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PSIA Standards?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I was skiing today with a dear friend who is a PSIA Level II instructor. My friend was bemoaning the fact that she was having a very very difficult time with her clinics this year, as they "have changed the technique" and it feels uncomfortable to her. She is working very hard to get ready for her Level III cert, but is having problems.

The problem that she is having is that she is has to be much much further forward. We live in Northern Michigan. Apparently, the Central Region (excuse me please if it is a division or other organizational entity) who controls the standards and technique for the instructors here has decided that weight needs to be very forward, and that hips need to be in front of ankles. When she talks about it, it is almost as if they want the weight to be out over the tips of the skis as possible.

She had me observing for for several runs, looking to see if her hips were in front of her ankles and making sure that there was no (or only minimal) lead of one ski during her turns.

I tried to get my hips in front of my ankles on a couple runs and tried projecting my weight as far forward as she said her instructors were counseling. I have to tell you I very uncomfortable. I felt like my ankles were so far flexed and my weight so far forward that I had no reserve of balance left should I get into trouble.

My understanding (I thought) from reading these forums was that on the new shaped skis, the weight should be more neutral than pressured forward. The goal being a neutral or "stacked" position. Am I misunderstanding what she told me about the "new standard" this year, or am I misunderstanding what I have read here? Can anyone shed any light on the "hips in front of ankles" thing?

Thanks
post #2 of 42
I can't speak for the examiners in central or PSIA Central but I would have her look at the PSIA Central website for info or go to the National website and see what the "standards" are then if there are questions contact someone you trust in the organization.

Without being there and being able to ask questions it would be a guess as to what the clinics were trying to accomplish.

Good Luck.
post #3 of 42
The problem as I see it is every examiner has a different eye and opinion. I've come across a few examiners this season and many level III clinicians. I've had the range of comments from "I'd like to see you more forward with your hips" to "you're too aggressive in your fore balance" to "You are a very balanced and powerful skier".

So which is it???? It all depends on the examiner that day.
post #4 of 42
I ski regularly with PSIA-C examiners. I don't know anyone who's advocating "hips in front of the feet". Maybe hips in front of the heels???? Maybe she has a significant back seat problem and has been encouraged to get more forward by exaggeration?

Has your friend taken the Level III skiing development course? I wouldn't pay to take an exam without having taken that as a preparatory experience, and I wouldn't take the exam without having some time between the events to work on what I learned from the first?
post #5 of 42
In defense of examniners, I have not found examiners to be all that much different at the level III level. In the first five minutes of skiing they can tell who is going to pass and who is going to flunk. They must then ski for three days with those candidates trying to raise the few that are close and convince the ones who are not that they are not. This is no fun even if they say it is. Sometimes this can make them a bit blunt in trying to discourage candidates who are not ready from taking the level III exam.

Getting forward has a two fold approach. First is being in the right boots that balance you fore and aft. As Downwardly mobile is finding out, this is easier said than done. Few boot fitters know how to do this properly. When you are standing on a level surface you should be in a very good athletic stance with equal balanced muscle tension throughout you're body, slight tongue pressure and equal pressure under all areas of you're foot. Its equally important when you are in the right boots that you still have some effective usable range of motion left. This means you have some ability to use muscles to lift the top of you're foot towards the shins instead of bottomed out. The bindings you chose can also have an affect of fore and aft balance.

The second this is knowing how to get forward with the hips over the feet while not shifting weight forward over the balls of you're feet. Hanging on the tongues of the boots is a common problem with upper level skiers who are trying to get forward but do not know how. Many clinicians, who encourage getting forward themselves, do not know how they actually do it so they don't effectively teach it.

I explain how here http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...c;f=4;t=002137

Hope this helps.
post #6 of 42
Sit in a chair, stand up and take two steps in any direction.

You just did it.

I agree with Pierre that examiners in the RM division;

#1 Are remarkably uniform
#2 Can tell very quickly who meets the standard

I also feel, having said that, the examiners do everything they can to "see" the right movements during the course of an exam process.

