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Racing and ski instruction - Page 2

post #31 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska Mike
I don't believe you can teach a person to balance. They have to discover what works for themselves. However, I believe you can teach them positions and movements that will allow them to attain stability more easily. Guided discovery, as it were.

.
BZZZT - WRONG

You should see the video of me when I started skiing & then see me now.....

ALL my balance is LEARNT (even pre-skiing) ...my "natural" balance ability is to be unable to stand in bare feet(easiest) with hands spread(easiest) & eyes open(easiest) on a firm surface(easist) on 1 leg for more than about a count of 2 (ie LESS than 2 seconds).....

We now recognise that part of the "1leg" problem is that I never did understand that to LIFT that foot I needed to weight TRANSFER to the other FIRST.... Yes I know it sounds OBVIOUS - my brain got it as soon as I was shown the problem - however my body never understood why the ears kept yelling "falling" when I did what everyone else showed me to do(lift foot)

Even recently doing fitball classes I had to be shown how to start.... once I have the start and a SUITABLE set of progressions I can set about training my brain to cope with the challenge... but I will never learn that left to my own devices...
post #32 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by daslider
Racing has to be about speed. Is this actually what recreational skiers want?

.
As a total chicken (ex maybe) re speed I'll answer

YES

My (race coach) instructor taught me about speed....

When I know HOW to go faster I also know how to NOT go faster....(IE I can ski MY LINE) If I have the technique to ski faster I also have more choice as to where & how I ski....

In learning to ski SAFER(my goal) I also learnt to ski FASTER(instructors goal) and more importantly I had much more choice as to how I would ski....

I also learnt that it is often SAFER to turn DOWNHILL & use speed(safely) to escape the errant person uphill trying to destroy me..... Stupid as it sounds I feel safer now I can ski faster....

I am still no speed demon - but have been accused (by a full cert instructor) of being a racer - due to my skiing style...
post #33 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mason
From what I've seen and read this emphasis on one ski balance, if it is taught at all, at many ski schools is taught very late in the progressions rather that at the very beginning.

So, Arcmeister, how important is one ski balance in your style of teaching?
I'll disillusion you....

Guess what - I was taught 1 ski balance by never being taught 1 ski balance UNTIL I could do it.... (confused?) .....

I ski drills were a nono for me (often probably from an anxiety level - I expected total disaster as I could barely stand on 1 foot - no skis)

Once I had GOOD stance and balance on 1 ski but using 2 I started to learn to ski on 1 ski.... the good stance & balance came from being taught on TWO SKIS...


Same problem on inline skates - IISA instructors solution - GUESS WHAT??? Learn the stufff on TWO FEET
post #34 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Bell
I agree - there is a conflict there. I think the problem is when people are taught to "ski the slow line fast" (= round carved turns, cutting acutely across the fall-line between turns), but are not taught the necessary peripheral vision that they need to have when skiing that line. Ie. the little look over the uphill shoulder to watch out for the "old-style" skier hooning down the fall-line making "windscreen wiper turns" (ie. the skis wash from side to side but the skier doesn't actually change direction). Ideally, the old-style skiers should also learn that it is their responsibility to avoid skiers (or boarders) below them who are cutting across the fall-line (the downhill skier has right of way) - but that may take longer...

Ummmm - I got told to shed the habit of trying to look over my shoulder a couple of years ago now.... if I am looking pretty much where I am heading then if I turn a long turn uphill then I am looking in that direction enough to have some vision that way.... waving my head up over my shoulder I get told will cause s... I stopped & feel a lot SAFER now....
post #35 of 91
I spent a week with the National Demo team early this year, mostly doing shuffles and pivot slips to work on balance. We never practiced any movement I ever use in ordinary skiing, and we hardly discussed what those movements would be. The entire focus was balance, or rather searching for the feeling of being in balance, and by the end of the week I was skiing as well as I ever have.

