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Going to the bank

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I've been looking at pictures of skiers (mostly intermediate to advanced) and noticed that a lot of them bank or incline a majority of their turns, particularly on the groom. Why do you think this is so prevalent?
post #2 of 20
I have certainly been guilty of this. I think in part it is not trusting/utilizing/knowing what the ski has built into it, and a kind of "wrong" intuition, thinking, "well, this is the way I wanna go, so let's go (lean) that way." One of the things to work on this year: letting the turn happen below the belt. Also, of course, a gross maneuver to get the skis on edge. Which gets back to point one.

edit: having said that, i have seen (what sure looks like) banking (if a bit more subtle) in WC skiers.

[ October 02, 2002, 08:53 AM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #3 of 20
Waterskiers. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

There are a lot of movements that less skilled skiers do that don't help balance. Just like rotating the whole body to make a turn, these movements are wrong, but, seem to be instinctive.

Or experienced as something that worked somwhere else. It works on a bicycle or motorcycle, right? And on waterskis!

If I tell students about the bicycle analogy, we'll talk about the difference between going really slow on a two wheeled vehicle (motorcycles "stories" work too, if it's valid for the student). Then I'll discuss the gyroscope effect of a spinning wheel, i.e. balancing differences between slow and fast..

Then it's time to be amused by the idea of a (non-existant) internal organ that acts as a gyroscope. That's good for some laughs, and it tends to get them thinking about why banking doesn't promote balance... It doesn't work when we walk either!

Banking is something you can "get away with" at higher speeds, and I think newer skiers tend to bank more if they are on a shapely ski, with a tight turning radius... kind of like "whoa, this things are TURNING".

Oh, yeah, I talk about it on the chair... and then we play with outside foot balance exersizes... where's the weight go when you bank, especially at mellow recreational speeds. Oooops, inside foot!

Applied physics on snow is really fun...

[ October 02, 2002, 09:08 AM: Message edited by: SnoKarver ]
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
So what is the progression to get bankers away from something that works and is fairly comfortable for them? Most don't realize they are banking until they see a video.
post #5 of 20
Without going into too much detail (and we have discussed this before), let me just state that THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH BANKING!

This is another one of those myths of skiiing that has some truth behind it, but when taken literally can cause all sorts of problems! Yes, you see more banking on the World Cup these days than in the past, because they CAN! Modern skis just don't require extreme edge angles as often as "old" equipment, and the banking we see reflects that.

"Banking" means simply tipping the entire body into the turn. If all we could do was bank, we could not control edge angle--the angle of the skis would always reflect the degree of "lean" needed for balance, something over which we have no choice! So we create "angulation"--sideways bending at various joints (particularly the feet/ankles, knees, hips, and spine) that allows us to tip one part of the body more than another, giving us CONTROL over edge angle, independent of balancing movements.

So HABITUAL banking--doing it ALWAYS, either from habit or from lack of skill or some disability that prevents angulation--is a problem. But more edge angle is not always needed, not always desirable--and ALWAYS involves effort and muscular and skeletal stress! There are two reasons for more edging: 1) to get the skis to hold when they're slipping or skidding sideways; 2) to enable them to bend into a deeper arc, by virtue of their sidecut, combined with necessary pressure.

If they're holding, more edge angle won't make them hold better. (Search for our discussions of "critical edge angle" for more on this.) Modern skis, much more torsionally rigid than older skis (they don't twist as much), don't need to be tipped as much in the center to keep the tip and tail holding. And if they're bending into the arc you desire--which also requires less edge angle these days due to the much deeper sidecuts of today's skis--more edge angle will be too much! Excessive edge angle just causes skis to "bog down," slowing a racer, and inhibiting the sensuous glide so many of us strive for.

Racers seek efficiency--they move only as much as needed to get the job done, keeping the rest in reserve. Angulation involves movement, and as with all other moves, they don't do it any more than than they need to! Often, they have to do it a lot. But not always.... Particularly in long, high speed turns, the amount of edge angle they achieve simply from tipping their entire body into the turn (banking) is often sufficient.