I also don't know how the heck anyone could ski with their hips ahead of their ankles. As Kneale notes could this person have been mistaken, might this have merely been polarity, a drill, an exageration?

I strive to structure the middle of my shoulder over the middle of my pelvis, over the middle of my foot.
post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Taylormatt:
The problem as I see it is every examiner has a different eye and opinion. I've come across a few examiners this season and many level III clinicians. It all depends on the examiner that day.
There is a world of difference between the ability/expertise of a level III cert and an examiner. In the RM division there are additional "layers" of ability/expertise in the "trainer accred" and DCL designation.

Could the possibility exist that your skiing differs from day to day? Mine sure does.
post #8 of 42
Rusty said:
Quote:
Sit in a chair, stand up and take two steps in any direction.
I will agree with the stand up from the chair part but the minute that you take a step you introduce plantar flexion into the equation.

Another way of looking at this is backpeddling. If we do the motions to push the peddles from the top of the stroke down backwards to the bottom we have the correct movements for extension. If we then backpeddle from the bottom of the stroke to the top we have the correct movements for flexion.
post #9 of 42
Because our hills are flat, most Midwest skiers tend to be "back". I've even observed some examiners who have a tendency that way.
I spend a large amount of my time trying to get kids over their skis. One kid who is 19 now was reinforced, in the club program, by a couple PSIA instructors (one is now an examiner)for his "excellent" technique when, in fact, he was way in the backseat. Last weekend was the first time in two years that he didn't "wheely" out of a FIS length slalom.

[ January 30, 2004, 06:44 AM: Message edited by: SLATZ ]
post #10 of 42
Watch it SLATZ, lets not be lookin at our examiners now. [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Midwestskier:

She had me observing for for several runs, looking to see if her hips were in front of her ankles and making sure that there was no (or only minimal) lead of one ski during her turns.

I tried to get my hips in front of my ankles on a couple runs and tried projecting my weight as far forward as she said her instructors were counseling. I have to tell you I very uncomfortable. I felt like my ankles were so far flexed and my weight so far forward that I had no reserve of balance left should I get into trouble.

My understanding (I thought) from reading these forums was that on the new shaped skis, the weight should be more neutral than pressured forward. The goal being a neutral or "stacked" position. Am I misunderstanding what she told me about the "new standard" this year, or am I misunderstanding what I have read here? Can anyone shed any light on the "hips in front of ankles" thing?

Thanks
It could be the feedback she is getting to be specific to her situation. Some folks out there are stanced (in their boots) so their hips are behind their feet slightly. No amount of drilling exercising or anything else will really result in much change. If this is her case it could be people without an eye for alignment issues are trying to get her forward through feedback, exercises etc. You trying these may be out of context in relation to your stance issues, which could be why you feel so exaggeratedly forward.

Change is hard. Some people who get frustrated trying to change talk themselves into the opinion that people are asking for unrealistic changes in an unconcious attempt to make what they are currently doing right. Could be that situation too.

I hardly think anyone "changed the technique" suddenly.

There is a healthy difference between the level II and III standards. If she isn't skiing and teaching full-time she can expect a "number of years" to go by before attaining the skills to ski and teach at the level III standard.

[ January 30, 2004, 08:35 AM: Message edited by: Roto ]
post #12 of 42
If you were unlucky enough to get sucked into my topic "Dorsiflexion Muscle Question", you will see I'm dealing with a very similar situation.

Dchan's thought about the PSIA site reminded me of a relevant article I read there recently. Login to PSIA-C, go to Articles, then look for Event Reports in the right hand column. Open "Report from the 2003 Mini-Academy".

(Note: I think this whole series of Mini-Academy articles is terrific. In addition to tons of useful ski teaching stuff, they give you a great "view from the top" perspective of the information trickle-down process in PSIA Central. Anyone else out there ever feel "trickled" on?" [img]tongue.gif[/img] )

Much more fun, here's something on-snow to consider playing with. I was shown a drill last weekend that gave me some really nice sensations of almost effortless, efficient flow into the new turn, which I believe is one (the?) major benefit of this "hips in front of feet stuff." Disclaimer: I am a student of this at present, not a master!!!

