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Best Bump Technique: Backpedaling?

post #1 of 166
Thread Starter 
I just came across a thread from Bob Barnes with animations and was really intrigued by the "backpedaling" animations. I keep trying to ski bumps or "moguls" and find that I can ski them but I keep going faster and faster until I have to stop. Can you explain the "backpedaling" in a little more detail for me? Sounds like it may be the piece I'm missing. Thanks
post #2 of 166
Hi SkiFox--

If it's any help, here's the animation you refer to:



And here's a photomontage of a top level competitor (I'm afraid I don't know who it is) showing the same movements:



This circular movement pattern of the feet beneath the hips is critically important for smooth bump skiing. And it's highly relevant to the current discussion in the thread Moguls/bumps, regarding "carving" down the back side of the bumps. Obviously, whether you want your skis to carve or to brake, both require your ability to get some pressure on them.

One thing that the animation clearly shows is the importance of fore-aft movements in addition to up-down movements to manage pressure in bumps (and out of them, for that matter). The up and down movements are obvious, and you hear a lot of people describing "feet [or knees] like pistons," but that's not actually a very good image. Visualize feet moving in circles, like pedaling a bicycle (where it's also a mistake to think of just "up and down"). If that's a new thought, it will transform your mogul skiing!

As I mentioned in my PM, it is important to keep pressure OFF the boot tongues in order to make this movement. That's another violation of the "conventional wisdom," I know, but it's key!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 166

"Ugly from the front" (--Lyle Lovett)

In an earlier discussion of this "backpedaling" animation, someone asked if I could show the front view of the same thing. That's a little harder, given my non-existent artistic talents, but I did come up with these two animations that show it somewhat:



Best regards,
Bob
post #4 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado View Post
Hi SkiFox--

If it's any help, here's the animation you refer to:

http://ourworld.cs.com/BBRNZ/Backpedal+animation.gif

And here's a photomontage of a top level competitor (I'm afraid I don't know who it is) showing the same movements:

http://ourworld.cs.com/BBRNZ/Bumps1.gif

This circular movement pattern of the feet beneath the hips is critically important for smooth bump skiing. And it's highly relevant to the current discussion in the thread Moguls/bumps, regarding "carving" down the back side of the bumps. Obviously, whether you want your skis to carve or to brake, both require your ability to get some pressure on them.

One thing that the animation clearly shows is the importance of fore-aft movements in addition to up-down movements to manage pressure in bumps (and out of them, for that matter). The up and down movements are obvious, and you hear a lot of people describing "feet [or knees] like pistons," but that's not actually a very good image. Visualize feet moving in circles, like pedaling a bicycle (where it's also a mistake to think of just "up and down"). If that's a new thought, it will transform your mogul skiing!

As I mentioned in my PM, it is important to keep pressure OFF the boot tongues in order to make this movement. That's another violation of the "conventional wisdom," I know, but it's key!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
sir.........are you one a them ski pros?

if you have enjoyed this post please send your check or money order in the amount of 2 cents.....that's $00.02 or two pennies taped to a piece of cardboard to the following address so that we can list Bob's credentials here at the site.

make checks payable to PMTS/TTS

Pissing Mongrel Teaching Scam aka Teutonic Teaching System
P.O. (that actually stands for Pissed On) Box 111
Dumont, Colorado 80436
post #5 of 166
I thought TTS was "Two Tonic System," but I forgot what they were. . . .



Bob
post #6 of 166

Uh ..what is Lyle's good side?

Hang in there Rusty ...it's going to snow soon
post #7 of 166
Bob, that's a fantastic animation and photo montage. I was first introduced to the backpedaling concept during a summer session at Mogul Logic while in high school. Problem is, I've never been able to effectively illustrate it while coaching. Now I can!
post #8 of 166
Glad you like it, Iski2....

It's one of my favorites. I had originally drawn the stick figure illustration for my Encyclopedia, showing the sequence as a series of "stills." When I first assembled the individual "frames" into an animation and hit "play," I was amazed at how well it showed the movements. The animation above is a couple generations more refined, but essentially the same as the original.

I should point out that the little jump in the pedaling circle just after StickMan skis through the trough does not belong there. One of these days I'll redo it again and fix that. One of these days. . . .

