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"!