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Narrow stance & dynamic stability

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
In the other thread (Got my Blue PMTS pin), the discussion of edge angles and narrow stance came up.

Hmmm, bigger edge angles happen where? Just before the release, at the end of the turn. Keeping the boots close is most important during the release, and big angles DO show a separation due to the angles. It's a result of vertical separation, not so much lateral.

And yes, I DO ski better with close feet. The tension that results "stables up" the base of support in DYNAMIC situations, as opposed to static, due to the fact that the tipping of the feet work as a unit...

I learned to keep my feet together too Ott, but I struggled with it in my lace leather boots, and wooden skis... I did not know anything about what my one legged tibial varum and my overall knock kneed stance did to my skiing. Circa 1970, at Buck Hill, MN...

With cants, and an extra riser... the tibial varum partly due to that leg being shorter ... I can ski quite well with a narrow stance.

Now this may be an observation, biased on the fact that I was used to a wider stance (except in bumps), but skiing with my feet together is less effort. However more skill is required.

Remember my posts from last spring, about the small dynamic moves at the base of support to DEAL with what's happening in motion? To stay in balance? That's the deal.

Humans are very advanced bipeds, and we are wired and built for walking, and skiing. The patterns of motion are different between the two, but they are similar... Balancing while in motion, moving from one base of support to the other.

Question. How does Dean Kamen's iBot device work?

This is in the upright "balance" mode. This allows you to drive it around normally, and it is apparently very stable despite looking like it should fall over!
If you push or pull it will "fight back" and is very powerful. You could reach shelves and wash your car or just "prop" up the local bar in this mode

Some of you may have seen the "Segway" on Good Morning America a few months ago. Alias "The Ginger". This is another device that computes small movements (turning the wheels) to achieve dynamic balance. A statically "unstable" platform that works well in dynamic movement...

IBot Infoworld article

Now these device use wheels. And we are built different, unless you are made like "Rollo" the little wheeled character in the animation "Quasi at the Quackadaro... Remember, chocolate cake is important

Think-O-Blink, indeed!

So since we are bipeds, and use legs with feet on the bottom... How about the pogo stick robots? And the new biped robots? Kangaroos?

Nerdy Robot Stuff

Skiing is not hopping (usually) but there is a launch phase (release) that done right allows for movement into the next balanced phase (transfer, then engagement). There are similarities to a hop.


[ April 23, 2002, 09:10 AM: Message edited by: SnoKarver ]
post #2 of 47
Originally posted by SnoKarver:
Hmmm, bigger edge angles happen where? Just before the release, at the end of the turn. Keeping the boots close is most important during the release, and big angles DO show a separation due to the angles. It's a result of vertical separation, not so much lateral.

Fascinating indeed!

However, I think the big edge angles occur in the fall line, and tend to soften toward the release moment. I agree about the vertical separation, but I feel that allowing the boots to close really gets in the way.
post #3 of 47
Thread Starter 
Agreed weems, the feet start closing up as you get closer to the release. The separation happens a little further up the turn, before movement for the release begins.

Do you remember that movie with Anita, Quasi, and Rollo? Hee hee. It was a 70's thing. Animation Festivals. I still dig cartoons!
post #4 of 47
Actually, I'm gonna disagree. I'm sitting here doing it in a chair and I think the separation is vertical at high edge angle, but lateral through the edge change. That's what keeps me from going up. If you sit on a rolling chair in a medium wide stance and just move laterally, you experience what I'm trying to do on my skis.

Look at Ron Lemaster's stuff online. You see some closure at the edge change, but really very little. I think it's ronlemaster.com
post #5 of 47
There are a couple of good threads from the Training Center that have good dicussion of these issues as well:

Balance and Stability by skiprofessor

Narrow vs. Wide by Pierreh eh!
post #6 of 47
Ron Lemaster is the MAN for excellent/clear technical ski photography. Check out the stance of World Cup guys. Ron LeMaster's Photos There are hundreds of great photo montages there, which I think are even better in many ways than video - you can really break down whats going on.

[ April 23, 2002, 11:14 AM: Message edited by: Todd M. ]
post #7 of 47
Oh - and I just checked out his presentations that he has on that site as well, very good - gets into a lot of subjects that are often discussed here.

The end of his first presentation says: "Know the difference between technique and methodology"
post #8 of 47
I've seen Ron's distinction between methodology and technique, but I've never bought it.

I look at technique as the performer's tools, and methodology as the teacher's tools to teach technique.

