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Lifting is Learning (but what is it teaching?) - Page 3

post #61 of 97
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
You might also want to check the archives. In particular, try these threads:

What is the "Epic Standard" for turns? This was the precursor, with some important background information, to the threads that follow:

How do you make a perfect turn?
This may have just the description you're asking for.

Those turns...illustrated. As it suggests, this one has illustrations, including graphics of the same basic fundamentals at various representative levels of development.

Thank you for the revelation! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] This thread plus the three you encourged us to visit in the quoted post have provided an explanation for what I experience on skis that I have never been able to understand. Thank you!

For the first 20-something of the 32 seasons I have skied, I spent a lot of time and effort reading, learning, getting coaching during a couple of racing years, and generally trying to understand how to get better. However, apart from a ski week with Chris Stagg in Taos in the late 80s, I haven't had lessons in years. Lito's book made sense to me, but I seemed to have plateaued as a "terminal sub-expert": I can ski pretty much anything, but certain conditions and/or equipment just flummox me. Also, I noticed that certain skis (especially) just didn't work for me because they didn't have enough "pop" to help me start the turn. Now I know what the issue is! I can't wait to get on snow, now, for a new reason!

I am an engineer. I understand physics (although not as well as PhysicsMan, for sure!), and yet I had never seen a clear illustration of the forces involved in a ski turn until I saw your illustrations here. In addition, it seems that you've also illustrated the difference between "effortless" skiing and the much more common "work" of skiing. If I'm not lifting and shifting my CM around, I can turn with much less effort, conserving my energy for those times when I need to (or want to! [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] ) burn it on some fun on the slope.

I am gratified to learn that a fair amount of my skiing is in the direction of "expert skiing" such as the lines I pick and my reasons for them. However, I find that I have a real breakthrough to seek this year and I can think of no better use of my Colorado Pass than its pursuit this season.

Again, my thanks. Your willingness to share this deeply has already made a huge difference for at least one newbie in this community. :

With gratitude,
post #62 of 97
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
Yes, Si, and the gist of my point remains that, if it happens in that order (1. lift/lighten, 2. tip), it is a building block to a ski progression that leads to mediocrity.

I suggest that if that is NOT what you intend, then you should state it differently, because words can only be written or said in linear sequence, and that sequence sticks firmly in the minds of students and instructors alike!

Geez Bob, I am trying to withdraw here but please just leave me out of your discussion, especially inferring meanings about my comments that are opposite to what I stated numerous times in this thread:

Originally posted by Si:

... Proper lifting and tipping (as one move) teaches exactly the things you describe in both these statements as a smooth and effective kinetic chain of movement...

... I would just suggest throwing out the firts step: weight shift and then lift I don't think anyone is advocating these as an effective step in a learning progression....

... Lifting/lightening and tiping (as Rick H said these are done together not as a sequence)....

... Proper lifting and tipping (as one move) ....

.... If that's what you meant by your instruction you've created a sequence that I would never use .....

.... With your interpretation of an active weight transfer I agree that lifting would be somewhat of an inhibitor to reaching higher level movements. But as I think about lifting (and I think PMTS uses it) that is not the case ......
post #63 of 97
To those who have expressed interest in this topic and want to attempt to apply it to their own skiing:

Come to the Early Season Tune-up in Stowe in early December or the Epic Ski Academy in Utah the end of January or beginning of February. You will have the chance to ski with Bob B, Ric R, Tom B and some of the other top coaches who contribute regularly to this forum and build on the topics discussed.

Plus it's going to be fun!
post #64 of 97

I've been following along trying to understand the debate. As I've said previously, I can't visualize descriptions of movements very well, so I kind of have to see what's being discussed.

This thread prompted me to dig out a home video I shot of a skier here at Jackson. He's a former U S Team downhill/gs skier and is generally considered to be one of the best skiers on this hill. The video shows him making some medium-fast, medium-radius carved turns on hard, groomed snow on a moederately steep pitch.

Here's what I see when I watch him.

1. As he's coming through the final stages of a turn to the right, his left ski is deeply bent. I assume this means most of his weight is on his left ski, but both skis are "tipped" at the same angle.

2. Just as he approaches the fall line, there's a fast transition where the edges are released, essentially flattening the edge angles.

3. At this stage, it appears that the left ski becomes basically weightless, while the right ski maintains a slightly more positive contact with the snow. The left ski doesn't rise off the snow, but it doesn't appear to have any weight on it.

4. At that same moment, his center of mass is moving across the skis and an instant later will actually be *downhill* of his skis.

5. At this point, his skis are still traveling to the *right*, but the left edge of the right ski is becoming more fully engaged. As that edge pressure increases, the tip of the right ski starts pulling into the new turn.

6. Now, the left edge of the left ski starts to contribute and the turn has fully taken shape. He's braced against the left edge of both skis (although considerably more weight is on the right ski) and his body is "stacked" in a straight line from shoulders down through the feet. All he has to do now is ride that arc to complete the turn.

So if what I'm seeing is what he's actually doing (which is certainly open to debate), then here's my question:

Based on Rick H's explanation of PMTS,

Flatten and lighten the old outside ski. There is no edge grip. This can be done by lightening and tipping the old outside ski towards it's little toe edge.

When the old outside ski is lightened (leg muscles are relaxed to acheive lightening), weight is transfered to the NEW outside ski.

Because the leg of the old outside ski is now shorter, due to relaxing, the center of mass (CM)tries to equalize for the shortness of that leg. Inverting the foot of that leg (the new inside leg)shortens the leg even more, drawing the CM further towards the shortened leg. Because of todays ski boots, the new outside ski is tipped onto its big-toe edge and the edge engages the snow."

isn't that a pretty accurate description of what I think I'm seeing in this video? It all seems to fit.

Now, admittedly my skier isn't "lifting" that left ski, but he does seem to be doing exactly what Rick H is describing.

