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Inside Knee Movement During the Turn

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I had a free advanced group* lesson at Sugar Bowl yesterday where my instructor gave us a tip regarding moving the inside knee.  He summarized it as follows:

 

"When turning left, move your left knee towards the left.  When turning right, move your right knee to the right."

 

Applying this tip I immediately saw results.  My outside ski got additionally loaded and the edge angles of both skis increased.  I had one of those "Aha!" moments that make this sport great.  

 

I've been reading a ton about ski instruction and taken four lessons now this year but never came across this nugget of information.  As soon as I got home last night I turned to the internet for more explanation of this tip and why it leads to better carving.  

 

I found two relevant articles:

 

http://ultraskier.com/alpine/inside-job-working-your-inside-knee-better-carving-28

 

http://www.youcanski.com/en/coaching/parallel_shins.htm

 

I'd be grateful for any other "spin" on this tip as well as a clearer explanation of the mechanics of what exactly is happening when you correctly move your inside knee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* There were about twenty students signed up for the free group lesson at Sugar Bowl yesterday.  I chatted with a few other skiers before hand and after.  Sugar Bowl called it a level 5 group lesson with a single diamond designation.  The groups were split up into 3 groups of 8.  I was in either the high or middle group, impossible to say.  We were skiing blue runs, groomed, while there was untracked powder to be had.  Nevertheless, I gained an important tip so I was thankful to be placed in that group that day.

post #2 of 12

Now that you have a focus, play with it everywhere. Discover for yourself how intensely and how far you can abduct that knee. Just don't forget to let the core follow it into the new turn.

post #3 of 12

That inside knee movement is important to put your skis more on edge, but what would help even more is to roll your inside ankle into the turn. If you do that you will edge faster because you are using both your knee and your ankle to get that ski on edge.

 

Like justanotherskipro said, movement of the core is important too. Keep practicing tipping and when you get that down try to move your core farther and farther away from your skis. Doing that will bring your skiing to a whole new level.

post #4 of 12


Gotta love those "Aha!" moments. They're a big part of what keeps skiing fresh and new, no matter how long we've been doing it.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceK View Post

That inside knee movement is important to put your skis more on edge, but what would help even more is to roll your inside ankle into the turn. If you do that you will edge faster because you are using both your knee and your ankle to get that ski on edge.

 

Like justanotherskipro said, movement of the core is important too. Keep practicing tipping and when you get that down try to move your core farther and farther away from your skis. Doing that will bring your skiing to a whole new level.


+1

 

I self-discovered the OP's inside knee movement in an "Aha!" moment about ten years ago. It improved my turn initiations but they still weren't as fluid, fast and reliable as I wanted. In challenging bumps or steeps I couldn't match the rapid yet seemingly effortless initiations of top level instructors or others whose skiing I admire. I'd still get behind.

 

This season I had lessons with two L3 instructors: a two-hour private at Okemo and a group ski week at Taos. One thing both instructors noticed was that I was skiing with controlled or tensed feet and ankles. (How they saw into my boots is a mystery, but that ability is what I was paying for.)

 

The Taos instructor observed that our whole group had this issue so we began each morning playing groomer games with RELAXED feet, then beginning each turn by delicately ROLLING our ankles (particularly the inside ankle)... a tiny move that's faster and easier than anything you can do with your knees. 

 

Once we'd built this habit he led us into Taos's legendary bumps, trees and (eventually) uber-steeps. This one little move gave me the ability to launch turns anywhere - instantly, effortlessly, smoothly, confidently. No more shopping for turns!

 

I liked the instructor so much that late in the week I booked an afternoon private. He charged - no, danced! - down North American, a long, steep, bumped tree run. The coolest line funnels down a narrow creek bed and it feels like a bobsled run, just 1-2 moguls wide - turn now or else! He ripped it non-stop and I followed right behind, matching him turn for turn and whooping it up. biggrin.gif

 

Relax your feet. Start every turn by just rolling your (inside) ankle into the fall line. The turn will begin instantly and with essentially no effort. Then use the bigger movements of your knees and femurs to shape the middle and end of the turn to control line and speed.

