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Hard Core Skiing

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Suggested by Rick in annother thread we should try a discussion of how to ski with focus on our core. Efficient CoM managing. Putting our hips in the right place. Let me quote Rick:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
The feet and legs exploit the forces, that move the core, that tip the feet, that turn the skis that Jack built.
Here is what inspired Rick:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
Here is what I see in the HM montage.

I see a superb athlete who's center of mass flow is right on the fastest line and masterfully controlled. I see his center of mass as the control center for what is going on. I see two active feet connect and coordinated through that sense of center of mass. I see no need to release anything as he is never inhibiting the predetermined center of mass flow. He is able to contract and pull his appendages around that core control center in any way he feels a need too in a 360 degree sphere.

His center of mass flow starts moving into the new turn right from the fall line. I see no need for weight shifts here or there or parallel shafts or inside ski first or any of that stuff. He is not coordinating the center of mass from from the feet he is coordinating the turn and feet from the center of mass itself.

All he needs is little nudges here and there from the feet, arms, core and every thing in between, from any position he has them in. on cue from that center of mass to keep things right on target in the fast lane. I am only just beginning to understand this kind of skiing.

I see a superb athlete who can blend movements in ways few bears could even imagine.
Excellent words Pierre thank you, but lets not look at Herman Maier this time. Lets take a look at Tanja Poutiainen and her CoM management and get a discussion going with ref to this excellent photo sequenze right here:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/20...006-gs-1A.html
post #2 of 31
tdk6, I tried to erase the the lower half of HM in the picture I uploaded, you made fun of it and others didn't address it, so I will try one more time.

As a news photographer for 35 years I covered all sports hundreds if not thousands of times, including ski racing. The one thing all have in common is vying for body position and let the legs, skis, skates, etc. go where they need to go, instinctively. No athlete would put their supporting limbs any other place than what was needed to get the job to positioning their body where they wanted it, done.

Running down a corridor in a building which has a quick left/right jog, you wouldn't worry where to place your feet, rather where to place your body.

I attach a picture from today's home town paper of our home town basketball player LeBron James driving to the basket, he knew where his body needed to be and he positioned his legs to get him there.

May they be hockey players, football players, and yes, skiers, it's all about getting YOU, your body and head where you want/need to be and you employ the tools, legs, skates,skis, what have you in the position to get you there.

I am all for learning to use the tools, how to place your skis, how much to edge them to make good on the path you want to take, but once that becomes second nature you only need to think "Go There" .

Well, here is a picture of LeBron " going there". Good angulation, don't you think?

post #3 of 31
Hey Ott,

Looks like he might need some alignment work
post #4 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl View Post
tdk6, I tried to erase the the lower half of HM in the picture I uploaded
Powder!!

Seriously thou, I agree with you.
Things aren't as difficult as some wants them to be. When you're up there it's just to do your thing, stay in balance and plan ahead. If it were so much more difficult I don't think skiing on that level would be possible.

Practice gives a toolbox of stuff. When you do your stuff however only what's in your reflexes is used. No thinking. Just do it. Or something.

Head and body (center of mass) is what does the steering.
Anyone doing rotary jumps will probably also agree.
post #5 of 31
I really opened a can of worms on this one so I think an explanation to put things into perspective, is in order. Without that perspective, I think many posters here are going to throw up their hands and say "I give up".

I see at least three levels of focus for skiers as they progress up the ladder to perfection.

At the lowest level which can include beginner to advanced, the skiers is really about gross motor movements and control through shutting down unnecessary movements. This would include the bulk of all skiers including self taught skiers.

If a skier progresses on their own in this first stage they are very apt to pick up on natural movements that do not have to be taught such as twisting and pushing the skis around. Unfortunately many ski instructors posses self taught movements, such as, pushing and twisting in wedge turns that they pass on to students. I can assure you this is not part of PSIA.

The second focus level involves movements from the kinetic chain beginning at the feet and progressing to move the center of mass where you want it to go. One can go from beginner and achieve a vary high level of skiing and enjoyment from this focus perspective. PSIA level three cert really goes through this perspective and embraces it, so does PMTS. There is nothing wrong with skiing at this level of focus and few skiers actually get to a high level of achievement with this focus. This is the focus most high level instructors try to focus students on because it works and works darn well. Many of us here are very familiar with these movement patterns.

