Originally Posted by LiquidFeet
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes
Another good drill (briefly described earlier in post #62) to feel the effects and find the right movements--a good followup to falling leaf--involves starting in a slow traverse across the hill, weight well forward and pressing on your boot tongues. Gradually--g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y--move your feet forward, using whatever combination of ankles, knees, hips, spine, and arms feels right. Keep moving feet ahead beneath your hips and see what happens. I assume by forward you mean along the direction the skis are pointing. I have never done this move specifically this way. My usual is to release first, then let the skis move forward as my whole body topples sideways. There is no release in this scenario you are describing, is there? Or do you think of this forward motion of two feet as a release? Perhaps the release is created by the extension of the old outside leg as it moves its foot forward. Is this correct? As the pressure comes away from your boot tongues and starts to move toward your heels, you will find (although I probably shouldn't tell you and create "beliefs") that you will reach a point at which your ski tips quite suddenly let go, (Clearly the skis release; did I get the initiation mechanism correct????) and your skis start gently turning down the hill. Let them go, and then gently steer your skis through the turn completion to another traverse and repeat. Over, and over, and over.... It's quite dramatic and obvious. (I trust you here but have never done nor heard of this one and am looking forward to trying it once the chairs are running.) You may find at first that you end up in "the back seat" as your skis take off down the hill. If that is the case, it is not because you didn't move your body forward along the skis in the transition--it is because you did not move your body sufficiently down the hill--which is a lateral move during the transition, but will result in the proper fore-aft balance later, in the shaping phase.
That moment the skis release and start turning down the hill is what I have called "turn neutral"--the beginning of the turn. Keep practicing these slow movements from a traverse to "neutral" to develop a better and better awareness of what neutral is, and what it feels like. Never begin a turn until you have first found "neutral." Sometimes this will require great patience, and you'll have to resist the urge to throw your weight forward and twist your upper body to "force" the skis to turn (Bob, have you found from experience that most skiers on the mountain who move forward at initiation twist their upper bodies to force the skis to turn?? If so, I'll be looking for this at my mountain; most skiers on my mountain stay aft; I'll be looking at the racers to see if they have a forward movement in either of the planes that constitute the two 'forwards" under discussion) (which is the alternative, and what most skiers do all the time) (a third alternative that I'm aware of is to flex the old outside leg and fall sideways, while extending the old inside leg to keep its ski in contact with the snow, allowing both feet to move forward until they eventually tip onto new edges) (oh, and a fourth alternative is to extend the new inside leg off its little toe edge gently to upset the balance, which causes the body to topple, then flexing the new inside leg along with this movement to control the amount of vault, etc.). Find neutral, then turn. Again, and again....
My comments and questions above are in red.
I still owe you a response to this post, LiquidFeet.
Regarding the first paragraph in the quote--first, yes, by "move your feet forward, I do mean "in the direction the skis point, in this case. It's a fair question, given the confusion I've described about the many different directions that could all be called "forward." But I'll add here that I don't expect that your feet will get too far forward of your body (center of mass). I don't mean to create an image of leaning back or something. Your feet will move forward essentially until your CM is approximately over the back of your arch--that "sweet spot" beneath the bottom of your tibia that I've described before. What I expect that you will find is that your skis will "release" at the exact moment you reach the "Neutral" that we've discussed. It's the same balance point that you need for Pivot Slips if you want your skis to pivot under your feet (as opposed a pivot point somewhere forward on the ski). That release will occur due to a few things, but primarily, it results from flattening your skis to an angle less than "critical edge angle" (brief description of this term in my Glossary here, and much more if you search the archives), and finding "neutral" fore-aft such that the tips release to allow steering down the hill.
I write this description again reluctantly, though. What I really want you to do is just go out, when you can, and explore these movements, without any pre-conceptions. My mere telling you what I expect you to find could invalidate the results of your experimentation. It's important to remember that are ways you can force the skis to turn down the hill even if you don't find the optimal fore-aft movement, and it is also possible even to lean way back on your tails--or way up on your tips--and continue in a straight line traverse, if you really want to. As always, there's a "natural" blend of movements that will work optimally, but we can certainly cheat and force things if we want to--even if that "want" is subconscious.