Best regards,
Bob
post #9 of 166

Backpedaling

Backpedaling in bumps is one of the most misunderstood concepts in mogul skiing. Over the years I have found that this leads to people skiing more from the heels rather than the ball of the foot. As far as not being on the tongues of the boots, a good mogul skier should always be on the fronts.
post #10 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by joemammoth View Post
Backpedaling in bumps is one of the most misunderstood concepts in mogul skiing. Over the years I have found that this leads to people skiing more from the heels rather than the ball of the foot. As far as not being on the tongues of the boots, a good mogul skier should always be on the fronts.
welcome to epic joemammoth

the best bump skier i know describes good bump skiing as feeling as though one is skiing on the forebody of the heel. his rational is that this is where the tibia would exit the base of the foot.

in addition i do everything i can to avoid levering the front of the boot. when people talk about boot tongues i joke that if it isn't touching your shin when you put in on in the morning it doesn't fit.

"on the tongue"....... i respectfully disagree.

so i guess we disagree about the front of the boot and the ball of the foot.
post #11 of 166
Every bumpskier I know has bald shins from always being on the tongue of the boots. Shin pressure into the fronts of the boots equals pressure on the fronts of the skis, which leads to more ski snow contact. This is one of the basics of competitive mogul skiing. As far as pressure near the heel, the first thing an aspiring mogul skier learns is to feel with their toes to drive the skis down the backside of the bumps in order to keep the skis on the snow. Thanks for the welcome.
post #12 of 166
Hi Joemammoth--warmest welcome to EpicSki!

I'm glad that someone finally spoke up to defend the "conventional wisdom" on this. You are right that it moves you back from the balls of your feet.

But I must disagree with your assumption (that you should stand on the balls of your feet) as well as your contention that "a good mogul skier should always be on the fronts [of the boots]" (assuming that you are implying pressure on the tongues of the boots). I have long maintained that these are two of the biggest myths and problems in skiing! That's not to say that we never do, or never should, stand on the balls of our feet or press on our boot tongues, but that it is not the fundamental stance. And there are plenty of times when we need to balance more toward our heels, and press on the backs of the boots--in any condition, and especially in moguls.

The mogul competitor in the photosequence above clearly is not pushing against the tongues of his boots, most of the time!

Think about what happens when you press forward on your boot tongues--what does it do to the ski? Naturally, it presses down on the tip. And what does a mogul do when it contacts your ski tip? Right--it pushes up.

If you're pressing down while the mogul is pushing up, you're fighting a losing battle! It's the cause of "shin bang," especially with stiff boots, as well as getting bucked forward and folding at the waist when hitting a big bump (common problems, to say the least).

To absorb bumps smoothly, we have to work with them, not fight against them. That means lifting up on the ski tip as it rides up the bump, and pushing our feet forward at the same time (for two reasons--one is that it's impossible to lift the tip up very far with stiff ski boots on without moving the foot forward--try it!--and the other is to maintain balance as the skis slow down suddenly when they climb up the bump).

What else happens when you push forward on your boot tongues? They push back on you, following Newton's well-known Third Law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction . . .). I suspect that one cause of the common (mis)advice to press forward on the boots is the undisputed need to move forward, sometimes to drive forward vigorously, as the skis race down the hill. But again, pressing on the boot tongues is not the same as moving forward. It is, in fact, the opposite! As they push you back, it's like trying to run forward when you're up against a wall! Moving forward is not the same as being forward. They are contradictory!

So if you want to move forward, get off your boot tongues!

It's even true as you reach the crest of the bump and then need to tip your skis down the back side (see the animation). Even here, you do not need to press down on your boot tongues, although clearly you don't want to be pressing back either. Depending on how you look at it, either your feet slow down at the top of the bump and your body continues moving at the same rate, "passing" them so that you are ahead of your feet on the back side of the bump, or you "pull your feet back" underneath you as you crest the bump. It's a matter of perspective, but both describe the same thing. You have to get ahead of your feet on the back side of a bump, just as you do when charging out of a race start. Otherwise, your skis will shoot ahead faster than having a rug pulled out from underneath you!

Another cause of the myth of pressing forward on the boot tongues is the need to get pressure on the ski tips to carve a turn. True, we do need to do this, but skis are designed so that if you press on the right spot, pressure will distribute along their length--including the tip. It's only those times when we actually need to get even more pressure on the tips that we benefit from levering forward on the boots. And those times are pretty rare, really. It causes the tips to bite and tighten the arc they're bent into--but it also causes the tails to lose pressure and straighten out, often losing grip, and always with increased skidding. If that's what you want, lever forward. Otherwise, don't!

