Originally Posted by Jimmy Cochran in his interview
c) On average how many stivots do you use in a GS course?
"Some courses it can be almost all,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"
d) What is the range of number of stivots that you have used in a GS course (0-3, 0-5, etc)
"Say 50 turns in a gs, so probably some races I'll use maybe 30.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,"
f) What is the range of number of stivots that you have used in a SL course (0-3, 0-5, etc)
"Same as GS"
g) What free skiing & gate drills have you found helpful to learn the stivot technique?
"Just a tight turny steep course is all you need. Or just a steep pitch to free ski on for that matter.
I'll fill in here a little bit for Jimmy. Obviously, there's a lot of pivoting/stivoting going on in WC level racing. He states that some races require a pivot in almost every turn. And the video of Ligety and Bourque kindly posted by SkierScott a page back in this thread show examples of courses that require pivots in the majority of the turns.
From a racing standpoint, the skier who can take the straightest line, and then pivot into a clean carve while dumping the least amount of speed will be fastest through that turn. It's really a simple formula. The difficult part is developing the skills required to execute it.
So the question here is how to improve your ability to do it. Jimmy suggests simply training gates or freeskiing on a pitch. Yep, that's the obvious good way to do it. But there's much more to it than that. Put an average recreational skier in one of those courses and tell him to practice pivoting, and he/she could be floundering there for the rest of their life. You need to first develop fundamental skills. That's the big secret here. These WC guys didn't get as good as they are at pivoting by focusing solely on pivoting. They've spent a lifetime training and developing their fundamental skill package, and it is reflected in their abilities to do what they do on skis, at the level they do it.
It doesn't matter if you're talking about how well they carve, or how well they pivot,,, it's all comes back to the fundamental skill work they've done. Balance, and the ability to perform flawlessly in any state of balance. Edging, and the ability to roll into a turn ultra clean, carve at any edge angle, steer to any degree desired, blend to any recipe required, manipulate the skis in every conceivable manner. Transitions, and how to do and use an assortment to fill any need or desire. These are the things racers work on all the time. Even if the coaches and racers don't think they are working on pivoting skills, every minute of working on these fundamental skills improves their pivoting, just as it improves every other element of their ability to perform on skis. It's just a matter of taking those fundamental skills, applying them to a pivot, and letting them work their magic in figuring out how to adapt and do what needs to be done to achieve a good result.
This is where Jimmy is coming from with his simple statement, "just find a pitch". He's saying throw yourself into the situation, and let the skills you already have blend, adapt, and figure it out. The missing message in his response is that the more you work on the fundamental skills of the sport, the better the outcome of this "dive in and learn to swim" strategy will be.
Same holds true for the recreational skier. The pivot is a technique that has plenty of application in the recreational skiing world too, but the best way to learn to do it well is to work on developing your fundamental skills from the ground floor up. Work on your balance. Expand your steering skills. Get more comfortable with doing different things on your skis,,, skiing in different ways,,, using different transitions,,, different states of balance,,, different amounts and types of angulation/rotation/flexion-extension. Learning an outward drifting of the tails at the beginning of a turn is just a part of that broad scoped skill development process.
It's important to look at the big picture with this. Pivoting is not an Island unto itself. It's just a single piece in the puzzle that when put together reveals an impressive picture of great skiing.