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Close stance/NEVER locked

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
After reading posts where people proclaim that "locked" stance skiing is out, I finally have to correct the myth: No good skier EVER skied with locked skis, EVER.

There always was, and is now, independent leg action. The racers always skied with independent leg action, Stein Ericksen, Buddy Werner, Bill Kidd, Phil and Steve Mahre, all of them.

If you believe there ever was skiing with skis locked you might as well believe in the tooth fairy. I'll explain:

Attached are three pictures, two I shot 39 years ago at a slalom race, the guy with the Head skis is Pepi Gramshammer and the guy with the Kneissl's is Ernst Hiterseer, the 1962 Olympic slalom gold medalist, and lastly there is a shot of me four years ago still skiing on staight 207 Blizzards.

Though we are skiing a close stance, do you see any locked knees? I brought these pictures in because they were readily available on my computer, but I have covered dozens of ski races and looking at my pictures I have yet to see someone making a turn with locked skis.

But I know where the perception came from and I have gone through this explanation often.

While skiing on stiff straight skis, which was the norm until the recent revolution in ski design, in longer turns (not slalom turns) when the whole weight had to be on the outside ski, the inside ski was dragged weightlessly along. Keeping the skis in a wider stance, it would swim and slither and likely catch and edge, so, to keep it steady, it was brought up next to the outside ski, the ski being advanced, would ride on the boot and the downhill ski tip, often wearing a notch into the shovel and cut up the boot.

But that ski wasn't skiing, just riding along steadily. The moment it was needed it was imediatly disengaged and was used INDEPENDENTLY. But pictures often showed that tight leg stance and skiers mistakenly thought that it was kept there always.


post #2 of 19
Ya gotta love these photos, Ott! Brings back memories of my years at Middlebury College in the early sixties. I had the good fortune to meet and watch some of the terrific skiers of the day, including Buddy Werner [at a Winter Carnival]. You've made your point well, and thanks again for these great shots!
post #3 of 19
Ott - I think everybody will agree that strong skiers, especially racers were always keeping independant foot motion. However - just pulling three older books out of my ski room, the first three I pulled out all show pictures of the authors or their examples skiing in a much tighter stance than the pictures you show. The three books: "My Ten Secrets of Skiing" - by Bob Beattie 1968, "Ski Pointers by the Experts" - by Ski Life Magazine 1958, and "Ski With the Big Boys" by Stu Campbell 1974. This is just the tip of the iceberg of course.

Now again, I agree with you that the top racers - and some expert public have long known that independant foot motion and a more natural stance was desirable. But the fact is - the majority of recreational skiers strived to get their feet totally together, and books like this show that even the media and many experts were promoting a completely closed stance (though even there - independant foot motion is demonstrated by the stronger athletes).
post #4 of 19
Quick comment:

Close stance does not necesserily mean "locked legs". One can (and that was most times the case in the past) have independent leg motion with the close stance.


Speed does not kill, the difference in it does...
post #5 of 19
>>Close stance does not necesserily mean "locked legs". One can (and that was most times the case in the past) have independent leg motion with the close stance.<<

Yes - Ott is aware of this I'm sure, and look back at the last sentence of my previous post.

As has been discussed in depth on threads here though, a tight stance does inhibit the flow, speed and natural movements so that even though you may exercise independant foot motion with a tight stance (and indeed to turn you must use *some*) - you have even more choices and power with a stance of the width shown in the photos above.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Gravity & VK, you are both right, one must have independent leg action to link turns, simply, as it was taught in the past, when making a parallel turn one changes edges, lead and weight at the same time, that is when the skis are unweighted. That can be done while the skis and knees are rubbing against each other.

That was essentially one legged skiing, weight on one ski at a time, now, not only is it not necessary to put all the weight on one ski, it is not desirable since some weight on the inside ski makes it possible to steer it and adds to stability. And it also is not necessary to unweight much, though some of that takes place, the skis can be rolled to the new edges and stay in contact with the snow all the time.

But notice that the skiers of note in the past did just that instinctively though it was not the style at the time. Gravity is right that the ultimate ski proficiency taught at that time was with feet tight together, but not LOCKED.

post #7 of 19

I heard about that book from you, and have been looking in used book stores for it ever since. Even have an outstanding used book search still pending through Amazon. Still have yet to find it, when I do I'll be eager to add it to my library as it sounds hilarious!
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Bob, as I wrote in the topic title line, a close stance and locked knees and skis are really two different things. One can ski quite well with a close enough stance so no daylight shows between the legs, but the moment one tries to keep the legs from moving independently during turn initiation, one is doomed. So for about 40 years the world strived to ski parallel with feet together, and advanced skiers succeeded admirably.

