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Counter

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Food for thought:

How much counter is enough?

Cues for over/under countering?

Cheers!
post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE
Food for thought:

How much counter is enough?

Cues for over/under countering?

Cheers!
My theory:

Typically, the amount of counter should match your inside leg tip lead. For longer radius and medium radius turns, there shouldn't be much counter. As you get into shorter radius turns, your counter increases. Remember that counter includes your entire stance and involves the uphill foot, knee, hip, hand, and shoulder. If you can adjust your inside leg tip lead to be appropriate for the terrain you are skiing, you can then align your inside half of your body for a proper amount of counter.

"How much counter is enough" is dependent upon terrain, speed, and your intentions for skiing.

I would work first on the fundamental task of making sure your inside tip lead is appropriate to the terrain you are skiing. Once that is taken care of, work on actively adjusting your inside-half to match that tip lead...play with sensations of lax counter and over countering to get narrowed in on what feels --natural--.

Best,

Ben
post #3 of 21

How Much Counter?

Also, from the Level III PSIA study guide:

"Aligning the hip and keeping it open and countered is important for maintaining correct balancing movements. The hips and torso essentially face directly down the fall line in a very quick short-swing or short-radius turn. The hips move off the target and toward the apex of the upcoming turn with a rounder, more reaching turn across the fall line. "

Ben
post #4 of 21
BigE,

Counter should "happen". Counter that's forced is too much. Counter that is not happening is too little.

Visual Cues include:
Relationship of tip lead, hip lead and shoulder lead should match.
Counter should be created by lower body rotation as opposed to upper body rotation. You should "steer" to create counter.
Changes in counter should be smooth and continuous through the turn.
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
BigE,

Counter should "happen". Counter that's forced is too much. Counter that is not happening is too little.

Visual Cues include:
Relationship of tip lead, hip lead and shoulder lead should match.
Counter should be created by lower body rotation as opposed to upper body rotation. You should "steer" to create counter.
Changes in counter should be smooth and continuous through the turn.
In my case it is possible that tip lead does not automatically lead to counter. After all when I walk/run I don't swivel my body to match the advancement of my legs. If I was to completely relax in a traverse position in a hill without skis, I believe I could end up facing straight ahead not down the valley. If I take a step forward, the natural position seems to be with hips half way between facing ahead and parallel with the femurs.

To some extent the countered position may be contrived, but perhaps may not feel so to experienced skiers. If I turn the skis in a long radius turn purely by tipping action, then I believe I would need to make some concious effort to "passively steer" by adjusting my hips to match the tip lead.

This is probably an area when thinking too much is a bad idea.
post #6 of 21
My take on counter is point your inside knee toward where you're going next and let your belly button follow that knee..
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson
My take on counter is point your inside knee toward where you're going next and let your belly button follow that knee..
that is pretty much what I get told....

I find it easiest to get hips (and so tip lead) right when I realise that my hips swing when I walk & also when I ski.... they have to change from 1 side to another - so it should be a smooth change just as all the others.... then simply activate core & let hips go where they need to be - but the trick is the SPEED they need to go there.... If I try to "put in position" I get a skiing movement that is "here... static... there... static" does not work - has me in silly positions at different spots in turn....

Then like Fastman said somewhere i think where I want Cm to head & try to send it there.... the feet do what they have been trained to do to "send" it where it wants to be .... the rest happens if I let it instead of try to make it....

Hmmm - I think really what I am trying to say is that the focus I use when I ski changes depending on what I need to use... when something has been trained a lot I can forget about doing it so much....
post #8 of 21

that's square isn't it?

lining up the belly button to where the inside knee is pointing is the oppisite of counter.

Counter by definition is where the hips point outside of the turn to some degree. Counter increases edging. Pointing the hips to the inside of the turn - like where knee is pointing is - would lower edging.

At slow speeds I use counterbalance, not counter. As the speeds increase and the turns have more force, I mix in more counter and use less counterbalance.

If the surface is nasty, like eastern ice, I use the most counter as this, at least the way I do it, is like leaning over your outside ski tip. This brings the cm more vertical and helps with the grip on ice.

