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A picture for examination

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
I submit to you a picture of me skiing. I won't give any background info as to level of skiing or anything. This was opening day at Windham mtn NY yesterday, on an easy trail(what they had open at the time). I would like it if you guys could take a look at it and point out some things that are wrong.


post #2 of 52
I couldn't tell by the picture if you were having fun or not, so I can't comment.

post #3 of 52
Greetings Jamie,
There's nothing wrong with your skiing. There are a lot of good things going on. Your balance appears to be very centered. Your skis are nicely on edge and both skis are very close to the same angle to the snow. You have a very functional wide stance that may be a tiny bit on the wide side, but I'll get to that in a bit. You have angulation that appears to be appropriate for the terrain. Your speed down the trail is aggressive for this level of pitch. The bottom line is that this is very capable and effective skiing for the terrain that you are on.

If you're looking for suggestions to get your skiing to the next level, here are some observations. If you look at the snow spray coming off the skis, you'll see more snow coming off the outside ski. It's good to see spray coming up in front of the ski boot. But on the inside ski, there's definitely a lack of spray coming off the front part of the ski. This is showing a little too much weight on the outside ski and that the weight on the inside ski is a little too far back. The inside ski also appears to be in a slight wedge. It's hard to tell for sure, but the tips appear to be closer together than the tails. This would explain the earlier comment about being a "tiny bit too wide". Although your hands are generally in a good position, the inside hand is a little low. But these are all symptoms.

If you compare the direction that your skis are pointing with the directions of your gaze, shoulders and hips, you can see that your upper body is positioned pointing slightly to the outside of the turn (more directly towards the photographer) versus your skis pointing to the photographers right. There's a bit of a double fall line here. If you were skiing the fall line directly at the photographer, the observation would be that your left hand and shoulder are rotated too much. But I'm guessing that your travelling more to the right of the photographer. This would put you slightly above the fall line in your turn. At this point you should be facing slightly to the inside of your turn in order to increase the efficiency of your movements. But you can't "just do" this. We need to go back earlier into the turn to see what you're doing to get into this position before we can say for sure what movements to change. Nonetheless, the odds are that we've got some shoulder movement trying to assist turn initiation.

Whatever the root cause is, here's an exercise that you may find useful to add more zip into your already pretty zippy turns. Hold your poles in the middle instead of by the grips to make a picture frame. While making turns I want you to check the relative position of your ski tips using your bottom peripheral vision (i.e. keep looking straight ahead, don't look down). If my observations are correct, for your normal turns, you will see your ski tips drifting to the "inside" of the picture frame. If so, then make turns trying to keep your ski tips in the center of the picture frame. Then try to make turns keeping the picture frame always centered on an object directly downhill from your starting point. Here the tips should go outside of the frame at the beginning of the turn, be centered in the frame while in the fall line and be inside of the frame at the end of the turn (i.e. ski tips to the left of the left hand during a left turn). Where you need to be is somewhere in between the last two steps. This is what we call a slightly countered position.

Have you ever had your alignment checked Jamie? At this level of skiing, if you want to move to the next level, sometimes improving alignment issues can give you the biggest bang for the buck. I'm not saying that I see anything here, but there is something about this pic that is making me itchy. Maybe some of our new bootfitter members can chime in?

My final caveat is that trying to improve skiing at this level via an open forum is difficult. Doing a diagnosis from a single picture is hard enough. You're also likely to get multiple and probably conflicting observations. Usually, my recommendation at this point would be to take a private lesson. But at your level this early in the season, you can easily get a private or semi private lesson at a group price. If you can, try to get a level 3 certified pro. You're likely to get a quick and accurate assessment of what is happening, a possible quick fix and a plan for improvements you can work on through the whole season. In the meantime, the comments you get here might at least prepare you to better understand any on snow feedback you might get.
post #4 of 52
I'm only seeing something quite minor, that was recently pointed out in my skiing. Your hand position seems to be a tad to high, which may make your poles stay behind your body. Not a problem on easy terrain, but this would not be too good on steeps. If you can lower your hands, and keep them slightly in front of your body, you might put a little bit more GO than NO in your skiing. You also appear to be looking down, instead of straight anead.

