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Drills for learning cross-under vs cross-over?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Any help would be great! I'm a decent level 7+/8- skier, comfortable with speed, arcing turns, etc... watching video of myself, I think my biggest mistake is that I am having a hard time executing what I believe is called cross-under, from one turn to the next.

Meaning, my natural tendency when arcing medium-long radius turns is to sink down at the outside of my turns (when skis are pointed downhill), and execute a sort of jump forward and over my skis when I initiate my next turn. So I am tallest when my skis are perpendicular to the fall-line and shortest when my skis are in the fall line.

I know this is backwards, and I need to have extended legs when my skis point down the fall-line... I need to "suck them up" as I transition from one turn to the next.

The only problem is that this goes against 15 years of lousy ingrained habits. Are there any drills you all can recommend to help break my old habits and establish new ones?

As far as other aspects of my skiing go, I have pretty good stance (tall and forward), decent angulation at the hips, and poor angulation at ankles and knees. I'm sure you instructors can picture the type easily!

post #2 of 19
Hi Matthew,
I will leave the technical explanations to the experts on here, but perhaps I can help a little; I'm new to skiing terminology, but have also been skiing many years and like to share.

I think that if you do what I've been doing lately, it might be of benefit to you. Get a pair of soft short skis and practise shorter turns as fast as you can get the skis to hold onto the snow at. Practice keeping the edges glued to the snow, not slipping out, right through the turn.

For years I skied with long stiff torsionally rigid SG racing skis that were able to deliver maximum force to the snow. These skis were not apt to be easily overpowered. Recently though I went on a mission to find a pair of quick-turning small-hill skis. I found that I was overpowering them right off the bat. Though my legs were ready willing and able to apply maximum g force through the turn as I increased the radius while carving, once my turns reached the second half, carving away from the fall line, the skis could not hold their edge. I was forced to manage the pressure. I allowed myself to sink down onto the skis, as they maintained their carved path at their limit of traction. By the end of the turn/beginning of the next turn (now perpendicular to the fall line, skis across the hill) I was necessarily quite low.

This would be a good place to set down once and for all the difference between "cross over" and "cross under" technique.
post #3 of 19
Matthew, Crossover and crossunder are antiquarian terms, replaced by extension and retraction. Retraction occurs when a skier in extension relaxes his legs and allows them to fold under his body in order to extend on the other side. Perform a search of the terms retraction, crossover/crossunder, and Inside Leg Extension, Fastman's excellent treastise on the subject of extension.
post #4 of 19
Call me antiquated. I believe that the terms cross over and cross under have not been replaced by extension and retraction. In general, you'll find cross under used more for short radius turns and cross over for medium and long radius turns. It's an interesting challenge to try do cross under for medium and long radius turns, although I swear I've seen some examiners ski this way naturally (no names mentioned Bugs). Nonetheless, cross under for longer radius turns is just different; not better, not worse than using cross over. In both types of turns you have extension and retraction of the legs. However, for cross over you have extension of one leg occuring while the other leg is retracting/collapsing. I've never thought about this way before, but for cross under turns you tend to have both legs extending or retracting simultaneously.

Here's a cross under drill for you ferret. It's called crazy legs.
post #5 of 19
Okay, Rusty, the terms are not antiquated. I just wish they were.

The PSIA Alpine Technical Manual (2002) has the following definitions:
Cross over: Moving the body's CM forward and across the skis. The CM moves from the inside of one turn to the inside of the next turn.
Cross under: Movement of the feet and skis under the body's CM. The feet move from the outside of one turn to the outside of the next turn, leaving the CM inside each turn.
Arcmeister's response to Sonja-sonja in an April '05 thread suggests that cross-over and -under are stages of skier development. I don't know that I agree that a turn involving cross-over is less skillful than one involving cross-under, but Arc's description of cross-under is right on.

Way to go! You discovered the evolutionary path from cross-over to cross-under. You now know that it is easier to relax the legs to let go and flow from turn to turn than to stiffen them against the flow, forcing an up and over transition (pole-vault or huck-over).

By flexing you legs thru the transition, you are letting your CM flow more directly, and efficiently, from the inside of one turn to the next. By extending your legs thru the middle of the turn you are creating stacked, or long and strong, legs to support the pressure that will build as the skis loop out and around and back toward the path of the body. That leg length also allows you greater range of motion in your suspension system to manage pressure thru the turn. When compressed or flexed in the middle of the turn, you can only tighten muscles to deal with increased pressure , with the longer legs you can relax them to reduce excess pressure.

