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post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
In the Pointing and Tipping thead the idea of neutral came up so I thought that might be a subject for further discussion.

How many of you have been exposed to this concept? What does it mean to you when you hear the term used? How might it help someone who is learning to ski?

Rusty, you said that this idea was very important to making the changes that let you pass your level three skiing. Could you be a little more specific about how your skiing changed and why neutral was important to that change? Anyone else experience a change in their skiing that they can attribute to learning about neutral?

is the idea of neutral new or old? Seems like it's only been the last season or two that I have ran into the term. Has it been around a long time under some other name?

How would you use neutral in a lesson? What type of student might best benefit from learning about neutral?

Answer any or all questions or ask a few if the idea of neutral is new to you or doesn't make sense.

post #2 of 43
When I think of neutral I think of shifting gears. How big of a hurry I'm in determines how long I spend in neutral.(not much on the drag strip)
Just thought that might add some prespective.
post #3 of 43
I only have a moment, however, I can touch on the subject.

Prior to taking my level II exam Bob started to work on two things in my skiing. I was the classic "park and ride" carver. Add to that the fact that I was overly countered, thus, edge angles were added by more counter and moving my hips to far inside the turn. I ended up "locked up", particularly in terms of my outside leg. There wasn't much starting in my feet and there was no continuom in terms of movement or progression. It was bad.

Bob knew he had to;

1) eliminate the excessive counter
2) creat progressive tipping
3) create movement in my skiing as opposed to a static "park and ride"

The key for me was "neutral"

Neutral was rotary neutral, fore-aft neutral, weighted neutral.

You bet it is a point to "flow through", however, you can't flow if you never find it!

I'll describe the manner he attacked the issue because I remember every step of the journey and every drill.

One of my happiest moments was when "momski" was my level II examiner and she gave me a ten on my rr track turns and nine on my medium radius turns. I had a lot of work to do before doing my level III, however I knew Bob had me on the right course.

I knew then all of Bob's hard work had come to fruition.

As an aside, a friend of mine had flunked her level III exam twice due to a little rotation in wedge christies and open parallel turns. Seeking neutral fixed the issue and allowed her to pass her exam with ease. We have a lot of this on video and it is outrageous to see the difference when she "found it".
post #4 of 43
It was a concept I first heard and worked on about 11 years ago when I had the opportunity to coach with Dave Ingram. He talked allot about nuetral and no counter allowing the ski to pressurize in the speed corridor, getting upside down at turn entry for early edge angle at the top of the turn. It is intersting how long some things take to filter out. I am sure he got it from someone else years before that, but it was huge in my thoughts on skiing and I still use it today very often when coaching. I will dig out some of my old notes I am sure I stole allot more than just nuetral from him!
post #5 of 43
Last year I was sharing the chair lift with several instructors who were complaining that their examiner is making a big deal about "going through neutral". Apparently the examiner insisted that he has to see them go through neutral before engaging the new outside edges. He may have had a good reason to ask for this, of course.

Perhaps it makes sense to teach this, but it is hardly something to strive for. Just like in a manual car, you don't look for the neutral when shifting, you simply go through it. It seems that in Rusty's case, Bob wanted to break the "park-and-ride" habit and found an effective way to do it.

If emphasizing the neutral is a way to identify and eliminate bad habits, then it is a good tool to use, but the "journey" through neutral should be as subtle and as fluid as possible.

Anyway, that is my non-pro opinion. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #6 of 43
TomB- You are RIGHT ON! Any activity, exercise is just that it is not SKIING! Yes you need to be able to do activity asked of you to help show strengh and weakness and help hone different skills but in the end none of it is the way to ski. Any activity should end in SKIING to help show how the activity fits into skiing, leaving students with the activity can confuse them and does nothing to help them understand how what you are asking them to do relates to how they want to ski. Neutral is a great activity to help promote body awarness, not holding on to the turn too long, releasing from turn to turn. balance stance, arc to arc skiing, edge awarness. I agree with you it is just a moment in time that we should pass thru fluidly. It is very effective tool to get people to feel it and learn to pause there and slow everything done so they can recongnise it BUT then as we take it into skiing it should be something we pass in and out of from one turn to the next!
post #7 of 43
Neutral to me occurs inbetween the disengaging and
reengaging of the edges. How long it lasts is in the skiers
power. The longer it lasts the longer the skis are flat and gravity is in control.
post #8 of 43
TomB you nailed. I often tell people if they know they are in neutral then they have been there too long, just pass through it.

