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carving "cheat sheet"

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
For those of you who aren't sick of technical stuff...

Carving technique has been a constant subject of discussion and debate on this thread. I wonder if I might try to distill it down! I've been in a race carving clinic at A-Basin (between avalanches) for the past month, a clinic I've found very helpful personally. When I get stuff in a clinic that I feel helps me, I always like to jot it down. I keep these notes with me when I ski, and if a run doesn't feel right, I'll pull them out and see if I'm missing something that helped me earlier. These are some of the keys to dynamic carving that have clicked for me recently. I'd be curious if the race coaches and high-level instructors out there think these are accurate and useful keys to good dynamic carves.


• For solid balance, feel that I’m weighted into the snow right down the middle between the skis.

• To help prevent upper-body rotation, start all turns from supple ANKLES (no higher). Imagine the soles of my feet are round and that I’m constantly rolling them over.

• As I cross the fall line, soften and subtly retract both feet under me. As they are still pointing to the side of the trail, roll them both over down the hill. That way, as the skis start down the hill, they are already on their new edges. At the same time, press down on the tips of the skis to keep from sitting back. Then extend both feet out LONG together.

• I want to prevent an "A-frame" and a "pop" at the beginning of the turn. To help do this, as I soften and retract my feet, feel like my old support foot collapses and becomes a fulcrum on the snow. KEEP IT IN THE SNOW; DON'T LET IT SLIDE IN! Slide the new inside foot back and actively pull that knee up the hill (shorten it) to help sweep the support foot around in a circle. Keep rolling my ankles over and emphatically point both knees over on a level plane across the skis to the side, then up the hill. Have most of my focus in the turn being that active, pulling inside leg!

• Slice/skate forward on the rolled-over inside arch of my support ski as in a telemark turn, always moving my hips diagonally FORWARD down the hill. Don’t let the hips sink back! Always feel some pressure against both cuffs to keep from sitting back.

• Keep my chest up; don't hunch over. Try to feel like my skis are constantly sweeping around my quiet hips in a circle.

• Have a constant "tic-tock" pendulum movement of my hips across the skis, opposite the extension, in the direction I want to go.

• Keep tracing circles in the snow. Try to accelerate up the hill using the shortening/pull of my inside knee and the slice/skate of my support foot. Start each turn with the end in mind! Want to go there! Use that momentum to start the new turn.

• A wider stance produces more edge angles.


Comments?
post #2 of 17
Mike M, even tho I'm no where near the race stage I really like your post. The little reminders seem very applicable to good form and thats what I would love to achieve.
Thanks for the thread.
Mark
post #3 of 17
:

I don't do anything like that much stuff when I try to carve....

I just pronate/supinate the appropriate feet & try to keep my weight balanced fore/aft & over my supporting edge(s).

The extension/flexion etc just sort of happens - I really only try to keep myself in pretty constant snow contact (no major increase/decrease of pressure)

My legs get long as I allow the skis to move away & need to shorten as the skis move closer. Similarly the uphill ski will make that leg get shorter as needed to maintain balance. I used to focus on my hips - but now really only focus on a strong/active core....

I guess my main focus is on sucking up pressure & driving forward through the turn.... Oh & keeping the damn poles moving - that is still not a natural thing for me.
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_m
• For solid balance, feel that I’m weighted into the snow right down the middle between the skis.

That's fine, as long as it's understood that it's what is felt, not what is actually occuring. Outside ski dominance is still the optimal distribution as governed by the pronate principle (the tendancy of a fore pressured foot to role majority pressure to it's big toe ball).

This reluctance of the inside foot to balance on it's outside ball (which is necessary to pressure the inside skis outside edge), combined with the inherent weakness of a bent inside leg, is why top racers/coaches still refer to a turn to the right as a left footed turn, and a turn to the left as a right footed turn. They know that the actual balance point is not directly between the feet, but in reality is biased toward the outside foot.

What we prompt students with and what's actually occuring are not always harmonious elements. But, that's OK.

Quote:
• To help prevent upper-body rotation, start all turns from supple ANKLES (no higher). Imagine the soles of my feet are round and that I’m constantly rolling them over.
Sure, that can be good advice, as long as it's part of an broader instuctional model that advocates the entire body moving as a unit. Not presented as such, it can result in ankle/foot dominant movement patterns that result in the all too common inadaquate lateral Center of Mass movement patterns displayed by beginning carvers.

You've seen them, they're the skiers with two severely angulated knees, and their CM right over the top of their skis. A very structurally weak position that subjects the knees to elevated risk of injury.


