Originally Posted by iheartnyc
Intermediate skiier, been skiing recreationally for over 20 years, get a few lessons here and there but nothing serious. I went to the slopes yesterday with a coach for about 8 hours of private lessons with a PSIA instructor.
I apparently struggle with keeping enough pressure on my downhill ski, therefore making my turning process less efficient. So, the thing we worked on most was changing my CoM during my transition to my outside (old inside) ski right before entering the fall-line.
His coaching approach to resolve my balancing issue, was to do everything on the green slopes, either parallel or snow-plow, without letting my skis get on edge. Basically, here was the drill I did:
1) During my turn, I'm putting 95% of my CoM on my outside leg. As I'm doing so, I'm consciously moving my hips, butt, shoulders and even my head to my outside leg (i.e., "leaning" my hips/butt/upper body together as one). He wanted me to really exaggerate this, to the point where even my head was sort of bending down the fall-line.
2) In transition, I slowly "get up," move into a "neutral" CoM (i.e., no more of the exagerrated stuff above), and start putting pressure on my inside (new outside) leg.
3) Once I fall into the fall-line, I repeat step 1 above but this time on my other (now new outside leg).
My coach said my turns look good when I'm going relatively slow or on normal terrain - it's just when I try to go fast on steep terrain that my balancing goes awry (entering fall-line too late, inside leg getting that "burning" feeling).
I did try asking these questions to my coach, but he responded using all sorts of complicated jargon about different outside forces (gravity, centrifugal/petal force) and how to use my body angles to compensate, and well I'm just not scientifically gifted and all that stuff went way over my head.
I just wanted a second opinion, since it's a form of training I had never seen before, before choosing to continue on with this particular coach (I had specifically asked for PSIA doctrinal "by the book" style so wanted to make sure I wasn't learning something off the cuff). I do have problems with my lateral balancing and tend to have too much of my weight on my inside ski on steep terrain, so I guess he thought this was the best way to fix my problems (my boots have been properly fitted and aligned, no problems with sitting back, etc.).
this whole "shoving my butt around" business - he was trying to show me how to "progressively angulate" into a new turn, rather than simply inclining into it! :)
Based on the above, I had a few questions:
A) Is this training approach sound? I've never seen this before or heard about it, so I'm a bit confused as to what to make of it. I'm especially confused as to this direction to consciously move my hips/butt across my skis. I'm also confused about consciously trying to "lean" my upper-body down the fall-line, given I thought you wanted a "neutral" upper-body.
B) Regarding moving my hips/butt - I had been trained to move my hips forward, into the turn. This seems to contradict #2/#3 above, where I actually practiced moving my hips/butt onto my inside (new outside) leg once I enter the fall-line and begin my new turn. Intuitively, this seems to be a miscommunication on my end regarding the timing of the drill - in #1 above, my hips are already on the outside and facing the fall-line, so although I am stepping into a neutral CoM in #2, I'm already beginning my turn and so can put my weight back onto my new outside leg?
C) Is it natural to be thinking about moving your hips/butt constantly during a turn sequence?
D) I'm really not quite sure how this drill would translate to my normal edged turning process. In my mind, when you are carving, in order to initiate a turn, you "fall" into the fall-line, or your outside (new inside) ski line, whereas for this drill, you almost let your inside (new outside) ski do the steering with a simple CoM distribution onto the ski. While the latter would work when the skis are in snow plough or not on edge, how do you get your skis on edge if your CoM is on your inside (new outside) ski? Am I confusing this with the process of "flattening" your ski in transition?
In blue above I've selected some comments you've made about your current skiing, and your coach's teaching. In green are your questions, which I'll answer below.