I think there is another level out there that is beyond this. Through the kinetic chain, these skiers have been able to learn to move the center of mass so accurately that they no longer need to exclusively depend on the kinetic chain to move the center of mass where they need it to go.

I know this sounds odd but there are a skiers for whom their focus can be the center of mass and everything can revolve around it. Moving the center of mass is so natural for them that the kinetic chain need not be intact at all times. You will see these skiers moving smoothly and gracefully but their feet may not be doing the traditional things we like to think of when referring to the kinetic chain. They can be in wedge positions between turns, they can appear to be way in the back seat, they can have either foot as dominate at any phase of the turn and they can readjust the center of mass flow in relation to the feet through core contractions and many other things that seem like linked recoveries but are in fact, part of the overall strategy in their turns. In short they can move in ways that break the kinetic chain as we like to view it.

Analyzing these skiers by kinetic chain is an exercise in frustration and endless contradiction. This does not mean that focus on the core instead of by kinetic chain is the way to go. You cannot run before you walk, so to speak and I still fully embrace the focus from the kinetic chain.

Last year for the first time my feet started doing things that seemed very outside the kinetic chain yet felt absolutely fabulous to me without the slightest interference with the center of mass flow. I am still quite confused by all of this and feel as if I just opened another door and scratched the surface of a whole new level of skiing. I don't feel I know enough to fully describe or discuss this in open forum yet. I feel this would only confuse rather than help and I want to help first and foremost. I therefore feel a little apprehensive to fully explore this here.
post #6 of 31
Pierre the zen of skiing ....

When referring to the kinetic chain we as skiers don't think of it in the traditional sense as in:
“The foot bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the head bone”

Everyone has this kinetic chain and saying that someone does or does not use the kinetic chain is ludicrous. So the claim that so-and-so does not use the kinetic chain when skiing is laughable.

Rather we think of 'feedback' via that chain from the feet to the brain and vice versa.

So when you think that you are "doing things outside of the kinetic chain" it simply means that you have transcended the conscious feedback recognition, it is just there all the time and your body reacts to it without being told...the zen of skiing.

....Ott
post #7 of 31
Pierre, thanks for sharing your revolation as you currently understand. It is great food for thought and experiment. Please continue to share as your understanding develops.

Ott, thanks for the touched up photo and comments. They're also very enlightening.

I've been trying to eliminate a tendency I have to push or fight the path of my core with my legs more often than I like. I've been thinking about what I should do with my legs to change this. It sounds like I may be better off doing less with my legs and working to more accurately position my core.

Thanks again.
post #8 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ott Gangl View Post
Pierre the zen of skiing

So when you think that you are "doing things outside of the kinetic chain" it simply means that you have transcended the conscious feedback recognition, it is just there all the time and your body reacts to it without being told...the zen of skiing.

....Ott
I have certainly considered this as a possibility for the total explanation Ott. I think the kinetic chain is always involved but I think you can reach a point where you don't have to rely on it as the basis for movement 100% of the time in the traditional sense that we think of it as. I think you can learn to rely on it intermitently as things progress along a turn.

If I was 100% sure of things I would gladly explain it just fine and then take my place on the podium for a medal.
post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
I know this sounds odd but there are a skiers for whom their focus can be the center of mass and everything can revolve around it.

This is the key, I think, to the the concept Pierre is trying to communicate.


Quote:
Moving the center of mass is so natural for them that the kinetic chain need not be intact at all times. You will see these skiers moving smoothly and gracefully but their feet may not be doing the traditional things we like to think of when referring to the kinetic chain. They can be in wedge positions between turns,




Quote:
they can appear to be way in the back seat,





Quote:
they can have either foot as dominate at any phase of the turn




And they, if I can add to the list, they can even do the dreaded A-framed sequential edge change.





