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Narrow/Wide Stance and Balance/Stability

post #1 of 92
Thread Starter 
I recently found a couple of old posts of interest which discussed issues surrounding wide vs. narrow stance and skiing from the feet up. I thought I would try to describe my perspective:

In a narrow stance skiers find themselves in a position of "dynamic balance" which can perhaps be considered as a point of unstable equilibrium. With a narrow stance the center of mass needs to be moved very little to enter into the "free fall" phase of a turn with the skier moving down and across the ski hill fall line. With a wider stance skiers places themselves into a position of more stable equilibrium where the center of mass must be moved further to place the skier into the free fall position.

From a narrow stance small movements initiated at the feet work very well to produced smooth turns with very little energy expenditure or work (in the physics sense of the word). From a wider stance larger movements requiring more effort from larger muscle groups are employed. Both of these have their place.

A skier like Doug Coombs is a great example of one who skis from the feet up with a great deal of "dynamic balance." Perhaps not the narrowest stance but a relatively narrow one just the same. I suspect that a few of the people who post here frequently exhibit this type of style as well. In most cases this type of skiing would be my goal for a recreational skier trying to achieve an advanced or expert level. It is a style that can serve them well in most types of terrain at almost any life stage.

Ski racers, on the other hand, tend to use a different style invoving a wider stance. This is in part needed due to the high speeds and forces experienced which require greater stability and margin for error. Of course the cost is the increased energy and work which is needed to move the center of mass a greater distance in going from one turn to the next. While skiers empoying this style certainly can use their feet to initiate movements there is a great deal of additional effort and forces that must be brought into the kinetic chain with this style of skiing. This is a style of skiing that, I would suggest, is not for the average recreational skier who does not have a strong desire to race gates or discover the stability limits of their skis at high speeds.

I find an interesting parallel between these two styles (which are obviously not distinct but rather 2 ends of a spectrum) and tennis. In tennis, younger competitive players generally use a power style of play which requires tremendous torsional forces from the hips and torso to produce big top spin. As they age, however, they eventually migrate towards a much quieter and smoother style where timing is used as the main source of power (albeit a lower level of power). Just watch the seniors tour some time to see this style.

I suspect that there is a very similar situation in skiing. As I look at great skiers as they age I see a much more efficient style which utilizes small distal movement from the lower extremities as the primary control mechanism in their skiing. While such skiing may not be as powerful or fast as that found on the World Cup it is what I think most of us would do well to aspire to.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by skiprofessor (edited August 15, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 92
Ohhhh RIGHT on professor! I recently "changed" my stance issues, and find it easier to ski with a narrower stance. Need more skill perhaps, but that's OK, isn't it?

Waiting for the ensuing comments from the "gang" Where did you come from, you been lurking or what? ROFLMAO!

Visit me here &gt;&gt;&gt;SnoKarver
post #3 of 92
Funny you should bring this up! I was recently perusing some "buyers guide issues" and to my untrained eye, it looked like most of the testers pictured had pretty "narrow" stances.
post #4 of 92
Welcome aboard, Skiprofesser.

Thank you for describing the wide/narrow stance issue. I have tried to describe it in the past without a lot of success. One of the things in my description is the length of time for the CM to move in both wide and narrow stances. One of the things about narrow stance, is the issue of not having to physically move the CM into the new turn, particularly with PMTS's lifting and tipping the new inside ski. I just typed the magic letters that will get a hot discussion going. This will go on until someone, like yourself, is able to describe the biomechanical difference between the upper levels of PMTS and ATS, so that the "gang" will understand and accept that there is a substantial difference between the two techniques. I am not being judgmental toward either technique; I just prefer PMTS.