The drill went something like this:

1) Groomed, black slope with a moderate amount of pitch. (I thought it worked great there, but you may want to play with it on other terrain.)

2) Medium or even medium-long radius turns.

3) The first step is to increase your awareness of the counter you naturally develop throughout a turn.

4) Just focus on that awareness for awhile.

5) Now you're ready to play. As you become aware of the counter almost reaching its peak, gently relax those muscles (hip joint, etc.) and "unwind" a bit, so that you are left with your upper body a tad more "squared" to the tips of your skis. Still countered, but not as much.

6) Then, start your next turn.

I talked myself through the movements with the phrase "counter, uncounter, turn", which gave it a nice smooth rhythm. (That was not part of the official version, but helped me focus.)

The end result of this exercise was a feeling of an effortless turn initiation (at least when I got it right, which was not probably more than 50% of the time. I do plan to practice this alot - it feels good!

And here's something even better about this. Even though no one ever said, "get forward!", or mentioned the relationship between CM and feet, I could feel that situation improving as a consequence. of adjusting counter. Suprise!!!

I would love to know if anyone else has used this drill, in their own skiing, and/or with students.

Good luck to you.
post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Guy:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Taylormatt:
The problem as I see it is every examiner has a different eye and opinion. I've come across a few examiners this season and many level III clinicians. It all depends on the examiner that day.
There is a world of difference between the ability/expertise of a level III cert and an examiner. In the RM division there are additional "layers" of ability/expertise in the "trainer accred" and DCL designation.

Could the possibility exist that your skiing differs from day to day? Mine sure does.
</font>[/quote]Oh, no doubt it does. I've just noticed a difference in examiners around here...little things one sees and doesn't like that maybe another will like. They are humans, they will have varying opinions.
post #14 of 42
Just a couple thoughts to stir the pot, Midwestskier:
Could your friend possibly have misinterpreted the coaching she was given, and confused a purely fore-aft with a lateral move? - of the hips that happens just before and during turn initiation when your center of mass moves across and then inside the skis' path of travel. In that regard the hips move "ahead" (down the hill) of the ankles then (it's that "essence of skiing" move that is the Holy Grail for defensive skiers and any of us when commitment to moving down the hill becomes an issue).
Along those lines if you can find it check out the Professional Skier Fall 2003 issue with Jill Sickels Matlock's article on "Focus on Your Femur to Enhance Your Stance".
post #15 of 42
Thread Starter 
Some great thoughts, and I thank you all. I am very very sure she was talking about her hips being more forward, although it very well could have been her heels and not her ankles that was the marker point.

As I try to clarify the thought myself, I tried the following. . .

I stand with my back to a wall, with my heels against the wall. Now, by bending at the knee and at the ankle, I am able to achieve a skiing stance by bending my knees and ankles. Because I am against a wall I know for a fact that it is impossible for my hips to be aft of my heels. If I don't sink down into the ankles, then I am thrown off balance to the front. Only by bending at the ankles (dorsiflexion) and sinking into them, am I able to flex at the knees and still maintain my balance with my weight centered over the whole foot (not just over the ball of the foot). Is this possibly the goal? Is this the actual feeling I should be striving for when skiing? If so I will have to drastically increase the foward lean in my boots. . . .
post #16 of 42
increasing the forward lean in your boots will most likely make it harder for you to "be forward" in stance. It can also make it harder to contact the front of your boots and use it to work the ski.

It could be you need a boot that will flex with your leg. Some boots have poor anatomical designs and will not flex with you no matter how soft.

[ January 31, 2004, 02:10 AM: Message edited by: Roto ]
post #17 of 42
I was always told that hips should be over ankles & that lower leg angle should be same as back...
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by Kneale Brownson:
I ski regularly with PSIA-C examiners. I don't know anyone who's advocating "hips in front of the feet".
Here's a direct quote from my Level III written evaluations:

"You need to move the CM to the front of your ski via the hip moving in front of the feet."

