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I finally got divergence today!!!

post #1 of 94
Thread Starter 

So I ran into Jeff Bergeron today and he was kind enough to point out a flaw in my skiing and help me correct it.  In the process he may well have added the final piece to the puzzle that will hopefully enable me to become a truly ripping skier.  I was certainly killing it after he gave me his lesson.


A month or so ago, I had a lesson and learned about fore-aft balance (along with the fact that I was never using the front of the ski because I never moved forward of center).  I learned how to pull my skis back in transition and get forward to start the turn.  This made a huge difference in my skiing because it allowed me to start using the top of the turn for speed control.


Today Jeff looked at my skiing and said, "your timing is off".  What he taught me to do was to let my skis run away from me through transition (diverge from my cm) instead of trying to pull them back right away. Effectively, the turn would finish well on the tails, but because it was combined with a retraction release I was essentially weightless in that position and not using any effort.  Anyway, as the skis diverge, the released forces from the previous turn pull you into the next (this is conventional retraction), but because the old stance leg is cleared out of the way, the hip can drop fully into the turn.  As in a more conventional retraction turn, you tip your skis off edge, through neutral and into the new turn.  There are a lot of moving parts here, but essentially what happens is that right about the time the legs are fully extended, the tip of the ski hooks up and starts to engage, at which point you pull back slightly and you end up forward balanced, fully engaged (assuming you intentionally tipped enough to make that happen), with maximum angles--all at the top of the turn.  Basically your CM cut the corner on the path your skis took so it could "catch up".  One thing that is interesting is that you actually rotate just a hair.  This is because you are working the back of the ski the whole time you are tipping and the rotation is what allows this to work.


Bob Barnes has talked about this move a lot, and prior to today, I would have thought I was doing it.  Wrong!  This is not your father's retraction turn.  This is the turn you see the U.S. Ski Team athletes doing (and the reason for all of the "Ligety is in the backseat" threads).


The effect that this change had on my skiing was incredible.  The amount of float that you get at transition when you do this right is amazing.  Suddenly, you no longer worry about charging things because you know you'll have time to deal with whatever comes up.  I went flying over a rollover into unexpected bumps (well Ok, they should have been expected, but hey I was having to much fun to pay attention).  Normally, this would have been a gut check for me, but not now.  I just absorbed the first two bumps, set up for a turn and figured out my line while I hung there.  For high level skiers, this movement is so huge.  It's literally like hitting the pause button on a video game.  You get to play with time. 


So the moral of this story is, the next time Bob starts talking about convergence/divergence PAY ATTENTION!!!  I seem to remember a few folks "pooh poohing" this idea when I was trying to explain it (when I thought I was doing it). Well look out, I'm on my way to owning this move and I can tell you that it is very real and it can make your skiing great.



Edited by geoffda - 5/8/2009 at 09:10 pm GMT
post #2 of 94

I'll be out in Breck in July and Jeff Bergeron is doing a boot alignment for me. Looks like I am going to the right guy as I've been hearing a lot of positive things about him!

post #3 of 94

Geoff, could you elaborate on the "divergeance"?  What diverges from what?  The skis from each other?  The skis from something else?

post #4 of 94

Well asked weems.


When someone mentions "divergence" in the context of skiing, it is usually used to describe the non-parallel-ness of one ski to the other -ie: a reverse snowplough!


However in the case of Geoff, I suspect he means that he has just found the benefits of allowing his Base of Support move fore-and-aft in relation to his Centre of Mass.......


but I'll let him confirm or deny this!


post #5 of 94

More specifically, it seems he learned to change the timing of his release and ski pull-back (cm forward  move relative to ski) so that he was using the tails of his skis at the end of his turns, and was in a position to receive force from his tips as he both moved forward and applied slight tip pressure while decelerating from the delayed forward move later.  Trikier than it sounds with a flex to release move.

But I'll let him confirm or deny.

post #6 of 94

Whichever....it just seemed like that group had a lot of fun yesterday, and Jeff Bergeron was very generous with his time and passion.


Glad it worked for you Geoffda

post #7 of 94

He did explain it today.  My read on this is that the center goes one way--across the skis toward the fall line, while the skis continue to travel outward.  I believe that you can't do this if you only go forward "over" the skis.  I believe that you need to do this in order to create alignment against the edge as you enter the top of the turn.  If you are over the skis--ie being convergent between center and skis, then you have no chance of lining up against a platform to support the turn.


Don't know if I got that right.  But it makes sense to me so I'm keepin' it!  heheheh

post #8 of 94

Weems, from his description, and suggestion that "rotation" was a manditory ingredient to make it work,  I was suspecting that he had discovered the retracted pivot. When you see Ligety with his hips way back over his tails during the transition, as Geoffda referenced, a pivot is generally what follows.

post #9 of 94

I suspect the rotation is upper body rotation.

post #10 of 94


Originally Posted by BigE View Post

I suspect the rotation is upper body rotation.

