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Stance too upright?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

One of the common criticism's of my skiing is that my stance is too upright. Are there any cues I can use to get in a more proper stance? Are there any tips you can provide, other than "get in an athletic stance"? Is there perhaps an exaggerated position I should try skiing, in order to get a feel for what I need to be doing?



Edited by trtaylor57 - 5/12/2009 at 02:57 am GMT
post #2 of 14

I am not an instructor, but I do know that your stance is controlled to some extent by your boots, both the forward lean, ramp angle (of boots and bindings), and how far the spoiler on the back of the shell is raised. Lower model (cheaper) boots often come with the forward lean fixed and no spoiler.  Higher end boots are more adjustable, for instance my Kryptons can be run with no forward lean wedge, a small one or a big one giving me three forward lean options. Other boots with adjustable lien do it in other ways. Also, by raising the spoiler it inhibits your ability to stand as upright.  Lower end boots are designed for intermediates and tend to be more upright.


A stiff flexing boot that is set up without much lean will make it difficult and possibly painful to get lower without your weight shifting to the dreaded back seat, and a boot with a lot of lean and high spoilers will make it difficult and possibly painful to stand up straight.


I don't have any answers for you other than to let you know that your equipment may be effecting your stance, so don't overlook that in trying to change your style, assuming that it really does need changing.  If you ski well and comfortably maybe you are one of those people who just skis better more upright.  "Proper stance" is not a universal constant for all people.

Edited by mudfoot - 3/17/2009 at 12:53 am
post #3 of 14

I have a different take on this.  By stance I don't think you're referring to anything in the alignment realm so let's cut the equipment issues out of the picture.  I bet what observers are referring to is that your skiing style is predominantly one where your body (CoM) is generally directly over your skis even when you're turning.


Skiing starts from the ground up and your skis are designed to work best when they're on their edges.  High edge angles require trust and commitment that really can only be developed by:

1. Taking some good lessons

2. Reading some good books

3. Emulating/imitating good skiers


The effectiveness of numbers 2 & 3 depends on what kind of learner you are.  If you're a visual learner then those methods can work out very well for you (I'm a visual learner myself).  I recommend Harald Harb's PMTS books, but keep in mind that they're not the "end all, be all" when it comes to skiing technique.  I have found though that his methods and drills are very efficient at helping skiers break through the intermediate/advanced skiing rut and get to being able to perform dynamic turns with high edge angles and solid carving (and let's not turn this thread into a PMTS pissing match ).


Note that you can't get into "exaggerated" positions very well without speed.  That's probably the toughest thing for skiers to get past since it takes that "trust" I mentioned earlier.  It's just like riding a bike - you need the momentum to allow the forces to "hold you up" when you're skiing.  Those forces will allow you to have your body positioned toward the inside of the turn with your skis at higher edge angles.  You just can't get there going slow.



post #4 of 14

I have a good friend named Tony. Tony knows how to ski. He skis by keeping his toes, knees and nose in a vertical line as a reference alignment. Get it? Toe Knee Nose = how to ski.


That goofball out of the way, skiing is much easier when you bend and straighten your legs to assist your turns. If you only use your legs as shock absorbers, you're missing a huge opportunity for performance enhancement. Think about how martial artists do a punch. They turn their hands as they extend their arms. This gives them more power to their punches. The turning of the hand makes the extension of the arm more powerful. But the extension of the arm also makes the turning of the hand more powerful.


Try this exercise: Hold your arm straight out with your palm facing away from you and try to wave your hand by turning it. You should feel some tension in your arm around the elbows. Note how far you turn your hand (my index finger points to about 11 o'clock). Now flex your arm and bring your elbow close to your body then extend your arm and turn your hand at the same time. The tension is gone and you should turn your hand farther (mine goes to 10 o'clock). What works for hand and arm also works for your foot and leg. Straight legs are harder to turn underneath the hips.