If the surface is nice I'll get more of the edging from just the natural body inclination. But short radius turns I'll mix in more counter.
post #9 of 21
Caveat: My consistent feedback is that I use too much counter, and contemporary thinking about high level technique is that less counter is used today than in the bad old days of straighter skis, because (1) with more extreme sidecuts, less counter is necessary to turn (no more throw the shoulder forward like Stein Erickson), and (2) at high level racing, the G-forces are supposedly withstood better with a straight outside leg and less counter. It's said to be a "stronger" position skeletally if you don't use counter. In general, the newer mantra is to "minimize excessive tip lead" by the inside ski, and (in racing) to concentrate on increasing the edge angle by getting the inside hip lower to the snow, bending the inside knee, and putting the inside hip and inside foot only far forward enough to accomodate this deep inside knee bend on the angle of the hill.

That said, I find on the hill that throwing some counter late into the turn (1) increases my edge angle, when coupled with knee angulation, (2) loads up my outside ski to get it to continue to decamber and carve, and (3) does so by creating a natural break at the hip comma shape that is easier muscularly than doing a side crunch. (Those of us who are not low-FIS point racers don't often ski fast enough to rely solely on inclination, so we need some angulation as well.) I do need to remember to pull my inside foot back at turn initiation and keep it back so my weight is forward enough to (A) decamber the shovel of the ski properly and (B, repeating the mantra) minimize excessive tip lead.

I find a little counter helps me carve better, tighter turns. If they saw stills or videos, others on this forum would probably tell you (and accurately so) that if I reduced my dependence on counter and instead figured out how to get my inside hip lower and my inside knee more bent, I'd ski even better.

When to use counter:

1. Turning in a tuck. Along with knee angulation, it's one of your tools that still work in that bullet position. For some reason, knee angulation and counter work intuitively together for me in a high or low tuck. For an example, look at the cover of Lisa Feinberg Densmore's book Ski Faster.

2. In racing, for clearing a gate at speed, when you want a more aerodynamic impact, with less drag. If you saw the OLN coverage of Bode Miller's winning run at the Breckenridge downhill this year, there was a lot of that when he brushed the panels--Bode's line was closer to the gates than any of the other skiers, and to minimize drag and keep from getting spun, he put his inside shoulder forward at gate clear when he was close to the panel, so he just brushed the gate instead of hitting it square. With Bode, that gate clear counter is way up in the chest, not just hips.

3. If your form problems are the opposite of counter: Intermediate skiers often have their upper bodies following their ski tips (outside hand, shoulder and hip forward--ugly, and the enemy of carving). And hack slalom racers' standard problem (cough--guilty!) is reaching for the pole with the outside hand, which creates the same skid.

When not to use counter:

1. In slalom or for similar short radius turns. In my experience, excessive counter is slow and delays a quick release into the new turn.

2. If you find you have excessive inside tip lead
post #10 of 21
How about anti-counter?

yd
post #11 of 21
Depends on the number of pizza's and beer's! cue: Beer falls on the ground=not enough (or could = to much as in you had to much)
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ydnar
How about anti-counter?

yd
Not sure what you mean by anti-counter--maybe the old school technique "anticipation" which was winding the upper body in the direction of the new turn, so that when you caught air or got light on your skis, the windup and release was used to redirect (pivot) the skis in the new direction. Ron LeMaster has a discussion of the mechanics in his book Skier's Edge.

That's probably a technique still used subtly in the steeps, when you're making jump turns. Others on this forum would know far more about it than me.

Others trying to hone modern ski racing techniques are playing with a very different "anti-counter," changing the way that they think about inside hip at gate clear: Instead of thinking inside hip forward (counter) at gate clear or "brushing the gate with the inside hip" (to capture the right angulation) they're thinking of getting the inside hip low and back at gate clear as part of trying to master the contemporary technique of straight outside leg, deeply bent inside knee, weight forward, minimized inside tip lead. Or as part of minimizing inside tip lead, they're thinking of a combination of pushing the outside ski forward and pulling the inside ski back (or moving the inside heel toward the butt). I guess a lot of that could be considered anti-counter in emphasis.
post #13 of 21
I don't concern myself with countering but on creating a connection from the inside hip to the inside edge of the outside ski.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
I don't concern myself with countering but on creating a connection from the inside hip to the inside edge of the outside ski.
Please tell me more. What connection from the inside hip to the inside edge of the outside ski?

