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The hardest habit to break - Page 2

post #31 of 55
Ydnar: Bravo!! Bravo!! Well said and very insightful. Rather than bore you all with a litany of corrected errors over many years,suffice it to say the areas of overly stiff boots and mis-alignment caused many of my problems.

As instructors I believe we must look well beyond the obvious incorrect movement patterns we detect initially. Clearly one common thread, which continues to cause many skier's problems is boots. Boots, which run the spectrum of being misfit, too stiff, wrong ramp angle, too high, too tight, etc., etc. Well you get the point I'm sure.

The other critical area is proper alignment completed by knowlegeable boot fitters and orthostists. After spending $400-$600 on boots, how do you convince someone that they need proper alignment to make it all work and now they need to spend another $200-$350 for that.

Ydnar-Thanks for your thoughts.

: Whtmt :
post #32 of 55
Originally posted by Ydnar:
By the way, this isn't just limited to alignment issues but can be involved with peoples perception of just what is happening when they ski and why it is happening. Change the way they think about skiing and the habit goes away on its own.
Yep I can associate with that.

One of my 'spare' instructors has a HUGE problem with me moving upper body in short turns - which would REALLY be a problem - except it doesn't really happen when I ski with anyone else! The problem seems to be simply that I am UNCOMFORTABLE skiing with this person & so I ski BADLY with him.
The silly bit is - I KNOW I am doing it - I just become incapable of stopping this while I ski with him. I'm terrified that one day he will see me skiing with my regular instructor & think I'v been 'conning' him or something else stupid. I have some hip rotation & a small amount of upper body - but only when uncomfortable - when I ski with my regular instructor. Just NOTHING LIKE what I do with the 'fill in'.
I know I try to do the same when I ski at my other resort & with any of my fill in instructors - but they seem able to simply "TELL ME" to stop waggling 'me' or 'my butt' around & I behave pretty much. For this guy though - I JUST CAN'T! :
post #33 of 55
"As instructors I believe we must look well beyond the obvious incorrect movement patterns we detect initially. Clearly one common thread, which continues to cause many skier's problems is boots. Boots, which run the spectrum of being misfit, too stiff, wrong ramp angle, too high, too tight, etc., etc. Well you get the point I'm sure."

I think it goes beyond that. Why do people need to have footbeds and alignment done? Usually, because there are misalignments and muscle imbalances that cause faulty biomechanics. These problems are so ingrained, that it would take years of physical therapy to correct them, and some would never change.

But here's the problem: A person gets footbeds and has their algnment done by the best bootfitter in town. But when they put their ski boots on to go skiing, their body still tries to go back to the same habitual movement pattern. So at this point, they are actually fighting with their footbeds. I think that's why people's boots sometimes initially hurt when they have work done.

So it becomes really important to not just use the footbed/alignment work as a magic button to change your skiing. A conscious effort to change your motor patterns to work with, and not against the boot is important.

This may require doing a little bit of dryland homework! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #34 of 55
Ott said Your mistake, and especially the instructors mistake, was of him not to tell you HOW to put your weight over the balls of your feet, and of you not understanding it.

Actually it is all my mistake as I never took any lessons.
post #35 of 55
Originally posted by Ott Gangl:
...The correct way was/is, while doing nothing esle, to move the hips a couple of inches forward so that your body weight rests over the balls of your feet. The WRONG way is to press down on the balls of your feet rocking your back...Any good instructor should have made that clear to you right off.
Ott, you would be astonished (well, maybe not) at how many instructors that I know that have not sorted this out in their own minds. They think that if you are pressing down on the balls of your foot, it *must* be loading the front of the ski.