Am I missing an important link in the chain?


post #65 of 97
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
But making an active weight transfer (lifting the new inside ski) PRIOR TO intitiating a turn, or even at the moment of the initiation, involves, without exception, a negative movement of the body. It is inevitable. Try this: Stand upright, feet naturally and comfortably separated. Put all your weight on your right foot, and lift your left. Now, transfer your weight to the left foot and lift your right. Which way did your body move? Obviously, it moved left. So, if this movement is part of initiating a right turn, and it causes your body to move left, it is, as I have said, literally a step in the wrong direction. It introduces negative movements that will have to be unlearned later, and it has other negative consequences even now.
I decided to actually try this as opposed to imagine how it would work. Standing in front of a mirror, I shifted my weight first to my left foot, then to my right. Sure enough, I could see my body literally shift from the foot up to move my CM over my weighted foot.

Then, I decided to try "falling" towards the foot I was lifting. This is what I noticed: I only really had two choices, either I reached out to catch myself as I tumbled to the ground (causing all kinds of interesting bodily contortions) or I felt the weight actually increase on the lifted foot as my body moved in that direction and was "caught" by the foot. In other words, without the appropriate centrifugal force pressing my body to the "weighted" side, I had only three possible outcomes:

1) Fall to the "unweighted" side
2) Re-weight (in fact, increase weight) on the "unweighted" side
3) Move my CM so that it was over the "weighted" side

This implies that Bob's premise is accurate: weight shift is an effect of the increasing centrifugal (outward) force requiring me to resist it (thus creating the centripetal force). If, instead, I try to move into those forces by forcing an early shift, I will have expended unnecessary and possibly detrimental effort to move in the direction I choose.

Do I have this right?

post #66 of 97
Thread Starter 
Excellent post, Bob--thanks for taking the time to describe what you saw. It would be great if we could all see the actual video, of course, but I suspect your description is pretty accurate. (I'm a little confused by point number 2--the "fall line" part of a turn generally describes the point at which you are going straight downhill, but I don't believe that's what you mean here.) The smooth, progressive weight transfer you described sounds very appropriate, responding to the smoothly changing forces of the turns. The timing may, or may not, suggest an error (probably not, as I'll describe.)

Without the actual video to go by, though, I can only offer a couple general comments. First, regardless of anything else, remember that all video must be taken with a grain of salt, because no real turn is ever truly "perfect." So there are always some things that are fundamental, defining, and consistent, and other things that incidental, and possibly even accidental (mistakes) in every real turn. It's critical to understand the difference!

Second, as the force diagrams on page 1 of this thread show, the higher the speed, the closer the "natural" weight transfer comes to coinciding with the transition/initiation of the turn. At World Cup speeds, the difference between optimal and "off" may be a matter of microseconds and inches, and complete, appropriate weight transfer occurs so quickly, and so close to the transition, that they coincide, for all practical purposes. Imagine the sensations of driving a race car at high speed through tight S-curves. "Bang-bang-bang"--the weight transfer occurs abruptly and obviously, throwing you from side to side against the bolsters of your seat. The forces are so powerful, in fact, that any active movements you make are all but insignificant.

But the simple rules I've described still apply: make the weight transfer to the outside BEFORE the forces apply to pull you to the outside, and you will either have to move your body toward the outside ski--a negative movement--or lose your balance. It may be extraordinarily subtle and difficult to see at such a high level as you describe, but it has to happen. The loss of balance may be minor, and it is likely to be corrected by no more than a miniscule, probably invisible, alteration in the skier's line for recovery. Speed forgives many errors!

When free-skiing, this may not be a mistake anyway. Only when the specific line is absolutely critical would you consider it a "mistake" to have to alter your line a little. Otherwise, neither the skier nor an observer would probably even notice it! As I've often said, "perfect turns" are not all there is to great skiing, and they may not even be the most fun. Only when my line is critical does it matter that I make the "perfect turn." When I need to hit the brakes, the movements of the perfect turn are all wrong. And frankly, when I don't need either braking or precise line control--which is actually quite often--I'm more likely to just play with sensations, "pure-carving" for g-forces, rebound and hop, for that weightless sensation, or I may exaggerate the "fall" into the turn, trusting my skis to come around and catch me eventually. When nothing critical is at stake, "good technique" loses all objectivity and becomes purely a matter of personal preference and expression. From your point #3, describing near "weightlessness," it sounds likely that he's actually playing a little, enjoying that rebound and its soaring sensation--or that he's unweighting to help displace his skis for a quicker turn intitiation (not unlikely if it's fairly steep, especially if the snow is soft or deep--as the diagrams show, you can't sustain pressure on EITHER ski enough to cause it to bend and carve in the top part of turns on steeps, unless you are going EXTREMELY fast).

Your skier was free-skiing, so while his technical foundation is surely beyond reproach, there is no reason to believe that he had to be skiing the most technically "perfect" turns he could make.

Again, I haven't seen the actual video, so my comments are general. But he's either making "perfect" perfect turns, at such high speeds that, for practical purposes, the weight transfer and the transition coincide. Or he's making "imperfect" perfect turns, revealing some small, typical errors that are all but completely masked and forgiven by his high speed. Or--most likely--he's not trying to make "perfect turns" at all, and his skiing should be judged only by your aesthetic standards and the smile on his face!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ November 03, 2003, 12:54 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #67 of 97
Thread Starter 
You have it right, Ssh.

You could simulate the third option--that of changing external forces keeping you in balance as you transfer your weight--simply by holding onto something solid, or leaning against the wall, as you change your support foot.

post #68 of 97
Thread Starter 
My, my! When did this turn into a PMTS discussion? I described, in detail, some clearly bad but not uncommon teaching errors, and the PMTS guys feel a need to defend themselves. Hm-m-m...

Well, if you say so. You guys are the experts in PMTS. If the mistake I described is your sacred cow, I can see why you're concerned! Just remember--you made the association between the problem and PMTS, not me. I'm not trying to plead ignorant here, by the way--I know that "lifting and lightening," in some form, are part of your basic progression. I've also clearly stated that "lifting" can be used to great effect in ski teaching, even though I insist that it's misused more often than not. I know full well that some PMTS instructors, and some PSIA instructors, use it effectively, and that many others do not.

