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Two skiers

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

This photo of the day at Bridger Bowl shows two competent skiers. Based on this still image, is one skiing at a higher level than the other? Please explain your answer.
post #2 of 46
to my UNTRAINED eye, the frontmost skier looks more relaxed and prepared for undulations, terrain changes, or changes of direction...

...while the rearmost skier looks like he/she is relying on banking and isn't centered fore/aft either, and looks like an 80s skier with the "feet locked together" pinnacle technique (or so people assumed) including the old "heel push" that leaves one with a weak downhill edge.

please correct my errors.

[ December 21, 2003, 11:23 AM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
post #3 of 46
Are they both on alpine gear? I could be convinced that the person in the background was on tele equipment.
post #4 of 46
Nolo, I am just learning when it comes to this analysis stuff, but I'd love input into my learning. So, here's my ignorance on display for all to see...

To my eyes, the skier in the foreground (A) is skiing at a slightly higher level than the one in the background (B).

I base this on A's slightly wider stance (although, I think an even wider stance would be more stable). B looks to have his/her feet pretty much nailed together. It also appears to me that B is not angulating as much as A, and that A's arms probably provide more balance adaptability than B's.

I still "expect" B to drop that uphill knee and arc a nice tele turn, tho...! :
post #5 of 46
Since you pose them a "competent" skiers, I might make the assumption that the skier above is just in a lazy slip to a stop. I'd like to see just what's transpired over the last few turns.

Pretty easy terrain too. I wouldn't read too much into shots like that. I've seen lots of guys like the lower skier fall apart with a change in pitch or firm conditions.

ssh may be on to something that bulge/blotch on the upper individual looks like it may be the start of a bit of lift.
post #6 of 46

From the photos, I see both skiers pretty erect. The foreground skier shows an "a-frame," which could be caused by alignment issues. Both have arm issues. The foreground's arms are a bit close for my taste and the inside arm is a bit low. The background's elbows look to be tight to the sides of the body. This can cause some balance problems. Both are banking. If I were to choose, I would say the foreground is the better skier, because of better balance. What would I do to create change? Lift the poleplant hand immediately after the plant and carry it high throughout the turn. This will help to combat the banking and help to develop angulation. Lastly, I would suggest more flexion throught the turn, even at the height of extension.

As I am not a proponent of wide stance and stability, my view is balance is the skier's most important attribute. It really looks to me that the foreground skier has some alignment problems. From the photo, I would say the skier is fairly knock-kneed and required a custom footbed and probably needs 1.5-2 degree cants under the medial side of the bindings. If the skier had proper alignment the tibias would be aligned, the inside ski would be tipped to the little toe edge and the skier would be able to balance on the outside ski. Without proper alignment, the skier probably cannot find the little toe edge and has to use a wide stable stance. Balancing on the outside ski is very difficult under these circumstances.
post #7 of 46
I think the foreground guy is making a slightly better turn than the background skier. The foregrounder has the slightest bit of angulation to the too much banking he's doing, while the backgrounder doesn't show any angulation.

I'd like to see foregrounder separate his knees as much as his feet, make his shoulders and hands level with the slope and arrange his arms so that his hands are outside his elbows instead of in the "tree hugger" position shown.
post #8 of 46
Thread Starter 
I think they're both on Alpine gear, but the photo definition is too poor to be certain. Let's assume they are. Would these two people fit together in a lesson? What is the "one most important thing" that would improve their skiing?
post #9 of 46
I think they would both fit in the same lesson.

The first thing that I notice is stance and balance, so I would likely start with a more relaxed, athletic stance with their feet hip-width apart and work on "go there" movements to create their turns.
post #10 of 46
Thread Starter 
Would making "going there" movements improve stance?

How would you explain what you mean by "going there" and what kinds of games, tasks, and exercises would you use to shape the desired mechanics and movements?

What is the level of this class?

What is the theme of the lesson?
post #11 of 46
If I had these two skiers in a lesson, I think I'd focus on using the inside ski to guide turns.

I'd start with making runs where I'd invite them to think about turning the right tip right for right turns add the left tip left for left turns. I'd suggest they try to feel the little toe side of the inside ski contacting the snow. One exercise would be to roll up the arch of the inside foot to encourage the little toe contact. I might ask that they relax the inside knee and point it into the turn.

I'd point out that as they guide with the inside ski, their weight automatically moves to the outside ski through the turn. We'd spend some time paying attention to when/how that occurs and how adjusting the amount of inside ski edging changes the performance of the outside ski.

We'd play with raising the outside edge of the left foot to get better edging in right turns. We might try "show your bottoms" exercises where we change from showing the bottoms of the skis to folks downhill from us to showing them to folks riding the lift beside us or showing 'em to the trees along the trail edge. Maybe even show the bottoms to the skiers uphill from us.

I'd want them to become aware that all this works more smoothly if they pass through a phase of equal weighting between turns. I'd emphasize the sensations of skiing their feet, feeling the bottoms and edges of their feet.

I doubt there would be any time in this lesson to devote to body/hand issues shown in the photo. Getting good foot/leg action would be more important anyway, and they'd have to spend some time on those aspects before they could add any other thoughts.
post #12 of 46
I am going to go with what Vail snopro said with one caveat. The slope appears to go from right to left and if the skier in front is not going very fast part of the banking could be due to slope deflection. He looks reasonabley centered and that would put him at a higher level than what ric said.

If I am correct on the slope this would put the skier in the back nearing crossover and would explain some lack of angulation. Its hard to tell from one photo.

