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Question regarding fore/aft weighting

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I was talking to a well respected boot fitter regarding how I would know if my boots were too soft for my ability level. He was saying that soft boots are better especially in softer conditions so as not to pressure the tips too much and cause sinking. He also said that under normal conditions your weight should be as centered as possible meaning the same amt of pressure on the shin as compared to the calf and that in the old days with straight skis one would have to put much more forward pressure but now with more sidecut you want to use the whole ski through the entire turn hence keeping your weight in the middle, tip, pressure edges, and be patient. Is this correct or should I still focus on being in the front seat with lots of pressure on the shins for optimal carving. thnks.

post #2 of 12

Well you are both wrong....but he appears more right then you.

 

For carving on hardpack we still want to engage the tips by applying forward pressure to engage the turn.  We then want more of a "neutral" stance in the middle of the turn, and then feel the back of the ski to end the turn.  Ie feel the ball fo the foot to start, the arch in the middle, and the heel to end.  This will result in optimal performance.

 

It is entirley possible however to just "ski neutral" the entire time, and just tip the skis.  This works, but will not offer the performance that is acheivable by working fore/aft.  This is often the difference between Advanced and Expert skiiing.  However, I agree with your boot fitter that in Powder, you are likely to want to stay neutral.

 

Whether carving or in powder staying forward the whole time is bad, and is one of the most common mistakes holding good skiers back from becoming great skiers.  Yes it is possible to be too far forward....many (most?) advanced skiers are.  They wont/cant improve until they fix this.

 

However....and this is a big however.  Ski tip pressure can be generated one of two ways.  We can either 1: push into the boot cuff, or 2: we can extend our ankle, so as to be pushing down on the ball of the foot.  Both work, but the second way is far more effective, particularily for shorter turns (where we need to get our weight back quickly) and in variable terrain where lots of flexion/extension is required.   If we adopt the second method, that is not to say we dont feel the shins on the front of the boots, we do...but our main focus is the bottom of the foot, and its action within the boot that is most important.

 

Hopefully that makes sense.

post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

However....and this is a big however.  Ski tip pressure can be generated one of two ways.  We can either 1: push into the boot cuff, or 2: we can extend our ankle, so as to be pushing down on the ball of the foot.  Both work, but the second way is far more effective, particularily for shorter turns (where we need to get our weight back quickly) and in variable terrain where lots of flexion/extension is required.   If we adopt the second method, that is not to say we dont feel the shins on the front of the boots, we do...but our main focus is the bottom of the foot, and its action within the boot that is most important.

I need some more explanation on option #2. Can you describe in greater detail how to do this?
 

 

post #4 of 12

TSG,

 

Take your shoes and socks off and sit in a chair on a hard surface so that your feet are flat on the floor. Feel the contact points between your feet and the floor (this will be different for different people). Now raise your heels off the floor/lift your knees up). You should feel increased pressure on the balls of your feet. Reset. Now imagine that the floor is hinged between the chair and your feet and instead of raising your heels, the floor starts tilting away from you and you have to push the balls of your feet down to maintain complete foot to floor contact. These are two different ways to see your ankle joint extending. The difference between this and skiing is that in this exercise the upper body stays stationary in the chair, while in skiing that ankle movement either causes the upper body to move forward slightly or causes the ski tip to maintain ski to snow contact.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses. I will work on changing sole of foot pressure by plantar flexion (beginning of the turn) neutral (middle of turn) and dorsiflexion of the ankle (end of turn to engage the tails). Correct?

ps this is assuming packed conditions

post #6 of 12

 

Quote:

Skidude wrote:

 

However....and this is a big however.  Ski tip pressure can be generated one of two ways.  We can either 1: push into the boot cuff, or 2: we can extend our ankle, so as to be pushing down on the ball of the foot.  Both work, but the second way is far more effective, particularily for shorter turns (where we need to get our weight back quickly) and in variable terrain where lots of flexion/extension is required.   If we adopt the second method, that is not to say we dont feel the shins on the front of the boots, we do...but our main focus is the bottom of the foot, and its action within the boot that is most important.

 

Great post SD, not only the highlighted quote, very important content and descriptions here.  These "inside the boot" movements/mechanics that can't be seen are invaluable insights, especially when making short turns and developing a quicker carved/brushed turn.

