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A frames

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
When we talk about "A" frames, it generally brings to mind a negative connotation. The skier is undercanted, or they are stemming, or braking, right? The mantra is all about parallel shins and tipping simultaneously but is this always the best goal or outcome? I have observed many great skiers exhibit slight "A" frames in their transitions without any of the above negative traits. Is it possible to link turns so fluidly that instead of leaving parallel tracks during the edge change the tracks look instead like the outside ski exiting one turn transitions into the ski track left by the new outside ski as if they were one ski? I have seen this evidenced in some tracks laid down under the chairlift line on the fresh cordouroy when the skier is linking silky fluid dynamic turns. When the amplitude is turned up the normally parallel tracks change into this more monorail type track on the snow. The crossover is seamless and the old outside ski is released and the new outside ski edge is set right in the path that the old ski was making. There are no straight lines at all. The visual picture of the skier may show a very slight "A" frame at this transition but there is neccessarily a negative movement?...
your thoughts?
post #2 of 47
I would agree and say that I think it entirely depends on the part of the turn you're in. This picture, pulled from youcanski.com's article on the subject of matching shin angles, shows Cuche in both an "A-frame" position, as well as one with matched shins in the very same turn.

Take it for what you will.


I notice the same thing in my own turns.

Beginning of the turn, just as the transition finishes and the forces begin to build:

End of the turn, just about to begin the transition:

Sorry for the awful quality.
post #3 of 47
I agree Bud...A-Frames are another basic concept discussed and thrown around here alot, but few people really understand what they are about.

I don't think they are not necessarily bad....or good...they are just an easy visual clue that one can use to asses more fundamental issues. For example:

A-Frame in the transition may mean that the skier is exiting turns by allowing the upper body to flow ahead of the skis and "pull them flat". This is common, and works well, but is not as effective as working the tail of the ski to exit the turn.

A-Frames if extreme may also mean that the skier is putting unnessary stress on the knee...note how the skiers shown in C4rv3 have an A-Frame, but the downhill leg is straight...hence the skiers are in still in a very strong position.

A-Frames could also mean that the skier is putting 100% weight on the outside ski...(of course whether or not that is good or bad, is whole other thread.....)

I would think these are the most significant issues that an A-Frame can highlight.....

Prior to shape skis, we tended to lift the uphill ski off the snow, so as a result it came "straight up", not up and in....the result is it appeared to be an A-Frame.

This is kinda is what is happening in these shots shown by C4rv3...at the top of the turn, the inside ski has little pressure on it...as the pressure builds, the legs come parrallel...or put another way the inside knee moves in to come inline with the pressure coming at it from the foot....in other words, the C4rv3 pics show 2 awesome skiers, I wouldn't worry about those "A-Frames" at all.
post #4 of 47

post #5 of 47
Since the parallel shins became the benchmark for efficient skiing 2-3 years ago I have been observing wide use of A-frame in other winter sports such as nordic skiing, ski jumping, ice speed scating and ski jumping. In ski jumping you score points based on style but A-frame is not considered bad in any way. The V-style was considered bad in the 80's but has since become the standard.
post #6 of 47
Thread Starter 
Would you guys say that in the above photos from Midfielder, that perhaps this slight A frame allows the hips to stay countered with more ease?
post #7 of 47
Possibly - I agree with c4rv3 that it can have to do with what phase of the turn you are in. If you start a turn early you are weighting/articulating a ski that is actually uphill, even though it is the outside, bearing ski. Hip drop or lead to the inside and articulation (angulation - edging) from the hip are part of that, as you want that ski to bear quickly to start the new turn, and so the opposing force will keep you from falling over. Some "A-framing" may be a natural part of that. For those high-level skiers it may also be part of keeping the outside leg extended - they're going 70 mph, after all. Though there are lots of different ways to get skis to "arc", I turn like that (well, maybe not quite that radical ) often because it works and feels good (crappy stills extracted from low-light vid).

Early through mid-turn somewhat A-frame:

Late-turn uphill knee more inside, more parallel lower legs:

But to the question in your first post above - I have some vid somewhere, shot from the lift, of our tracks converging and diverging through transition as you describe. I'll try to dig it up and post a link or extract a still. It certainly is possible and can be a nice fluid thing. You do see WC slalom racers doing that sometimes, steering the inside ski close to the outside boot, perhaps to get the outside ski as close to the gate as possible. They are under very demanding conditions though and it's not all that consistent.
post #8 of 47
I think the A-frame results from a slightly sequential move made by folks focusing on getting onto the outside foot. Racers care what works for them, not what looks "just so" or leaves a particular pattern of tracks. Do you see this in racers who grow up on shaped skis? We're just now starting to get some good racers who've never skied straight skis, and I wonder if there's any difference.
post #9 of 47
Sometimes the A-frame occurs when the skier is moving the Center of Mass into the turn too quickly, sort of like what Skidude suggested, and the hips drop inside the turn to such a degree that the inside ski must remain flat and under the hip so that the skier doesn't simply plop over on his/her side. In this instance, I see it as a bad thing.