The way I understand this comment is that he's talking about the relationship between hips and feet on the hill .

I agree that if you're standing stationary on the flats that your hips are more or less over your feet (depending on the individual). For me it's useful to think of "in-front-of-ness" in terms of the flow down the slope. When I feel "in the zone", it's as if my feet and skis are following the momentum of my CM down the hill.

Does this shed light, or just stir up more mud? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #19 of 42
I can see how the hips could be described a going into the turn ahead of the feet in terms of relationship on the slope.

I took the earlier description to be of a fore-aft stance relationship rather than a lateralish action relationship.

Flow definitely comes from the CM.
post #20 of 42
Sorry Peirre, I was at a race at Mt LaCrosse(not much flat there)
I thought we were SUPPOSED to look at them.
post #21 of 42
Hi Midwestskier--

I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to read this whole thread, and I apologize in advance if I'm repeating what's already been said by others. But I suspect that your friend has either seriously misinterpreted someone, or that she's actually received some very bad advice! There's truth to the idea that we need to move forward, sometimes very actively. After all, our skis move forward, and if we don't move with them, they'll quickly leave us behind. But do not mistake that notion with the idea that the the "weight needs to be very forward, and that hips need to be in front of ankles"!

While it's still a common misconception, an unfortunate "sacred cow" of conventional wisdom, it is NOT TRUE that skiers should ski primarily on the balls of our feet, that we need to press down on our shins and flex our boots, or that our hips should always be over or ahead of our feet. And, while there may be individual instructors and even trainers with seriously deficient understanding, it is certainly not true that PSIA as a national entity has "changed the technique," or that they have officially espoused anything resembling the thoughts your friend has suggested.

I wish I had more time to explore these issues with you right now, but free time is scarce for me this week. I'll try to get back to this thread when I get a chance. Optimal fore-aft stance and accurate fore-aft movement is critical to good skiing. As your post suggests, there is a lot of bad information out there, and misunderstanding can have terrible and frustrating effects on skiers!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #22 of 42
Amen, brother Barnes!
post #23 of 42
I concur with Bob, Midwestskier. It's uncomfortable to directly challenge the verbiage of another "pro" particularly someone at a trainer or examiner level but in this case your friend seems to have received some inaccurate directives.
post #24 of 42
Bob, I hope you do get back to this issue in the near future and that we can pull more (than have already posted) of the pro's into this topic (hint, hint, speak up ya'll) ... I know I'd like to have a better understanding of this issue. Unless I was misunderstanding last week, then I am pretty sure I was being advised to drive forward with my CM and to actively pressure the ball of my foot and even to focus or attempt to get this pressure applied as far forward as the toe piece of my binding - I cannot recall ever hearing mention of having hips forward of the feet/ankles/heels etc., but the sensation when (I think) I executed this as described, was that my CM was out there pretty far forward and laterally into the turn. Certainly, I could have misinterpreted this. However, since this was contrary to my previous understanding and focus, I did take the time to pursue and discuss this with several different coaches ...one of which commented there are different positions on this and that they felt I understood the differences between the current perspectives on the issue.

I perceive what we worked on the past week to be very similar to what Midwestskier described, but to be clear I'll try to add some of the descriptions or sensations I can recall ...unfortunately, I'm dismal at trying to relate what I feel on skis, but I'll try...

When transitioning, one of the focuses that we had was to actively shorten the inside leg and extend the outside leg while making a huge move forward and into the turn (with everything) such that we ended up with our body down hill from and leading the skis and feet downhill into the turn. With a little practice (so I'm told) this becomes a matter of releasing the CM at the proper time so its path and that of the skis intersect to create this orientation fluidly. Inside leg focus as I can recall: actively [emphasis added] tipping into the turn, closing the ankle, pressuring the shovel of the ski - a lot, strongly driving the inside thigh forward and into the turn (my interpretation is there is a combination of forward and lateral mix here depending on the turn shape or size sought). Outside leg focus: extending strongly, pressuring the ball of the foot or even farther forward, firm pressure on the boot cuff forward and laterally into the turn - loading the front of the ski.

