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A Load Of Crap

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Just got the magazine for warren miller`s new ski movie IMPACT today here in scotland and i was reading my way throw it when i came to page 48 about a 4 year old boy by the name of bridger. He started skiing when he was 2 years old and he ski`s 80 plus days a year he carves things like weight distribution and hand postioning,what takes most people years to comprehend. have come naturally to bridger. His mom said that ice skating, which bridger's been doing since he was 2, may have contributed to his rapid progression. it's a good thing for understanding balance and edges, she said. or maybe its his genes. It could be his genes as his dad has won the mens 40 and over division of the race series each of the past two years. And his mom is an endurance athlete junky who can be found competing in and winning just about every running race in the valley. But his mom thinks its just bridgers desire to do what everyone else is doing. I am not a ski instructor but I recon its virtually impossible for a 4 year old kid to ski like that, that’s like tiger woods shooting 60 at the age of 4.
post #2 of 26
Haven't read the article, punk-d, or seen the movie. But I have certainly seen 4-year-olds with remarkably strong skiing skills, and even some "adult-like" movements. Many (most) 4-year-olds lack the refined motor skills needed for such skiing. But not all. With two years, 160+ days behind him, combined with good genes and good images to imitate, I am not surprised that "Bridger" is a remarkable young skier!

Indeed, good skiing movements are very natural, and many adults could learn something from watching some children ski. They could also learn something from watching children LEARN! While I do not doubt that Bridger is a spectacular little skier, I would be very surprised if he obsessed over most of the details of his technique. Given the right intent (not defensive), mileage, genes, and models, even the minutiae of "good technique" that are so discussed here become "natural," unconscious, even inevitable.

Adults take note! If you want to ski as perfectly as this child (presumably) skis, you've got to allow yourself to learn like a child does. Play! Relax! Experiment and feel, make mistakes, and trust your body's innate ability to learn and adapt. Yes, good understanding, and even moreso, good coaching by someone else with good understanding, can help avoid practicing errors. It can give us ideas for what to "play" with. But it will not, in itself, make you a better skier!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

PS--I like your signature line--"You can't be a ripper without a bag of tricks that's like a cat with an attitude." I'll bet you are a great skier! Welcome to EpicSki, Punk-d.
post #3 of 26
Well since Tiger hasn't shot 60 yet I'd say your analogy has a bit of hyperbole. I'd think it would be more like Tiger breaking 100 (most never will) at the age of 4. I believe he was on the Ed Sullivan show at around 4 showing his already apparent and incredible golf skills. Maybe he could have broken 100 then. Wayne Gretzky was similarly outstanding a like age. I've also seen 4 and 5 year olds who could rail out a ski and use angulation quite effectively.
post #4 of 26
I have seen Bridger ski. He foreruns all of the Aspen Town Series races and his Dad, Rob (a great guy) is one of my arch rivals (grrr!).

I have also had the pleasure of skiing Highland Bowl with Bridger and he rips there. He even autographed my wife's helmet. Just a "B" for now but he should be adding more letters next year.

Just because we couldn't ski like that at his age doesn't mean he can't!

post #5 of 26
I vividly remember (and have video of!) Phil Mahre's 4 year old son Alex "training" on the same slalom course at Keystone as his dad and uncle. While his body proportions were those of a 4 year old, and his posture and movements reflected that, his use of his little K2 Mickey Mouse skis was impressive. His timing, pressure management, and independent leg action were beyond reproach, as he did his best to imitate his dad's World Cup movements.

When we asked Phil what he had done for his son, as far as technical coaching goes, he asked Alex "how do you turn?"

"Let Mickey do the work," was his succinct reply. There's a lesson there!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #6 of 26
Originally Posted by BOOTech,Inc.
I have seen Bridger ski. He foreruns all of the Aspen Town Series races and his Dad, Rob (a great guy) is one of my arch rivals (grrr!).
You didn't just say arch rival did you!
post #7 of 26
Actually, Nemesis is a better term! you know, he's so skinny he has to tie an extra knot in his bib! The nerve!


p.s. thanks for the glossy write-up, glad I was able to pass your "quiz"!
post #8 of 26
I haven't seen Bridger, but I know another young man in Aspen, a bit older and the son of one of our instructors. When I saw him last year I was blown away by how perfect his technique was. His dad modestly attributed much of it to mounting the kid's skis a few inches forward.

One of our other instructor's, Rick Vetromile, has been advocating this for kids skis for a long time, with great success in his local kid's groups. I think some of the manufacturers are starting to get that and beginning to suggest more front mounting for kids.

For those of you who don't know, jl of BOOTech, inc. is Jim Lindsey, the master boot man in our region.

