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does it take effort to keep a narrow stance? [A Beginner Zone question]

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I see a lot of people just seem very effortless and stand around in a narrow stance. For me I seem to naturally have a pretty wide stance like almost shoulder width. When I ski narrow stance I have to make a conscious effort and sort of put my knees closer together. is this the case for everyone or do I have some sort of alignment issue?

thanks
post #2 of 21

I feel the same way.  I just assume that it's a combination of big legs (I wrestled in college and played rugby for a eight years afterwards) and poor technique that isn't going to go away skiing only 15-20 times a year.

post #3 of 21

Me three.  One of the many ways my skiing gets even worse when I get tired is my feet tend to separate when I'm anywhere close to standing flat.   And I had my alignment checked and boots canted (and footbeds).

 

Stretching can help w. this.   Something as simple as standing in Tadasana (yoga Mountain Pose) can help, stretches that work your hip flexors and other muscles in that area help more.  One that helps me is Pigeon Pose, especially leaning forward over the leg in front.   Caution:  I'm not an expert.  This is what helps me.  YMMV.

post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by kalendae View Post

I see a lot of people just seem very effortless and stand around in a narrow stance. For me I seem to naturally have a pretty wide stance like almost shoulder width. When I ski narrow stance I have to make a conscious effort and sort of put my knees closer together. is this the case for everyone or do I have some sort of alignment issue?

thanks

Everybody is built a little differently . There could be an alignment issue when you press your knee together. There might be one when they are separated or both times. When you try to create a narrow stance that you aren't built for you will certainly cause alignment issues.

Could you be a bit bow legged ,knockneed ?  Where does it feel right for you in your stance ?

 

When I ski fast I tend to open my stance ,when I get in bumps or short turns I tend to narrow it. To me ,the first feels better to acquire higher edging and the other offers me a variety of quicker,  flatter ski moves with the ability to tip to turn also.

 

Play with both but trying to force a body position that is unnatural for you will cause some issues to overcome. Alignment is a big issue for us all. It's a good place to start when examining your stance .

post #5 of 21
Originally Posted by kalendae View Post
I see a lot of people just seem very effortless and stand around in a narrow stance. For me I seem to naturally have a pretty wide stance like almost shoulder width. When I ski narrow stance I have to make a conscious effort and sort of put my knees closer together. is this the case for everyone or do I have some sort of alignment issue?
....

When you become proficient in skiing, when you have built up strong skills for handling variable conditions on different terrain (bumps, powder, crud, steeps, ice), you'll be using different stance widths in order to gain better performance out of your skis.  But as a beginner skiing on groomed slopes, the following rule of thumb pretty much covers what you need to be doing.  

 

The distance between your feet should be, ideally, about the same as when you stand when in the kitchen with sneakers on.  

It's your comfort and your anatomy that determines your stance width on skis.  

 

If you feel wobbly with that everyday normal stance, you need to figure out why you're wobbly and fix that without widening your stance.  An instructor can help you with that.  Or post video and people here will analyze. (Put your suit of armor on before posting that videot!  You'll get excellent advice - but without face contact - so the info will come at you rather bluntly.)

 

An extremely narrow stance with feet pretty much plastered together was a fad in the distant past.  If that's what you have in mind, don't go there!!!!   Today's skis work better on groomed trails if you keep them somewhat apart.

 

Are you skiing in a wedge, parallel, or partly-wedge-partly-parallel?  When skiing in a wedge or partly-parallel, your feet should be the same distance apart as when you ski parallel.  The difference between the wedge and parallel is the way your feet are pointed, not how far apart your feet are.  And that distance should be what you normally use in the kitchen and everywhere else. A stable stance width is good; it increases your ability to control how tipped-up your skis are.

 

Are you skiing in a very wide wedge?  A very wide wedge is problematic as it creates constant braking; it's called a "braking wedge" and is perfect for slowing down near the lift line, but rarely useful elsewhere.  If you are skiing around in a braking wedge, your edges will scrape against the snow too much and this will prohibit your ability to learn to initiate turns with proper form.  It will put your body over the backs of your skis, and this will become habitual.  It's called being in the "back seat."  Back seat skiing is a bad, bad habit and very hard to break.  A narrow wedge is fine however as it allows you to keep your body out of the back seat.  The slightly separated tails of a narrow wedge will be behind you to help offer stability as you learn to make your first turns.  The slight scraping friction that the edges create in that narrow wedge will also slow you down a bit; that's ok at first, on beginner terrain, but that slowing-down function needs to be shed pretty fast or you'll get used to it as well.  You slow down by turning uphill, not by scraping your edges against the snow.   