post #5 of 92
Glad someone showed up around here with a can o' gas! It was getting boring!
I think Herr Professor you have encapsulated what the ATS describes as a functional, uncontrived and natural stance. Neither arbitrarily narrow, in mind or deed!
post #6 of 92
On the back cover of the Ski mag Buyer's Guide there is a picture of a skier showing a wide stance. What do you think of it? You don't have to buy the mag to see it, pull it off the rack and look at the back. Instructors: is this the wide stance you teach to your students?
post #7 of 92
great opening post Skiprofessor.
Thanks and welcome.
post #8 of 92
Good call, Jim. It sounds suspiciously like that guy from Stowe. If not, a compliment nevertheless!
I guess what you touch on is the crux of the matter in my adled mind, "tips clacking" et al.
I have real issues with often used terms that conjure inaccurate images in the mind of practitioners. "Narrow" and "wide" being relative...to what? To "natural", that stance which you accurately describe as optimal to walking...what kinda stance for running arcs?
Terms like "matching" (I prefer "merging")etc., place recall images that are inconsistent (based from transfer), and many times inaccurate. Which is why "functional" and "natural" apply concerning all the variables...which we discuss ad infinitum. I felt, the prof described the spectrum well.
The bane of tech talk is usually traced to incoherent and inconsistant use of terminology. Bob B's book addresses this as well as I have read in the first chapter.
post #9 of 92
Thread Starter 
I feel I should clear the professor issue up right away. I am not the Ski Professor, Stu Cambell, of magazine fame. I only chose this name because I happen to be a professor and have an interest in ski (and tennis) coaching as well as skill and movement learning. In choosing this name there was no intention of borrowing reputation or implication of any kind of particular expertise. I apologize if there was an appearance of such.

When I originally posted I tried to keep things focused but given the interest demonstrated so quickly perhaps I will add another different but somewhat related thought concerning wide/narrow stance: This same concept of narrowed stance applies in looking at fore/aft movements. By reducing the "lead" between skis (pulling the uphill ski back, narrowing the fore/aft stance, etc.) the weight shift from the downhill to uphill ski needed to initiate a new turn is made dramatically easier, as the need for gross motor movements so many people use to initiate such change are eliminated. This one little change can produce some of the most dramatic change in a person's skiing that I have ever observed.

I will try to respond to others' comments later after there has been a bit more time for response.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by skiprofessor (edited August 15, 2001).]</FONT>
post #10 of 92

Are you referring to the Obermeyer ad? A woman making a turn on the cords, wearing a white outfit? If so, I believe that stance is too wide. Also notice the A-frame. I don't think any instructor would see that as a good photo of a turn.

In the buyer's guide section, there is a picture of one of the testers (recalling from memory, it might be around page 114??), in the upper right corner of the right page; a guy, who's name I can't remember, but I think the picture was labled number 5. He's catching a small bit air with knees bent. You can't see the snow surface. The caption refers to the lack of a smile on his face. That picture shows a great example of a proper stance width.
post #11 of 92
Pierre, eh?... I know those kinda slopes well. Buck Hill and Afton are best skied to Jeff Becks "Freeway Jam". Wild Mountain weekday night skiing used to have so many gates set up for various racing teams, that the public skiing was in narrow corridors. Except of course for the bump and green runs. Thread the needle. Speed control, indeed.

The "lose the lead" drama unfolded for me this spring. Can hardly wait to play with it and refine it more. Can carve, almost uphill, really loopy, reaching long with the legs... with power, in a narrower stance than I thought possible. Carved retraction turns with much less effort. Shocked me, then got me giggling out loud. Reaching by extending the legs, then quickly flexing to release. Focus on lightening and releasing that old stance to new free foot "moment" to accurately finish my turn shape... I felt just as connected to the snow, like I do when playing with the wide railroad track turns. But it was so much less effort to deal with desired speed control. Railroads are a lot tougher for me, meaning effort, if I want to go slow.

Going fast and narrow instead of fast and wide is interesting too. It becomes easier as you get the "feel" for it. Powerful, but more focus on balancing at the bottom, with ankles and feet. Feels like a more delicate power, in a way. I am not as fast with a norrow stance as wide, full tilt. But it feels do-able. Works really well in off-piste snow, too.

