Regarding Rotary, and skill vs. technique
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado
Skiing on one foot--especially if the other foot is lifted off the snow--limits some important options. Particularly relevant to bump skiing, it prevents you from being able to turn the ski you're standing on with your leg, requiring you to use your upper body.
Only if you plan on pivoting or otherwise actively steering the skis. If you plan on having the skis turn as a RESULT of edge engagement from tipping and flexing the inside leg then the light inside foot helps rather than hinders.
With all respect, Max, whether you "plan on having skis turn as a result of edge engagement" or not, rotary is an extremely important skill in skiing. Harb's arguments to the contrary suggest an enormous lack of understanding of basic skiing principles, and cause the exact problems and confusion that lead to honest questions like that of the original poster here. You can plan all you want, but on the convex surface of a bump, or in the air, or whenever you're unweighted intentionally or otherwise, or whenever your skis "plan" to go a different direction than you need, you're going to suffer if you lack rotary skills. Skill is ALWAYS better than a lack of it!
I would like to debunk, once and for all, a few myths about the rotary skill that Harb and a few others continue to propagate. I realize it's wishful thinking when it comes to some people, but I'll give it a try.
Harb's own materials clearly underscore his misunderstanding, and demonstrate the problems as well (as others have pointed out). He himself struggles in difficult bumps because of a lack of rotary skills, causing him to rely exclusively on upper body rotation and a powerfully planted pole (another upper body-related rotary mechanism). You can easily see this problem (if you look for it, as opposed to turning a blind eye) throughout his "Expert 2" video and the photographs and sequences in his books. If you think that "edge engagement" is what is about to turn his airborne skis on the cover photograph of "Expert 2," as opposed to that pole planted way out to the side and that left arm he's thrown forward, you're not paying attention!
Note that I am not discounting the importance of pole plants or upper body movements here, either--all skills are good--but if that's all you've got, expand your options! Whenever the upper body gets involved in turning the skis, the result is skidding, whether you want it or not--which you can see throughout "Expert" 2. For example, look at Harb's skis from behind in the gold suit segment beginning about 3 minutes into the video--he's got his feet clamped together and lifts his inside ski at the start of each turn. And his tails wash out every time.
(To Harb's credit, he does speak at one point of the importance of "balance" as opposed to "technique"--even stating that he spends a lot more time teaching balance than technique--and he demonstrates some very good standard balance exercises. I'm baffled at his claims that this is a unique feature of his teaching alone, since those exercises are basic repertoire for every instructor I've ever known, but I approve of his focus on balance at the beginning of his video. He shows and talks about many balance variations--from outside foot to inside foot to what he calls the "Von Grunigen move"--more commonly known as the "White Pass Turn" in honor of Phil and Steve Mahre--which starts on the inside ski and shifts balance only much later to the outside ski. But he quickly muddies his point when he starts to talk about exclusively early weight transfers, lifting [or lightening] the downhill ski as fundamental to good turn initiations, and so on. And then confusion descends again when he talks about all sorts of different techniques for initiating turns. Which one should you choose? Answer: you
shouldn't! Let your body do it!)
Anyway, the next section about "releasing" really makes my point. One footed or two, he speaks (accurately) about first releasing the edge(s), then getting the tips to go down the hill. But the rotary input that moves the tips down the hill (you didn't think the edges did that, did you?--remember, they're released) comes entirely from his upper body--largely from that pole, which he repeatedly emphasizes MUST be planted firmly, transmitting torque through his outstretched arm, torso, and abdomen. Much rotary input also comes from rotating his upper body--note how his downhill arm always ends up ahead of his uphill arm. Note also that the moment he lifts that inside ski and pulls the foot out toward the outside boot (which he verbally emphasizes), the tail of the outside ski increases its skid. Every time. Watch later as he links these releases together--see how the pole plant pulls back on his arm and shoulder every time? That's torque, pure and simple, wrenching his skis around from the upper body, because he cannot do it with his legs (or his released edges, obviously).
I'm also astonished by the continued emphasis on pulling the inside boot toward the outside boot--a "negative" movement toward the outside of the turn--which contributes unquestionably to unwanted skidding of the outside ski. "Squeeze a ball," "squeeze a sponge," "press against someone else's pole," and so on--these exercises all develop the same negative movement, virtually ensuring that the inside leg isn't able to act independently, and that the upper body is the only way to turn the skis. The inevitable outcome on the snow is easy to see. If you look for it.
In spite of Harb's stubborn refusal to discuss leg steering movements, he still does show them--clearly--in many situations. Watch his "wall" exercise, for example, and tell me how his legs get turned a different direction from his pelvis, and then turn the opposite direction, while his butt remains glued to that wall. And tell me too how he could make these turning movements with a ball or sponge clamped between his boots. He can't. This exercise shows good leg steering movements. The only step remaining is to recognize and accept it! (By the way, Harb's oft-repeated assertions that leg rotation results in a square stance are further evidence of a fundamental lack of understanding. And his assertion that PSIA emphasizes a square stance not only reflects a technical misunderstanding, it is pure bunk.)
Anyway, none of this discussion suggests that Harb's exercises aren't worth doing--they are--or that his video isn't worth watching--all
videos are. But recognize the critical difference between exercises and drills on one hand, and skiing on the other. And don't be fooled by Harb's assertions that rotary movements don't exist in good skiing--or in his skiing. Practice every technique you can imagine. Just don't confuse the drills, or the techniques involved, with the skills they develop.
I realize that it sounds confusing and vague to some people, this emphasis on skills as opposed to technqiue. After all, I'm definitely NOT telling you exactly how you should ski. Perhaps you prefer linear, clear directions like "do it exactly [this] way." Perhaps it's frightening to let go of conscious control as you let your body choose the exact technique to suit the moment. I understand that--it's not uncommon, but it is, ultimately, very limiting. (Helping overcome this fear is a common job for instructors, and there are some good books that address it as well--like the classic "Inner Skiing"
by Bob Kriegel and Tim Gallwey.)
Once you let go of the need to consciously tell your body how to ski, you will enter a whole new zone of performance. It's not always easy, but it is always exciting and rewarding. It's simpler, too. Suddenly you no longer have to consciously decide whether to weight one foot or two, or to do a weighted release or lift and tip, a von Grunigen move, or a Phantom move, or a Super Phantom, or whatever else names Harb has come up with. You can focus on the experience, enjoy the freedom, and thrill in the amazing ability of your body to play, adapt, and move in harmony with the earth. Save the conscious, technique-focused instructions for drills and exercises. Then shut off that voice in your head and let your body do what it does best--move, freely, and skillfully!