But what do I know?
post #5 of 52
You need a new ski outfit
post #6 of 52
Agree with Lisamarie on the hands, wider and a bit more forward. For other stuff I'd really like to see you moving, or a series of shots. I want to be able to see how you flow and move with the terrain and the turns.
post #7 of 52
an excellent point above about alignment .....find a great bootfitter...and have all planes/axis' checked.......The left leg looks like it needs some attention via equipment modification......
Looks like a great day!!!
post #8 of 52
Thread Starter 
My buddy who took the pics took a few bursts - hopefully they all came out. This is the only one he sent me so far. He also took a full motion video from the digicam(on a black trail later in the day), but I'm not sure how that came out yet either.

As to my outfit, I'm wearing that jacket early season since I got it real cheap and I'm more likely to get lift pulley grease on a jacket early season. Therefore I wear the cheap one, which is red.

Thanks a lot for the input. I will try that drill John. The background info on my skiing that I didn't give above, is that I started skiing halfway through the 02-03 season. I got a little over 30 days in that year. Last year I got 47 in. When I first started I was worried more about getting down the mountain then form. I have never, to this day taken any type of lesson. Therefore I was pretty worried with what I would hear for feedback. Now that I'm into it more and more I want to get my form in tip top shape.

I found one thing that hurt me last year was moguls. I was able to carve decent on pretty much any terrain. Then I started getting into moguls. After spending some time in the bumps - it hurt my groomer carving technique and I was never really able to get it back where it was before I got into the bumps. That is what I really need to work on this year - the different techniques - and keeping them different.

again, thanks for all the input
post #9 of 52

Wondering if you would clarify a couple of things in your analysis of Jamie`s pic.

you observe that the upper body is facing slightly to the outside of the turn--is this not a desirable, slightly countered position? Is your point that this position is happening too early in the turn? In other words, Jamie should be a bit more square to the skis and then later in the turn the upper body will counter?

You suggest that there might be some shoulder movement initiating the turn that might be connected to Jamie`s upper body position. Wouldn`t a tipping or a rotating shoulder produce the opposite effect-ie. possibly "close" his upper body to the hill rather than result in it facing outside the turn which is a more open position?

I`m not meaning to challenge your assessment-quite the opposite. I wish to learn from it.

post #10 of 52

my $.02

in a static shot, lots of disclaimers apply but here goes

your upper body appears late too me - the skis are working back across
the hill to your left, but your body and left hand are not there yet.

perhaps a more aggresive pole plant - reaching down the hill more than
toward the tip of the inside ski. this helps move the center of mass inside
the path of the skis and allows the skis to edge higher by being more displaced
from the hips.

or, in medium to large radius turns, make sure your eyes, your knuckles, and
your bellybutton ALL are facing down the hill ALL the time. this keeps your eyes farther down the hill. you can only keep your knuckles down hill by keeping both hands out in front. your belllybutton relates to upper/lower body separation. in this exercise the feet/skis turn under the (stable) upper body, while hands and eyes (for the most part) are aimed down at the parking lot.

hope that helps
post #11 of 52
i would take ANTS exercise of dragging bolth poles in the snow, with hands in the proper position. I belive this is listed in posts sometime in the last week. Should create better angles and enable a smother turn, better sterrring, eliminate the push for speed controll.
Best of luck!
post #12 of 52
Originally Posted by Shen
an excellent point above about alignment .....find a great bootfitter...and have all planes/axis' checked.......The left leg looks like it needs some attention via equipment modification......
Looks like a great day!!!
I think there is a huge difference between pointing out to a skier that having their alignment checked isn't a bad idea, and surmising that there is an alignment issue from a single frame of early season skiing at low edge angle.

What do you see that makes you feel this is clearly an alignment issue?

PS- I like Ott's comment a lot. If it were me, I probably would like to see more edge angle, because I'm a firm believer that working harder at skiing on easy terrain makes such terrain more fun. I'd be thinking about getting those great shaped skis out from under your body. If this controls your speed too much, go straighter in between turns. That is, make the transitions longer and the turns shorter.
post #13 of 52
Very good Canadian guy,

It depends on where you are in the turn. Slightly countered means looking to the inside of the turn above the fall line, squared up in the fall line and looking slightly down the fall line in the bottom of the turn (as you start to develop counter for the next turn). Ideally the movement is continuous, but out of synch relative to the skis. This is why I had different assesments based on which line James was taking on the double fall line.

