Originally Posted by Bob Barnes
JASP--thanks for finally bringing up a critical point that I think has largely been missing from this discussion. Active weight transfers (which can result from either active extension of one leg or active retraction of the other, or both) certainly are real methods we can use to "force" the body down the hill, across the skis, and into the new turn, creating "inclination" into the turn as a result--as several people here have argued. Both work. But the critical point is the assumption that we necessarily need some force to cause that movement in the first place. That assumption is not necessarily true--and is in fact, ideally, false.
Newton's Laws have been invoked more than a few times in this discussion, so let's consider again his First Law of Motion. That's the one that says (essentially) that motion DOES NOT REQUIRE a force ("a body in motion will remain in constant motion unless
acted upon by a force.") So if your body and your feet and skis happen to be already moving in the right direction and at the right speed as you exit the previous turn, there is nothing--I repeat, NOTHING--further that you need to do to "make it happen." It is (again, by Newton's First Law) necessary to add a force only if
we need to change
motion--but not just to allow it to continue.
Admittedly, this "perfect transition" may not always happen, for a variety of reasons, so active weight transfers and other methods that can motivate the "cross-over/cross-under" are certainly important skills to develop. But by default, the goal of ultimately efficient transitions must be to exit the previous turn with the body going the direction and speed we want or need it to go, and the feet going the direction and speed we want or need them to go, and then simply to allow their momentum to continue without interference through the transition phase to the next pressure/control/carving phase. That's when turns truly just "flow" from one to the next, effortlessly. It's when the sensation feels like floating or flying, and the edges engage cleanly, precisely, and in perfect balance to carve the new turn. When we can do that with some consistency, our options multiply: we can reserve all of the other "active" options for correcting inevitable mistakes, or for changing our minds when, for example, something suddenly requires a quick adjustment to the anticipated line.
To think that we need to "do something" to start every turn, after finishing the previous turn, is a stifling thought that will eliminate any possibility of ever experiencing the effortlessness and efficiency of expert skiers. In those ideal turns, no movements begin at the initiation
. The moment of transition, when the paths of the body (cm) and feet cross--the moment I like to call "turn neutral"--represents a moment in the middle of movements that began long ago in the previous turn. If you "do" anything--actively extend the uphill leg or flex the downhill leg, for example--at that moment, it is already too late. (That's not to say that you should not do that if you need to in any turn. You cannot just eliminate the movement if you need it--you must eliminate the need!)
These sorts of seemingly small and picky points can be very important. Many skiers--and their instructors--find what feels like great success by creating "solutions" to problems, when what they really need to do is eliminate the problem in the first place. "To start a new turn," I once observed an instructor explain, "imagine that your uphill leg is a hydraulic jack that powerfully extends and pushes your body across your skis and downhill into the new turn...." When they did it, his students experienced what they thought was a great breakthrough. They moved into the new turn, didn't fall "into the back seat" as their skis turned downhill, and experienced exhilarating new sensations. They thought their instructor was a genius, and rewarded him with a nice tip. But what I saw was simply a bandaid that not only enabled a real error to persist, but may well have actually reinforced the error from the start. Knowing that they were about to "extend the jack" to push themselves into their new turns, the students actually began to finish their previous turns stuck even more solidly uphill and on edge, There was no "flow" through the transition, as the downhill motion of the body (relative to the skis) first stopped, awaiting the push that would get it moving again. Improvement? Well, they believed it was.....
There are many things that work like this in skiing (and other things). Solutions that cause the very problems they attempt to solve, masquerading as real improvement. Beware of these things!