You can teach "positions and movements" or even try "the right movements," but it all starts with good balance. The limitation of teaching specific movements is that each specific movement becomes an ingrained pattern that only works in specific circumstances. That's why there are so many self-described "experts" who never leave the groomed trails. Their ingrained movements work fine on the groomed, but they never develop the feeling for balance that will allow them to adjust to difficult conditions. Most of my time training instructors is spent getting them to give up the movement patterns they seem to think are necessary, and to focus on maintaining balance and to allow their bodies to move freely to manage the forces that develop, much like what I did with the Demo Team this year.

In dynamic skiing, we balance against fairly large turning forces. Without those turning forces, we would fall down if we ever tried to move into the positions we typically move into while skiing. Our bodies reflexively rebel against moving into those positions, until we develop some confidence that our skis will come around to hold us up. That's why it takes a long time to learn to ski well, and it's another reason why teaching movements is not very effective.
post #36 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdowling
You can teach "positions and movements" or even try "the right movements," but it all starts with good balance. The limitation of teaching specific movements is that each specific movement becomes an ingrained pattern that only works in specific circumstances. That's why there are so many self-described "experts" who never leave the groomed trails.
John,

I hope this is in response to what I wrote. I first want to say I think pivot slips are a key to great skiing. They are also a wonderful example of what I am trying to say.

From a position with the skis across the hill....in the sideslip, the first movement to pivot has to be a release or flattening off the old outside foot. Without this movement upper body movement will creep into the picture.

As I type, I can also argue from your side. Pivot slips mandate finding the sweet spot on the ski in terms of fore-aft, lateral, stance etc. If one isn't in the right spot on the ski the right movements become more difficult.

Perhaps it is the ultimate chicken/egg arguement.

I'll add pivot slips in six inches of busted up powder are a blast. They don't have to be done on groomed snow.
post #37 of 91
Towards the end of this season when the Snow got manky 99.9% of the skiers would be on the groom. What's that all about? There are always a few misfits that like a challenge.:
post #38 of 91
As far as the 'manky" snow, it may be because it was dirty and that dirt would end up on ski bases. Some people who don't tune their own stuff or don't like daily tuning usually avoid dirty snow. Slows you down. Coverage may have also been an issue, but usually it's just a lack of ability or lack of interest. Sometimes skiing that cut up spring stuff that's been through a few thaw/freeze cycles is a lot of work. Fun, but if your goal is just to cruise on a warm spring day, you may just hang out on the groomers.

Last week at camp a couple of us would do our warmup runs off of the groomers while they were salting. This was all above treeline, and there was a thin, red fungus/mold growing on the snow that the lifties called watermellon. Basically it looks like someone sprayed watermellon juice on the snow in the sun cups. That and a little dust from the volcanic eruptions in the Aleutians this winter was pretty much all that was on the snow, but our bases would be filthy at the end of the day.

Back to the topic at hand. There seems to be a great misperception among those who haven't actually tried race training that it is only good for hard snow skiing. While this is the focus of a good deal of race programs, the same could be said for any ski training program. As has been said before, good racing is just good skiing.

Disski-
I still maintain your coaches did not teach you how to balance. They may have given you static positions and concepts which allowed your body to adapt to the sensation of balance, but your body/brain does all of the dynamic work. They just found a way to explain it to you so you could make those dynamic movements. YOU did the balancing. To put it another way- how do you know when you're out of balance (besides falling)?
post #39 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska Mike
Disski-
. To put it another way- how do you know when you're out of balance (besides falling)?
I didn't.....

For me falling consisted of
1)scream (ears were saying I was off balance)
2) lying on ground wondering what had happened....

My instructors may have spent a VERY small amount of time showing me positions (stacked body)....

They spent a VAST amount of time "translating" for me what was happening.... This translating is how I was taught balance ... I learnt how to "listen" to my sensory nerves to use the feedback for balance purposes - ditto sight- although I think less useful when skiing.... Also I was taught "when" to start movements & how to time them (slower for me usually as my natural movement patterns are only ON & OFF... so slow speed movements are tricky)

Also a few very simple things -when going up windlip push hands FORWARD - lots - this helps me overcome my tendency to stand at 90 degrees to skis all the way up & retract hands as I got scared of falling (from ears saying off balance)

Reinforcement of what are GOOD movements (& why) & what are BAD (& why & what is better) is still teaching movement patterns ....

