turns using that tactic.

Justanotherskipro,

I envy your ski school's approach of having recommended methods for teaching beginners which are reviewed and updated each season.  All the advice people are offering is very much appreciated by this rookie instructor.

Edited by LiquidFeet - 4/24/11 at 5:21pm

Much has been said above about release using the edging skill but what affects can pressure control skills and rotary skills have on release?  Certainly edge release is the key component in releasing the old turn, but how will blending effective pressure and rotary management efforts facilitate smooth transitions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog

Wow, were those ^^ tracks made with pretty fat skis? Just looking at the offset of the arcs at transition.

Or, it was done fairly slowly with some slide?

Have to ask 4ster, he's the one who laid them.  Understand, though, as long as the skis are semi flat on the snow for even as short a time/distance as half a ski length, the entire track will be as wide as the tips and tails, not the underfoot width.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman

Much has been said above about release using the edging skill but what affects can pressure control skills and rotary skills have on release?  Certainly edge release is the key component in releasing the old turn, but how will blending effective pressure and rotary management efforts facilitate smooth transitions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro

We call the initial footwork on very flat terrain "flatwork" and it very much includes releases and edge engagements. Side stepping, herringbones, skating, and gliding, etc. So long before our students even get to the point of linking turns (either parallel or wedge) they've learned how to release and re-engage an edge.

So much get laid at the doorstep of the tipping classification and so little gets discussed in the pressure control classification. All of these activities are a combination fo edging and pressure control but so many folks ignore the idea that all three skills classifications are involved in every one of these activities.

Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/25/11 at 4:43pm

Agree JASP and perhaps because edging movements are the most visible and demonstrable to the average skier, whereas pressure control and rotary impulses are more intrinsic and less visible to the observer?  So people tend to talk more about edging movements as the other skills take a sharper eye to decipher as an observer.

Actually, think about looking at still photos and what jumps out at you first?   Probably edge angle and body position.  Deciphering, from a static body position in a photo, what rotary or pressure management impulses are present is a bit tougher for a less trained eye.  A great example is the classic hips behind the feet position at transition where it is interpreted as being in the back seat when we know this isn't necessarily true based on dynamic balance, biomechanics of flexion with ski boots on, feet moving faster than hips, and "release" of old turn.

Edited by bud heishman - 4/26/11 at 7:32am

Question: How do you teach release?

Answer: In Montana, gunslinging is a great metaphor. I tell people to pretend that someone just shot their supporting leg out from under them. Voila--release!

The other thing I would want to clarify with my student about release is that it's a "let it happen" gravity-assisted move, not a "make it happen" muscle-assisted move.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog

Wow, were those ^^ tracks made with pretty fat skis? Just looking at the offset of the arcs at transition.

Or, it was done fairly slowly with some slide?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick

Have to ask 4ster, he's the one who laid them.  Understand, though, as long as the skis are semi flat on the snow for even as short a time/distance as half a ski length, the entire track will be as wide as the tips and tails, not the underfoot width.

I have only been glancing at this thread, need to get back & read the whole thing.

The photo was taken a few years ago, as topic for another interesting thread.

I think that there is some distortion in the photo making the skis look wider than they are.  I was on narrow SL skis, moderate blue slope, 20-30 mph, wide stance, balance & pressure directed to outside ski.  Early season groomed sugar over firm, machine made snow

Here are the originals.

JF

Those pics makes me want to skip summer and start over with winter again....

Clean corduroy makes you drool?

I'd far rather see 4ster ski in this environment:

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo

Clean corduroy makes you drool?

I'd far rather see 4ster ski in this environment:

Me too.

JF

Living where I do, I can't even relate to that good off piste...
Btw, that corduroy for me is the symbol of the fruit of the hard labor of doing the snow and all the preparation. And it's so magic with the first runs of the season.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Carl R

Living where I do, I can't even relate to that good off piste...

I believe he considers it below average, though the time of year gives it a decent handicap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl R

Btw, that corduroy for me is the symbol of the fruit of the hard labor of doing the snow and all the preparation. And it's so magic with the first runs of the season.

I can relate, you gotta "love the one your with".  I usually spend a lot of time during the early season tuning up on groomers & in the race course.  Once the coverage is good, that is usually the last place you will find me.  I would much rather ski groomers, than not ski at all though.

JF

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelA

To me, "Release" can easily be made into a fuzzy concept because there are multiple skier attributes that experience something we might call 'release'.

First, at Apex a skier might begin to 'release' the current turn radius - allowing the turn radius to grow by un-tipping their edges from whatever angle they're at.

