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Ski Design and how it affects the way we teach. (Dialog please)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

After SIA and all the hype about "rocker", and also still studying for the L3 Teach exam..

 

I think I understand rocker, early rise, "all mountain rocker", reverse camber, partial reverse camber, etc.. Some think it's a FAD, some think it's cheating, etc.. But it's here and we need to adapt our teaching to meet the needs of our customers.

 

My understand is that it has to do with the amount of bend or lack of bend (camber) or reverse camber and where it is placed on the ski.

 

What does it do to the way the ski interacts with the snow?

 

More pressure can be brought to bear under foot..

 

Less chance of catching an edge (tip and tail may not be getting as much pressure)

 

Initiation of turns should be easier. Less edge "lock" due to less of an edge on the snow when the ski is flat.

 

Ski feels shorter and "skis" shorter due to the lack of edge, however stability should be better due to longer skis.

 

The question...

 

Do you change the way you teach because of rockered or early rise skis? If so, how and why? I do have my thoughts on this but would like to hear from those of you that spend/have spent many more days on the snow and with wider/fatter/rockered skis than I.

 

While I have demoed several "fat skis", The fattest ski in my regular quiver is 82mm Under foot with a slight rocker. (blackeye, ti) and have only really spent about 8 days on them so far. The rest of my quiver are all under 75mm underfoot. I love the quickness of edge to edge and since I don't spend as much time as I would like off piste, these skis make more sense to me..

 

DC

post #2 of 12
Most rental fleets will have at least early rise within the next season or so. That feature makes learning to steer the feet easier, but requires better use of the "sweet spot" to extract maximum edge performance.

I've found that beginners on early rise models can learn steering easier than weighted edging, which, I think, is a good thing. It gets them using both skis from the start.

Early rise skis also seem to help intermediates learn foot steering instead of upper body rotating, but they have to be centered over their feet to develop an understanding of how the edged ski can do the job. The cambered area of early rise skis is shorter compared to the overall length, so using the camber requires a bit better accuracy. Some skis seem more forgiving than others in this regard.

The early rise definitely makes going into your first bumps easier.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

Most rental fleets will have at least early rise within the next season or so. That feature makes learning to steer the feet easier, but requires better use of the "sweet spot" to extract maximum edge performance.. While having more rental fleets with "early rise" How does that affect accuracy of balance?. How do we teach more accurate balance/sweet spot when it's hard to get an advanced skier to stay in that sweet spot.

I've found that beginners on early rise models can learn steering easier than weighted edging, which, I think, is a good thing. It gets them using both skis from the start. Please give an example of a change from our typical "press on this foot" to a new "steering" exercise

Early rise skis also seem to help intermediates learn foot steering instead of upper body rotating, but they have to be centered over their feet to develop an understanding of how the edged ski can do the job. Again, how do we help them understand this? The cambered area of early rise skis is shorter compared to the overall length, so using the camber requires a bit better accuracy. Some skis seem more forgiving than others in this regard.

The early rise definitely makes going into your first bumps easier. Agreed, Crud and Powder too.

So, do we re-write our first time lesson yet again?

 

Actually I generally do not teach edge pressure to engage the edges for a first time lesson. I generally try to teach a student to "Steer their feet" realizing that if they steer to a wedge, their body will force some edging just because the hips are narrower than their stance. If they steer both feet in the same direction (even just a wiggle) will affect a turn of some sort.

 

Getting them to "look where they are going" will often affect a slight turning of the feet. Most kids just seem to figure it out. Especially when they are coming up to an obstacle.

post #4 of 12

When the rental fleet at my resort switched to early-rise, I took a pair out for a spin. The first couple of turns induced an "OMG - there are no tips on these skis" feeling. I was thinking that early rise was going to mean the end of arc to arc skiing because we'd need to steer to initiate a turn, but it turned out to be not that drastic. The adjustment to get to unconscious skiing was so small it happened automatically after 5 turns. When new rentals come in, instructors should be getting on them ASAP and adapt their lessons accordingly. But it is typically going to be a small change. It's more of "what can the skis do better" vs "what they can't do" or "what do they do differently". One demo is worth a million words describing the differences between "older technology" and "early rise" skis. A really good way to experience the difference is with Elan's Amphibio skis where each ski has one side camber and one side early rise. With the "right" ski on the right foot, the outside ski engages the cambered edge and the inside ski guides with the rockered edge. With the skis on the "wrong" feet, the outside ski steers into the new turn with the early rise edge. ay yi yi! Note: I also have the Blackeye Ti, but it's nothing like the rentals and not nearly as useful on groomed snow, but it is a great ski.

