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Where is neutral? - Page 2

post #31 of 49
Thread Starter 

OK, I promised to contact the clinician that suggested that the tips are equal at the fall line.

And I have.

After getting past "quit looking at BB's turn diagram pictures because they are wrong" and "the wedge turns are pushing out the heels" and "the wedge christies are stem turns" we have not come up with anything that supports the claim of equal tips at the fall line.  The only thing that it seems targeted at is not letting that inside foot get out in front so that you lose shin-tongue contact.  We have agreed to not think about tip lead and where it occurs as others here have suggested and get on with other things - like just skiing.  Equal tip lead anywhere is not a goal but an outcome, an instant in time as a result of other movements.

In the discussion, they indicated that Ron Kipp, the USSA Director of Education made mention of this.  Ron is/was apparently also a PSIA Examiner.  I googled him and found out that Ron recently wrote a book "Alpine Skiing" (Sept. 2011) so I bought it and read it.  Found some stuff I just don't agree with like

Wedge turns

pg. 114 "the wedge is an action with the heels pushed out" and "brush the heels out"

push out heels vs guide/steer/twist tips in?

 

Christies

pg. 139 "pivit the skis from the tip so that the skis become parallel, almost as if someone drove a nail through the tip that you pivit from while you bring the tail into the parallel position."

pull the tail in?

 

And his ALL has a tall in it!??!confused.gif  You got to read the book for that one.

 

But anyway, on to our point - tip lead.

Ron does talk about it and here are some key quotes from the book (in blue).

 

The ankle flex establishes the posture for the rest of the body.

Stand on the slope with the skis perpendicular to the fall line. 

Shuffling your feet forward and backward, you can adjust your ankle angle until you arrive at a position in which both angles are equal.

When this is achieved, the uphill ski will be ahead of the lower ski.  This is ski lead.

 

The goal is equal ankle angles.  When the ankles have equal angles on the slope, the resultant posture of the hips and shoulders is also physically facing or biased down the hill.

 

This answers a common question: How much should you face down the hill?  The answer is based on the ankles. 

Having equal ankle angles results in a lead change, that when replicated with parallel hips and shoulders, determines how much the body should be facing downhill.

 

A common problem is the skier pushing the inside ski forward.  Skiers do this for several reasons, none of them good. 

Place the emphasis on equal ankle flexion and the ski lead will take care of itself.

Concentrating on the ski lead is placing the cart before the horse.

Awareness of the ankles will result in the appropriate amount of ski lead.

 

Seems pretty clear what he wants to focus on.  Nothing about where in the turn we might see equal tip lead however and in fact, what he says taken to the fall line reinforces that the tips could not be equal there.

 

So, from equal tip lead to equal ankle flex.  This is the first time I have heard of this but then I'm the old new guy here.

What are folk's thoughts on equal ankle flex or should I start a new thread with the question?

 

post #32 of 49

Now, equal ankle flex seems a bit more palatable than equal tips!?

 

Also agree with your observations regarding Mr. Kipps version of christies and wedges which are a bit archaic and brakey.

post #33 of 49
Thread Starter 

I agree Bud.

 

Went out and played with this a bit.  One of my focus areas is trying to get that outside leg longer and when I tried to combine that with equal flex - read that equal shin-tongue pressure - it felt like my outside foot was behind me.  It sure felt different.  Not good or bad, just different.  Feels like an opportunity but I don;t want to go too far with it until I get some thoughts from the folks around here (this forum).

 

Is equal ankle flex a good thing?

post #34 of 49
What does Ron cite as reasons for desiring equal ankle flex? What does it deliver mechanically or biomechanically that unequal flex might not? Is it context dependent?

I would think the degree of ankle flex in each foot would be an outcome of some other intentional input rather than an input on it's own for the mere sake of 'equalness'. Chances are he's stated a specific reason in there somewhere.

