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The Paradox of Skiing - Page 2

post #31 of 43
Thread Starter 
EUREKA! "Intuitive". That's the word. Dynamic balance can sometimes be easier to achieve than static because it is more natural and intuitive. Its always interesting to observe people who only practice hatha yoga, attempting a core board class. Core board involves a weighting and unweighting, shifting from being in balance to slighlty out of balance. The board, in most cases, is supposed to be in constant motion. Yoga participants will always try to keep the board totally still!

Did you ever watch what happens when you move quickly past a person with a balance disability, such as a senior citizen with a cane? They will tense up in an attempt to maintain absolute stability. In contrast, someone with decent dynamic balance will adjust their movements to go with the flow. Its intuitive.

The same thing happens on the slopes. I recall in the begining if a boarder or out of control skier was coming at me, I would tense up.

Now, its infinitely more fun {but perhaps a bit mean} to simply use the other person's own force against them! [img]tongue.gif[/img]

[ December 04, 2002, 09:44 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
post #32 of 43
Thread Starter 
Another thought: Do you think that skiers who never release their inside ski are confusing static balance with dynamic?
post #33 of 43
Bob, I'm glad you brought this up, because I've always had a little bit of trouble with all of the balance talk. Because of the time factor you mentioned. I look at it this way: You need to be in a position of balance for what is ABOUT to happen.
Which can make for interesting still pictures.
post #34 of 43
I can’t understand the word balance as used in active skiing; I have substituted equilibrium instead.

Expert skiers strive for only the minimum amount of static equilibrium to keep from falling. They strive for a maximum of dynamic disequilibria. This occurs because the center of mass is downhill of the most downhill ski edge for a significant amount of time during any sequence of linked turns. For an additional significant period of time, the skis are attempting to regain equilibrium. A state of true equilibrium only occurs for a brief fraction of a second when the CM and skis are in static equilibrium or alignment, or balance.

To me the state of true equilibrium is a necessary evil. I only achieve this state because I must or I would fall. It is not where I want to be. I want to be perpetually in disequilibria. That is the state that keeps skiing fresh and interesting for me.

It is my perception that rutted intermediate does not understand this or are uncomfortable with the state of disequilibria and, so, attempts to ski in the state of equilibrium as much as possible. They cannot do so and ascend to the expert levels.

But, what do I know? I am not a ski instructor, or analyst. Just a schmoe with an opinion.

post #35 of 43
Ah-h Lisamarie--it's a paradox of perspective! Great post! Still, and in motion, at the same time--yes indeed! Now you've got me started....

The paradox of "balance in motion" is interesting from a pure physics point of view, as skiing quite literally puts us in touch with the mysteries of relativity. This "paradox" probably causes more confusion about skiing than anything else! But recognizing the roots of the paradox can be an adventure in itself. Join me on a little exploration of the space and time continuum that has very little--and yet everything--to do with skiing....

The irony of the paradox is that, by the laws of physics, balanced skiers cannot turn, and turning skiers are, by definition, NOT in "dynamic balance"--ever! How's that for a statement to let the air out of the 450 or so posts in recent threads about the importance of balance!?! All those multisyllabic words, and the reality is that skiers are NOT BALANCED--and don't usually even WANT to be balanced!

But it's true. Turning is a form of acceleration. Balance is a form of "equilibrium"--the result of all the forces acting on an object cancelling out, combining to equal zero, and resulting in NO acceleration. As Newton said, only UNBALANCED external forces can cause acceleration. When forces are balanced, the object is in equilibrium, the state in which "a body a rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in constant, straight-line motion." A body in "balance" does not accelerate, and hence, cannot turn!

G-FORCES! Like many skiers, I'm a G-Force junkie. That's the sense of "motion" that so many of us live for. But "G-Forces" are the direct result of acceleration. They are the sensations that result from being OUT OF BALANCE! Balance is over-rated! Balance is BORING! I hate balance. G-Forces are cool. They're the result of IMbalance!

But that's the paradox, isn't it? Still and motionless, yet clearly in motion. Imbalanced by choice, yet "balance" IS the essential foundation of skiing!

