Originally Posted by Atomicman
My name is Cliff. I have two teenage racers a J1 & a J2 boys who have experienced a fair amount of success racing. Our home Mt. is Crystal Mountain, WA & obviously ski fro PNSA. Their coach is Alan Lauba. You probably already know our program is where, Scott McCartney, Libby Ludlow, Tatum Skoglund and last years Collegiate slalom champ Paul McDonald all were trained.
I belong to a ski forum called epicski.com. I have been having an ongoing discussion about the need to pull your inside foot back in order to keep your skis parallel through out the turn. I have really stirred the bee's nest with this as many of the participants on the forum are skeptical of this technique.
I looekd through your "On Snow" 2004 Presentation and you have a slide under Teaching Methodology where you mention pulling the inside foot back. Of course, without you speaking with the slide, these bullet points are left open for interpretation.
Could you shed some light on lead change, parallel shins and skis and pulling the inside footback in the turn. I might use your response on the forum to support my position that pulling the inside foot back is an important part of modern technique.
Look forward to hearing from you and I thought your site is fabulous!
Ron’s Response, Unedited!
Pulling the inside foot back and lead change are often though of as contradictory, but I don't see it that way at all. In the 1960s and 70s I used to hear instructors talk about deliberately advancing the new inside ski as you went into a turn, and called it "lead change". Today, you don't hear people talk about actively advancing the ski, but it is clear that when a skier is deeply inclined into a turn, the inside ski must be ahead of the outside ski. This is simply a matter of geometry: If the inside and outside ankles are bent to the same degree, the inside foot will be ahead of the outside foot because the inside leg will be bent more than the outside leg. I had an article in Ski Racing last spring describing this along with pictures that I believe show it pretty clearly.
Even if you pull your inside foot back, you can't bring it even with your outside foot. (Unless, that is, you're not inclined very far, which means you're not making much of a turn.) So there is, indeed a "lead change" when you go from one turn to another.
That having been said, some very good coaches report having a lot of success with telling racers to pull their inside foot back so there is no lead change. What this does, I believe, is gets the skier to keep pressure on the front of the inside boot, which in turn puts pressure on the forebody of the inside ski, helping it carve better. The skier may *feel* like the tips of his skis are even, but they aren't.
So, "pulling the inside foot back" is an effective coaching method for some racers, but it is not contradictory to saying that there is a "lead change" going from one turn to another.
The notions of "parallel shins" and "parallel skis" are somewhat similar. There is no questions that we see less of an angle between the lower legs of the best skiers of today than we saw twenty years ago, and that we see lest converging and diverging angles between their skis at certain points in the turn. I think this is due to better skis, which allow for using the inside to carve at times, and perhaps a general use of more lateral canting in ski boots. (The second point is purely unconfirmed conjecture on my part.) As with pulling the inside foot back, telling skiers to keep their shins parallel seems to have a generally positive effect on their skiing. I've got several ideas as to what is really going on, but won't get into it here. But there are plenty of excellent skiers, Bode Miller for example, whose shins are often not parallel at critical points in the turn where he is carving the hardest.
I hope this was not too long-winded or hard to understand.