.ma
post #35 of 49

Can't speak for the guy Michael but IMO the inside half staying contemporaneous with the inside ski can be achieved multiple ways. Barnes' bar stool drill uses rotary to keep the inside half leading and the the feet, hips and shoulders parallel (when seen from above). Like so many of us, Mr. Kipp is presenting a very common theme through his organizations set of filters. In USSA's coaching model, rotary is relegated to a secondary skill status.So it's not surprising Mr. Kipp speaks about using flexing and extending (pressure control) instead of rotary to accomplish parallel shins.

 

In contrast, PSIA's rule of parallels and even the idea of equal triangles (when seen from the side) echos this same theme if you think about it. How would we maintain parallel shins and equal triangles (when seen from the side) if we didn't incorporate equal ankle flex? How would we accomplish the equal triangles in the inside half if it didn't lead through the turn?

 

Mr. Kipp just shifts focus to one joint and suggests the rest of the joints will naturally articulate to create the exact same outcome. When it comes to balancing and tapping into our unconscious competence I share his beliefs about it being a very good thing. Especially when we compare that to the mental confusion produced by trying to simultaneously focus on creating specific flex angles in every joint. That's a prescription for failure IMO.  

 

 

 

post #36 of 49
Thread Starter 

Reading, reading, readiing.....

post #37 of 49
I'm just wondering what meaningful physical outcome there might be to it (verses a mere 'geometrically pretty' outcome).

Too often I hear unexplained declarations on how an arm or leg or earlobe needs to be here, there or in some other specific geometrically idealized location in relation to some other body part. I'm looking for the WHY of such declarations.

I figure anyone who knows what they're talking about will be able to explain the specifics of their pronouncements. For instance, I'd assume a person declaring the value of "parallel skis" has successfully analyzed all possible variations of ski-to-ski angles with no Tip Lead, with some Tip Lead and with major Tip Lead, etc. Likewise, a person declaring "equal ankle flex" to be ideal will (hopefully) have analyzed each possible combination of ankle flex and determined pros and cons. Ron Kipp is a competent technical fellow (and nice guy as well) so I'm guessing he's done just such an examination.

I'm not making any claims contrary to the idea, I'm just wondering what the specific ramifications might be for each alternative that leaves "equal" the last, best option standing. I'm also curious if a situational context matters here. Does this idea apply in powder? Regular resort groomers? In the Steeps or Bumps? Only on hard, race-course ice? Not to be anybody's Parrot but the phrase, "Question Everything!" comes to mind.


.ma
post #38 of 49

Skip the diagrams and the analysis for a minute, and just do a basic drill that we did in my USSA Level 100 Coaching clinic.  It turns out that a lot of racers who are just breaking into the USST ranks are good athletes, but don't know a whole lot about skiing.  So the first thing to teach them is how to...traverse!  The USST calls it the "parellel position" but it all comes out to the same thing.  So find a steep pitch and just do some traverses.  Harder than it sounds, right?  You have to balance against, not over the edged outside ski with a relatively square stance, especially in the hips, and use whatever angulation required to keep from tipping in.  A little counter in the chest is a good idea. Hands and upper body relaxed so you can flow over the terrain. There will be some tip lead in the uphill ski (go read LeMaster for an explanation of this), but as long as your stance is square in the hips, you won't end up splayed...and you'll be able to balance cleanly on the middle of the ski. 

 

Do a bunch of traverses in both directions until you feel stable and balanced.  If you can find some junky snow or bumps, even better.  Once you have that wired, now all you have to do is figure out how to connect the traverses, and presto, you have a basic turn.  So how do you connect the two traverses?  Well, by "assuming the position", which in this case is the Natural Athletic stance ("going to neutral"), a. k. a., the way you'd stand if a bear jumped out of the woods at you.  So I roll off my edges to flat skis, weight them evenly, and press forward to change the ski's pivot point, and presto, the skis seek the fall line.  Now all you have to do is go back to the other traverse, and you're getting your skis to turn you, instead of you muscling them around.  It's really essential to Going to neutral is essential because it gives you a chance to reload your muscles, reestablish your balance, and move cleanly from one edged platform to the next ("pure edge to edge" isn't impossible, but it disturbs the balance, is biomechanically inefficient, and doesn't use the ski properly). 