My closely related pet gripe is about the huge number of people (both instructors and recreational skiers) who insist on telling less advanced skiers to simply press their shins into the tongue of the boot to increase the loading on the forebody of the ski. Unfortunately, upon hearing this instruction, my experience is that most people simply flex their ankles and drop their hips straight down (like doing a squat) which makes absolutely no change in their fore aft weight distribution.*

Even more unfortunately, many of the same instructors, even upon watching someone do this, still don't realize that this is not accomplishing what they intend. Fortunately, most instructors now know that you don't need to pressure the forebody as much on shaped skis, so they give this instruction less frequently these days.

Tom / PM

PS - * Obviously, the correct way to do it is exactly what Ott said, "... while doing nothing esle, to move the hips a couple of inches forward so that your body weight rests over the balls of your feet ..."
post #36 of 55
>>>Actually it is all my mistake as I never took any lessons<<<

That's funny, Tom [img]smile.gif[/img] , my mistake...

But you get what I'm saying, right? Use your body weight to apply pressure to the front of your boots if you need to simply by rocking forward. If you press down on the balls of your feet it will rock you backward. If you try to put pressure on the tongue of your boot by pushing your knees forward you push your body weight back and you are in the back seat again. If you try to put the same pressure with your body by bowing at the waist you will counterweight with your backside and that won't work either.

From a centered fore/aft position shifting the body weight forward/bakcward works no matter where the skis are, under you or to the side, and it works while the hinges of your knees and hips and ankles are working, or not, so in using your body weight for fore/aft balance there is no need to involve the rest allowing them to work independently with edge control, weight shift, steering, etc.

post #37 of 55
Tom/PM, as fore/aft balance is an ongoing thing in every run one takes, dynamic skiing is not easy if the skier gives the balance managment over to the body parts, i.e. ankles/feet, knees and hips which are involved otherwise in making a great turn.

It is so simple, as you stated, yet many skiers still can't get out of the back seat.


edit: added /PM after ytour name to distinguis you front the other Tom [img]redface.gif[/img]

[ September 17, 2002, 02:47 PM: Message edited by: Ott Gangl ]
post #38 of 55
>... added /PM after your name to distinguish you from the other Tom ...

LOL - Too many Tom's around here.

FWIW, if I really want to get forward, the cue that I personally rely on is not the pressure on the balls of my feet or the bottom of my heels, but rather, being very sensitive to my heel trying to slightly rise off of the footbed and come out of the heel pocket. When this sensation increases, I know that I'm levering forward in a very efficient way.

An absolutely fantastic demo of the differences between the various inter-related joint movements for hard core skiers is to have them (at home) click into their skis, put a telephone book under their tails and a bathroom scale under their tips, and have them experiment with different ankle, hip, and knee angles, fore-aft movement of the hips, arms, etc., all while watching the reading on the scale. When standing still like this, it becomes very obvious what works and what doesn't in terms of changing the fore-aft pressure distribution on the ski.

An equally important demo is to have them experiment with the same sorts of positional adjustments while trying to hold the reading of the scale absolutely constant (say while very slowly retracting and extending as if absorbing bumps in slow motion).

An adept skier needs to have both types of motions in their automatic/muscle memory.

Tom / PM
post #39 of 55
Thread Starter 
...dynamic skiing is not easy if the skier gives the balance managment over to the body parts, i.e. ankles/feet, knees and hips which are involved otherwise in making a great turn.
I don't understand what you mean here, Ott. I coach people to move their feet under their bodies to adjust fore-aft pressure rather than to move their bodies over their feet. I believe this refines their dynamic balance.
post #40 of 55
I interpreted his statement as, "...if the skier gives the balance managment over to the individual body parts...". In other words, they shouldn't try to think about each joint separately, but rather, they should concentrate on achieving an overall effect.

OTOH, I could be completely off-base with this interpretation. [img]smile.gif[/img] Ott???

Tom / PM
post #41 of 55
Pretty much, Tom/PM.

Nolo, when the skiers feet are involved in other things, like they are way out to the side, on edge, etc. in the middle of the turn, the knees are agulated to the max and he finds himself drifting back, it is far easier to use the upper body, say throwing the arms straight forward to pull him back over his bindings than trying to pull the feet back, which at this stage may well be forward and downhill of him with his tips starting to wash out.