[ September 24, 2003, 07:04 PM: Message edited by: Tom Burch ]
post #9 of 43
Keep in mind neutral may or may not occur between turns. Rolling a ski from edge to edge or being on a flat ski does not constitute neutral.
post #10 of 43
Thread Starter 
There seems to be general agreement that neutral is something that we want to flow through rather than someplace we want to stay. So is it the approach to neutral and the departure from that state that are important? Seems that if we go from one set of edges and pressure dominate on one foot to the other set of edges and pressure dominate on the other foot that we must have passed through neutral. Does a park and ride skier rush to, through and away from neutral to get back into the carving position? Should we be taking as long to get back to neutral as it took for us to achieve our most edged point of the turn from our last pass through neutral?

post #11 of 43
Thread Starter 

What are the ingredients of neutral? Must they all occur at the same time or can they be sequential? How can we get from one turn to the next without passing through neutral?

post #12 of 43
The two best ways I've heard Bob describe it are;

1) Start the turn in the same position you began the turn (attributed to the Mahre's)


2) Rotary neutral, fore-aft neutral, lateral balance (read outside ski weighted) neutral

In other words I might well be disengaging one set of edges, "crossing over" my skis and be;

a) overly rotated (that would be tough)
b) counter rotated (used to be real easy for me)
c) anywhere but on the "sweet spot" of my skis in terms of fore-aft balance
d) weighted heavily on one or the other ski.
post #13 of 43
Rusty - do you mean you would pass through each of 3 neutrals but not SIMULTANEOUSLY??

Or that you could miss each/or all of them?
post #14 of 43
Rusty. Momski doled out a 10?!? Wow. Reminds me of a funny story. She was my Examiner for the Trainers' Accred. a few years back and we were doing our medium radius turns for scoring and we had to have a partner. As luck would have it, my partner was none other than Debbie Armstrong of Taos, NM. At first I thought "this is great. Couldn't have a better partner." I quickly realized the damnable misery of it all when I let her go on her scoring run before me. She ripped off some of the most beautiful turns I've ever seen. (I still try to emulate them, they're burned onto my memory.) The rest of the group just started laughing and wished me luck. I swallowed hard, made my run, and scored a 5 against Debbie's PERFECT 10. She was a real cheerleader, saying my run looked good, but I knew it looked like dog-meat compared to hers.

I know that has nothing to do with neutral, but Rusty's post reminded me of it. Maybe if I could've video taped Deb's run i could SHOW you guys what it looks like when someone has it right on the money.

Spag :
post #15 of 43
Neutral is passing through all simultaneously. Not finding neutral would be achieved if one of the three qualites was not satisfied, ie., being overly countered.

Yd, as I type this leads me to the next problem that I faced in my personal skiing and that involved a lack of "seperation" in my skiing. I had worked hard on the counter issue and that was tossed at me at the end of my level II exam in relation to my shaort radius turns and bumps.

Seperation....more jargon and certainly a seperate subject!
post #16 of 43
Thread Starter 
I keep coming up with questions. I'll get together a post detailing my view of neutral and how I use it in my skiing and teaching but meanwhile a couple more questions.


Let me restate what I think you are saying about neutral.

At the start/finish of a turn we should be standing centered on the skis. This means equal pressure under both feet and even pressure distribution along the length of the skis. We should be square with the skis and the direction of travel at that moment, the skis tips should be even(no tip lead), Skis should be flat on the snow. These things should all happen at the same time. Does that sound right to you?