Rick, with all respect, who said anything about the "Phantom Move"? Not I. I tried to keep PMTS out of it, and would just as soon keep it that way. If I haven't described the PMTS progression, as you suggest, great! I wasn't trying to, and I'm glad you don't think you're guilty of the problem. If I HAVE described the PMTS progression, only you guys will really know it, and only you can fix it--it really doesn't concern me. My quarrel is with bad teaching, not PMTS. If they are one and the same, well, you'd be the ones to judge. Please don't blame me for merely facilitating the realization!

I have neither interpreted nor misinterpreted the PMTS progression, Si, at least not in this thread. I haven't even discussed it--intentionally--and I don't particularly care to! I've simply stated and described some objective facts about skiing--not "my interpretation." While I've already gone over this, I'll try again, just for you, with apologies to those who got it the first time. Si, unless some other force joins the equation, there are two, and only two, things that can happen when you transfer your weight from one ski to the other, or when you lift a ski (they are not necessarily the same thing). Either you will put yourself out of balance, and start immediately falling back to the lightened/lifted foot. Or you will move your body (center of mass) over the new foot to remain in balance. A narrower stance will reduce, but not eliminate, both of these problems (while potentially introducing others). Barring a change in the forces applying, there is no third option, and this is not opinion or interpretation--it's something you simply understand, or not.

In turns, of course, there are other forces constantly changing in the equation. When those forces allow--that is, when the net force of the turn pulls you toward the outside--you can transfer your weight/balance/whatever to the outside ski while neither losing your balance nor making a negative movement toward the outside ski. But as the diagram I presented on page 1 of this thread clearly shows, that never happens prior to the new turn, or even at the initiation of the new turn. It always happens at some point later in the turn, perhaps just after the initiation ("B" in the diagram), sometimes nearly as late as the fall line ("A"). Until that point, any active change in support foot WILL result in either loss of balance (falling to the inside), or a negative (generally uphill) movement to remain in balance. This, too, is not opinion. Seek to understand!

So the issue is--any teaching progression that involves making an active "early" weight transfer as essential for turning--at any level or speed--teaches potentially problematic movements that disrupt the flow at the transition, cause excessive skidding, and lead to gross upper body movements to twist the skis and balance. These are dead-end movements that will require "unlearning" at some point, for continued progress. My experience--and I DO have some, Si--convinces me that those problems become habits that are very difficult and frustrating to break.

This is a discussion intended primarily for instructors, at least from my perspective, in the hopes that we may become more effective at our jobs. But for the non-instructors following along, first, thank you, and I apologize for the agony we're putting you through! And second, the choice is yours. The more you know about skiing, the more savvy you will be as a student. You can be more discriminating in choosing an instructor, and you can reduce the chances of a charlatan leading you astray. So I hope you find these torturous discussions helpful!

If so then you've got to have a weight transfer to get from one [turn] to the other.... Whether you perceive it or not I can't imagine many turns that don't require a transfer of weight and load from one ski to the other. This doesn't have to occur by a large or abrupt shift of mass it can happen by a very small degree of lightening/flexing/retraction but it's there.
Si--where, in this whole dialog, has anyone said that there is not, or should not be, some weight transfer in most turns? This entire discussion ASSUMES weight transfer. At issue is not the existence, but the mechanism and timing of that weight transfer. I'm sorry for questioning your reading comprehension, Si, but please go back and READ the discussion. If you cannot see these things, then perhaps you should listen to yourself, and recognize that you may very well NOT have the background or basis to contribute productively to this discussion. I hate to be so harsh, but really, Si, sometimes I swear you must be posting to a different thread!

Finally, RickH--your insistence that tipping is involved in turning is, of course valid. I would never argue with the need to tip, release, or engage edges. But it is irrelevant to this discussion of "lift" and inappropriate weight transfer. I recognize that tipping may or may not accompany "lifting" or weight transfer, and that it may well be a key to making the whole thing work. If your weight transfer is premature, though, before the necessary external forces align, it matters not whether you just lift, or lift and tip, lift and twist, or lift and pick your nose. If mistimed or misdirected, the weight transfer is an independent problem in itself, and it precipitates a slew of other problems.

Again, it has not been my intention in this thread to discuss, much less criticize, your "phantom move," which I recognize describes a specific sequence of multiple, blended movements. I'd be happy to join you in exploring it, though, if you'd like to bring it up, preferably in another thread.

In summary--again--weight transfer is a fact of skiing--as it is of driving a car--but not a necessity. The ability to balance on either foot or both, at any time, and indeed to transfer weight and balance at will, is important for great skiing (although not, as Disski has pointed out, an insurmountable obstacle when lacking). But weight transfer is primarily a result, not a cause or requirement of great turns, and its timing is critical, dictated by the unique forces of each turn. Confusing this cause-effect relationship causes subtle, but important, problems. An over-emphasis on active weight transfer, especially involving lifting a ski during the preparation or early initiation phase of a turn, causes a variety of problems that are likely to produce a syndrome of bad habits and frustrating road blocks to further progress.

None of this should imply that poor technique can't be fun! But better skiing really is even more fun.

Thanks for all the thoughts on this hot topic, everyone!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #69 of 97
Thread Starter 
[EDIT: Please note that this post has been repeated to start a new thread. To go there, click on the following link: The Essence of the Expert--Psy's question]

Originally posted by psy:
Rusty Guy,before posting the first time, i have already read the links, and i still don't get it. As i stated i can carve in many situations, and i have also skied the atomic 9-12, and enjoyed them alot, but i was kind of jump turning.I also use jump (hop?) turns when on really steep and ungroomed, but it seems that many here do not think that this is correct. The problem is what to do when i try to exit my confort zone. Lets say the skier in Bob Barnes' third diagram is on a very steep ungroomed or on a crowded slope and at high speed and suddenly the skier in front of him falls over. i have seen skiers that at pretty high speeds can break out of that turn instantly and go the other way.In most cases i have to stop, so i do not present a danger to other skiers (or boarders) but i am not skiing as well as i would like.
So i guess my question is: do you use exactly the same tehnique in those situations as depicted in BB's diagram? if not, what do you change when you initiate the turn? i beleive that having both PSIA and PMTS instructors answer my specific quetion could clarify (i think not just for me) just what are the differences between the approaches. By the way in europe istarted to see ski schools that have their pupils ski with the hands raised shoulder high and tell them to lean at the hip down hill and try to keep their arms paralel to the slope and as a result the turn happens. From what i gather i think this is closer to PSIA, am i right?.
Psy--this is an excellent question, and I'm not sure you've been given due justice here in this thread.