I first got this distinction from Horst Abraham when he posited the idea that there should not be an American Skiing Technique, but an American Teaching Method. Maybe it's the same thing, but it doesn't feel like to me.

What made it so vivid for me was that when The American Teaching METHOD came about, we had all these instructors going out and teaching their method (their analysis tools) to the guests. The guests actually preferred to learn how to ski--the technique.
post #9 of 47
Yes, I can see that the distinction could be muddled when it comes to the words used. I tend to think of "methadology" being a more dogmatic and beLIEf oriented approach to mechanics; less sensitive to the reality of individual body's, minds and changing terrain and conditions. I think of technique as being a more results/outcome based approach to coaching. However, we are dealing with the great grey area of symantecs here - and therefore it certainly is not black and white.

I've no personal experience with Ron L's approach to mechanics, but it sounds like Weems has. I'm just familier with his photography. And
regardless of how clear/on-track his coaching/mechanics may or may not be, one thing for sure . . . photos don't lie. I really like his photo work!

[ April 23, 2002, 11:32 AM: Message edited by: Todd M. ]
post #10 of 47
That's not the only thing I disagree with Ron on.

HOWEVER, that is not to say that Ron is not a wizard. And that is not to say that I am right.
post #11 of 47
Well I'm not that familier with anything but Ron's photography, sounds like you have more experience with Ron's biomechanical take on things than I do.

Anyways, regardless of how HE might interpret his own photos - the photos themselves are independant of anyones views. In the context of the stance width discussion going on here, I'm curious what people see regarding such in all those photos of World Cup athletes ripping it up?

[ April 23, 2002, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: Todd M. ]
post #12 of 47
Originally posted by Todd M.:
Well I'm not that familier with anything but Ron's photography, sounds like you have more experience with Ron's biomechanical take on things than I do.

Anyways, regardless of how HE might interpret his own photos - the photos themselves are independant of anyones views. In the context of the stance width discussion going on here, I'm curious what people see regarding such in all those photos of World Cup athletes ripping it up?
All I can say is that I don't see much PMTS technique in the new school SL races.
post #13 of 47
I see some wide stances when they are transitioning between turns. Maier's stance in the GS is a good bit more than shoulder width. I think weems' office chair thing makes it apparent why that is.
post #14 of 47
I think that the wide stance between through the edge change is actually fairly new, and if I remember correctly, Ron LeM said that it had to do with the quickness from edge to edge--there just was no time to go up--nor any need. And the feet close when you go up.

That would be consistent with what I believe I'm seeing and trying.

Yeah, these photos are so beautiful.

I really think that racing turns are the "mother turns" of all skiing, and that GS is the mother turn of racing. I know that's personal, but I see so much beauty and skill and power in that turn, I will always use it and study as my fundamental for understanding skiing movement.

[ April 23, 2002, 08:00 PM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #15 of 47
Seems pretty obvious to this casual observer that the wide stance rules the racing world and if I remember correctly, the letter SCSA posted from HH a few months ago seemed to equivocate a bit on the narrow stance (my interpretation).

I noticed this past year that i ski with a wider stance than I thought b/c my kness bend in and touch as i bend my legs. I just go with what my body allows. Too wide a stance causes me to weigh the inside ski too much though.
post #16 of 47
Think about it this way.
The object is to get the mass to the finish line as quickly as possible.
The shortest route is a straight line.(in all dimensions)
If we go up and over our skis we deviate from that straight line.
Therefore, if we have a high edge angle and lots of "vertical" seperation, the closest to a straight line is to go across the skis without moving up. This leaves us with "horizontal" seperation as we cross. To do otherwise would be less efficient.
I wrote this in a paper in 1984 and showed it to my Level III examiner. He failed me, said "you have to go up".
The beauty of teaching a narrow stance is that it's harder to "tip over" for those less skilled. Therefore more comfortable for them. Also it's easier to get the mass "inside"the turn.
Ron LeMaster, in his presentation to the National Coaches Acadamy last year, demonstrated the different rate of "tipping over" between wide and narrow. He also said that the only time we achieve "balance" is in the carving, completion of the turn. The rest of the time we're "falling down the hill" or catching ourselves after. When we're "in balance" we're narrow(vertical seperation)(hard to "tip"). When we're "falling we're wide(easy to tip).
Makes sense to me.
Ron's book ,The Skiers Edge, is excellent. If you read it carefully, with an open mind, it answers all kinds of questions.

