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Transition tactics and baseline

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I picked up LeMaster's Ultimate Skiing early this year and have absolutely devoured it--he takes a different approach from the ski bodies I've worked with, and it's refreshing. LeMaster identifies different tactics to transition between turns on pg. 151-152; I've used his headings and tried to describe the tactic in my own words: 

 

Making the feet slow down or turn more sharply

Basically tipping more through the end of the turn, which sends your CoM down the hill and over your new edges. For example, pre-turning. (crossover)

OR: stemming the downhill ski to slow the lower body down 

 

Removing support of the downhill ski

Allowing the downhill leg to "soften" so that your mass transfers to the new outside ski while engaging it on edge

 

Flexing

Absorbing the pressure from the skis through the transition and allowing the skis to tip onto the new wedges (crossunder)

 

Lateral support from the pole plant

Planting the pole down and forward your base of support/CoM will cause skis to pivot into the new turn - so long as the skis are flattening. Seems like a crossover technique. 

 

 

I can see good situational uses for each of these transition tactics (e.g. flexing is great if you go over a roller where pressure will be maintained by the bump; pole plant turning is especially good in steeps; etc.). My confusion is that it seems like some of these tactics are not considered good "go-to" tactics by all. For example, in some freeskiing instructor training I've gotten feedback along the lines of "stop flexing through the transition", even though I enjoy that sensation. I get the concept that it's bad because you aren't able to burn off the lactic acid buildup through the flex, but it doesn't tire me out when the snow is soft (though I'd change tactics on firmer snow). (Curiously it also appears to be the go-to tactic for JF...)

 

So what's the intended "go-to" tactic (or baseline tactic) for advanced parallel skiing on a hardpack consistent pitch blue-black groomer? turning more sharply to cross over? 

post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 

I picked up LeMaster's Ultimate Skiing early this year and have absolutely devoured it--he takes a different approach from the ski bodies I've worked with, and it's refreshing. LeMaster identifies different tactics to transition between turns on pg. 151-152; I've used his headings and tried to describe the tactic in my own words: 

 

Making the feet slow down or turn more sharply

Basically tipping more through the end of the turn, which sends your CoM down the hill and over your new edges. For example, pre-turning. (crossover)

OR: stemming the downhill ski to slow the lower body down 

 

Yes, the pre-turn is a great consept. Kind of like stemming down except done with both skis simultaniously. Great for initiating a parallell turn.

 

Removing support of the downhill ski

Allowing the downhill leg to "soften" so that your mass transfers to the new outside ski while engaging it on edge

 

Typical flex to release consept FTR, OLR or OLF.

 

Flexing

Absorbing the pressure from the skis through the transition and allowing the skis to tip onto the new wedges (crossunder)

 

Same as previous. When you flex through the transition you trigger it by using the flex to release consept. Can cause a cross under or through transition depending on how your CoM moves laterally.

 

Lateral support from the pole plant

Planting the pole down and forward your base of support/CoM will cause skis to pivot into the new turn - so long as the skis are flattening. Seems like a crossover technique. 

 

In combination with the pre turn consept you typically use a blocking pole plant. However, I try not to use the pole plant to offset my CoM. I try to make it stand alone and only indicate that Im turning. Not to use it for any sort of driving force to pivot skis or anything like that. IMO not coupled to each other.

 

I can see good situational uses for each of these transition tactics (e.g. flexing is great if you go over a roller where pressure will be maintained by the bump; pole plant turning is especially good in steeps; etc.). My confusion is that it seems like some of these tactics are not considered good "go-to" tactics by all. For example, in some freeskiing instructor training I've gotten feedback along the lines of "stop flexing through the transition", even though I enjoy that sensation. I get the concept that it's bad because you aren't able to burn off the lactic acid buildup through the flex, but it doesn't tire me out when the snow is soft (though I'd change tactics on firmer snow). (Curiously it also appears to be the go-to tactic for JF...)

 

I get tired when i flex through the transition for longer periods of time. A coach told me once that you cannot do that for a minute on a SL racing track and even if that is debatable factum remains, constantly flexing and extending is more tiring than vaulting over. Also, from a performance point of view, flexing through the transition is not ok IMO if your not moving your CoM up and down. WC skiers that flex through the transition also mov their CoM up and down. Its because they lower themselves all the way hip to snow at apex and shortly after and need to vault that CoM over to the other side even though they retract their legs as deep as they can. The only exception is if you are snaking your way through the gates in a flush.

