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Weight shift in skiing

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
(I have recently become obsessed with golf like I am with skiing. I like to tell people who give me a ration of criticism for this that I like to be obsessed 365 days of the year.)

My study of golf has led to the epiphany that the golf swing depends entirely on the sturdiness of the base of support. Turn to load the right foot on the backswing and deliberately and progressively unload to the left foot in the forward swing. Now, this got me thinking about skiing. It too is a sport where the turn depends entirely on the same issue of setting up a sturdy base of support (or platform, as Weems would have it). The critical moment in golf is the ball strike, where you want to be solidly planted on your left turning axis, or left hip, to impart power to the ball through the assistance of gravity and centrifugal force. This critical moment in skiing is just after the fall line, when you want to carry almost 100% of the pressure on your outside ski to harness the power of gravity and centrifugal force to "stick the turn" (a variation on gymnastics' "stick the landing"). So, it seems to me, just as we load one foot and then the other in golf, we want to do this in skiing. In golf, we turn our chest to load the right hip (a "byproduct" action) and we shift weight to the left foot before we unwind the body, creating the centrifugal force that swings the club (an action we "produce"). In skiing, we passively release the weight from the old outside ski through tipping, and we actively create purchase on the outside ski (that platform-building Weems talked about) to set up the centrifugal force and ground reaction force (gravity) that powers the turn.

The point of this post is that there is a weight shift involved and that half of it should be a byproduct of another movement (tipping) and the other half should be consciously produced (gripping, platforming) to create the effortless power--not the powerful effort--that distinguishes the dancers from the hackers in both skiing and golf.

What do you think of this wool-gathering?
post #2 of 27
Nolo,

I disagree. The cool part about golf is that there are so many theories about so many different aspects of the golf swing. I have seen a lot of tips that talk about weight shift during the swing and chipping or putting tips that talk about NOT having weight shift. But the theory that I subscribe to in both skiing and golf is that weight shift should happen as a result of other intentions as opposed to something that should be a direct goal. It may be worthwhile to teach intentional weight shift as a back door approach when front door methods are not working. I think it is also useful to teach intentional weight shift as a means of experimenting and discovering the usefulness of pressure control movements. But when I'm skiing my best, I'm making movements that manage the forces that occur during the turn instead of thinking about shifting my weight from foot to foot. Similarly in my golf swing, the weight shift happens as a result of rotation of the hips and shoulders and that's what I'm mentally focusing on.
post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
The point of this post is that there is a weight shift involved and that half of it should be a byproduct of another movement (tipping) and the other half should be consciously produced (gripping, platforming) to create the effortless power--not the powerful effort--that distinguishes the dancers from the hackers in both skiing and golf.

What do you think of this wool-gathering?
I like it very much.
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
BigE has got the gist of my thinking in his excerpt. Yesterday I had the pleasure of chatting with a golf pro who said, unbidden, that all he thinks about any more in his full swing is the weight shift to the new turning axis (left hip).

Rusty, my husband read your post and said, it doesn't sound like he's in much disagreement with the substance of what you said but maybe with the presentation.

Weems looked at a clip of me skiing that I posted here last spring and his comment was he'd like me to engage the skis more assertively earlier in the arc. That definitely echoed in this insight. I think we (ski instructors) may have taken the passive weight shift a bit too far, which is a reason for posting.
post #5 of 27
I haven't played golf in years but I know that what you say applies to tennis. Power in the strokes comes from the ground. That's why footwork is so important. Most martial arts experts that I've talked to say they key to power is being "grounded".
Skiing varies slightly though because an important part is yeilding to gravity (falling) Ron LeMaster pointed this out in a presentation I had the privlige to attend. He said that a skier falls down the hill, then achieves a state of "static balance" (from an engineering view) at the bottom (carving phase) of the turn. Skidude72 referred to this in another thread. The CM and the skis are on different paths, at the top of the turn they are divirging, hence, the CM is "falling" ahead of the feet.
I don't disagree about weight shift though. It is the fundamental basis of power in most all sports. I do believe that it appies in a unique way in skiing though.
I haven't read the Platforming thread yet. Now I'll have to I guess. I need to see what that definition of "platform" is. (won't be today)
post #6 of 27
Nolo,
Is the weight transfer a consequence of moving part of the body? Or is it the other way around?
For me the weight shifting back and forth is a combination of moving the CoM and actively flexing/extending the legs to manage the pressure I place upon each ski once my Com is in the right zone. Which gives me more options than just standing on the outside ski.
Think about a slinky for a minute. Holding the toy with both hands, raise one hand while lowering the other. Do you feel the weight shift onto the lower hand? Reverse the hand positions and feel the weight shift to the other hand.
Once we establish our balance on the moving skis, we can imitate this by flexing/extending the legs. The progressive loading and unloading of the skis feels very similar to the sensation of playing with the toy.
post #7 of 27

Weight Shift

Nolo, interesting coorelations. However:

Golf. If I only concentrate on shifting my weight (i.e., right to left) and forget the other swing keys, I won't hit the ball worth sh#t. Sort of the end result of a good golf swing is transference of weight from back/around on the correct plane/ and then through. However if I don't remember to; watch the ball, keep my head still, straight left arm, not too tight a grip, wait to cock the wrists, take club straight back from ball for at least 20" before coming up, swing the correct plane, finish high on my shorter irons for high shots into the green, watch the stance/adjust it to the ly etc etc.

