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# Is carving really the secret?

A flat ski is generally faster than an edged ski.

How does this fit into the notion that carving is fast (or fastest)?
A flat ski always will present more surface area onto the snow, and thusly, more friction area than an edged ski.

A properly polished edge will slide every bit as well as the average prepared base, and with a bit of work, the sidewall can also slide hella-fast.

Now here's the biggest part.

When carving, it's possible to create speed through flexing the ski and torquing the body. When gliding on a flat ski, no significant speed can be generated without the use of bumps, etc.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Roto A flat ski is generally faster than an edged ski. How does this fit into the notion that carving is fast (or fastest)?
If you want to go fast in straight line right down the fall line, you want a flat ski. This, in fact, is standard-issue advice, and has been for decades (maybe centuries, for all I know).

If you want to turn, it's a different story.
A straight-running flat ski is faster. Carving is similar to straight running through a dip in the snow. Even though the ski bends it still runs fast along the base. Carving bends the ski so that the ski can run along the longitudinal axis of the ski but still describe an arc so you can change direction. To the ski it is similar to bending in a hollow. The alternative is to turn with skidding which is much slower.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by FanOZakk A flat ski always will present more surface area onto the snow, and thusly, more friction area than an edged ski.
There's a general principle (called the Leonardo/Coulomb theory, after the fairly obvious people who have posited it) that approximately works: frictional force is independent of area of contact.

The real physics of sliding friction is pretty complicated, so far as I know -- not to mention the extra complication that arise when you throw in the fact that one of the surfaces is made up of ice crystals and water.

Note that if more area created more friction, shorter skis would be faster than longer skis. Experinece suggests the opposte, at least to a point (which is well beyond what any of us are likely to use).

Quote:
 A properly polished edge will slide every bit as well as the average prepared base, and with a bit of work, the sidewall can also slide hella-fast.
The common wisdom is that edges are slower than bases. Hence: (i) thin edges on racing skis, (ii) extra bevel on some skis designed primarily to go really fast in a straight line and (iii) no metal bases.

Quote:
 Now here's the biggest part. When carving, it's possible to create speed through flexing the ski and torquing the body. When gliding on a flat ski, no significant speed can be generated without the use of bumps, etc.
Still ... if you want to travel between two points that lie along a fall line, the fastest way to travel is a straight line with your skis as flat to the snow as possible, except: If the slope is flat enough, you can generate speed with your legs and edges, but the way to do it is by skating.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by martino A straight-running flat ski is faster. Carving is similar to straight running through a dip in the snow. Even though the ski bends it still runs fast along the base. Carving bends the ski so that the ski can run along the longitudinal axis of the ski but still describe an arc so you can change direction. To the ski it is similar to bending in a hollow. The alternative is to turn with skidding which is much slower.
Perfect! Turning without carving is like going through that hollow with the brakes partially on (doing a hockey stop).
Quote:
 Originally Posted by martino . The alternative is to turn with skidding which is much slower.
Is skidding the only other option?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by sjjohnston Still ... if you want to travel between two points that lie along a fall line, the fastest way to travel is a straight line with your skis as flat to the snow as possible, except: If the slope is flat enough, you can generate speed with your legs and edges, but the way to do it is by skating.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by sjjohnston If you want to go fast in straight line right down the fall line, you want a flat ski. This, in fact, is standard-issue advice, and has been for decades (maybe centuries, for all I know). If you want to turn, it's a different story.
Doesn't more carving equal more direction change & a 'less-straight' line?

Is it possible to glide sections of a turn (path) & still achieve a similar amount of direction change?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Roto Is skidding the only other option?
With your skis in contact with the snow, there is only skidding and carving available to change your direction of travel.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by FanOZakk With your skis in contact with the snow, there is only skidding and carving available to change your direction of travel.
What about direction changes that allow more time for gliding than either skidding or carving?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Roto What about direction changes that allow more time for gliding than either skidding or carving?
Care to elaborate?

Your ski is either flexing to maintain constant contact with the snow over a turn - carving, or it's turning against the snow - skidding.

It's black or white in this case.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by sjjohnston If the slope is flat enough, you can generate speed with your legs and edges, but the way to do it is by skating.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by FanOZakk Care to elaborate? Your ski is either flexing to maintain constant contact with the snow over a turn - carving, or it's turning against the snow - skidding. It's black or white in this case.
That's exactly what I thought too, but I'm in the middle of having one of my beliefs about skiing change, which usually leads to a major breakthrough for me.