Ever see that experimental robot that dances around on one foot, like a pogo stick? Or Dean Kamen's (mysterious GINGER fame ) stair-climbing wheelchair in "upright mode"? Balancing the center of mass on top of a stick, by managing balance at the bottom of that long pole. Walking robots are better than ever.

Can you say paradigm shift? sSsSure, I knew you could. This is fun. Thank you for the topic skiprofessor. Umm, prefer an Apple, or a Beer? I'll put both in a discrete paper bag on your desk. The "nick" you chose is appropriate.

The motorcycle rides cease to take the place of skiing about this time of year. Hopeful sign of things to come? Serious frost on the seat this morning.. and cars windshields. Woohooo! First frost since early may or so. I truly believe I was a polar bear in a past life.

Visit me here >>>SnoKarver

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[This message has been edited by SnoKarver (edited August 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #12 of 92
JohnH - yes, the Obermeyer ad. I agree with your comments and I try to ski the way the guy on page 119 does: the one you mentioned.
post #13 of 92
JohnH - yes, the Obermeyer ad. I agree with your comments and I try to ski the way the guy on page 119 does: the one you mentioned.
post #14 of 92
Very good discussion! It is interesting to hear people saying narrow stance is OK, I don't know how many times I was told to widen my stance. Bottom line is you need to have a functional stance for your body type, equipment selection, task, and condition de jour. I believe many skiers buy into the idea that good skiers have a close stance because of some amount of an optical illusion. Good skiers creat angles to balance against the forces they are managing. When you creat angles this gives the appearance of a close relationship of the legs viewed from afar. The more angles the illusion. There are many reasons to adjust the width of your stance, moguls, bumps, ice, crud etc... I think the key is you are adjusting your stance not having it adjusted on you. When I see people have this problem it is most often caused by a lazy inside leg, that is not tipping and turning and pulling the outside leg through the turn.(the picture of the Obermeyer add a good example)I will often have people bring there focus to the thigh and pretend to be pushing open a heavy door with the thing so the rest of the body can go through.

As for the lead change and scissoring that we see so common on high intermediates they have found that it is much easier and less scary to push the old outside leg out of the way to get to the new inside edge of the new outside ski as opposide to rolling that old ski down the hill. THis is a huge problem and why some very good skiers then have trouble in bumps, crud, powder and develop A-frames. Pulling the old inside leg back at turn intiation can be very beneficial to some and I have found even more so for women. As with any activity there is a point of diminishing return that needs to be watched. In summary allow your body type to set your width and stay active with the legs where they are able to effectively tip and turn from the hip sockets and make small adjustments as needed for the desired outcome, like running gates, or dancing in the bumps. The feet need to be under or behind the hips. It is when they get ahead or outside them that you have problems. That is why the faster you are going the more comfortable wider feels because you are creating greater angles thus allowing your legs to stay inside your hip region. Not sure if this explanation cuts it.
post #15 of 92
Thread Starter 
I think the interchange between Pierre and SnoKarver is of value and if I may I'd like to join in. Pierre, first of all I think it was probably a mistake to makes a statement like the one I did:

>>This is a style of skiing that, I would suggest, is not for the average recreational skier who does not have a strong desire to race gates or discover the stability limits of their skis at high speeds.<<

I think that anyone should be able to try any kind of turn they want. I had the opportunity this past season to watch some skiers from a European national team on some early (fast) warm up runs with very wide stances and lots of up/down movement as they rocked from side to side and pressured their edges hard. Not very efficient but very forceful and appearing to be quite a bit of fun. I couldn't resist trying to imitate for a run and thoroughly enjoyed it (couldn't do it nearly as fast and hard as they did but fun nevertheless). However, I have come to feel that this type of skiing has somewhat limited application and does not generalize to a wide variety of terrain. The narrower stanced, dynamic balance approach I originally referred to does, I beleive, genaralize much more broadly.