Do a google on proprioception & check out one of the top 2 responses - it is a dance teacher & at one point she describes how correcting a position is a POOR teaching choice - it only teaches end point... taking student through the correct mo0vement sequence (although often harder) is necessary to LEARN the new CORRECT movement sequence .....

This is very true - it is often true that the WRONG mo0vement still FEELS right to the student - so correcting any 1 end point does NOT tecah how the RIGHT movement sequence feels.....

The TRICK (& the skill in experienced instructors) is HOW to get the student to feel GOOD movement patterns


As the TRAINED CONSCIOUS thought processes become used more they seem to slip back to automatic - my fitball instructor said he could see the change the night this started to happen.... I have noticed the same change just start to happen in surfing lesson as my body is now translating some of the foot messages & readjusting stance without my conscious input
post #40 of 91
Sorry - just to make that clear - it is DYNAMIC balance I need to ski....

To teach me dynamic balance it is essential that I be taught HOW to achieve same - no amount of position teaching achieves this if the underlying movement patterns are poor.... learning good movement sequences & having constant reinforcement of what was done when certain inputs arrived & how that may be varied next attempt are how you train the complex little brain to try a new pattern - once the conscious process can achieve the desired output you work on making that a subconscious process by REPEATING - ad nauseum...

In my case I had to be taught how to weight transfer between feet & parts of feet.... just for starters
post #41 of 91
Thread Starter 

Where does the new come from?

"Where does the new come from? I mean the really new?" That was a line in a TV show (Six Feet Under) last week. Where does the inspiration for new, better, improved come from in skiing? When Emile Allais was laying down parallel tracks and skiing two footed back in the late '30s, his inspiration was racing. Racing is about speed, yes, but finishing is the key criterion in winning a race. You have to go fast and stand up, and that takes technique!

But we can't give credit to racing for the shape ski. That credit is due to snowboarding and crossover of Alpine skiers to carving boards as the early adopters--back in the days when the predominant response from the mainstream toward snowboarding was to shun them. So the latest Big Revolution in skiing came from the lunatic fringe, not racing.

I'd say that racing (the Establishment) has given us consistent incremental improvements in skiing but probably is incapable of delivering anything too revolutionary. Fastman is right, though: until Bode won the Junior Olympics, race programs shunned shape skis and the hardcore regarded them as cheating. It took PSIA a long time to respond and instructors were not early adopters of shape skis. The adoption of shape skis would make an interesting case study of a trend building from a fad beginning, from the outside in, until the trend swallows up the old.

So, yes, racing is the main source of continuous improvement in the sport and the main reason ski teaching must be dynamic and ski teachers always learning the new, but we should all realize that the ideas that will revolutionize the experience for skiers will come from the fringe or outside the sport, and always be open to the idea of skiing becoming even more enjoyable than it is today.
post #42 of 91
Cognitive Dissidence?
post #43 of 91
Ok - quick reflection after surfing lesson - surfing balance pathways are just starting to be trained.....

It seems that having already established skiing balance pathways it is a LOT easier & faster for my brain to build same to cope with surfing......

It is quite obvious atm that my brain is just starting to deal with "learning" surfing balance.... I can now "feel" OFF BALANCE (rather than FALLING - which is simply my ears screaming to be saved) & even identify what sort of off balance on a fairly regular basis.... better still I am starting to develop some attempt at fixing same - which is not an easy step....

I think that this sort of balance learning is just SO NATURAL to those with good balance (ie if they are off balance they know & auto correct)- so they can self learn to be better....

Thus the concept of "teaching balance" is foreign to these GIFTED people.... they cannot conceive of teaching what just happens naturally
post #44 of 91
Disski I would agree. Many of us take our balance for granted. Our stance also. We are born with the mechanisms to create good neutral stance and balance, but we have to learn how to use them. Once we learn to use them there are many things that can inhibit the effectrive use of these. Even those gifted ones you speak of can improve, and create new pathways if new sensory imput is allowed, or we simply exercise the mechanisms through focused use.