I'm seeking more perspective on it. This is why I am asking questions. I could elaborate with the perspective I have now, but it is incomplete... so...

what would allow a skier to follow the same path as another, but with lower overall edge angles, and less overall time in a pressured, carved arc?

or,

what would allow a skier who "carves less" of the arc to travel the same path faster than a skier who "carves more" of the arc?
Roto, are you working up to a discussion on pivots?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Roto Doesn't more carving equal more direction change & a 'less-straight' line?
I'm not sure I follow the question ... I'd say "yeah," if it means what I think it might.

The fastest way to travel along a particular path depends on what the path is.

If you want to go from "A" to "B" and:
- the fall line connects them: run straight from one to the other with as flat a ski as possible.
- the fall line doesn't connect them (in other words, they are "across the hill" and you are "traversing"): edge the ski to the extent necessary so that you don't slide down the hill sideway. If you're on a steep slope and the line between the two points is nearly perpendicular to the fall line, that might be a lot.

If you want to go from "A" to "B" to "C" and they don't lie in a straight line, you have to turn in the vicinity of "B." Several contrary factors come into play in determining what's the fastest way to follow this path, including the length of the path (straight with a corner at "B" is shorter) and maintenance of momentum (making a very round, carved turn will lose you less of it). What line works best is a problem racers solve over and over again in the course of a run.

Quote:
 Is it possible to glide sections of a turn (path) & still achieve a similar amount of direction change?
We may have different understanding of the word "glide." If you're gliding, you're not turning (except, perhaps, to follow the fall line).

In any event, there are certainly situations in which running straighter and doing a more abrupt (and less carved) turn will be faster. Look at photo-montages of racers: they often do a significant pivot while unweighted, engage their edges with the ski at a significant angle to their direction of travel, then carve a tight arc from there (as carved as possible, anyway: there's going to be some sideways movement when they engage the edge). There was even a little article on the subject in Ski Racing last spring or so, complete with little diagrams. But it's easy to see in photomontages. You can see it to a greater or lesser degree in all racers. It's a noticeable characteristic of Bode Miller's style.

Getting back to the original subject, though: the racers who run straight at the gates would have more extreme edge angles in their turns.
Choose the view you are most comfortable with.

Only enough edge to hold the desired line.
- or -
As flat as possible without loosing the desired line.
If you were in a GS course it may be faster to straight run from one gate to the next and carve a short radius turn around the gate so you can go straight at the next one vs. making a carved GS turn were your are engaged and carving the entire time.

I'm not exactly sure how to relate that to free skiing. If your goal while free skiing is to go as fast as possible then going straight down the hill is probably the best option, only turning to avoid obstacles. For the most part people use turns while free skiing to control their speed. For that purpose it seems more efficient to make a medium radius carved turn than short radius turns connected by straight runs.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Rick Roto, are you working up to a discussion on pivots?
Not specificaly pivoting, but it may come into play, since that is an option. My thoughts are more oriented toward a less forceful way of directing the skis through the upper portion of turns, so an immediate creation of high edge angles isn't necessary, since high edge in the top of a turn will make the ski take a less direct (slower) line to the turn apex.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by sjjohnston I'm not sure I follow the question ... I'd say "yeah," if it means what I think it might. - the fall line doesn't connect them (in other words, they are "across the hill" and you are "traversing"): edge the ski to the extent necessary so that you don't slide down the hill sideway. If you're on a steep slope and the line between the two points is nearly perpendicular to the fall line, that might be a lot. If you want to go from "A" to "B" to "C" and they don't lie in a straight line, you have to turn in the vicinity of "B." Several contrary factors come into play in determining what's the fastest way to follow this path, including the length of the path (straight with a corner at "B" is shorter) and maintenance of momentum (making a very round, carved turn will lose you less of it).
aahh maintaining momentum, now you are getting me somewhere. Is there a way to maintain or direct momentum from point A to point B such that an edged ski wouldn't be so necessary? For example: using extension to move your CM along that line, then using flexion to allow a flatter ski to continue to move along that line?

In going from point A to B to C, if you used point B as the jumpoff, or the place where you use extension to direct the center of mass toward the next point B it would change the purpose of flexion/extension movements from pressure control to direction control. Once the CM is thrust toward the next destination it seems that the skis could largely glide in that direction with much less edge angle required to achieve the line. Timing of flexion/extension movements would also change a slight bit with some range of extension stored for use slightly beyond the fall-line.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Arcmeister How about these as adaptable absolutes? Choose the view you are most comfortable with. Only enough edge to hold the desired line. - or - As flat as possible without loosing the desired line.
Exactly, either one applies, but what allows us to ski the flatter ski along the same line? What would allow us to minimize the edge needed to accomplish the same turns?

