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Driving the skis?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Instead of being out skiing, I am stuck at a desk. Thanks goodness for the Internet and Epicski.

I have been reading a lot of ski reviews. A description I encountered for some skis is something like " the more you demand of the skis, the harder you push them, the more they deliver" or "the skis require high energy input". How do you demand more of the skis besides going faster? Put them on edge more?

I first thought of pushing or stomping on the skis, but I remembered it was pointed out for me here that my tendency (hopefully fixed) to lurch from ski to ski was not good skiing.

I got a pristine pair of 04-05 Nordica Speedmachine 14 (170cm)on Ebay will hit the snow tomorrow. Any special tips to "drive" these skis will be much appreciated.
post #2 of 24
Chuck, with Nordicas, it's all about the back-and-forth body position and pressure on edges: press the tips into the turn, let them ride the arcs, and catch up with your body. Then they will give you all the fun in the world - at any speed, BTW.

Happy New Year!
post #3 of 24
Quote:
A description I encountered for some skis is something like " the more you demand of the skis, the harder you push them, the more they deliver" or "the skis require high energy input". How do you demand more of the skis besides going faster? Put them on edge more?
Hi Chuck--

First, I wouldn't take too much of what you read in ski reviews--anywhere--too seriously.

But if there's anything to descriptions like the ones you quoted, it usually means that you have to ski these skis a bit harder, and pay more attention, than other "easier" skis--and that they're up to the task.

Typically stiffer overall, such skis are meant to deal with the greater bending forces that result from higher speed, carved turns. So you'll need some speed to generate those forces, and some strength to deal with them when they occur. But speed alone won't do it. It takes a ski gripping and carving hard to generate powerful forces. Skiers just skidding around at high speed aren't gonna' do it!

High-performance skis are meant to be skied precisely, and with good technique. Besides overall stiffness, they're typically pretty stiff torsionally, meaning that they don't twist much. That makes the edge grip tenacious (assuming they're well-tuned), but it also makes them a bit finicky. They can be harder to brush and steer, and they can be very sensitive to tuning issues--particularly base edge bevel.

All said, they're like driving a very high-performance automobile. They can be fun, if you have the skill and you're in the mood. But they're not relaxing or "easy." They can just be a nuisance when going slowly.

Those SpeedMachine 14's are good skis. They are high performance, but not as demanding as an all-out race ski. Have fun on 'em!

Best regards,
Bob
post #4 of 24

Don't use your Maserati for rush hour commuting

Chuck,

Visualize the typical intermediate skier. Their feet never get laterally more than a foot outside of undnerneath their hips. That's not driving the ski. But driving the ski is more than jamming it back and forth from side to side. It's also managing pressure fore and aft from center throughout the turns, getting the ski to bend and utilizing the rebound energy to help you turn. A two by four would make for a very stiff ski, but it won't give you anything back if you could manage to bend it. A ski that stores bending energy and returns most of it back to you in the right way is drivable. A soft ski that can't hold a lot of energy is not (well it could be if not driven hard). And yes, the higher edge angles you get, the easier it is to bend the ski. So what the reviews are telling you is that the skis are not meant for easy blue cruising - get out there and crank some high edge angle, high G force turns.
post #5 of 24
Chuck, what it means is that the person reviewing the skis were not able to beat them into submission so they would ski real nice.
post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thank you. I think I get it. Happy New Year to everyone.
post #7 of 24
I love to drive my Fishers (world cup rc4 sl)
I also have a pair of Saloman x-wings, I should get a chaufer for them cause driving them just aint the same.
Happy new year to you also
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckT View Post
...How do you demand more of the skis besides going faster? Put them on edge more?

I first thought of pushing or stomping on the skis, but I remembered it was pointed out for me here that my tendency (hopefully fixed) to lurch from ski to ski was not good skiing.

I got a pristine pair of 04-05 Nordica Speedmachine 14 (170cm)on Ebay will hit the snow tomorrow. Any special tips to "drive" these skis will be much appreciated.
Yes, tip them to high edge angles.

Start by tipping the skis to transition to the new turn. Tip, don't twist or push them to the side.

Then increase the edge angles by flexing and continuing to tip the free (inside) foot. The stance (outside) foot will naturally extend.

Have fun!
post #9 of 24
post #10 of 24
Were they a stick or automatic?
post #11 of 24
I love to drive my Fischer RC4 WC SCs. They are a real driver's skis.