One thing you will notice, if you look closely at the Backpedaling animation, is that the angle of the skier's ankles to his (her?) skis never changes. That's not to suggest that we should not use our ankles--far from it. It is to say that we must develop basic movements in the knees, hips, and rest of the body that allow the ankles to move freely at all times. It is BECAUSE his ankles don't move in this animation that this skier would be able to flex and extend his ankles as needed any time, anywhere, at any point on the bump. It is BECAUSE subtle, refined, fine ankle movements are so important in skiing that I made this animation show none. It doesn't matter what kind of boots the skier is wearing, either--he could be in the softest, flimsiest boots made, or the stiffest racing boots on the World Cup circuit--the movements would be the same. And he never experiences "shin bang."

So, what's the conclusion? "Cuff neutral" is the basic stance in skiing, and in bumps. That means contact, but zero pressure, on the boot tongues. And if they fit right, it also means contact but no pressure on the backs of the boots as well. And it means developing movements that allow us to remain cuff neutral at all times, all the way through the "backpedaling" cycle, and all through turns, in and out of bumps. From this neutral stance, and only from this neutral stance, we have the option of levering forward, or levering back to pressure the tail, at any time, as needed.

How about the ball of the foot? Many sports--tennis comes quickly to mind--require balance on the balls of the feet. But sports of sliding and gliding--ice skating and roller blading, for example, or cross-country skiing, or surfing, generally involve balance on the whole foot, again giving us the option of pressing on the heel or the ball as needed. My center of balance in my ski boots, as a rule, is a lot closer to my heels than to the balls of my feet!

Food for thought. ALWAYS question the conventional wisdom!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #13 of 166
. . . what Rusty said!

Joemammoth--sorry to hear that all your bump skiing friends have sore shins. Hmm............

(Mine don't!)



Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #14 of 166
Bob,

www.skitelevision.com/tips.html

Select "Bump skiing II"

Looks pretty much as you suggest. That animated gif looks a lot like your animated GIF to me!
post #15 of 166
I disagree. I have coached competitive mogul for fifteen years and competed prior to that. Anyone who tried to ski in a nuetral position in their boots or in the back would get shin bang. Of course the physics of moguls try to push a skier back, but then the skier has to move back into the front in order to keep the feet underneath.
I have coached age ranges from small children to national team level athletes, never have I used, intentionally, pressure on the heels or anywhere near them.
As to my friends with sore shins, these are guys who are former top level pro competitors.
post #16 of 166
Joe--you're certainly entitled to disagree. But I'm still sorry about all those sore shins!

Best regards,
Bob
post #17 of 166
BigE--thanks for the link! You can definitely see the movements we're discussing in that little animation on Butler's site.


Best regards,
Bob
post #18 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado View Post
But sports of sliding and gliding--ice skating and roller blading, for example, or cross-country skiing, or surfing, generally involve balance on the whole foot, again giving us the option of pressing on the heel or the ball as needed. My center of balance in my ski boots, as a rule, is a lot closer to my heels than to the balls of my feet!

Food for thought. ALWAYS question the conventional wisdom!
Bob,

With all respect the generalization re: balance point does not hold.

Roller speed skating demands center of balance over heels -- that is the preferred point of pressure. (ref: Barry Publow, "Speed on Skates").

Ice speed skating also requires heel dominance.

The physics of generating speed differ from skiing -- and there are different physical demands.

FYI: I too believed what you wrote, until I got involved in roller speed. It's an amazingly different sport, demanding an entirely different coordination of movements than your run of the mill skating.

Cheers!
post #19 of 166
Actually, BigE--that's exactly what I'm advocating, and your experience with speed skating and roller blading supports my point. I ski with a lot of pressure on my heels.

And while the mechanisms of speed generation may differ between skiing (mostly gravity's pull) and sports where we need to propel ourselves muscularly, the gliding aspects are very similar. Frankly, the movements we have available to propel ourselves on skis are also analogous to those other sports. Anyone ever try skating on skis while pressing on your shins? It doesn't work!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #20 of 166
Thank you Bob! I was a tad unclear about what I felt was an overly broad application of the centralized balance point.

Cheers!
post #21 of 166
Sorry for the confusion, BigE. Thanks for catching me on it!

To be clear, I am advocating a basic "home" stance (meaning I may move from it whenever I need to, but it is my fundamental stance) that is "cuff neutral"--centered between the front and back of the cuff, and preferably (if the boot fits properly) in contact with both. And a "home" balance point on the sole of my foot that is much as Rusty described it--perhaps just a tad forward of my heel. Certainly well behind my arch.

I see excessive and/or mistimed forward leverage as one of the most common and devastating errors in skiing, especially at intermediate and higher levels. And especially in bumps!

Stand on your heels!

Conventional Wisdom be damned!