I very much agree with SnoKarver on his descriptions of "lose the lead" and "fast and narrow." I remember an early jump in speed and comfort I attained through the application of a wider stance. Since that time, however, I have been able to further increase my speed (and comfort with it) through use of a narrower stance (both laterally and fore/aft). I certainly don't find that this requires more "up unweighting" with a "resultant late edge and heavy braking in the second half of the turn" as Pierre described. To the contrary, with a narrower stance I think you can do this with much less up/down movement and earlier edge engagement to allow much easier speed control without much braking or skidding. I also think the physics of the situation supports this empirical finding. In a narrow stance small movements can result in edge change and shift of the center of mass much more readily than in a wider stance where the center of mass must move much farther for the same edge change. SnoKarver's description reflects my own experiences quite well:

>>Going fast and narrow instead of fast and wide is interesting too. It becomes easier as you get the "feel" for it. Powerful, but more focus on balancing at the bottom, with ankles and feet. Feels like a more delicate power, in a way. I am not as fast with a narrow stance as wide, full tilt. But it feels do-able. Works really well in off-piste snow, too.<<

Oh BTW SnoKarver, I much prefer a beer, especially if we're going to talk about or participate in skiing.

In regards to Rick H's comments about ATS and PMTS - from what I understand of these systems the concepts we are discussing here fall well within the scope of ATS. However, within PMTS they form some the most basic tenets of the approach. Personally, I have had good results with narrowing the approach I take to one heavily focused on "dyanmic balance" even at the earliest stages.

Thanks for the great responses folks.
post #16 of 92
Thank you, too, Skiprofessor, for starting a very good thread. And thanks to everyone who participated in this one. We managed to keep the thread objective. Good work everyone!

post #17 of 92
Great discussion! As for functionality, let me be the devil's own advocate.
Fast and "narrow" is indeed fine and fun! What do you do when you tighten the arc or adjust for terrain change? Still narrow?
post #18 of 92
Skiprofessor said I have been able to further increase my speed (and comfort with it) through use of a narrower stance (both laterally and fore/aft). I certainly don't find that this requires more "up unweighting" with a "resultant late edge and heavy braking in the second half of the turn" as Pierre described. To the contrary, with a narrower stance I think you can do this with much less up/down movement and earlier edge engagement to allow much easier speed control without much braking or skidding.

Skiprofessor, what is your weight/height and what ski type and length are you on? The reason I ask, is because you disagree with Pierre, yet he describes a situation (short radius turns) where unless you have short/shaped skis and a wide stance you will definitely have to up-unweigh and skid/brake through the second half of the turn. Look at Slalom comps and you will see racers on short skis with a stance that is relatively wide, with both skis carving. Slalom requires a relatively upright stance and the only way to carve with both skis efficiently is to open up the stance.

In any case Todo made a good point. Ideally, you should ski in a stance that comes naturally and is appropriate for the terrain.
post #19 of 92
O.k., before this goes on too far is there any definition of wide and narrow here? I believe to Pierre wide means close to 2 feet between the skis. That is indeed very wide. Some people when they say "narrow" mean boots together and others are talking about hip width apart. What are we talking here?

Also, it's been suggested that skiing wide is more work because you've got to use large muscle groups. Well if you're skiing with a high edge angle and a lot of angulation (cm is way inside the turn) I don't see how you're going to get inside the next turn quickly without using large muscle groups.
(I guess this is what Pierre is saying)
Whether the stance is wide or narrow I don't see how you can move your body that far quickly just by tipping the downhill foot. Does anyone actually ski with the cm way inside the turn and a high edge angle in a "narrow" stance?