Jim, are you open? I need an appointment soon.
post #9 of 26
That's an interesting trick. Hopefully more rental places will convert to those bindings where the toepeice moves as well as the heelpiece, I'd like to try that.
I often ask parents to get shorter skis for their infants; it's annoying when you have a 3 or 4 YO who is growing, and the rental shop has given them head-high skis, and they are beginners. They are bracing and leaning back just to try and slow the monsters down. Get them shorter skis, and they can use them like big feet.
Once they have "got" it, the longer skis are OK.
post #10 of 26
The forward mounting makes them work like shorter skis with the stability of longer skis. They can really direct the tips at the turn, even though the muscles aren't strong yet.
post #11 of 26
That's very interesting, Weems. I would love to see it in action!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #12 of 26

I'm not surprised

Think about a 4 year old running up and down stairs. Some get show-offey about it and take them 2 at a time.

The balance requirements to run up and down stairs are actually quite extreme. (just ask anyone working in the robotics field)

If he's got 180 days he probably skis better than he does stairs. It's certainly balance done with "bigger foot" so in some repects is easier.

Sounds like a fun movie again.

Move the balance forward most skis carve better with less tendency to lose their tails. Makes sense to me.
post #13 of 26
Good point about the stairs, John. It is indeed a demanding activity for balance, coordination, and confidence.

Move the balance forward most skis carve better with less tendency to lose their tails. Makes sense to me.
Actually, that's not quite the case. Don't forget that, while it does lengthen the tail, it also lightens it, making it grip less well. At the same time, forward lpressure makes the TIPS grab more tenaciously, also increasing the likelihood of the the tails washing out. Have you ever seen--or experienced--a front wheel drive car spinning out when driving down a slippery hill in low gear? Or have you ever tried hitting the brakes in your car to intentionally spin it out in a snowy parking lot? It's very similar--the weight moves forward, the front wheels bite in a little more, and the lighter rear tires break loose. Forward leverage, when bindings are "normally" mounted on skis, causes the same effect.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #14 of 26

Interesting Points

The Claw - handmade ski, goes for maxiumum carving by using symetrical sidecut and a more centered position. It's getting a cult like following by some in the NE.

Unlike the car, we are talking a more constant speed (after all we are carving the ski), not with the brakes on from the skis forward direction point of view. Thus, your tail slide car analagy doesn't fit to well.

In the last 1/3 of the turn when the deacceleration is the hardest, it's a sideways force that is being put on the ski at that point. (downward movement of CM slows down, thus total speed vector down the hill is less, the pressure direction is down on the skis, which are inclined in their turn, thus the sideways force at that point) Thus, the more forward mounting evens the pressure keeping the tails in place. Think 50/50 weight distribution in sports cars in hard turns. You want even weighting so they car drifts sideways ideally without oversteer or understeer. In a back mounted ski, the lack of edge to engage rather the the weight being back is what makes this style of mounting easier for beginners to swish around.

Manufacturers go with the more back position so that the tails slide easier. This is good for people with less of a carved style of turn.

If your into pressuring the tips and breaking loose the tails, then the above does not apply to that style of skiing. Pressuring the tips was the way to get the old straight skis to bend and initiate a carve. The new skis don't require this to be placed into reverse camber. But, your car analogy will fit that better with that more old school technique.

Check out the claw site for their reasonings for why a symetrical ski and more forward mount locks those tails in and helps create a more pure carvers ski.
post #15 of 26

Better analogy

Think a sports car with big tires up front and real skinny ones in the back. The lack of edge length in a back mounted binding is like this.

Moving the binding forward is like having more equal width tires on a car.
post #16 of 26
One question: if it's so much better, why aren't racing skis made that way?
post #17 of 26
Allright... I'm gonna post this here, and not on the equipment forum. I have new skis for my 3 year old. I don't have bindings for them yet. The skis are 80cm, with a modern sidecut. When I get bindings mounted, should I have them mounted forward of normal? If so, how much?

I haven't done much children's stuff in years, so I'm trying to suck up as much info as possible before I get my daughter on skis in December.
post #18 of 26
JohnH, at least 1.5 inches forward. The guy that showed me this, Rick Vetromile from Aspen would say 2 inches or more. I'm conservative.

But remember, he is still a 3 year old. Take your time, and keep your expectations low.

Bob, I don't think the modern ski shapes lose their tails that easily, when you're forward, compared to the old skis. There is so much leverage available, and the skis are so stiff torsionally, that they don't wash out. (We've had this conversation before, I think on the thread about going forward.)
post #19 of 26
Originally Posted by John Mason
The Claw - handmade ski, goes for maxiumum carving by using symetrical sidecut and a more centered position. It's getting a cult like following by some in the NE.

Prior to your taking up skiing, the first "shaped skis" were called parabolics. Up until a couple of years ago Elan still made a ski that you describe. It was called the CSX I think and it's dimensions were 100-64-100.

What designers have found is that too much shape in terms of the tail actually is detrimental. The ski won't release from a turn.