 

So what's the intended "go-to" tactic (or baseline tactic) for advanced parallel skiing on a hardpack consistent pitch blue-black groomer? turning more sharply to cross over? 

 

For me the tactics is to keep my speed under controll. Sometimes I manage to do that when carving by turning more sharply involving higher edge angles and going more accorss the slope in a slow line fast manner. Typical cross through type of transition. Sometimes I need to start braking and then I probably stick to the pre-turn consept where I jabb the ski edges sharply at the end of the turn. Note that if you are linking turns you are also using the pre-turn consept without knowing it.

post #3 of 14

Metaphor, you ask "what's the intended "go-to" tactic (or baseline tactic) for advanced parallel skiing on a hardpack consistent pitch blue-black groomer?"  I know LeMaster's book.  I'll answer from my PSIA experience with skiing exams and exam prep training. I've recently passed LII and am training for LIII.  Other PSIA folks may disagree with what I say below; they may have more experience than me.  Also, there are probably some differences between PSIA regions given the very different types of terrain available.  I'm in New England, so it's a PSIA-E skiing exam perspective that I'm reflecting.  My responses in teal below.

 

Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 

I picked up LeMaster's Ultimate Skiing early this year and have absolutely devoured it--he takes a different approach from the ski bodies I've worked with, and it's refreshing. LeMaster identifies different tactics to transition between turns on pg. 151-152; I've used his headings and tried to describe the tactic in my own words: 

 

Making the feet slow down or turn more sharply

Basically tipping more through the end of the turn, which sends your CoM down the hill and over your new edges. For example, pre-turning. (crossover)

I love this approach to initiations.  In my head I think of it as "overturning" the skis at the end of the turn.

 

#1 - On steepish, maybe black and double-black, hard snow groomers, turning the skis uphill may require rotating the hips to face the trees (because of ROM issues) between turns.   PSIA examiners don't like to see that hip rotation; I got blasted for doing it during a LIII prep clinic.  On blue-blacks maybe you can avoid the hip rotation.    

 

#2 - If you allow your feet to move waay out toward the trees, significantly more than your body, as you turn them uphill, your body is going to topple down the hill way inside and you may get a nice pivot as the skis turn fast then come back around to catch up.  That pivot is another thing PSIA examiners may not want to see, so save letting the feet go waaay out for non-exam skiing.  There's nothing wrong with this turn if that pivot works for you, and it will in soft dense snow - I speak from experience.   

 

#3 - If you keep your feet up under you as you "overturn" them instead of allowing them to move out and toward the trees, the pivot will be minimized or even absent depending on your definition of "pivot."  This may be more like what the examiners are looking for, so more of a "go-to" for most instructor types on blue terrain when doing basic parallel steered turns.     

 

#4 - Overturning the skis also fuels slow-dog-noodles if you combine it with the out-toward-the-trees movement of the feet ... see Wayne Wong and Glen Plake videos.  This is a definite DO NOT DO for an exam, but fun in bumps anyway. 

 

OR: stemming the downhill ski to slow the lower body down  

Intermediates on the plateau do this.  Avoid at all costs.

 

Removing support of the downhill ski

Allowing the downhill leg to "soften" so that your mass transfers to the new outside ski while engaging it on edge

I'm going to interpret this to refer to two different types of initiations, because the description fits both.  

 

#5 - Flex the old outside leg first to release the turn, allowing the body to drop in, then immediately extend the old inside leg to keep it contacting the snow.  The body stays low during the transition, and may feel a light "float" if the softening/relaxing/flexing leg does its thing fast.  There will be no "float" if that leg is flexed more slowly. This is my preferred way to release and initiate turns on all kinds of terrain and conditions, but PSIA wants to see a more dramatic extension of the new outside ski in the LIII skiing exam according to my experience in my recent LIII prep course and at my home mountain in training sessions.  