Should neutral be something that happens every turn no matter what the conditions or do we want to be flexable with this concept? What I am thinking of here is skiing steep terrain where I might want to be countered at the start/finish of a turn so that as pressure neutral and edge neutral occur the tension of my body being countered will add a little rotary effect into the mix to help bring the skis into the fall line sooner. Would neutral be more likely to show up naturally in carved turns on hard groomed snow (and be more useful there) than in deep crud?

Arcmiester intentionally lightens the outside ski as he nears the end of a turn and has often has transfered pressure to the inside, soon to be outside, foot before he tips the outside, soon to be inside, foot to produce edge change. While he experiences all three phases of neutral they don't happen at the same time. Yet, i've seen the man ski and if this lack of neutral simultanity (kind of fun to make-up a word) detracts from his skiing I want to detract from my skiing too.

Enough for now, I don't want these post to get too long,

post #17 of 43
I too have skied with Arc and agree he is a great skier/teacher. It's more of an inside joke. I have strong feelings about "cross over" and lightening.

Neutral may not be as square as you describe. There may be an appropriate amount of counter or seperation depending upon turn radius and terrain.

I don't want to suggest neutral is always no tip lead, shoulders,hips, femurs aligned perfectly squarely.

That was why I alluded to "seperation" being the next step for me to understand.

Neutral on steeps involving short radius turns may align differently than on less steep terrain involving medium radius turns.
post #18 of 43
If there is counter then it ain't neutral. Maybe you need another bit of jargon, like faux neutral, or halfassed neutral.
Or how about phantom neutral? I like that.

[ September 25, 2003, 12:42 PM: Message edited by: milesb ]
post #19 of 43
Traditionally (old school), I would propose neutral as a "realignment of the skeleton to a ready, flexed, upright, postured 'position'; centered both laterally and fore-aft over the feet; attained at the brief moment while moving through edge change, (with no load under the feet) just prior to fall line entry" (A moment of posing, if you will....)

Now, I don't think that's what Rusty is trying to say (correct me Rusty), but it's got me thinking about where is it most important for the body to be centered within an arc.

Much emphasis in ski teaching is on recentering prior to the new turn (at edge switch). What if I change my focus -ultimately, to be recentered at the point of fall line exit?

What if I thought about my turns from fall line exit to fall line exit, instead of from edge switch to edge switch, acknowledging the most ready (centered) we need to be is just before the skis move across the path of gravity. (advanced)

With a shallower sidecut ski, it was important to 'build' a turn (creating direction, then establishing clean edge engagement) vs, now, we have 'insta-edge' and hence, earlier pressure. This translates to even greater pressure at F-L exit, hence, to me that's where I want to be most centered. I want to be able to manage and play with the forces there, which are greater there than ever before.

So, instead of a 'top to top' linking (turn) focus, how about 'pit to pit'?
post #20 of 43
Originally posted by milesb:
If there is counter then it ain't neutral. Maybe you need another bit of jargon, like faux neutral, or halfassed neutral.
Or how about phantom neutral? I like that.
That's the role of seperation. I hate to open this can of worms, however, lower body orientation vs. upper body.

Hips and feet pointed one way shoulders oriented towards, let's say, the apex of the next turn.

I worked so hard to get rid of excessive counter that I eventually became too square. I still get that way today.

Keep in mind, a la the wheels of a car, tip lead is created by merely turning the feet or via braquage.

Now I'm tossing french jargon into the stew.

C'est la vie.

I'm going to call Bob and get him to jump in here! He's the mechanic who fixed the problem over the course of two years.

[ September 25, 2003, 01:46 PM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #21 of 43
Bob describes neutral really well in the Encyclopedia.

It's a key element in flow. In continuous motion, a term PSIA has been using at least since the 1980's.

I've been telling students about flowing through neutral since about the time Todo mentions when we were also talking about "getting upside down".

The term I like is Arc's use of "allow". Neutral isn't a position you "get into". It's a position you allow yourself to pass through on the way to the next turn.