Short radius turns with a narrow stance? How about juicing the end of the turn so you get a little air from the rebound and can pivot the skis to the new steering angle? This is certainly not just tipping the downhill foot though and requires a lot of energy input. (I guess this would be an old school slalom turn)

Pierre, can you explain your statement:
>>Excessive tip lead, especially during initiation in a wide stance greatly increases the effort one must make to make turns. This is a big reason many skiers think that a wide stance is much more effort<<
Why does the inside lead increase the effort so much?
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[This message has been edited by Tog (edited August 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #20 of 92
Thread Starter 
Pierre, I feel like I am being pinned into a corner here based on semantics. I really don't see much of a basis for argument. I started out talking about the effectiveness of a particular skiing style for the development of many or most recreational (a vague term) skiers. I tried to separate out the type of turns used in running slalom gates or the equivalent. Given that premise, I probably interpreted your use of "short" turn (another vague term) somewhat differently than you intended. In your new post you have now shifted to using the term "realy short" radius turn (less vague but still open to interpretation). Had you initially used that I don't think we'd have gotten to this point but I could be wrong. It seems to me that your post describes reasonably well some of the reasons one would employ a wider stance (yet another vague term) in some situations. My experience still tells me that this is not the approach I would usually use with most "developing" skiers. On the other hand, the anecdote I provided was meant to demonstrate that I like to play around with or employ a wider stance on occasion as well. Your writing displays a relatively strong preferance for this type of stance. I would probably take exception, however, with your comment that there are "many" (another vague term) areas of skiing where a wide stance is definitely superior to a narrow stance. However, I would have no trouble if many was replaced by some.

On another note, I would certainly not want to be considered a closet anything. I like to read and develop an understanding about many different points of views on a subject. I have a strong reluctance, however, to being a follower of other people's ideas. I much rather like to form my own opinions and express them as I have here. Of course, with time, new information, discussion, and new experience I often find my ideas changing.

Whatever the distance between your skis I hope your bindings always stay on top.
post #21 of 92
Short radius turns. To me it is a turn that is made around my pole. In otherwords, about 6 feet. This turn takes a lot of practice and timing.

It starts with the pole plant, which is planted in an arm extension position out from the heel. I lift the inside ski a bit more than usual and from the flexed body position, I am able to tip the inside ski quite a bit. The outcome is a high edge angle and the skis are carving throughout the turn. All of this in a narrow stance with minimal ( 1 or 2 inches) tip lead.

As an aside: we all ski differently, with different techniques. What works for me, may not work for someone else. What I do is based on sound biomechanics. Let me suggest that we all respect one another's technique. I would hate to see someone, like Skiprofessor, get upset and leave this forum. I feel that we need his valuable insights to contribute to this forum. Off the soapbox!!

post #22 of 92
Well I can't speak for Bob, but I've stayed out of the thread because 1)We've hit this so many times, and 2)Stance is nearly religious for many people and we know how these threads seem to end!

In retrospect, I understand why it is such a controversial subject for many people. Stance discussions tends to catch us below the belt . . . in the ego! I know that at a point in my skiing long time back I had worked very hard to get my stance how it was -- so when asked by coaches and such to diversify my stance options, I remember how it seemed like a personal attack. Because my ego was attached to this stance. Realizing this now, I could have saved a lot of energy wasted in debates over the years!

I think this group has an excellent handle on stance. Our bodies are different, we have different minds, terrain and snow vary . . . there will always be a need for wide variety of stances. All of these variations makes it pretty tough to pin down any absolute "ideal" that can apply to everybody in every situation. So technical details aside, I think the most skilled skiers will always "own" the largest collection of stances to deploy as needed.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Todd Murchison (edited August 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #23 of 92
Right on, Todd...many of us ski with a stance and style that requires minimal movement and effort, depending on the difficulty of the terrain.

It seems natural to me to ski tall and fairly narrow, 2-3 inches apart, on easier terrain, and to sink down into a more compact body position and widen the stance for better balance in difficult terrain, not depending on equilibrium between gravity and centrifugal force as in natrrow stances, as Pierre said, and being able to use muscle push-off laterally if needed.