One more exercise: Now try standing tall with your legs as straight as possible. From there, try to move your knees laterally. There should not be much range of motion. You should be able to just barely get your knees totally outside of over the inside or outside edge of your feet before losing balance. Your feet will probably either be still flat on the floor or just barely on edge. Now bend your knees and try it. You should be able to get at least twice the lateral range of motion and you should be easily able to tip your feet on edge without losing balance. Straight legs are harder to tip.


This is why people get criticized for a too tall stance. But one of the hallmarks of a good balance is a tall stance. What gives? We're looking for a tall stance from the waist up!


post #5 of 14

Just move around and get flexible.  Are you actually too upright, or are you upright all the time?  I suspect the latter is the main problem.


You need a flexible, reactive, dynamic body that is balanced laterally over the inside edge of your outside ski, and balanced fore & aft over the center of your outside foot.


Stand up straight & tall.  Now, slump like a teenaged boy.  Let your ankles slump so your shins are against the boot tongues.  Let your hips bend just a bit, and let your spine relax and curve forward just a bit.  Your weight still should be balanced over the center of your feet.  Your arms should be comfortably flexed forward and out to the sides exactly as they'd be when you're walking across an icy surface.


While skiing an easy run, do all sorts of goofy things that move you around.  Arms straight out in front; arms straight up; arms straight out to the sides (straight but not rigid); hands on the hips; all the time maintaining balance as listed above.  Twist to the right.  Twist to the left.  Just loosen up.  Do little jumps off the snow while sliding.  Hold one foot up as long as you can (just the tail; keep the tip on the snow), then switch feet and hold the other up as long as you can, then switch again and again.  Touch both boots, then straighten up, remaining balanced all the time.  Touch the uphill boot cuff (or uphill knee) and hold your hand there while you turn and it becomes the downhill boot or knee; do the other side; all the while maintaining your balance.  All this movement is intended to teach your body to maintain its balance without maintaining a certain position--there are no positions in skiing, only movements.


Your rigidity may be due to striving for balance, or may be due to instructions from someone.  Get loose.  There will be a place where you're balanced, upright but flexible, able to react to any situation, and you're skiing comes alive!

Edited by SoftSnowGuy - 3/18/2009 at 12:26 am

Edited by SoftSnowGuy - 3/18/2009 at 12:27 am
post #6 of 14

All the drills and suggestions provided so far are great.


Dynamic skiing is a way to describe it what you are lacking. When you are upright, you can't change the pressure on your skis. If you have flexion in your ankles, knees and hips you can press into your ski, changing the pressure. Additionally when you are straight, all the terrain is forced through your skeleton into your body, tossing you around. When you are flexed, you can absorb and react to the changing terrain. Think like you are the shock absober in your car, except that you can anticpate the bumps so that when the snow drops away, you extend to keep your skis on the snow. Conversely when you come to a bump, you retract to absorb the bump keeping you in contact with the snow.


Try this: stand upright (at ease, not attention) and try to jump. Then bend your ankles, knees and toes and try to jump. You could get more strength and height from your jump when you were flexed than when you were standing.


Skiing is all about controlling the pressure of your ski on the snow. At times it will build up, at times it will decrease. The way you deal with the changes is with changing the position of your body. I agree with mudfoot that many skiers are in a boot that is too stiff. I see it in racers all the time. If you can't flex your boot, any flexion in your knees and hips will be hampered; i.e. if you bend your knee but don't bend your ankle, you are sitting back. Your ankle flex with your knee to allow your body to stay centered.


Some demonstration videos make it look too easy. Watch some ski porn (real, not demo skiing) or WC (world cup) alpine racing (www.universalsports.com). If you watch a SL (slalom) race you will see the racer's body going through a wide range of motions. SL demonstrates the extreme range of motion that a racer needs. Recreational skiing, of course, need not be so energetic, but it does utilize all the basic techniques that racing does:


  • balanced neutral position between turns (ankles and knees flexed)
  • roll your knees into the turn to initiate the turn (focus on the inside knee, the outside will follow)
  • extend your legs to begin to build pressure at the top of the turn (slowly counter the force of the turn by pressing with your legs)
  • retract your legs as pressure has built up in the middle of the turn (slowly retract)
  • repeat


I try to relate skiing to sports that you are good at. Good analogies are tennis (lots of lateral movement), horseback riding (if you are stiff you are thrown off the horse, I know ;o)), olympic weight lifting (never static, always balanced, flex is critical to success). Mt. bike riding is like horseback riding, even with suspension bikes, if you aren't flexible and working the terrain with your 'built in' suspension, you will get bounced.


