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Feet Too Close Together

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Hello all. I'm relatively new to this forum and wish to pose a question that I'm sure has been debated before. What are the advantages / disadvantages of skiing with one's feet too close together. I'm 45 years old, been skiing on and off since I was in grade school and have purchased my first pair of shaped skis (Salomon Scream Pilot 10's 2002 model). After many, many years of skiing conventional shaped skis, and hearing all the buzz about shaped skis, I expected to feel a near religious experience the first time I took them out, but other than a perceived easier turn initiation, it was kinda as usual type of thing. This could be because the ski is very damp, or perhaps because I'm not skiing it properly. I have always skied with my feet very, very close together and perhaps I need to widen my stance somewhat. But here is where the confusion arises, because I've read about drills where one holds a toque or nerf ball between the ankles while performing medium radius turns. Others suggest a wider stance of about shoulder width apart while rolling the ankles to initiate a same style of turn. Still others show the skier lifting the uphill ski on it's tip and tipping towards the little toe to initiate the turn. Are all of these techniques valid? Ideally I like short radius, fall line skiing, and former coaches to to preach a wedelin style that was in vogue during the early seventies. Any comments? Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 47
Too narrow a stance (boots locked together) is not always good, however there are many (too many in fact) skiers with overly wide stances. IMO a good distance is about hip-width (the distance your ankles would be apart just standing). However, on steeps it will SEEM like your feet are further apart (well, they actually will be), but make sure the distance between your legs stays about the same (doesn't have to be exact as long as you feel you can ski dynamically from where you are).

Shaped skis won't necessarily give you a religious experience compared to strait ones, the technique is pretty much the same, except you can carve alot easier. The biggest differences with shaped skis are their crud and powder ability (due to the wider tip and tail), and also you can carve a tighter turn with them.
post #3 of 47
Caffeine Joe,
It is NEVER good to ski with your feet TOO close together and it is NEVER an good idea to ski with your feet TOO wide apart.
Honestly it is just the semantics I am commenting on here, and perhaps my post is nearly worthless to most.
It is always to good Idea to ski with your feet that is a distance that is just right. And that may change from day to day, slope to slope and terrain to different terrain.

I took much of last year skiing with a Wide Stance. Not because I felt Wider is better, but rather I could feel activity and a larger range of motion and eventually a more refined movement of the inside leg and more stable torso. This year I am taking it to a more "natural" stance (slightly narrower than hip width) for me. Although, when I am in a race course or on firm surfaces a wider (between hip and shoulder width now emerges).

I think a key for skiing new equipment is not necessarily stance width, but rather independent actions of the legs, ankles, and feet. Although, these actions are sychronized to accomplish the desired objective (Turn, skid, carve, absorption, extention, etc).

Best Regards,
post #4 of 47
Lane Spina skis with his feet REALLY close together. If you want to look like him, feel free... just make sure you feather your hair every morning and wear one of those fancy shiny yellow one-piece suits. Don't forget to accessorize with a white headband and a pair of glacier glasses. If you don't know who Lane Spina is, Don't bother looking it up because he is weak. (Unless YOU are Lane Spina, then I retract that statement... well, no I don't.)

Suggested hangouts:
1. Swatch Snowdancing competitions.
2. Breckenridge (just kidding Jonathan)
3. Denver Ski Expo's "Ballet Carpet"
4. 1983

Sorry, man. Just having a little fun. Seriously, Jonathan has the right idea. Putting a little daylight between the legs tends to allow for MOVEMENT. Skiing tight tends to not. I'm not really into words like "never" and "always", but he is right. Don't lock yourself up by attempeing to squeeze the feet together. Whatever you decide to do, do what comes naturally and have fun doing it. 2 Cents.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 13, 2002 02:19 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Notorious Spag ]</font>
post #5 of 47
I have always skied with my feet about 24" apart except when I was really concentrating on it, and even then it was really hard to keep them together. last spring I became aware that my ski boots were flat when my feet were about 24" apart. This fall I went to The Green Mountain Orthotic Lab, and got new boots and foot beds. I had hoped that that would magically solve my problem, but I'm still going to have to learn to ski with my feet together. It should be a lot easier, and this is my task for this year.