This part was pretty cool "...body down hill from and leading the skis and feet into the turn.", and one of the coaches described it as being upside down in the turn, where you're actually pushing uphill on the ski. From this perspective maybe my hips ended up in front of my feet down the hill. However, I don't think they were ever in front of my feet along the length of the ski. Does that make sense? Does it sound correct?

Pressuring the tip of the ski and ball of the foot? That one surprised me, and I'd like to hear more from the pro's on this issue. The understanding that I had was: steering with the ball of the foot loaded would promote rotating the tails out, rather than guiding the tips in if steering with the back portion of the foot loaded. The counter I received to this notion was: active steering of a ski on edge actually results in the skier rotating the tip of the ski into the snow, thus further engaging it for a stronger bite and that loading the shovel will bend the ski into a tighter arc. With little pressure on the tails, what's stopping them from washing away?

What say ye?
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally posted by cgeib:
I'm dismal at trying to relate what I feel on skis,
Cgeib, why do you say that? You obviously are very good at expressing yourself verbally. Since I'm such a "feeler", I'm curious to know how you would describe yourself in that regard, if you'd care to comment. What kinds of things go through your head as you ski? Wait, don't answer that yet!

That's kind of a big question, so let me shrink it down by asking you this: What is(are) the best feeling(s) you've ever had in terms of "flow" down the hill?

OK, I'll go first. To me it feels like I'm not even moving (epecially if I'm moving really fast). When everything's working like it should, the contact with the terrain is so "efficient", I actually sometimes feel like I'm flying, with the skis as only an afterthougt. Note: This only happens about once/month. Hormonal?! It's so good though that I keep skiing for the rest of the month, waiting for it to happen again! Which ain't always very fun cause (feelers, do you agree?), a major drawback of being a feeler is that when things are going badly, you really know it!

Thoughts, feelings, anyone?
post #26 of 42
The weekend I took my level III, Fred Rogers (won't you be my neighbor?) died. Last week, I took another PSIA event and Captain Kangaroo went to the "big pouch in the sky".

Is the universe trying to tell us something here?!

Just don't let anything happen to Spongebob, ok? I don't think I could stand it. Oh yeah, he's not real. [img]redface.gif[/img]

My point here, and I do have one, is:

Don't let your desire to improve kill your playful spirit

I think that is the most important "technical" challenge I face in my own skiing.

And you're never going to believe what has helped me the most with this - teaching 4 to 6 year olds! They are so in touch with their sense of wonder, you can't help but get a contact high.

Speaking of kids, why do you s'pose there's been so little response to my thread http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...c;f=4;t=002209 ? I beg you to read it. It occurs to me that the exercises I was daydreaming about for using with little kids would be great for adventurous adults too. I still haven't tried the leapfrog. I dare y'all to try it at your lesson calls tomorrow!!! If you do, let me know how it goes!

Best of luck to all you aspirers out there. But when you don't have luck on your side, remember, Spongebob struggles too. Don't let the "planktons" get you down!

Bye from "Bikini Bottom"
post #27 of 42
****bump****
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Change is hard. Some people who get frustrated trying to change talk themselves into the opinion that people are asking for unrealistic changes in an unconcious attempt to make what they are currently doing right. Could be that situation too. /// I hardly think anyone "changed the technique" suddenly. /// There is a healthy difference between the level II and III standards. If she isn't skiing and teaching full-time she can expect a "number of years" to go by before attaining the skills to ski and teach at the level III standard.
I think Roto makes an excellent point here, and one that bears repeating. Human nature is sensitive, the ego even more so. Unless the Examiner was on some psychedelic drugs when he/she "changed the rules", I seriously doubt that rule-changing was going on. I would have to think the error was in the translation. As Nietzsche once said (paraphrased), when book and reader collide and reader is left confused, it isn't always the book's fault.