Banking remains a problem that needs to be addressed when it results from edging movements or rotary/steering movements that originate in the UPPER BODY. The classic "down-UP-and around" turn, hurling the shoulders and arms first into the turn and then pulling the feet and skis after them, results in the classic over-rotated and excessively-banked stance that causes problems in holding and shaping the turn. For these skiers, a change of focus to initiating movements with the feet and ankles is a breakthrough! Even here, though, the problem won't go away by trying to eliminate the banking. This banking at the end of the turn RESULTS from prior movements, and it is at those precursor mechanics that must change!

You can take THAT to the bank!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #6 of 20
What Bob said. Hear, hear! Me too. And I'll even take what he said a step or two further.

Portraying banking/inclination as something undesirable has lead many skiers (particualrly instructors) to skiing less effectively than they might otherwise. Emphasising angulation and counter has lead to one form of the park and ride problem that has become so noticable since the advent of shaped skis.

Further an expert skier will instinctively know how much to blend banking with creating angles and they can only know this if they have explored both. So, I teach my students how to bank their turns as well as how to create angles. And guess what? It turns out that banking your turns is a hoot. If you don't know how to bank them or don't bank turns because its "wrong", then you are missing out on part of the fun.

post #7 of 20
Thank You!!!

Had always been told it was "wrong," took it at face value - after all, what Do I Know? - but could never figure out what made it wrong.
post #8 of 20
Well, of course I agree with Bob. I presumed we were talking about excessive banking that takes the skier out of balance.

Banking is fun, if it's appropriate to the speed/turn shape. It feels great!

Gotta watch those details, don't I? Ooooopsie!

[ October 02, 2002, 12:29 PM: Message edited by: SnoKarver ]
post #9 of 20
post #10 of 20
Great shot, Ryan--and it does tell the story! If that skier tried to keep his upper body parallel to the slope, rather than banking as he is, his skis would over-edge and hook up--if he didn't break in half first!

Having said what I did in the post above, I'd like to emphasize, lest I lead anyone astray, that I still consider some of the classic "anti-banking" exercises highly worthwhile for developing the discipline that great skiing requires, and for eliminating the problematic upper body movements I described. Practicing keeping the upper body very still, keeping the line across the shoulders parallel to the angle of the slope, and what I call "pole boxes"--keeping the pole tips in imaginary boxes attached to the ski boots, both pressed firmly on the snow--all these exercises force us to ski with our feet, and to initiate movements down low. They're great exercises.

But when "really skiing," we should stop doing exercises and let the body do what it does naturally, disciplined and skilled through the focused practice we've done. When this happens, the extreme angles and stuck poses that these exercises produce will usually relax, unless they are needed. As the saying goes, discipline will set you free!

This is yet another example that there is no strict "right way." Expert skiing is a matter of skill, perception, art, improvisation, and self-expression--all developed through practice and focused through the lens of discipline.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ October 02, 2002, 01:48 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses and the drills. At one point I must have been banking quite a bit because I used to move too much weight to the insided ski.
post #12 of 20
Yes Lucky--that's a sign of banking being a problem, when you often lose balance to the inside. And it can be a self-perpetuating problem--without pressure, the outside ski stops carving, skids away, and the skier falls even more to the inside, like a bicycle skidding out on a slippery curve. Needless to say (but when has that stopped me? ) tipping your upper body out over the outside ski will bring your balance back to where it needs to be. If the problem is upper body rotation to START the turn, we'll have to address it there!

In Ryan's picture, the skier is still balanced mostly over the outside ski, despite the extreme banking. Of course, he's skiing a very tight-radius carved turn at fairly high speed. If he were to try the same turn at lower speed, he would have to angulate more--tip his upper body toward the outside of the turn--to maintain the same edge angle without falling to the inside!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #13 of 20
yea, that's the "presumption" I made, that the question was about "over-banking"

That first picture of Ryan's... Yeee HA! Poles not needed, either, eh?
post #14 of 20
Sorry to get of the subject but, Bob, could you please explain your "Pole boxes"
post #15 of 20
Hi Skeeter--"Pole Boxes," as I described above, are a great exercise to develop upper body discipline. They absolutely keep your upper body aligned correctly with your lower body. Some people call them "pole drags," but that does create nearly the right image to me. If anything, if feels like I'm PUSHING my pole grips forward, not dragging them.

Here's how they work--imagine that you put two shoe boxes on the snow, one on each side of you. Pressing down with your ski pole tips in these imaginary boxes, you're going to keep them directly beside each boot, at all times, as you ski. Simple enough image?