When I used to teach intermediates on blue groomers I found that individuals had different problems making turns. Some hurried and made zig-zag turns, some unweighted too much and used upper body motion ending up overturning, yet others used a wide stance and made round turns without their body position ever changing throughout the turn, strictly steering, they may as well have been in a wedge. Those were the ones afraid of speed.

We needed to bring them back to basics, to use a drivers-ed term, both hands on the wheel in the 10 and 2 o'clock position, and work from there. If you don't watch them,(and how can you?) students can develop bad habbits in one afternoon.

I also think there is no single perfect stance, use them all, from total weight shift in a narrow stance to barely shifting weight in a wider one, whatever works for the conditions and terrain.

post #24 of 92
Drat, just when things get interesting, I start getting busy. I don't think this thread has any real ego issues. I think it's been one of the best, at communication... no flames. Whew. Misunderstandings and opinions, sure... but this is soooo cool.

So let's discuss the understanding. Pierre eh, as usual is going right for the "beef". Thanks, eh! As I am not as strong in bio-mechanics as I should be, and I too want to understand better WHY it's easier (less effort) to ski in the manner I described. I have my suspicions, and skiprofessor may be able to clarify.

Back to the skiing. It's a cross under turn thing, that's for sure. But I think "slink through" or something is a better description. Extending into the turn's belly, then flexing, tipping and rolling into the new turn. The center of mass just rolls on down the line, no up and down at all. Find it easier to keep the CM moving at a constant rate down the hill. More control... sweeet! And I can start turning this way, with the first turn, which is also interesting...

What I used to do to turn, especially to "get going":
Top of turn, early transfer to new stance foot, BTE...
"Pedaling slowly" and extending off the foot, bending that stance ski...
Running out of useful extension at the top of the turn, getting taller, keeping the bend in the ski...
Now flexing slowly to keep that ski bent, till I flex a little quicker...
Tip and roll (hey a lot of LTE focus here)thru the "transition zone"...
Redux that slooooowww pedal extension move on the new stance foot...

Repeat often, as needed. Old straight skis worked well with this, as do shape skis. Shape skis ramp up the performance of this turn as it's easier to carve.

Other things going on, tippng the ankles back and forth... lots of ankle rolling, and it's never static...

And the straighter the ski, well, some active rotary helps. And maybe to help achieve the tighter turn. More sidecut, the need for active rotary... well it seemed to disappear! Passive rotary takes over. No concious rotary, in the "twirl the femurs" mode. Rotary from tipping and rolling, sure.

Once going along, I could "shift" into a retraction turn. Needed flow and energy to enter that kind of turn. Except for maybe when playing on skis with say, oh, a 9 meter radius design. Radical sidecuts. Was easier to do at higher speeds, especially on the straight boards. Slow speed turns like that were always tough for me.

Smaller "natural radius" skis that turn on a dime don't need any active rotary at all, and do quite well with the "narrow stance, no lead", awww, you know, PMTS taught turn. O.K. if I use PMTS? It's descriptive and short, most of you have at least read a little, if not yet having a chance to "ski for yourself". Although this stuff works great on my skis with less sidecut, it's a little trickier to do a short radius turn. I mess with a more dynamic "ankle crank' to bring the "boaty" boards around faster. This seems to work, without active rotary. Extra turn shape results... Hmmm, is this from more ski bending and engagement, or the rotary from rolling and tipping?... I'm guessing both?

With the PMTS (style, type, learned) turn..

I just flex, pull the feet back, and rolll, baby. Seems to be an achievable turn in a wider range of speeds and terrain for me as well. Less "a little of this" and a "little of that" skill blending needed to do the all mountain thing. Really, I feel I can use a MUCH narrower stance in funkier conditions, than I ever have before. As a funky snow junkie ... This blows me away more than any thing else, except for how slinky and nice these turns feel. Still giggling.

Rick H's mention of the short radius turn that is explored with certain PMTS exercises; i.e. turning around the pole, is KEY to getting the feel for this type of turn's ability to CONTROL decent. I dunno, carving "braccage"? But not really. It's different. Excellent for narrow corridor sking. This is definately a "scarved" turn when done at slower speeds.