First of all, please recognize that the skiers in my illustrations, and the techniques we've been discussing here, represent only a VERY small subset of all the important moves and techniques of skiing. In skiing, as with most things, intent dictates technique. The techniques we've discussed only apply to the intent to link smooth, flowing turns that are meant primarily to control your line. These are offensive turns, used when you want to "go that way," and as such, they could not be more different from defensive movements used to "stop going this way." These turns represent "go thoughts," not braking, and not necessarily pure "go wherever they take you" railed-out carved turns, either.

So no, there will be times when the most appropriate movements are very different from those in my illustrations and descriptions of "perfect turns." Specifically, we've emphasized "positive movements"--anything that moves in the direction you're trying to go--in this thread. But negative movements certainly have their place as well. Being able to set your edges and push off, block your "flow," move uphill, and twist your skis into a skid, are all essential to the complete skier. They aren't the movements of offensive turns, but they're the critical movements of braking, of defense, and of avoiding things.

That said, when an obstacle appears in your path, you have two options, and they are not the same: you can try to "not hit it"--to not go where the obstacle is, or you can try to GO where it ISN'T! "Don't ski the trees," they say, "ski the spaces between them!" So offensive technique may still be possible when you need to avoid an obstacle. It is not usually the first instinct of most skiers, but it is the choice and habit of experts!

The next point is that you are right--truly refined skiers seem to be able to change direction at will, finishing one turn and going suddenly the other way at any moment, even long before the turn's originally expected finish. This ability is a function of many things. Certainly, accurate, consistent balance is one of them. Experts rarely "over-commit" to a turn, which involves getting too far inside. One advantage of skiing on the outside ski with an open stance is that a quick extension of the inside leg immediately pushes you out of one turn and in the direction of the next, if needed.

Another factor is that expert turns, being offensive attempts to control line, are not intentionally skidded. On modern skis, we rarely have to twist the skis into a skid to get a turn started. But most skiers' turns are different. They aren't actually "turns" at all--they're "brakes"--intentional skids to scrub off speed. If you think of your turns as a way to slow down, it is likely that your turns are really brakes too--very different from, say Hermann Maier's turns (he's not usually trying to slow down!)

Anyway, most people's turns consist of two major phases. First, they do something to get the skis skidding (hop and twist the tails out, for example). Then they try to control and eventually stop the skid, so they can turn the other way. If this describes you, it would exlain why you find those quick, unexpected direction changes so elusive. Skidded turns don't control your direction, or change it, very precisely in the first place. But more important, you really can NOT start a new skid the other way until you first succeed in stopping the skid you have going this way. It's like playing catch. Once you've thrown the ball, you can't throw it again until the other person catches it, throws it back, and you catch it again. Once the sequence starts, it has to finish before you can do the next thing.

Think of how a car is (usually) different. You turn the wheel to the right to go right, and hold it there as long as you want or need to. But you can straighten it out at any point, and the turn will end immediately, and you can turn the other way just as quickly. You can also turn the wheel less, or more, at any point, to straighten or tighten the turn.

Experts typically work their skis more like that car. They steer them preciely through the turn, always in balance, always able to readjust their line or change it completely in an instant. Once those skis are skidding, though, they're just like a car in a skid--pretty much out of control until the skid stops!

That is exactly the problem with defensive, braking skiing. While it does help you avoid going too fast, it literally puts you out of control like a skidding car, most of the time! Chronic skidders typically have a very false sense of control--which does not reveal itself until they need to take the quick, evasive action you've described.

OK, you say, but I NEED speed control! Surprisingly, perhaps, I'm going to tell you that you really don't! The secret to the expert's gliding, carving effortless and precise directional control is that they ski a line that that eliminates the need for speed control! I like to say that experts "ski a slow enough line as fast as they can" (when they can--and they certainly brake whehever they really need to). Experts use the mountain itself to control speed. Need to slow down? You don't need to hit the brakes if there's a hill around--just go up it. Going up a mogul slows you down, as does skiing up the side of a gulley, or any little hill. And, of course, since we usually do ski on a slope, you can ALWAYS go up uphill--if you have sufficient control of your line to finish your turns. It may not always be obvious, because they tend to do everything so smoothly, but experts quite often ski their turns so far around that they actually go back up the hill a bit.

And with that, we've just opened up a can of worms! Search the archives for "slow line fast," and you'll turn up a number of discussions of this critical "secret" of expert skiing.

I'm guessing, of course, Psy, without seeing you ski, but it sounds to me like you are primed for an enormous breakthrough in your skiing. You have described hopping as an important part of your turns, which suggests that you are probably hopping your skis into a skid, defensively. When you aren't trying to get your skis skidding, but trying to keep them tracking instead, that hop becomes entirely unnecessary. Once you adopt the offensive attitude and tactics of the expert skier, your new intent ("GO!") will completely change the way you ski.

Well, it's really late now, so I'll leave you thinking about this for a while. If you're curious, or want more explanation of what I'm talking about, let us know. There are plenty of people here who can help! It isn't exactly simple, of course--we're talking about the essence of expert skiing--technique, tactics, mindset, attitude, everthing. But it is worth pursuing!

I'll give you one quick hint, which Rusty has already suggested: the way to make the kind of turns we're talking about (asssuming that you have adopted the prerequisite offensive "go that way" intent, and that you are not turning to slow down) is

"Right tip right to go right."

Start of the turn to finish. "Left tip left to go left." Over and over. It is that simple! (Usually.)