Your problem is that your feet are too close together, and I understand that this is the way that you learned to ski, but you should still have your boots checked to make sure that they are not pushing your feet together. It will be a lot easier to learn to open them up a little if you have a good boot alignment.
post #6 of 47
An Instructor that used to work for me in Colorado was on the USST B Team years ago. And is also a real working Cowboy.

I was watching him lead an instructor clinic at one point, and a new hire kid kept insisting that he was at the pinnacle of ski ability -- because he was skiing in a super narrow stance (he was a classic "sperm turner" - counter rotating, and sashaying his butt back and forth and etc).

Finally our Cowboy/Instructor had enough of trying to reason with him and grabbed him and said in his country drawl "Boy! That ain't natural! Hell, if my buddies and and I saw you walking down our street that way, we'd beat the tar out of you!".


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 13, 2002 04:58 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Todd Murchison ]</font>
post #7 of 47
It still surprises me that this topic inspires such interest. But--so be it!

Stance-width is a purely functional consideration. Different functions will require different stance widths, same as any other activity we do. Watch any sport of motion--hockey, tennis, football, boxing, martial arts, gymnastics, almost ANYTHING--the athletes will use everything from feet together to feet way apart, as needed. And, for some odd reason, in most of those sports, people rarely even think about the width of their stance--they just let it be "natural"--as it should be.

Of course, if looking a particular way is important to someone, then this "look" takes on a function. If that "look" on skis is to have the feet clamped together, then by all means clamp them together! Practice it, and you will get good at it. But realize the other functional limitations that accompany this stance.

Stance width has implications for balance, edging, and steering (rotary movements), in particular. As Jonathan says, "too close" is, by definition, a problem. But what is too close?

The feet MUST be able to move independently, otherwise our movement options become severely limited. When the feet rotate about one pivot point, instead of two, it is impossible to steer the skis precisely into and through a turn. With a little separation, each foot can provide the support against which the other turns, freeing the upper body to do other things--like balance. While we've discussed this point in greater detail previously here at EpicSki, suffice it to say that, if you can't turn your legs independently of each other, then you can't turn your legs at all! All you can do is turn your entire lower body, including your pelvis, against your upper body.

Your stance is "too close" too whenever one ski or leg interferes with the other. Again, this can be an edging problem, a rotary problem, or both.

The most important point, I believe, is to remember that, even though many expert skiers ski with apparently narrower stances than beginners, regardless of stance width, a carved (or partly carved) turn, balanced on the outside ski, REQUIRES that the skis be pulled APART--the inside ski tip MUST be pulled away from the outside tip, into the turn, or it will interfere with the outside ski's ability to carve. It need not be pulled FAR apart, but the moment the activity of the inside ski stops, so does the carve. (The exception to pulling the inside ski into the turn occurs when both skis are weighted, and both skis carve into the turn. But even here, SOMETHING must provide a force to move that inside ski into the turn--away from the outside ski. Whether it is the snow pushing it into the turn, or the inside leg pulling the ski into the turn, it is the opposite of what happens when the skier pulls the skis together!

If TYING the feet together would be a handicap, then forcing them together any other way is equally so!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #8 of 47
Shaped skis won't necessarily give you a religious experience compared to strait ones, the technique is pretty much the same, except you can carve alot easier. The biggest differences with shaped skis are their crud and powder ability (due to the wider tip and tail), and also you can carve a tighter turn with them.

Not necessarily true. The point of "the technique is pretty much the same" carries a rather HEAVY caveat -- namely,

assuming your technique is very solid to begin with, and assuming you used to ski on soft snow on skis that were not racing skis.