In Bob's neutral, weight is equal on flat skis and the body is squared with the direction of travel.
post #22 of 43
It seems to me that like many other discussions of technique (especially by instructors) the analysis presented here is based to a great degree on "movement analysis." To try and address another side of this relating to "feel" I would offer this: From what I'm reading here the concept of flowing through neutral is another way of talking about float (at least as I perceive it). My idea of float involves balance (in all dimensions) and lightening (Rusty, sorry if I'm stepping on toes here - don't quite understand your objection). When float is achieved the skier is least active in directing his/her direction yet has the greatest ability to redirect the skis in any dimension* (edging, pivot, fore/aft, and up/down). When coaching my kids in tennis (at this point they can coach me as much as I coach them) I often talk about achieving skiing balance when setting up for a shot and I think that is analagous to neutral or float in skiing and a concept that has analogies in many other sports.

*As a side note I think about 4 types ("dimesions") of ski movement as opposed to the standard 3 Bob Barnes talks about. I differentiate between fore/aft balance and vertical load (pressure on the skies). While not standard from a physics point of view, I believe that the added "dimension" (with both fore/aft balance and vertical load considered independently) is a better description of how skis are controlled in practice.

[ September 26, 2003, 10:06 AM: Message edited by: Si ]
post #23 of 43
Originally posted by Kneale Brownson:

In Bob's neutral, weight is equal on flat skis and the body is squared with the direction of travel.[/QB]
Only if headed downhill

In the case of a traverse it involves the minimum critical edge angle required to continue the traverse.
post #24 of 43
Originally posted by Si:
My idea of float involves balance (in all dimensions) and lightening (Rusty, sorry if I'm stepping on toes here - don't quite understand your objection). [/QB]
I'd be less than honest if I didn't say a main objection is that "lifting and lightening" is an integral component of PMTS teaching.

What is lightening? It either involves some retraction of the old outside leg, a transfer of weight in a negative direction towards the old inside leg/new outside leg, or a blending of the two.

Are there instances when a cogent argument can be made to "lighten"? You bet. I believe a counter argument can be made to espouse simple, unadulterated, inside foot steering or "new inside tip in the direction of the new turn in order to go that way".

In many cases, arguably a majority of cases, the inside foot doesn't need lifted or lightened. There's an adulteration for you if I ever heard one. All due apologies to the author.

If lightening lights your candle rock on. I'd rather blend a little tipping and turning.

I can point out a high cert PMTSer who picks up the tail of her ski on every turn. The habit appears to have been sorely ingrained. It's like a bad twitch.

[ September 26, 2003, 02:08 PM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #25 of 43
If you're in a traverse, you're not transitioning into the next turn, Rusty.
post #26 of 43
Traversing is merely moving across a hill. Based upon your mention of flat skis, I think you have gotten the idea that Bob's concept of neutral involves flat skis and a release into a new turn.

Bob specifically describes neutral in a traverse as the minimum edge angle required to maintain a traverse.
post #27 of 43
Thread Starter 

So far it would seem that everyone responding to this thread has talked about neutral as being involved with the transition between turns. Hence the talk about passing through neutral and whether all aspects of neutral need to be simultanious. I know that I have been thinking about it in that respect. I have never really thought about applying the idea to a traverse. I easly accept your (or Bob's) deffinition of neutral for a traverse but I can't help but wonder, so what? Seems to me that neutral as applied to a turn's transition is a very important concept but doesn't mean a whole lot if you're talking about a traverse. Prehapse as an exercise it might be something to do but why? Whether on the downhill ski, evenly balanced on both skis or on the uphill ski a hard edge traverse will take you across the hill the same. Did Bob have you do neutral traverses to get in touch with being in that inbetween state because you were rushing from one park and ride position to another? I can see doing that and then having you seek the same feeling of being centered as you were going from one turn to another. This would be one way of making a skier aware of flowing constantly through a near infinate succession of balanced stances rather than going from one position to the another.

One thing about this forum, it sure keeps me thinking.

post #28 of 43
Me thinking as well. I've enjoyed this post.

