John Mason's thread on Skiing Styles & Instruction prompted me to seach for a resonating thread from last spring called Inside Leg Extension. I learned that it was lost in the transition to our new software. Then I remembered that I had copied and saved it for another conversation I was having at the time. Here it is:
It was requested that I present a description/analysis of the INSIDE LEG EXTENSION TURN TRANSITION TECHNIQUE. Keep in mind while studying that it’s only one of many techniques available for the use of an advanced skier, yet one that is not widely understood or practiced. Each individual technique carries with it distinct benefits and limitations, and I’ll discuss the characteristics of this particular technique later in the presentation.
I intend to present a step by step description of the proper execution of the technique but first I feel it necessary, after reading a most entertaining recent thread here on the definition of A TURN, to clarify how I’ll be using the term in this presentation. My personal premise is that a turn represents one complete arc, and that the beginning, end, and shape of a turn is solely identified by the direction of travel of the skis. The brief moment in which edges are disengaged and CM passes through neutral represents the transition period between separate turns and that transition can happen at any orientation to the fall line depending on the characteristics of the slope and intent of the skier.
With that in mind, the description:
· Skier is in the final phase of a carved turn, approaching turn completion. Skis are on their highest edge and CM is at its lowest and innermost point. The pelvis is at its most countered position and the inside foot is correspondingly at its most forward in relation to the outside foot orientation. The effect of centrifugal force and gravitational force (the turning forces) on the skier are at their greatest. The outside leg is extended, the inside leg is flexed, and the majority of the resistance of turning forces is being accomplished by the outside ski/foot. The primary point of pressure (the balance point) is the inside edge of the outside ski.
· To finish the prior turn and initiate the movement sequence that will take the skier through the transition period and into the start of the new turn the skier begins inside leg extension.
· As the inside leg extends the primary point of pressure (POP) is transferred from the inside edge of the old outside ski to the outside edge of the old inside (new outside) ski. This moves POP closer to CM which immediately alters the balance equation in the favor of the turning forces and allows those forces to drive CM back toward neutral (back over the feet). This flattens the skis, disengages the edges and brings the prior turn to a completion.
· This force driven movement of CM combined with the extension of the inside leg creates a lateral pendulum movement pattern of CM with pendulum anchor (swing point) located between the skiers feet. Simultaneously a rotational movement pattern occurs in the pelvis. As the forces drive CM back over the feet the pelvis recovers from its countered position and returns to join CM at a neutral orientation.
· With CM, pelvis rotation, and fore/aft balance returned to neutral, accompanied by the resultant edge disengagement we are prepared to begin initiation of the new turn. It should be understood that the described movement patterns do not stop and later restart at neutral, but move through it smoothly and uninterrupted. I only direct attention to the state of neutral because it represents a reference point for the coordination of important elements of the movement sequence.
· To begin the new turn CM is allowed to continue on its lateral pendulum movement path which takes it through neutral and inside the vertical plain of the feet allowing for the progressive engagement of pressured edge for the new turn. At the same time the pulling forward of the trailing hip that brought the pelvis out of counter and back to neutral is continued until that same side of the hip is projected forward introducing a countered position for the new turn. This forward projection of the inside aspect of the pelvis moves CM into a fore position in relation to the outside foot and serves to drive the outside (pressure bearing) foot into pronation which pressures the big toe side of the foot and locks the ski into solid edge engagement.
· The force driven movement path of CM is controlled by the skier to ensure a smooth and progressive development of carved edge engagement and platform creation in the outside foot for the efficient support of forces that will be created later in the turn. The introduction of counter in the pelvis is also progressive and is added in harmony with the inside movement of CM. This CM and pelvis countering movement sequence continues until the edge height necessary to produce the desired turn shape has been achieved, at which point the sequence terminates, and then at the appropriate time reverses.
This is a highly efficient technique that provides the best potential for continuous foot to ground contact of any available technique. To watch INSIDE LEG EXTENSION skillfully executed is to view beauty in motion, so clean and efficient as to appear in slow motion. The transfer of pressure to the new outside ski while the prior tuning forces still exist allows the skier to begin the progressive development of a new turn while rebound from the prior turn dissipates into the non pressured old outside ski.
The early pressuring of the new outside ski this technique provides allows for a very clean, gradual carved turn platform development. Having early dominant pressure on the ski that will ultimately harbor the forces of the turn allows the skier to have ultimate feel of edge development as those forces are created. Waiting for the forces to direct pressure to the outside ski later in the turning cycle, as some alternative techniques require, means not having a significant platform ready and waiting to receive those forces upon their birth and will inevitably result in a harsher edge development.
The negative aspect of the technique is the extra time gradual platform development requires. If tactics do not require a hurried turn and an ultra clean carve can be the primary goal INSIDE LEG EXTENSION is the best technical choice. But if time is of the essence and needed direction change is dramatic and must happen NOW other techniques such as retraction, weighted release, pivoting, and feathering may be better options.
Sorry for the length of this presentation but it was necessary to completely explain the important aspects of the technique. For those who still feel a bit fuzzy and/or would like to see a visual demonstration of INSIDE LEG EXTENSION I would suggest you gain access to a video copy of this years World Championships. The best current example of the technique being executed clearly and consistently I've seen is the first GS run of Silver Medalist Denise Karbon. In a majority of her turns her execution is flawless and the technique is clearly visible. Gold medalist Anja Paerson also uses the technique in her runs but because she skis a more aggressive line which causes the movement sequence to become condensed the technique is less visible to the untrained eye.
The following is a drill I presented early on this forum. It will allow those interested to experience the feel of the movement sequence associated with this technique. While attempting it understand that the lack of turning forces acting on CM will detract from the feeling of CM being driven back over the feet, but supplementation from the support hand as extension is executed can compensate for this problem.
· Stand with feet about shoulder width apart, with right foot slightly ahead of your left foot and with a wall about 3 feet to the right of your right foot. Your shoulders should be perpendicular to the wall.
· Now lean into the wall and brace yourself against it with your right hand while you allow your pelvis to drop and counter (rotate to the left) into a high edge set. Your left (outside) leg should be extended, your right leg should be flexed, both feet should be on similarly high edges, weight should be concentrated on the left foot, and shoulders should be level. You are now in a simulated high energy carved turn body position.
· Now to simulate the move Rusty and I were discussing, begin to extend the right (inside) leg which should currently have very little pressure on it. As you do this you will feel pressure develop on the little toe side of your right foot, pressure begin to leave the left foot, and CM begin to rise and move left.
· As you continue extension of the right leg you will feel the pressure that movement applies to the right foot drive the foot flat, which helps pull the CM over the top of that foot. You will quickly return to a neutral balance position with pelvis rotationally neutral, CM over the right foot, and pressure concentrated on that foot.
· You are now in a position to begin the new turn. With weight still on your right foot step slightly forward with the left foot as you simultaneously counter (rotate it right) your pelvis and drop it left into the new turn. You should now be in a mirror image of position you were in while leaning against the wall to the right except your weight will be concentrated on your left (inside) foot. This is because you don’t have a wall to brace against which simulates the turn forces that moves the point of pressure to the outside ski.
· You can continue into a new turn by extending on the left foot and following the same movement sequence you just did and returning to the wall braced position in which you started.