Best regards,
Bob
post #22 of 166
The Barnes Backpedal is a fine concept for an expert skier with superior balance and timing skills. For teaching at the intermediate level, a more productive and intuitive lesson is the forward-pedal: push down on the ball of the alternating feet as if pedaling a bike. Time it so you're pushing the shovel of the ski down against the back (the downhill side) of each mogul. Later, as skill and speed improve, you can convert this push-the-toe-down concept into a lift-the-heel-to-the-butt down-unweighting concept to absorb the bump -- eventually it'll convert to a backpedal.

S*th
post #23 of 166
I'd like to continue with an idea from speed skating: the basic position.

This is a highly flexed position, knees over toes, hip to shoulder width apart, butt back. The position is intended to CALIBRATE ones flexion, for purposes of generating power when accelerating.

It is not similar to the "goto" position that we see in many skiers.

In fact, NO ONE skates in the "basic postion". Yet....

how often does an instructor "assume the position" (basic of course ) to show 'how the student ought to ski'. Any wonder why the student tries to ski from this fixed position and adopts a 'static' form?
post #24 of 166

Phase Shift

As usual, I'm with Bob. S*th, I like the idea of the differences in tactic between Intermediate and Advanced skiers. Reminds me of LeMaster's commentary on "Shift in Phase". Where the demands of an increase in speed and/or finer turn shape require the skier to use different forms or intensities of Pressure Control, Edging, and Rotation Movements. He also advocates a "Home Stance", as Bob calls it, and moves from within it as his needs require. But just to be controversial, in the same breath he'll advocate the forward stance in high performance turns!

My current take on keeping shin/boot conact is that it would be a good exercise for someone who gets knocked back to the tails easily, but may not represent a way to ski. I don't think it implies more ski/snow contact, because I see some people move forward on the ski and literally pull the tails off the snow, pivoting the skis in front of the bindings. Staying
"forward" would probably be good in the short run for a skier, but a "Shift in Phase" toward a more central stance down the road would likely keep them skiing bumps longer.

JoeMammoth, welcome! What other things have you coached bumpers to do with regards to stance. Bumps have always been a favorite and I like to steal other people's ideas when teaching and skiing them! I get a lot of info from instructor types and coach types alike.

I feel like we should start a club or support group for those of us who are without hair on our shins.

"Hi. I'm Spag... and I haven't had hair on my shins for over 18 years now."
"Hi Spag." (en masse)
post #25 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado View Post
To be clear, I am advocating a basic "home" stance (meaning I may move from it whenever I need to, but it is my fundamental stance) that is "cuff neutral"--centered between the front and back of the cuff, and preferably (if the boot fits properly) in contact with both. And a "home" balance point on the sole of my foot that is much as Rusty described it--perhaps just a tad forward of my heel. Certainly well behind my arch.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE
how often does an instructor "assume the position" (basic of course ) to show 'how the student ought to ski'. Any wonder why the student tries to ski from this fixed position and adopts a 'static' form?
...and to be clear, let's not forget that this sport requires movement! We move to, and through, the "home" stance, but we don't want things to just stop there. We move through neutral, but we don't want to get stuck there. We want to be stacked and balanced, but what constitutes "stacked and balanced" changes from one instant to the next. We seek "cuff neutral" and set up our boots so that we are natural and balanced when standing still centered between the front and back of the cuff (which, by the way, requires a more upright cuff for many of us than those supplied by a lot of boot manufacturers, although some of them are getting better), but we don't park there when skiing.

As Bob said, we want to be able to add pressure (subtle pressure) to the front when needed, and we want to be able to reduce or eliminate it when needed - and we want to be able to pressure the back when needed. We move to neutral, but we don't stay there.

We might also note that pressing on the balls of your feet will tend to cause you to move back, not forward. Go ahead. Stand up and try it. Without some other compensating move, pushing on the balls of your feet moves you back. If you move your CM forward to prevent falling over backwards, you would be levered in ski boots. Now you've used a gross movement of the whole body to generate what is probably entirely too much pressure on the tongues of the boots. You are not balanced. You will get shin bang. I find it difficult to react to bumps or anything else from such a position, although it may be temporarily useful on occasion.

Lifting your toes (closing your ankles), in the other hand, tends to move you forward. Again, you will compensate so you don't fall over. Lifting your toes in your ski boots will tend to generate pressure on the tongue while also creating some pressure at the heel. A subtle, temporary movement to be sure. Once again, you will move back toward neutral.

And yes, BigE, given how the fundamental position is often presented, it's no wonder that students often adopt a static form.