Be flexible to be strong and maintain good contact with the snow.

post #7 of 14




One of the common criticism's of my skiing is that my stance is too upright.

Who is doing the criticism?  Friends, ski buddies, instructors?


Some questions you can ask yourself.


Do my quads get tired or sore aftrer skiing half day or more?


Do I feel balanced over my skis?


Can I turn anytime I need to?


Can I ski bump runs without bailing out at some point?


Can I ski really steep terrain slowely by making rounded turns?


If the answer is no to any one of these questions, then maybe your stance or position over the skis needs some improvement.




post #8 of 14

Everybody is saying the same thing in 6 different ways.  Ski from an athletic stance, everything is flexed, balanced, and stable.  Is all the same in golf, baseball, basketball, tennis, curling?


While skiing what position do you assume above the chin?  Are you smiling?

post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the replies. I feel like I made significant improvement in this regard later in the season. Skis are put away now, but can't wait to get them back out. 

post #10 of 14

I am surprised nobody asked what your boot sole length is? what bindings are you using? what make and model boot are you skiing?


These questions will help reveal whether equipment may be a factor in your fore/aft plane.

post #11 of 14

Ok, I'll bite. I can see how boot make and model could affect the skier's position. Boot stiffness was addressed in that it could affect the necessary flex at the ankle.


What would boot sole length have to do with being 'too upright'? How would the binding he is using affect his stance? Ramp angles are pretty standard with modern bindings.


I did assume he was talking about alpine skiing. Not telemark. ;o)


post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

Boot sole length is 295. I have shimmed my toe piece so I only have about 2mm ramp remaining in my bindings.


Boots are Dobermann Pro 130's with spoliers removed. 

Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

I am surprised nobody asked what your boot sole length is? what bindings are you using? what make and model boot are you skiing?


These questions will help reveal whether equipment may be a factor in your fore/aft plane.


post #13 of 14


Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post

Ok, I'll bite. I can see how boot make and model could affect the skier's position. Boot stiffness was addressed in that it could affect the necessary flex at the ankle.


What would boot sole length have to do with being 'too upright'? How would the binding he is using affect his stance? Ramp angles are pretty standard with modern bindings.


I did assume he was talking about alpine skiing. Not telemark. ;o)


Boot sole length, and binding stand height differential play a significant role in fore/aft alignment.   A longer boot sole in a flatter delta binding will place a skier in a more upright stance while a shorter boot sole in a higher stand height differential binding will create a steeper delta angle and pitch the skier more forward.


Ramp angle is inside the boot, delta is under the boot, just so we are speaking the same language.   Bindings stand height differentials can still vary by as much as 5 - 8 mm,  which creates very significant differences to the skier position.  A change of as little as 1 - 2 mm is noticeable to a good skier.


Since trtaylor57 is using a Dobie Pro 130 w/o the spoiler in a 295 sole length with a 2mm stand height differential, it doesn't sound like there are any gross equipment issues causing his dilemma, but at least we have ruled this out and can move forward with other suggestions.

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

In my case, my problem appeared I was just too stiff and not skiing with a basic athletic stance. It was suggested I look at myself in the mirror, while clicked in to my skis and compare what I saw with images of proficient skiers.


Next while skiing I tried to ingrain a more flexed position by bending my knees and touching the tops of my boots while tipping to turn. This was an exaggerated movement, of course. But it helped me become more athletic with my skiing.


Also, previous discussions with Bud and Lou R. helped me to eliminate equipment as a gross problem, allowing me to concentrate on the guy in the boots.

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