It is all equipment driven. When the French came out with softer flexing skis, old guard skiers frowned, they had searched ski shops for the stiffest skis, flexing them all day, and proudly told everyone that they skied on stiff skis. Then it was explained that longtitudinal soft but lateral stiff skis could lay more edge down during a turn and thus hold more, all of a sudden those skis were the rage.

And then, poster photographers went wild. The favorite shot was of a skier blasting over a mogul, tips in the air and the moment before the body caught up at the top of the mogul and the skier >looke like< he was sitting back. Great shot. And it begat a whole generation of young skiers sitting back from top to bottom of the slope, so much from learning pictures

post #9 of 19
Ah! So you have just explained my "doom". In Bormio. All of us in class were being criticized for HAVING independent leg action during turns, and not one of us was able to "correct" it. I suppose, if I was able to do that "push the heels down the hill" thing, perhaps that would have worked. But since I had no comprehension whatsoever of that move, that was not going to happen.
And it was really comical when I tried to push the heels downhill, with boots locked together while try to integrate what I had just begun to learn in the States about getting on edges.
It didn't work!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Gravity, isn't it fun to look at old books? But the illustrations are often idealized. Close stances open up when a high edge set is required, look at the illustration of the racer on page 79 of >Ski Pointers by the Experts<, close stance but open enough to get the job done. Also look at pages 108-114 of >Expert Skiing,1960, by David Bradley,Ralph Miller and Allison Merrill. Further look at pages 193-197 of >The NEW Invitation to Skiing< by Fred Iselin and A. C. Spectorsky.

And lastly, look at >Anyone can be an Expert Skier< by Harald R. Harb, pages 129 or 146 or the color card at page 102. And numerous other shots in his book.

All those demostrate that it is quite possible to ski effectively with a closed stance IF IT IS DONE CORRECTLY, and it is not nearly as forgiving or efficient as skiing in a wider stance as we do now, me included. And advancement in equipment and technique make it possible.

So please be patient with skier who have not "seen the light", so to speak, they will learn and become experts and then will be able to ski in an open or closed stance, with or without unweighting, slipping or carving, fast or slow, or anything you can imagine, after all an expert skis however he wants or whatever it takes.

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Lisamarie, I can't concieve that you were taught the heel push. That went out forty years ago. It was replaced by the tip pull. With straight skis, the tails do not follow exactly in the path described by the front of the ski due to the tail not being wide enough to track. In the Austrian technique, When Professor Hopichler replaced Professor Kruckenhauser, he stressed the carving and radius control should be done by forward pressure on the boot which resulted in the shovel biting harder and shortening the turn. The tails still slipped out, but then, on >straight skis< the turns are mainly done from underfoot to the tip, the tails just ride along.

In defense of Prof.Kruckenhauser's heel push, Fersenschub in german, at that time the boots were soft and ankle high leather and forward push would just flex the ankle more and more and the skier would hang forward in the bindings, not a good way to ski.

When I go to Europe next week I will keep an eye open at how the ski schools teach and my hope is that what you got is because Bormio is so isolated from the world that the instructors were taught by word-of-mouth from their elders who last left the region forty years ago

It just blows me away... ..Ott
post #12 of 19
Thanks! Nothing like a good technical discussion to lift my spirits backup. This perhaps explains why by the end of the week, my ankles were killing me. Keep in mind, NOTHING ever hurts me while skiing, and I now have a witness who can attest to that. I don't think modern boots are made to function that way.
It is quite curious about Bormio, but I doubt you'll find this in the rest of Europe, or even Italy for that matter. A student of mine from Switzerland said that the Swiss do not teach this way. And a short distance from Bormio is Santa Caterina, Debra Compagnoni's {sp?} home mountain, that houses an institute dedicated to the scientific study of ski technique.
Perhaps, since Bormio is in a poorer area, the predominance of straight skis and rear entry boots, {even amongst instructors} dictates a different teaching technique.
But whats odd, is the fact that Bormio is the site of the Stelvio Downhill. We skied on parts of the course, but using {or attempting to use} this dated technoque, it felt like some sort of heresy!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited February 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Lisamarie, as you probably observed, one can, and many do ski with the technique they tried to teach you. One can also drive a Model-T Ford.

post #14 of 19
Ott - we talk in circles! Again, its very clear that the *best* skiers did not ski utilizing a mono-pedal method. The problem is that the public interpreted, and even was fed this "style" as an ideal . . . and now even today in the trenches we struggle with the results of this "ideal"!
post #15 of 19
OTT, or anyone,