The fluid feeling in short turns comes from keeping your skis engaged and your balance connected with the snow. The old up and over disengage and disconnect that then requires a re-connect to re-balance and re-engage is not to condusive to skiing with the feeling of rhythm and flow you have now discovered.

Keep experimenting with it and adjusting the timing and direction of your release of your CM into the next turn.
post #6 of 19
Not only are the terms antiquated I wish that they would be outlawed. I can think of no two terms that have lead to more missunderstandings, lack of communication and reams of fruitless discussion that these two. The long held and expressed idea that one is for short turns and one is for medium and long turn is bunk. It is just as easy to release a turn without disengaging from the snow surface in a big turn as it is to do it in a small one, or just as hard considering how few skiers can actually do it in any turn.

Enough venting for now, I'll try to write something constructive tomorrow,

post #7 of 19
Hmmmmm,,, I guess I agree with,,,, ahhhhh,,, both sides here,,, somewhat.

Ydnar is right about the confusion these terms cause. And Nolo, I agree with your questioning of Arc's designation of which is the more advanced skill.

But,,, while it's hard to distinguish in black and white between the two moves, and I don't believe that there are any pure crossover or crossunder transitions, all are a blend of varied proportion, I do feel that there is a clear technical distinction between the two that should be recognized and understood.

There are times when clean arc to arc transitions are desired. Here the direction the skis point when they're rolled flat and disengaged from the prior turn is the same as when they're rolled back onto edge and reengaged for the next. There little to be gained from aggressively projecting the skis under the body during this type of transition, all that does is to disrupt fore/aft balance. Better to just release the edges hold on the mountain in some manner and allow gravity to move the CM down the hill and across the skis. This can be appropriate with any radius turn.

Then,,, there are times when arc to arc is not what we desire. Sometimes we're in a hurry to get going back across the hill and we don't want to wait for the skis to arc the entire direction change, we want to hurry along the process. Here we want to redirect (pivot) the skis during the period of the transition when they're light prior to reengagement so that when we do reengage a good portion of the turn is already completed. This is when pulling the skis through from one side of the body and projecting them aggressively to the other side is called for. When reengagement occurs on that redirected ski forces will be large because the current direction of travel will be in great conflict with the direction the skis will be pointing. This will require that the feet already be moved out from under the body and the legs extended in preparation for the force load they're about to encounter. Again, as in an arc to arc transition, this pivoted transition can be executed in association with any radius turn.

However you want to identify and explain these two distinct transitions I think it's important that they're understood and refined because they're foundational transitions in advanced skiing. Personally, I don't use the crossover/crossunder distinctions much when teaching because I find them when used by themselves to be quite vague and confusing concepts for students ears. But I sure as heck make sure my students come to distinguish and learn to perform these two unique transitions.
post #8 of 19
In discussing both crossover and crossunder you are all forgetting the essential prerequisite: the base/edge bevel!

Let me quote/translate from the materials of a renowned (at least in his own eyes) Czech examiner:

crossunder (he doesn´t use the term): "the skier needs edges with base bevel of 1-3 mm" (after some laughs corrected to "1-3 degrees")

crossover (he doesn´t use the term): "its optimal to tune the skis without any base bevel")

Please don´t call ME bad names. I just quoted and showed you what I have to face at home.

We had a three-day presentation of Montana machines this week. We were discussing a lot of things - mostly highly technical but also general - with the Chief Engineer from Switzerland who has been in the business for almost 40 years.
Yet, his know-how and experience is nothing for our Guru-who-knows-everything-best:
"I don´t care a damn what the engineers of Montana think about beveling. It´s not their field, as mine is not the machine maintenance or the process itself."
(A most important thing for the machine manufacturers is to know how to tune the skis both for the skiing public and for the racers and to teach the servicemen to use them appropriately. With some simplification, without resulting good tune all machines are just junk which no one buys and uses.)

You know now a good reason why I like to post here.
post #9 of 19
I will be unavailable for thrashing or a discussion till the end of the week: skiing !!!
post #10 of 19
My response would be to say that we always "move across our skis" in every turn. How we do that, should be based on what we need to do, and how we intend to do it. Where we start to get long or tall, are longest, start to get shorter, or are shortest, should depend on what we want to acomplish, and not whether we are thinking of crossover/under.

Like YD, I see way too much confusion on these two turns. And it usually comes from someone who is "habitually" stuck in one movement pattern or the other.