And what is the usual outcome from that?

post #11 of 94

Usually, skidding, but in reality, "it depends".


As geoffda stated, "you actually rotate just a hair".  This *might* also be anticipation or a very slight windup.  I can't say with certainty what geoffda was actually doing, but his description of "gut check" time does not sound like he was pivotting his skis.

post #12 of 94

Rick , As you know, you and I are going to have to agree to disagree on the answer you are expecting!


I also believe he is just saying his CM takes a different (divergent path) from his skis?



post #13 of 94

I think Atomicman is correct at the most obvious level here.  But there is more. 


BigE, I'm totally convinced that this rotation is exactly anticipation.


Rick, I also think the feel for the tails is critical to what's being said here.  Although I'm not convinced it's generally a pivot.  (Not that I'd argue against that.  I've been humbled on quite a few techy issues lately.)

post #14 of 94

Guys, I'm not convinced of anything here either.  I'm just speculating from what geoffda wrote.  I'd only be convinced after skiing with him and seeing what he's doing.

post #15 of 94
Thread Starter 

Wow, this thread really took off.  Sorry I didn't check back earlier!


So divergence: yes CM and skis on diverging paths.  Skis moving across the slope and away, CM moving down.  Opposite of convergence as Weems describes.


Regarding the rotation.  It's not a pivot (though you could certainly do that if the situation required it, or just use a slow tip to scarve the top part of the turn as I was playing with on steeper slopes).  However in order to tip when you are so far aft, some rotation is necessary to make it happen.  Jeff pointed out that you use counter to work the front of your skis, but rotation is necessary to work the back.  Anyway, it is just enough to enable tipping to the new edges, but not enough to cause a pivot. I think the effects of the rotation are nullified by the aft position. The edge transfer is still clean (and you can look at tracks to verify that).  It may also help that the edge transfer takes place while things are fairly light.  When done correctly, it gives you (in addition to a good float) a very smooth transition.  I was able to play with this a bit on hard snow yesterday morning and I had no problems holding a clean edge so I can say with certainty that I was clean in transition.


Anticipation is probably a good description for the rotation.  It's not active during the transition; really it is just the amount that occurs naturally from the pole placement.  So you are slightly rotated as you move your hips across and into the turn, but it very quickly becomes counter as your skis hook up and come around.


Anybody got a copy of "How to Ski the New French Way?"  This isn't by any means a new technique.  I bet Joubert and Vuarnet explain it way better than I can. 

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post #16 of 94

What is the difference, besides name, between 'divergence' and the old french 'anticipation'?

post #17 of 94
Thread Starter 

Anticipation refers to a rotation of the upper torso in the direction of the new turn while the skis are still moving in the opposite direction (in the old turn).  The divergence that I'm refering to is the path of the skis diverging from the direction that the CM is taking.  In this context, divergence is something that happens at release, but it is complemented by anticipation because some initial rotation is required to facilitate tipping the skis onto their new edges from the extreme aft position in transition.


I'm not sure about the original French usage for anticipation.  There has been some thought that anticipation produces an "unwinding" of the torso which can be used to rotate an essentially flat ski.  This is true, but it requires the ski to be mostly unweighted.  Anticipation can be used to great effect in the bumps--as the ski crests the bump, you can most definitely use anticipation to help pivot the ski. 


However, pivoting is not what we're talking about here.  The amount of rotation is just enough to enable the tipping and the expected pivot seems to be neutralized because of the aft position.  When you stand up and tip, your femurs rotate and will introduce a small pivot if no counter is applied.  However, from what I can tell, when I try the same tipping action sitting on my couch, the rotary forces are actually directed in such a way that they seem to actually align to push the ski directly onto its edge.  As I said, emperically, I'm getting great edge hold on hard snow with this move and I think this may well be why. 



post #18 of 94

I just returned from attending a Slalom camp at Snowbird with some great coaches.  Without reading this whole thread, in few words I can say this is exactly what we were working on!



So divergence: yes CM and skis on diverging paths.  Skis moving across the slope and away, CM moving down.


A few key points I took away:


* The torso (hips, mid-section, chest, shoulders & head) should not rotate or tilt in at all, but take a direct line down the slope.


* The skis should stay behind the center of mass for early edge engagement.


* The arms should work independently from the rest of the body.


* The arc should be complete by the gate.


* Higher edge angles early for more pressure.


* The mass takes a divergent path from the feet & skis.


* Whether or not you used a retraction or extension type transition was purely situational, as long as the outside leg was long early in the turn.


Most of these concepts were not new to me, but the degree to which they are applied is extraordinary.