In the last paragraph of the quote, you asked, "Bob, have you found from experience that most skiers on the mountain who move forward at initiation twist their upper bodies to force the skis to turn?" The answer is, "yes"--assuming you are referring to the "wrong" kind of forward movement. There is a causal link, and I'll describe it here, but again, it would be much more effective and convincing if you were to go out and experiment with this and "discover" it yourself. In an experiment I've repeated many, many times with various instructors and clinics, go out and attempt a series of "good" round turns while leaning forward. I mean, really forward--exaggerate, nose hanging out over your ski tips and shins pressing hard on your boot tongues, to exaggerate the effects it causes. Warning again--this will really only work and have much meaning if you are "blind"--if you have no idea why I'm asking you to do it. But if you must have the answer, what you will find (at least, you would if you went into this "blind") is that you tend to use upper body rotation to initiate your turns. I promise--I guarantee it. Then lean back--way, way back--and attempt another set of round turns. Among other things, you'll find that you tend to use "counter-rotation" of your upper body now. And what you will have "discovered" is that there are causal links between these fore-aft leverage movements and the type of rotary movements we tend to use to initiate turns. You'll also discover that neither of these fore-aft attitudes leads to a smooth, non-forced initiation. And you'll discover a few other things, such as a tendency to use hip angles in turns when you lean back, and knee angles when you lean forward. Your "round" turns will have characteristic non-round turn shapes--typically "fish-hook" shaped when forward and rotating, and "Z"-shaped when leaning back and counter-rotating.
This is an extremely worthwhile exploration to help develop understanding of the cause-and-effect links between fore-aft and other pressure control movements, rotary, ski performance, turn shape, and edging. You'll discover that there are "packages" of movements that tend to go hand-in-hand, in what some people have termed "stance-based mechanics." Understanding these relationships will do wonders for your movement analysis abilities. But of course, there are exceptions. It is not impossible to use counter-rotation when you are leaning forward--but I'll bet it feels very unnatural and awkward. It's likewise possible to force yourself to use rotation when you're levered back. These relationships are strong tendencies, not absolutes--like most things on skis.
Since I've already eliminating any chance of you going into this experiment "blind," the next best thing you can do is try it with some friends or fellow instructors or students. It will work best if they have no idea what you're trying to do, so that their movements are entirely natural, "innocent," and free of the influence of expectations and beliefs. Naturally, this is one place where you do NOT want to demonstrate first! Let 'em go, and see what they come up with.
You'll also find that these cause-effect relationships can go both ways. Leaning forward tends to result in a skier using some degree of upper body rotation. Likewise, using upper body rotation will tend to cause a skier to lever forward a bit, if only briefly (because it lightens the tails, shifts the pivot point forward, and makes it easier to throw the ski tails around, which is what upper body rotation is all about). This upper-body-rotation-based turn initiation is by far the most common pattern in typical recreational skiers. So when you watch those "rotators" on the hill, even if they appear to be "in the back seat" most of the time, look closely to see if they move forward (along their skis) and lighten their tails, even if it's just slightly and just for an instant as they rotate their shoulders (arms, hips, whatever), before settling right back onto their heels. Most of them will. (And you found out why--it is difficult and unnatural to twist your tails around with rotation when you're standing on them.)
So do these experiments, LiquidFeet. Please recognize that they really are best done and experienced, and then perhaps explained later. It takes a lot less time, and a lot fewer words that way!
Finally, regarding your thoughts about extending or flexing legs to cause "toppling" or otherwise move your body down the hill and to roll them off their old edges and onto their new edges--you are right as far as how those movements work, as far as I can tell. These active weight transfer movements can indeed cause your body to move down the hill, which is the critical "forward" movement into a turn. However, please remember that you should not always--or even often--need to do anything to force your body to move down the hill (from your feet) to start a turn. As you exit the previous turn, you should already be moving the right direction, so none of these muscular exertions should be necessary. By "default," in a "perfect transition," you should be able to just relax and allow the momentum of your feet/skis and of your body (CM) to continue unimpeded. It's only if you have made a mistake, or if you change your mind as to the path you want to take, that you should need to exert any effort to "force" your body into the new turn.
Anyway, that was a pretty long attempt at an explanation and reply to your questions. That "little voice" keeps telling me to stop explaining--that it will only make it worse and more confusing--that we really just need to get on the snow and ski through these things and let our skis be the teachers. So I'm trying to help, because you asked, but what you do with this information is up to you. Please don't hold me responsible if these words just add to the confusion! Good luck!