With regards to the shoulder rotation thing, yeah, eaxctly. Normally people rotate their shoulders to help the lower body to turn. If James was doing this, he'd be over countered instead of under countered. But skiers hardly ever over turn their skis holding their shoulders steady. Z turners, the quintessential over turners, throw everything to get the skis turned. From the static picture it's easy to guess that James is not Z turning. Although it's less common on skis, it's a natural move to counter balance lower body rotation with upper body counter rotation. If I had to guess, I'd say that's what going on.

But it really does not matter. The prescribed exercise should help James explore a wide range of movements and easily find what works best because it is goal oriented (i.e. what we call guided discovery). James needs to figure out on his own how to move his hips and shoulders to meet the goal. If he can do the tasks in the exercise, it does not matter what the root cause is.
post #14 of 52

Alignment, Shmalinement


What do you see that makes you feel this is clearly an alignment issue?
I also was focused on the left leg when I made my comment. I hesitated to specifically mention it because I thought maybe there was something optically distorted. It's hard to put words to it. That's why I used "itchy". But there's something about the appearance of the back part of the ski boot relative to the lower leg that just looks odd. The foot looks over turned relative to the leg alignment. It could be a combination of the glare and the tiny wedge. It could be the hang of the pants. But I was thinking that if James' arch was too high, he'd naturally be on a higher edge and would have to turn his inside foot into a wedge in order to get the edge angles to match (try this sitting in your chair). Since his shoulder position gives a different possible cause, I thought to work on the easier issue first. I'm thinking that if there is an alignment issue, it's pretty subtle. This skiing is not bad. Since we often overlook alignment issues and they are so easily checked, it never hurts to ask.

But then again, I've not yet checked in to the Holiday Inn Express for tonight. I'm just practicing analysis so I can learn from the guys who know what they're talking about. So help me out JohnH!
post #15 of 52
Jamie, no one asked, so I will. What type of turn were you attempting to execute in this picture? We can't really tell you how profficient your execution was if we don't know your intention.

If you were trying to steer your turn in a smooth, from the feet manner, the turn looks very good. Your balance looks pretty good both laterally and fore/aft. Pressure distribution between your left and right ski appears fine. Rotational alignment of the hips and shoulders good, but the inside foot may be dragging too far behind; hard to say for sure without a different shot angle though. Might be a little more counter than is needed for a low energy turn such as this, but it doens't appear to be affecting you negatively. Steering looks smooth and controlled, with the steering coming from the legs, no upper body involvement. Edge angle is appropriate for a steered turn.

If, however, your intent was to carve this turn, there are some things you need to work on. Do you agree folks?

post #16 of 52
My 2¢
Skis are too far apart
Right ski isn't tilted to enough angle
Right knee is steering into the turn way too much
Left pole is being used for support
Left hand is too close in

The single shot leaves a lot of questions to be answered. The body direction is OK for a tighter turn, twisted too far right for a big sweeper. And the hill is too flat.

Money spent at a good bootfitter is money very well spent. If you can find an instructor that meets your needs, you'll be the much better skier for that. In moguls, I find that keeping the feet closer together is a huge help. You can't ski moguls with one ski in the gully and the other half-way up the slope of the adjoining bump. Keeping the feet under the center of mass is critical. Be sure to pull your feet back as you ski over the crest of a bump. If your feet get ahead of your center of mass, you're doomed.

Not worth 2¢?'re probably right.

post #17 of 52
I would have to say you look pretty darn good for as little as you have been skiing. I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night and I'm thinking your alignment from this one shot looks P.D.C.. You do look very static though....but then I say that about every photo I see. Seriously, you look pretty good for the first day out brother!
post #18 of 52
I agree with Fastman and Heishman, there's nothing "wrong" with this picture, including the snow, the weather, and your outfit.
post #19 of 52


James: For the amount of skiing you have done in your career you look darn good to me. To start, one picture doesn't make for a clear analysis. Your stance is nicely functionally open and tall. It's hard to see the snow coming off the skis and the angle of the skis with each other, ie-parallel or not, but as The Rusty says, it appears that the left foot is somewhat not completely parallel to the right. So if we had a straight on picture we could be more sure of how active you are with your left ski.

