All right, Si, I'll bite, and try to stir the pot of controversy a little....
You have described a typical athletic and confident skier who skis with a strong but defensive technique. He's aggressive and fearless, and likes the excitement of going "fast" (a state of mind, of course, not a specific speed). Because he skis at a speed that seems "fast" to him, his technique is primarily intended to control speed--to keep it "fast," but not let it get any faster. He starts turns by unweighting and twisting his tails out into a skid, and uses his edges primarily to scrub off speed--not to hold and control line. His sitting-back stance is actually balanced because he has his brakes on. His technique is effective, in the sense that he can ski most terrain with it, but it is not efficient, not smooth, and not, ironically, very fast!
At least that's what I read from your description. If he is really in his early 20's, he can survive almost anything--thigh burn notwithstanding--but
there is absolutely no way that he's in Gold Medal NASTAR territory with that technique.
And he has been given very poor advice in that "recent instruction"! First of all, like most skiers, the intent that his technique indicates is purely defensive, and the new movements he was "taught" are meant to teach him to turn offensively. Before he will succeed with new "better" movements, he will need to change his intent--which will require a genuine, complete paradigm shift in how he envisions turns in the first place. Great turns begin with the desire to GAIN speed, not reduce or maintain it--because gaining speed is what will happen when you release the edge of the downhill ski before re-engaging and carving down the hill--which is what I assume you mean by "tipping the new inside ski." Great turns involve using the edges to grip and carve--which is the polar opoosite of what he's trying to do (whether he realizes it or not). Those tails don't "abruptly jump from one side to another" from lack of skill. It's what he's trying to do, and you can be sure that the skidding that results is essential to his sense of well-being. He'd literally feel out of control without it.
From your description of his movements, I am willing to bet a large sum of money that if you ask him why
he turns (not "how"), he will say it is for speed control. I'll bet that he doesn't even think of turning until a little voice says "that's fast enough now--turn." And that "turn" does exactly the job it is intended to do--controls his speed.
But even if he makes that fundamental paradigm shift to offensive intent ("go that way," instead of "stop going this way;" glide, not brake, control direction, not speed), the "advice" he's been given will hold him back--literally. For one thing, pressing the tongue of the boot is NOT how you "get forward"--it's actually how you push yourself back!Second, and related, since you are describing the transition/beginning of the turn (you referred to the "new" inside ski), I would ask you to challenge your belief that flexing the ankles (dorsiflexing, "raising the toes") and pressing on the tongues of the boots is what you really want here anyway. That he "understands these concepts" actually suggests a fatal misunderstanding of what happens in good turn transitions, in my opinion, and that would help explain why he has trouble applying them.Yes, we need to move forward into turns. But this is perhaps the most misunderstood movement in skiing! "Forward" is not the direction the skis point in the transition. It's toward the inside of the new turn--downhill, in the direction you're actually trying to go. Transitions are where the "crossover" or "crossunder" occur, and the body and skis must travel in different directions. The activities you describe (dorsiflex the ankles and press on the boot tongues) at best cause your body to move "forward" in the same direction that the skis point, conflicting with the crossover movement.I suggest that the "correct" movement in the transition is exactly the opposite of what you have described. "Open" (extend) your ankles and get off your boot tongues here! Let your feet move "forward" beneath your body. Consider that, in linked turns on smooth snow, your feet and skis always go faster than you do (they take a longer line than your center of mass). That means that, in the transition, you have to let your feet literally come from behind and pass you, while "you" take a beeline shortcut to the inside of the new turn. Remember too that your edges are disengaged and unpressured at the beginning of a turn, so the conventional wisdom that we need to press down on the tips to engage them here is a myth. You cannot, of course, both release the edge and engage the tip (or any other part of the edge) at the same time. Rather than worrying about how to pressure the skis in this light, unpressured "float" phase, focus instead on setting yourself up to be in the right place for balance and accurate edging later in the turn, when you reengage your edges. It's not until the edges are reengaged with sufficient pressure to bend them into reverse camber and carve--somewhat later in the turn--that you actualy have to be "forward" on your skis (and even here, "forward" refers more to your motion, not your position).Ironically, the only way to get "forward" as the skis carve through the pressured part of the turn is to allow your feet to get ahead of you in the transition! This move, that makes great skiers often appear to be "in the back seat" in the transition, is the well-kept and little understood secret of their constant forward motion. We discussed it at length here last spring, but it's worth bringing up again. It's what's happening in these animated images: Note the dramatic movement of the feet and skis forward beneath the hips in these transitions.
Here's French slalom ace Laure Pequegnot, in a winning slalom run a few years ago:
And Jimmy Cochran, training at Keystone last fall:
The move is very obvious in these (and many other) great Ron LeMaster montages (www.ronlemaster.com
Finally, a sequence of me, showing the diverging paths of the feet and CM. It's a little hard to see, perhaps, but my feet have moved "ahead" of my hips most dramatically in the third and fourth frames, but by the time I reestablish pressure on them, I'm solidly over my feet and the sweet spot of my skis, and driving "forward" down the hill:
So... My approach with your athletic and motivated hypothetical student would be first to help him learn the joys of offensive skiing--what I call the "GO! Factor." Situations that naturally encourage offensive intent ("go that way") include gates, "target skiing," "U-Turns" (uphill christies, J-turns), "follow my tracks," and so on, all effective at fostering the "go as fast as I can on a slow enough line" intent that defines offensive skiing. Developing both a feel for and an understanding of the difference between defensive braking and offensive turning--and an awareness that defensive intent has dictated his technique until now--will change his movements dramitically, even before any mention of how to do it.
Once he's got the GO! Factor, we'll address some of the particular movements that will make his turns even better, and especially the misunderstanding described above that I believe may be causing problems. Contrary to common belief, we'll explore balancing more over the heels in the transition, getting off the boot tongues, letting the feet get ahead of the hips for a moment, even pressing on the backs of the boot cuffs for a few turns. We'll explore the irony that being forward actually prevents moving forward. Heresy, you say? Don't knock it if you haven't tried it!
And THEN we'll go get that NASTAR gold!