Second, at Apex a skier may begin to 'release' their upper-body and allow it to begin migrating across their skis (just the act of "not holding" a given position inside our skis is a kind of 'release' of our CM)

Third, when carving (picture ideal carving) the ski itself may 'release' from the perfect carve and begin scarving slightly. Here, the the skier is still turning but the ski has 'released' from its Critical Edge-Angle and is no longer held in its perfect little rut. This ski might be at an angle of 20, 30, 45, even 60-degrees to the surface, though it has clearly 'released' that perfect grip it had earlier.

Fourth, at some point (depending on slope-angle) a tipped ski will no longer continue turning in the tipped direction despite its continued interaction with the snow. Here, Gravity may pull downhill with a force exactly equal to the Centripetal Force caused by continued edge engagement. This ski is therefore "going straight" and has completely 'released' from any actual turning - yet is hasn't yet become 'flat' to the surface either.

Fifth, the ski may get all the way to 'flat' with respect to the surface (meaning both edges are currently 'released' and no ski/snow-interaction turning force in either direction is being generated). Here the ski itself may not be generating any turning force - but Gravity may be drawing the ski (and skier) increasingly downhill, thus starting a turn in the new direction despite the ski being 'flat' to the surface, unengaged, and 'released' in every way.

( So... which exact definition of 'release' do we want to flog others with today? )

My own use of the term 'release' is kept in concert with the context I'm teaching (one of the 5 items above) so that people know what I'm talking about. How do I teach 'Release'? I don't. Instead, I only elaborate the specific kind of release as necessary for the Task, Movement Pattern or Technical Concept I happen to be teaching at the moment.

.ma

You forget sixth, or maybe it is included as an elaboration on fifth:

Manipulate release of mass from turn by blending in pressure management, so that forces applied to edge allow ski to hold and maintain direction without the ski releasing until it is flat, while body releases ahead of skis, as in the typical arc-2-arc cross-under.

Carl,

I feel your pain.  It was a little frustrating for me and for the Pros here trying to explain their point in another thread that involved releasing the skis and re-engaging them in a traverse to teach turn initiation via release.  It is not the same as the Arc-2-Arc full-on edges engaged skiing  of which you are thinking.  If you want to understand what some of these guys are talking about, start from scratch and think of the CSIA short turns put up for MA in yet another thread;  IIRC Geofda had some suggestions for improvement, but the desired outcome was in a different direction from the needs of the OP (CSIA LIV dynamic turns or something like that as opposed to edge-locked turns).   Consider it a different way to turn, and it will all make sense.

Quote:
I would much rather ski groomers, than not ski at all though.

True.

I've always thought the most passionate skiers are from the midwest, or anywhere with limited vertical and natural snow. Where I live, skiing is part of the culture, mountains are plentiful, snow is feather-dry--it takes nothing special to love skiing here. There is another notable difference--around here the groomers are empty.

Edited by nolo - 4/26/11 at 5:40pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost

You forget sixth, or maybe it is included as an elaboration on fifth:

Manipulate release of mass from turn by blending in pressure management, so that forces applied to edge allow ski to hold and maintain direction without the ski releasing until it is flat, while body releases ahead of skis, as in the typical arc-2-arc cross-under.

Your description is more elaborate but I think it might just be a combination of 1st and 2nd.

My 1st describes the progressive changing of edge-angle but doesn't necessarily mean 'letting go' of that high-guidance rut (where you say, "...without the ski releasing until flat"). My 2nd ('release of CM') seems right in line with your rephrase as "Manipulate release of mass...".

To me, teaching any of these forms of release would be a much bigger challenge than simply focusing on the movements necessary to bring about a given type of release. We can certainly augment our movement-guidance with supporting descriptions on how the release (of something) will be a detectable outcome of the inputs we're suggesting.

Raises a question of perspective: Is release an input to be done - or an outcome of having done other things?

.ma
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo

Question: How do you teach release?

Answer: In Montana, gunslinging is a great metaphor. I tell people to pretend that someone just shot their supporting leg out from under them. Voila--release!

The other thing I would want to clarify with my student about release is that it's a "let it happen" gravity-assisted move, not a "make it happen" muscle-assisted move.

Great example of pressure skill focus!

Reminds me of this story I heard on Car Talk.

Fairly unrelated though...

# The Lawyer and the Mule

From: Jim Betts

A rancher named Clyde had a car accident. In court, the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning Clyde. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine,'" asked the lawyer.

Clyde responded, "Well, I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule, Bessie, into the..."

"I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted. "Just answer the question? Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine!'?"

Clyde said, "Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road... "

The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."

By this time, the Judge was fairly interested in Clyde's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule, Bessie."

Clyde thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurting, real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans. Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the Patrolman came across the road, gun in hand, looked at me, and said, 'How are you feeling?'"

"Now what the hell would you say?"

Jim

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