 

post #5 of 12

I had the opportunity to do a race camp with Jens Husted, a PSIA D-Team guy when I started teaching and one of the Sybervision skiers along with Chris Ryman, whose coaching was one of the biggest influences in my learning journey. His advice 30 years ago to "point your thighs at the turn" is still my mantra. I like his focus on thighs better than knees, because I want the rotation at the top of the leg in the hip joint rather than trying to rotate the knee. 

 

post #6 of 12
I had a chance to ski with Sean Warman several times during his two terms on the PSIA Demo Team (now Alpine Team). My take on his relaxed feet thoughts was that you didn't want to press parts of the feet into the bottoms of your boots, but rather to raise the other sides of the feet inside the boots. In other words, instead of thinking...roll the right arch into the snow for left turns...you wanted to think raise the outside edge of the right foot inside the boot for left turns (at the same time, of course, you're raising the left arch). When you press down, you make a stiffer leg than when your raise up.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback.  Regarding "rolling the ankles" that is a term/tip I had heard prior to the lesson but one that failed to unlock the subtle motion for me. I suppose each of our bodies are different and the mechanics that work for those bodies also varies from person to person. Personally, I have tight hips and very strong legs. While I've spent the past few seasons focusing on getting additional angle from the outside ski, I'd been blocked by not doing enough with the inside ski. I had been focusing on the "phantom move." I'd imagine my feet were connected together by a bungee or similar and that whatever the outside foot did, the inside foot followed. I got a bit of the rolling mechanism incorporated as I'd imagine frosting a cake or buttering toast with the inside ski. For me, however, I was unable to fully unblock that motion because what limited range I did get felt maxed out. By pushing the knee, I got additional range of motion and better turns.  I'm sure there is extra range of motion to be had by further rolling the inside ankle. For now, I'm happy to play with the knee and reap those benefits first.

 

What's really funny to me is that I had been working on that same motion in the gym context doing squats. As my hips were chronically tight it was a difficult motion to master. I recall being "blocked" in my squat and my trainer telling me to push my knees forward and outward. Eventually, my squat came around and now I'm able to get thighs and butt below parallel. Until Saturdays lesson, the application of this knee movement hadn't yet benefitted my skiing.  Now I just want to ski as much as possible to cement this feeling.

post #8 of 12

See what I said, last page of the .;pdf file especially, in this thread:

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/111959/back-to-basics

post #9 of 12

 

 

Quote:
whatever the outside foot did, the inside foot followed.

You got that backwards. 

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

 

 

You got that backwards. 



D'oh!  I did.  All this time too.  

post #11 of 12

You might want to check out this article: Perfect Turns by Bob Barnes

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

Thanks for the feedback.  Regarding "rolling the ankles" that is a term/tip I had heard prior to the lesson but one that failed to unlock the subtle motion for me. I suppose each of our bodies are different and the mechanics that work for those bodies also varies from person to person. Personally, I have tight hips and very strong legs. 

Sounds hot... buy you a beer? biggrin.gif

 

While I've spent the past few seasons focusing on getting additional angle from the outside ski, I'd been blocked by not doing enough with the inside ski. I had been focusing on the "phantom move." I'd imagine my feet were connected together by a bungee or similar and that whatever the outside foot did, the inside foot followed.

Yup. I did that "phantom inside ski" thing for years. It worked okay on groomers. Not so effective in challenging conditions. 
 

Leading with an active inside just makes sense. Consider the geometry. The inside ski necessarily enters a turn first, so it must be quicker, simpler and more reliable to actively steer it. Glad you're feeling it. beercheer.gif

 

I'm sure there is extra range of motion to be had by further rolling the inside ankle.

Oops... that's actually backwards too. The knee/femur move you just discovered is what provides the extra range of motion. Despite what you're feeling now, that actually begins somewhat later in a turn. Once you've got this new move dialed in, learning to initiate with the foot/ankle will make your turn initiations even faster, believe it or not. But for now...

 

For now, I'm happy to play with the knee and reap those benefits first.

Indeed! Not trying to discourage that or confuse things. As long as you're not practicing counter-productive moves I doubt there's any right or wrong order for learning these things. Enjoy the "aha"!

 

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