Quote:
Analyzing these skiers by kinetic chain is an exercise in frustration and endless contradiction. This does not mean that focus on the core instead of by kinetic chain is the way to go. You cannot run before you walk
post #10 of 31
And leaving the chain behind:

post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRN View Post
I've been trying to eliminate a tendency I have to push or fight the path of my core with my legs more often than I like. I've been thinking about what I should do with my legs to change this. It sounds like I may be better off doing less with my legs and working to more accurately position my core.

Thanks again.
This is one of those times when I have had a nice well thought out response typed up only to lose it upon pushing the send button.

Your conclusion is not necessarily the way to go. It all depends on what you are doing or not doing with your legs and feet.

I had a couple of very good instructors show me skiing that I could only drool over. Slow speed carves with big deep swooping angles. It was explained to me that the key to unlocking such skiing was in shutting down all unnecessary upper body movement and learning to move the center of mass very accurately using the kinetic chain from the feet up. Moving through a good neutral turn transition was the holy grail.

I worked very very hard for three or four seasons on these very movements while others just went out to free ski. Magical things happened, my turns became powerful and I started to feel like I was on rails even if my turns were not railed carves.

Gradually I noticed something else start to happen. Once I had learned to shut down all unnecessary upper body movements I was suddenly free to add in core movements that complimented the feet. Suddenly I had two active feet instead of a ride ski and a guide ski and although things still felt smooth and even more powerful, my videos started showing my ski angles unevenly matched, uneven shaft angles and even opposing edges at times. I suddenly realized that something happened and it felt powerful, good, free and confusing because I was no longer totally beholden to my feet.

What I am saying here is I did not get here by focusing on something other than the kinetic chain. The best instructors one could have pointed me in that direction as the path to freedom, they just didn't confuse me with what else was in the pot of gold at the end. Focusing on the core did not get me to where I am at, that happened all on its own. One or two top notch posters here on Epicski have eluded to moving from the core at times but never elaborated on what they meant.

I am still not sure what is happening I just know I am going to keep doing it because it feel so cool.
post #12 of 31
Thanks for that slide show Rick.

I use to think all the no no things the top racers were doing was linked recoveries on the fast edge and a real demonstration of pure athleticism but not any more. I see it as masterful intention to hit the line as fast as they possibly can do it. Those with linked recoveries blow out or place 4th.

Everything they are doing is in their bag of tricks. They do them intentionally most skier do them unintentionally.
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
Thanks for that slide show Rick.

I use to think all the no no things the top racers were doing was linked recoveries on the fast edge and a real demonstration of pure athleticism but not any more. I see it as masterful intention to hit the line as fast as they possibly can do it. Those with linked recoveries blow out or place 4th.

Everything they are doing is in their bag of tricks. They do them intentionally most skier do them unintentionally.
Not to be pedantic...but I think it would be more accurate to say they do them instictivley.
post #14 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post
Not to be pedantic...but I think it would be more accurate to say they do them instictivley.
Yeah that might be because that is what is happening to me.
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 
Ott, I never made fun of that photo sequenze, I thaught it was brilliant . You must have me confused with someone else. But if I did it was probably not intentional.

Pierre, very good postings and Im glad you stepped in to give us some of your hard core insights to this much neglected new ultimate dimension of skiing. But there is a reason why it is so, this community has sofar not accepted such thinking and successfully been able to override it with other consepts.
post #16 of 31
OK, tdk6,

I think this concept is well known among high level skiers. What you see as over riding with other concepts is actually the instructors here trying to give the learning skier the underpinnings to get them there.

It is easy to say to use the skis to get the body to go there, but how?

Therefore most all discussion center on how to use the tools/skis and the legs and endless posts on where the weight goes how to release and what the transition should look like.

Though there are different schools on this, the discussions are good to let the learning skier know that there is no one-fits-all and great skiing can be achieved through many different avenues.

The concept we are discussing in this thread only speaks to skiers who have mastered ski use instinctively, like a hockey player uses his skates, instinctively and most often in unorthodox ways.

It's really just a way of thinking about it, aim your body and let it do it's thing without fighting the outcome. No need to have any input to the skis, they'll go where needed automatically.

