Originally Posted by warren
Basically what I'm hearing is that I've done all that I can do (I may not have articulated it precisely in the original post) without breaking the tuck. That's fine. I was just curious.
To be slightly more responsive, to make a better tuck turn, even with this limited menu of techniques, there are probably things you can do, but many of them are off the hill.
Stand in the comfort of your home, with shoes on, with feet at your tuck width. Now, with counter, knee angulation and ankle roll, create a very high edge angle. I can get over 80 degrees (if I want to frighten my right knee and sink down, all the way to almost 90 degrees), but part of that's cheating, as I stand here with the side of my shoe on the floor and the sole pointing at the wall, because (A) the shoes naturally roll more than the foot once you put them on their side, and (B) if you were really doing this on a ski hill, making a turn, all the force would be resisting you by pushing against the bottom edge (inside edge of the outside ski) making it harder (impossible) to hold this position against the resistance with little ankle muscles. But something far, far short of that angle will create one fairly radical turn, especially with all that momentum bending the ski shovel.*
What coaches keep telling me about my counter habit (and is laid out here fairly persuasively in the thread on counter and forward boot pressure) is that counter is not as strong a position, skeletally, as the contemporary World Cup model of minimized inside tip lead, long outside leg, inside knee bent to chest. That's true, and it's especially true when you add knee angulation. Go back to that 90 degree edge angle, and look how your outside leg is bent--do you want someone jumping on your shoulders now? Do you have health insurance and a good orthopedic surgeon?
That's the first point--in order to use counter and knee angulation in a tuck turn, you need very, very strong legs. For me, that's warm up squats, heavy squats, then post-fatigue rythmic lighter squats, and lots of jumping exercises (box jumps, depth jumps, knee tuck jumps) that emphasize the eccentric (decelleration) phase, and hamstring curls to prevent muscle imbalance from over-developed quads.
But except for what I do in the gym, I've never seen anyone work specifically on the muscles (and--shudder--lets face it, on connective tissue, that happy family bundle of MCL, LCL and ACL that keeps you wax side down and out of the ER) that you use in knee angulation/de-angulation. That's the second point--do some exercise (if your knees can take it) that puts them in that extreme knee angulation position, under a load. My favorite is haybalers. Get a medicine ball or weight, and using counter and knee angulation (knees bending to the left; your right leg is the "outside" ski leg in the turn) lower the weight with both hands to the right of your right ankle, then straighten, standing tall with the weight held above and to the left of your left shoulder. That's one. Do 12 reps on one side, then twelve reps on the other side. Then do ankle rolls.
Of course, skiing is harder than that, because there's a balance component when you're under a load. That's the third point--so work up to adding a balance component, by doing the haybalers on a bosu (flat side up) or bongo board.
(Caveat: I'm not a doctor or personal trainer, and I don't even play one on the Internet, and you are only issued one knee for each leg at birth. Your mileage may vary, your body is different and you should listen to it, and that popping sound is to be avoided...)
Along with that, practice tuck turns free skiing, seeing how well you can carve while staying in a tuck. Good luck!
*Perversely, what a lot of us hack ski racers do is tuck the very worst part of the course, the first few turns, where our tuck does the least amount of good (lower starting speed means wind resistance isn't a major factor) and creates the most problems, because momentum isn't sufficient to bend the shovel of the ski, so we're even less effective at carving a turn than usual, making it impossible to stay on line if we try to tuck turn instead of standing up.