When I returned to skiing 3 years ago after a long hiatus during which I forgot all my good points (except balance) and remembered only the technical points of driving hard against the boot tongue to pressure the shovel to begin a turn, and hopping to begin turns in crud and bumps, I had to relearn when I got on some newer midfats. Previously I skied a 1986 Dynamic VR27SL Carbon at 204 cm while weighing 155 lbs at 5'10"

It is WAY too overgeneral to say the technique is the same. Modern skis require skiing from underfoot, not with as much body movement and DEFINITELY not with as much forward pressure.

post #9 of 47
Congrats Bob! he best post thus far. The debate will rage on.
post #10 of 47
As a person who generally skis with a wide stance, I'd like to add that the "glue shoe" technique of skiing with your feet super close seems to be useful in zipper line bumps and deep, heavy powder.
post #11 of 47
While a narrower stance in the moguls might allow one to navigate the tightest of the troughs more effectively, its important to remember that the ultra-tight stance you see on competitors does not necessarily exist because it is the most effecient stance for the skier . . . but rather because the FIS Mogul judging criteria still demands it.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 14, 2002 06:39 PM: Message edited 2 times, by Todd Murchison ]</font>
post #12 of 47
Bump into this question a lot with students:
My response is to ask them this question, "If you were totally relaxed, and I was to lift you under your arms-where would your feet hang?". Our goal is to get the feet, and thus the skis 'flat'. I see so many people, including instructors spend time and money on canting and boot adjustments, then ski in a too narrow stance and defeat all the adjustments.
Having said that, there are a couple of qualifications:
1. Many people people start off in a natural stance, i.e hip width, but as soon as they start a turn, they have an extra, superfluous move where they move the inside foot close to the outside foot. They do this EVERY turn!!
2. I think it is absolutely pointless pointing out to a student that a wider stance is more efficient without giving them the skills to get there. It is ALWAYS better, IMHO, to ski the inside ski to a wider stance than to just push it there. The way to achieve that is to focus strongly on inside ski activity. I venture to say that all skiers that I see with a very narrow stance have no or virtually no inside ski activity. Most skiers who have a narrow stance seem to use an excessive amount of banking/inclination.
3. The importance of maintaining a consistent stance width throughout the turn, and from turn to turn, should be emphasized.
4. Oftentimes, the stance width is caused primarily by the position of the hips. Next time y'all are on the slope, try and maintain an efficient stance with closed hips-almost impossible! Ergo-when evaluating a student for stance, look at the hips, there are some good exercises to illustrate to the student the status of the hips.
post #13 of 47
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all who replied to my original post. After posting I noticed that this topic has been discussed extensively in the "Narrow vs Wide, My Stand" thread (152 posts!!). My apologies for beating a dead horse.

As I alluded to in my original post I was a junior slalom racer and my coach was a firm believer in the "New French Method" of racing which was very much in vogue at the time, and as such, absolutely drilled into our heads the advantages of "avalement, wedeln, "S" turns with lateral projection, braquage, down-up initiation" etc. As such, I find myself constantly skiing with boot buckles clipping each other as I make my short radius "S" turns down the fall line. Old habits die hard, but it's obvious to me that with the advent of the shaped skis, most of these techniques simply aren't necessary. A very simple fer instance: in my day, if we needed to lower our centre of gravity, we'd flex our knees, thus absorbing the terrain, while staying centered over the ski. Today it appears if the majority skiers are bent more forward over the tip of the ski to accomplish the same thing.

I guess the bottom line is that it's time for an old guy like me to take a lesson. Otherwise I may as well go back to my old Rossi SL-7's. Thanks again for all the input.


post #14 of 47
Well CJ,

Sometimes using the new shapes takes a little getting used to. The issue of stance you will decide. I am not surprised at how you described your first experience on shaped skis.

I hope you also upgaded your boots,that they fit well and have custom insoles, and you have been properly aligned. If no to any of these go back and see your boot fitter.

I am also surprised that no one mentioned the idea of taking a 1 hour private lesson from an instructor to show how to use the "New Skis." Since you minimally have about $400-700 invested into new skis and bindings, and more if you also have new boots, a 1 hour private is a small but a very effective additional investment.
post #15 of 47
>>>. As such, I find myself constantly skiing with boot buckles clipping each other as I make my short radius "S" turns down the fall line<<<

Since the buckles are on the outside of the boots, here is a Kissing Bridge patrolman demonstrating how to ski so the buckles clip each other


post #16 of 47
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by skiswift:
Bump into this question a lot with students: ......................<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You should fly out here to Deer Valley. Stein Ericksen could really use your help.
post #17 of 47
Ott, here in California, the prison work gangs clean up the highways. Oh, well, if it works for you guys.....
post #18 of 47
Don't fool with the patrol around here, they are meanies :

post #19 of 47
Thread Starter 

Good one. Maybe that's my problem. I've got my boots on the wrong feet.

