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Independent upper body advice for my wife

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I spent the last week skiing with my wife and ignored my own lifelong advice and gave her some pointers on the hill. Fortunately, we're still married.

In my opinion, the breakthrough she needs in her skiing is around her upper body. Her legs and feet are making pretty good turns but her upper body is extremely static and fixed. Her shoulders point directly where her feet are pointing throughout every turn. She does a nice job of keeping her hands in front and feet about shoulder width apart but I never she to be locked in place from the knees to the shoulders.

She normally takes a couple half day lessons whenever we spend a few days skiing but, honestly, this is the one area I've never seen any improvement in.

I mentioned this to her on the hill and she agree that she just can't seem to get the upper body movements correct. She even commented that both my son and I do a great job of keeping our shoulders pointed down the fall line and upper bodies quiet. So it seems like she knows what she should be doing.

Anything we can work on on the hill to help?
post #2 of 18
Have her in proper position regarding her hands (forward slightly), as if she was holding a box in front of her.

Now tell her that the box is a video camera, and that her job is to video the fall line, not the trees, just down the hill.

Ski behind her and monitor whenever she brings the shoulders around and out of the fall line.
post #3 of 18
In my personal experience skiing with my own lovely wife, I learned never to give her a lesson, not even a mini-lesson. Especially I never interject with advice about her technique. I remind myself that I am skiing with her because we are enjoying each other's company and enjoying the outdoors together, and I am not out there to analyse her every move.

Once in a while she might ask how she is doing, and I will keep my comments short and positive. At those times when I see her really struggling, I might offer a very short comment, such as "Remember it's like riding a horse, and you know how to ride very well."
post #4 of 18
I had the same problem your wife has until this year, when it miraculously disappeared. I tried a few exercises, such as skiing with my poles in a cross and trying to keep the center of the cross pointed at an object down the hill. Those exercises didn't do anything for me, though, because the cause of my problem was not being addressed. The reason I couldn't keep a quiet upper body, facing in the general direction of down the hill was that I did not understand how to keep my balance while turning in that way. When I forced myself to try, in those exercises, my skiing felt unstable and bizarre.

So what worked for me? Honestly it was just a lot of skiing that did it, although when I analyze what I am doing differently now, I really think using flexion and extension to manage the forces of the turn are what allow me to be stable without turning my upper body. Before last year, my legs were very static.

This might apply to your wife, or it might not. Considering she is aware of the problem and knows the desired outcome, but can't get the result she wants, I suspect that like me she has some underlying foundational issue that needs addressing.
post #5 of 18
Sounds like she is not rotating her legs at all. The dreaded "arm chair" position.

This can be tough to fix on hill especially as she's sounds unaware of what to move.

I'd start at home on a carpet. In socks, place one sheet of paper under each foot. Now you get her to turn her feet while keeping the hips stationary. The toes should remain lined up, no toes leading the way.

You may need to do this one foot at a time, with a crush the cigarette motion to let her feel the hips rotating the leg. Then two feet. Finally, do it while jumping instead of on paper. The last part is key, since that promotes the upper and lower body separation she needs when doing something athletic. Do this every night for a week before you go skiing.

Now take it to the hill. The drill you want her to master here is pivot slips. Start with showing her how one leg pivots at a time without skiing, just standing and turning one foot. The outside leg extends and turns at the same time. The outside leg extends on an imaginary line 90 degrees to the side of the boot -- that's parallel to your shoulders when you are standing still.....

Then onwards to pivot slips or hockey stops, and have her "face the force" -- that'll be downhill. Make sure you use a simple straight fall line!!!

The jumping move you did at home will help her pivot from one side to the other. Don't worry if there is excessive edging at this point -- you want independent pivotting/turining of the feet. Show her how the skis pivot one way when the upper body rotates the other way to enforce the notion of upper/lower separation.

Then, pole drags and patience turns.

Work in the pole plant later to stop upper body rotation -- a trigger that says "turn the feet NOW". And NOW is when the pole touches down, as skis are flat to the snow. The skiis are flat to make it easier to turn the feet. Edged skis don't turn so well.... (This is optional on day one, but if she can get that far, you are done.)

Hope that helps -- good luck! Assure her that if she is very uncomfortable, she is doing it right -- it's a new skill to master and will feel weird until she owns it....

Cheers!
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE
Sounds like she is not rotating her legs at all. The dreaded "arm chair" position.

This can be tough to fix on hill especially as she's sounds unaware of what to move.

I'd start at home on a carpet. In socks, place one sheet of paper under each foot. Now you get her to turn her feet while keeping the hips stationary. The toes should remain lined up, no toes leading the way.
A good time and place to talk about this is on the chairlift, one without the foot rests. There is instant feedback 'cause she can see that a correct motion means her skis move parallel with each other. Also while anchored in the chair, her feet MUST move independently of hips and torso. Then when you get off the chair, you can immediately put to practice what you talked about on the chair.

