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Where should hands/arms be in short turns?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I've been working on keeping my hips and shoulders facing the fall line when making very short turns in a steep couloir.


It seems to help if I keep hands apart, elbows (somewhat) in, and plant the poles with an open palm.


My default tendency is to let the forearm follow the skis ( ie point to the right at the end of a turn to the right), then swing it into the fall line, about below the bindings to start my next turn.


It feels that in this case, my upper body also has a tendency to follow the skis, instead of being aimed down the hill.


Look at the video below. Not of me, but of Andreas Fransson, a swedish guy who spends the winters in Chamonix.

He is arguably one of the balsiest skiers in the word at this time, and one of th emost filmed, at least in Chamonix.

He skis the terrain I like to ski, but with a lot more exposure.




Anyway, around 3:19, he starts skiing. Look at his forearms, which tend to be parallel to his skis at the end of the turn. It obviously doesn't hurt his turns.


So my question:


Since I have only a limited amount of time and mental energy to spend on improving my skiing, should I worry about my arm position, or just work on hips and upper body facing down the hill, and let my forearms go across my body, parallel to my skis?




post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

and here is a second video of Andreas, showing the arms, him skiing something a bit steeper, and with shots from across the valley showing the size of his turns.



post #3 of 14

Video of another skier doesn't offer much to comment on about your skiing Rod. Although your post does. Are you turning your upper body as you swing the arm and pole back down the hill? If you are truly facing downhill and reaching across your body during the turn finish, the question would be why? What advantage does it give you? What disadvantage does it create?

post #4 of 14

So here's the thing, if your shoulders and torso are facing downhill the outside arm would be in place without having to be moved there. If your shoulders are facing downhill then throwing the outside arm across body and across the hill is a curious move. Not sure what that would do beyond add an into the turn rotary momentum that would be arrested by the torso that doesn't turn with that arm. I suspect but can't say for sure that the torso is being used to get the skis to come around very quickly. So the arm moving downhill would in turn turn the shoulders along with the upper torso downhill and at the completion of the turn that momentum would continue to turn the upper body across the hill along with the outside arm. Then again if you are actually skiing the same terrain as Andreas, you could offer most here some advice and that arm move across the body and hill might be something we should be asking you about.

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 

to be clear, i am sure my upper body doesn't face down the fall line, more like 45 degrees, and so do my forearms. I don;t have a video skiing anything steep and POV, but I feel that my arms look like in the two videos, following my skis.


The question I have is this:


Is there a problem with upper body and arms being at 45 degrees to the fall line in very short (jump) turns?


When I plant the pole, it is down the fall line, under my bindings.


There are so many things i could work on, that I want to make sure I don;t soend too much time on something that's not crucial.


Almost every POV I see in steep terrain, the arms swing out to the side.

post #6 of 14

Arms are not crucial.


Hips and shoulders should face the direction you are travelling.  When linking short turns, as a generallity, we say keep "facing down the hill", in reality it wont be exacltey down the hill.


Open palm to plant, (if i follow you) sounds like a blocking pole plant, which is ideal for really steep stuff.


Focus on fore/aft balance (read ankle/knee/hip flexion/extension), and ILS.  To me anyway those are the mose important things for what you are doing.



post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 

ILS? not familiar with this term.

post #8 of 14

ILS = Independent Leg Steering.


It is the ability to rotate your femurs in the hip socket independtley of each other.  It is the move that allows your skis to point across the hill, yet keep your upper body(hips and shoulders) facing the direction of travel.


It is critical to maintain rotational balance.  This is always critical, but even more so with a backpack!  Especially a heavy one!


Just look at an good skiers, anytime their bodys and feet are not aligned, I can pretty much gurantee that is acheived via ILS.


Lots of good examples here, easy to find, this was the first vid I looked at.  Any video of good skiers will show it, much easier to see on short turns then long thou....



Below from about 12 seconds or so with Seth, again easy to see the skis turn, and the upper body stay still.  ILS



I know this next video looks lame...but here is the move done in isolation of anything else on a shallow slope, with no speed, and really not much of anything else going on.  Hopefully you can see how this movment below, added with some other bits, is what the guys above are doing to turn the skis, and keep the upper body stable.



Lots of weaker skiers dont do this.  Instead they have the hips follow the feet and twist the spine or just bring their whole body around as one big unit, which creates all kinds of rotational momentum that then needs to be controlled...you can actually see these guys struggle as the rotational momentum created in their upper bodies want to keep pulling them around,.  This is mechanically weak and unstable. No ILS below.  See the difference?




Edited by Skidude72 - 8/26/11 at 9:46am
post #9 of 14

Jump turns are a bit different as the slope angle increases. Some whole body, or upper body rotary occurs. Especially in a very narrow chute. Although like SD points out the stable upper body idea very much applies. A tell tale sign of a less stable (rotationally) upper body is how the arms move. So while Rod states his forearms are swinging across the hill even though the torso isn't turning across the hill, his statement needs to be investigated further. If it's a crack the whip outcome where the arms get whipped across the hill, then the arms swinging across the hill would be the result of the big torso rotating move. If it's a willful act the most likely reason is to add some additional rotary force. Both suggest wanting the skis to turn faster. SD added that more leg steering, or a stronger leg steering move may eliminate the need for the larger upper body moves. But that leads to something I mentioned in my last post.