----It sounds like on steep terrain you lean into the hill, a very common thing to do, which results in a burning inside thigh. You don't mention it, but this "leaning in" also likely produces lack of speed control and some unwanted skidding at the bottom of your turns. Your turns may be Z-shaped (not good) instead of C-shaped (good). Your turns rely on skidding and friction to slow you down on those steeper trails, which is not working very well (it never does). You need to learn how to get your outside ski to do almost all the work of gripping the snow, because one ski grips stronger than two, and because the outside foot's big toe edge is stronger at holding its grip than the inside foot's little toe edge. But that's not enough. When you learn to direct the forces/pressures to your outside ski, you'll find a new-found ability to control your speed by controlling the shape of your turns, instead of relying on the skidding which is not effective. Turn shape will change from Z to C. This should do the trick of getting you much more control of your speed on steep terrain. C turns will have a top to them, instead of a quick pivot followed by a skid (Z). The top of that C shape slows you down and allows that outside ski to get a good grip before the forces add up. So you'll be able to modulate your speed even on steep terrain once these two things kick in: outside ski dominance, and round turns. Directing the forces to your outside ski and starting your turns so they will be C shaped instead of Z shaped is all connected. This is a big deal. It sounds like your coach worked with you on doing just this.
---You ask if this training is sound. Yes indeed it is!
---You sense a contradiction in being told to move your hips downhill across your skis, which results in pressure on your new inside leg, when the goal is to have pressure on your new outside leg. Well, that can seem confusing. But the contradiction is an illusion. You also sense a contradiction between being told to move your hips downhill across your skis, "leaning" your upper body downhill, and standing tall and upright and neutral between turns. I think you also may think that moving your hips over the outside ski puts the "weight" on that ski, while moving your hips over the inside ski, or even farther inside than that, puts the "weight" on the inside ski. Whoops..... problem here! Your questions B and C above really highlight how garbled these issues can get. People on this forum can get it sorted out for you since you stated your questions so thoroughly.
---Maybe this explanation will help. Imagine a C shaped turn, a round turn. There is a top (very important part!), a middle when the skis are pointed straight down the fall line, and a bottom to the turn. When the skis are pointed down the fall line and immediately afterwards, the "forces" your coach talked about are strongest. That's when you need your outside ski doing all the work. If at that point you can lift your inside ski and not fall over, you're doing something right. Having your hips inside the turn, on the other side of your inside ski, and having your upper body leaning out over your outside ski, will enable this to happen on blue/black groomed terrain, and at high speeds on greens. Hips inside, shoulders & head bent out over outside ski. On a cold day your nose can drip (so embarrassing!); make sure in the middle and at the end of your turn your nose drips on the outside ski for the rest of the turn.
---So you should not be moving your hips over the outside ski. You move them in the opposite direction, and move your head/shoulders over your outside ski. This directs the forces in the middle and end of the turn to the outside ski.
---Now for the top of the turn. It sounds like your coach kept you on green terrain, at very slow speeds, all 8 hours. Is that right? Your descriptions are unclear about how he had you start your turns, so I'm going to guess.
1. Did he have you stand tall between turns as your flat skis traveled across the trail, and then did he have you lean your entire tall body (from the ankles up) downhill and wait for the skis to slowly turn themselves downhill? If yes, did he then have you move your hips after that to the inside of the turn, as the skis pointed downhill, as I just described, while leaning your head/shoulders out over the outside ski (this is called angulation)? If yes, then this all makes sense. For the top of the turn, on gentle terrain, you can stand tall, allow your body and skis to straighten, then lean downhill (from the ankles, not the waist) -- which edges the skis so they will turn. This sequence is a popular way to teach people to start turns. Then at the fall line, you "angulate" to direct the building forces onto the outside ski.
2. If my guess is wrong, what did he have you do to start your turns?
3. Last question. Did he have you practice keeping your upper body facing downhillish while your skis turned right and left? You haven't mentioned this, but you did mention javelin turns. Javelin turns are a drill to help people allow their skis to turn while their upper bodies don't turn. It's called many things (upper body-lower body separation, counter, independent leg steering, quiet upper body, etc.). Holding your upper body more downhill-facing as your legs turn independently below your hips is very important because without that upper body-lower body separation, moving your hips inside and leaning your head/shoulders outside (angulation) is very difficult. I suspect he worked with you on separation as well.
In conclusion, with 8 hours on snow your coach had time to cover separation, angulation, and how to start at turn. He did this on slow easy terrain. All this was new to you, very different from what you've learned in the past, and it got jumbled up. He probably used terms that I'm using and they added to the confusion. My guess is that you need a fresher-upper with the same guy to help untangle the mess. My sense is that you got a good lesson.
Edited by LiquidFeet - 12/2/14 at 9:57am