As an aside, I've spoken to Bob and he is preparing a response. He has sent me a little verbiage and I don't want to steal his thunder...you know, a little anticipation.

Here is part of an e-mail message he sent me;

"Sure, there's always a release of the pressure from the old turn--the necessary cessation of the very force that CAUSES the old turn--but that does not imply that the skier needs to DO something to lighten the skis! Indeed, in many modern turns, the skier may take pains to minimize the "lightening"--to avoid being thrown into the air from rebound or a bump, or to allow reestablishment of pressure as early as possible in the new turn. Certainly, a ski does not need to be "light" to release or change edges (although it can be).

I'm writing my reply intermittently, when I get bored with other stuff, so it could be a while before it gets posted. But I'll address the issue of lightening too. I also want to get to the idea that, if there is a time to "try" to establish neutral, it is at the END of the turn. It's too late if you finish a turn and THEN try to get to neutral to start the next one--as many instructors teach and most skiers do (if they get to neutral at all)."

I guess the best way for me to think about neutral for me is to picture a classic case of rotary push off. Picture a skier who establishes a platform with the outside ski....braced against it in a defensive I don't want to go their stance. Their first move into the next turn is a blend of push with the old inside/new outside and shoulder/hip rotation.

The other picture that is etched in my mind is the level III candidate that I mentioned. Prior to delving into neutral many of her turns began with a slight shoulder rotation and slight "up move". Prior to finding neutral her hips were a little low she was a little back, and legs a little flexed at the end of each turn, hence the up move to start. She was a little too square and a little too far inside each turn with her c.o.m., hence the shoulder rotation.

When she found neutral every turn initiation was smooth and seemless.
post #29 of 43
Thread Starter 
I guess its time I give my take on neutral. As I said earlier I’ve ran into the term neutral just in the past couple years but I have been using the concept in my teaching and skiing fo many years.

In turning right we tend to have most of the pressure on the left foot and the skis are tilted up on their right edges with the right ski slightly in front of the left. When we turn to the left the pressure is on the right foot and the skis are tilted up on their left edges with the left ski slightly in front of the right. In going from one set of edges to the other there will be a point at which the skis will be flat on the snow. When the pressure goes from one foot to the other there will be a moment when the pressure is equal on both feet. And when the skis change lead there will be a time when the tips are even with each other. We can apply the term neutral to each of these states so that we have edge neutral. lateral pressure neutral. and ski lead neutral. Edge sngle, lateral pressure distribution. and ski lead are developed as a turn progresses from their minimums to their maximum at the belly of the turn then back to their minimum at the end of the turn. Under these conditions of smoothly building and diminishing edge, pressure and lead the skier will smoothly pass through the neutral phase of each of these and these three moments of neutral will occur at more or less the same time. This results in a smooth transition between turns and a skier who flows from one turn into another.

Problems can arise if the passage through neutral is not smooth. Here are a few examples. The skier holds on to a hilgh edge angle untill late in the turn and then has to rush to get to the other set of edges. This is often done with an abrupt move of the upper body across the skis and into the new turn. The turns look static with a jerky transition connecting them. The skier remains strongly commited to the outside ski and then makes a move to suddenly shift the pressure to the new outside ski. This often results in a sideways pressure on the ski that creates skidding at the start of the new turn. The skier holds the lead untill late in the turn and then thrusts the other ski into the lead at the begining of the new turn. This can result in over countered hips and lock the skier into a position it is hard to move smoothly out of.

Ideally, we move from neutral to most edged. most committed to the outside ski. and having the most ski lead in a smooth progression and then back again to neutral in a smooth progression. We don’t stay in neutral we pass through it and begin again to develop edge, outside commitment and ski lead.

post #30 of 43
What is the orientation of the skis when the skier reaches neutral at the end of the turn? For example, in a right turn, when they reach neutral, are they still pointed right or are they pointed down the fall line?

Whygimf indicated that it would be attained just prior to the fall line. Does this then imply that it should be sought while still in the turn?

[ September 27, 2003, 06:53 PM: Message edited by: HarveyD ]
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