I'm not sure I would call the sales of The Claw a cult following. I've been on the skis and I don't think he can compete in terms of liveliness and quality with "major" european manufacturers.

In addition, he makes a race ski that is not, as you term it, symmetrical.
post #20 of 26
Elan SCX (original "parabolic" ski) did not have a mounting position that was more forward than other skis, nor was the tail as wide as the tip. Dimensions were 110-60-100.
post #21 of 26
Epic says, of mounting the binding forward of the balance point:
Originally Posted by epic
One question: if it's so much better, why aren't racing skis made that way?
1. The skis don't have to be made that way, because the racers' turns are are made that way. At the initiation of the turn, theres a pulling back of the feet, projection forward of the hips and upper body, and flexion of the ankles, to get the weight forward and really bend the shovel of the ski. Olle Larsson describes it (with pictures) in his (now a couple years old) peice on modern World Cup slalom technique, and Kirsten Clark says of GS technique "Deep ankle flex means I have good pressure on my ski tips." In her article on Slalom, Caroline Lalive says "There is plenty of aggressive flex in my knees and my ankles. We need this kind of forward pressure on the ski's tip to get it to come around."

Olle Larsson

Kirsten Clark,00.html

Carolyn LaLive,00.html

2. Racing skis sort of are made that way, if you buy Atomics (which is what a lot of racers are on.) The Xentrix/Atomic bindings are adjustable so you can set the binding balance point back or forward.

3. Nevertheless, as a practical matter, it feels easier to make the forward move/pulling back of the feet/ankle flex at turn initiation, with the binding neutrally positioned, than it feels to mount the binding forward, only to discover that you're dropping your butt back to stay balanced.
post #22 of 26
Originally Posted by weems
JohnH, at least 1.5 inches forward. The guy that showed me this, Rick Vetromile from Aspen would say 2 inches or more. I'm conservative.

But remember, he is still a 3 year old. Take your time, and keep your expectations low.
Weems - Thanks. I'm surprised. 1.5" - 2" is a LOT for an 80cm ski.

Don't worry, I won't let my expectations get too high. As a matter of fact, she has actually been on skis twice before. Once on little plastic skis in the side yard and once on rentals at the base of the ski area. At the ski area, her time on the skis was under 5 minutes. After she did a nice little straight run, I could see a little look of fear coming on, so I picked her up and let her watch the people skiing down to the bottom of the beginner area and taking lessons. She also watched her mother take a run and watched me take a run, but every time we asked if she wanted to put the skis back on, she said No. I let it go at that, and after carrying her around and playing in the snow a bit, we all went home. The way I look at it, is if she doesn't ski this year, I'll try again next year. If I can get her to slide down the beginner hill once, and not be afraid of it, and that's all we do for the whole season, then I'll live with that. On the bright side, she does seem to be pretty anxious to go skiing with us.
post #23 of 26
That's the way to do it, John.
post #24 of 26

My step brother is a level III cert and has taught at Vail for over twenty years. He is also a dad with grown kids. When my daughter was about ready to ski I sought his advice.

He told me to skip private lessons, don't teach her myself, and put her in ski school. He said being around other kids on day one would make it fun.

I took her kicking and screaming. It was horrible. I picked her up.....kicking and screaming! She had so much fun that she didn't want to quit. It was expensive, however for the first year she skiied it was always with another pro.
post #25 of 26

THREE already! Jeez, I remember when you didn't even have a child yet. Where did that time go? :
post #26 of 26
Originally Posted by gonzostrike

THREE already! Jeez, I remember when you didn't even have a child yet. Where did that time go? :
I know. Isn't it weird? We've never actually met (even though we're from the same home town), but we've "known" each other for someting like 6+ years. As I recall (quite vividly), we met in a PSIA vs PMTS argument : on Paula's web site.

RustyGuy, even though I'm also a L3 with 22 years of teaching, I'm the first to tell people not to teach family members. However, I think that with the right attitude and expectations, teaching your own kids is pretty do-able. One of the main reasons we tell people not to teach family members, friends and coworkers, is that it creates an authority figure which may not exist in an existing relationship, or puts the subordinate (for coworkers) in the position of authority. With your own kids, that relationship already exists. However, some kids just do better in front of other authority figures than they do with their parents, and some kids are better with their parents than with others. We're not quite sure which one of those our daughter is yet, so I'm willing to see if she'll take ski instruction from me. Over the past few months, she has been asking me to teach her how to ski ("Daddy, teach me to ski"), so it would be wrong of me to then give her over to another instructor.

Another problem I have, is that (don't tell anyone this, okay therusty?!), I know all the instructors at my mountian, and there aren't any that I really trust at being able to do this better than me. And on a side note, I've gradually been teaching my wife over the past 16 years (12 married), and have figured out how to teach my own family without us getting on each other's nerves.
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