Quote:
• As I cross the fall line, soften and subtly retract both feet under me. As they are still pointing to the side of the trail, roll them both over down the hill. That way, as the skis start down the hill, they are already on their new edges.
Retraction is one transition technique. It's a fine technique that carries its certain advantages and shortcomings when compared with other methods of turn transition. No one technique is master of all things.


Quote:
At the same time, press down on the tips of the skis to keep from sitting back.
Great for powerfull turn initiations, but understand that utilizing this technique compromises true through the foot balance. In typical recreational skiing making such balance compromises are not always necessary.


Quote:
Then extend both feet out LONG together.
The concept (creating lateral separation between the feet and the CM) is solid. It's just that this common description of how it's achieved has always been a pet pieve of mine. The feet/skis are not extended out, they stay on a consistent arc. Seperation is best created by extending CM inside.



Quote:
• Slide the new inside foot back and actively pull that knee up the hill

• Slice/skate forward on the rolled-over inside arch of my support ski as in a telemark turn
Seems as though pulling the new inside foot back and pushing the new outside foot forward would result in outside tip lead. That's not what these pointers are meant to advocate, are they?


Quote:
• Try to feel like my skis are constantly sweeping around my quiet hips in a circle.

• Have a constant "tic-tock" pendulum movement of my hips across the skis, opposite the extension, in the direction I want to go.
Yes,,, very good.


Quote:
• A wider stance produces more edge angles.
You bet it does. At least it enables them. Sorry PMTS'ers, adhear strictly to your prophet's scripture and you're condemned to moderate edge angles. Amen.
post #5 of 17
Mike_M, what I would call into question is the idea that we balance between our feet yet we have a support foot (singular). This is a contradiction isn't it?

I feel most in balance when my balance is focused to one foot and I maintain a relationship between my CoM and my outside stance foot. Staying connected for me translates into smoothly moving this relation of my CoM (hips and core), from one stance foot to the other as I move from turn to turn. Later, RicB.
post #6 of 17
Hey Fastman, it's good to have you back.
post #7 of 17
Start each turn with the end in mind!
A wider stance produces more edge angles.
No argument here.
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB
Mike_M, what I would call into question is the idea that we balance between our feet yet we have a support foot (singular). This is a contradiction isn't it?

I feel most in balance when my balance is focused to one foot and I maintain a relationship between my CoM and my outside stance foot. Staying connected for me translates into smoothly moving this relation of my CoM (hips and core), from one stance foot to the other as I move from turn to turn. Later, RicB.
May I ask what amount of pressuring do you apply on your inside ski(foot)during your turn? It would seem that a 2 footed pressuring turn would produce a more balanced CoM.:
post #9 of 17
When we are skiing on only one ski (the outside), our base of support, and the focal point of our balance, are the same, it's inside edge. This is a small base of support yet when balance is precise and accurate, it can be all we need. However as soon as we ski on both feet/skis (as most skiers do most of the time) we have some ratio of weight distribution between them, and our support and balance, while still inter-related, become less focused to a singular point. When we ski two footed our base of support expands to a larger area defined by the edges of both skis and the space between them. Yet, even in two footed skiing, due to the energy flow created by turn dynamics, we still rely upon our outside foot/leg for primary support, but our balance can move around as needed do to terrain or where we are in a turn do to our greater base of support.

Most skiers kinda evolve along this path:
1- standing "on" both skis (balanced between them)
2- standing "against" the outside and balanced "on" the inside ski
3- balancing "on and against" the outside ski (1-footed)
4- balancing "on and/or against" either ski alone or both together

I strive to be able to do #4 and have the options it provides avaliable to play with.

If we factor this evolution into our movement analysis it can help us better understand where our students are and where the next logical step is that we might help to lead them.
post #10 of 17
Arcmeister-Thanks for putting it into focus. Off-Piste skiing would play a major role in a Skiers evolution to #4. Yes?
post #11 of 17
Thanks Nolo. The move was intense, : but well worth the effort.

I like your skier progression Arc. The foundation of advanced skiing is the abiltity to move at will from one plane of balance to any desired other, just as you suggest in your #4. The journey may vary for each individual, but the destination must always be the same.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, guys. In answer to some of your queries:

I like Arcmeister's explanation about the feeling of balancing down the middle of the skis. Yes, I still feel most of my weight on the downhill ski. Nature and turn forces tend to guarantee that; however, if I mentally focus on planting my weight in the middle, it creates, for me, a sense of more solidity and balance. It keeps me from feeling "locked in" to one foot or the other, and allows me to redirect my skis quickly. As Arcmeister suggests, if you feel you are standing AGAINST the downhill ski, you are not in balance; if you are OVER it, you are. (And many thanks to Vailsnowpro for introducing me to this concept.)

