Originally Posted by MrGolfAnalogy
My goal for this season is to improve my upper/lower body separation and make being countered feel more natural. I do understand the benefits of keeping my upper body facing downhill during turns, but the position sometimes feels somewhat forced. The language used to describe countering makes it seem passive; in the sense that your lower body leads the turn and your upper body just remains still. I often feel like I have to work pretty hard to keep facing downhill, so I seem to be at conflict with the way it is usually described. If I let my focus drift, I find my shoulders following my skis and I loose anticipation for the next turn.
Any tips on how to integrate upper/lower body separation into my turns would be appreciated. Clearly we are in the depths of summer, so I'm even hoping for some off season exercises to get me ready for the snow.
I don't want to overload the first post, so will provide any further information on request.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Have you ever heard of this way of understanding how we master doing a new thing?
--unconscious incompetence (you don't know what you're not doing right)
--conscious incompetence (now you know)
--conscious competence (if you remember to think about it, you can do it right, but it has to be consciously thought about)
--unconscious competence (you no longer think about it, but if you do, you notice your'e doing it right; it's embedded; you "own" it)
Sounds like you are at the third stage; you need to consciously think about keeping your upper body not turning the same way your feet/legs/skis turn. That third phase is the most time-consuming part of learning a new movement pattern. I think of this third stage as consisting of two parts: being committed to making the new movement pattern become intuitive; and remembering to focus on making it happen. One can be committed but keep forgetting. Forgetting is natural; remembering gets easier with persistence. Then there's lack of commitment; you want to ski and have fun; the conscious concentration is too demanding, so you decide to let it go for today. Lack of commitment.
Somewhere in there is uncertainty that you are practicing the new thing accurately because it feels awkward. That's because balance is off; everything needs tweaking to be balanced when you try something new; that's a lot to ask, so awkwardness is natural at first. There's also uncertainty whether this conscious part will ever end, or whether it's worth it.
Fixing this one is worth it. When your shoulders insist on turning with your skis, lots of other good things cannot happen. That's why embedding the ability to separate the upper body from the lower body is worth the effort. First of all, often the inside (uphill) shoulder drops down towards the snow when the skier has no separation. When this happens, the inside ski has a lot of weight on it, and the outside ski has difficulty maintaining its grip. Starting the new turn is difficult because the whole body now needs to turn in the other direction; that's a lot of mass to keep swinging around leftie-rightie if you are trying to make short turns. Swinging the torso left and right with every turn is going to compromise your balance (tipping over is more likely). Try skiing bumps while turning the whole body left and right! Plus your GoPro videos will make everyone dizzy.
One way to try to keep that body from stealthily turning despite your efforts, is to lift the inside ski's tail while allowing its tip to stay on the snow. If you lift that inside ski's tail (just an inch or two), you can't have your weight on it (that's good). Your weight will have to go on the outside ski, where it belongs. To do that you'll find that advancing (forward) and lifting the inside half of your body (inside hip, shoulder, elbow, arm, hand, ear) will do the trick. That inside half advancement and lift (aka "strong inside half") takes care of counter (inside half ahead) and angulation (shoulders level to slope, etc.), two biggies. With that counter and angulation going on, the new turn will not involve rotating the whole torso any more. As you end the old turn you'll already be facing downhill towards the next turn's apex. And you won't be leaning into the hill, so your outside ski will be gripping nicely. With time you can play with how much you lift and advance, and find the best combination to stay balanced on that outside ski while the inside ski's tail remains slightly lifted. I'm talking about short and schmeedium turns here, not long turns.
It takes time to change an embedded habit. Hold onto your commitment, and work on remembering to keep your concentration on the new stuff. It's really hard to remember to concentrate on a new thing every single turn of a run, much less all turns all day long. Too many distractions while skiing! Persist and the new movements will start to feel great and you'll hunger for more of that feeling.
I hope that helps.
Edited by LiquidFeet - 8/7/16 at 5:18pm