 

On the other hand, maybe you are bowlegged or knock-kneed in those sneakers in the kitchen, and maybe this affects your parallel skiing stance width.  If this is the case, it can be dealt with, for $$, by the bootfitter who sells you your first pair of boots.   


Edited by LiquidFeet - 1/8/15 at 10:19am
post #6 of 21

My legs are slightly bowed and thus my natural stance is a bit wider than most. And even when I put my feet together because my legs are bowed my knees are a few inches wider apart than typical. If a skier has the balance, a narrower stance is actually more effortless. Also keeping your skis together is necessary for shorter turns, bumps(like moguls), or skiing in the woods where terrain is not clear. You want your skis together so that they experience the same bumps on the terrain. When you are going down a nice even slope at high speeds the wider your stance the more balanced you will be, although i've never seen much more than shoulder width.

post #7 of 21

"The distance between your feet should be, ideally, about the same as when you stand when in the kitchen with sneakers on.  

It's your comfort and your anatomy that determines your stance width on skis."

 

Exactly.  Our bodies have been balancing us with our feet walking-width apart since we were about a year old.

 

Boot fit also matters.  If your boots are sloppy, you'll hunt for support where you can find it.  If you have narrow feet and ankles, no rental boot will do a good job for you.  Try the smallest size boot you can wear without discomfort, buckled as tightly as you can without discomfort.  One thin or medium thickness sock, no long underwear inside the boots.

 

A bow legged skier will need a wider stance to get his skis flat on the snow.  A knock kneed skier needs a narrow stance for the same reason.  Both are corrected with alignment.

 

Try some one footed skiing even if just for a few seconds, then switch feet.  The thousand step ski drill is a good one.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWwfI52HCBM

Another good drill is to lift just the tail of the inside ski (right ski during a right turn, etc.) while you make that turn.

post #8 of 21
As SSG says, If you're bowlegged chances are you may need a wide stance to get flat. I've seen someone who literally could not make a slow turn without an enormous stance.

Try shoving 3-6 trail maps in between your liner and shell at the top, medial side. Unbuckle, loosen power strap, insert, rebuckle, restrap. ( This is essentially pushing the inside edge of the ski down). See what happens. You could also do it with tape under the foot.

Note there's still no agreement in alignment as to whether to push the knee or fill in under the foot afaik. So thick cant inside may work or thick outside. Opposite solutions. The body is weird.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post

"The distance between your feet should be, ideally, about the same as when you stand when in the kitchen with sneakers on.  
It's your comfort and your anatomy that determines your stance width on skis."

Exactly.  Our bodies have been balancing us with our feet walking-width apart since we were about a year old.

Boot fit also matters.  If your boots are sloppy, you'll hunt for support where you can find it.  If you have narrow feet and ankles, no rental boot will do a good job for you.  Try the smallest size boot you can wear without discomfort, buckled as tightly as you can without discomfort.  One thin or medium thickness sock, no long underwear inside the boots.

A bow legged skier will need a wider stance to get his skis flat on the snow.  A knock kneed skier needs a narrow stance for the same reason.  Both are corrected with alignment.

Try some one footed skiing even if just for a few seconds, then switch feet.  The thousand step ski drill is a good one.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWwfI52HCBM
Another good drill is to lift just the tail of the inside ski (right ski during a right turn, etc.) while you make that turn.

Really?

How often do you balance on two skis, besides when waiting in the lift line?

I know that I balance on my outside ski most of the time when skiing.

A narrow stance helps avoid putting too much weight in the inside ski, helps with a lot of other issues.

That's why you see racers 27th a fairly narrow stance.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post


Really?

How often do you balance on two skis, besides when waiting in the lift line?

I know that I balance on my outside ski most of the time when skiing.

A narrow stance helps avoid putting too much weight in the inside ski, helps with a lot of other issues.

That's why you see racers 27th a fairly narrow stance.