My Machete Gs like to be driven, but at higher speeds in softer snow and not as hard.

My Kästle SGs need a pilot, not a driver.
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
I was lucky that Mountain High was not at all crowded, rather usual for this place. Trying to do what you suggested here, I had a lot of fun with these skis. Here is a video taken by my 8 yr old son with a P&S camera. It doesn't have enough zoom but I will push my luck and post it in another thread for MA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQs-eq27Uhk&fmt=18
post #13 of 24
You're doin' it, Chuck!

It's hard to devine much information from that video clip, but you're clearly getting on those skis and getting them to carve.

Going somewhat out on a limb here (like I said, very hard to tell from that clip), my one comment would be that you are showing what we've been discussing recently here, in this "Short Radius Turns" thread. Specifically, as (barely) visible at around 12" in your video clip, it looks to me like you're trying to engage your edges and carve too early. Your turn shape starts out pretty straight, and tightens up considerably after the fall line. That's often a sign of not being patient enough, not "waiting" until the forces that you must resist to bend a ski and carve build. It's especially important on high-peformance skis that must be "driven hard." Classic old "straight" skis were the extreme of this, where it was good practical (albeit technically somewhat oversimplified) advice to wait until nearly the fall line before sinking, angulating strongly, and bending the ski to carve the second half of the turn. To be "more patient," stay lighter on your skis longer at the start of the turn, as you incline strongly to a high edge angle while guiding your skis through the top of the arc. Then get on 'em!

Best regards,
Bob
post #14 of 24
Chuck you ski well,
I am just going to add a train of thought and it is actually a question to Bob but thought you should be part of the process.
Bob do you think that if Chuck could square his shoulders just a bit more to the hill that his balance would be a bit more centered?
I use to teach (CSIA LVL2) but I think my detection and correction skills are not what they use to be and Bob seems to be more involved, a practiced eye is a natural eye.
By doing this I think the skiis will come around a bit sooner for you and also keep your CoG a bit more inline with the hill allowing the energy you are starting to build up release a bit earlier causeing a quicker reaction. I remember the day meny years ago I first felt my skis excelerating out of the corner into the next underneath me.
anyway really nice turns Chuck and hopefully Bob will respond and let us both know.
post #15 of 24
Chuck

Stop the video at 9+ seconds, just before you ski out of the picture. Notice how your feet are in front of your body? That's a problem. You need your feet under your body. That will feel like they're behind you, and that's the right feeling at this point. Pull both feet back "behind you" during the transition when your skis are light on the snow, and keep pulling the inside foot back all the time in every turn. That alone will be a huge help in your skiing. You'll have the front halves of your skis working for you.

The energy a skier puts into the skis depends on the skier's size and weight, speed, and how hard they work the skis on the snow. Some ski models and sizes need a lot of energy put into them before they start to perform for the skier. Other ski models and sizes can't handle this much input and wash out. Every ski has a performance floor and performance ceiling. It takes a miminum input to make the skis "come alive," and a point where they have no more to offer. Beginner skis take little input and offer little above the beginner level. Race skis take a lot of input and deliver a lot to the skier who knows how to work them. Most of our recreational skis are somewhere on a spectrum between these extremes. Skis get stiffer as they get longer and thus longer skis require more energy input even for skis in the same make/model line.
post #16 of 24
Hi Old Boot (love that name!)--

Good observation! And quite possibly relating to the same thing I described above. When you say "square his shoulders ... to the hill," I assume that you mean to tip them to an angle more parallel to the hill, creating more "hip angulation" and less "banking" (leaning the torso into the hill). Tipping the upper body toward the outside of the turn will tip the legs more into the turn, increasing edge angle.

If that's what you mean, and combining it with my thoughts of being "more patient," I would suggest that Chuck level his shoulders somewhere around the fall line. As you suggest, that move will increase pressure on his outside ski, as well as increasing its edge angle, and cause that ski to carve like the afterburners just lit up!

At this point, though, it's worth bringing up that these moves are neither "right" nor "wrong" in themselves. Only if Chuck wants that afterburner-like blast, along with the sudden tightening of the arc that it entails, would it be the right move.