Besides, some gentle swiveling of skis can feel very relaxing to tired ski legs. Which means she might be doing a lot of swiveling without being asked, and thus get the movement ingrained.
post #7 of 18
Thanks for filling that in. It's another piece of the puzzle, but you've got to do it elsewhere too...

If you want to do everything at the hill, that too can be managed. Turn the feet and keep the hips stationary without of skiis, on the flats, and jump making X's with the boot soles.

That is the end result of the carpet/paper exercise. Now that I think of it, it's wise to do that before she skiis, or after a warm-up...

Go up the chair and do as Joseph says.

Then take off the skis and jump up and down with stationary hips, turning the feet to make an X pattern under each foot. A V means pivoting at the heel, and a ^ means at the toe. You want an X.

Then put on a skis and pivot one then the other. Push out the outside ski and pivot. You will magically have a small amount of inside tip lead when this is done properly.

Then do some "pivot turns" on the hill, and try them on very gentle slopes that require no edging. Turn without edging, just use pivoting. Use pivot slips as the core drill if she does not "get it". Dragging poles will help keep the upper body out of it....


It's more gentle than hitting the pivot slips right away...
post #8 of 18

Teach your wife!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinH
I spent the last week skiing with my wife and ignored my own lifelong advice and gave her some pointers on the hill. Fortunately, we're still married.

In my opinion, the breakthrough she needs in her skiing is around her upper body. Her legs and feet are making pretty good turns but her upper body is extremely static and fixed. Her shoulders point directly where her feet are pointing throughout every turn. She does a nice job of keeping her hands in front and feet about shoulder width apart but I never she to be locked in place from the knees to the shoulders.
Giving the wife even one "um" more than she asks for is heady stuff, my friend. When you need a place to stay after you take her out again.....

seriously, If the moment is right and the planets are aligned properly, (you know Venus [goddess of love?] is the only planet to rotate clockwise) you may have a shot.

If you could teach her to improve here without having to show her an exersize or say anything, would you?


Me too.


Just ski with her and ask her to follow you down the hill. start out with wide skidded turns on easy blue, or "tough" green terrain. (whatever is just BELOW her comfort level), and make these skidded turns smaller and smaller and smaller. Keep her closely behind you and she should mimic your turns. (or try "copy me" and start with some sideslips and just have her follow you as you slowly garland, then falling leaf, then skid through the fall line, etc.)Keep everything very rotary based, and skidded, then just go ski with her. Keep the trail selection very mellow. You will have to know the timing, duration and intensity of all of this, and base it all on tea leaves....


Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinH
She normally takes a couple half day lessons whenever we spend a few days skiing but, honestly, this is the one area I've never seen any improvement in.
I have been formulating a theory that 90% of all inefficient moves stem from discomfort/fear. Even if the fear is just an uneasy feeling, it can affect your skiing. (stiff outside leg; fear of speed control. Hanging on to the turn too long/park and ride/armchair; much smaller fear of speed control. Backseat/uphill lean; ancient survival center of the brain knowing that evolutionarily (is that a word?), we never have skidded successfully without hitting something, or falling. I have been all about comfort zone as of late and being in tune with how far and when to push it a little.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinH
I mentioned this to her on the hill and she agree that she just can't seem to get the upper body movements correct. She even commented that both my son and I do a great job of keeping our shoulders pointed down the fall line and upper bodies quiet. So it seems like she knows what she should be doing.

Anything we can work on on the hill to help?

Cant Seem To Get The Upper Body Movements Correct...hmmmm
If you shift the focus to what the legs and feet are doing, and suggest to her to "open up to the new turn" with her outstretched hands, like giving the new turn a hug.....(chicks dig "opening up" emotionally in a "good" cry sort of way. And lord knows they all like a good hug!)

Her upper body should be about "Intent" and her lower body movements about "action" The intent part is the hardest. Comfort zone, I think.

Bill Cosby said "I know women, I married a women"

If all this doesnt work. pick a secluded spot and shed a few tears. That never fails!
post #9 of 18
Kevin H --
I don't know if any of this will be helpful, but I was having upper body issues, too and stuck in a rut. Then last month I took a bunch of private lessons from 2 wonderful instructors and my skiing has changed enormously, thanks to some little things and then two huge things.

I find little catch-phrases and mantras really helped.

1. "Zip and hollow." Imagine pulling a zipper up from crotch level and suck in your stomach. Regularly repeat it as you ski. Alternate: Imagine a marble in your belly button and keep "holding" it there as you ski.

2. A little sexist, but since it came from the women's racing team:
"Remember the 4 H's: Hooters and Hands down the hill." And
"Keep your ass crack UP the hill." I must say, it works.