But your way will also bring his weight back from the back seat, it just involves the ankles and knees as well as the hip sockets which may be rotated in a steering maneuver.

I found that a motion as little as nodding my head forward with a quick motion will bring me back over the center from the back seat, as I remember, not having been there for years. [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #42 of 55
Thread Starter 
I agree that balance can't be achieved in parts. But I will insist that adjusting the feet under the body is more refined than adjusting the body over the feet. The corrective adjustment that Ott describes as easier is a gross movement.

Of course, Ott describes a scenario in which even fine skiers find themselves needing to throw a jungle move to stay upright. They are then beyond the point when fine adjustments of the feet will save their bacon.

I have gotten to know TomB a bit on these boards and though he has never availed himself of my cohorts' services, he sounds to have done a creditable job on his own. I believe he could benefit from experimenting with the two ways of recentering by playing around with shuffle steps, wheelies, 1000 steps, and pivot slips.
post #43 of 55
In reference to Ott Gang's moving the CM over the balls of the foot or to remain in a well centered stance I use a slightly different method, which works like gang-busters.

Since I had fore / aft alignment problems for many years coupled with being very tall at 5'5''and frequently skiing in boots too stiff, I never had the leverage I needed to stay centered over my skiis.

To correct that problem an examiner friend had me lift my toes along with the front of my feet off the bottom of the boot, thereby closing the ankle slightly. As the ankle closed I was able to move my hips powerfully forward on command for any duration I chose, while in the turn. This has proven to be a very powerful tool in my skiing bag of tricks.

In particular I have found that skiing rock hard hard-pack or icy conditions,using this technique, provides the extra edge engagement I needed, without causing significant slippage, due to better pressure management under foot at all times throughout the turn.

Many of the instructors I have coached to use this technique have found similar results, especially in difficult conditions. The only issue of concern is to learn when to begin relaxing the ankle so that it can reopen and provide the full range of movement that we need to ski all conditions with confidence.
Try it out and see what you think. It does take a little getting used to.

: whtmt :

[ September 17, 2002, 07:21 PM: Message edited by: whtmt ]
post #44 of 55
Nolo, I agree that the best way to balance is to never get out of balance and that is a mantra I practice religiously.

TomB brought up the trouble he had when he tried to put his weight on the balls of his feet and I told him how to do it without pushing himself into the back seat.

But when a skier finds himself there because of an external influence, like a unforseen slik spot, a quick gross movement of about equal intesity as the one that set him back will bring him into balance.

Sure, good skiers constantly adjust fore/aft balance in small movements as you describe but I don't think that applies to habitual back seat skiers who try to keep up with runaway skis that are always a little ahead of them.

This stem from not thinking and acting ahead, it must always be the body that initiates any action, just like in walking where we propell the body forward and then shore it up from falling by putting a foot forward. Even from a standstill, the body leads and the feet follow instead of the feet marching along dragging the body along.

But I think we are arguing semantics here, we should teach what works.

post #45 of 55
whtmt, that is exactly the feeling, the pull up on the toes, that you get when you need leverage to pull you bodymass forward. Sometimes though it is enough to use a slight up/forward motion to bring your hips forward, other times you really need to flex your ankles forward which gives the feeling of toes-up.

The drawback in this is that you ARE involving your ankles in the forward move just like nolo is in her pull-bak move and thus the ankles tend to be locked and are not free during that time to do other things like shock absorning and subtle edge control.

But again, it is just a way of thinking about it and whatever works for you is the right thing if it gets the job done.