[ April 23, 2002, 09:21 PM: Message edited by: SLATZ ]
post #17 of 47
SnoKarver- The thing I really don't understand is the "lifting" business. I want to be open minded and know you to be a reasonable guy.

I work with a woman who is a PMTS green cert. She lightens her inside ski, the inside ski tips a little,the inside shovel drags the snow and is drawn to the inside of the turn, the inside tip diverges and the end result is that THE TAIL OF HER INSIDE SKI COVERS OR OVERLAPS THE TAIL OF HER OUTSIDE SKI! It literally is stacked on top of the outside ski often extending over or beyond the outside of the "stance ski". She is certainly on a stance foot. She cannot carve a turn to save her life. The main reason APPEARS to be the fact that she lifts her inside ski.

One "litmus test" or evidence of a carved turn are two pencil thin furrows on the snow. In theory, a PMTS devotees would seemingly only be able to skid or smear the inside ski and leave one sign of edging in the snow via their outside or "stance ski". Why wouldn't one want to use both tools? I have only seen you ski once, however, I have yet to see a PMTS trained person carve turns. They lift and they skid. Now, in all fairness, the three PMTS certs that I have skied with were "green" certs and most PSIA level I certs have difficulty carving as opposed to skidding or scarving turns.

I won't identify the PMTS trainer, however, every turn I see this person complete involves a very pronounced lifting of the tail of the inside ski, an inch or two, for a second or two. In all honesty the skiing with the narrow stance looks a little contrived to me, however, the pronounced lifting of the ski simply seems to be wasted motion. Centrifigal force is going to eventually transfer weight, why such a gross movement?

It almost seems to be a vestigial movement dating back to race technique from two or three decades ago.

Why not simply tip both skis?

Lastly, I think someone touched upon this issue. Show me one World Cup skier skiing with a stance as narrow as that advocated by PMTS. This is a system predicated upon "skiing like an expert". Are World Cup athletes experts? Something does not fit.

I feel it a little unfair for you to have to defend the teachings of PMTS. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on the questions I have put forth.
post #18 of 47
The extreme narrowness wasn't there but all of the World Cup athletes I watched from behind went into their turns with the tail of their inside ski slightly lifted in most of their turns.
The narrow stance has it's place in the teaching process.

[ April 23, 2002, 10:12 PM: Message edited by: SLATZ ]
post #19 of 47
Rusty, my guess is the woman in your example is not tipping enough to put her stance ski on edge. You really have to crank that inside kneee over to lay trenches. Also, HH teaches lifting the inside ski to beginers as a way to guarantee a complete weight transfer, but once you advance a bit you just lighten it. BTW I notice quite a few WC racers lift their inside ski, probably as a hangover from the old days, no?

Looking at the LeMaster shot of Mario Matt is enlightening. His stance goes from W-I-D-E to merely wide. What's amazing to me is how dynamic his skiing is: he seems to move forward and backwards on his skis thorough the turn. I happen to see him in Aspen last year and he just seemed to be cruising. It just seemed so effortless and he just flowed like water, but of course he was ripping like none of us ever will. At the time I hadn't heard of him but i thought: this guy is an artist. WOW!!!Only one word for skiing like that: beautiful.
post #20 of 47
TomB, can I respectfully suggest that you either are not familiar with the PMTS principles or you are not looking hard enough.

I would also like to point out that the T in PMTS stands for TEACHING system. I don't think it's a panacia to every skiing situation. Nor is it promoted as a RACING system. Rather a way to accelerate the learning process.


post #21 of 47
weems - look in the "other" photos. There is an older photo of Tomba and he is just as wide. Maybe it's not all that new.
post #22 of 47
Epic. I think you're right. The wide stance is not new in racing.
post #23 of 47
This conversation brigs to mind an incident that happened many years ago.
After demonstrating "down unweighting" in a clinic, one of the old timers whispered to me,"you look like that silly Frenchman(Killy)who skis like he has a stick up his butt".
I remember discussions about stance width back then.
post #24 of 47
Thread Starter 
The references to Killy are amusing... A strong flex to release, letting the legs shorten, will give a very flexed look, for a moment. Some of my more advanced students have made that Killy comment after observing my skiing. It's the visual of a narrow stance skier flexing at the release and extending during the meat of the turn. No UP!

Rusty, two things. The person you describe is lifting all the time? Lifting is learning lightening is skiing. Also, as a (more advanced)teaching move, a weighted release is a very big deal. In other words, NOT lifting the old stance foot, but flexing and tipping this same foot and releasing into the turn, waiting to transfer to the new stance foot till you get close to the fall line. The goal is to tip both feet at the same time, releasing from the old stance foot, and transfering balance to the new stance foot. Many people who get exposed to PMTS forget that a lot of these things are teaching drills, and are not the "final form".

