Originally Posted by jpowrie
I am certainly no expert but I think the succinct definition of EWS is simply that pressure is transferred to the new outside ski before the edge change.
For intermediates (like myself) with a long memory of wedge skiing, the notion of committing pressure to the outside ski that does not already have its inside edge set is a necessary and difficult thing to learn (IMHO).
Jpowrie--I like your elegant, simple definition of "early weight shift," and I agree that it is a very important thing to learn, at least as a technical option. You'll be a far more versatile and capable skier with it--in many variations--in your quiver.
But it really is not (usually) "necessary," nor should it be very difficult for most people to learn. As elementary as it is, though, beware of the very many ways that this move can backfire, producing exactly the opposite effect of what you may be looking for. We've discussed it a lot here, through the years.
It's interesting to note, for example, that the move, pretty much as you've described it (pressure transfer before the edge change/release, and therefore before the new turn actually begins) is a very common, but very incorrect (or at least dated), way to teach a wedge turn. Years ago (decades, actually), most basic ski technique was based on "pushoff" initiations, which involve pushing from the "platform" of an edged, engaged, downhill ski, usually with some sort of rotation ("twist") of the body to cause the tails of one or both skis to brush out in a skid. The pushoff transfers the weight from the downhill ski to the uphill ski, and then the turn begins. Classic examples of "pushoff" turns include "stem christies" with either "up-stems" or "downstems" (brushing the downhill ski down until its edge engages to create the platform), many step turn varieties, and "rebound" turns.
In "those days," skiers were often taught to make "snowplow" turns by leaning their upper bodies strongly out over their uphill (new outside) skis. It was sometimes known as the "Teapot Turn" ("tip your body and pour some 'tea' to the left to go right...."). The effect--and the problem--should be obvious: every move you make to go right is actually a move to the left (a "negative movement"), and the outcome is a skidded, defensive, braking action. That's fine if you want that, of course. But it's not fine if you're trying to develop the skills of offensive, contemporary, carved turns.
Unfortunately, many instructors still today teach wedge turns based on a strong "early weight shift." (Examples: "Push on the right ski to turn left, push on the left ski to turn right." "Squish a bug--or grind out a cigarette butt--with your right foot to go left....") These negative movement-based turns are the antithesis of good carved offensive turns, and the habits they introduce can be difficult to break. Early weight shift is the WRONG--not RIGHT--way to initiate a wedge turn, in this respect. Ironically, JP, I'll bet that your "long memories of wedge skiing" actually involved "early weight shift"--and that that was the problem! (Yes, I could certainly be wrong about your particular experience.)
Modern turns (offensive "go that way" turns, at least--there are other kinds), wedge or otherwise, involve exclusively "positive" "into-the-turn" movements, with no pushing of the tails or anything else out into a skid, in the "wrong direction." "Early weight shift," as has been much discussed, does not NECESSARILY involve a negative move up the hill, or a pushoff, but it OFTEN does, and it even more often RESULTS in negative movements, especially at low skill levels and low speeds. Modern wedge turns--as "embryonic" expert turns--begin with the same "right tip right to go right" thought (and movement) that I've suggested as a mantra for initiating good parallel turns, the same movement we've been discussing in the current "Thousand Steps" thread
. This movement may well involve an immediate lightening of the downhill ski as it is guided in the new direction (although it does not require it). But it is clearly different than the usual outcome of the thought "shift your weight to the left prior to, or in order to cause, a right turn."
If you're interested in more discussion of the potential pitfalls of improper application of "early weight shift," carefully read the thread, "Lifting is Learning (but what is it teaching?)"
. You'll see that there is a great deal of controversy and misinformation, as well as much "jargon-based confusion," surrounding the issue of "weight transfer."
Anyway, jp--you've brought up a great example of how "jargon" can, indeed, cause great confusion. "Early weight shift" can mean many things, some good, some not. And even with the best of understanding and the best of intentions, it can easily backfire.
You've also provided a great example of where even a very accurate and succinct definition of a "jargonistic" term can still lead to great confusion and misunderstanding. Your "succinct definition" of "early weight shift" is probably quite accurate, in as much as it probably would not conflict with how most people have used the term here at EpicSki recently. But even something so elegantly simple and clear and non-controversial as your definition can have many different interpretations and conflicting implications:"The succinct definition of EWS is simply that pressure is transferred to the new outside ski before the edge change."
Beautiful! But--How much pressure? How is it transferred? How quickly? As a result of what? (Your movements, or external forces--gravity, centrifugal--applying?) How much "before"? (This is critically important, and milliseconds can matter.) What kind of movements are involved? Clearly, there are almost infinite variations that all fit your beautifully simple definition!