....Ott
post #17 of 31
What a great thread this has been to read, thanks to all of you
for it.
post #18 of 31
Pierre & Ott:

Do you think what you are describing could be skiing in the "zone"?

In most sports, after a lot of practice and expierence, top athletes can achieve their ultimate level of performance when they let their subconscious mind take care of the movements and consciously only think about the big picture. This is over simplified but what do you think?
post #19 of 31
For myself, when I am skiing the only thing I think of is where I want to go, not at all about what my skis are doing, not even if my next turn is going to be short or long radius, just that I want to ski over there, then over here, then maybe stop, etc.

Skiers, especially instructors who spend 6-8 hours on their skis every day for five month or so feel the skis are part of them like their tennis shoes when walking in the lodge, then they don't think about their shoes and when skiing they just let the skis do their thing.

Now, when instructors have a class they then take skiing apart into components and teach the student how to ski, Pierre is a scientist and engineer and it is in his nature to analyze anything and everything to make him a better instructor, and he is great already.

But when he free skis he just rips

As for skiing in the zone, if the above fits, OK. I also drive in the zone, never consciously thinking how hard to press the gas pedal and that now I have to take my foot off the gas pedal and switch to the brake pedal (now there is a transition)

....Ott
post #20 of 31
Great to read, keep the good stuff coming!!
post #21 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRN View Post
Pierre & Ott:

Do you think what you are describing could be skiing in the "zone"?

In most sports, after a lot of practice and experience, top athletes can achieve their ultimate level of performance when they let their subconscious mind take care of the movements and consciously only think about the big picture. This is over simplified but what do you think?
I think a lot of skiers at many levels can ski in the "zone", at least for them. It's hard to say how I perceive my skiing now except that it's hard to even get out of the "zone". Suddenly I don't seem to be able to screw it up no matter what I want to do.

I have only skied with a few people in my lifetime that truly "had it" and ski like I describe. Each time that I have skied with such skiers all I wanted was whatever it took to ski like them. I just started skiing this way. At first this focus was in and out and startled me. I thought there were problems but then this focus became more regular and intoxicating. I don't think I am very good at skiing this way yet. I think the average ski instructor would see many things going on with my feet that look like mistakes that do nothing to interrupt the flow of my skiing. I think you can see this in the bump video I posted. The snow conditions in the video were not very good and I had alignment problems but its there.

My job for this season is to try to nail down some of what is going on because I don't seem to be able to turn it off easily. What I don't want is students or instructors saying "What did he just do" or "look at that mistake" when they see me just skiing. I want to ski this way but be able to turn the messy feet thing off when not skiing flat out. I think skiers who have mastered the way I am describing show far less variation with their feet than I am currently showing unless they are skiing flat out. Maybe I am still so mesmerized I subconsciously don't want to turn it off. I am like a total junkie with it.

Logic tells me that I haven't discovered anything new and that what I have been doing is just a focal change due to everything, including pressure control and center of mass flow becoming totally automatic. I just haven't figured it out yet at least that is the conclusion I expect to finally settle on.


At this point I am not even positive I didn't put some garbage into my skiing but I don't think so. I feels way to good, is way to versatile, feels too powerful and my speed has drastically increased but, being an inventor, I don't rule anything out until proven. That means not until I understand what is going on with a high degree of certainty.
post #22 of 31
It's very much a mental focus thing. The body instinctually knows what the skis have to do to take you, as Ott says, "where I want to go",,, and it also instinctually knows where the Center of Mass needs to be to attain the desired state of balance during the journey. You simply focus on the CM moving to that location, back and forth from one turn to the next and the skis/legs kind of take care of themselves.

Being able to exercise that type of focus requires embedment of the movement patterns and skills that support well executed transitions. The more you refine your transitions through direct focus on THEM, and the more you expand the range of transitions you have at your disposal, the more you put focus on them on the back burner, and let execution instinct take over.