 

As much as the concept of "steering to enable tipping" makes me think of fingernails on chalkboard, it's not that bad. It really just makes it easier for students to do what we were already teaching them to do.

post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan View Post

After SIA and all the hype about "rocker", and also still studying for the L3 Teach exam..

 

I think I understand rocker, early rise, "all mountain rocker", reverse camber, partial reverse camber, etc.. Some think it's a FAD, some think it's cheating, etc.. But it's here and we need to adapt our teaching to meet the needs of our customers.

 

My understand is that it has to do with the amount of bend or lack of bend (camber) or reverse camber and where it is placed on the ski.

 

What does it do to the way the ski interacts with the snow? Easier initiation and sometimes better tracking on rough snow surfaces depending on ski design

 

More pressure can be brought to bear under foot.. hmmmm... not really unless you're talking about a shorter running surface when straight running.

 

Less chance of catching an edge (tip and tail may not be getting as much pressure)  depends on ski design. not all rockered/early rise skis are the same.

 

Initiation of turns should be easier. yes Less edge "lock" due to less of an edge on the snow when the ski is flat. some skis don't track straight particularly well.. some have a pronounce 'floppy' feeling.. again, depends on the ski.

 

Ski feels shorter and "skis" shorter due to the lack of edge, however stability should be better due to longer skis. you need to take a pair of Rossi E98's/Mantra/Enforcer out for a ride. They ski anything BUT short.

 

The question...

 

Do you change the way you teach because of rockered or early rise skis? If so, how and why? I do have my thoughts on this but would like to hear from those of you that spend/have spent many more days on the snow and with wider/fatter/rockered skis than I.

 

Most skiers I teach have some form of early rise/rockered skis. Non-rockered, etc... I address on a case by case basis. Sometimes you have to throw in a couple of 'old school' moves to make them work in deep crud.

 

While I have demoed several "fat skis", The fattest ski in my regular quiver is 82mm Under foot with a slight rocker. (blackeye, ti) and have only really spent about 8 days on them so far. The rest of my quiver are all under 75mm underfoot. I love the quickness of edge to edge and since I don't spend as much time as I would like off piste, these skis make more sense to me..

 

I had a private last Monday... she picked up a pair of Volkl Aura's... she said they changes how she looks at the mountain. Where there was previously hazard and crappy skiing, now there's opportunity.

 

DC  - markojp

post #6 of 12

There are so many innovations that have come and gone over the years. Some stick around for a while and others fade away pretty quickly. Everyone said shaped skis would fade away since they were squirrely and getting off an edge was more difficult. Then wide body backside skis became the next craze but they felt a lot like an SUV when compared with the short shaped skis. So the progressive edge engagement offered by the rockered designs became a way to get back some of that maneuverability. Like others have mentioned less edge contact means easier and smoother edge changes are now possible and with less edge contact the pressure on that smaller contact patch still allows for reasonable edge purchase while on low edge angles. All of this is great as long as the skier actually puts the skis on edge. Sadly, the trend towards straightlining means we see a lot of folks choosing to ride groomers while using a very flat ski and with rockered skis they have about the same edge contact as a snowblade would offer. I suspect the next generation of skis will shift towards more stability but exactly how the manufacturers go about that is anybody's guess. An antique from a long time ago where adding weight plates to the tip and tail may be one solution considered. My guess is the invention of new materials like ultra thin graphite and other materials that act diferently when the dynamics of the load being applied changes are bound to change how skis are made. Head's tennis division is already using this stuff and I am sure they are already doing R&D with these new materials. Binding manufacturers have been playing with stack (front / back and overall) and variable free float for years, and boot designers keep tinkering as well. So it's really hard to say where the new gear will take us but IMO owning strong ownership in all of the skill classifications will make technique adjustments easier. I think many of us who preceeded the shaped carver craze could tell you how the shift towards strong egding biases produced a generation of carvaholics who still struggle to shape a blended turn. Riding the sidecut from a relatively static position was a quite common lesson outcome just a few years ago. Especially in the non-wedge progressions that flourished during that era. I remember several demo team folks commenting on how we were responsible for these skiers lacking the skills to do anything else. My sincere hope is that we learned from that mistake and we don't rush to develop methodology that feature another bias that we will need to correct a few years from now.

 

With that DC I hope you see value in continuing to develop student proficiency in all of the skill pools regardless of the skis the student so happens to wear during a lesson. Especially when teaching in the beginner corral and low intermediate world. Exactly what drills and activities you use is IMO less important than expressing to them the need for attaining proficiency in all of the skill pools. Only then can we expect our students to be capable of applying a variety of skill blends at will. That is the hallmark of good skiing and good skiers everywhere. I know that may seem like a cop out to some but when they realize the very temporary nature of today's ski designs, the global skill development mantra will make a lot more sense.

