LF, google the 1964 book The Official American Ski Technique. In that book you will see the first sentence state clearly that "The American Ski Technique presents nothing really new." They go on to explain that the AST is derived from the Austrian system that was developed in 1948 and was in use at the time. AST was born in Alta at a national ski association and certification meeting back in 1958. The intent was to codify a unified standard since at the time multiple schools of thought existed. Some followed celebrity skiers and were cult like and others simply suffered from poor translations of the technical matter. Adding to the confusion is the idea that unlike Europe the larger geography of the US contributed to some isolation where organic systems developed due to the lack of communication like we enjoy today. Even in Europe nationalism effected what "brand" of skiing would be taught in a particular country. So in the minds of guys like Bill Lash, Paul Valar, Jimmy Johnston, Doug Pfeiffer, Junior Bounous, Max Dercum, George Savage, Willy Schaefler, and Herbert Schneider something needed to be done to establish consistency in the US ski teaching world and the publication of the AST book was that something.
Interestingly enough a paradigm shift away from "final forms" was going to happen a few years later and that is largely attributed to the teachings of Georges Joubert and the Grenoble University Club he ran so successfully. Functional skiing over final forms is one such idea PSIA adopted but in AST's infancy (1958-64) the idea of final forms was an integral part of the system the AST founders developed. It just was not applied in the same way as it was in Europe where a linear teaching method was preferred. Scheme "F" as it was called in the AST book featured plugging in a student into the process and the instructor following a prescribed sequence without any variations. When the student popped out the other end it was thought they would know how to perform the final forms quite well. They also wrote about the AST book including more theoretical ideals and principles than other methods that they claimed omitted too much of the theory and mechanical principles. Myself I find it very interesting that in applying more theoretical and scientific methods they concluded final forms not only existed but were an objective of their methods. Although they also point out those forms were not universally applicable. Variations in climate, physical make up of the skier, and mental make up of the skier would influence how that skier performed these final forms. So some wiggle room existed in that model. As it does today.
Subsequent manuals from PSIA were influenced by outside forces and like the baby boomers who were a large target market, ski teaching methods evolved accordingly. (We were so caught up in the expression of individual freedom and raging against convention back when we were young). Ron LeMaster in his tribute to Georges Joubert spoke about this tumultuous time and how from a technical standpoint the first AST book had the best technical section ever written under PSIA's flag. He also suggested any serious skier needed to read the books written by Joubert. I would second that advice and go one step further to say read Ron's updated book Ultimate Skiing and the transcripts of that tribute to Joubert lecture he did a few years ago.
Eventually through the years the existence of final forms became a convenient thing to assign the label of a really bad thing and many feared to question the idea since PSIA made it so clear they didn't and still don't believe in final forms. In the 96 manual the Center Line Zone was included as reference maneuvers and a tool for comparative analysis (MA) but many mistakenly saw them as a return to the final forms thinking of the founding fathers of PSIA. From a purely logical viewpoint if we eliminate errors (variations from the reference movements) what is left would be, in effect those pesky final forms that don't exist according to the political powers that control PSIA.
In the 2001 Alpine Technical manual Meagan Harvey wrote about the evolution of the skills concept and a rebuking of the idea of a rigid final form methodology. The multiple learning tracks tied to European models were replaced by a more student friendly focus and a unified American message that would better serve the diverse skiing population of the US. The stated goal of being able to develop a teaching and skiing style devoid of rigid skill biases made sense but again if you trained for a test during this time frame the movement descriptors for the reference maneuvers used in cert tests spelled out an unmistakable style that even though the maneuvers were not called a final form they sure felt like final forms.
Meagan's twin sister Katy became the head of the Aspen schools around that time and as I have mentioned before she visited our early morning training groups to make sure we were practicing and teaching Aspen's brand of skiing and not going off on a tangent from the Dartmouth Race team coaches. While I could see her logic it certainly left me with the impression that varying too far from PSIA established ideals was not to be tolerated. Fair enough it was her school and what she wanted was what we were hired to do. Was there some wiggle room in the vertical zipper, heavy emphasis on independent leg steering, skiing into and out of a countered stance through the last third of a turn and the first third of the next turn. A little less than a rigid final form but along with the pocket guide to effective skiing that delineated effective and ineffective visual clues to the movements being used, it certainly came across as a narrower view than the PSIA company line about No rigid final forms because they are outdated as soon as they are established.
A few years later Annie Black was talking about the most counter rotated stance needing to occur at the same place as where the highest edge angle would occur. Which is decidedly straight from USSA racing philosophy about traverses and being mostly square to the skis while traversing between turns. I sort of figured Tony might have had something to do with that but when Eric Lipton did a trainers clinic and echoed that and used a step turn progression to establish the idea of the strong shaping phase being higher in the turn and the finish and transition may not be where the most countered stance would occur I wondered if PSIA had changed their model. Bob Barnes was simultaneously working on the foot squirt / feet passing the core through the turn completion / initiation where maximum counter would likely occur at transition. Not that that is required just that it is more likely. Bobby Murphy (d team at the time) and Bob didn't seem to be on the same page about this and Barnes eventually went to Copper. Why that happened is his story to share but it certainly appeared like Barnes strayed a bit too far from PSIA's doctrine. In our school Leigh Perini eventually became our training manager and echoed Eric's ideas. Considering her husband Doug was on the demo team the ideas she espoused seemed to be a direct offshoot of directions the d team was heading. The idea of a very countered stance late in the turn seems to be losing favor in what she talked about. But who really knows what the latest thinking from the team is. All I really know is through my experience over the years I would say examiners can be all over the place when it comes to ideas and being away from Aspen and their having a less representation on the demo team it is harder to get things like the white paper. New manuals may help out a bit but without picking the brains of the new authors about the R&D behind the new manuals, it is hard to say exactly where things like PSIA's vision are heading.
I am sure many of our folks like Kneale can fill in a lot of details I have not included (that 40 year pin on his avatar is so very cool) and maybe even Weems might be enticed to grace us with some of his time and share with us his recollections of all of this. I certainly hope so since he was and is alway at ground zero for a lot of this stuff.
Anyways I am not the official historian for anyone, I just have been around a lot of folks who had a hand in past manuals and the white paper sort of publications. Hope that helps
Edited by justanotherskipro - 9/17/14 at 5:44pm