Does this relate to an awareness of the "contact patches" of the ski and how they're interacting with the snow? (e.g., an awareness of high edge angles, and pressure at the inside edge of both skis with pressure on the shovel to decamber?)

Or are you talking about consciously creating a big edge angle on the outside ski from a combination of counter (when appropriate) and inclination (wide stance, inside hip low, outside leg straight and displaced to the side as an outrigger)?
post #15 of 21
For balance, I want my inside hip to line up with the inside aspect of my outside foot, like Benny Raich:
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
For balance, I want my inside hip to line up with the inside aspect of my outside foot, like Benny Raich:
Nice picture. I take it from your suggestion of balance as the goal, that the inside hip is lined up roughly with the outside foot (what do you mean "inside aspect" of outside foot?)

And I take it from the picture that (1) the goal is to only have the amount of counter necessary to allow room for the deeply flexed inside knee while staying forward in a balanced position (another way of saying minimizing excessive inside tip lead) and (2) while the inside hip doesn't have a lot of counter, the inside shoulder can be quite forward, for that aerodynamic/low drag brushing of the gate.

Or have I missed the boat again somewhere here?
post #17 of 21
You have got my meaning, SFdean. The inside aspect of the outside foot corresponds to the inside edge of the outside ski.

This isn't complicated: I want my center of mass to act on the inside edge of the outside ski, which is to say I want the combined forces of centrifugal force and gravity to line up between my inside hip and the inside of my outside foot. My inside hip actively controls where pressure lands on my outside foot; I want it to land at the precise spot where it will effortlessly drive the inside edge of the outside ski into the snow. If I get that response from the ski then I guess I have the right amount of counter. This photo and arrows illustrates what I mean, though the yellow line is a bit off.

post #18 of 21
Well said Nolo, I agree.

To supplement,,,,, counter also helps to pronate the outside foot, which promotes a stronger engagement of that edge Nolo is trying to direct the forces to.

Counter also helps move the little green dot in the picture in Nolo's link, and thereby move the location of the arrowhead at the bottom of the yellow line, without changing the edge angle or hip location.

Ahhhhhh, balance.
post #19 of 21
Thanks for supplementing, Fastman. I was indeed talking about driving the foot into pronation, and it is all about balance. The feeling is of being bombproof.
post #20 of 21
So to summarise would it be fair to say that counter helps edge engagement in 3 ways:
1) Pronation of the outside foot
2) Moving CM (and hence weight) forward in relation to the pressure bearing outside ski.
3) Allows the bend at the waist to contribute to angulation reducing the need to side bend.

I suspect that in my efforts to follow Lito's advice to "focus on phanton edging (inside foot edging) and let angulation take care of itself" I have formed a habit of skiing in an inclined non-countered position, which may explain why a skid out on steep hard pack.

A common answer to the "skidding out of control problem" is to "finish your turns". In these circumstances I believe finishing a poorly started turn would be managing the symptom not the desease.
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Fabulous answers folks! Thanks for all of them.

My motivation to post this was that I read that the amount of counter is determined by where you are in the turn, and the direction in which the CM is heading.

The "direction in which the CM is heading" is defined as a tangent to the arc the CM is making; were it not for the skiis deflecting you, you'd fly off the turn exactly along this tangent line. Where you are in the turn is important, since that tangent line may not be at a fixed angle with respect to the direction of the skiis. Why this much? So you can use stronger muscles to resist the pressure in the turn.

So, the amount of counter needed was written as whatever was necessary to point your navel (or hips) along this tangent line. It's interesting that defining counter this way ignores the direction of the skiis. So, it seems that visual cues that defined counter as a relationship between hips and skiis can be wrong!

I suspect that the amount of counter required is best related to pressure, so that a possibly better visual cue could be the extent to which a ski gets decambered, with respect to hip position? or perhaps the amount of snow flying out? (Assuming steady groomed terrain, no bumps....)
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