Originally Posted by SkiRacer55
...a skid is an accident waiting to happen. It is not purposeful the way that a drift or brush is. That is why, in his talk last year in Boulder, Ron LeMaster talked about Bode, Ligety, and Svindal as employing a stivot...steering to a controlled slideslip (which is something all PSIA certification candidates have to do) with purpose...
The original discussion was steering...Is it real or is it Memorex?...Do racers use it or not?...Is it good, or is it bad? Should we teach it or should we not? The thing that's ironic, to me, is that re this discussion, and many similar ones in these fora, is that it's really hard to come up with a precise definition of what steering is, or what it is not. I can't give you a precise definition, and that's really ironic to me, because I have a Masters in Technical Writing (whose hallmark is technical accuracy and completeness, above all), 25 years in the Words 'R' Us Racket (read: software technical writing for several (ahem) Major IT companies who absolutely demand technical accuracy and completeness), plus a background of freelance journalism (Ski Racing, Powder)...and yet...I can't tell you, past a certain point, what steering means more than "trying to make whatever it is you are riding go in whatever direction you want it to go." And yet, that's perfectly sufficient to me.
And stuff at this level also seems to be Good Enough for what I consider to be the Great Thinkers in ski technique. I was at Ron LeMaster's Fall 2007 presentation in Boulder, CO, where he talked about the 4 (count 'em) things that are important about WC skiing (and high performance skiing) that he had observed...and picked up, and codified from his extensive discussions with many of the WC coaches. And one of the key items he talked about was "targeting the apex of the turn." He immediately gave us a disclaimer, which was to the effect that he couldn't come up with a more precise definition of what the apex of the turn was, or why it was important, just that it was critical to look ahead, see the apex of the turn, while you're moving really fast, and prepare yourself to do the Right Thing once you get there. So there you have it...one of the greatest observers and thinkers in the current world of skiing, IMHO, and a guy, incidentally, who is a brilliant software developer and technical communicator (I know...I worked with him on one of my company's cornerstone products...)...admitting that he couldn't put into precise words the concept he was trying to transmit to us.
But you know what? It didn't really matter. Everybody in the room...and I'm talking all the local Masters racers, the entire CU ski team, and all the local gate monkeys (which is a considerable community, in Boulder, Colorado), knew exactly what he was talking about. And we all used it to improve our skiing and racing last winter.
So if you want to sit here and argue terminology, I can't win that one, and I'm not even going to try. To me, it's obvious. As Ron said, in an article he wrote for Ski Racing last winter, and I'm paraphrasing here, "If this sounds like Warren Witherall, it is. Nothing has really changed in skiing." And it's true. Back when I was prepping for my Level 1, we were told that balance was the overriding skill, and that pressure control and distribution, edging, and steering were the three other skills you use to make a ski turn, in whatever circumstances, in whatever variations of using those three skills, you need to ski powder, carve turns on groomed corduroy, or run gates in ruts and other garbage. And it's still true. So, please, let's stop arguing about what steering is, and is not. We all know what it is, or, if not, we're in the wrong business. I taught for 6 years at Breckenridge and Copper Mountain, and I now coach informally in my Masters program. In all that time, I've never had any of my charges come up to me and say "You know, I just don't think I can go any further until you give me a precise definition of steering." But I have had people say things like "You know, I can get the ski on edge and make it carve like an SOB...but I'm going so fast I can't control it...can you help me?" And what I say, with a smile is "Come on...let's rediscover the Lost Art of Steering" (theme, I am told, from Tony Sears, who did the photo sessions, for Ron LeMaster's update of The Skier's Edge...