 

So forget, for a minute, about when all this good stuff happens, or how in a granular sense.  Just go do this simple drill, and it'll all click...

 

 

post #39 of 49
Thread Starter 

MichaelA, I believe the intent is to support a strong stance.

From Kipp:
"The goal is equal ankle angles.  When the ankles have equal angles while on the slope, the resultant posture of the hips and shoulders is also physically facing or biased down the hill. 
This is not a serendipitous but contributive relationship aligning the body in a posture that, given it is standing on a slope, is a biomechanically strong position."

 

and, as JASP indicates, "The ankle flex establishes to posture for the rest of the body".

This is certainly in keeping with PSIA's parallel feet, hips and shoulders and therefore strong inside half.

 

Good questions about differing conditions MichaelA but while Kipp does cover other conditons, he does not mention equal ankle flex in them.

 

From Kipp:
"The muscular tension should be the same for both ankles.  This is due to the fact that the skier is on two skis and two bases of supprt. 
If this foundation is maintained by differing tensions, each will have a tendency to react differently, leaving the skier unstable. 
The end result of this asymetrical tension will handicap the skier, resulting in one ski jetting forward and the other backward. 
This will create a cascade of problems up the kinematic chain, leaving the skier in a precarious position and ultimately out of balance."

It seems to me this last seems to be about avoiding scizzoring however.

 

I think JASP hit it with "Mr. Kipp just shifts focus to one joint and suggests the rest of the joints will naturally articulate to create the exact same outcome."

 

This is the first time I have heard of focusing on equal ankle flex in drills or anything else. 
So I am with MichaelA in trying to better understand why but to also get some affirmation that this is indeed a worthy goal and is it the attempt that is useful or a reality that is a characteristic of good skiing.

 

Cheers!

post #40 of 49

Michael, the bio-mechanics of human stances gets complicated when we start talking about inclined surfaces and moving across them. Inside half discipline during a turn is perhaps the most complex of all stances and even more difficult to explain. In his latest book, Ron Lemaster wrote about our balance axis but in a general way (Global CoM aligned over the entire BoS). Barnes suggests when we look at foot (and inside half) lead as a consequence of leg steering (the focus on rotary I mentioned previously) a stance where we are keeping the foot under the hip isn't all that difficult to produce, or explain. Add USSA's idea the we balance on both skis during a traverse and any inside half lead is a consequence of leg flex and the unified model starts to become a little harder to explain but still isn't too complex. But what about the idea that neutral is when our edges are disengaged? Throw that in to this discussion and the first two examples don't quite cover all the possible stance options where our edges could be disengaged. That's is why I am in total agreement with you about understanding why parallel shins and equal ankle flex would be a good thing. But it is important to understand that exceptions exist where that ideal would not be appropriate, or desirable. With that I want to share a few additional thoughts...

 

...I usually talk about balance in the two lateral hemispheres and time lines. If the foot is in the past, or future, and the CoM (of that hemisphere) is in the present, then balance is compromised because they are in what I call different time zones. Flip that around and place the lateral CoM in the past / future, and place the foot in the present, and again they are in different time zones. The uniqueness of skiing is that we can play with briefly placing our global / hemispheric BoS /CoM into a different time zones to produce specific outcomes.  That's the advantage of having five foot long feet. Expand that to include a seperate CoM / BoS in each hemisphere and our simple model isn't really much more theoretically complex but it is another layer to think about and IMO too much to think about as we ski.

 

So taking that idea and applying it to the bio-mechanical underpinnings can be as simple talking about aligning the hemispheric CoM along it's balance axis and this allows us to continue using the skeleton to bear as much weight as needed for the desired outcome for that hemisphere. It also allows us to selectively access the most options when it comes to the skill pools and the DIRT of our movements.