For instance if at turn initiation you have a slight delay in your left foot and knee and place all of your weight on your right / outside ski what frequently happens is a slight wedge forms. This can be eliminated by actively working the inside ski at turn initiation.

Additionally, your upper body appears slightly inclined, since your inside pole shows a continual dragging in the snow after the pole touch. This indicates that the upper body is tipped inside and should be more vertical. I would suggest that you try to pinch your outside rib cage to your outside hip, which will help you get your shoulders out into the turn and to help you ride a more centered stance. This will allow you to become more active with the inside foot, knee, femur, and will help eliminate the delay causing a slight wedge from time to time. Your shoulder should be more level to the horizon line for a centered stance and the inside pole should not drag at all.

One exercise you might try is to drag your outside pole, ie-pole boxes, which will help your align your upper body over your feet and center your stance. THough you appear to have some weight on your inside ski due to the inclined body position, your left ski doesn't appear to be flexed, so I'm not sure about your weight distribution from the picture shown. So much for one shot.

Bottom line for me is that I believe your skiing has a lot going for it and you should be applauded for your quick progress. I also agree with The Rusty, take a private lesson and have someone take a real look at you to make a proper and fair assessment. Good luck and keep it up.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
post #20 of 52
Wow we can get alot of mileage out of a single shot! My comment to you (and this is my first posting so bear with me) is that the only thing that we can really see in a still is your posture and alignment at that moment. While your overall appearance is solid, you seem to have somewhat limited ankle flex. Your fore aft balance is maintained by additional flex at the hip, along with some counter to maintain lateral balance with the outside ski. The overall impression is one of bracing against the outside ski. The sidecut is engaged, but you might be lacking in subtlety and touch with your feet and ankles. Boot alignment can be an issue here, hence the comments in that regard...
post #21 of 52
I havent read any of the above so my view is not biased in any way....

You have your weight somewhat more on your outside ski and that is a good sign. You hipps and leggs look ok although you could lean a little bit more forwards in your knees. However, you dont have enough dynamics showing in your posture. Your skipoles are a bit too straight and your inner skipole is toching the snow. You are sertainly not using it for support or balance so it is probably only a slight lack of attention. If you were taking a lesson from me I would probably look into your upper body action and skipole technique. And if that is your skipass dingling from your right hipp get rid of it first thing.... and get a helmet....
post #22 of 52
I would also add the picture looks great. I don't think there is a great deal that can be constructively said about a snapshot in time. I also would say I would not jump to any conclusions about needing a boot fitter.

Find a level III PSIA cert and take five lessons. I know it's expensive. It will, however, jump start your skiing!

Check out the opportunities in your area for the epicski camps
post #23 of 52

Thanks so much for your quick reply re my questions about countering, and the possible shoulder rotation thing in Jamie`s pic. I think there is a semantic thing happening re our understanding of the term "counter." I thought I started to get a grasp of this after reading LeMaster`s book. He suggests that a countered position has the hips (pelvis) turned slightly towards the outside of the turn; outside meaning oriented towards the bottom of the hill-not necessarily directly at the bottom, but towards the bottom. This is also known as an "open position" as opposed to "square" where hips face the same direction as the skis, and of course contrasted with a "rotated" position where hips are turned towards the top of the hill ,also known as
a "closed" position. Based on this view, it would be impossible to be "countered" towards the inside of the turn. So I am "translating" your terms into my understanding. And it seems that you are suggesting that Jamie is a bit too countered or too open to the hill with his upper body for where he is in the turn. This is the way I`m understanding it. And I agree with you. I didn`t see it at first, and then I had to sort through the terminology thing. But it`s there in the picture. You`ve got a great "eye' as they say.

And as for the shoulder involvement, that is really insightful. If I understand you correctly, rather than rotating, he may be counter-rotating the upper body, (perhaps to establish the desired countered position quickly, but not letting it happen as the result of continued leg steering?) I see so many students who are are inveterate "rotators" that when I see this kind of upper-lower body seperation in Jamies`s skiing I figure it must be a totally good thing. I would love to see this in many of my students. Your analysis, however points out that there can be too much of a good thing. Thanks.