Skiing. Another blending of skills learned and acquired, yes weight shifting and the platform is obviously important but just as the golf swing I can't really say there is 1 most important thing. Once again pressure, rotary, feel, core direction, stance, fore/aft and lateral balance are all important just as in golf. Same but obviousy different.

Oh yeah just to mention, on 2nd place team in the biggest tournament in St. Maries, won $350. Gonna spend $ on ski goodies. Hope you're hitting them straight and long.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
"the other half should be consciously produced (gripping, platforming)"
Quote:
Rusty, my husband read your post and said, it doesn't sound like he's in much disagreement with the substance of what you said but maybe with the presentation.

Weems looked at a clip of me skiing that I posted here last spring and his comment was he'd like me to engage the skis more assertively earlier in the arc.
The presentation I disagree with is the "consciously produced" part. If the conscious effort is solely to shift weight from one foot to the other, then 99% of the time, the result will not be smooth skiing. For example, if one extends one's outside leg in solely in an effort to pressure it more, the results are going to be far more random than if the "conscious effort" is to simultaneously collapse the inside leg, tip the skis (e.g. roll the ankles) and get mass forward and to the inside of the new turn. That's going to cause the skis to turn and that will cause the outside leg to get pressured more which will cause turning to continue to happen. Without all of those things happening together, maybe only the outside ski will turn more, maybe it only supplies turning force at the top of the turn instead of through the middle, maybe other things will happen, but there's no way the results will be smooth because other body part movements are out of synch.

Are you going to engage your skis earlier in the arc by simply stepping on your outside ski harder? You know that lifting your inside ski off the snow is one way to do this. A side benefit of lifting is that you can automatically "fall" to the inside of the new turn. This is a great way to learn, but is it possible to get the same movement without lifting the inside ski? Of course! Is this more than just stepping on the outside ski harder? Of course!

Yes I do love getting my "comfy" students to step on their skis more. Getting the skis feedback response from these assertive moves gets their attention. I can tell people about turns that are more fun until I'm blue in the face, but getting their skis to zip out from underneath them gets their attention and gets them "hooked" far quicker. Once I've got them hooked, I can explore subtler (i.e. smoother and more efficient) ways of getting that zip to happen. But they just are not going to be interested enough to abandon their comfort zone without the "conscious weight transfer" technique. I agree that this can be very helpful in the learning process. My objection is that this should not be an end destination for technique.
post #9 of 27
therusty,

IMO, nolo does address this notion -- "half of it should be a byproduct of another movement (tipping)...".

Would saying (tipping/flexion) instead fo just (tipping) make this idea better? I'm certain from the skiing nolo posted, that stepping onto the uphill ski is not part of this program. My mental image has the outside leg following the tipping action, and using angulation (gripping) movements together with extension ("driving pronation") to resist the building turn forces.
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm harking back to the old saying, "tip, grip, and rip." I think we (ski instructors) have placed great emphasis on tipping; perhaps an equal emphasis on gripping earlier in the turn (cutting a platform in the snow) will set us up better for ripping the turn out of the fall line. I am suggesting that we may begin gripping at the same instant we begin tipping--that we need not wait to begin weighting.

I am not saying to start with 100% of my weight on the inside aspect of my outside foot; I am suggesting that I can actively begin loading the inside aspect of my new outside foot simultaneously with passively releasing the load from my old outside foot, instead of "floating" through the initiation of the turn. That there's a yin and a yang to the initiation of the turn.

Those who have seen me ski know that I tend to float through the transitions; it gives my skiing a very graceful and smooth quality. Now I'd like to get more power in my skiing and I suspect that earlier purchase on the new outside ski is going to be the key to that change. In this thread I am checking my hypothesis with you guys.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
I see this is not a new idea with me: see this thread on release timing where I wrote:
Quote:
To get a new turn we have to release one set of edges while engaging the other set. We have tended to perform this as a one-two, first release then engagement. I have begun think of the release as less relevant than the engagement, because by engaging you had to have released. All this attention to release makes us lose grip! Personally, I like the sensation of beginning extension off the uphill edge of my inside ski. The release is a done deal so my extension is going downhill, but that feeling of rolling continuous pressure from the outside to the inside of my foot as my leg gets long, and feeling the ski respond to that drive is like feeling the ball strike the sweet spot of my driver just before it sails straight down the fairway.
That was three years ago! I guess I thought it but hadn't quite got it.
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigE View Post
therusty,

IMO, nolo does address this notion -- "half of it should be a byproduct of another movement (tipping)...".