To quote Dr. William J. Evans, a pricipal NASA researcher and developer of the exercise program for in flight astronauts, from his Astrofit, "We all have the ability to make significant improvements in our balance, however, which can lead to greater coordination, improved posture (stance, my input), and stability, and enhanced athletic performance."

Another quote from another source "" At the time of writing that book (his last book 'The Neurophysiology of Postural Mechanisms') I had come to the conclusion that everything to do with balance came down to a problem of recognition. For example, if one is to make corrective movements to avoid overbalancing, one must be able, on some level, to recognise that the moment has arrived at which corrective movements are called for."

Disski you are describing your process for finding this moment in yourself. Thanks. Those that say they can't improve or don't need improvement, need to think again. If balance is learned, then we can help someone else learn it. No different than everything else we do. Later, Ric.
post #45 of 91
Thread Starter 
I recall what an athletic trainer said in a clinic I attended with RicB last fall, about what innate attributes great athletes bring to their game: 1) fast reflexes; 2) acute vision; 3) ambidexterity. Why is great balance not on the list?
post #46 of 91
Nolo, maybe it's because balance is something we learn to create using our innate abilities, those mechanisms "we are born with", with Balance being something we "aren't born with".

Prime example is Disski (appologies for using you Disski) who is missing one of those innnate mechanisms, yet is able to learn to balance anyway. Later, Ric.
post #47 of 91
Thread Starter 
As I recall, Clete said that coping with gravity in an upright stance is unique to our species. We say anyone who can walk in the door can learn to ski, but a person who has never skied has to adapt and enlarge their skills and abilities for coping with a split force of gravity. It's a learning curve that every skier has to climb.

In other words, balance is not an innate ability, but a byproduct of expanded VAKE (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and experiential) awareness.
post #48 of 91
Absolutely.

Just as developing the ability to balance while walking does not grant one the ability to immediately balance well the first time attempting to ride a bike, balancing on skis is a skill that must be developed also, as it involves the management of forces and the use of specific movement patterns not encountered or needed during walking.

Just as Disski suggests, skiing balance skills can and must be refined, and that refinement can be expedited with the guidance of a good coach/instructor.

Disski, you continue to impress me with the level of understanding you have acquired in this sport, as demonstrated by the content of your posts. It even surpasses that of some level 3 instructors that post here. Please pass on my compliments to your coaches for their fine work with you, and accept personally my compliments for your own dedicated efforts.

FASTMAN
post #49 of 91

Can Balance be taught

Interesting undercurrent of discussion on this point - so I'll raise it a bit.

Do people have balance. Lets see - what is something simple that has perplexed robotics makers for years - stairs. Think about stairs. We all do it. It's extrememly complex from a balance perspective. Looking at the walking down stairs problem I think we might all agree everyone that skis that does stairs has the ability to handle complex balance issues.

So how did we get to the point of doing stairs? By doing stairs.

One can develop balance for ones self or in teaching others by making yourself or the student do things that require balance.

Often, instead, ski students are taught things that lesson or nearly eliminate the need for balance. This includes the safety and immediate stability of the wedge and using a wide stance. Both prevent using subtle foot movements to affect balance. Both negate the need for balance. Both hold back skiing progress.

On the other hand, ski drills that are progressive in nature that develop balance skills enhance ski ability and balance. Yes the student is learning this balance themselves, but it is in the context of being presented with drills that help develop balance.

But, anyone can improve their balance. Stairs are easy for people. Stairs are a nightmare balance issue if you look at it objectively.

I look at the stairs analagy as a perfect discounter to people that shy away from teaching balance to skiers on the grounds that some people are not capable of it. That's really cutting your student's ability to learn balance short.

Now on the other hand, developing balance in skiing is very dificult if the alignment is not correct. At the Hood race camp I was at the first 3 days of drills were exceedingly difucult for me. The evening of the 3rd day I got aligned and the 4th day was almost magical in the difference it made for me. My balancing ability got instantly better. Any skier development program that does not also focus on alignment is going to leave some frustrated skiers out there that are not born aligned (most of them). Whitheral's book also stresses this though he goes for an end alignment that isn't neutral that I personally wouldn't want. (he likes it at tad knock kneed to help with turn initiation but the book still predates shaped skies)

So I would propose to the discussion that balance can be taught and learned (in the strict sense only the student can learn balance but that's a semantical twist having nothing to do with negating the need to present the student with drills that help them develop dynamic balance). Also, that alignment should be looked at from the beginning of instruction.