Thanks for your input.

post #46 of 55
Thread Starter 
I understand your point with TomB, Ott. What I am advocating is active feet, and exactly what whtmt described with the toes and the ankles, and certainly not locked. I see in so many skiers the same thing I see in basketball players (I'm talking Class-C ball): they don't move their feet! They reach with their upper bodies. Move to the ball. Move into the future. Don't wait for it to get intercepted. I consider this to be a fundamental mistake in skiing and in basketball. A pet peeve, even.
post #47 of 55
nolo, why not move your upper body so it wont lag behind AND move your feet? They are not mutually exclusive.

This may be long, so bear with me. We are talking about ankle and foot movements. Since, in my estimate, 80% of recreational skiers and many instructors are in the wrong boots, most of them weld the skis, bindings, boots and lower leg up to the knees into a solid, unmovable mass, the only hinges left are the knees and the hips.

Any time the knees bend because the maneuver or terrain demand it, the skiers have to counter with a bowing motion of the upper body to keep in balance, it can get as severe as the chest hitting the knees on high-G turns. Ankle motion does not come into play.

So. As the bootfitters in Taos told me, much of their work is fo naught. This 160 pound intermediate comes in with these $600 boots, "Top of the line" as he proudly exclaims, boots that won't bend unless he is pulling two to three times his weight, and wants foot beds and alignment. Those are not going to do much for his skiing.

If the bootfitter tells them the boots are wrong and points to a more appropriate boot on the display wall, the customer thinks the bootfitter just wnat to make a sale.

The proper way is to go to the bootfitter who carries a half dozen brands, and all their models, in your ski outfit with one pair of unwrinkles socks and STREET SHOES. Be honest about your weight, skiing skill at present and future goals.

Now the bootfitter has something to work with. He will bring several models of appropriate boots, after looking at your feet and deciding what last will fit and after finding that boot will make a footbed and align you. Now there should be no need to unbuckle your boot from morning until quitting time and you will have some flex in the shaft fore/aft while being stiff laterally.

The flex will go from neutral forward and stiffen up gradually the more the forward pressure.

And finally, nolo, we can talk about the role of the feet and ankles in skiing since the boots will allow the skier to use them.

For those of you who suspect that your boots are too stiff, lose the power strap, or at least fasten it loose enough to put your hand between it and the boot, snap the top buckle open and flex forward, making sure you have about an inch play at the top of your boot and go ski to see the difference.

This is not an ideal solution since there is slop at the top of the cuff but the boots are still laterally stiff enough for good control. If that helps your skiing, consider another boot.

post #48 of 55
Thread Starter 
Amen, brother! And a hundred hallelujahs.

Ott has it nailed. It's the boots, stupid.

Of course I agree that the whole body should intentfully move with the skis and the interface is the boots. They must be supple yet supportive, so your frame can stay in alignment to precisely pressure the skis to tell them what you want from them.

Boots and skis are marketed like cars, appealing to our egos, which is especially potent to those of us who consider ourselves to be serious skiers. I am not immune! I skied in the top of the line Tecnica for years until changing boot brands. It was a statement to the boys that I could play at their level. It was NOT good for my skiing, but I wouldn't acknowledge that, because I had custom beds and had been precisely aligned in them. I had adapted my movements to them and done a good job.

Ditto skis. I selected a length that didn't contribute to my skiing so much as my image (which was a projection, since I never actually checked to see if people considered my boots and skis to say anything about me as a skier).

Looking back on it, I'd say I bought into the whole marketing ploy of making the equipment an extension. In my case, it wasn't an extension of my sexual equipment but an extension of my gender war with the white male ski establishment.

If you want to get good, in Weems' sense of the word, you have to get past all that ego-protection and find the right stuff for YOU. I woke up to this when the shapes came on the scene. Every year I sized down, until now I'm on a 160 which I feel is ideal. But it wasn't until 2000 that the light bulb came on about the boots. I tried a pair of junior boots and the difference was immediate. I felt connected to the ski.