Now I am really drooling for turns... No frost on the seat this morning, either. Maybe tomorrow...

How about a weizen-bier and a hard apple cider in that paper sack, skiprofessor? I'm thinking of fall and harvest season delights... Hope those in CO got some of those Olathe ears of corn the last few weeks. Yummy. No, I am NOT Kramer, getting nuts over "in season" peaches. I prefer plums and blueberries...

Visit me here >>>SnoKarver
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[This message has been edited by SnoKarver (edited August 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #25 of 92
Well put gonzo. But what if we as instructors were trained to properly see the function, as it relates to individual form, as opposed to the other way around?

My favorite "yodas" do that. Not everyone does. Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing, as teachers? And give an accurate appraisal of the appropriate tactics.

Jim sounds like a good "yoda" to me.

Visit me here &gt;&gt;&gt;SnoKarver
post #26 of 92
Thread Starter 
While some may advocate for people to find their own "natural stance" for given conditions it is important to experience and understand for yourself the pros and cons. I have seen skiers employing wide stances in relatively soft (and even powder) snow who will tell you they can't handle those type of conditions unless they take advantage of the "stability" of a wider stance. I would be surprised to hear from any competent free skier that a narrower (single platform) stance with nearly equal weighting does not have great advantage in soft snow, crud, and powder. However, if the person who believes that a wide stance is the only way they can ski in those conditions, how will they ever be able to discover for themselves the relative merits of the different stances? Obviously, the same case could (and has) be made for changing from a narrower to a wider stance in some situations. Drilling and practice with different stances/weightings is the only way for someone to really achieve an understanding for themselves on this issue. However, some or most will probably need a lot of guidance or coaching to achieve enlightlenment. It seems to me that there is opportunity in this discussion to learn about what others have found for themselves and their students in regards to stance and weighting in different situations and conditions (which is what I was trying to do in talking about a narrowed stance with nearly equal weighting in soft snow, crud, and powder). (Perhaps in choosing these conditions I'm also trying to show my bias for the off-piste).

BTW, I would encourage people to talk about weight distribution together with stance width to give a much better sense of what they are describing to readers.
post #27 of 92
Okay, now we are getting somewhere! Good comments Gonz and Pierre! Why in wide, wide world of sports would we manufacture anyones stance outside the functional parameters of/and the "range" of what is natural and uncontrived?
Drills that allow that guided discovery of what works where, and experimentation works for all that do not have an athletic apptitude or intuitive "righting" ability.
Sure there are "known" stance imperatives that should be directed to students. But start with what ya got...how did he walk up to you!
My first Director, Wayne Booth, said to me, "have you seen them walk?...teach'm to ski!"

"Gosh...Mr. Lamar, you use yer tongue purtier than a french wh*re!"...Slim Pickens, Blazing Saddles (take that Spag)<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Robin (edited August 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #28 of 92
I find it a wide stance very helpful while doing big high speed turns in deep snow. This eliminates having to move the inside ski up along the stance leg to allow for high edge angles.
post #29 of 92
Is it possible to pull both feet back as SnoKarver suggested. How can you pull back on the downhill foot if it is weighted? Is there a trick to this? I see this as being especially useful in moguls, but I wonder how best to accomplish this.
post #30 of 92
Well it's harder if the foot is still weighted, too late. Let's see if I can describe it well. It's always easier to show this stuff on the hill, verbalizing well enuf to get the details down is tough. But I like it, it's damn good for my teaching skills:

HarveyD, it is possible to scoot your feet back, , especially if you are OFF the stance foot, already releasing into the new turn. This makes it easier to do, as both feet are momentarily weighted more equally.

As you are finishing the turn, and slowly flexing, start lightening (lift to learn, lighten to ski) the stance foot, and tip it to it's little toe edge. Point that arch to the sky! Let the new stance foot take care of itself, just manage the turn with the new free foot.