 

#6 - Extend the old inside leg while on its LTE, and at the same time flex the old outside leg.  Flexing the old outside ski at the right speed keeps your body from literally moving uphill (no up-unweighting). The extension of the old inside leg should be done at just the right speed, so that its ski does not lose pressure after its initial extension. This initiation is different from #5 above because your intent is to press down on the LTE of that ski to lift that side of the body.  You will move up and over the skis through the transition, and there will be no float.  The new outside ski will immediately roll onto its BTE and establish very early grip above the fall line.  This solid grip feels very different from the lightness you'll feel when doing #5 above.  This turn initiation is the go-to approach for shortish radius turns on blacks and double blacks for LIII exams, if I correctly understood my examiner in my recent clinic.  I get told to initiate my turns this way consistently from the trainers at my home mountain.  Using this initiation for basic parallel turns on blues is also something I hear all the time, and can be combined (or not) with overturning.

 

Flexing

Absorbing the pressure from the skis through the transition and allowing the skis to tip onto the new wedges (crossunder)  

I'm interpreting this to mean carved retraction turns, where the skier faces downhill, the turns are short ones down the fall line, you suck your legs up fast, the skis produce rebound and move quickly side-to-side under your body.  You stay low through transition, and you feel as if your legs are bouncing leftie-rightie under you.  As far as I know, this is not a LII skill that PSIA examiners are looking for; not sure about LIII but in my five day prep course for LIII skiing we did not do these.

 

Lateral support from the pole plant

Planting the pole down and forward your base of support/CoM will cause skis to pivot into the new turn - so long as the skis are flattening. Seems like a crossover technique.  

I interpret this to mean short pivoted turns straight down the fall line on steeps with an edge-set and blocking pole plant.  Maybe save these for when you aren't on blue groomers performing in an exam.  Our examiner did have us do them once on day one during our LIII prep, then we never did them again but practiced the #6 above over and over.

 

 

I can see good situational uses for each of these transition tactics (e.g. flexing is great if you go over a roller where pressure will be maintained by the bump; pole plant turning is especially good in steeps; etc.). My confusion is that it seems like some of these tactics are not considered good "go-to" tactics by all. For example, in some freeskiing instructor training I've gotten feedback along the lines of "stop flexing through the transition", even though I enjoy that sensation. I get the concept that it's bad because you aren't able to burn off the lactic acid buildup through the flex, but it doesn't tire me out when the snow is soft (though I'd change tactics on firmer snow). (Curiously it also appears to be the go-to tactic for JF...)

 

So what's the intended "go-to" tactic (or baseline tactic) for advanced parallel skiing on a hardpack consistent pitch blue-black groomer? turning more sharply to cross over? 


Edited by LiquidFeet - 1/9/15 at 7:51am
post #4 of 14

Because the specifics have been discussed at length by presenters far more eloquent than myself I won't discuss tactics but, suggest that a paradigm shift in how you are thinking about it would be more productive. If you are searching for something to "do" to transition you will always be searching for the elusive "flow". Transition should be an outcome of your turn, not an action. It is not something you do at the end of a turn nor is it something you do at the beginning. It is a consequence of everything you did in the turn prior.

   The tactics you listed are just that, tools that are components, sometimes of turns outside the "go-to" turn you are talking about. The more tools you have in your box the more ways you can problem solve situations outside of your ideal turn.  

post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdxammo View Post
 

Because the specifics have been discussed at length by presenters far more eloquent than myself I won't discuss tactics but, suggest that a paradigm shift in how you are thinking about it would be more productive. If you are searching for something to "do" to transition you will always be searching for the elusive "flow". Transition should be an outcome of your turn, not an action. It is not something you do at the end of a turn nor is it something you do at the beginning. It is a consequence of everything you did in the turn prior.

   The tactics you listed are just that, tools that are components, sometimes of turns outside the "go-to" turn you are talking about. The more tools you have in your box the more ways you can problem solve situations outside of your ideal turn.  

 

pdx, I'm puzzled by your reply. It sounds like you're suggesting skiers should not consider ways to manage transitions, or practice transition types. From a simple behavioural learning theory perspective, if you don't explore and practice those transition options, you won't integrate them into your toolbox and make them automatic. 