 

Expanding on any of these ideas could be the basis of an entire new forum where the medical and bio-mechanical concepts could be fleshed out in detail but I wonder if that isn't a bit tangental to the OP's question of where neutral actually occurs. Maybe we could collaborate on that idea and present it in AaSP once we get it launched. Might be fun.

 

Ski well,

JASP

Keystone Ski and Ride School / Vail Resorts

 

 

 


Edited by justanotherskipro - 2/29/12 at 2:34pm
post #41 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

 

...I usually talk about balance in the two lateral hemispheres and time lines. If the foot is in the past, or future, and the CoM (of that hemisphere) is in the present, then balance is compromised because they are in what I call different time zones. Flip that around and place the lateral CoM in the past / future, and place the foot in the present, and again they are in different time zones. The uniqueness of skiing is that we can play with briefly placing our global / hemispheric BoS /CoM into a different time zones to produce specific outcomes.  That's the advantage of having five foot long feet. Expand that to include a seperate CoM / BoS in each hemisphere and our simple model isn't really much more theoretically complex but it is another layer to think about and IMO too much to think about as we ski.

 

 

 

 



At Michael's request, I am going to repackage this idea...

We often talk about the feet getting ahead of the body (especially the inside foot), or pulling the feet (especially the inside foot) back under the body. What are we really talking about here? What are the feet, or the body (CoM) ahead of? They are either in front of, or behind where they would be if they were aligned on the balance axis. The mental construct of a timeline and time zones is based on this. Seperating the body into left and right hemispheres and striving to keep each half relatively close to it's hemispheric balance axis is also based on this idea. If we delve deeply into this idea it quickly becomes clear that we are talking about velocities and arced trajectories in an overall way first but we are also talking about them for each lateral hemisphere. The inside half leading through a turn being a good example of exactly this concept. Granted we are talking about relatively small differences in velocity since again we cannot actually seperate the two hemispheres.

 

Hope that shed light on this idea Michael, Of course all of this would be meaningless if I didn't bring all of this back to on the snow actions. What follows are a few exercises I find useful...

 

...The fore / aft levering drill the Mahre brothers (and others) have used for years, plays with moving the body over the relatively stationary feet. Suppose we think about how to do that with the left and right halfs of the body independently. Shuffling the feet, or any activity that resembles walking / running would be one option. Of course, those activities are cross-lateral movements and we are talking about bi-lateral movements at the moment. Activities that feature the Left hand and foot moving forward at the same time, then the Right hand and foot moving forward together are what we are talking about. We don't normally move that way off the snow but on the snow, a javelin turn (where the entire hemisphere moves forward) is a great example of bi-lateral movements and keeping the left / right side line up along the hemispheric balance axis.

 

To accomplish this we can use movements in the flex /extend skill pool to create a countered stance, or as I mentioned previously leg steering like we see in the bar stool drill will produce a countered stance. So does keeping equal shins / ankle flex for that matter. Which is why where I disageee with Mr. Kipp about what Mr. Barnes understands about all of this. They both produce the same result. They just think about it from their own unique perspectives.

 

To return all of this back to the original question, neutral is a consequence and only a moment in time where the ski edges are not engaged. Symmetrical body positions represent one way to get the ski edges disengaged but certainly does not represent the only way to get the edges disengaged. In fact, a wedged straight run uses a symmetrical body position but the edges are still engaged, so we are not really in neutral doing that activity. In conclusion I would offer the idea that Symmetry and Neutral must be seen as seperate ideas that can occur coincidentally but neither must be present for the other to happen.

How's that Michael, any clearer?

 


Edited by justanotherskipro - 3/1/12 at 3:02pm
post #42 of 49
Thread Starter 

JASP, some interesting thinking going on there!
First, relative to neutral.  I think the equal ankle flex and the bar stool ILR are independent of a neutral point in the turn because they both happen throughout.
I have come to a position of leaving the existing definition of neutral alone as Barnes has described it and have adopted your term of symetrical point to reflect my original position on neutral.
That is - where the skis are flat to the snow, ski tips are equal, equal leg length and body square to the skis. I am leaving out pressure for reasons previous stated in this thread.
Am I correct in using your term for that?