 

Not sure what racers you are watching but they typically have a wider then average stance. You need the skis further apart to create the edge angles they achieve, if their legs were close together the inside leg would get in the way. That being said you are correct that when carving on goomers the majority of the weight is on the outside ski but when skiing off piste that is not always true. Powder in particular demands a much more evenly balanced stance.

 

Liquidfeet gave a very good explanation of the proper skiing stance. As she said the knees locked together stance is a hold over you see in older skiers from before ski technique evolved. Outside of mogul competitions you will pretty much never see it encouraged.   

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by kalendae View Post

I see a lot of people just seem very effortless and stand around in a narrow stance. For me I seem to naturally have a pretty wide stance like almost shoulder width. When I ski narrow stance I have to make a conscious effort and sort of put my knees closer together. is this the case for everyone or do I have some sort of alignment issue?

thanks


A reminder that the OP chose to put the question in the Beginner Zone.

post #12 of 21

My bad :o

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonewolf210 View Post
 

My bad :o


No big deal.  I know you were mainly responding to the last few posts.  Just didn't want the discussion to get too complicated for lurkers of Beginner Zone threads, who are presumably beginners and intermediates who are not pushing hard in races or spending a big percentage of time off-piste . . . yet. :)

post #14 of 21
Lonewolf, I wasn't saying knees glued together, just a narrow stance, as opposed to a wide stance
post #15 of 21

I have to make a conscious effort to do so, but I feel that my skiing becomes smoother and more balanced when I narrow my stance. Like the OP, I feel that skiers with a narrow stance do look effortless, and that is something I would like to emulate in my technique. I'm interested to learn if the narrow stance is something that skiers achieve naturally, or if it is a result of specific techniques?

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

Lonewolf, I wasn't saying knees glued together, just a narrow stance, as opposed to a wide stance

Racers adjust their stance according to need and desired outcome. They also have correct and/or corrected basic alignment in their boot/ski/binding interface. Most of the general public and some people posting here are, consciously or not, adjusting their movements to compensate for poor alignment.
post #17 of 21
That could be.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

That could be.

Why might it not be? smile.gif
post #19 of 21
Sorry,I was agreeing with you.

But I also think that widening the stance, which started 10-15 years ago in instructor circles, is a huge disservice to student skiers, as is the advice to more or less weigh both skis equally.

And it's not just in the us.

Spending a year in France, and I took a couple of lessons, to see the difference and I was told to widen my stance.

I'm an expert skier, and I can generate high edge angles with my narrow stance, even though I have a lot of vertical separation.
post #20 of 21
I ski occasionally with an older friend that has that classic knee and ski locked narrow stance. He's from New England and uses a narrow older model Atomic shaped ski for those kinds of conditions. He looks so effortless and elegant compared to the modern wider stance, but I don't try to emulate it because of what I've learned here at Epic and in lessons. As a beginner and low intermediate, I skied with a fairly wide stance to maintain balance. As I've tried to create higher edge angles on groomed runs, I found I had to narrow my stance to avoid A framing and weighting the inside ski too much. However, I've been working on getting more comfortable in ungroomed terrain and really struggled until I narrowed my stance even more as mentioned above. I found this difficult to balance at first, but have kept working on it. It probably doesn't help that I'm very tall. One footed drills I learned in lessons this year have been a big help. Anyway, this last weekend I was skiing soft chopped and bumped up snow and "corn" I guess from its texture, and really felt good in a narrower stance for the first time this season. I wasn't being thrown around by the uneven terrain in a wider stance. So I'm learning to expand the toolbox and let the terrain dictate the skills. Too bad the season's over for me in PA.
post #21 of 21

When we walk we're constantly, unconsciously, shifting our balance from one foot to the next.  We learned that as a toddler.  When we ski, we want to do weight shifts from foot to foot that are somewhat the same.

 

We can all ski with the same fundamental movements the racers make, reduced down to a level suitable for our ability.  The top racers keep their legs very close together, and you'll see them in a turn with the inside boot just an inch or so away from the outside knee.  That retraction lets them make the angles they need.  Speed racers need the wide stance so they can get into their aerodynamic tuck.  It hurts the skiing but benefits the aero for a net speed gain.

 

As XLTL mentions, a narrow (not locked) stance is a benefit in bumps and crud, also in powder.  A wide stance for stability is only needed if one's boots are loose & sloppy.

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