My most memorable feedback.  "Now you're doing it..., so do it more!  Do it till you fall on your face!"


The jist of what I got out of it & what I'm looking for in my skiing, is that if I master these basic concepts I will be able to put my line wherever, whenever I want.  Similar I think, to what Geoffda is descrbing in his recent experience. 




Edited by 4ster - 5/10/2009 at 10:06 pm GMT
post #19 of 94

<---- jealous of the slalom training at Snowbird. 

post #20 of 94
Thread Starter 

Here's an interesting paper I stumbled across describing some of the mechanics of cross-under turns:




IMO, the key when playing around with cross-under is to vary the amount of divergence.  The degree to which you let your skis jet out from under you at the end of the turn will have a profound effect on the amount of float you get. 


post #21 of 94


Originally Posted by geoffda View Post

Here's an interesting paper I stumbled across describing some of the mechanics of cross-under turns:




IMO, the key when playing around with cross-under is to vary the amount of divergence.  The degree to which you let your skis jet out from under you at the end of the turn will have a profound effect on the amount of float you get. 


I see some contradiction in:


- pulling your feet back at transition




- letting your skis jet out from under you at the end of the turn


Am I the only one?

Edited by tdk6 - 5/15/2009 at 10:55 pm GMT
post #22 of 94

In a retraction transition you would flex in your ankles as you are finishing and begin to extend as you acquire your new edges. In this context feet back (flexion in the ankles)and mass moving over your skis would cause a natural divergence of their path from the CM as it moves into the turn from the one  you are finishing .


Is not the end of a turn the beginning of the new one  ?   My disagreement with this would be not waiting until edge change to move your feet under you by flexing in the ankles but  begin as you leave the fall line .  So maybe this a word play or a disagreement in the timing of getting yourself in better balance and reducing tip lead to move into the new turn.

post #23 of 94
Thread Starter 



Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post


I see some contradiction in:


- pulling your feet back at transition




- letting your skis jet out from under you at the end of the turn


Am I the only one?

Edited by tdk6 - 5/15/2009 at 10:55 pm GMT


Its all about when you do the recentering move.  Prior to running into Jeff, I had been pulling back in transition, so I was already forward when I changed edges.  What he pointed out was that if you don't do that and just let your skis finish the turn (moving out from under you) while you release and let your hips move into the new turn, you will end up automatically recentered (as well as fully extended) when your skis catch back up with your CM.  Its a cool move, but it also demonstrated to me how much of an effect the timing of when you recenter can have on the turn & I've been having fun playing around with that.



post #24 of 94

Exactly geoffda, first time I see some sence being used in this context. Listen to Jeff, he knows his stuff. GarryZ, you can define a turn to start when edges are flat on the snow to flat on the snow from transition to transition but in retraction turns we have a float that we need to squeeze in there at transition. If we stick to prior definitions than the float would be devided between the end of previous turn and the start of the next turn. Or, we could simply look at the float as a independent phase. This means that as we relese into the next turn we enter the float. Also, in retraction turns we do not flex our ancles. We flex our knees. Hence the name "retraction". We retract our legs. How do we do that? By flexing our ancles? No. But by bending our legs at the knee joint and the hip joint as we lift our legs up. This usually puts lots of strain on our legs since we need to extend and retract constantly but powder and moguls and SL is not a sport where leg muscles are not used. On the countrary, they need to be in very good shape. Pro skiers are working out in the gym to strengthen these muscles for this particular reason.


geoffda, the whole secret to retraction turns are explained well by you quoting Jeff. However, this is very basic and logical stuff. Let your legs jet out from underneath you and as you flex your legs you get a lot of range to diverge your hips and skis and offset your hip into the new turn while your skis run out from underneath your hips and as they start to carve the high C and your legs extend naturally without any strong extention move you naturally tip your skis onto new edges. The more you flex at transition and the lower you keep your hips the higher the edge angles. Dissclaimer, such retraction turns can only be performed when you link turns because the rebound you create at the end of the turn you need for transitioning into the new turn. Also, very important, very neglected, very missunderstood is that when you retract your legs at transition your skis run out in front of you and you end up in the back seat. Depending on how much you flex to relese offcourse. It can be minimal and as you flex to relese you can still be centered. In this case you vault over and your turn is no longer a cross under but a cross over. In other words, its not alway just eather or. Both up-unweighting turns and retraction turns can be cross over or under turns. Its all a question of how strong your imagination is and how creative and thinking out of the box you are and how open you are to inhaling the fresh mountain air. Getting in the back seat at transition is not a bad thing. It enables you to perform the retraciton turns with great efficiency. It enables you to reach for gates and space between moguls.

post #25 of 94

Geoff, where in this turn would you say the greatest degree of upper/lower body separation occurs? I think with anticipation it's at the transition. What you are describing sounds like you begin to unwind during the end of the turn which helps you to work the tails and move into the new turn (diverge).

post #26 of 94


Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post

Geoff, where in this turn would you say the greatest degree of upper/lower body separation occurs? I think with anticipation it's at the transition. What you are describing sounds like you begin to unwind during the end of the turn which helps you to work the tails and move into the new turn (diverge).