Here's a rough illustration:

This simple exercise can do amazing things for you! Just holding your poles there, statically (without moving), puts you in a highly athletic stance. Since both poles are the same length, both your hands will remain the same distance from the slope, regardless of how the slope tilts. This helps keep your upper body also tipped with the slope--so a line across your shoulders, like a line across your hands, will always be parallel to the slope. For the habitual "banker" with the inside hand low and outside hand up high, Pole Boxes completely corrects the problem.

By keeping the pole tips always beside your boots, it helps keep you centered (you'll be amazed how many people discover that their poles start dragging way behind their ski tails the first few times they try this). It also prevents you from "rotating" your upper body--which would result in the inside pole dragging way back behind the boots, or becoming excessively "countered," which would put the OUTSIDE pole too far back.

In the standard formula for correct upper-lower body alignment, lines across any right and left parts of your body--both boots, ski tips, hands, knees, hips, or shoulders--remain parallel continuously, both up and down, and fore-aft (see illustration below). Keeping both poles always in those imaginary boxes, as if they were glued to the sides of your boots, forces you to maintain these relationships. If the left boot is higher on the hill than the right boot, the left knee, hip, shoulder, and hand will be higher then their right counterparts. When the right boot is forward of the left boot, that lead will reflect all the way up through the body.

Once again, I emphasize that this discipline is a cornerstone of good skiing, but Pole Boxes is an EXERCISE--it is not itself good skiing! If you "try" to do it all the time, it will make you stiff and "too perfect" for real skiing. Develop the discipline and skill, then let your body "break the rules" as appropriate.

Practice Pole Boxes perfectly and carefully, for 25-50 turns in a row, then forget about them and ski for a while. Practice a set of 25-50 at least once a day, making sure each time that you are doing the exercise precisely and correctly. It is a good exercise to do yourself, because it provides clear feedback: you can FEEL and HEAR whether both poles are on the snow or not; you can SEE (and eventually FEEL) where the pole tips ("boxes")are. So you don't need an instructor to tell you if you're doing it right!

On the other hand, simple as it is, many skiers find this exercise EXTREMELY difficult when they actually try it. It will bring out all your bad habits--if you're a "rotater" or a "banker," you will have to find entirely new mechanics (good ones) before you can do the exercise. For those with already sound mechanics, the exercise will be easy, even "natural." For everyone else, it is likely to feel awkward and "all wrong" at first. KEEP DOING IT! Sets of 25-50, at least once a day, with some skiing in between.

Have fun!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ October 02, 2002, 09:18 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Bob, if a person has trouble doing the pole box exercise because they incline or tilt their body toward the new turn, how would they go about correcting this?
Many of us were taught (straight skis) to incline or move the upper body in the direction of the new turn.
post #17 of 20
Good question, Lucky! And the simple answer I give whenever it comes up (which it often does): allow the boxes (pole tips) to extend as far to the SIDES as you want, but do not let the pole tips move forward of the boot toes, or aft of their heels.

It is NOT as easy to do correctly as it might seem, for most skiers! When I use this exercise, it usually involves a progression of several steps, and depending on the level and the needs of the students, we may not explore the entire progression. First, I'll have people just keep both pole tips on the snow, all the time. (This alone is beyond many who bank strongly, at first--and it can cure them, without going farther!) Then, I'll often have them put a little more pressure on the poles--scratching the snow hard--which tends to lower and strengthen their stance somewhat, and also provides more tactile and audible feedback. THEN I'll have them restrict WHERE those pole tips go--sometimes just "keep them in front of your heel pieces" first, eventually progressing to the actual "pole box" that extends off the sides of the boots. In group lessons, I'll also often team people up in pairs, having one watch to make sure the other actually does it correctly. It is amazing how often someone will think he/she's doing it, until he looks down and actually sees where those pole tips are! Accurate feedback is essential.

Like I said, the exercise will feel awkward in direct proportion to how important it is for you!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #18 of 20
I'll need to check with my snow boarding 10 year old son about the subject of banking.

As adults, conditioned by too many "do this and don't do that's", We are likely no longer qualified to make objective comments on the correctness of the action.

post #19 of 20

You do realize that some of us have refused to become "adults" no matter how big we've gotten or how many years have passed under the bridge. Otherwise we would have picked a different profession.

post #20 of 20
Yes, But now, due to our size and mature looks, we have a doubled integrity gap.


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