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The Early Carve

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
I’m not an instructor. I don’t even play one on TV! But I’ve been skiing for 40 years or so, and I’m not half-bad at it! A couple of years ago, I upgraded to modern equipment and set out to update my technique accordingly. Shaped skis or not, I’ve been carving my turns for many years now. Or so I thought!

I’d been fooling around with minimizing unweighting as the 1st step in turn initiation. Instead, I was just releasing edge pressure and falling into the new turn. What a blast! But …

I realized that I’d sort of been leading with my shoulders and floating into the new turn – carving wasn’t really starting until my skis approached the fall line. Good, but not good enough! So, I got to thinking: Why not try to get the skis carving as early as possible when transitioning into the new turn? Well, I don’t know exactly what I’ve been doing, but it’s clear to me that my lower body is now playing more of a role at the beginning of the turn, and I’ve encountered a new sense of power and control.

Here’s another thing. As evidenced above, I’ve gotten into the ‘crossover’ move. But there’s another one - the ‘crossunder’ move - that’s similar, but I don’t think it’s exactly the same thing. When doing modern short-swing, there’s a rhythmical thing you can do where your body from the waist up stays really quiet, but your lower body and your skis swing from side to side underneath that stable upper body. There’s very little discernable unweighting involved. It’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it (or feel yourself doing it). I wouldn’t have a clue as to how to tell someone else to do it, but I’m getting it, and it’s fun!

Finally, the hardest part of modernizing my technique was getting used to skiing without my feet and knees locked together. I spent so many years perfecting that elegant stance which was often considered the trademark of a true expert. Well, after 2 seasons of consciously keeping my feet a comfortable athletic distance apart (really, just a few inches), I was confident enough in my new style to try the old way without fear of inadvertently reverting to my old habits. Wow! What a strange feeling! Skiing with my boots and knees locked together felt so contrived and restrictive and killed a lot of the independent leg action I’ve apparently developed. Also, my skis kept banging together – rough on the edges and easier to cross tips.

Conclusion? Beats me, but the journey of discovery sure is intriguing!
post #2 of 8
Good observations Tominator! Man it just gets more and more fun as we get better doesn't it?!
post #3 of 8
That's the thing or one of the things I love about this sport is "The Journey of Discovery" Mastery of skiing is a life long adventure.
post #4 of 8
Isn't this journey fun! Congrats. Sounds like you learned on your own what most people take several privates to learn.
post #5 of 8
Good post! I've made exactly the same progress in the last two seasons or so, only I had to take lessons.

If you watch a good instructor skiing in front of their students you'll see exactly the same thing: very early edge engagement. If you know what to look for, you can really see what the instructor does, and his/her students don't.

I love this stuff!
post #6 of 8
Tominator- Great post! I want to make a suggestion. I suggest you try initiating a turn simply by tipping the old outside/new inside foot. Do this from, as BOB B terms it, a very neutral stance. Make sure you are very centered on your skis and make an attempt to have your weight fairly equally balanced. In fact centrifugal force may have transfered your weight to the outside of your body, or in fact, you may simply feel pressure building on your outside leg. Remember, one move, just tip. Isolate that move to initiate.

A year ago my skiing was described to me as looking like a fifty pound sack of potatoes. I was the cross over king. I went through a period where I tried to quiet my upper body and liven the use of my feet. No active weight transfer.

I had Jennifer Metz tell me something that really hit home. I mentioned it a day or so ago. I used to think of flexion/extension as a means of turning. She convinced me it is a means to good balance. A car has a suspension. We have our lower bodies. It helped my skiing.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone – thanks for the positive reinforcement. It’s amazing to me that my 1st thought upon returning from skiing yesterday was, “I gotta tell ‘The Bears’ about this!” And, you know, even if I got this far without going back to Ski School, I’m not at all sure I could have done it without the benefit of all the instruction I’ve absorbed on Epic Ski!

After posting last night and reading the responses, an interesting thought crossed my mind. In the ‘old’ days, I skied with my lower body and quite consciously kept my upper body quiet. In adapting to the new equipment, I realized that my lower body was much more active than it needed to be, so I shut it down somewhat and emphasized upper body motion, perhaps mistakenly thinking I was concentrating on moving my center of mass. Now I realize that I probably over-corrected. Skiing is still a lower-body endeavor; the upper-body is simply used to keep the total body mass dynamically centered! The feet still tell the skis what to do, and the skis don’t care what the rest of your body is doing, even if you do (I mean you don’t want to topple over)! The key is that, even though the lower body is still where it all happens, modern equipment encourages the forces exerted to be much more subtle while enabling the edges to maintain far more constant and consistent engagement with the snow surface. So, now I’m into the whole-body experience!

Rusty Guy – great tip! I’ve heard it in various guises before and cavalierly dismissed it. But now, in my newly enlightened state, I plan to give it a try next time out! Watch this space for an update next week! (By the way, I think it was Pierre Eh who posted a few weeks back that people who had recently adopted the crossover move into their skiing - but hadn’t yet understood the tipping-of-the-feet thing - and thought that they had it all figured out, were missing a key ingredient of modern ski technique. That really got me thinking! Thanks, Pierre! And, Bob B. – “Ski the slow line fast,” ain’t bad either! How are you coming with that entry on the ‘Mambo’ turn for your next edition?)

Speaking of poles (Huh?), have you ever observed the vast variety of bizarre pole planting techniques on your average hill and wondered, “What the heck are these people thinking?!” My personal favorite is the guy who lightly touches his pole to the snow and then abruptly shoots his fist skyward!

(EDIT: I'm going to move this pole plant thing to the general forum and see what develops ...)

AC, this place is great!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 14, 2002 05:49 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Tominator ]</font>
post #8 of 8

Great self guided discovery and observations. Now that you've learned what the feet should be doing, take notice of what your upper body is (or is not) doing. Go back and make some of those old-school turns, then make some of your new turns. What is your torso doing differently. To start out, try it on an easy beginner hill. When you start making turns your new way, and can start the carve really early in the turn, notice your upper body and hand position in the last third of the turn (I'm thinking directionality here, not whether you are forward or back).

Have fun!

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