Interestingly, Kipp also describes his concept of ALL also occuring at one point in the turn that he calls the "critical moment" when the skis are flat to the snow. 
The ALL consist of ball, fall, tall, wall and call.
Where:
Ball = ball of the foot
Fall = movment of the CoM downhill or toward the inside or center of the new turn
Tall = long outside leg
Wall = relationship of tips, feet, knees hips and shoulders all being parallel
Call = a summons for the pole to swing down the hill

The Tall is an out flyer for me but he is also pointing out the same point in the turn I think.

 

I like the time zone thing!  It's another way of describing the relationship of feet and CoM around LeMasters Balance Axis.

But this two halves of the body having their own hemispheric Balance Axis is really intriging.
This leads to the thought of each hemisphere being balanced in a different time zone at different times during a turn to accomplish different objectives.
Slow it down!  I'm still just trying to see if getting both feet in the same time zone is a valid thing to be doing!  And then you throw in the velocity thing!

JASP, I would suggest that equal ankle angles (equal shins) and the ILR bar stool thing are not quite the same thing. 
Both are valid reasons for having tip lead but I think you can rotate the bar stools without having equal ankle angles. 
Not sure the reverse is true so it must be bar time again!

Cheers!

post #43 of 49
JASP,

To be honest... I think your description is a bit too metaphysical for me! smile.gif

I see the entire skier as being a simple multi-segmented physical body having a single CM and a single meaningful Base-of-Support (BoS) at any given moment. This image lends itself to mechanical analysis pretty well and permits both static and dynamic analysis.

While the body morphs in shape from turn to turn I don't try to visualize time-zones, hemispheres nor other creative lateral-thinking conceptualizations. Thinking about it further, I'm getting to dislike the term "neutral" about anything in skiing because it's simply too muddy and indefinite without making a major effort to describe the exact context of each description.

.ma
post #44 of 49

Fair enough Michael, IMO it's not esoteric or metaphysical to describe what the inside / outside half of the body is doing during a ski turn. When it lags behind the outside half a whole body rotary move is occurring. When it stays ahead of the outside half a countered stance occurs. When it stays square to the tips neither occur. It's an age old debate as to which of the three is best. Goes back at least fifty or sixty years and I for one feel knowing how and when to use all three makes us more versatile. It's also interesting that most of the corrective advice offered here and out on the hill involves timelines. Leaning back, or forward for that matter, is relative to that supposed magical centered stance idea where everything is moving at the same speed. A whole body rotary move accelerates the outside half and slows down the inside half. A counter rotational move slows down the outside half, or speeds up the inside half. Even the idea of the feet moving along their longer and wider path over the same unit of time suggests the body isn't moving as one single unit.

 

Snowhawk, the readers digest's version of all this is to stand on the moving skis we need to keep the feet and body aligned along the balance axis. If we move a foot (either one) too far forward / back it cannot be used to support us and we must then rely on the other foot for support. That is how we skied for a long time. The equipment changed and now we use both feet for support and balance. Keeping both feet under our hips, or our hips over each foot facilitates this. Parallel shins, equal ankle flex help create a centered stance. Doesn't mean we always stay there though.

 

As far as neutral, I tend to say it's often misunderstood to always mean a point where we have symmetrical body and all four ski edges are on the snow. Nothing could be further from the truth! We can be in a variety of asymmetrical stances when all four edges contact the snow. I prefer to avoid that narrow definition that requires a symmetrical stance. For me it's like neutral in a car. It's about being in gear, or not being in gear, period. Engaged edges or disengaged edges.

post #45 of 49

BTW, the catching the third edge thread has a pretty good example of Ligety moving through neutral without ever assuming a symmetrical stance. So Snowhawk, instead of redundantly reposting that information, I suggest you visit that thread for an example of neutral occuring without a symmetrical stance. Hope it helps you understand the idea a little better. BBFN, ski well! JASP

post #46 of 49

Sorry don't have time to read all the answers.  Here's my take on the it.

