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Level II Exam Results (long)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, I failed my Level II skiing exam a couple days ago at Loon. However, I got a lot out of it, not the least which was confirmation of the big weakness--non-simultaneous edge change--that probably kept me from passing.

The weakness was the examiner comments; they aren't descriptive enough. So I took a shot at translating them into "solutions"--the stuff that I need to work on for next season. I would appreciate any comments on the solutions section at the end of the post, with special focus on whether I have got it right.

Thanks a lot to all who can wade through this.
JoeB

Level II Results
Loon Mountain—7 and 8 March 2006

Below are the verbatim written remarks of my 3 examiners.

1.Examiner 1: Work on flexing the outside leg to release old turn and allow the body to move across the skis earlier. Guide tips in to and through the turn, allowing tails to follow. Strengthen pole use. Second set of Christie demos showed some flexing of inside leg through the turn. Stay with that theme and smooth it out.

2.Examiner 2: Ankle joints remain open while knees and hips are flexed, resulting in balance being compromised and equipment-dependent. This forces skills to be applied sequentially, vs. blending. Explore stance alignment and boot modifications to allow hips to mover over the ankles and become balanced over the entire ski.

3.Examiner 3: Try to use movements that allow the body to move over the skis to release and engage. [right]Now there is a stem to release and engage from turn to turn.

[Examiner #3 added the following verbal remarks: He says that I am releasing and engaging during turn transition in two distinct steps, not simultaneously. He also advised that I ski without poles to remove the pole plant cue that may be associated with the stem and to do more one-footed skiing.]

Following is my summary of this stuff.

Problems: I am stemming the DH ski, probably in rhythm with my pole plants. This produces an edge set. I am then bouncing off that edge set to the DH edge of the uphill ski, to start the turn. Following that I am engaging the DH edge of the DH ski to ride out the turn. Problem is produced partly by poor skill blend, where there is inadequate rotary in transition. This is caused by deficiencies in fore-aft balance, which in turn is a result of ankles that are too open. The above stuff sounds about right to me, as I have been working to eliminate the little stem, but was obviously not quite there yet in time for the exam.

Solutions: Achieve simultaneous edge changes by eliminating down-stem (ab-stem). Do this by actively flexing and softening the DH leg approaching turn transition. Then allow the feet to come under the body at an earlier point in the transition. Use appropriate blending of rotary and tip pressure to engage the skis moving into the new turn. Improve blending of rotation with pressure skills by improving fore-aft balance, to get hips to move over ankles. (I am not sure whether this last is an equipment issue or a skills issue. And if it is a skills issue, did he mean that pressure is too forward or too far aft?)
post #2 of 22

Imho

Joe,

Sorry that you did not pass. Happy that you can see a light in the tunnel.

1) Get the PSIA-E Alpine Standards DVD $20.00 and argue MA with more experienced pros. Especially get them to argue for/against the comments on the DVD. It's amazing how wildly different comments can be made about the same thing and actually not be in conflict. There are some wonderful clips on the DVD that show good looking skiing to the untrained eye that fail next to weak looking clips that pass. When you break those clips down to movements, you can understand both the comments and WHY skiing passes or fails. This might help you to see that your examiners comments are consistent.

2) Get your alignment checked or rechecked.

3) You can't simply eliminate the ab stem. You have to introduce new movements to replace it. There are lots of relevant thoughts and exercises in the early edge engagement thread. Here's one more exercise: find an easy wide groomer and try to make a big easy turn by leading with your inside hip ahead of your outside hip. Parking your hip over the new little toe edge prevents the edge set/ab stem. If you get the feeling that your trying to turn your hips the wrong way, then you are doing it right.

4) He meant too far aft.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Rusty, thanks for the advice. I am going to incorporate your thoughts into my "pass" strategy for next season and particularly use the DVD as a centerpiece of my work.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Rusty, thanks for the advice. I am going to incorporate your thoughts into my "pass" strategy for next season and particularly use the DVD as a significant element of my work.

A couple of questions: Does the movement of parking the hip over the LT edge of the uphill ski serve as the initiating movement to firmly "establish" that edge prior to rolling that ski over to the LT edge to begin the new turn?