It will cause the skis to accelerate quickly through the bottom of the arc. To bring the discussion full-circle into the next turn, Chuck, you'll need to let your skis keep going after the turn ends, right out from underneath you as you move downhill into the new turn. Don't try to pressure them right away--just let 'em go, which will cause that inclination (leaning in) at the top of the new turn. When you feel like you're about to fall over, stomp on the outside ski again, by leveling your shoulders and perhaps extending the outside leg as you resist the sudden force you feel, and let that incredible carving/accelerating sensation repeat! It will feel very different from the "stalled" beginning I see in the turns on the clip, in which you have neither the inclination (leaning into the turn) nor the edge angle or pressure needed to carve strongly at the top of the turn.

Here's Jimmy Cochran, of the US Ski Team, showing how it's done!



Note the skis "shooting forward" at the turn transition (frames 4, 12, and 20), as Jimmy inclines (banks--leans his body, including his shoulders) downhill into the new turn, with little pressure on his skis. Then, around the fall line (frames 10, 16, and 25), he "levels" his shoulders and his skis start carving like slot cars on the very hard snow.

Have fun!

Best regards,
Bob
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Notice how your feet are in front of your body? That's a problem. You need your feet under your body.
SoftSnowGuy--that's where we're going to disagree! Good eye to pick out that frame in Chuck's video clip, just before he leaves the picture. But I see it as a moment very similar to frames 4, 12, and 20 in my sequence of Jimmy Cochran. Not only is it not a mistake to let the feet move ahead of the body at that moment, it's actually critical, ironically, if you want to get "ahead of your feet" in the pressure phase of the turn. As your feet move across the hill and out from underneath you, it creates the inclination and edge angle that you'll need for carving. At the same time, your body moves down the hill from the feet, which is actually "forward" in the direction of the turn. Moving your hips forward, or pulling your feet back (same thing), at that moment keeps your body right over your feet, as you suggest--which is hardly where it needs to be when your skis are ripping a carved turn!

If there is any "pulling back" of the feet, it should occur after the turn starts, during the "float phase," to make sure the pressure is centered on the "sweet spot" in the pressured/carved phase. But if the timing, direction, and intensity of the movements is perfect, there should be little need for muscular effort to pull the feet back underneath the body. Remember that the body moves downhill as the feet move across (relatively speaking), so momentum alone should be sufficient to move the body ahead of (downhill from) the feet by the pressured phase.

Best regards,
Bob
post #18 of 24
For more on this seeming fore-aft paradox, see "Changing Fore/Aft Balance During Turn?", particulary my post #24 in which I describe Cochran's movements in more detail.

Best regards,
Bob
post #19 of 24
BB

Cochrane has the skill to re-center after allowing the ski tails to jet him forward. I can't see enough in Chuck's video to tell if he has that skill. As I described, he needs to re-center during the float stage...the transition between turns, which seems to be about points 4-1/2, 12-1/2, and 20-1/2 in the Cochrane shots. If Chuck has the ability to work the fore and aft weight distribution on his skis to maximize the ski/snow interaction, great. If not, it is easier to reduce too much front ski pressure than it is to regain front ski pressure. How many ski students have you had where you've told them to back off the tips vs. the number of students you've worked with them to get off their heels?

Also note how Cochrane has very little inside tip lead. Is it possible to achieve that with a deeply retracted inside leg without intentionally pulling the inside foot back? I don't think it is for most of us. It looks to me that Cochrane's skis are carving, or trying to carve on that hard pack, about frames 7, 13, and 22--in any case entering the turn, not leaving the turn.

Is that skiing style uniquely Cochrane's? Here's Marlies Schild's second slalom run at Aare in 2006 showing the body forward for balance when the hips are back during the retraction and transition (frame 9), and showing her skis clearly carving well before the apex of the turn (frames 2 & 6).
post #20 of 24
Thanks for the reply, SSG. Good discussion!

Quote:
Cochrane has the skill to re-center after allowing the ski tails to jet him forward. I can't see enough in Chuck's video to tell if he has that skill.
Good question, although I might spin it slightly differently. Surely, Chuck is carrying less speed than Cochran, so none of his movements should be as dramatic or extreme--including the "jetting" movement in question. Given that, it would indeed suggest an error to find Chuck in exactly the same position as Jimmy. Despite his obvious extraordinary skill, I would say that much of what we see so clearly in the Cochran sequence is due to high speed--and a fairly steep slope. At lower speeds, the same basic movements follow the same basic principles, but they will be considerably less obvious. What do these principles look and feel like at lower speeds, and even at beginner speeds (and skill levels)? A good topic for another discussion!