If you are used to flexing at the end of turn to add pressure to the stance foot, it's not the same thing. Instead of your CM dropping steadily over the skis to bend them, you are flexing, and letting your CM just gently fall downhill a little, as your skis flatten.

If you can let your CM fall, and scoot your feet back, turns come very easy. I have found that I don't even have to "scoot back" on smoother steep terrain very often, if I get the CM falling thing just right. So this becomes more of a "corrective" balance move.

Flex to manage the pressure so your feet lighten, While you are changing your weight from the old stance to the new.

As far as the basic idea of pulling back the feet, think about standing on the flats. Find your center, grasshoppa Feel the pressure under your feet, get it about equal at the heel related to the balls of your feets. Ahhhh, comfy? Now, if you pull back both your feet smartly, the skis will scoot back, and you should find your balance shift forward, more over the balls of your feet (which is not centered, it's too far forward). The move into the new turn is more subtle, especially if you have been keeping centered, or you might go over the handlebars! Concentrate on making it come from the feet, don't throw your body around.

This is the kind of move you want to do, but don't be as abrupt as this "static demo". BTW, this is easier if your keggle muscles are tight, like the way Lismarie describes it! Stabilizes the CM, so the feet move easier. If the skis "scoot" or "jet" out in front of you, this move is going to get you back in the drivers seat quickly. For most people it's a lot less scary than the concept of moving your CM downhill into the new turn. Helps you stay in "balance". Gets you out of the rumble seat.

You could practice this, standing on a small throw rug, on a slippery floor. Be careful!

In bumps, there is a little additional focus. As your feet crest the top of the bump, pull back enough, and your tips will point downhill, into the next trough. Add a little tip of the feet to point the skis downhill. Just as you push the accelerator on your car down a little, with the heel on the floorboards (open the ankle in the fore-aft). Because your skis are in better full length contact with the snow, you can make good use of the backside of the bump. No thumping noises, allowed! Or uff ugh uuuf ufff's either

Concentrate on absorbing on the uphill face, and extending into the trough. Nice smooth ride, be the active suspension!. It's amazing how much speed contol you can achieve by keeping the skis on the snow, and turning down the front face of a bump. Extend your legs enough to put pressure on the skis as you go over each crest, reach into the trough, and the skis will turn easier.

Suggestion; take a slightly wider, more sinuous path through the zipper line, and you can "fit" a shape skis turns to the bumps better, and you will tend to avoid the really sharp (cliff-like) downhill transistions. Smoother ride!

Bumps are going to "force" you to make quick, dynamic balancing moves. So just dropping the CM down the hill, while flexing, is not a likely to be enough to dive into the troughs. Tho I seem to be able to get that to happen if the bumps are soft, big and round. Or really, really "on it".

This is a bit of the fore aft balance thing we have been discussing. Small changes at the base of support, will help you have better dynamic balance. Fore aft changes, as well as the tipping and rolling (BTE/LTE). If your stance is narrower, the dynamic balancing moves are smaller and very effective!

Where is that URL for that pogo-ing robot. I can't seem to find it. Amazing articulating foot on the base of that thing. Imagine that... Straight leg, 360 degree "floppy ankle" and foot. No knee, just a fast piston going up and down to propel itself in any possible direction, every time it pops up... Balancing in a VERY dynamic environment, just with small movements at the base of support. Using it's high tech ankle. We have no need for that 360 ankle, 'cause we are turning downhill. Darn right we are!

Okay, help me refine this long post. I need more caffiene? NOT! I like my french press.

I still think we oughta get into the weight (left and right thing), and we will, skiprofessor, we will. Basic idea of more equal weight (l-r) in the sinkable stuff, and like that, eh? In that "narrower" stance. Fluffy snow. I want some NOW!
Sigh. August.

Visit me here >>>SnoKarver

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[This message has been edited by SnoKarver (edited August 18, 2001).]</FONT>
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