If the above is true, the the biggest single need for mass instruction out there is a boot/binding system that allows for easy quick alignment. Perhaps a binding that can tilt and lock in place.

And - anyone going to be in Portillo first full week in august?
post #50 of 91
Do we actually mean balance at all in skiing? Surely balance is applicable to the harmonious resolution of forces in a static situation, a ski turn on the other hand is necessarily unbalanced with a net turning motion resulting. It may be the attempts to stay balanced that holds up progress for those who won't make that committment to the inside of the turn. Stability may be a better concept.
post #51 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by daslider
Do we actually mean balance at all in skiing? Surely balance is applicable to the harmonious resolution of forces in a static situation, a ski turn on the other hand is necessarily unbalanced with a net turning motion resulting. It may be the attempts to stay balanced that holds up progress for those who won't make that committment to the inside of the turn. Stability may be a better concept.

Yes - that is why I added the bit about dynamic balance.....

I had 1 surf run yesterday where I lost the "new snowboarder" look - you know the arms windmill & the upper body is everywhere trying to stay on those feet.....

I just jumped up & was stable & able to adapt to changes in the wave without all that happening - THAT is the difference ....

I have been able to "jump up" on a board on the beach for a long time & hit a reasonable stance - the ability to deal with subtle changes in what you are standing on is MUCH harder....
post #52 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mason
Often, instead, ski students are taught things that lesson or nearly eliminate the need for balance. This includes the safety and immediate stability of the wedge and using a wide stance. Both prevent using subtle foot movements to affect balance. Both negate the need for balance. Both hold back skiing progress.

?
I disagree - I was taught a snowplow (yes the evil snowplow) .....

(Also taught to TURN both feet - it is sort of useful if you want to use them)

I then did the stem christie bit & then parallel....


My natural stance was ALWAYS wide - VERY wide.....
It adjusted when it was ready to - ie when my skiing reached the spot where it was less needed...


If such teaching inhibits learning to balance then how do you account for the fact that someone who the skifield doctor tried to ban from skiing(too dangerous for me) has progressed at a rate & to a level that is at least as good as my able bodied counterparts?

I think you need to accept that while more athletic people MAY learn to ski on 1 ski more easily MOST of the population have a NEED for learning in a differnt manner
post #53 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mason
But, anyone can improve their balance. Stairs are easy for people. Stairs are a nightmare balance issue if you look at it objectively.

I look at the stairs analagy as a perfect discounter to people that shy away from teaching balance to skiers on the grounds that some people are not capable of it. That's really cutting your student's ability to learn balance short.

?

Stairs are VERY DEFINITELY NOT easy for people - watch any of the following trying to negotiate them
1) Young children (starting to walk/crawl)
2) Old(er) people
3) People on crutches
4) People with walking sticks
5) people with any knee problem

I'm sure I could think of lots more....

A friend asked me how I do stairs - I thought about it & admitted that unfamiliar or "tricky" stairs require me to LOOK - a LOT - ie use my visual input to provide extra input. (That is one of the purposes of handrails - extra tactile input)

A while later I went to a concert that person was playing in & afterwards we left by the rear stairs from the stage - you know the metal fire escape type....
We were chatting but as we hit the bottom he stopped & told me I had stopped talking at the top of the stairs for just a fraction - long enough to tackle the first couple of steps & adjust the "stair walking" mechanical program to deal with that set (no solid riser - can catch foot.... metal so "FEEL" funny to walk on.... metal corners that differ in feel & have a slight lip over metal mesh of step... etc)

Ask anyone with one eye not working - stairs are tricky - they need to work hard on new stairs to learn what the stairs are like
post #54 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Absolutely.


Disski, you continue to impress me with the level of understanding you have acquired in this sport, as demonstrated by the content of your posts. It even surpasses that of some level 3 instructors that post here. Please pass on my compliments to your coaches for their fine work with you, and accept personally my compliments for your own dedicated efforts.