After watching World Cup this year I have become very interested in this both-edge turning. And after watching Rahlves ride the "wrong" ski around a gate, I realized I know NOTHING of the finer points of turning skis and weighting edges. I have had minimal success playing with this - I'll give it a shot on the groomed at Deer Valley - but really see it as a potential HUGE jump in my skiing ability. Thing is, the teaching I come across - perhaps aimed at intermediates - seems aimed at the active unweighting of the "non-turning" ski. (I am trying to avoid here my own awkward use of inside/outside.) is the double-edge turning something instructors tend to view as a "let 'em learn it later" skill? i don't follow these tech threads THAT closely, so nevermind if this stuff has been addressed elsewhere.
post #16 of 19
It has been touched on. Don't remember the thread. Try this first, ski in a medium low almost tucked body stance.(hands about at the top of your boots for reference but don't ski with your hands there) with your feet about 1.5 ft apart. do this on an easy groomer and try making railroad track carved turns. It is almost impossible unless you keep the skis evenly weighted and the edge angle the same. Also try making easy turns on one ski only both directions. Feels very awkward at first and as your balance and body position awareness gets better it starts to get kind of fun. After lots of practice you will find that you can keep the weight pretty even on steeper stuff and as you carve harder and harder, faster and faster, your body will just put the weight distribution where it needs to be to keep you from flying over the outside ski due to centrifical force. Practice practice, practice.

Oh yeah, you don't have to keep skiing with your legs that far apart, it's an exercise to get the feel not the way to keep skiing.

Found it Ryan <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited February 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Gravity, you are right, that was then, this is now.

Ryan, you are asking questions about a racer who skis every day of the year. Even advcanced skiers like Gravity and Bob Barnes can ski any edge at any time it is needed.

What you saw Rahlves doing was a recovery, he found himself on the inside edge of the uphill ski so he just skied it, so what's the big deal. In another thread I addressed the facts that you don't have to give up just becuase you find yourself out of balance at times, there are ways to recover.

post #18 of 19
Great pictures! You described the way I have skied for years. My old rossi's have the tell tale notches you mentioned.Just got some shaped skis this year. Trying to "change and adapt" to all this new style etc.

Something that no one has mentioned. Notice the down hill/weighted leg in the photos. The knee is behind the uphill knee. This gives you the "room" you need to edge that ski. You can even see the difference in the angle of the leg from the knee down. I have found over the years that actually pulling that leg back under you allows you to tip that ski and carve more instead of skidding the turn. I always seem to have a little wieght on the uphill ski, just enough to keep it from getting knocked around. Actually "picking up " the heel and carving with the tip also gets the ski "out of the way". I think this is similar to "edging with thelittle toe" as they say now. Yes with feet together there is always independent leg action but it may not look like it to an observer. Espescilly with a good "old school" skier. The movements are subtle and refined.

I don't see what all the fuss is about uphill edging. I think a lot of us have been doing it for years. The difference now is in the skis. It's much easier and there is more emphasis put on "two footed skiing". It's always been a good way to scrub a little speed or regain balance or whatever.

Hope I made some sense. It sure is hard to try and describe all this stuff. Fun though.

SkiOn...<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by AK (edited February 16, 2001).]</FONT>
post #19 of 19
Ak -

>>Something that no one has mentioned. Notice the down hill/weighted leg in the photos. The knee is behind the uphill knee. This gives you the "room" you need to edge that ski. You can even see the difference in the angle of the leg from the knee down. I have found over the years that actually pulling that leg back under you allows you to tip that ski and carve more instead of skidding the turn. <<

A concious lead change (pushing one foot forward or back) is quite different from a natural lead change (stand on two barstools - pivot your feet and one will be forwards of the other). And in fact many great racers have learned to overcome even the "natural" lead change (or "resultant lead change") and keep their feet (and therefore) pelvis square througout the turn . . . a more powerful position.

Anytime one leg is leading, your pelvis is tilted and destabilized.

The "notching" of one knee behind the other is another technique of old that has fallen into disfavor among those standing on the podium. One problem with moving this way is that it puts the knee into a more destabilized position. Knees are not designed to flex inwards - and having both legs aligned creates something of a natural "safety net" in this regard.

In addition - skiing with one knee tucked against (or behind) another creates an "A-Frame" stance which tends to put skiers on opposing edges instead of corrisponding edges - inhibiting flow and encouraging more bracing and defensive movements.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Gravity (edited February 16, 2001).]</FONT>
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