And, for whatever it's worth, I don't ski bumps as well as I'd like, I don't have hair on the fronts of my shins, and I don't suffer from shin bang.
post #26 of 166
Bob,

In regards to your post on standing cuff neutral - what's your opinion on the ramp plates that were popular for bumpers several years ago? I assume they would throw off the cuff neutral stance, no? If my assumption is correct, what was the purpose of the plates? Were they merely a marketing ploy?
post #27 of 166

Cause and effect?

The montage BB posted shows a backpedaling movement however this does not show the cause.

Chuck Martin (Mogul Logic) calls this foot containment; bring the feet back during the absorption. John Smart and Dan Dipiro advocates conventional wisdom, tongue contact (or pressure) on the shins and driving the hips up and down to the hill during the extension. In the BB animation you can see the hip go upward. I guess this is two techniques to get the same result, getting the cm on top of the feet somewhere during the front side to the crest to the backside transition. It’s not obvious to me what the intent of the bumper is in the montage; pulling the feet back or driving the hips up and down the hill. Seems like the later allows you to maintain tongue to shin contact and gets you off the back seat.

I like hear what other bumper have to say about this.
post #28 of 166
Good points, Jack. But there are no contradictions there (especially if you think of "contact" not entailing pressure).

Note that the movements of the animated stick figure are the precise movements needed to maintain even contact with the boot tongues (or the backs of the cuffs, for that matter--"same difference"). Stickman NEVER gets thrown to the back seat, or bucked forward. Ironically, it is forward pressure on the tongues that causes skiers to get into the back seat--because that's what that "pressure" really is--a push backward from your boots. When it increases suddenly--as when the ski tips hit a bump--skiers get rocked. That's why these movements are so important!

Again, many skiers think a lot about the up-down movements of absorbing bumps. Rather than letting the bump launch you into the air, you pull your feet up as they go over the bump, and push them back down into the trough. But fore-aft is the same thing, and equally important. Rather than letting the bump push you back, you move your feet forward a you go up the bump, then pull them back under you as crest the top.

A final note--it's important to recognize that the hips are not the same as the center of mass, although many people seem to equate them. "Stickman's" center of mass moves in a straight line at a constant speed, neither up and down nor fast and slow. In real bump skiing, such complete absorption of the pressure changes is rarely needed or even desired. But if you develop the movements needed to manage pressure to this ultimate extent, you can then do anything you want! You can add or subtract pressure, adjust it fore-and-aft, get air and absorb the landing, or keep your skis glued to the snow, as you like, and as you need, at any moment.

That is skill!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #29 of 166
ISkiTooFast4You--

By "ramp plates," are you referring to under-binding plates that alter the "delta angle" (difference between boot toe and heel height off the snow)--in other words, tipping the whole boot forward or back?

If so, you're getting into another area here. Changing that angle does not directly change your fore-aft balance point, and it does not necessarily affect the "cuff neutral" thing either. Your body can easily move in various joints to compensate for a change in boot angle.

What it does affect is how your body moves and compensates! The "net forward angle" of your shins as they exit your boots when standing on your skis cuff neutral is critically important in allowing all these movements. It's the combination of delta angle, internal ramp angle, cuff forward lean, leg shape, and calf muscle shape. The stiffer the boots, the more it matters, and the wrong angle will severely affect your ability to remain in balance through the full range of motion (tall-short) needed in big bumps.

Study this diagram carefully:



In the first column, all three skiers are in balance over the "sweet spot" (just forward of the heel, as discussed). Skiers B and C must compensate for too little net forward lean (B) and too much (C). Skier A shows optimal boot setup, allowing him or her to maintain fore-aft balance throughout the range from tall (A2) to short (A3). Skier B cannot flex deeply (B3) without losing balance to the back. Skier C cannot extend fully (C2) without losing balance forward.

Playing around with delta angle, ramp angle, and cuff angle, critical as it is, is a job for a very competent boot fitter. While any of these things can alter forward lean, each has distinct side-effects, and it can get very complicated.

Does that answer your question? Or are you referring to something else?

Best regards,
Bob
post #30 of 166
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado View Post
But there are no contradictions there (especially if you think of "contact" not entailing pressure).
I didn’t see contradiction either. My point is we have two techniques; foot containment and hip drive to maintain the cm. When the bumps have a way of knocking you around, the hip drive seems more akin to simple mantras (or kiss) and keeping the lower half in the “ready position”; “tongues to the shin” and “off the backseat”. Aside from this, I’m wondering if there are tactical advantages in either approach.

BTW, subtle and great points about contact and pressure management.
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