I think shape skis have allowed this CM focus sensation to become more pronounced. So much less leg/foot activity is now required, as is much more lateral CM movement,,, so now we can just kind of relax, and enjoy the float and flow of CM back and forth across the skis as we link together a series of great feeling turns.
post #23 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Being able to exercise that type of focus requires embedment of the movement patterns and skills that support well executed transitions. The more you refine your transitions through direct focus on THEM, and the more you expand the range of transitions you have at your disposal, the more you put focus on them on the back burner, and let execution instinct take over.
I was incestuous work on transitions that allowed me to break through to this focus.

Actually Rick you post brings up another thought in my mind. I think many people have achieved this focus point to one degree or another that don't ski all that well. I think skiers can develop a center of mass focus who have skied the same way for many years with little change or with progress. Maybe what it takes is just repetition to automaticity rather than a well planned path to better skiing.

I am not sure that you achieve this focus in the same way if you are on an aggressive learning path until you actually put it all together in the end. I guess there has to be a place where you achieve this even on a changing/learning path because you have risen to a level where you have so many tools that they really start integrating with one another on command.

Does all that make a lick of sense?
post #24 of 31
I would like to draw a parallel to Taekwondo. First a short background. There are 2 branches of taekwondo, one with only scores for kicks (WTF), and one that looks more like karate where they use red and blue gloves (ITF). I used to do the first one.
It is a very technical sport. It's not at all a self defence system, it's simply a points scoring sport.

Every training session we trained at least 4 types of kicks and numerous combinations of kicks. Every taekwondo practicer could show you a vast range of kicks and combinations. That's all we do.
It's a common known fact in the sport that it's difficult to score offensively. It's quite easy to just step aside. Or worse, your opponent sees what you do and while he avoids you, he puts his foot in your head. Because of this, much focus lies on counter attacks. We try to fool the opponent to begin an attack, to show his intentions.

Training is easy. Sparring is harder, and a thousand times more fun.

What I'm coming to is when you stand in the ring with your opponent, provided he's a good opponent, the only thing you really have use for is what's in your reflexes and muscle memory.
The focus is all on what the other guy is doing, and trying to confuse him, then all of a sudden something happens. When it does, there is absolutely no time to think. The first reaction is what you have to go for. If it's a completely wrong kick just complete it harder.
Many matches both opponents only ever use one of the first kicks they ever learned. In fact that can even be seen in the olympics in rounds with only 1 or 2 kicks and a worried judge warning them both for being passive. I wouldn't draw too much conlusions from that thou, it might just be the correct choice.

Going back to the skiing. It may well be that in the zone we are talking about here, the situation is similar. It's reflexes and muscle memory. For skiers that has skied less, or explored less techniques, their palette of muscle memory turns are smaller. For skiers who either have been coached, or went through instructor training they both have explored a lot of ways to turn. When you move focus from technique to only what's ahead and where you want to go, your reflexes already knows what's apropriate.
post #25 of 31
Pierre, I have no real right to comment here. I do not ski anywhere close to this level, but I would like to offer an insight.

As you noted, your concentration on the transition, kinetic chain etc. brought you to this point. You did not set out to accomplish it per se. By "over learning" these movement patterns they become automatic, unconscious etc. You have now learned to ski with your cerebellum--the part of the brain responsible for automatic, rapid, balanced, coordinated motion. You utilized your Cortex (rational thought processing) to get you there, but now the cerebellum own the motion and you do not have to be aware of it any more. This is the basis of the so-called "muscle memory". This occurs for any motor based activity from walking to skiing to playing the piano. But, I would offer that there is another aspect which once freed from the tyrany of the Cortex, the creative centers are free to express new ideas. The young piano player concentrates on playing the right notes. There is little energy left to worry about subtle expression and phrasing. Once there is mechanical mastery of the fingers and keys he is able to "concentrate" on more subtle nuance and expression. Many good musicians end up here. A few continue to the same point you are now describing when at times they no longer have to "think" (cortex) at all. They play and with this freedom comes the ability to not only play but to exercise their CREATIVITY. I believe you are experiencing movement driven not from thought and reason, but from creativity. You are letting feeling flow through your music, which in this case is skiing. As a painter, you would be creating not just moving paint around. As a writer, you would type pages only to realize that the story has taken on meanings and connections far beyond any you consciously intended. The story flowed form your creative not your conscious mind and therfore has taken on a life of its own.