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ November 04, 2003, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #70 of 97

PMTS describes their order of movements as release, transfer, and engagement. This comes straight from their PMTS.org site and Rick H describes it in detail in this thread. Maybe at high level these movements are more blended, but there are definitely two schools of thoughts as far as teaching is concerned (regardless of the teaching system):

1) Some teach lifting/lightening/tipping and then transfer to get the new outside ski to engage. Bob believes that this is the wrong order.
2) Some teach engagement (by tipping) without any need to lift/lighten/transfer. Once you are engaged in the new turn, you can lift/lighten and transfer as the conditions dictate. In some cases you will even transfer to the inside foot, because your outside foot hit a rut and lost an edge. [img]smile.gif[/img]

This is what I got from Bob's first post. They key is the point of engagement of the new edges. I get the feeling that if you agree with the 2 options described above, you will be in violent agreement with Bob. [img]smile.gif[/img]


The reference to PMTS is only relation to Rick H's post and Si's last paragraph. I do realize that your discussion is about teaching in general (regardless of system).
post #71 of 97
Thread Starter 
Bob Peters--one more thought occurs to me, on re-reading your excellent description of the skier on the video.

You point #6 describes inclining into the turn, balanced against the edges of both skis. "All he has to do now is ride that arc to complete the turn," you add. Well, not really! There's actually a lot of very critical, precise, and (at high speed) vigorous activity that he must do, to control and finish this turn and transition smoothly into the next. First, consider that, IF the turns are to be smoothly, seamlessly linked, regardless of how much he tips into the turn, and how extreme his edge angles and inclination become, he must FINISH this turn in "neutral," on essentially flat skis.

If he finishes any other way, he'll have to get to "neutral" again before he can start the next turn, and everything he does between the finish of the one turn and the start of the next represents a "glitch" in the transition--a disconnect in the smooth flow.

Most instructors would agree that turns START in "neutral." But the notion that they must therefore also FINISH in neutral, if they are to be seamlessly linked, is really the crux of my point in this discussion. If--and only if--your movements are accurate through the end of the last turn can you really link turns seamlessly. And if they ARE accurate, and you arrive in neutral at precisely the finish of the turn, you do not have to do anything whatsoever to start the next one--because you've already done everything necessary.

Arrive in neutral a moment too soon, and your previous turn won't be complete, and you'll have to block some movements to avoid starting the next turn too early (no big deal, except when line is critical, as in a race course, or trees). Arrive in neutral too LATE--i.e. finish the turn THEN try to find neutral, and the flow is gone. You'll have to do something to get things going down the hill again. Something like tranferring your weight to the uphill ski, or lightening the downhill ski to get the "fall" going again.

And that's exactly the point I made earlier! If you feel that you have to DO something, like lift, lighten, or transfer your balance to the uphill ski, in order to get the "falling sensation" into the new turn going, then you did not move accurately through the last turn. (If that's the case, then certainly this early weight transfer is an effective move. But it's still just a correction for another error. Finding a good bandaid is not a bad thing, but correcting the problem that requires the fix is even better!)

Phil and Steve Mahre--the champions of weight transfer--were adamant about this point that turns must end in neutral. They didn't necessarily use the word "neutral," but the point was clear. (I say "was" because it's been a few years since I've worked with them. I assume that their conviction is, if anything, even stronger now.) They decried the "park and ride" skiers (many instructors included) who just passively rode their skis around and then had to make a vigorous new move to start the next turn, because they failed to finish in neutral. The standard "weight transfer" that the Mahres emphasized involved finishing the turn solidly on the downhill ski, in a tall, neutral stance, and allowing the weight to transfer smoothly to the other ski as you moved into the new turn. Any movement uphill to transfer weight was a mistake, and we worked hard to try to avoid "teaching" that mistake at the Mahre Training Center.

The extreme version of this "non-early" weight transfer, of course, is the turn they made famous--the White Pass Turn in which the transfer does not occur until about the middle of the turn (the fall line). I don't think anyone really understood at the time why this move was so fast on the steep slopes in which they "accidentally" did it, but looking at the force diagram for steep slopes should provide a good clue!

In the Mahre Training Center, we practiced every variation of weight transfer--inside edge to flat ski, inside edge to inside edge, inside edge to outside edge, converging, diverging, and parallel steps. Versatility was the main goal, I suppose. But throughout all, we emphasized that the body must move smoothly down the hill, into the new turn, even during the weight transfer. Even the "inside-outside" skating (diverging) step transition involves a constant flowing movement of the center of mass, and the uphill ski rolls smoothly toward the new turn, even as you transfer your weight to it's uphill edge.

Whoa!--didn't expect to get that much into this reply! This is an exciting concept, though, for top-level skiing, and one dear to my heart. And its roots, again, trace back to the very beginnings of learning on skis. Learn wrong--with a mistimed "early" weight transfer and the assorted patches and compromises that make it "sort of" work, and these exhilerating high-level options may forever elude your grasp!

Learn right, and you're on the direct path to some very fun stuff, with no obstacles, no dead ends, and no limits!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #72 of 97
Thread Starter 
Oh--and one more thought!

One of our students asked Phil Mahre one day why he lifts his inside ski in his short-radius (slalom) turns. He insisted that he does NOT lift it, and was surprised--I'd even say fascinated--to discover that it actually did come off the snow when he paid attention to a few turns.

Solid evidence of a "lift" and weight transfer that RESULTS from, rather than contributing to, turns. And this from the "old days" where 100% weight transfer and step turns were the undisputed rule of race technique.

We did a lot of "lifting" in the Mahre Training Center--lots of practice traversing on the downhill ski and the uphill, skiing on one ski, and the other, skiing outside ski to outside ski, inside ski to inside ski, one ski only, and so on, in addition to the various options described above (earlier post). Through it all, the key to success was to use the "lift" as a demonstration that you were, indeed, fully balanced on the other foot--NOT as a way to get there! Lifting one foot does NOT automatically balance you on the other. And the goal was accurate weight transfer--not necessarily a habit of lifting a ski.

For lower level skiers, we did not have them try to lift their inside ski until about the fall line. Two-footed into the turn, then gradually feeling pressure build on the outside ski, as the forces built to the outside and the inside foot lightened, finally lifting the inside ski only AFTER it bore no weight.

The higher the skill level, and the higher the speed, the earlier we asked the students to try to lift their inside foot. But the moment the weight transfer/lift disrupted the "positive movement" flow of their body into the turn, we drew the line.

Cause and effect! In this case, only a subtle difference in timing makes all the difference in the world.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #73 of 97

Thanks for the detailed response(s). I appreciate all the effort you're putting into this.