In many racers, however, I see it happening a lot prior to the rise line and it seems to be more a function of moving to the outside ski very quickly, getting it on edge and making the gate. The new inside ski is dealt with (it seems) as an after thought. So the two moves become sequential, as Kneale said. It's not pretty most times... but it's FAST.

Personally I don't like the look of the A-frame in recreational skiing. It implies a certain laziness in the inside half. (To me. I'm not asking anyone to change what they do well!) Simply being patient with the transition, and activating the tipping of the inside ankle, most of the time, makes it go away. I'm not saying it's bad all the time. It's a great way to stay vertical after moving inside too quickly. It's a great way to set up an emergency hop turn in the steeps. I just think there is more functional skiing out there to be taken advantage of.

Peace out, and often.
post #10 of 47
There are times when I have an A-frame in my skiing. It's related to specific alignment and biomechanical issues that I have....
post #11 of 47
Thread Starter 
Is it laziness, or economy of motion? Does this movement have a negative affect? or is it just a "look" that has become in vogue? How in the above photos does the A frame detract from good skiing and functional transitions?

post #12 of 47
FYI: the excellent Gurshman article. When I read about the pressure distribution I think: "Gait mechanics"!

post #13 of 47
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post
Is it laziness, or economy of motion? Does this movement have a negative affect? or is it just a "look" that has become in vogue? How in the above photos does the A frame detract from good skiing and functional transitions?

The king of the hill masters racer in our club has a very pronounced A-frame. Could he be even quicker if he had parallel shins? If we ski with our weight primarily on our outside ski then that is the ski and edge that primarily matters.

I think its more a question of look's than functionality. Before it used to be that you had to have a wide stance and before that you had to have a close stance. I have been arround for a while and seen trends come and go. As instructors we need to follow the trends and stay a little ahead if possible. In coaching its all about who skis fast and thats the style to mimic. Our WC #1 has a very hunch forward stance so all jr's are skiing like that. Lets see how long it takes for Byggmarks style to hit the slopes. No offence but sometimes these trends dont make any sence. I can still remember the 90's when hips were not supposed to be brought into the turn and upper body counter was totally wrong. And back loaded salomon ski boots the invention of the century.
post #14 of 47
Very interesting article BigE. Thanks.
post #15 of 47
Yes, that article is the one C4rv3 was quoting. I don't think "A-framing" is necessarily bad or good, or fast or slow. For me free skiing, it depends on what I want to do and what I'm skiing in. If I want to hook a sharp turn at slow speed by weighting the outside ski almost completely, skimming a flatter inside ski for touch and artificial balance, then I might a-frame a lot on purpose, like this:

I think that a really balanced dual-ski carve demands more parallel shins as the weight becomes more evenly spread, and can serve well in a surprising variety of situations. At least that's how it seems to work for me. Here's a shot of a purposely close stance and even weight distribution to deal with erratic freezing crud, a tactical response to a difficult surface:
post #16 of 47

One thing that I've noticed is that when skiers are not A-framing, their outside leg tends to be less straight. In the picture with equal shins, the outside leg is not as straight as you typically see in hard turns. This leads me to believe that when weight distribution (and pressure distribution) is more equal, the shins tend to become more equal. This would make sense because when you even the pressure (or get closer to even pressure) and dual-edge carve, you're trying to arc both skis as opposed to making one come around as quickly as possible. Therefore, the legs match each other.


midfielder beat me to it.
post #17 of 47
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
If we ski with our weight primarily on our outside ski then that is the ski and edge that primarily matters.
Beat you both to it .
post #18 of 47
I don't know exactly how to enter this debate because in viewing recent videos of my dynamic carving, I have an A frame appearance. I am trying to sort out the "why" at this time.

Up until now I have always assumed that A framing meant there was not enough forward movement in turn transition, alignment issues or bracing with the outside leg in the turn. Now I am not so sure.

I have looked closely at the tracks that I leave. The tracks leave two carved lines for the inside ski and the outside ski and I have a very progressive smooth transition with the new inside ski inverting a fraction of a second before the new outside ski goes on edge. The outside ski is on edge right from transition. My tracks do not remain parallel but instead get narrow at transition and wide at the apex of my turns. I have a very pronounced pedalling motion for pressure control and both feet are very active in guiding the skis. I do not have a passive outside ski and and active inside ski. Both of my feet are very active throughout my turns. This A framing is most pronounced at the apex of the turn and seems to disappear at the turn transition. These turns feel very rock solid.

I can tell you that I don't like the looks of the A framing in my turns even though my turns are very smooth with smooth turn transitions. I cannot figure out whether the A framing is a result of knee tracking ( a past problem), moving inside the turn very quickly because I have a rock solid outside edge (a problem at times), retracting the inside leg allowing total dominance to the outside ski, or the A framing is a result of the dynamics in the size of turn and speed I am trying to make those turns at (turning shorter than the natural radius of the skis).