 

I would consider adding another ankle movement that is key to developing early shovel edge pressure to initiate the new turn, that would be "rolling the ankle" to engage the new edge early during transition.  I'm not sure what the proper term for this ankle movement is, so I just call it rolling the ankle and it can be initiated simultaneously with retraction during transition or the "float" phase of a short turn which release the edges from the previous turn and when the skier moves pressure from aft to fore in the boot.  This gets the skier forward and the skis on edge early and helps develop high edge angles early in the turn.

 

I realize this may be possibly considered a "steering" movement, but it should not be the skiers intention to twist the skis around, the edges will hook up instantly and begin to carve through the turn when the ankle is "rolled" as opposed to "twisted".


Edited by Nailbender - 8/4/11 at 6:34pm
post #7 of 12
You can describe the sensations involved in the ankle rolling movement a couple different ways.

One is to feel for the ankle "bone"--the knobs on each side of the ankle--establishing greater contact with the pockets for them provided in the boot liner.

The other is to feel for greater pressures applied above the ankles by the sides of the boot cuffs.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

I think the "rolling" you are describing is called eversion/inversion of the ankle. Eversion would be having the sole of your foot facing outward or away from your midline. Would this be only for the outside ski? For the inside ski would the ankle be inverted? (sole of the foot facing midline) Or, in other words, the pressure on the boot would be on the outside of the ankle for the inside ski and on the inside of the ankle for the outside ski? Also, would pressure on the bottorm of the toes (plantarflexion) occur at the same time as the inversion/eversion to engage the tips at turn initiation? I HOPE THIS MAKES SOME SORT OF SENSE!!! 

thnks  

post #9 of 12

 

Quote:

agreen wrote:

 

Also, would pressure on the bottorm of the toes (plantarflexion) occur at the same time as the inversion/eversion to engage the tips at turn initiation?

 

Thanks for the lesson agreen. 

 

You've got it right, immediately after the explosive turn finish,  maximum edge pressure of the turn, simultaneously retract both feet to release the edges, roll both ankles onto the new edge (evert the new downhill ankle which was the old uphill ski and invert the new uphill ankle which was the old downhill ski and pressure (plantarflexion) the big toe of the new downhill ski and pressure the little toe of the new uphill ski.  I develop plantarflexion by pulling the toes back, pushing down and lifting the arch.

 

Rolling the ankles allows you to powerfully focus pressure on the new big toe and new little toe.  When you do this, you will really start to "feel" the edges start to bite or carve into the snow as you weightlessly float through transition.  These movements don't generate a lot of power but don't require much exherted energy either, the combination of movements develops more than enough power to tip the skis onto the new edge and get the ski shovel edges to carve into the snow and start the new arc/turn, your tails with probably not even be in contact with the snow early in the high "C" after transition.

 

I say the movements will develop plenty of power to hook up the edges of the basically unweighted skis.  When learning how to speed up Quick Carved Turns as opposed to longer radius GS turns, if you have very sharp tips edges, they can and will hook up so fast as to actually come back across the fall line before you are ready to finish the turn, your weight will still be floating.  This can cause you to "go over the handle bars" or get thrown forward.  It takes practice to learn how much pressure one wants to apply to the shovel edges.

 

You can vary the amount of pressure you generate while rolling the ankle and pressuring the big and little toe by the amount of "twist" you apply to the ankles.  I don't know the proper term for twist either, but I'm sure there is a term, maybe rotate.  I mentioned above that some may call rotating/twisting the ankles steering, but it should not the the intention of the skier to pull the skis around (pivot I guess), it is used to generate more edge pressure, especially on the shovels, the skis will turn naturally when pressured and on edge.

 

Above I used the phrase, "explosive turn finish" and I'd like to explain a little more on what I do at the turn finish when making QCT's.  As your skis are starting to return back across the fall line, pressure is constantly building as your weight is now coming down onto the edges and the skis create more friction as they are now going across the fall line as opposed to down the fall line.  At the bottom of the turn, or turn finish, is the "moment" maximum pressure is generated.  The skier only has to concentrate on doing 2 things here simultaneously.  Firmly drive or snap the inside ski and heel down and forward (maybe only 3" to 4 " forward) and strike the pole plant by snapping the wrist as far down hill as comfortable.  For some reason, when you drive the inside foot down and forward, the downhill ski pressure that has been radically increasing will naturally move from fore to aft at the turn finish.  This is how the skier can generate "rebound" energy that will "jet" them out of the turn off their tails into the float phase/transition.