Kind of in order, here are a few reactions:

You're right that what I described as the fall line isn't what you typically use. I used the term to describe the moment he "crosses" the fall line, which I think is the moment you might describe as the transition. Where the vertical line intersects the "S" in a dollar sign?

Next, you describe the moment of weight transfer (I think) as what I was referring to as the fall line. The point at which the edges are released and the new turn starts to be set up? If that's true, then I'm having difficulty understanding the distinction between "weight transfer" and "lightening". It seems to me as I envision his turns (and even my own to some extent) that there is unquestionably a moment when that old outside ski no longer has any weight on it. Is that *not* the case in the kind of turn you're encouraging? Is it that the weight is transferred to the new edges, but still remains (at least to some extent) on both skis through the transition into the new turn?

Next, I'm going to quote you:

"But the simple rules I've described still apply: make the weight transfer to the outside BEFORE the forces apply to pull you to the outside, and you will either have to move your body toward the outside ski--a negative movement--or lose your balance. It may be extraordinarily subtle and difficult to see at such a high level as you describe, but it has to happen. The loss of balance may be minor, and it is likely to be corrected by no more than a miniscule, probably invisible, alteration in the skier's line for recovery. Speed forgives many errors!"

I certainly understand that last part (although it also introduces a few errors in my case). However, as I watch my friend ski, it doesn't appear that he's making the transfer "before" his momentum and the terrain make it appropriate.

Maybe this is at the crux of what makes this whole question so confusing to me. In my own skiing (right or wrong), there seems to be what I could describe as a lightening at the transition. I don't lift that old outside ski (anymore ), but I definitely feel that there's a moment or two when it's no longer carrying any weight. That feels like a very natural way to ski (as long as I'm not in very close quarters). To me, that intuitively feels like "release, transfer, engage". I can't figure out what's wrong with that progression.

Moving on to the "neutral" concept... does "neutral" mean a momentary state in which the skier is balanced over the skis, the edges are not appreciably engaged, the skis are moving one direction (away from the fall line if we're talking about a fairly agressive-radius turn), and the center of mass is moving down the hill? If so, then I think I understand your point about how he can't just set up the carve of the turn and then relax. He still has a lot to do to complete that turn and set up the next one. It's just that for this particular skier, I think that part is kind of a given.

So moving on, I'll quote you again...

"Arrive in neutral a moment too soon, and your previous turn won't be complete, and you'll have to block some movements to avoid starting the next turn too early (no big deal, except when line is critical, as in a race course, or trees). Arrive in neutral too LATE--i.e. finish the turn THEN try to find neutral, and the flow is gone. You'll have to do something to get things going down the hill again. Something like tranferring your weight to the uphill ski, or lightening the downhill ski to get the "fall" going again."

Now here's where you lost me. Maybe we're doing to-may-toes and to-mah-toes or maybe I'm completely off base. *I* think the downhill ski gets "lightened" (intentionally/unintentionally, consciously/unconsciously) on essentially every turn. You seem to be saying that it only gets lightened if there's a flaw in the technique or the timing. Am I incorrect in that interpretation?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Bob (P)
post #74 of 97
Originally posted by Bob.Peters:

So moving on, I'll quote you again...

"Arrive in neutral a moment too soon, and your previous turn won't be complete, and you'll have to block some movements to avoid starting the next turn too early (no big deal, except when line is critical, as in a race course, or trees). Arrive in neutral too LATE--i.e. finish the turn THEN try to find neutral, and the flow is gone. You'll have to do something to get things going down the hill again. Something like tranferring your weight to the uphill ski, or lightening the downhill ski to get the "fall" going again."

Now here's where you lost me. Maybe we're doing to-may-toes and to-mah-toes or maybe I'm completely off base. *I* think the downhill ski gets "lightened" (intentionally/unintentionally, consciously/unconsciously) on essentially every turn. You seem to be saying that it only gets lightened if there's a flaw in the technique or the timing. Am I incorrect in that interpretation?

I'm not BobB (obviously!), but I'm trying to understand this, too, so I hope you don't mind my jumping in.

I think there is a "lightening" in the turns that BobB is describing, but it is a result or effect of the combination of direction change and forces, not a precursor to that change. The question is do we lighten/lift on purpose or do the combination of forces acting upon us as we ski effectly cause it to appear that we do?

Cause and effect is a very important law in many areas of life, and we often confuse the issue. We try to cause the effect to occur and expect everything to turn out OK, but it seldom does. If lifting/lightening is an effect but we try to make it a cause, we end up with the shifting and balance problems that BobB describes. If it happens as a result of our tipping and turning, then we are still in balance and turning smoothly.

At least, that's how I understand it...

post #75 of 97
It appears that some people simply don't understand Bob's explanations. Though I know I can not say it any better here is a differnent explanation based on the White Pass turn.

It has been discussed that the difference revovles (1) around the timing of the lightening (I have chosen to exclude lifting because the proponents of PMTS say it is merely learning) and tipping and (2)the cause and effect relationship associated with the lightening of the inside ski during a turn.

In both options I beleive the important question is wether or not a turn can be started WITHOUT lightening the inside ski versus wether or not a turn, not a braking move, can be started without tipping the inside ski. In the case of lightening, The White Pass turn as performed by the Mahre brothers both on the race course and off undisputably proves the point that an intentional move to lighten the inside ski to start a turn is not necessary. As to the second point, Phil's own surprise at the video showing his foot coming off the snow just as undisputably proves that the lightening is an effect of the building and releasing of the forces generated during offensive turns.

Conversely, if the skis are not tipped to the new inside edge, be they straight skis or shaped skis the edge will not bite the snow and create forward movement thus a skid is created. Again for undisputable proof try to carve on a flat ski. Further, can't most intermediate skiers, and a good portion of beginner skiers, lift the downhill (new inside ski) and continue to go straight. If this same skiers simply tipped the downhill/inside ski and then rode it through the ensuing arc the weight/pressure would necessarily end up on the outside ski.