Now Bud starts a thread on A framing as a possible good thing. I would love to latch onto that and say its ok but I just don't like the looks of it. I guess I will have to go through the video frame by frame to decide exactly what I am doing and whether I want to change it.
post #19 of 47
I just looked in the camera book and figured out how to go frame by frame on the video. To my surprise the A framing is 100% of the time even when standing still. Humm, I just went back to my old boots recently. Time to look hard at the alignment again.
post #20 of 47
If its not affecting the skier, who cares about it?
post #21 of 47

Looks like their shins are headed in different directions and some "A" framing.:
post #22 of 47
Originally Posted by slider View Post
Looks like their shins are headed in different directions and some "A" framing.:
There is a high level move you can do to get just a bit more edge angle out of a turn. The result is the outside knee dropping in as the outside leg is flexed just a little bit. This is different then the typical A-Frame we see in recreational skiers.
post #23 of 47
Is there any regulation about how high a boot cuff is on the leg?
post #24 of 47
Thread Starter 

This is kinda my point. What is more important "form" or "function"? If the look has no negative affect is it functionaly bad?....

Personally I think skiing in a really wide stance (wider than hip width) is ugly and awkward but does that make it wrong because I don't like the look?...

post #25 of 47
Good post Pierre. When I go back a few years my rr-tracks were even and sharp even though my stance was more A-frame than it is now. A-frame has to do with a lot of things like stance width and inclining. Many here have concluded that A-frame appears mainly slightly after the appex of the turn and this is usually when we have reached maximum inclination. This is usually also when we need to set in that extra little bit of edging so we resort to femure rotation of the stance ski leg and that brings us into A-frame territory. Like bode and other WC skiers in the photos above. Also the fact that our stance gets wider at the appex of the turn makes our femour angles to the snow vary at different rate. We would need to tip that inside leg much quicker and much more in order to match it with the outsied ski leg.
post #26 of 47
The pictures being shown of the WC racers are all approximately a little above the apex.

Max the knee angulation move you are referring to is closer to the end of the turn.

I just want to say something generally though. Regardless of what these WC guys are doing. I think the vast majority of recreational skiers that exhibit an A frame are most likely having it for bad reasons. You can't just make a blanket statement that says, "well the WC guys have A frame, so what the heck I'll be ok with it too!". There are actually quite a lot of body positions that the WC guys put themselves into that we virtually never do when we're free skiing for fun on the mountain. There is a big difference between the WC A-frame look you see and the typical A-framed recreational skier that I see all over the mountain. We regular folks are A-framed due to alignment, too much knee action, or perhaps from an abstem push off tendency. Note which part of the turn you observe the A-frame. Look for other indicators to help you determine whether the A-frame is there because they are a super hot WC racer or because they are missing some movements somewhere.

When I look at the WC photos and read the articles, its pretty apparent that for whatever the reason they are delaying the tipping of the inside ski until around the apex. However, notice the outside leg is extended and strong. the outside leg is not angulated. They have incredible edge angles already. To a certain degree this may be a necessary thing to remain sufficiently angulated/countered and balanced on the outside ski and still have such a high edge angle(at least with the outside ski by then) and not dragging their butt on the snow.

The feeling I get from reading everything that has been said about this, is that if they could get that inside knee more inside sooner for parallel shins, they would. Parallel shins is still an ideal. But due to the demands of the course, they apparently sometimes can't get it there until the apex as their hip fully settles into the inside of the turn.

Bottom line, this should not be a license for most of you all to stop worrying about your A-frame. More likely in these situations the A-frame is happening for all the wrong reasons and should be investigated further. Keep digging.
post #27 of 47
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

This is kinda my point. What is more important "form" or "function"? If the look has no negative affect is it functionaly bad?....
How do you determine if there is a "negative" effect? The Gurshman article has an absolute measure: speed. Q: Will speeds be identical if a turn is exitted with parallel shins or with an A-frame? A: parallel shins will be faster.

Now if you don't care about speed, then anything to do with efficiency to maintain speed also goes out the window. All that matters is you remain upright and can ski a wide variety of terrain. Any call for "functionality" requires a purpose.

Originally Posted by bud heishman
Personally I think skiing in a really wide stance (wider than hip width) is ugly and awkward but does that make it wrong because I don't like the look?...

No. It makes it wrong if it is an incorrect technique at that time it is being used. Again, functionality or effectiveness of the technique must consider it's purpose. If you consider the physics in the Gurshman article, skiing that wide will also be slower, which again may not matter.
post #28 of 47
Thread Starter 
Thanks Bid E, good comments!
post #29 of 47
Originally Posted by borntoski683 View Post
Max the knee angulation move you are referring to is closer to the end of the turn.
Or it can be used earlier if the angles feel locked and you need to get more. One hint that its being used is a slightly bent outside leg right after an extended leg was seen.
post #30 of 47
I don't think that is what those WC pictures are representing however. cheers.
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