Originally Posted by Albireo
Although I am 100% certain I am carving, I don't seem to be able to reproduce that super-angulated "leaning on the snow" look that the expert carvers can do, even on green slopes. Is there something about using the pressure release to send the feet further out to the side before engaging the edge? How do you prevent the edges from digging in until they are "farther out" under you? Am I even understanding this correctly?
High edge angles require speed or a steep slope.
"NO" to the question about delaying edge engagement. The best carvers (racers) engage their edges as early as possible, right at the top of the new turn. Of course there's always a non-edged phase as the skis transition from old edges through flat to new edges, but the best carvers move through that quickly and smoothly. If the skis start turning (twisting) without edge engagement it's much harder to get back onto a clean edge, you'll usually end up skidding the whole turn. OTOH, it's comparatively easier to ease off the edges partway through a turn if you need to (this is how to adjust your line to make a less sharp turn than the one you're in).
You need speed or steepness to do high edge angles on skis, but you can get a feel for the position from the safety of your office chair. Stand in a ski position (feet hip-width apart) with your calf muscles brushing the front of the seat. Flex down at the knees until you can support your weight with stiff arms on the arms of the chair. Now - without moving ANYTHING except your legs - slide your R foot straight out to the side, then slide your L foot out to match it, keeping them hip width apart. Your upper body down to your hips is vertical and your hips are still square to the chair.
Now do it again, sliding your feet another 12" out. (At some point you'll have to lower your body to keep your feet on the floor, but do so by just letting your arms flex. Do NOT twist or slide your hips. Just move your femurs in their sockets.) Do it a third time, butt now supported on the front of the seat with your feet REALLY out there.
Practice this on both sides. Each of these is a position you'd find yourself in exactly halfway through a carved turn, at the precise moment your skis are pointing straight down the fall line. Notice that your inside foot naturally takes the lead, without you pushing it forward. The more angulated you are, more flexed your inside leg and the farther ahead the inside foot will be. Don't think about your inside foot leading on the hill, it just happens. Trying to push it farther ahead is a technical complication that's unnecessary and sometimes counterproductive.
Originally Posted by Albireo
My "feet-together" noodling was fairly effortless on intermediate slopes, but was more luck-of-the-draw with steeper grades and a complete failure in crud.
Yup. Any effort to twist or slide your skis sideways will be an instant disaster in crud... or deep powder... or tight bumps. The skis won't budge but you will, SPLAT! In any snow condition but a flat surface, the skis must primarily be moving forward along their axes or you're toast. The trick is to get them moving forward in curved arcs by using their natural sidecut and/or by bending them into decamber. That lets you control your direction, which in turn lets you decide how fast to go.
Check out this thread of a skilled, high level instructor handling heavy, wet crud with aplomb. Before looking at his body movements, carefully watch the path his skis follow:
I definitely understand what you mean by commiting the body to the fall line -- especially when the snow is very hard -- but as I mention above I'm having trouble understanding how do get my skis further to one side. Do I simply flex more at the waist to fold my body over the skis (to maintain pressure over the outside ski) while simultaneously increasing the tipping angle? Because then it doesn't feel like the skis are "further" to one side but rather like I'm trying to hit the skis with my helmet . I guess you could say the skis are farther from my butt if I flex more at the waist?
The reason commitment works when the snow is hard is that letting your body fall down the hill ahead of your skis puts them up on edge. Now they can hold and carve.
The steeper the slope and/or the higher the speed, the more you have to commit into each new turn. At the end of a turn your skis are on a high edge, so naturally it takes a big move to rotate them to flat and then onto the new edges. Yes, it feels like diving headfirst off a cliff... but it ALWAYS works. Trust your skis. Once you've done this once or twice it is SUCH a rush!
How to get high edge angles? See the office chair exercise above. It's about moving your legs in their femur sockets.
You do NOT want to be flexing more at the waist to do this. That just sticks your butt out and puts you in the back seat. Except when absorbing a bump or other terrain "feature", try to keep your upper body relaxed, upright and roughly perpendicular to the angle of the slope. IOW, we stand upright relative to the slope, not to the pull of gravity. This keeps us centered over the middle of our skis, where we're able to weight, angle and even rotate them as necessary. Check out epic's upper body in the vid I linked above. The only time he bends at the waist is to absorb a bump. He achieves L or R edge angles by moving his legs... only.
Originally Posted by Albireo
Also, are short-radius turns short because they only travel half a circle before the next turn begins (linked "C" carves) or are they short even if you travel the entire arc back up the mountain before falling into the next turn? My limited mental faculties are telling me the latter method increases the width of my carve by a third, which is rather less short to me, although I can well imagine that they slow me down.
No, go gack to geometry. Short "radius" means just that. You can ski short or long radius turns in quarter circles, half circles or even full circles (if you go fast enough, lol). Imagine a series of linked turns down the fall line, each one shaped like the third letter of the alphabet. Short radius turns would look like linked "c's". Long radius turns would look like linked "C's". Same turn shape, same amount of turn completion, just different radii.