I know that in my own skiing while performing modern slalom turns (short radius reaching carved turns) the video shows a much more dramatic lightening of not only the inside ski, but both skis, at the transition than I actually feel. And I'll bet that this is the case for most of you!
post #76 of 97
Bob Barnes,

Wow! Quite an interesting thread. Although I'm not an instructor, I do enjoy following along. Thank you for sharing!

Bob Barnes and Bob Peters,

Originally posted by Bob.Peters:
... Now here's where you lost me. Maybe we're doing to-may-toes and to-mah-toes or maybe I'm completely off base. *I* think the downhill ski gets "lightened" (intentionally/unintentionally, consciously/unconsciously) on essentially every turn. You seem to be saying that it only gets lightened if there's a flaw in the technique or the timing. Am I incorrect in that interpretation? ...
Is this disparity (as it relates to the quote above only) maybe just a matter of interpretation/definition of "lightening"? In the context that "lightening" has been used in this thread, I would interpret it to be a subtle form of lifting; such that "lightening" (as used in this thread) implies the skier is actively applying an upward force (lifting force) - although maybe not to the extent that the ski loses contact with the snow.

Alternatively, as the skier "completes" the dynamic turn that Bob P. has described, wont the there be a reduction in the pressure that the skier must manage with the outside leg as they head toward neutral and transition? If so, could this reduction in pressure also be interpreted as "lightening"?

Thanks for the interesting thread!

[Edit] After re-reading several posts, I see that "lightening" has been used both ways. Sorry for the interruption :

[ November 03, 2003, 06:23 PM: Message edited by: cgeib ]
post #77 of 97
Hi Chris,

I've been wading thru this too, since Saturday! Verrrrry Interesting to say the least. I think you're right in that there are different meanings being ascribed to the word "lightening". However, I would just bet (a nickel apiece?) that those who are contending there is a substantial place for lightening in teaching, (Arcmiester, Si, Rick H, seemingly Bob.Peters, and probably others) are using it in the sense of a reduction in pressure on the downhill ski due to relaxation of the extensor muscles and/or contraction of the flexors of that leg. Do I have the anatomical terms right? I apologize in advance to those mentioned above if I am being too presumptuous. Anyway, why do I suspect this?

1) Because it seems the only reasonable meaning for the word within the context of this discussion. What's the alternative? Maybe an active push off the downhill ski and heave of the center of mass to a position over the uphill ski and possibly followed by downhill leg relaxation/contraction. (Well, okay I exaggerate, but you get the point). It hardly seems like anyone here would be advocating that for normal skiing.

2) Because this is my understanding of HH's meaning of the word "lightening" in the context of his Experts II book and tape.

3) Because HH contrasts his normal phantom/super-phantom move with the weighted release, where the distiction seems to be that in the Weighted release you Do Not relax/contract that leg (or not very much).

4) This is how HH seems to ski. I simply can't discern the negative uphill movement in his skiing even when he does lift, in either normal or slo-mo.

See you at ETA II!

post #78 of 97
Thread Starter 
More great discussion here, everyone--thanks! I regret that I have very limited time today, but I'll try to get back shortly.

One quick point for clarification:

JimmyD and Cgeib--thanks for joining in! You are both right that the point I have been analyzing is the mistimed, active lifting or (more subtle) active lightening of the downhill ski, presumably in order to accomplish a weight transfer (balance shift) to the uphill ski (which will become the outside ski of the upcoming turn). This should not be confused with the natural lightening of the inside ski that occurs as the forces of the turn pull the skier to the outside. And it should not be confused with the inevitable reduction of pressure on either or both skis that occurs when a turn--and it's associated "g-forces"--ends.

More later!

Best regards,
post #79 of 97
Is lifting just an exaggerated way to lighten? Does teaching an exaggerated move accelerate learning through increased feedback?

Does having a small population of practitioners increase the likelihood of quality and or consistency of product?

TheRusty says the answers to these questions are all "Yes".
And "No". The right answer is not important. The debate is what is enlightening.

Rick H - we care about how many are PMTS certified for a number of reasons. We're trying to determine if PMTS is a useful thing to be involved with. Since it's hard to get specific information about the system without paying $$ to HH, we're looking for whatever tidbits we can get. Normally, I personally would not mind buying a book to get more details. However, HH's dogma and PSIA attacks raise a red flag because good ideas don't need this. I hesitate to help fund this without some assurance I'll get some value from the book. And I hesitate to associate myself with a system that promotes dogma and insults because this is not my style. Rusty Guy is not the only one who has observed "Jeez - all I need to do to get rich is write up a cockamamie idea and tell everyone if you want to debate me, buy my book". I strongly object to the POSSIBILITY of helping to make this business model successful. I'm not saying that PMTS has no value. I'm saying it's hard to assess the value of the system without supporting it.

As instructors, we want to expand our knowledge, teach better lessons and improve our personal skiing. Some of us also want to earn more money (i.e. teach more request privates). If PMTS is in great demand, we'd expect to see the number of accredited instructors to be growing. If PMTS is a technically superior method of skiing OR teaching, we'd expect to see the numbers growing. If the numbers are not growing, we'd expect that the system is either not in demand or not superior or both. If we can't see the numbers, then it's just one less item we have for evaluation. But given HH's penchant for hype, the absence of information would seem to indicate that the numbers are not impressive. This is ok because there is still value in filling a niche. It's just a different value than a breakthrough.

Sony's experience with betamax is instructive. It was a technically superior product that failed in the market because Sony did not "play well with others". Let's keep the debate civil and maybe we'll at least personally succeed in the market.
post #80 of 97
Bob Barnes: And it should not be confused with the inevitable reduction of pressure on either or both skis that occurs when a turn--and it's associated "g-forces"--ends

Technically speaking, the reduction in pressure (or retraction or lightening or absorption) that we do at the end of a turn is different from the lightening/tipping that one does in order to engage a new turn.

Nevertheless BobPeters does bring a valid point (in my opinion): in high level skiing, where there is a certain amount of blending of skills and movements, one could regard the absorption at the end of the turn as a "catalyst" to start the new turn. That reduction in pressure could be the release from the old turn and it will cause the skier to go through neutral. The momentum of the CM going through neutral will cause a transfer. This is a transfer from one set of edges to another set of edges (it is not the uphill weight transfer we are trying to avoid). Next, the transfer to the new edges will allow the engagement of those edges. So release, transfer, engagement is still a valid progression in linked turns, so I can see where BobPeters is coming from. But none of this requires conscious lifting or lightening to cause engagement. As I understand it, the new edges are engaged as a result of the CM flowing into the turn properly.