I dont really understand what you mean.... anticipation is the opposite of upper body counter and it takes place AFTER EDGE CHANGE. If you hold on to your upper body counter as you transit into your next turn, think facing down hill, your upper body counter naturally became anticipation. You cannot be anticipated in the lower C. You can however have upper body counter in the high C. Then you would be facing uphill. To achieve this you would have to rotate your upper body from facing downhill in the low C to facing uphill in the high C. Not wrong, just different. One reason gate racing SL skiers dont do this is that they have a problem blocking the gate with their outside arm if they are countered in the high C. This is nothing the masses have to worrie about. 

post #27 of 94

tdk is right about retraction tending to move a skier temporarily aft.  For sure it move the hips aft.  Only with massive forward flexion at the waist can a centered position be somewhat maintained.  Picture a tuck.  Rather impractical. 


You're not going to see much pure retraction in arc to arc World Cup racing turns.  In racing it's imparitive to get into the front of the ski early in the turn.  The outside leg needs to get fully extended at or soon after initiation to do that.  Have a look at Ron LeMaster's photos.  You'll find few arc to arc shots that don't display a good amount of old inside leg extension by the time edge angle neutral is reached in the transition.  They have to.  If they retract and don't begin getting the new outside leg extended until after neutral they'll be too late getting fore to generate the powerful turn initiation they need. 


It's fine for free skiing, where being lacksidasical about getting fore carries no consequence.  In fact it can actually be fun.  But in racing, pure retractions are generally reservered for pivot entry turns, where the pivot produces the early fore. 




post #28 of 94

I thought anticipation was when your upper body is facing downhill at transition, in anticipation of the upcoming turn. It's a countered position. Geoff seems to be describing something different. Maybe countered at apex and more squared to the skis at transition? I'd like to hear from him because this might be an idea that can take my Telemark skiing to a new level.

post #29 of 94

Check out this photo sequence for a perfect demo of:



- WC GS winner 2009

- Arc to Arc Carving frame 1 to 8

- No skidding frame 1 to 8

- Upper body counter 4,5,6 and 7

- Anticipation frame 1,2,3 and 8

- Angulation in frame 5 and 6

- Both hands forward in frame 5

- Outside leg relese in frame 6

- Retraction transition frame 7

- Back seat in frame 7

- Recenter in frame 8

- Outside leg extention in frame 8

- Inclination frames 1,2,3,4 and 8

- Both hands forward frame 5

- Maximum divergence frame 5 to 6

- Shoulders level in frames 5 and 6


She is skiing with something called "short pressure". Look at how she converts anticipation to counter and inclination to angulation in frame 5. She also forces both her hands forward in frame 5. Setup moves for going into the high C in transition is:

- Retraction of legs

- Staying forward by bending foward at the waist


High C and at the same time setup move in the high C for turning at the gate:

- Extending outside leg

- Keeping inside leg flexed

- Inclination

- Anticipation

- Arms wide


Turning at the gate:

- Upper body counter

- Angulation

- Shoulders level

- Both hands forward

- Divergence


Retraction turns can as in above photo sequence be a purely carved turn but it lends itself very well for pivotting skis in the high C. Here:



And here:


post #30 of 94

Two thoughts to add.

1.  I think the retraction is grossly misunderstood in many of the turns.  I think Rick hits it mainly on the head, when he talks about extension of one and retraction of the other leg.  I think that Poutianen, in tdk6's example is retracting the outside/downhill leg, while extending the outside/uphill leg all the way through frames 6,7, and 8.  Certainly there are many situations where you just suck up both knees, but many of the shots that look like this are actually the knees just passing each other on the way up and down.  Much of the above conversation speaks to flexing or extending "the legs" as if you usually do both at once.  (I saw Geoffda make some pretty significant changes--in my mind--when he had it both ways: flexing one while extending the other.)

2.  Tdk6, I understand your picture of anticipation.  However, classically, in America at least (and I think that's what Joubert meant) the anticipation is in anticipation of the edgechange, not afterward.  We used to look at this whole constellation of separating upper and lower body as having three different functions:  blocking (blocking the rotation at the end of the turn), counter rotation (a turning force--equal and opposite--where you turn the torso in an unweighted mode which causes the legs to turn the opposite direction), and anticipation (a wind-up release mechanism beginning before the edge change).  I know all these terms tend to get thrown around a bit and redefined from region to region.  But I found these three uses to be pretty manageable.

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