Quote:
 Originally Posted by boozer I'm not exactly sure how to relate that to free skiing.
Over the years, several 'old men' have kicked my ass free skiing. While I skied high edge and what I thought was powerful/fast carving they would dust me on any terrain in any conditions and look a damn sight smoother and in better control while doing it. Some of these same guys would also beat me in a race course. Being a young coach and instructor proud of MY skiing skills I was surprised to find I could not keep up with an 'old man' and feel in control while trying to do so. In recent years I have begun to learn to look for what they do instead of just holding to my beliefs and doing them harder. To my surprise I have found a lot in common with what the top racers actually do (not really a surprise, since these guys have all coached in that realm) Anyway, they first thing I noticed was lower overall edge angles especially through turn entry & exit, yet a high speed over a round line, and I couldn't ski the same line as them at as high a speed. When I looked at the tracks they were not pure-carved or twin-tracked, and the deeply carved portion of the arcs were shorter than the deeply carved arcs I would leave.
Roto, you need to talk to Junior Bounous, who is able to accomplish remarkable things on fairly flat skis. I'm not talking about Steve, but his dad.
I would love that. I had a brief 'hello' with him at Snowbird thr spring before last, but it was just a hello. Thanks.

And thanks everyone for the replies so far. You've got my mind working, and hopefully my skis too.
Whatever this is about, it will end up with the simple statement that the shortest distance between 2 points is a straight line. So carving will never be the fastest line if you can "cut" the carved arc with a glide and quick pivot as they often do in SL.

BTW, I noticed the same thing as Roto quite often. People skiing rather fast, when they do not have early edge engagement in the turn and they don't bother to complete the turn. They guys usually have long(er) skis and are comfortable at speed. And I am not talking about hot shot racers or top instructors. They are often "old school" guys, who have skied all their lives. It is frustrating (and often impossible) to keep up with them. But I simply don't feel confident to let them slide like that.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Roto That's exactly what I thought too, but I'm in the middle of having one of my beliefs about skiing change, which usually leads to a major breakthrough for me. I'm seeking more perspective on it. This is why I am asking questions. I could elaborate with the perspective I have now, but it is incomplete... so... what would allow a skier to follow the same path as another, but with lower overall edge angles, and less overall time in a pressured, carved arc? or, what would allow a skier who "carves less" of the arc to travel the same path faster than a skier who "carves more" of the arc?

roto,
With a sharp skidded turn you get the direction change of the skis you want more quickly than with a carve, but you will also dump a lot of speed.

If the skiing evironment gives a skier the option of:

1. Starting at a point on the hill, traversing (going across the hill at an angle to the fall-line), skidding a turn and traversing to a point on the hill that is straight downhill from the start point,

OR

2. Starting at the same point, making a short traverse into a carved round turn and ending at the same point,

#2 will win every time. #2 keeps you in the fall line longer and doesn't dump speed at the end of the first traverse.

Realistically, you need both a blend of both carve and skid to achieve the turn demands in real slalom and giant slalom race situations. And actually USSA even now defines carving as having a component of skidding. The pure carve is referred to as arcing.

I know what you are thinking and I think you should keep thinking about it until you work it out for yourself. I don't know if you've ever seen this article but check it out.

http://www.psia.org/psia_2002/educat...96cycloids.asp

turnalot
Excellent reference article, turnalot! Way to know your archives.
It doesn't get any faster than this.

http://ronlemaster.com/images/2003-2...e-pc-gs-1.html
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Rick It doesn't get any faster than this.http://ronlemaster.com/images/2003-2...e-pc-gs-1.html
And we all know the purpose of what Bode is doing... right?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Roto Is there a way to maintain or direct momentum from point A to point B such that an edged ski wouldn't be so necessary? For example: using extension to move your CM along that line, then using flexion to allow a flatter ski to continue to move along that line?
If you want to accelerate your center of mass in some direction (other than straight down the fall-line), you still need to push against something. That's what you do with the edges: push against the snow.