It also would depend on the terrain. In steeps, the need to get forward is, IMHO, severely exaggerated from what one would normally need on blues or greens. If the particular instructor in question spends inordinate amounts of time on more level slopes, he/she might have developed a habit of posture that needs correction for steeper terrain.

What's necessary is an aggressive forward commitment that FEELS like driving the hips out in front of the skis. My bet is that this is what the examiner wanted.

[ February 10, 2004, 08:22 AM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #29 of 42
Reminds me of a conversation, in a bar, with a group of examiners. When I made a comment about leading with my "belly button", one arched his back and stuck his belly button out in front. Obviously not what I was doing but kind of what I was feeling.
post #30 of 42
Quote:
It also would depend on the terrain. In steeps, the need to get forward is, IMHO, severely exaggerated from what one would normally need on blues or greens. If the particular instructor in question spends inordinate amounts of time on more level slopes, he/she might have developed a habit of posture that needs correction for steeper terrain.
Good point, Gonz. Skiers who spend most of their time on any given slope or condition tend to become stagnant and lose their ability to adapt to variation. Skiing flat, groomed runs with an accurate focus is essential for developing sound, offensive fundamentals, but too much time on the easy stuff can lead to a lifeless, robotic, one-dimensional technique lacking versatility and adaptability (many instructors unfortunately fall into this trap). Challenging terrain and conditions and high speeds push the envelope, raise confidence, and increase versatility, but too much time on on the adrenaline-junky edge creates defensive, braking technical habits.

Some time ago I suggested the "20:60:20 Rule" as a guideline for a ski day, to maximize fun while still providing real improvement every day. Spend 20 percent of your day skiing very easy terrain and lower speeds, working hard on your technique. Be relentless and demanding of yourself here--work on something, and don't let yourself get lazy or sloppy.

Spend another 20% of your day somewhat--but not recklessly--out of your comfort zone, testing and perhaps even mildly exceeding your limits. Go easy on yourself here--expect your technique to suffer and defensive "survival" movees to creep in. If they don't, go faster and harder, because you still haven't found the edge! Use these runs as a test, making mental notes on what to work on next time it gets easy, but don't try to change your technique here.

Neither of these two 20%'s is likely to be the most fun part of your day, but they are necessary for continued, all-around improvement. Real fun lives in the other 60%, where the challenge is reasonable, where you can expect your skills and your confidence to align and support each other for some dazzlingly good skiing. Have fun here, enjoy the ride, expect some moments of brilliance that even surprise you, and some mistakes too. This is where good technical and tactical habits solidify while still developing versatility and adaptability. This is where you'll ski your very best!

You don't have to go out of your way to do these things--just take advantage of the opportunities as they arise. Use the inevitable cat tracks and green flats you have to cross to work hard on something. As Arcmeister likes to say, "never waste a flat." And take a run or two on that "hard" run you've been avoiding but you know you ought to ski. If it isn't actually that hard any more, recognize that your limits have expanded--and go harder (use good judgement).

All these things are relative, of course. Flat and easy and slow to one skier is death-defying to another. What's terrifying today will some day be easy, if you keep improving, so keep on testing and pushing the limits. Work hardest on the easiest stuff. Relax and just ski the hard stuff. Racers say "ski the steeps, race the flats." And New Mexico instructor Marty Davenport says, "To ski the hard runs easy, you have to ski the easy runs hard."

Mix it up. It's all good!

To return to the original point of this thread, skiing all these varying conditions, terrain choices, and speeds, will require very active fore-aft movements, just to remain in balance over the sweet spot of the ski. Think of a unicycle--you're always balanced over the same point--the bottom of the wheel--but you have to move a lot to accomplish that balance. And varied conditions, terrain, and speeds will also require more than just "perfect turns," so leverage fore-and aft to pressure the tips and tails becomes important too, for braking, increasing the skid, maximizing speed, and setting edges to check speed and stop skids. Real skiing involves pure carving sometimes, braking sometimes, and blended, steered "perfect" turns at others. You can't be an expert without mastering the full spectrum!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
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