Would saying (tipping/flexion) instead fo just (tipping) make this idea better? I'm certain from the skiing nolo posted, that stepping onto the uphill ski is not part of this program. My mental image has the outside leg following the tipping action, and using angulation (gripping) movements together with extension ("driving pronation") to resist the building turn forces.
Thanks "E",

That first half is ok. It's the other 1/2 that says do the weight transfer on purpose. It's the concept of letting the weight transfer happen indirectly versus making it happen directly. Your on the right track going after "tipping/flexion", but I don't want to focus on movements to resist building turn forces. I want to focus on movements that accelerate the building of turn forces that cause the weight transfer to happen earlier.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
I am suggesting that I can actively begin loading the inside aspect of my new outside foot simultaneously with passively releasing the load from my old outside foot, instead of "floating" through the initiation of the turn.
I agree that if you add more power to your turns, you will be able to see more loading of the outside ski happening earlier in the turns. The question is how that loading is going to get done. I'd bet that if you make this change under coaching from someone such as Weems, that I'd have no quibbles with how it's done. My point is that there are multiple means by which one can load the outside ski (e.g. stepping, tipping, heel push). When you describe loading of the ski without mentioning exactly how you leave a lot of room for error. Now the exact movements may be complicated enough to defy a short understandable description. For some people, "just do it" (weight the outside ski) may be a good enough summary. My point is that the just do it approach is not sufficient enough for a general description of technique, whereas "let weight transfer happen is". Whether we make graceful or powerful turns, the weight transfer should happen as a result of other movements. If we want to make more powerful turns, we should focus on making "larger" tipping and forward movements earlier in the turns. With the exception that for some people, a teaching focus on more aggressive weight transfer can get to the same end results more effectively.

It's the same kind of thing that pulling back the inside foot is. A long time ago I had a private lesson from Scott Mathers. We spent most of the lesson going through the right way to fix my turns, with me being a total dork about not being able to do what he asked me to do. Running out of time, he finally told me to just pull back the inside ski and BINGO I was automatically doing everything that he had been asking me to do. He explained that this was a crude fix. We don't really ski that way, but this will get you started down the right path. That's how I feel about conscious weight transfer.

All of this and $4.50 will get you a cup of coffee.
post #14 of 27
Well, therusty, the weight transfer is one outcome. I am assuming that you are concerned about the extension phase making it actively occur...

The intent is not to drive the outside leg to create the weight transfer. That already occurs as a result of flexing and tipping the inside leg.

The extension is to extend the leg just to maintain show contact -- but to also extend it to the point that pronation of the foot will assist edge hold (gripping). The tail of the ski can easily wash out and ruin the grip at the top of the turn if one is not careful and does try to actively create pressure by trying to force the early onset of pressure. Let the ski bite and turn itself, the pressure will build. Resistance to the extension of the outside leg develops as the turn progresses.

I think that the notion of the inside ski as "guide ski" and outside ski as "ride ski" is very appropriate. The tipping/flexion being the "guiding" movements. The engagement/counter and extension to pronation being the "riding" movements that enhance grip.
post #15 of 27
My main concern was describing weight transfer as the input instead of the outcome.
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hmm, I'll have to chew on that distinction a bit, Rusty. It seems a bit like splitting one of Machiavelli's hairs.
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
I think we (ski instructors) may have taken the passive weight shift a bit too far, which is a reason for posting.
We debated the active vs passive weight shift here at epic last winter but without much consensus so I think that the topic is well chosen. I basicly belong in the active weight shift camp but as nolo so well points out, its only one component. My video displayed a entry level wedged turn where the turn initiation was caused by an active weight shift. The active weight shift again was caused by an upper body counter movement that I call angulation but others call negative movement. When we go faster and arch our turns we do not need such upper body movements because we have pressure build up underneath our skis bases automatically when we tip but that is allso a weight shift. I usually demonstrate beginners that its not a question of how much weight you have on your outside ski, its a question of how sudden the weight transfer is.
post #18 of 27
It is splitting hairs. But it's a good example of a big problem we have in the ski instruction business. When we tell someone something to do a "back door thing" because it's going to work for them, they're likely to get a completely "contradictory" piece of advice somewhere else. I believe that there should be a difference between an instructors understanding of skiing and the specifics of what we teach. We can easily get into trouble when we teach something without the caveat of explaining that the end goal of where we want to get to and the path that we are mapping is not necessarily the only path, the right path or the wrong path, but just "A" path. We have to be careful to make the distinction between universal ideals and specific approaches to reach those ideals.