I`m a Level 2 instructor, with some Level 3 "wannabe" goals. Developing a eye and an analysis for higher end skiers is one of those goals. This kind of dialogue is tremendously helpful. It`s sometimes frustrating that there is not more of this going on at the ski school. It seems that many pros, including those with higher certification frequently feel that talking in a detailed way about technique, and teaching, and taking the time to sort out differences in understanding of terms is just too much work, or is too "geeky". Too bad!
post #24 of 52
Jamie I would agree with the others and say that your skiing is very good for the amount of time you have spent on snow. Really Good. I know you gotta be having fun!

I also agree with those that said that there is some over counter in your shoulders. I see good angles between the feet and shoulders, but the hips appear to have less angle the either the feet or shoulders. This could be causing the sholders to rotate more into the turn to keep the pressure over the outside foot. It also can cause the spine to flex lateraly to the outside of the turn more than the terrain and speed sem to require.

Try this one thing next time out and see what you feel. Do everything just like you have been doing as far as tipping and initiating the turn, but as you start into your turn new turn, try lifting the inside hip straight up just an inch or so. Not too quick, but a slow, deliberate, slight lifting of the inside hip. The effect should be better balance directed to the out side ski, a stronger stance, and should allow the spine to relax and not compensate or work to keep pressure on the outside ski. Should allow better management of the inside ski as well as allow the width of your stance to naturaly narrow slightly. PLay with just this one thing and see if it helps or feels more possitive. Later, RicB.
post #25 of 52

I like LeMaster's definition.

The main point in high end skiing is that one steers into counter using the shoulders and hips to resist the upper body turning along with the lower body versus consciously rotating the upper body in order to induce movement of the lower body. Whenever one is consciously rotating ones shoulders, one will usually end up with too much or too little counter (depending on which direction your rotating). So yes - you've nailed what I was trying to convey.

A lot of pros spend so much time talking skiing that talking about it even more at this level of detail (outside of clinics) is overkill. A lot of the more experienced pros have developed their eyes the old fashioned way - through years of experience and thousands of students. There's a good argument that that is the most effective way to do it. But I believe that's wrong. I've been fairly successful at accelerating the development of both my own and other pros movement analysis skills through the use of computerized video analysis. It's been interesting in our pro room, that a lot of our more experienced pros don't go to the trouble of getting out on the hill with a video camera to work with our less experienced team members. But when I've got stuff showing on the TV right in the pro room, they can't stop themselves from joining the conversation. Writing about it is a lot more tedious than just showing it, but I think that this is helping me as well. I need to keep my terminology clean in order help more L2 candidates get their pins.

If you want to learn more about computerized video analysis, I've submitted an article to the PSIA-E snow Pro newsletter that is now queued up for the Winter edition (out early Feb). A copy of the article submission is posted on my web site. I also added a lot more detailed supporting information to the web site that is linked off the page above. I'm looking for feedback on the usefulness of this information. I've also started working with Interactive Frontiers (the folks that make V1) to more actively promote their software and participate in their Interactive Sports Academy as a coach. If you end up buying their software (it's only $39!), please mention my name.
post #26 of 52

Im a little lost in translations here????
- open
- squared
- closed
- countered

If I am skiing down the fall line I am facing forwards with my body and skiis. Should this be considered "square" position?
If I am traversing over the hill my uphill ski is leading and my knees, hips and shoulders are aligned with the skiis and hipps pointing slightly uphill. Should this be considered "rotated" or "closed" position?
Usually when I come to the finnish area in a slalom race I rotate my hipps towards the outside, loose some edge on the skiis and I skid through a wide arch. Should this be considered "countered" or "open" position?

My left turn:
- I put pressure on the front side of the boots by bending my knees a bit
- I moove my hips slightly towards the left
- Follow up with my knees to get a natural edge on the skiis
- I put slightly more weight on the outside/tobecomedownhill/right ski
- Lean a bit towards the right/outside/tobecomedownhill direction with my upper body
- As a natural result my left ski will start to lead in proportion to me turning
- I will follow up by aligning my hips and shoulders to the skiis

How would you describe my turn, as a "rotated" "closed" turn?