Likewise in the comparison of Cochran's turns to Marlies Schild's turns. I would say that the Cochran sequence expresses not so much a unique personal style, as the outcome of skiing on what really is a steep pitch for GS turns. (It is the final drop on Keystone's Starfire run on North Peak, as it plunges to the base of the lift.) The timing of Cochran's float and pressure phases--the relatively late (compared with Schild's turns) "carving"--is at least as much due to the pitch as to "his style." Unfortunately, I don't know how steep the pitch Schilds was on is, but I'll bet it's much less steep.

In any case, I'd love to see one frame earlier in Schild's run. I suspect you'd see there her hips further back in relation to her feet. The forward movement of feet below hips is apparent in the final four frames, though--although perhaps not as dramatic as in Cochran's sequence. In the final two frames, I would estimate Schild's balance point to be just forward of her heels--exactly where it should be at the moment I call "neutral" (end of one turn, beginning of the next).

There's no doubt, though, that various World Cup racers show differences in their basic stances, at least partially resulting from different body proportions--limb lengths, mass distribution, and such--as well as to differences in equipment setup and, to some extent, personal preference.

Here are two more animations that I have posted previously. They're getting a bit dated, perhaps, from a World Cup race in 2001. But they once again show the movements I'm describing quite clearly:




(If these animations aren't synchronized, reload the page.)

In this case, Koznick makes a clear error in her turn transitions--particularly the transition into the final right turn. She gets her torso too far forward. (Why? She was known to make this mistake, but it also likely stems from losing her tail slightly at the finish of that previous left turn--also due to too much forward leverage?) In any case, look how much time she lost in that one gate!

Quote:
Also note how Cochrane has very little inside tip lead. Is it possible to achieve that with a deeply retracted inside leg without intentionally pulling the inside foot back? I don't think it is for most of us.
It's hard to say what Cochran might have been conscious of during this run. I suggest that his inside tip lead looks just about right to me, under the circumstances. Whether it's due to a conscious, intentional effort, or simply due to well-practiced, highly disciplined movements, along with substantial "functional tension" in his body needed to ski athletically, I'll leave up to him! (And I'll say the same for the Pequegnot and Koznick sequences as well.) As always, there is no need to focus consciously on "pulling the inside foot back" unless it's too far forward--and every reason to focus on it when it is.

---

Regarding Marlies Schild's turns, it is worth noting that she makes a "course correction" in the transition to that right turn--as evidenced by the lateral move uphill of her left ski. She gets to the "inclined into the turn" attitude, with her center inside and downhill from her feet, as much by moving her ski uphill as by moving her body downhill. Whether unique to this turn situation, or representative of her habitual movements, is not apparent from this single-transition sequence.

Every turn is unique!

Quote:
it is easier to reduce too much front ski pressure than it is to regain front ski pressure. How many ski students have you had where you've told them to back off the tips vs. the number of students you've worked with them to get off their heels?
You might be surprised!



Best regards,
Bob
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
BB

Cochrane has the skill to re-center after allowing the ski tails to jet him forward. I can't see enough in Chuck's video to tell if he has that skill. As I described, he needs to re-center during the float stage...the transition between turns, which seems to be about points 4-1/2, 12-1/2, and 20-1/2 in the Cochrane shots. If Chuck has the ability to work the fore and aft weight distribution on his skis to maximize the ski/snow interaction, great. If not, it is easier to reduce too much front ski pressure than it is to regain front ski pressure.
SoftSnowGuy,

I was trying to do that but could feel that I didn't have the skill to manage fore/aft balance dynamically yet. It's certainly a goal to shoot for in the future. I should focus on not staying in the backseat first. Thanks for pointing that out clearly.

Chuck
post #22 of 24
I'd forgotten about this animation! Here's an overhead look at dynamic parallel turns, in my best attempt to animate "default movements" accurately. Among other things, the fore-aft movements of feet vs. center of mass show clearly.



Since this one's entirely from my imagination, it's certainly open for discussion!

Best regards,
Bob
post #23 of 24
Chuck, thanks for posting the question. I also get confused because of the terminology when I read the ski reviews. This has definitely been helpful.
post #24 of 24
Hi Lerops--

I'm glad you find this discussion helpful. Thanks for saying so--that's what makes it worthwhile!

Don't ever hesitate to ask any questions about anything around here. Some of the discussions may not reduce the confusion, I realize, but it never hurts to ask. If you want to eliminate some of the "noise," try asking specific questions in the "Ask a Pro" section, where some of EpicSki's top pros will do their best to keep it concise.

Best regards,
Bob
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