FASTMAN

Thanks Rick - I must admit a few of your posts made me suspect you were one of my coaches spying on me.....

I had a lesson with a level 2(Oz) candidate - but long time instructor last year (I tagged his group - more time skiing without MY instructors - but with some feedback)....
Afterwards he told my instructor I knew more about skiing than he did....
My instructor told him I should - I had heard it all repeatedly....

Because I need to LEARN more stuff to learn it becomes important I understand the WAY I need to learn & to ski - so I can develop....
My lessons early on consisted of a lot of chair lift rides discussing WHY/HOW etc - What did that feel like - Why did I find that scarey - Why could I not do that thing How did I think we might adjust that so I could do it etc etc etc....

Hence instructor & I have a pattern of discussion that i think is really essential for ski learning for me - but a bit different from most peoples idea of ski lessons....

My coaches & ski school both know how well they have done with me - everyone that remembers my early skiing has been commenting on it - especially the race dept....

I have offered to give them video footage of end of first season & some from now & they can use it to sell lessons - I am a skiing lesson advert!!!
post #55 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB
Disski I would agree. Many of us take our balance for granted. Our stance also. We are born with the mechanisms to create good neutral stance and balance, but we have to learn how to use them. Once we learn to use them there are many things that can inhibit the effectrive use of these. Even those gifted ones you speak of can improve, and create new pathways if new sensory imput is allowed, or we simply exercise the mechanisms through focused use.

To quote Dr. William J. Evans, a pricipal NASA researcher and developer of the exercise program for in flight astronauts, from his Astrofit, "We all have the ability to make significant improvements in our balance, however, which can lead to greater coordination, improved posture (stance, my input), and stability, and enhanced athletic performance."

Another quote from another source "" At the time of writing that book (his last book 'The Neurophysiology of Postural Mechanisms') I had come to the conclusion that everything to do with balance came down to a problem of recognition. For example, if one is to make corrective movements to avoid overbalancing, one must be able, on some level, to recognise that the moment has arrived at which corrective movements are called for."

Disski you are describing your process for finding this moment in yourself. Thanks. Those that say they can't improve or don't need improvement, need to think again. If balance is learned, then we can help someone else learn it. No different than everything else we do. Later, Ric.

Yes - the more you challenge the brain the more it works to overcome the challenge.... if you give it the same problem often enough it gets better at solving it....
Those that think they do not need to learn balance would gain a lot from learning - but they think balance is standing on 1 leg & they can already do that.... I think they should aim higher (like maybe a tightrope ) & they would find they can achieve more than they might believe possible


Yes - recognising when you need to do stuff is the hardest for me - it takes time to learn what tactile input means "background noise" & what is "stuff to process" & then what point is "do stuff now" & then "what to do now"
post #56 of 91
After reading this entire thread very thouroughly i have decided to recall the original topic starter and perhaps change it a bit. Originally it was asked if ski racing continued to drive ski instruction. The answer to this is yes, but more importantly, we should note what is carried over from ski racing to recreational skiing. I think that most everyone that has replied to this thread has agreed that the main skill common to all 'proper' ski instruction, in some way shape or form involves balance - natural, taught, and learned.

The key to balancing on skis is the realization that skiing is not static (as many of you have pointed out). While it can be understood and described at certain points in a turn by a static diagram/explanation, it is in fact a very dynamic process. An instructor can teach movements to create balance, but it is up to the student to react to what they are taught and use it the best way that they can in order to understand how to balance themselves most efficiently.

Balance on skis is not only complex because it involves moving over an uneven surface, but because it involves balance in a lot of situations and a requirement that you have the ability to react to these situations. This is true for all skiing. Racing aims to teach the most efficient way to remain balanced, as well as recover your balance, so you learn what to do if you are unbalanced. Yes, the ultimate goal of racing is speed, but before a racer ever ventures to learn to go fast they need a strong basis for that speed, and the ability to handle it. While most recreational skiers will never travel at race speeds or require the exceptional balance that a racer requires, there is no reason that this should not be taught to all skiers, or any reason that any skier should not be able to grasp the concept in order to improve their skiing - providing it is taught well.