The ski was like an extension of my foot. I could feel the whole ski. Incredible! That kind of extension is very, very good.
post #49 of 55
Ott & Nolo's comments about boots are spot on and reflect my experience as well: The forward flex of boots is of critical importance in your skiing.

About 5 years ago, my "old-reliables" (Dales) died at the start of an extended ski trip. For almost the same price that I could rent, and with much less hassle (since I was moving from area to area), I decided to buy the cheapest boots on the shelf that were comfortable, and then replace them with something better as soon as I got the chance. The ones I bought were a low end Solomon model, but all in all, they worked surprisingly well.

Last season, I finally decided to get the "better" boots as per my original plan. I got a pair of Tecnica XR's, had my stance evaluated, had the bottoms ground, etc.. They fit like a glove, had excellent lateral stiffness, and were indeed significantly better than the Solomons on hardpack at speed.

HOWEVER, when I ran into irregular junk snow, bumps, deep spring slop, etc, my skiing went completely to hell. This was not some minor setback in my skiing - it was terrible and extremely disconcerting. I initially had no idea what was happening, but I finally figured out that exactly as Ott and Nolo described, my new boots were simply much too stiff to let my ankle flex as needed in these conditions.

Fortunately, there is a screw adjustment and several removeable plastic inserts in this particular model that allowed me to really soften their forward flex. I did this, and my skiing instantly went back to normal.

My conclusion is that its much better to err on the side of softness than stiffness in boot flex, especially if your particular model does not offer such adjustments.

In my particular case, I kept the low-end soft flexing boots, and still have the option of using them on crud days, so my next goal is to see if I can be happy with the softer flex setting on the Tecnicas for all my skiing, find some compromise setting, or need to go back to the stiffer setting for hardpack and bring along the old, low-end Solomons for crud days.

Tom / PM
post #50 of 55
Just a thought. In short turns, the line can be adjusted to slow the skis down enough for the body to catch up with them.
post #51 of 55
Park & Ride syndrome.
I've always had it, but with the new dynamics of the shaped skis, i find myself fighting to stay forward. I did the same in the past, but it seems twice as hard now than it did on the straight skis. The really bad part about it is that i don't want my students(i'm a race coach)emulating me when i'm parking & riding by accident.
To solve my problem i went to a clinic last april that emphasized on the fundamentals of fore/aft balance and other basics. Since my season ended right after that clinic, i didn't get to implement it much into my skiing, but i think i'll see a difference early this season in my skiing.
-here's to ya!
post #52 of 55
>>>In short turns, the line can be adjusted to slow the skis down enough for the body to catch up with them.<<<

Miles, ESPECIALLY in short turn the need to catch up to your skis should never arise. Matter of fact, I don't think you CAN short turn unless you are over your skis.

But I follow your theory: just jam them crossways and the skis will brake enough for your body to move over them. It could work if an unforseen slik spot were hit and it momentarily put you back, but as a whole, backseat skiers can't do short turns.

post #53 of 55
For me it's cheating with my new outside ski by angling it ever so slightly to start the turn early. Doesn't much happen on open easy stuff but sure does when speed control is an issue. What is frustrating is that people always talk about "completing your turn" to burn off speed but at the same time you're advised to stay in a relatively narrow lane to avoid collisions. At 190 lbs and with even partly carved turns this translates to rapid acceleration on anything but the easiest runs. That's why the best time for me to practice is in the early am when I can concentrate on technique without the crowds hemming me in. skidoc
post #54 of 55
[quote]Originally posted by skidoc:
What is frustrating is that people always talk about "completing your turn" to burn off speed but at the same time you're advised to stay in a relatively narrow lane to avoid collisions. QUOTE]

Skidoc: As a wise man said once "All turns are completed". It is the shape of the turn that allows you to maintain controlled speed. Make your turns round in shape an then go as fast as you want. At that point you can ski any corridor you might choose.

Have a Great day!

post #55 of 55
All turns are 'completed' when they end but they may not be 'finished' if they were aborted too soon.

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