Rotary neutral and tip lead are two different things.  If your facing down the fall line your skis and legs are lined up with the fall line along with your upper body at mid turn (3), but as you will have maximium tipping anlge at the apex, you will also have the most tip lead.  The instructor must be doing that thigh cheese skiing (do a search).  Trying for less tip lead is a trick to keep enough pressure on the inside ski tip to prevent it from not tracking well.

 

Maximum pressure depends on the pitch (gravity counts) and how you choose to differentiate body path from ski path to maximize your speed (biase greater pressure/force to the rear and earlier pressure release from the tips for more speed), if making turns on the horizontal without thought to increased speed then it occurs at the point of maximum tipping angle at the apex (3).

 

If arcing turns tipping angle and current turn radius go hand in hand (more tipping = more turning).

 

 

post #47 of 49

I'm not sure we need to throw in a quasi-term like rotary neutral again to describe being square to the skis with no tip lead. The latter is how you would define the outcome anyway and is much clearer and more precise. I've gone to great lengths here to suggest at best the term "neutral" is imprecise when we layer additional requirements onto the idea that the skis are floating over the snow with no edge engagement. It might be, no I am biased, but more than a few of the folks I call mentors would remind me that when it comes to ski technique, using jargon is the least effective way to communicate ideas and describe movements. 

post #48 of 49

Jagon aside, if you are in mid turn  (at3) with the skis at an angle and carrying some speed, you will have tip lead, unless you have an extra knee or two.

post #49 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Fair enough Michael, IMO it's not esoteric or metaphysical to describe what the inside / outside half of the body is doing during a ski turn. When it lags behind the outside half a whole body rotary move is occurring. When it stays ahead of the outside half a countered stance occurs. When it stays square to the tips neither occur. It's an age old debate as to which of the three is best. Goes back at least fifty or sixty years and I for one feel knowing how and when to use all three makes us more versatile. It's also interesting that most of the corrective advice offered here and out on the hill involves timelines. Leaning back, or forward for that matter, is relative to that supposed magical centered stance idea where everything is moving at the same speed. A whole body rotary move accelerates the outside half and slows down the inside half. A counter rotational move slows down the outside half, or speeds up the inside half. Even the idea of the feet moving along their longer and wider path over the same unit of time suggests the body isn't moving as one single unit.

 

Snowhawk, the readers digest's version of all this is to stand on the moving skis we need to keep the feet and body aligned along the balance axis. If we move a foot (either one) too far forward / back it cannot be used to support us and we must then rely on the other foot for support. That is how we skied for a long time. The equipment changed and now we use both feet for support and balance. Keeping both feet under our hips, or our hips over each foot facilitates this. Parallel shins, equal ankle flex help create a centered stance. Doesn't mean we always stay there though.

 

As far as neutral, I tend to say it's often misunderstood to always mean a point where we have symmetrical body and all four ski edges are on the snow. Nothing could be further from the truth! We can be in a variety of asymmetrical stances when all four edges contact the snow. I prefer to avoid that narrow definition that requires a symmetrical stance. For me it's like neutral in a car. It's about being in gear, or not being in gear, period. Engaged edges or disengaged edges.

JASP I am pretty much in your camp with this. What I have outlined in bold is simply what I call the power position. To me, the power position is where I can feel the cool feelings of balance, energy and power. Funny thing is that position is different for all people and must be sensed as much as anything. I agree that generalities of equal angles are fine but in reality, alignment issues combined with simple body dimensions and geometry can change things pretty dramtically. I no longer assume anything from body positions without knowing the skiers intensions, limitations and how well the skis performance match those limitations and intensions.



 

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