You have some good things going on here--very stable upper body with little or no twisting of the ski tail into a skid (at least as far as we can tell from the photos; it's possible you did a little heel thrust to get the turn started), solid outside ski edge engagement, clean tracks, and strong skeletal alignment allowing your outside leg to work efficiently. But I agree with Ydnar's and Todo's observation that you appear a little passive with the inside foot and leg. That's not to say you need to put any more pressure on it, or something like that, merely that there needs to be more activity of your whole body, initiated from the inside foot and leg, if you want to really drive the energy through the turn. Think of walking movements--while you're standing on one foot, you do have to do something with the other one! It's that other foot that drives you forward and into the turn.
The sign of the insufficient activity is the slight "a-frame" alignment of your lower legs--your knees are closer than your feet because you've tipped the outside ski more actively than the inside ski. Try this: stand up and assume a natural athletic neutral stance--a little slouched, feet separated naturally, all joints slightly flexed and ready for action, arms spread low and in front. Now--quick, like a soccer player (football, to most of the world)--make a sudden vigorous sideways leap to the left.
What happened? Try it a few times, and pay attention to the natural movements. Your weight shifted to your right foot, no doubt, as that right leg flexed a little, coiling for the spring, but your left knee and thigh led the charge to the left--didn't they? Your knees pulled apart, not together. Eventually, both feet moved left, but your left one went first.
Although often more subtle and drawn out, turns on skis are lateral movements much like this exercise. There are two parts to that lateral leap, almost contradictory: you flex that outside (right) leg slightly, even as you drive away from it to the left. On skis, of course, as you move left, the right ski carves to the left as well, so unlike the leaping exercise here, your right ski stays with you and keeps pushing. To me, it feels like I'm trying to get away from my right ski in a left turn, but it keeps chasing me!
Anyway, it looks in your pictures like you are doing only one of the two parts--you're settling down on that right leg, but not extending/driving into the turn. Your left (inside) leg is passive. By the second frame, the lack of driving forward into the turn has put you into the back seat, and you're being taken for a ride. By the third frame, your skis have left you behind, and you've fallen to the tail of the inside ski.
So, here's what you might do. Try starting a left turn from a straight run down a gentle slope, very much like the leaping exercise above. Make the same movements, but perhaps in somewhat slower motion. As Ydnar described, you can focus on moving the tip of your left ski to the left, as the movement that intiates the whole sequence. Make sure your intent
is offensive and aggressive--as in the leaping exercise, you are trying to GO left
--not trying to slow down or get your skis into a braking skid. Keep that "left tip left" activity going--sustain it throughout the turn from start to finish. Drive your whole body into and through the turn, as if you're tring to push your inside (left) thigh in the direction you're trying to go.
As the turn nears completion, stop driving to the left and allow everything to return to neutral. If you're linking turns, the new turn begins before the old turn ends, as you start driving the new inside ski, foot, and leg in the new direction. At first, this reduces the edge angles and inclination (leaning into the turn) of the old turn, crossing your body over your feet and flattening your skis at the transition, and continuing to roll the skis onto their new edges for the new turn.
To see this activity of the inside leg, and this "drive" into and through the turn, check out this sequence of the great Hermann Maier:
Note the aggressiveness of every part of Hermann's body driving in the direction he's trying to go. Kneale suggested that your hands could be a little more forward--note the contrast between your arms and Hermann's (in the same part of the turn)!
Also check out the sequence of Bode Miller on Ron LeMaster's Home Page (click here)
, as well as any of the other great Giant Slalom sequences on Ron's site.
That should give you a little to think about, in preparation for your northern season. On the other hand, recognize that these comments stem from just the few still shots of one turn that you posted. Take them for what they're worth! It would be revealing if you had a sequence of photos that shows the transition from one turn to another.
Have a great time in Whistler, and if you want more, come join us at the EpicSki Academy in Snowbird, Utah, at the end of January or early February. (Check in to the Academy Planning Room
for more information.)
Bob Barnes[ September 15, 2003, 01:40 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]