As far as the feeling of slicing the downhill ski forward as in a telemark turn: No, it will never be ahead of the support foot; however, the striving to slice it ahead creates a dynamic, circular slicing movement which, in conjunction with the active shortening/pullback of the inside leg helps result in the carve I'm looking for.

A caveat: Different instructors teach in different ways. I call it "putting keys in a lock to find one that unlocks what the client needs." I, personally, respond to active, kinesthetic cues like the ones I have posted. For some folks, this isn't helpful. I tend to suggest cues like this to my clients when I teach (as Lisamarie can attest!), so I was very interested in whether they are accurate. Thanks again to all who have replied!

Oh, by the way, I spent the morning skiing with SCSA at the Basin. He says hi to everyone. He also thought I was on the right track with my carving cues. Seems the Harbies and PSIA aren't necessarily in conflict after all. The problems seem to arise from individual instructors who lead clients in an inefficient or inaccurate direction.

Believe it or not, he thinks he has to open his stance a bit to help him create better edge angles when carving. We played with this on a few runs. Detente is a wonderful thing!
post #13 of 17
Quote:
A caveat: Different instructors teach in different ways. I call it "putting keys in a lock to find one that unlocks what the client needs." I, personally, respond to active, kinesthetic cues like the ones I have posted. For some folks, this isn't helpful. I tend to suggest cues like this to my clients when I teach (as Lisamarie can attest!), so I was very interested in whether they are accurate. Thanks again to all who have replied!
Yikes, I'm being talked about! My ears are burning!

Michael does in fact use a good deal of imagery and kinesthetic cueing which appeals to a certain type of student. Most of his regulars had some sort of artistic streak. The geeky, over analytical types were less responsive. Once you analyze a kinesthetic cue to death, it becomes useless.

I find it interesting that even though I grew up in NYC and was exposed to various artistic types, I didn't start acting until I moved here and began taking ski lessons with Mike.

That being said, even amongst his regulars, different students would respond to different cues. I like the tic tac pendulum hips the best.

Caveat:

Quote:
A wider stance produces more edge angles.
All stance are relative. If you recall, we had to make my stance more narrow.
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yep, different keys for different locks. Different individuals will have different-width stances. The key is that the stance is FUNCTIONAL for that individual. That being said, a wider functional stance will tend to allow more dramatic angles when carving. A narrower stance tends to be more functional in bumps. To me, a hallmark of an true expert skier is versatility--being able to shift tactics, including stance width, depending on the terrain and conditions.
post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider
May I ask what amount of pressuring do you apply on your inside ski(foot)during your turn? It would seem that a 2 footed pressuring turn would produce a more balanced CoM.:
Slider, I see a distiction between how we distibute the pressure between our feet and where we direct our balance point to. Yes, my inside foot has pressure on it, but it is serving to focus my balance to the outside or substatial ski. If I don't have exactly equal weight on both feet, then I will be focusing my balance to the substantial foot, the foot with the most pressure on it. Maybe this is my tai chi chaun influence rearing it's head, I think the ability to recognize and utilize the relationship between substatial (outside) and insubstantial (inside) seperates the best from the rest. Certainly all hell breaks loose when we get our balance focus outside of our feet.

A couple of years ago DavidM explained how balancing to our inside edge is done over an area as opposed to a finite sharp metal corner. His explanation, which made total sense to me, was that we should consider the area framed in by a line drawn between tip and tail and the edge under our foot. The other interesting thing to conside for me, is how this area grows as the ski is pressured and the ski is flexed. I think this is why we feel so secure or stable on an effectively eged ski.

In high level skiing we see a harmonius blend of mobility and stability. If I think of stability growing from the feet, where does it grow from? In a dynamic situation, can it grow from both at once? Food for thought if nothing else. Later, RicB.
post #16 of 17
In high level skiing we see a harmonius blend of mobility and stability. As always good information thanks RicB. I'll work on blending skills next weekend at T-line. Stay loose.
post #17 of 17
I really liked Dogger's pointers from the notes you gave me yesterday:
"Keep your body over an imaginary cafeteria tray as it slides downhill. Stay over the tray, or it will slide out from under you."
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