Anyway, this is what I imagine BobPeters saw in the video.
post #81 of 97
Thread Starter 
TheRusty--extraordinarily well-restrained and well-written post!

TomB--The description that I would support would be "release-transition-engage," NOT "release--TRANSFER--engage," at least if we're trying to describe the sequence of events from one smoothly linked, offensive turn to another. In any case, let's not confuse the movements of "tipping" with the activity of weight transfer and active "lifting." "Release--transition--engage" is a sequence that is, in fact, inevitable in ski turns. The question is once again the mechanism, timing, and cause-effect relationships of the movements involved. (And I must repeat that there are SO many other valid alternatives to the "smoothly linked, offensive turn" that are also essential in the complete skier's arsenal of technical options!)

Even with "release-transition-engage," while not inaccurate, it is misleading to describe this as a linear sequence of discrete events. Pouring water from a glass could accurately be described as "full--half full--empty," but that description hardly captures the fluidity and continuity of the flow--which is really the essence of the action, is it not? Think of the weight transfer and transition as pouring water continuously from one glass to another, with the transition merely marking the arbitrary, and not terribly significant, "half-full" mark.

Best regards,

[ November 04, 2003, 09:17 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #82 of 97
Therusty and Rusty Guy,

I have belonged to the Association of PMTS Direct Parallel Instructors for four years. I have never received a membership roster. I have never received a list of accredited instructors. I do receive the newsletter. So, I could go back into the old newsletters and extract the accreditation list from that. But, somehow, I don't think it would be a too accurate way of tabulation.

I understand the reason for not wanting to support HH. I got started with PMTS in 1998, by getting footbeds from HH. At that time I got an earfull. And it has been going on ever since. I don't have any particular problem with PSIA and it's schools or members, I just don't want to teach students to wedge or wedge christie. So here I am, teaching stepping turns and shuffle turns.

I think that the PMTS system has a lot to offer any instructor. From my perspective, it is just a different way of teaching sliding down the hill. I spent a week at the EpicSki Academy last year, working with Weems Westfeld. While his style of teaching was different than mine, the results and the movements were quite similar. This is not to say that I teach as well as Weems, I don't. But, I learned an awful lot from him.

If you guys will take the time to learn a bit about PMTS, I think that both the skiing and the teaching aspects will be helpful to you as teachers. This is not to say that you should support HH. But, I think that you will find value in the teaching system.
post #83 of 97
First of all - where are the women in this discussion??? hahaha

Secondly, I read this stuff and realized it made my head hurt with all the thinking.

I have been thinking about how I ski... and how my skiing has evolved.

I used to force everything to happen - it started with me PUSHING my skis away from my body. Someone explained to me (ok it was Dutch from Waterville Valley!) that pulling your body away from the skis is the better way to ski.

For me now it's all simultaneous movements... I love the fluidity that I feel as I make clean transitions from one turn to the next. Lifting and unweighting (etc) are all things I had to do when I was "forcing" my turns by exerting pressure onto my skis - which is WAAAAAAY more tiring!!!!

It makes me sad to realize that most people learn to ski through mostly pressure and edging movements. Balance and rotary movements tend to come much later when a skier wants to move beyond the world of intermediate skiing.

BB - I have followed your threads on NEGATIVE movements in skiing and really enjoyed those topics. I think skiers who use more pressure and less rotary movements are making these kinds of negative movements that you have described in the past.

To all the BIG BRAINS of Epic Ski... thanks for the physics lessons... ... but, one piece of advice: Less Talk/More Ski!!!

post #84 of 97

When we're on snow we follow your advice but here what is there to do but talk.

post #85 of 97
Originally posted by Ydnar:

When we're on snow we follow your advice but here what is there to do but talk.

I hope you know that I was just teasing you all!
post #86 of 97
Originally posted by kieli:

For me now it's all simultaneous movements... I love the fluidity that I feel as I make clean transitions from one turn to the next. Lifting and unweighting (etc) are all things I had to do when I was "forcing" my turns by exerting pressure onto my skis - which is WAAAAAAY more tiring!!!!

It makes me sad to realize that most people learn to ski through mostly pressure and edging movements. Balance and rotary movements tend to come much later when a skier wants to move beyond the world of intermediate skiing.
All the more reason to teach MOVEMENT to effect edging and produce pressure. Movement is part of the balancing game which is the essence of skiing. It is also vital to maintaining effective stance. To my way of thinking this should be part of a balanced approach to teaching skiing that emphasizes appropriate application of each of the skills including rotary from the first. Its unfortunate that beginners frequently are taught foot pushing movements and gross body movements by people who imagine they are providing shortcuts to the learning process. Instead of being taught correctly they are saddled with all sorts of errors which delay their progress.
post #87 of 97

I have been taught to release the outside foot earlier. It has helped my skiing. I read about many different variations, including this one.




Now I am confused.


Edited link

Edited by hellside - 5/6/2009 at 12:57 am GMT
post #88 of 97

 Raising the dead, huh?

post #89 of 97

Not me

post #90 of 97


Originally Posted by hellside View Post

I have been taught to release the outside foot earlier. It has helped my skiing. I read about many different variations, including this one.




Now I am confused.



Don't be.  There are many ways to ski and many ways to teach skiing (which is what I think this thread was originally intended to be about).  If the movement works for you, continue to use it.  You'll be in good company--there are plenty of world-class skiers that use the move you describe (like Tommy Moe, who I believe is the downhiller Bob Peters mentions).


So Bob (Barnes) is right, if you lift your right foot, you'll move (slightly) to the left.  However, it is only a negative movement if you are trying to go right at the time.  But you aren't.  The weight transfer occurs at the end of the previous turn (to the left in this example).  So you shift weight and it pulls you left, but so what?  That is the direction you are going and your hips are already inside the turn where they belong.  Only *after* you make the weight shift do you release the turn and start moving to the right. 

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