I have allways used the word rotation in combination with hip rotation towards the outside of the turn. This is one of the most usual misstakes even good competition skiiers are dooing and something I have allways tried to correct because of the skidding effect it results in. Especially now with carving skiis and high speeds.
post #27 of 52
Thread Starter 
Wow, thank you all for the encouragement and compliments. I was scared of what everyone would think since I have never taken any lessons. When I first started, I was all about just getting down the hill, and I didn't give a hoot about my form. Now that I am able to get down anything, as fast as I want to, I want to work on form - to really become a good skiier. I realize this is a bad order to do things, but I'm lucky in that its not as bad as I was fearing

There is so much info here; I plan to print it all out and go over it. Its a lot to take in with just reading over it quickly. I'll be in the mountains this weekend and I plan to do the drills mentioned and see how it works out. I also plan to take some lessons at some point in the future.

As far as alignment; I have never had it checked; but with this input I just might next time I get to a good bootfitter.

If anyone has any more comments, please don't hesitate.

thank you all again
post #28 of 52

"finnish" area - I like it! Yes that's open or countered.

Im a little lost in translations here????
- open
- squared
- closed
- countered
These are all terms describing the relationship between the direction the hips and shoulders are facing to the direction that the skis are pointing. That Canadian Guy's post defines open and closed pretty well, so I'll just try another example. If your skis are travelling downhill and to the right and your hips and shoulders more to the right of your skis (i.e. more in the uphill direction than the direction the skis are pointing), then you are in a closed position. If you were to draw a straight line from your left hip to your right hip and then draw a line perpendicular to that line, that's the line that you would compare to a line drawn along the length of the skis.

Squared would be when the two lines to compare are pointing in the same direction.

Using LeMaster's bottom of the hill definition of counter, counter would be the same as open. I think of counter as either closed or open, meaning that there is difference between where the skis are pointing and where the upper body is facing. However, since there is not much use for a closed position, I don't think about it much.

Taking your left turn description literally ("aligning my hips and shoulders to the skis"), I would say that you are in a squared position. However, I would bet that your turns are slightly countered or open. We use the term "slight counter" as an important element of all types of turns from wedge turns through open parallel.

Hope this helps.
post #29 of 52

It just amazes me how members in this forum can see all these things you have to change from a still photo, AMAZING! What I see is a skier that is standing over his skis well, in balance, with a contemporary skiing stance.

Some say that you have good speed down the hill. How do they know, it’s a STILL PICTURE? You may have skied over dog shit because its early season and you’re going very slow. Some say you need boot alignment. I see nothing that suggests that. Although, I am a big believer in at least having your boot alignment looked at to see if there might be an issue.

There are four things that I can see from this STILL PICTURE of you that may be something to work on. It was mentioned that there is a slight, and I do mean slight, wedge. This could be an optical effect. But if not, try and get that inside leg more active in the turn. At this angle I really do not see an “A” frame, so that is what leads me to believe that there isn’t much of a boot alignment issue if any. Lisamarie suggests hand position. I agree, they need to be lower and forward a bit. But I surly don’t think that you are using the left pole for support. Hands being up and back like they appear in this photo can lead to causing the whole body being back in some cases. It really doesn’t look like you are back, but I think it will help your stance and shoulder-feet alignment over all. Also there were suggestions made about the amount of counter this photo shows. It is difficult to tell the radius of your turn, but I would have to say medium. If so, then there may be a bit too much counter, especially this early in the turn. Counter early in the turn could led to excessive tip lead and blocking later on in that same turn. Try to remain squarer to the skis throughout the turn. And the forth thing, well I made a mistake. I think your ski outfit is fine, at least for early season skiing!

Bandit2942, I would like to see a video. If you really want some constructive feedback, get your buddy to bring the video cam and shoot some movies. Again, from what I see here, it looks good!----------Wigs
post #30 of 52

I used three observations to support my speed conclusion:
1) the pattern of spray off the left ski pole tip
2) the amount of flex in the right ski
3) the amount of inclination relative to the apparent pitch of the slope and the assumption that this was dynamically balanced.

Fair enough?

Granted, there is no way to guarantee that these observations from a still photo are correct. #3 is a big assumption. James could have been going 2 miles an hour and fallen over in the next instant. I thought it would be polite to assume that this was not a trick post.

But then again, I purposely was "aggressive" in my analysis in order to attract exactly the kind of feedback you've given.

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