Second question relates to the fact that I got my fore-aft alignment checked at the beginning of this season and the guy (reputable ski shop in Westwood, Mass.) inserted an adjustment under my inner boot. Question is: how variable, in your opinion, are the skills in this area, ski shop to ski shop?

Yeah, you're right, that loyal old abstem has served me well all these years, and it's hard as hell to kick him out of the house. I will review the early edge engagement thread.

One thing I realize that I really need to do is, in addition to making sure I know exactly what to practice, is simply to get more time on snow. Gotta ski right, but also just do it more.

Thanks again,
JoeB
post #5 of 22
Joe, sorry to hear about your outcome, but the setback should only be temporary, given your positive attitude! If you haven't already, take a peek at my thread "critique medium/short radii turns". There are lots of good stuff on getting rid of the abstem. Your abstem, of course, may be less or more severe than mine.
post #6 of 22
JoeB,

Although you didn't pass, it sounds like a good learning experience.

In reading what the examiners wrote, it sounds typically consistant, which is great news because it give clear direction.

I think you are on it, with your solution. The rotary part is a bit unclear to me from what you have posted. I don't know if it's too much rotation or too much counter rotation. Both can be a big contribution to a down stem. It seems like you are hanging on to the old turn too long with the downhill ski and keeping the ankle joint open. When you keep the ankle open, you onlu bend at the knees and hips (as stated), and it moves your CM aft, making it very hard to make a simultaneous edge change. When you collapse the old downhill leg to allow the CM to start moving across the skis, you need to make sure that you also keep your CM moving forward and your ankles flexed. If you move too laterally, it will put you in the back seat also.

I might suggest some one footed skiing and some whitepass turns. Try doing them at slow speed on an easy hill, because it forces you to move properly for the turn to be clean. Start with the one-footed, then go to the w/p, then start evening out the pressure, making sure all of the movement patterns remain consistant.

Unfortunately, the abstem is one of the hardest things to fix and to get to the point where you really own the right movement patterns, because there can be a lot of contributing factors. You should do a lot of video to try to figure out the causes.

Another thing that might work is the old PMTS Phantom Foot thing. I have a progression that I call my shovel turn progression, which does all of what the pahntom foot thing does, but also move you more forward into the turn. You might be able to find it by doing a search here. I've posted it a couple of times over the years.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
[quote=JohnH]JoeB,


When you keep the ankle open, you onlu bend at the knees and hips (as stated), and it moves your CM aft, making it very hard to make a simultaneous edge change. When you collapse the old downhill leg to allow the CM to start moving across the skis, you need to make sure that you also keep your CM moving forward and your ankles flexed. If you move too laterally, it will put you in the back seat also.

John, thanks, this analysis sounds exactly like me. Also, it unites the observations of the three examiners, which is reassuring. I like the phantom foot, and have worked with to help me with the abstem. Problem was I just did not fully eliminate the problem for purposes of this exam. I just had a big hole in my skiing and the process is set up in a way that enabled them to find it. I am not happy to have flunked, but oddly happy that it was for a documentable reason that I understand and support.

I expect to use a combination of Phantom Foot, White Pass, single-ski, and no poles till I get this dialed in. As Rusty points out, I have to replace the abstem with something, and my training will also include the proper placement of the hip over the LT edge of the uphill ski.

I will look for your "shovel turn" stuff, although I think I can figure out what it might be by the name. Question: Is there any chance that use of the Phantom/Shovel concept will lead to an end result that is out of whack with what PSIA is looking for?

Thanks,
JoeB
post #8 of 22
[quote=JoeB]A couple of questions: Does the movement of parking the hip over the LT edge of the uphill ski serve as the initiating movement to firmly "establish" that edge prior to rolling that ski over to the LT edge to begin the new turn?
[\quote]
Joe,
You've got the wrong ski in the parking spot. It's parking the (new inside) hip over the LT edge of the downhill ski (the outside ski of the previous turn, what will be the inside ski of the new turn). This takes away the ab stem of the downhill ski and the ability to establish the downhill ski edge on the BT edge. With the weight coming forward and the inside ski going on to the new edge, it will draw you into the new turn. But there will be a momentary "O crap - this aint gonna work" feeling before it takes effect. You must learn to be patient with this. Please note that this is not a prescription for how to ski (i.e. you won't pass L2 skiing like this). It is an exercise to remove the abstem. From here, we slowly add back counter to get to normal skiing. That will get rid of the "O crap" sensation.