 

Also I'm thinking about how you feel the transition is purely an outcome, and not a phase that's actively managed. In steep terrain, do you not choose to use a blocking pole plant? How could the end of a turn dictate that you use a blocking pole plant? 

post #6 of 14
I was at LeMaster's movement analysis clinic last night. It was fascinating and I bought an autographed copy of his book. I have nothing to contribute here other than to state that he showed a lot of different (and effective) transitions. I don't think there is a single right way, but a few that can be mixed effectively by the gods of skiing (and I'm not one of them). Anyway, the point of my post is if you've ever got an opportunity to see one of his talks, move heaven and earth to see it.

Mike
post #7 of 14
I don't use a blocking pole plant if I wish to flow.
post #8 of 14

I don't think LeMaster is talking about a blocking pole plant.  It's about lateral support, not about introducing a rotary force.  Here's what he says:

 

"When advanced skiers are faced with challenging situations, they often lose the confidence to commit their centers of gravity into the turn ahead of their feet.  It is, after all, committing to being out of balance, albeit briefly." He then discusses two ways of creating lateral force that are not good (stemming and pivot often with upper body rotation).  "Once you've allowed your body's momentum to carry you across the skis and into the new turn, there's only one way you can control your body's lateral motion until your skis engage the snow in the next turn:  a pole planted in the snow.  That's why skiers who have weak or unreliable pole plants have trouble on steep, challenging terrain and start most of their turns with an uphill stem."  The photo montage he shows of this is Charlie Stoker on what looks to be a 50 degree slope at (I'd guess) Vail, probably in the East Vail chutes area.

 

Hop turns, as I understand them, are a perfect example of this.  The pole plant is simultaneous with the landing.  There is no rotary impulse from the pole plant, simply lateral support (as I understand the proper technique).

 

Mike

post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 

 

pdx, I'm puzzled by your reply. It sounds like you're suggesting skiers should not consider ways to manage transitions, or practice transition types. From a simple behavioural learning theory perspective, if you don't explore and practice those transition options, you won't integrate them into your toolbox and make them automatic. 

 

Also I'm thinking about how you feel the transition is purely an outcome, and not a phase that's actively managed. In steep terrain, do you not choose to use a blocking pole plant? How could the end of a turn dictate that you use a blocking pole plant? 

   That was not my intent. I was suggesting that a different way of thinking about turning can be helpful. I feel that sometimes people develop a formulaic step by step approach to skiing. This can culminate in the self-talk of "ok I have turned, now I will do my transition movement" I feel that a more productive way of thinking is "ok I am transitioning because I have turned". 

   For this reason I feel it is useful to be able to consider a turn as something that happens from apex to apex. I think we can sometimes fall into a trap of thinking that each turn begins with us doing something at transition like if we did not we would just keep turning. Or that we fail to realize or remember that many of these things are occurring almost the entire time through all phases. 

post #10 of 14
Metaphor_,

Why this concern about what other people ("authorities") believe?

You pointed out JF's go-to transition. He is CSIA's best skier by far. As a CSIA guy who is already partial to that transition, you might do well by following his lead. Exclusively ... forsake the other transitions for a season and then do an experiment to see if you actually wish to pollute your skiing and instruction with a overstuffed toolkit.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
 

I don't think LeMaster is talking about a blocking pole plant.  It's about lateral support, not about introducing a rotary force.  Here's what he says:

 

"When advanced skiers are faced with challenging situations, they often lose the confidence to commit their centers of gravity into the turn ahead of their feet.  It is, after all, committing to being out of balance, albeit briefly." He then discusses two ways of creating lateral force that are not good (stemming and pivot often with upper body rotation).  "Once you've allowed your body's momentum to carry you across the skis and into the new turn, there's only one way you can control your body's lateral motion until your skis engage the snow in the next turn:  a pole planted in the snow.  That's why skiers who have weak or unreliable pole plants have trouble on steep, challenging terrain and start most of their turns with an uphill stem."  The photo montage he shows of this is Charlie Stoker on what looks to be a 50 degree slope at (I'd guess) Vail, probably in the East Vail chutes area.

 

Hop turns, as I understand them, are a perfect example of this.  The pole plant is simultaneous with the landing.  There is no rotary impulse from the pole plant, simply lateral support (as I understand the proper technique).