When hoaning in your balancing skills you will find that there are several places that are 'information centers' that let you know what is going on with your balance and your turns. Remember you have fore/aft, side to side, and up/down all to balance out in a turn. You have the tounge of your boot, the back of your boot, the sole of your boot, your knees, your upper body, and your hands all to worry about. The goal behind ski racing and ski instruction is to create positive movements that put all of these body parts in the correct place automatically - and learning it, so it becomes second nature - so that when something occurrs that causes you to loe balance, you quickly move to recover, and know how to fix the problem - sometimes in a split second.

One key element to balance is the ski. I like to think of it as an extension of my body, so i always know what the ski is doing, so that i can balance myself against it accordingly. Yes, against it. Remember, in a turn you are putting more force into the ski at some angle to the snow than the acceleration of gravity - or you will tip over as soon as you start to angulate. I'm not promoting banking at all, but in a high angulated turn you can pinch all you want and neither of your skis are going to be underneath you... in fact often, neither of your skis are underneath you anyways. You have to learn to trust the ski (particularly, the ski not being underneath you) - as someone else mentioned. This is often the most difficult thing to get used to about skiing, and balance during skiing. You also have to learn to trust the ski on the snow, and be able to manipulate it for various terrain features and snow types - ie. high angulation wont work very well for a bump run, but does just fine on a firm groomed surface. The balance against the ski is a constant motion throughout the turn, and the movements you make and forces that you apply to the ski in terms of balancing are constantly changing. This illustrates that there are no true 'sudden' movements that a skier will make, unless of course it is a recovery movement. I like to think of the ski as a taught rubber band that you push on to make every turn... every turn it springs back and you start a new turn. All of these movements though are gradual movements that apply a constant force to the ski.

One more thing to note regarding racing versus recreational skiing: Carving originated in racing. The shaped ski which came from snowboarding allowed the general public to have race like technique without the effort... merely to make it easier, and ultimately more fun. The idea behind them was to offer a race like carved turn to every skier on the mountain; a turn that was once privilege only to racers.

Later

GREG
post #57 of 91
AS for my own balance; I was lucky enough to be blessed with very good balance when it comes to sports that involve moving across any kind of surface. I started ski racing later in life (as in 18 - so i wasnt a young kid when i started), and once thing that i noticed - especially in a slalom course - was the huge amount of balance that was required to navigate those turns. I quickly found that i had been relying on my good balance while free skiing, but it was not really improving. Racing forced me to improve my balance greatly, and thus improved my overall skiing ability and most of all - comfort level on any type of snow or terrain.

Rick can second me on my push for better balance in the course (and several other bad habbits that i have), as he was one of my coaches last season. Most everything that we worked on related back to balance in some way (thinking specifically of reaching for gates).

Later

GREG
post #58 of 91
Yes Greg - I think your story is true of many people gifted with great natural balance.....

My (other) instructor grew up at Whistler - I commented a few times on his superb balance.... he told me he grew up with many much more naturally talented skiers (esp balance wise) but that he caught up to most simply because he worked HARDER at improving.....

Those with high natural skill levels can often "rest on laurels" for a long time - then they hit a wall & either have some re-learning to do (if changes are needed to previous movement patterns) or lots of apparent % -time" where they do not improve until new learning is done....

I find it frustrating to watch such talented people waste these superb skills.... I guess that is how my chemistry teacher felt with me in High School - now I can sympathise!
post #59 of 91
Disski, one of Dr. Evans's balance exercises is to walk toe to toe on a large diameter rope lying on the floor, stop and turn and then back again. About a 10' rope will do. When you do this effectively he suggests closing the eyes and doing it. Not a tightrope but in the neighborhood. I haven't tried this yet, I need to get the rope. There is always a way to challenge ourselves. Later, Ric.
post #60 of 91
Thread Starter 

Catching falling knives and other balancing acts

Have you ever had the experience, while doing the dishes or food prep, of having something fall off the counter, and being able to pluck the falling item out of the air without taking your eyes off your task? Your hand "knows" just where the item is in space without stopping to look or even to think about it. How does that happen?
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