Your observation of the tip divergance in this PMTS green cert's skiing is a sure clue that this skier is tipping the new inside foot by using too much of the hip abductors, tipping the knee and rotating the femur, instead of using the foot inverter muscles, the muscles that tip the foot. Abductors will rotate the femur, while moving the femur away from the centerline of the body... i.e. tipping the knee instead of the foot. More tipping of the foot with the inverters is needed. By pulling the inside foot close with the adductors, rotation of the femur is avoided!

I have noticed that some students, when exposed to these new moves, become quite focused on the phantom excersize, believing that the drill IS the way to ski. Nope. This has happened to my students a few times, and I take great care to correct that, usually by introducing the weighted release, after working a bit with the "phantom move". It's in-between the lifting and weighted release. Skillful release, transfer, and engagement in the transition zone between turns is the ultimate goal. And it is two footed, both skis on the snow!

For some skiers, the goal is to ski like a racer. Is this good for skiing everywhere, all the time? Most folks want to ski with less effort, look "good", and explore more of the mountain. I have always been bothered by using racing technique too much in recreational skiing. For instance, in days gone by, I have taught the narrow stance bumper's flat ski "wiggle" to aspiring bump skiers. This was a focused learning experience for advanced skiers looking to rip bumps "competition style". This is a specialization, and not a versatile way to ski...

Racing is great, and a lot of fun, but is it the goal of most recreational skiers? Will racing moves fulfill the average person's desire to ski better in all conditions, and do it with less effort? Are racing moves the "final form" for fulfilling a recreational skier's desires? Even a strong upper level skier?

A close, narrow stance is very good for dynamic balance, for the same physical reasons I mentioned in my opening post. Small skillful movements with a narrow base of support. Ever balance a long stick on your finger? What kind of movements ensue?

[ April 24, 2002, 07:46 AM: Message edited by: SnoKarver ]
post #25 of 47
Good explaination.
Like I've said before,"you have to keep an open mind and look at the whole picture".
How'd I get on this side of this dicussion? I was trying to be neutral.(resident of a Swiss community)
I have no intention of going after PMTS Cert. However, education is where you find it and there seems to be a lot going on there right now. Primarily I'm a coach. I'm looking for anything that will help me get the "message" to one more kid.
post #26 of 47
I have read this thread with interest, especially the group's desire to validate their opinions by consulting racing technique. I had thought stance was a function of anatomy and enabling the equipment to perform optimally.

Take Mike Hickey, for example, a former D-Team member who skis at my area. His stance is narrow, but so are his hips. I receive feedback from peers to widen my stance, but I am narrow-hipped too.

Then again, oftentimes my skis (shovels and tails) tell me to widen my stance, because I have one ski on top of the other.

Stance being the relationship of the CM to the base of support, I believe that we naturally seek to widen the base of support and lower the CM as speeds and slope pitches increase.

I do find it helpful to try to keep the skis equidistant throughout the turns. This simplifies the movements required to transition from one turn to the next.

Who cares what PMTS or PSIA says? I prefer to consult my bodily-kinesthetic intelligence rather than third-party doctrine.
post #27 of 47
Nolo good point.

SnoKarver thanks, good answer. I do think your point is well taken about drills and the effect they can have if done to excess or done incorrectly.

It also occurs to me that the PMTS trainer that I saw skiing was involved in a lesson and may well have been "doing a drill" or exagerating the "lifting" of the inside ski. It was so bizarre looking that I suspect it was being done as an exercise or drill.

Thanks for your input.
post #28 of 47
nlo, you are very revolutionary today!
post #29 of 47
Originally posted by Trey:

Looking at the LeMaster shot of Mario Matt is enlightening. His stance goes from W-I-D-E to merely wide.
i think what mario is doing is what many racers do between turns: sidestep to get a better approach to the next gate. if you look closely, he pushes out to the right before committing to the left turn. this is probably not how he would link his turns in all racing scenarios, much less when he was skiing recreationally. and i'm not sure how much relevance those photos have to a casual skier...but they do show amazingly dynamic skiing.

[ April 24, 2002, 03:59 PM: Message edited by: Adema ]
post #30 of 47

Just agreeing with your comment about teaching "a method" -- same goes for skiing "a technique."
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