 

Remember, all of these "inside the boot" movements and pressures can be greatly varied to adapt to different snow conditions and pitch.  It is a good idea to make a lot of quick turns at times during the first few runs of the day on the groomed to get the timing of the movements back relative to the snow.

 

I hope this makes sense and you are able to visualize what is going on with these combinations of "inside the boot" movements.

 

 

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Great post!!! Thanks for the details. This is the kind of stuff I havent received in group lessons but I think will make a huge difference this year. I especially like the picture of the big toe/little toe pressure. Its kind of a combo of eversion/inversion with plantar flexion. I dont think I am too clear on the heel down but forward part at the end of the turn??? It seems if I push my heel down I'll end up sitting back?

 

post #11 of 12

Hmmm. SD started talking about ankle usage and how that affects fore aft balance. Tip pressure is another subject though. Yes plantar flexion can cause a brief increase in tip pressure but the boot itself is the limiting factor because once the lower leg runs into the spine of the boot, this levers pressure to the tail. Not to mention the plantar flexion move can lever the rest of the body aft as SD mentioned. That's why it's not wise to over simplify the subject and suggest plantar flexion as a cure all. In many cases it's exactly the wrong move because of the outcomes I just mentioned. So are there other options? Yup. Dorsi flexing shifts your stance forward and applies pressure to the boot tongue but in excess it actually inhibits a clean release move and the typical work around is the often mentioned rotary push off move. All of this suggests that ankle movements alone are not the complete story. The rest of the story is that the rest of the joints in the lower half of the body have to be involved in our fore-aft balancing activities. Keeping the ankle in place, extend the knee and hip and the pelvis moves forward, flex them both and the pelvis moves aft. Extend the knee but flex the hip and again the torso tips forward, flex the knee and not the hip and the foot moves aft and we end up in a levered forward stance. Even turning the leg can be used to change the fore-aft pressure along an engaged edge.

So how do boots and boot flex affect this? Two ways. First the shell's role needs to be discussed briefly. It's the supporting structure that is analogous to the suspension of a car. The cuff of the boot transmits our movements so it's like the steering and transmission of a car. Two distinct roles and while some overlap does exist for our purposes here ankle flex moves the cuff, then eventually begin flexing the shell as our stance changes. So if all you want to do is move the cuff, then smaller and less powerful ankle movements will work well. If you are trying to maintain a consistently forward levered stance, overall stance adjustments make more sense. Although I 'm not a fan of levering. Like the boot fitter suggested the consistently excessive forward levering we once saw has lost relevence on today's recreational skis. Working the ski from tip to tail has even been losing relevence for some ski disciplines. So it really comes down to how you want to ski. Racers may want a different set up than a bumper, park and pipe rat, or even a freerider. Try many different boots and go skiing where you like to ski and your choice will be pretty obvious.

 

In addition I want to comment on where the pressure should be greatest in a turn. If it's at the end of the turn you failed to work the ski enough in the middle of the turn. So you're forced to do all that work late in the turn. This creates two negative outcomes, blocking and poor flow into the next turn. Both are defensive moves BTW. Be more offensive and work the ski harder in the middle of the turn so you can spend the finishing phase getting set up for the next turn. If you seek rebound, create it early and the skis will slingshot across the hill instead of up the hill (another defensive move). Most of today's skis are designed for slithery turns, not the vertical hop and pop turns we did twenty years ago. You can still do them but if that's your default turn you need to find some old 204 slaloms. If not seek a good instructor who can help you update your skiing...

 

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post

Great post!!! Thanks for the details. This is the kind of stuff I havent received in group lessons but I think will make a huge difference this year. I especially like the picture of the big toe/little toe pressure. Its kind of a combo of eversion/inversion with plantar flexion. I dont think I am too clear on the heel down but forward part at the end of the turn??? It seems if I push my heel down I'll end up sitting back?

 


You might end up back...that is ok to start, you will find the right amount with abit of trial and error.  Look at pics of either racers or even big mountain free skiers at the end of the turn.....trust me, they are not "sitting back", but are probably looking alot further back then what the average skier might think is appropriate.   This fear of "sitting back" is what causes so many skiers to over compensate and actually ski too far forward....sure too far forwar is better then too far back...but being able to work fore/aft from a neutral position is ideal, and what the big kids do.
 

 

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