Quote:
Second question relates to the fact that I got my fore-aft alignment checked at the beginning of this season and the guy (reputable ski shop in Westwood, Mass.) inserted an adjustment under my inner boot. Question is: how variable, in your opinion, are the skills in this area, ski shop to ski shop?
Officially I don't have an opinion on this because I don't have any experience with shops checking fore/aft alignment. In theory, checking fore/aft balance with your boots and skis on should be a no brainer (i.e. stand on a fulcrum). Fixing problems is for sure where the art comes in. Since the shop found something they did not like, it might be worth getting a second opinion. Personally, I'd try some exercises first, then go looking for equipment problems. But that's just because I'm stubborn and cheap.

And no - the phantom/shovel will not hurt your skiing for exams. Get the laminated visual cues cards (or just use the online lesson on the PSIA site) and use them to analyze video of yourself skiing. If you're doing the effective cues and not doing the ineffective cues, you will pass.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeB
I will look for your "shovel turn" stuff, although I think I can figure out what it might be by the name. Question: Is there any chance that use of the Phantom/Shovel concept will lead to an end result that is out of whack with what PSIA is looking for?

Thanks,
JoeB
Joe, it will be in line with what PSIA is looking for. I used it, with varying emphasis, with all 3 examiners at my L3 exam, and I got very good feedback from all of them. Granted, that was in '95, but the concept is very much in line with modern ski technique, with the only minor caveat being that it forces you to lift your downhill (new inside) ski in the earlier through middle stages of the progression. Although, as the progression concludes, it requires keeping the ski on the ground and pressuring it through the top of the turn, which is still current and will have a "white pass" feel to it.
post #10 of 22
The phrase "open ankle" suggests that there's the possibilty your boots may just be too stiff, or not enough forward lean for your body type.

Any chance we could get some video of you for more acurate analysis and advice??
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Rusty, yeah, I figured out the same thing--I was thinking about the wrong ski in connection with your advice about hip placement. Of course it is the new inside ski, but I appreciate your correction on that.

As far as tipping the new inside ski onto its LT edge is concerned (with hip of course moving over that edge), what is your feeling about how much weight is on that ski at that time? (In his book, DesLaurier says to tip the DH ski "softly" onto its LT edge.)

JoeB
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeB
As far as tipping the new inside ski onto its LT edge is concerned (with hip of course moving over that edge), what is your feeling about how much weight is on that ski at that time? (In his book, DesLaurier says to tip the DH ski "softly" onto its LT edge.)
Joe, don't go in with any pre-conceived notions about how much pressure. It's better to go out and experiment with differing amounts and determine what works best for a situation. And be open to the fact that it may be different for different situations and intent.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
OK, John, got it.

Hey, you guys had a big noisy Whitetail contingent up at Pro-Jam. Thought they were going to take the place over. Seriously, seemed like a great group. Guy I met on the first day said they had 30-odd people. Before I got there, I thought I would be the oldest person there, and said so to a guy across from me, who promptly said, no, I've got you by about ten years. Big tall guy white haired guy, possibly early 70s, but very athletic looking.

Anyhow thanks, John.

JoeB

Joe
post #14 of 22
Well JoeB you have my sympathy. I just hit my head on the same rock. Funny, I just posted on the Level II after 50 thread. The description you gave is close to the comments that I and another person got on the test. It's great to see this discussion because it confirms what we were guessing. We felt that the examiners comments are vague to anyone who has not seen the "standards" video. Even then I would much prefer an after the test clinic for those that did not pass. It would have left me with some firm direction and some confidence instead of feeling lost in the search for the holy grail. Anyway, after hours of analysis, video taping ourselves, confering with the technical director, some guys who just returned from the level II test, and looking at the "standards" video we concluded that the examiners were trying to say that we were rotating to start the turn instead of simultaneous tipping. If you have been around a while this movement is consistant with the long straight skis. The abstem may be the result of a "partial" migration to the new style. I want to thank everyone here for the great advice for JoeB. Hope you don't mind if I borrow it. I guess I would like to say two things I saw written and are in my plan. 1) Get the standards video and 2) video tape yourself..... then find any resource you can to make those pictures look the same.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Good post, Rhino. Yeah, those abbreviated scrawls varied in quality for me. Two were OK and the third a little cryptic. With the great posts from guys who really know this stuff--JohnH, Rusty, etc, I think I am in pretty good shape in my "solutions" plan. When I got my little "ticket" I talked to one of the examiners and he gave me an explanation. I thought I understood it, but as soon as I drove out of the Loon parking lot, then the doubts started and and bounced around in my head most of the way home.