Considering the extreme slope angle and narrowness of the chute, it's hard to say for sure that Andreas isn't doing exactly what he needs to do to negotiate that terrain. Is that what Rod does and is that where Rod actually skis? If so, then IMO he is skiing at a level beyond most skiers in the world and we should be listening to his advice, not offering him our advice. If Rod isn't skiing that chute (and BTW a first descent suggest Rod hasn't skied that chute), then maybe he aspires to ski that sort of terrain and is wanting advice about how to do so. It's survival skiing and one turn to a stop stuff. Not linked turns like Seth shows. Different objectives require different tactical solutions...

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 


Just to make it clear, my upper body is following the skis, and so do my arms.


The couloirs that Andreas skis are about 50 degrees. I do ski these (East side of Sierras), but without exposure, meaning no mandatory rappels. It's true though that my turns are not very fluid in those conditions, and this is what I am working on.


Thank you all for the help.


The advice that resonated the most with me is to rotate the legs (femurs) independently of the hips and upper body.

I found out this June that my internal rotation of the femur is not very good. (This means: when I am standing and try to rotate say my right leg counterclockwise, I was getting very little rotation past dead forward). The internal rotation of the femur is needed when the skis a rotated without rotating the hips. In my example, this would be in a turn to the left.


I have been stretching quite a bit and luckily, I am able to internally rotate about 30+ degrees, maybe 40 degrees, on both legs.


I believe that without femur internal rotation, I had to throw my hips into the turn to compensate.


But after listening to all the advice and thinking about this, I think that the arms-forearms-hands should be down the hill, not following the body.

post #11 of 14

Rod, think about the chest and shoulders facing downhill and the arms will naturally not swing across the hill. BTW, The focus on increased leg steering will help reduce the amount of across the hill rotation occuring in the upper body but some will naturally occur during a jump turn. A turn that short almost always includes some so don't get too hung up on it. As far as flowing more, well that's as much a mental mindset as a technique issue. Offensive verses defensive turns has been covered a lot in other threads but even that advice needs to be tempered with the situational needs you are facing. Andreas was defensive because the chute required a more defensive approach. Seth was more offensive because the situation allowed it. In any event, just skiing that terrain will help you figure out where you can make offensive turns and where you need to make defensive turns. Ski well...




post #12 of 14

"Where should arms and hand be when skiing?"


For the short answer skip to rule 3.


There are three rules:


1 )  I'm a firm believer in keeping my hands firmly attached to my arms at the wrist.  Some people like to store their hands in their pockets when they are not using them, but I find this awkward, because you never know when you might suddenly need to use them, and if they are in your pockets it can cause delay, especially if you have to go fumbling though all of your pockets because you don't remember where you put them.


2)  Arms should be kept attached to the shoulders, that makes it easier to find the hands if you have followed rule 1.



If you can't remember rules 1 and 2, then just remember rule 3:


3) Keep hands where you can see them.


If you can't see your hand, it's likely too far back (unless it's in your pocket nonono2.gif).



post #13 of 14

Here's my 2 cents worth I agree with Ghost your hands should be in your field of vision.  Short turns long turns if you can’t see them they are in the wrong place. When student ask me where there hands should be I ask them to look me in the eye with there hands at their side bring them up until they see them while maintaining eye contact with me.  That's where you should have them and you should always see them while you ski. 

Sound to me your concerns is more about your degree of separation in a turn between you upper and lower body in the lower part of the arc. If you are squaring up to the ski before it's crossed the fall line and have to turn your shoulder to plant again then its rotation not hand or arm positron. Now when you’re talking an extreme chute then it's get down anyway you can brute force and ignorance as one of my ski gang likes to say.  When I'm in a tight chute making short turns  I make sure move  my full range through bending and I get really low at the end of  a turn. M y balance is centered I reach down the hill to plant and gravity does the rest. Do we rotate? Yep sometimes you just have to, to get them around but is it efficient no. If you can do short rads on a groomer track without this happening and in the bumps then you’re adapting to the situation, if you can't do it on groomed terrain then that's where I'd suggest you focus. I hope that give you some ideas to chew on for the season. 



post #14 of 14
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post
I have been stretching quite a bit and luckily, I am able to internally rotate about 30+ degrees, maybe 40 degrees, on both legs.

Here are two exercises that I do:

Lie on your back with one leg raised into the air at 90 degrees. Rotate the whole leg clockwise and counter clockwise through the max possible range of motion without turning the foot more than the leg).

Hold a medicine ball with both hands in front of your belly, feet about should width apart. Step one foot a couple inches outside of shoulder width, then shift and rotate the upper body around that foot. Reach to maximum stretch and hold briefly. Then return to neutral stance and repeat to the other side. Make sure that you do not over rotate your shoulders. Having your elbows out holding the medicine ball gives you an additional point of reference to keep your hips and shoulders aligned.


The second exercise is more of a golf exercise, but I can feel it build strength. the first exercise is more of a beginner exercise, but it serves as a wonderful cheater check to stop you front twisting your feet to get femur rotation.

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