All the best

CJ (Still laughing!!!)
post #20 of 47
I was working with a student today, a 60 year old filmaker, originally from Switzerland. On certain exercises, he has trouble moving his legs independently of his hips. He made an interesting comment about his skiing.
Since he has skied for most of his life, he of course started out on straight skis. The problem he claims he has, is that he will use straight ski technique with his shapes. He then got up and did a very obvious parody of his skiing style. Keep in mind, this is a very humerous person, who reminds me a bit of the Mr. Hulot character in the Jacques Tati {sp?} films, Mr. Hulot's holiday.

So when i said to him, "oh I get it, you do sperm turns!' it was actually pretty funny. Keep in mind that I WOULD NOT say that to most of my students.

His reply was "Yes, that's it exactly!" And he then made an interesting comment. He thinks that straight ski classical technique is more masculine, because you "sc**w the hill" , whereas shaped ski technique is more feminine because you "make love to the hill".

Can't say I ever thought of it that way. Another interesting point he made, was when he allowed himself to open his stance a bit, he found that skiing down a green slope was more enjoyable using shaped ski technique, whereas using classic technique, he found greens very boring.
I'm not sure if I understand that, but its interesting, anyway.
post #21 of 47
>>>CJ (Still laughing!!!) <<<

Yeah, I shot that at a ski carnival many years ago. When I find the rest of the prints I'll post them...

Glad you enjoyed the picture...

post #22 of 47
Lisamarie, sperm turning is one of the most enjoyable ways to play on skis that I know. Wedeln and smearing on almost flat skis at a fast pace puts a smile on my face, but it takes great skill. [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #23 of 47
I think that is a great analogy. As I have said before, skiing is much more like dancing than like football!

What your student referred to as "straight ski technique" is really OLD ski technique. Many of us stopped skiing with our feet stuck together, popping up at the beginning of the turn, twisting our feet and then slamminmg on the brakes long before shapes appeared on the scene. The old technique is a ballistic and segmented skills application, while the "newer" technique is a continuous and progressive blend of skills creating turns which never seem to have an end or a beginning.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 16, 2002 06:19 AM: Message edited 2 times, by Blizzard ]</font>
post #24 of 47
OMG, I do sperm turns! Who knew! :
post #25 of 47
Good point Blizzard, the top racers and all terrain skiers stopped skiing that way 30 years ago! It persisted mostly as a fashion after that, and grew in fashion/popularity in fact even as top skiers started to explore more natural stances. Probably part of why it continued to grow in fashion because what formerly took a tremendous amount of skill to achieve started getting more realistic for recreational skiers to achieve with the advent of better bindings and plastic boots.
post #26 of 47
Why do you think that someone would say that by using the "newer" technique, they get more enjoyment on a green slope, whereas in the "old" technique, they found greens boring? Just curious, since I've never heard that said before.
post #27 of 47
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Why do you think that someone would say that by using the "newer" technique, they get more enjoyment on a green slope, whereas in the "old" technique, they found greens boring? Just curious, since I've never heard that said before.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Because mostly skidding on greens must be quite boring. At least that is what I imagine. :
post #28 of 47
To *Stem Christie* CJ..& Camilla Sparv,
...Joe, you don't like these new sidecuts??? I've heard the same things from older know the ones who looked like walruses perched at the front end of their 14', 2-ton boards
Roll them ankles Joe...


"Get outta' the backseat and ski!"
Albert Einstein (1918) [img]tongue.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 17, 2002 05:38 PM: Message edited 1 time, by HaveSkisWillClimb ]</font>
post #29 of 47
I often do pure carving drills on green runs. It is the only place where most people will tip their skis over and let them run without steering them. They just are not used to the speed that is generated by a pure carve. Often I will tell them that pure carving makes green runs fun, again, for advanced skiers. Not to mention a way to let the legs rest on a groomer.
post #30 of 47
If carving lets someones legs rest, even on a green run, they must be going quite slowly. The G forces of carved turns work me far harder than the forces I encounter doing skidded turns.

Certainly my body is being more active to accomplish skidded turns, but the forces resulting from pure carving still ends up requiring more energy.
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