Originally Posted by markojp
The difference is that the arms are not connected to the snow, nor are they the base of support. One can start the turn from the hips, by rotating a shoulder, or reaching across the body with an arm, or even by tilting the head if one wishes. We've seen all the variants, but the advantages of starting from the feet are pretty universally agreed apon.... or so I thought.
Originally Posted by chad
I would challenge this perception Zenny. You are aware of your feet, as you should be. But, it is not the beginning of the action. How do you know what you are having to do in the feet is even necessary or correct given how the feet/limbs are used by the nervous system is dependent on the activity proximally. Before, anyone cries foul, I am not saying not to use the feet, but how does the sensation of the feet relate to the sensation proximally. The same could be said for the arms, is the movement superflous. Enjoy it if you like it, but is it really the final sensory cue to use?
Paying attention to the feet has greatly advanced my personal skiing in the last two seasons. I'm not saying it's the only thing, but it sure has been significant.
Focusing on cues from the soles of the feet is the best way to know how you're balanced fore-aft-wise. It is a trainable skill to be able monitor these cues continually, every minute having that foot sole surveillance monitor going. To change where the weight/pressures are, one bends the ankles forward and back (close/open, dorsiflex/plantarflex). Monitoring where one's weight hovers over the sole of the foot, or feeling where the pressures are coming up from the snow surface (same thing, different words), is "the final sensory cue" for for being able to bend the ankles to control one's fore-aft balance. Doing that is major.
Tipping the ankles inside the boots is a subtle small-ROM action, but even though it seems small, it's essential for skiing. I remember quite specifically the first time I tried to tip both feet while making a straight run, maybe eight or nine years ago. I was on almost flat terrain, and the person I was following showed how to do it. It should have been easy; it looked easy... but I fell over and kept falling over every time I tipped. Something up above clearly was not where it needed to be. Foot tipping evidently was not the "beginning of the action," as Chad points out above. However, foot-tipping was the mental focus that necessarily dominated the task. Trying to stay upright while tipping, without any conscious focus on upper body parts, just trial and error, got the task done eventually. So I'm with markojp, the primary, final, dominant sensory cue for starting turns is tipping the ankles.
Another very important foot focus is turning the feet. There's a lot of talk on this forum about turning/rotating the femurs in the hip sockets. I've yet to feel that. I never, ever, think "time to turn my femurs." Does anyone? I think about turning my feet. Mentally focusing on turning the feet drags the femurs around. Until I experience otherwise, I'll continue to tell my students to turn their feet. Other things up above need to be happening to make this possible because the skis get stuck if you're not hovering over them just right. This is what Chad is talking about, I think. But the foot focus, IME, is the final sensory cue for this primary skiing movement.
Too many skiers don't pay attention to their feet. They need to.
This post would not be complete if I didn't mention boots. Custom foot beds and well-fitting boots need to be mentioned. No amount of foot attention, no amount of ankle bending, ankle tipping, or foot turning, will help a skier ski better if the boots don't fit like a second skin. I think of a ski boot as a prosthetic that makes skiing possible, a three-dimensional exoskeleton for the foot, with after-market attachments (skis).
Edited by LiquidFeet - 4/24/15 at 7:12am