I always hear experienced, aggressive skiers talk about "driving the tips" or "driving the skis hard". For instance, I recently got my first pair of professionally fitted boots, and the fitter asked "do you drive your skis hard?" I had internalized this idea as something that I should strive to do, although after watching this video series: http://skiherenow.blogspot.com/p/chapters-1-to-6_27.html, I'm now questioning this. To better frame my question, here's some background:
I'm a mainly self-taught, adult-onset skier (though I have taken lessons), and my progression has gone something like this:
* Skiing in a wedge, terrified of the hill.
* Making the magical discovery that if I planted a pole, my body would somehow automatically turn my skis around the pole plant, finally getting me beyond skiing in a wedge. (I have no doubt this is the "wrong" way to learn. Oh well. It's what I did.)
* At this point I advanced to doing the typical "z turn" - traverse the slope, try to overcome my insane fear of the fall line, finally getting myself to whip the skis around into a skidding turn, and then traversing the other way.
* Here things get foggy - somehow, I got to the point of doing somewhat rounded (and skidded) turns, from the back seat, which worked ok on blues, though I was still quite terrified of the fall line.
* As I started to ski blacks and carve at least part of my turns, I would get bone jarring edge chatter on typical scraped down afternoon hardpack (I ski tahoe, never set foot on eastern ice in my life.)
* I eventually discovered that I could eliminate almost all of the edge chatter by trying to keep my weight on the ball/big-toe of my foot. This worked but was difficult to do well - my crappy boots let my heel float quite a bit whenever I tried to pressure my forefoot.
* As I progressed to skiing off-piste blacks and double blacks, and overcame my fear of the fall line, I finally began to appreciate the importance of not being in the back seat - but my crappy boots gave me no way to achieve this other than putting my weight more or less flat-footed into the bottom of the boot. Essentially, I was striving to ski as though the boot cuff wasn't even there. I've heard people talk of this as "skiing as though the bindings weren't there", although you don't hear nearly as much about that idea as you do about "driving the tips".
So anyway, after reading lots of posts about how you can't get out of the back seat without a proper boot fit, and how the right boots are everything, and so on and so forth, I decided to get some real boots for this season, and went to a boot fitter.
The boot fitter more or less told me to expect miracles, and while I'm very very pleased with my purchase, the changes are much more subtle than I expect. The big things that I've noticed, after a few days on the new boots, are:
* I can almost completely relax my outside foot from the ankle down while in a turn, and still stay on edge. In my old boots, I could maintain what felt like a fairly neutral fore-aft position, but to keep the ski on edge I always felt like I had to squeeze with my big toe.
* I *don't* find it any easier or more beneficial to "drive my tips". Skiing still feels easiest when I stand on my whole foot, albeit with an emphasis toward the fore-foot. I think of it as the same way I would stand if I was playing basketball, getting ready to drive toward the hoop: you don't stand on your tip toes, ready to fall over on your face, but you also don't put much weight on your heels.
SO: All that being said, here's my actual question: Can I continue to progress without coming to appreciate the importance of "driving the tips"? Is "driving the tips" an out-dated technique, left over from the days of straight skis, as suggested in the video series I linked to above? When I watch modern racers, I can't see how or where they are putting obvious pressure onto their tips. (Doesn't mean I think they *aren't*, just means I can't see how or if they are doing it.) *Or*, should I continue doing what I'm trying to do right now, which is get my weight onto the balance point of the skis, and let them work for me?
I'd love to hear people's thoughts on this, and suggestions of things I can do to experiment with how I use my skis. I'm sure I'll get multiple different answers, and that's fine: I like hearing different ways to conceptualize these sorts of things, and I like trying different things to see what works best for me.
Also, sorry for the incredibly long post. What can I say? We need snow out here, really really badly. At least I'm not asking for advice on how tight my underwear should be.