 

Mike

 

 

Mike, that's interesting - thank you for clarifying. So LeMaster is saying that on the steeps and bumps, a transition tactic is to move inside and lean on the pole to keep from falling over laterally to the inside? Is it a reasonably effective transition tactic to lean on your pole in bumps? I think he actually explains this helps mitigate any balance errors.

 

When I read that section initially it made me think back to the section called "Torque from the Pole Plant": 

 

"Planted properly, your pole will do something you might not have thought it could: It will make you turn... With the pole planted obliquely, the snow can push backward on your hand, creating a torque on your entire body about the balance axis. This is called a blocking pole plant." (LeMaster, p. 112) 

 

and later: "In addition to planting your pole at the correct angle and in the correct place, you must plant it solidly in the snow, and at the right moment. That moment is at the edge change, when your skis are flat on the snow and you have the best opportunity to pivot them." (LeMaster, p. 115)

 

I had a chance to play with this today on my slalom skis. It was very cool to become acutely aware of how a well timed pole plant actually creates turning. Why do we not draw more attention to this in ski schools? 


Edited by Metaphor_ - 1/11/15 at 10:48pm
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post

Metaphor_,

Why this concern about what other people ("authorities") believe?

You pointed out JF's go-to transition. He is CSIA's best skier by far. As a CSIA guy who is already partial to that transition, you might do well by following his lead. Exclusively ... forsake the other transitions for a season and then do an experiment to see if you actually wish to pollute your skiing and instruction with a overstuffed toolkit.

 

Well, I'd like to pass my level 3. So I need to ski to the CSIA's standards. In the lesson I took today, the instructor commented that I won't pass the level 3 short turns run by making slalom turns - even though that's a really effective way to get down the pitch. To be fair, if you don't demonstrate pivoting in the "twisting a flat ski" sense, how can they "know" that you're capable of using it... 

 

Next month I'm skiing with JF in Quebec City on a 6 day level 3 prep course, so I'll get to ask him about this!

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 

 

Well, I'd like to pass my level 3. So I need to ski to the CSIA's standards. In the lesson I took today, the instructor commented that I won't pass the level 3 short turns run by making slalom turns - even though that's a really effective way to get down the pitch. To be fair, if you don't demonstrate pivoting in the "twisting a flat ski" sense, how can they "know" that you're capable of using it... 

 

Next month I'm skiing with JF in Quebec City on a 6 day level 3 prep course, so I'll get to ask him about this!

Metaphor.  I am envious!  Please be prepared to do a dump on us when you get back. good luck

post #14 of 14

All true. I didn't make it to Ron's program this fall in Boulder, but he did do some unannounced, drop-in coaching at one of our recent Masters SL training sessions at Eldo. A lot of the time, he keeps things pretty simple and often starts by asking you a question about your skiing. So after one of my okay-but-not-great runs, he asked me if, tactically, I thought my right and left turns were symmetrical. I thought about it and said "No. I'm making a clean transition and getting early edge and pressure on my left footed turns, but some of my right-footers are straight and late."

 

He just smiled and said "Right, now go fix it." Which I did on the next run.

 

Another example, a couple of years ago at one of his fall sessions, he asked "What do you do at the end of the turn?" And I started saying stuff like create a strong platform, finish the carve, and so forth, and he said "No, you have to stop turning." Very true, and it synchs up with the above discussion, or, as another of my coaches said, "Once your tails pass the gate, for better or worse, the turn is done. Time to go to neutral and prepare for the next rise line."

 

We had a very simple transition drill in my USSA Level 100 coaching clinic that I use all the time. Have your athlete do a traverse. It's not as simple as it sounds. To make it happen, You have to be standing cleanly and in balance against the edged outside ski. Sometimes it takes four or five tries on each side. When it happens and you see clean tracks, show the athlete what that looks like and what the ski shape does to the track. Now the only trick is to link traverses, and voila, you have a turn. The transition is the link between traverses. To make it happen, from a traverse, go to neutral: flatten the skis, pressure them evenly, press the shins into the boot tongue, and the skis seek the fall line. Now find the other traverse, and you're home free....

 

:D

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