Simplify the situation: picture a guy standing straight up in the middle of one of those "snow dish" things that kids use as sleds (or an innertube, if you prefer). Let's say it's really slippery, indeed frictionless. Instant-to-instant, two things are going to determine where he goes and how fast:

- momentum: he'll keep going in the same direction, at the same speed he's already moving, unless something accelerates him ("accelerates" in the general sense, i.e. affects his velocity in some direction, which might be in the same direction he's already travelling, so he goes faster; in the opposite direction, so he slows down; perpendicular to the direction he's traveling, so he curves to the side; etc.);

- the acceleration of gravity: which does just that - accelerates him in the direction that the fall line points at the particular instant.*

He can try to "translate" his center of mass to the side (or backwards or forwards), but all he'll do is tip over (remember, he's on a frictionless snow dish).

Put him on skis, and he gains the ability to control himself. Among other things:

- He can do a hockey stop, by turning his skis sideways, perpendicular to his direction of travel. Skis have a lot of friction when going sideways, even if just slightly tipped. He'll accelerate in the opposite direction from that he's traveling in (i.e. he'll decelerate), until he comes to a stop (if he's not on much of slope, anyway).

- If he can get his ski to bend into a curve, it will accelerate him sideways (like a train going around a bend on a track), so he traces a curved path. But the ski needs to be on edge to do this. If it isn't, it will slide sideways, and he'll dissipate momentum as friction, rather than preserving it by using the lateral acceleration produced when the curved edge runs over the snow to change direction. In addition: depending on the sidecut of the ski, it will need to be on edge to some degree in order to bend into the curve he wants.

-------
*Okay, a third thing: the lodge, which will accelerate him to a zero velocity quite suddenly when he runs into it.
There are 3 basic ways a ski can go down a hill: Slipping, Sliding and Skidding. Sliding is the ski traveling along its length, such as a straight run or a pure carve. Slipping is side slipping - going staright down the fall line with no edge engagement. Skidding is a combination of the two, where the ski travels forward and sideways at the same time.

Therefore, to turn, you can either slide (carve) or skid. That's about it. But keep in mind that skidding encompasses the entire spectrum from almost a pure carve to almost a pure side slip. Therefore, the amount of edge angle and pressure is limitless, and the curved path that you travel is infinately variable. But it's still all skidded.

Also, the path of a pure carve can also vary greatly based on a lot of factors. Just so long as the tail is following the same path as the tip.

Next subject, friction: Ptex is a LOT faster than steel on snow. Therefore, yes, a flat ski is faster, as long as you only need to go straight down the fall line. One ski is not faster than two. The increased pressure of only using one ski slows it down, as does the resulting deeper depression that it leaves in the snow. Putting a ski on edge also makes a deeper trench, which is slower. A longer ski also heats the snow more under the base, creating less resistance from those sharp snow crystals. If you've ever tried to ski on REALLY cold snow (-20F or colder), you'll understand that snow crystals are sharp and can create a lot of friction.

Once you need to devaite from the fall line, (let's talk race course, since the subjest is "what's faster"), it is not necessarily faster to make a sharp turn then run a flat ski to the next gate, because the speed you'll lose in to be able to make that sharp turn is more than you'll gain running a flat ski. A smooth, round line in which you can keep your speed up is usually the fastest way there. But that is only to a point, because a round line adds distance and takes you out of the fall line. Bode Miller has found a very fast method of skiing almost too straight at a gate, then skidding just enough to keep a very fast line. He doesn't skid enough to lose more speed than necessary, and the line he is able to take to the next gate is more in the fall line, generating more speed. Doing this is risky however, because it's easy to either slow down too much or not slow down enough, resulting in either missing a gate or falling due to the inability to maintain control (it's a much more violent ride)
Quote:
 Originally Posted by sjjohnston - If he can get his ski to bend into a curve, it will accelerate him sideways (like a train going around a bend on a track)
Point of clarification. "accelerate sideways" is being used in the literal, scientific definition in that statement. Prior to bending that ski in a curve, the skier was not moving sideways at all. Therfore, any sideways movement is "accelerating" him sideways (he's now going sideways faster than he had been). It does not mean that his forward speed is increasing, unless (as discussed in that other thread), some additional force is applied, such as pumping. A train does not accelerate it's forward speed by going around a curve without turning up the throttle, but it does accelerate sideways (new direction of travel).

did I get that right?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by JohnH Point of clarification. "accelerate sideways" is being used in the literal, scientific definition in that statement. ... did I get that right?
Yes.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by JohnH There are 3 basic ways a ski can go down a hill: Slipping, Sliding and Skidding. Slipping is the ski traveling along its length, such as a straight run or a pure carve. Slipping is side slipping - going staright down the fall line with no edge engagement. Skidding is a combination of the two, where the ski travels forward and sideways at the same time. T)
what happened to sliding?
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