Yeah, I'm going to definitely get the standards video as well as try to get myself videotaped somehow.

JoeB
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeB
OK, John, got it.

Hey, you guys had a big noisy Whitetail contingent up at Pro-Jam. Thought they were going to take the place over. Seriously, seemed like a great group.
Hehehe. Yeah, it's usually a competition between Liberty and Whitetail, as to who has the most people there. Both areas usually have between 25 and 35 people. We can do that because we are within a day's drive, and our areas haven't opened by the 2nd week of December.

I missed it this year for the first time in 13 years, due to the arrival of the triplets in September. I'll be back next year.
post #17 of 22
For the record, Liberty smoked Whitetail on attendance at Pro Jam. They had close to 50 IIRC. And both resorts were open. My group last year included a 75 year old youngster.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeB
As far as tipping the new inside ski onto its LT edge is concerned (with hip of course moving over that edge), what is your feeling about how much weight is on that ski at that time? (In his book, DesLaurier says to tip the DH ski "softly" onto its LT edge.)
I agree with JohnH AND the DL bros. For the purpose of this exercise I don't care how much weight you put on the downhill ski. I only want you to lead with the inside hip so much that it creates an "alien" feeling. If it takes overweighting to get you there, that is ok. (Dr. Strangelove voice) Vee hav to beat ze abstem NOW! After it's beaten, then we can soften up the move as needed. Reintroducing counter will also soften things up automatically.
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
OK, I think I got it: install proper movement as noted to replace the abstem, then refine as needed for appropriate counter.

Can't believe this is all free.

JoeB
post #20 of 22
Joe,

A) You get what you pay for (you are a supporter, eh?). (speaking only for myself) The guys who really know what they are doing are out on snow earning the big bucks.

B) Pay it forward.
post #21 of 22
[quote=JoeB][quote=JohnH]JoeB,


When you keep the ankle open, you onlu bend at the knees and hips (as stated), and it moves your CM aft,

I don't understand the logic in the above statement. It seems to me that assuming a stable ankle joint, flexion of the hip would move the center of mass forward, whereas flexion of the knee would move the center of mass aft. If both knee and hip are flexed simultaneously, then the result might be forward aft, or to remain centered. This would depend on the relative rates of flexion, the length of thigh versus the spine, and also the distribution of weight. Ie, a person with a long thigh, short spine, large hips, and small head and upper body will tend to lose balance backward because the center of mass is lower down on trunk, hence hip flexion won't move the center of mass as far forward, whereas knee flexion will move it further back. On the other hand, a person with a short thigh, a long back with large head and shoulders will have the opposite tendency. Because the femur is shorter and the center of mass is higher on the trunk, simultaneous flexion of the hip and the knee will more likely result in a loss of balance forward.
post #22 of 22
Charlie,

I hear you, but the problem is that the CM is so low on the torso (down near the belly button), that you would have to fold over at the waist quite a bit to stay balanced, and even then only to a point, because the femurs are always longer than the distance frmo the hips to the CM. I defy you to tand on the flor with your lower legs vertical, and your femurs horizontal, and be able to bend forward enough at the hips and spine to not fall on your rear. How many times have you seen (or if you are in instructor, asked) someone to bring their weight forward, and they move their shoulders forward and their butt back?

On top of that, you don't want to fold at the waist, because it's not a strong, dynamic positon to ski from. We want to keep the torso stable and quiet to better maintain dynamic balance. Plus, it takes a lot more muscular effort to move the torso around, and is much slower, than if we make subtle moves with the ankle.
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