When you're sleeping in your seat in a 747 at 600 mph, are you sitting STILL, or are you going nearly the speed of sound? Both, of course--it depends on your perspective, on your frame of reference. From the frame of reference of an observer standing on the ground, you are very clearly going 600 mph. From YOUR perspective, though, you are not moving at all! We have no sense of "motion"--only a sense of acceleration. On a perfectly smooth, level flight, with your eyes closed or the shades drawn, you can't tell if you're flying or sitting on the runway. I believe that this is why pilots can get so disoriented when flying through zero visibility.

And your "motionless" perspective ("accelerated frame of reference") is just as valid as the observer's perspective. All motion is relative--there is no "absolute" motion. Things move or remain stationary only relative to other things. If there were only one "thing" in the universe, there would be--could be--no motion! (Nor would there be any acceleration or turning, which require "external force" from another "thing.") So it is just as reasonable to say that YOU are motionless and the observer on the ground is moving at 600 mph, as the other way 'round.

Of course, if that plane is flying WEST at 600 mph, you could argue that it is really flying BACKWARDS, to the EAST, at over 400 mph! Remember that the earth spins, and that it's surface (at the equator) is moving east at about 25,000 miles per day, or just over 1000 mph. That plane is travelling west at 600 mph relative to the earth's surface. So it's still "really" going east! It would have to go over 1000 mph just to stand still! But then, the earth is revolving around the sun, and the sun is moving in relation to other celestial bodies. So when you think about it, that 600 mph airplane speed and heading is entirely arbitrary.

In skiing, this perspective is more than just valid--it is the only perspective in which it makes sense to speak of "balance." IF, and ONLY IF, you define yourself as "stationary," then you are in balance! When we speak of forces that try to "pull us out of a turn"--i.e. "centrifugal force"--we must realize that we are speaking from this "accelerated frame of reference." From the observer's stationary frame of reference, of course, there are no forces pulling you OUT of the turn--the external forces are pushing you INTO the turn, and that is why you are turning!

In analyzing or describing ski technique, we almost always assume this "accelerated frame of reference," whether we realize it or not. Ski technique largely amounts to how we move in order to remain in equilibrium--how we work to keep the varying forces acting on us in balance. Centrifugal force is a VERY REAL force from this perspective, trying to pull us sideways. In our efforts to AVOID going sideways, we resist centrifugal force. It's a true balancing act! When we speak of "the trees going by in a blur," we are clearly speaking from the this enlightened frame of reference. "Most people" would suggest that those trees really aren't moving--but that you are. When we turn the wheel too quickly and all the change on the dashboard "flies sideways," we are recognizing an accelerated frame of reference (from a bystander's frame of reference, the change just continued going straight, and it was YOU and THE CAR that changed direction! It is, truly, "all relative"!

The sense of "stillness" and "peace" even at "great speeds" is a fascinating paradox. But it all makes sense when we recognize the simultaneous awareness of very different frames of reference. We really CAN be both motionless and moving fast at the same time!

Here's the good news from all this: all we have to do to be in "balance" is DEFINE ourselves as in balance! At that moment, the equations of motion no longer relate to how the unbalanced forces acting on us cause us to accelerate ("F = mA" or "force equals mass times acceleration"). If we define ourselves as "balanced," centrifugal force suddenly appears as our ally, balancing the forces that "were" causing us to turn, providing the "equal and opposite reaction" that KEEPS us in balance!

Please fasten your seatbelts--we're now coming back in for a landing. If nothing I just said makes any sense from a theoretical perspective--if it sounds completely paradoxical--just go out and take a few ski runs. The paradox comes crystal clear! The paradox, if not the "motion," is absolutely real!

So there! You may all now take a break from your relentless pursuit of analyzing the nuances of "balance"!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

(PS--just kidding!)
post #36 of 43
Thread Starter 
Equilibrium, hmm. This may bee the better description.
Check this out;

The Tao of Skiing
post #37 of 43
Hi all. I think OZ raised one of the most important points. Belief. Whether I "believe" in Newton and Einstein, isn't nearly as important as wherther I belive in myself and my bodies ability to "intuitively" respond. I couldn't agree more OZ, this is where creative instruction comes into play, helping us to understand and believe in ourbodies and ourselves. Physicaly and mentaly.