Where is the end path in golf? It's not simply hitting it long and straight. It's not always about getting the lowest possible score or even winning. In golf there are many "pieces" of the game and many different possible methods for executing those pieces. But for each piece of the game, it is possible to evaluate the effectiveness of performance and opportunities for improvement. For each unique individual there may be general opportunities for improvement that don't apply to their personal situation. For example, there have been many successful golfers who have a predominant ball flight (e.g. draw or fade) preference. If they worked to improve their ability such that they could hit straight, draw or fade on command, then they would be more skilled and have an opportunity to score lower. But for most of these highly skilled flight preference golfers, attempting to do this would reduce their overall level of shot accuracy and thus increase their scores. Instruction given to such a person concerning the "proper" way to improve their swing is going to be way different from instruction geared to someone who is trying to build an all purpose swing. Yet there are still universal truths that instructors can use to describe the most efficient swings and swings with built in inefficiencies that may or or may not be beneficial for specific individuals.

Let's take how to draw a ball as an example. I was working on this on the range one day when an instructor told me all I had to do was roll my arms through impact (back hand coming over the top of the front hand). He then proceeded to demonstrate several wonderful draws and fades through simple manipulation of the amount of "release". I had been attempting a more traditional technique of setting up aimed outside of the target (i.e. right for right handers) and positioning the club face to aim it left. What was frustrating was that my then current coach was specifically working with me to reduce the amount of release in my swing after my first coach had worked so hard at getting a release into my swing in the first place. Since then, I've also successfully used techniques involving pulling the back foot back a few inches, moving ball position back in my stance, teeing the ball higher, changing the swing path to be flatter, using a stronger grip (hands turned back) or some combination. It's horribly for confusing for the beginner trying to learn to draw the ball. But the universal truths is: ball contact with the face of the club angled to the left of the swing path will cause the ball to turn left. Telling someone to hit the ball with the club face angled toward the inside at contact is usually not enough to make a draw happen and given all of the options mentioned above it should be obvious that leaving "how" to get the club face angled at contact to be determined by random chance is not a sure fire recipe for success. It's not exactly the same issue, but hopefully I've painted a picture of what the instruction issue point I'm trying to make is.
post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
That you have done, Rusty, and very well, as I have come to expect!
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
It is splitting hairs. But it's a good example of a big problem we have in the ski instruction business. When we tell someone something to do a "back door thing" because it's going to work for them, they're likely to get a completely "contradictory" piece of advice somewhere else. I believe that there should be a difference between an instructors understanding of skiing and the specifics of what we teach. We can easily get into trouble when we teach something without the caveat of explaining that the end goal of where we want to get to and the path that we are mapping is not necessarily the only path, the right path or the wrong path, but just "A" path. We have to be careful to make the distinction between universal ideals and specific approaches to reach those ideals.
I have been working at schools where I had to teach IMO the "wrong way". Sometimes that is good because it makes you figure out alternative ways of doing stuff you think are wrong so that they match you own beliefs without uppsetting the ski school management and most importantly, as you so well pointed out, so that the student is well aware of why he is doing what he is doing and why he is getting thaught in accordance with an alternative method.
post #21 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
My main concern was describing weight transfer as the input instead of the outcome.
Where does that leave a technique like Inside Leg Extension?
post #22 of 27
I'm not a big fan of inside leg extension, but over the years I've come to appreciate that "opposite" skiing modes can work. If I understand it correctly, one result of inside leg extension will be weight transfer to the outside ski. In this respect I'd prefer to see "inside leg extension" as the message instead of "weight transfer" because ILE is the conscious movement and weight transfer is the result.
post #23 of 27
Sorry.....couldn't resist:

#462, The Ski Lesson from DuckBoy cards
"Next time, remember to shift your weight"

post #24 of 27
ILE works well with Greg Gurshmans weight distribution comments being discussed in this thread:

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...045#post745045
post #25 of 27
Thread Starter 
BigE, are you referring to having 90% of your weight on the outside ski before the fall line? I found that statement very interesting, in the light of my quest for more power in my turns.
post #26 of 27
Yes. That helps edge engagement considerably. It follows that the loading of the ski will also increase, storing more energy in that ski.

The other thread has some figures from a detailed Gurshman article, specifically dealing with weight distribution during the phases of the turn.
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks. I am also intrigued about loading the outside ski to 90% before the fall line and starting to unload it at or just after the fall line. I'll check out the graphics you mentioned.
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