Up and over as the only way to start a turn usually translates into pressure control, range of motion, and timing issues from my expereince. Same can be said for the person stuck in retraction turns. Learing to visit both extremes will usually give a person the ability to live effectively in the middle ground between the two extremes.

Mathew, try a run of "cowboy turns" to get a feel for the other end of the spectrum. Cowboy turns are simply skiing with the feet slightly wider than hip width (shoulder width). Like riding a horse. you will be lower to the ground, will work your legs independantly of each other, will have to get the inside leg active, and usually increase your range of motion in long leg short leg.

If you can hear the snow at all, try skiing cowboy turns making the most consistent noise from your skis throughout the turn. Actively managing the pressure consistently through the turn.

Feel and recognize the movements that the cowboy turn makes you do, then feel and recognize the movements that your bread and butter over the top turn make you do. Then play with the timing of the movements. Later, RicB.

To say that one is more advanced than the other seems to deny the usefullness of both and the blending of the two we need to ski effectively.
post #11 of 19
Well now RicB, not that a Bravo from me will make or break your day, but this post gets a definite Bravo!
post #12 of 19

Long Leg Short Leg

Originally Posted by theferret
Any help would be great! I'm a decent level 7+/8- skier, comfortable with speed, arcing turns, etc... watching video of myself, I think my biggest mistake is that I am having a hard time executing what I believe is called cross-under, from one turn to the next.

Meaning, my natural tendency when arcing medium-long radius turns is to sink down at the outside of my turns (when skis are pointed downhill), and execute a sort of jump forward and over my skis when I initiate my next turn. So I am tallest when my skis are perpendicular to the fall-line and shortest when my skis are in the fall line.

Matthew, today’s skiing is not as much about rising and falling, (standing up and then sinking down) as it is about extending and shortening the length of the legs or long leg short leg. Probably this as much because of new ski technology as anything. The skier today extends the legs, building resistance against the snow and starting a turn and as they retract the opposite occurs. Consequently, in the fall-line with the skier’s legs/feet underneath them, the skier’s legs are shortest and then, as the skier starts to initiate a turn, the skier is extending their feet from underneath them outward or to the side towards their turn, slowly extending out to the side and shaping the first half of their turn. As the skier reaches the middle or apex of the first half of their turn, the skier starts retracting their legs/feet back underneath them, shaping the last half or bottm of their turn. All the time the skier does not want to consciously rise and fall to release their skis but keeps their head height to the snow the same and allows the length of their legs and activity in their feet to start, build, shape, and release their turn.

When we work with skiers learning to ski bumps, we like to tell the skiers they are skiing in a tunnel. In a tunnel if you rise up, you bang your head on the ceiling and we don’t want that to happen so keep you head at the same height throughout the run. Practice skiing in a tunnel on a cpmfortable groomed run. Also, on the chair or just standing on the side of a run, watch skiers who are very efficient with their movements, effortless skiers if you will. Chances are you will see very little up and down movement. Most of their efficiency comes from a very solid and quiet upper body and smooth efficient use of the legs and feet as they extend and retract their legs/feet out and around their body shaping their turns.

Is there a time when this does not apply? Of course, we never throw anything away we have learned in skiing, like in this case rise and fall may work very well on very steep terrain or maybe certain snow conditions. There are many ways to ski and just as many skiers doing it. Some can be a little more efficient than others at any given time.

Have a good day!
post #13 of 19
I use cross under sometimes in my skiing. This is how I think of it. As I come through the apex of the turn and enter the "bottom" of the turn, the skis stay pressured until I'm starting to come across the hill. When start coming across the hill to the degree I want, release the pressure on my skis such that they maintain contact with the snow and stay edged.

I do this with a down unweighting movement. A sudden retraction of the legs on edged skis.

The skis continue to turn but my upper body position hardly changes. The skis continue turning until they cross to the other side of me (my CM). As they cross under me, my retracted body goes from inclined toward the center of the turn, to vertical, to slightly inclined down the hill into what will be the center of my new turn.

Upper body position goes from counter rotated at the start of the crossunder movement, to slightly over-rotated at the end.