3. But truthully, my upper body alignment improved 100% when she announced that she felt my BOOTS were the problem. Earlier another instructor who was boot savvy took the spoilers out and it helpled a lot, but she said this wasn't enough. She took me into bootfitter and they opened up the backs and straightened and re-bolted, or whatever they do.

My skiing changed overnight. I suddenly felt and was able to do what I'd only understood intellectually.

4. And then the next instructor had me buy slightly longer poles, which made things even better.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, have you ever considered that her problem may be with her boots or poles? I had no idea that this is what was holding me back.
post #10 of 18
I'm a rank intermediate so FWIW. Haven't seen anything about poling here. Does she use her poles? One thing that has helped me keep my body going down the fall line was learning to pole. I still rotate my upper body when and where I shouldn't, but poling has helped. Seems to me the rythum of poling just help keep your body in a much stronger, and less static, position.
post #11 of 18
Don't know if this will help at all.... (not an instructor)

but last summer season my trainer had me doing a nice little exercise... it involved me jumping onto a box - throwing medicine ball then landing to one side of box & catching the ball... then throw on top then catch on other side... because she stood straight in front of box you needed to turn upper body just that bit towards her to catch... of course letting feet get turned made it hard to land on box & jump....

Ric B might be able to explain what muscles work - but it FEELS good for skiing with that little bit of counter you need & the landing trains your core...
post #12 of 18
Joseph had some great pointers.
JPski, I gotta look that up about Venus.
A little trick that seems to work with many of my clients, is to have them pretend they are wearing a "Skier Ahead" sign on their back and they want that sign facing uphill as much as possible to keep the reckless skiers and riders away. Sometimes all the tech talk is lost and a little imagination and application will create the desired result. One other thing I tell women is that if they ski with their shins constantly rubbing on the front cuff of their boots they will in no time wear all the hair off the front of their ankles and never shave to shave their shins again. Tinkaboutit
post #13 of 18
Watch carefully to see if she begins turns with the feet or a very slight movement of the body toward the new turn. More than likely, she is trying to push the skis around the turn rather than ride them.

Get her some private lessons with a Level III instructor who's had the pin for five or more years.
post #14 of 18
Anyone struggling for balance is going to have a hard time with upper and lower body seperation. They are going to have a hard time letting the legs rotate in their hip sockets. This is where the seperation needs to happen, in the hip/leg joint. If the hip joint is locked in tension then rotation will be hard to find.

exercises I like are pivots slips, which were already mentioned. I like to do them in different ways such as with an extension, with a retraction, and with a pure rotation leaving the legs fixed in length if possible.

Other exercises which I find create or force seperation are cowboy turns and my own getting western gunslinger turns. Cowboy turns force leg rotation and steering, while the gunslinger turn forces a strong inside half and forces the inside hip and upper body to be drawn forward into the turn as the skis turn farther across the hill than the upper body. Later, RicB.
post #15 of 18
Tell us about the cowboy and gunslinger turns, Ric. Which cowboy (I've heard of a couple)? How do you do a gunslinger?

BTW, what do you folks think of giving exercises a name like that? Is it helpful, enticing, annoying, misleading...? Just curious.
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB
Anyone struggling for balance is going to have a hard time with upper and lower body seperation. They are going to have a hard time letting the legs rotate in their hip sockets. This is where the seperation needs to happen, in the hip/leg joint. If the hip joint is locked in tension then rotation will be hard to find.

exercises I like are pivots slips, which were already mentioned. I like to do them in different ways such as with an extension, with a retraction, and with a pure rotation leaving the legs fixed in length if possible.
I agree with you Ric on the balance issue. I think that's why some claim that "after a while it just showed up in my skiing". That is, after they've conquered the balance issues their body and minds were ready to move on to the skills associated with higher levels of the sport.

You're also right about the pivot slips. These along with linked hockey stops have helped me work on this issue.

nolo--I like the drills with "catchy" names, if for no other reason than it's easy to remember what they're called. If the name is associated with a movement that is related with the name, so much the better, IMO.
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Great stuff, folks, thanks!

It will take me a couple years to work these into her skiing, since I am always caution about doing too much unsolicited coaching on the hill, but maybe a quick chat with her next instructor will help. Thanks again!
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinH
Great stuff, folks, thanks!

It will take me a couple years to work these into her skiing, since I am always caution about doing too much unsolicited coaching on the hill, but maybe a quick chat with her next instructor will help. Thanks again!
You are a brave soul, KevinH. A quick chat with the next instructor to give a brief history is not a bad idea, though. However, don't feel put out if the instructor decides to pursue his own program for your wife. Afterall, that's what you are paying him for, and that's why he is the instructor and you are only the spouse.
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