JASP

post #7 of 12

To follow up a little more thoughtfully on my first post, I agree with JASP above. There's a confusing plethora of skis out there right now. Honestly, I don't worry much about what's attached to a student's boot (always check the boots first! Fit, buckled properly, etc...) unless/until it get's in the way of one's 'desired outcome'. 

post #8 of 12

Is rockered ski design really that much of an issue for teaching? My thought is that a rockered ski is different in these ways: 

 

  • harder to edge, given the typically larger waist width (versus, say, a 70-75mm waist)
  • easier to pivot due to less snow contact with rockered tip/tail
  • Might require more precise balance over the centre of the ski--can these skis be skied from the backseat? 

 

Do most rockered skis also require less pressure control off-piste due to their camber absorbing terrain easier? 

 

So I might expect demonstrations to look lower performance from an edging perspective on groomers. I might also expect (and do tend to see) a somewhat wider stance as these wider skis do require more clearance laterally. The consequence is to ensure participants are able to angulate enough throughout each turn to avoid falling uphill. 

 

My experience on rockered skis (other than the marketing-rocker of Heads) is that I dislike the loosey goosey feeling they've provided. Maybe this is an opportunity for me to explore something new though. 

 

 

 

To add to markojp's comments, I think a big issue with boots, other than a general snug fit, alignment, canting etc, is ensuring the power strap's actually cinched up snugly with no open space between shin and tongue. I see a gap far too often. In my earlier days I even foolishly suggested to skiers who couldn't seem to flex their boots that they could just keep the power strap loose... duhrr... th_dunno-1[1].gifI've since gone out of my way to locate those clients and atone for my transgression. 

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan View Post

After SIA and all the hype about "rocker", and also still studying for the L3 Teach exam..

 

I think I understand rocker, early rise, "all mountain rocker", reverse camber, partial reverse camber, etc.. Some think it's a FAD, some think it's cheating, etc.. But it's here and we need to adapt our teaching to meet the needs of our customers.

 

 

Why?

 

That is quiet a statement.  Do you change your teaching if somone in the group is wearing yellow?  What about if someone is on SL skis, and another on GS?  Is you day shot?  What about if someone has stiff  boots, and another soft?  Need to change?

 

New skis, are not that new.  Despite all the hype and BS out there...they are still just planks that interact with the snow.  Some charartersitcs might make them "ski short", or "ski long"....some might float more, some less....but none of this matters.  Skiing is skiing, physics is physics, biomechanics is biomechanics.

 

My "fat" skis are a pair of Blizzard Cochise.  108..."full rocker" (which is BS marketing hype...no one makes a true full rocker ski anymore)...in realty they are a W...early rise, with the "flip core" providing a conventional camber underfoot.  How long did it take for me to adjust to these skis?  No adjusment required...they felt awesome the first turn I made...good skiing is good skiing.

 

 

 

What you should be asking is this:

 

Given new skis mean less skilled/expereinced skiers are now skiing much more challengeing TERRAIN much sooner then before...how do we adapt our teaching???  A whole new world now...taking intermediates into formely expert terrain. So safety, and teaching "advanced tactics" and advanced class managment become bigger issues sooner.....

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

 

What you should be asking is this:

 

Given new skis mean less skilled/expereinced skiers are now skiing much more challengeing TERRAIN much sooner then before...how do we adapt our teaching???  A whole new world now...taking intermediates into formely expert terrain. So safety, and teaching "advanced tactics" and advanced class managment become bigger issues sooner.....

 

 

This is pretty much spot on.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Your comment is exactly the dialog I wanted to see. Changing tatics is part of how we change our teaching. I agree that the physics have not changed as far as forces, velocity, pitch and gravity. I agree we still go out and teach. My question was aimed at the higher end skiers and higher end lessons. How do we take advantage of this "new" technology to give a L6 skier a better experience with their brand new skis.
post #12 of 12
Check out Shane McConkey's 'Brain Floss' as a baseline for technique that can be applied to any of the variations of rockered skis out there. http://www.evo.com/what-is-so-special-about-the-volant-spatula-powder-ski-how-do-i-ski-the-spatulas.aspx
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan View Post

Your comment is exactly the dialog I wanted to see. Changing tatics is part of how we change our teaching. I agree that the physics have not changed as far as forces, velocity, pitch and gravity. I agree we still go out and teach. My question was aimed at the higher end skiers and higher end lessons. How do we take advantage of this "new" technology to give a L6 skier a better experience with their brand new skis.
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