The thing is, I can relax my thighs completely and I feel the skis finishing the turn nearly completely unweighted. A skier can even use the force from the ski to get air by retracting a unweighting a bit more with a quicker release.

post #14 of 19
Sorry, I didn't offer a drill. I would break it down into parts. I would start with a turn from apex to finish and just work on the release to start to get the feeling of the skis contintuing to turn beneath. Next inititiation, which for you may almost be instinctive. But it is easy to get behind or leaned in too much at initiation much doing this maneuver. That's a matter of practical experience.
post #15 of 19
I found cross-under or retraction turns helped a lot in the bumps. I start by flexing to absorb the bump as I come up it and then extending to maintain contact with the snow and bring me back into a balanced stance. If you don't extend you will find yourself flexing too much out of the knee and sending you into back.

Sometimes I use these turns in crud or ice, if I need to make a quick survival turn. But my bread and butter is crossover.
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the suggestions

I tried all of them and - also bought a pair of slalom skis so I can get twice the number of turns in each run! I do think that using cross-under (as far as I can) instead of cross-over helps me control my speed; with a cross over it seems like you I am doing a bit of a skating type pushoff down the hill, accelerating every time I initiate a turn. With a crossunder (as far as I can feel) it seems as if my speed stays lower because I am not "pushing off" down the hill into each new turn. Its too bad the season is almost over! I guess I'll have to wait until December to really sort this out.

post #17 of 19

cross misunderstandings

Your cross questions bring up an interesting point about tactical applications of these specific movements. Contemporary skiing uses both in a turn. For a complete analysis and discussion try going to USSA.org or Ski Racing. com. The complex nature of skiing makes it hard to learn this subject (off the snow) but Phil McNichols (U.S. ski team men's head coach) does a pretty good job explaining the components of modern slalom turns.
In so far as one being a braking move while the other is an accelerating move, I would say that is not always the case. Both can be used to acheive braking or acceleration. However, I would like to point out that using turn shape is a much more effective way to control speed.
I would also like to suggest you try inline skating as a summer activity. It closely resembles the sensations and movements we use while skiing.

post #18 of 19
Oops! I also meant to incude a couple of "drills" to help you master both types of movements. As you have already discovered, a cross over move uses the feet as an anchor and moves the body core. Diagonal skating steps are a good exercise to develop this movement. When you are comfortable doing this try them with parallel skis (or skates). Notice how the core and the feet travel different paths!
Now try a cross under move. The core becomes the anchor while the feet move. Ski or skate directly downhill and flex both legs while steering them simutaneously across the hill. (One leg is going to become shorter.) Without adding extra edging continue to flex and absorb some of the forces pulling you downhill. When the skis track, instead of skid, you have acheived your goal.
Two halfs of the same turn, using both movement patterns...
post #19 of 19

My Two Cents

Just thought I would throw in my ideas here. While the above responses do provide some interesting debate on cross-over vs. cross under I dont think they gave you what you were looking for....drills to break your old habits. Try these:

Basic: Start with pivot slips, on easy groomed terrain. However instead of just focusing on the upper/lower body separation that results from turning both legs, also think about flexion and extension when doing it. You should feel like you are doing the most low performance short radius turn imanginable. The goal here thou, is to reverse your normal movments, ie: extend the legs as you steer the skis into the fall line, and flex them as you continue to steer the skis back across the fall line. The trick is to time it so you reach maximum extension just as your skis hit the fall line, and maximum flexion as your skis are perpendicular to it. The goal is to keep your skis constantly turning, while your legs are contantly flexing or extending. As you get better slowly increase the performance and then the terrain.

More Advanced: "Avel Ma" (I doubt I spelled that right) or Austrian Turns or Down Unweighting turns. All mean the same thing. On easy intermediate groomed terrain, try some of these in a medium radius. The key to success thou, is to keep the speed low enough such that you actually can down unweight in the transition between turns. Too fast and too much performance will make down unweighting physically impossible. To be clear, I am not suggesting you should ski this way, but rather use it as an exercise to "feel" somthing different then what you are used to.

Advanced: After mastering the above two I would go for a "gorilla stye" turn. On moderate groomed blue terrain (you dont need steep) start by holding you poles upside down, then roll your wrists out so that your pole baskets are in the snow. Wrists infront of your body. You should feel like you are being held "low" and your poles are like outriggers. Begin skiing, and as you flex extend in "new" way, use your poles as a guide, keep the baskets in snow, you wont be able to rise as you once did in the transition, as you extend/be patient as your legs should feel like they are moving parallel and along your pole. (this is easy to show...but tough to explain)

Hope these help.


PS: on the cross over vs. cross under both are approriate depedning on speed, terrain and turn shape!
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