What was that line of Mermer's student in "The Yikes Zone"? Something like "There is only security is in moving". Mermer said it was very profound. We don't find our security in a position, we find it by moving. Funtional movement. I "believe" that we do balance. We balance the forces, constantly moving, to find that equilibrium of and between the forces. Reading them, responding to them, and harnessing them whenever possible. Best done when we believe in our bodies enough that we let go and allow our bodies to intuitively read and respond. Making movements that play the forces to our advantage and leave us always "ready", and moving to respond. If we didn't we would never get anywhere, let alone anywhere we wanted to go. Some of this lies in the physical world, some in the mind and spirit. To qoute Einstein, "It is equally clear that knowledge of what is, does not directly open the door to what should be. The knowledge of truth as such is wonderfull, but is so little cappable of acting as a guide that it cannot prove even the justification and the value of the aspirations towards that very knowledge of truth. Hence we face, therefore, the limits of the purely rational concept of our existence". Einstein was a big supporter of religion and beliefs that affect and direct the human condition. Skiing is a human condition.

The meaning of our activity only lives in our mind. I loved the discussions of balance and the bimechanics behind the movements, and how our muscles, bones nad joints work together to affect and control our bodies. But this only has relevance if I can use this knowledge to affect and direct my body or help someone else affect and direct their's. To help myself or someone else in balancing. Help my human skiing condition. There's another balance too. The balance between the science and our beliefs. Those reasons that bring me to this activity and allows me to move into motion, and guides me on the path I chose. I go skiing because I believe I will wil enjoy it and feel better when I stop than when I started. I'm gonna gain something from it. If the science behind how we physicaly ski doesn't serve this purpose, then it's excess baggage, and will only weigh me down.

Skiing is balancig. The balancing of all the forces we create and those that already exist, and my purpose of moving. I believe I can do this, that my body will be able to balance all of these things, and I can get where I want to go. That's the human condition I call skiing and it's something science will never define for me. But science will contribute greatly to one side of the scale, and my ability too move.

Hope everybody brought their waders.
post #38 of 43
sorry about the hijack last night LM ... its not often someone wants to talk to me

It is the soft science of personality that creates an environment for balance to thrive.

If that makes sense

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #39 of 43
Yep Sorry LM
post #40 of 43
Thread Starter 
Should be the worst thing that ever happened to me! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Sometimes, these very "heavy" threads remind me of being stoned back in the 70s. You get into this super deep discussion, then it really needs to be lightened up. All of a sudden everyone just goes totally silly. No problem, its natural.
post #41 of 43
You need to be in a position of balance for what is ABOUT to happen.
Which can make for interesting still pictures.

That about sums it up, Miles!

And all this returns us to a point we've arrived at several times in the past: balance on skis is mostly a question of NOT FALLING DOWN as we ski our chosen line! Beyond that, it's also a question of maintaining an attitude and alignment of the body that maximizes its efficiency and movement options, and provides optimal control over the center of pressure where the skis and snow interact--that ALLOWS us to ski our chosen line.

Which (alas!) brings us back to the relevance of that detailed discussion of the biomechanics of balancing! While, by definition, accelerating (turning) skiers are never in "dynamic balance," balancing remains the prime foundation--and outcome--of all skiing movements!

Skiing truly brings the theoretical and the practical together, along with the spiritual. Mind--body--spirit. Surely that's part of its fascination. Few other activities put us so directly, physically, and emotionally in touch with the mysteries of the universe! Where else does the Theory of Relativity jump right out and punch you in the gut?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ December 02, 2002, 07:47 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #42 of 43
Just to throw this out there, I spent some time last season playing with 2 things:
1. regaining balance by moving my body or the skis back or forth.
2. regaining balance by changing my line ( tightening the turn to get forward, for the most part ).
post #43 of 43
Sunday evening in twilight conditions (trail closing procedure) and I couldn't see much of anything, I "played" at skiing with my eyes closed.

First one turn, then two turns, then three linked turns.

I found, as in flying, without reference to the horizon, I tended to over bank.

As I was carring a bundle of bamboo and two pairs of poles I didn't carry this experiment too far.

It was fun however.

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