I am reminded of watching my 9 y/o on skis for the first time. I told her to tip her skis and ride the edge. She made the beautiful set of PERFECT RR Tracks I had ever seen. There was no thought or analysis involved. It was spontaneous and beautiful. Likewise, artistic expression often necessitates removal of the conscious mind and at times this involves a bit of regression to childhood. Pablo Picasso once remarked that it took him his whole life to "learn to paint like a 5 year old".

Well, Pierre, I submit that you are becoming an artist, rather than a technician. You are learning to ski like a 5 year old--congratulations. Few will ever be so lucky.
post #26 of 31
Pierre-most thought-provoking thread I've read in a long time
post #27 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiDeC58 View Post
Pierre, I have no real right to comment here. I do not ski anywhere close to this level, but I would like to offer an insight.

Well, Pierre, I submit that you are becoming an artist, rather than a technician. You are learning to ski like a 5 year old--congratulations. Few will ever be so lucky.
You could be right. I went to school as an engineer but have never been able to shake my artistic tendencies. I am an inventor by trade.
post #28 of 31
I was on snow today in a PSIA event playing around looking for the simple explanation. One of the things I suspected and somewhat confirmed is that some of the foot disconnect was the result of mis-alignment. I have new boots and played around with canting strips and found a combination that minimizes the foot disconnect greatly at slower speed. When I really lay them over I still don't have equal edges but wow, great power. Apparently this latent ability of core focus became known to me through mis-alignment. The foot disconnet was an attempt to let the center of mass flow with foot compensations to allow to facilitate this.

I ran this subject by the group who all work from feet up and their assessment was that my feet and legs were indeed moving freely around a solid flowing core. Their assessment was that it looked very smooth and compact until I reached a certain speed where I started to lengthen way out. The group liked the focus, could pick out the difference in my skiing but could not easily pin point what was going on. Kinda the same as where I am at. Still looking for the simple answers.
post #29 of 31
I am wondering how much of this idea is in Weem's head too. I am studying the Sports Diamond and working it into my skiing, hiking, sailing. I love mechanical/technical skiing and sailing and now having the awareness to shift out of the mechanical/technical into the "will" or "power" side of the moment is not only different but results in some fantastic intrinsic feedback that I don't get out of the mechanical/technical focused activity.
I don't think I would be able to do this without some proficiency in the mechanical/technical realm though. But allowing the mind and spirit to experience a different aspect of the activity is enhanced by having the mechanical/technical background. Walk before run, yes I'll vote for that. Or is it that my upbringing in PSIA has just been that route. In other words, could I have experienced the same epic skiing and feelings and enjoyed the moment if the PSIA mechanical/technical focus was not there first?
Thanks for listening...just seemed like the right place to carry on...
Greg
post #30 of 31

Core

Pierre, good reading some very interesting thoughts and comments by others. Can I ask a question? Comment, I am not a very deep thinking person when it comes to sporting activities. I can never keep the real technical stuff in my head when I am skiing and can usually only work on one thing at a time.

Example and Question. Yesterday I skied Silver Mt. Idaho. this was after about 50 in of snow followed by almost a day of rain. Off piste was ugly frozen rivlets where the water had run off the snow. The groomers were ugly also. Rapple balls everywhere from golf ball size to tennis ball size and I don't mean here and there but everywhere. There were no clear areas. While skiing this mess on an upper itermediate narrow pitch I was constant telling myself to turn, do this, don't do that. Somewhere it dawned on me that this wasn't going to work out too well.

At that time I just concentrated on keeping my core/head/shoulders/hips and core chest stomach area centered down the hill. That is the only thing I really concentrated on and just let the rest of me act instinctively and trusted my years of experience. This worked very well especially for the conditions present.

Question. Is this a little of what you're discussing. I am not trying to simplify too much your discovery etc. In reading this thread I am thinking that I should do this more as I do already have most of the appendhage movements down pretty well. I am an instructor and at times get really tired with the PSIA pounding and found this idea as maybe something I could work on and it would really help and be interesting and fun to do.

Thanks-great read. Pete
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