Both of these skiers could be level 8 but both could also be level 7/8. I think they would fit in the same lesson.
post #13 of 46
I tried to figure out where this si at but couldn't. It looks relatively flat, so many skiers really do get lazy in this situation.

However if I take these to skiers and put hem on more diffucult terrain and ask them to dial it up I think the forward skier will have the ability take the same moves and make them more dynamic and effective. As noted by others, the front skier is more square to the skis, has a wider stance, and has some angulation going. The skis aren't tipped much, but then they may not be trying to tip them much on this terrain.

The rear skier's stance is too narrow, and the turn seems to coming from strong stearing, the skis appear to be pivotin under the skier with more couter rotation than is needed for the terrain. The feet appear to be locked together which would inhibit independant foot and leg action.

Yes they could fit in the same lesson, and yes they both could use some skiing fundamentals improvement, but I wouldn't make any calls until I skied with them for a run or two. Who can argue against introducing inside foot activity and edgeing skills, but further up kinetic chain should be addressed too. Who can really tell from a snapshot. The snapshot suggests that they each have something the other needs more of. So lets just combine them.
post #14 of 46
Re Ric B's last comment, I do wonder what sort of advice would ski instructors give to a four-armed, four-legged skier
post #15 of 46
Thread Starter 
ssh, I would call the theme of your lesson "directional movements" -- I think the one most important thing for these two guys is to fire up the inside half. At present the inside half impedes movements of the outside half, or as my old coach would say, half of him is going and half of him is not-going.

I would place both skiers at Level 8--sometimes they'll ski at 7 and sometimes at 8 but they are both this side of 9. In any case, lesson content will necessarily be one level up from the student's present level. Directional movements, like all "expert moves" are always appropriate regardless of a skier's level; the difference is that we're satisfied with approximation at the lower levels and we are seeking perfection at the highest levels.

I think a good start for the lesson would be to ask for a single turn from a complete stop (across the fall line) to help the students feel the impediment of the inside half. I would bet money they both need to start with a stem to get direction into the turn, because they are not getting direction from the inside half.

RR tracks are a legitimate exercise for these skiers, as would any focus of tipping the inside ski throughout the turn: the turn begins when you stop tipping the left ski left or the right ski right. This signals the reversal of the flow of movements left and right. My old coach would call it changing leads. How well (seamlessly) do you do it? This could be the keystone of good skiing.

I think stance would open up as a natural byproduct of better directional movements.
post #16 of 46
I'm not at a level where I can address these questions and really know what I'm talking about, but here's my first set of thoughts:

Would making "going there" movements improve stance? Yes. Definitely. They are both moving their upper bodies away from the turn ("banking"), and "go there" movements would begin to address that right away.

How would you explain what you mean by "going there" and what kinds of games, tasks, and exercises would you use to shape the desired mechanics and movements?

I have a few that I've learned, but I am sure there are many, many that I don't know, yet. I would probably start with static releases[1] on relatively mild terrain and quickly move to combining them with uphill arcs to really work on the release, turn shape, and finishing the turn. I would also likely put railroad track turns into the mix (I'm hooked on these exercises!) I'm probably missing a ton here.

What is the level of this class? 8, I would guess.

What is the theme of the lesson? Offensive vs. Defensive skiing. Learning to "go there". More effective skiing. "Why do we turn?"

I hope I haven't made a complete mess of it!

[1] Credit where credit is due: "Static releases" I learned from Rusty Guy. To do a static release, stand on edge perpendicular to the Gravity Zone. Slowly, gently relax the downhill ski's edge first (right tip right to go right) and, as it releases, allow the skis to slide downhill while applying turning (right tip right to go right). From this, I can check my balance, my stance width, my tipping skills, and my turning skills pretty quickly.
post #17 of 46
Originally posted by Rick H:

As I am not a proponent of wide stance and stability, my view is balance is the skier's most important attribute. It really looks to me that the foreground skier has some alignment problems. From the photo, I would say the skier is fairly knock-kneed and required a custom footbed and probably needs 1.5-2 degree cants under the medial side of the bindings. If the skier had proper alignment the tibias would be aligned, the inside ski would be tipped to the little toe edge and the skier would be able to balance on the outside ski. Without proper alignment, the skier probably cannot find the little toe edge and has to use a wide stable stance. Balancing on the outside ski is very difficult under these circumstances.
Rick, what if he is simply not tipping the inside ski enough? Can you tell from this photo that both skis are equally angulated? If you can you are well beyond the ability of myself or anyone else in the alignment business. This skier could simply be one of the masses that was taught skiing from a wedge position and has become big toe dominant. The ability to properly use the inside ski has more to do with practice than alignment.

Both skiers could easily be taught in the same class. What will reinvent one will reinforce the other, and vice versa.

[ December 22, 2003, 10:29 AM: Message edited by: MC Extreme ]
post #18 of 46
I don't know which part of the photo makes you guys think that the background skier is a Level 8. Looking at the body language, a Level 6 would be generous, I think. Then again, this person could be at some point in the transition that simply looks less than flattering.

The foreground skier does look better to me, but any assumptions about the inside ski or about alignment is purely left to the imagination. One could easily say that the foreground skier is carving fairly well with both skis and just finishing a rather long, right-hand turn. He may just be coming out of some angulation, so now it looks like he is banking. Who knows?

There is way to much guess work here, so everyone could have some valid points, or not!
post #19 of 46
Originally posted by vail snopro / ric reiter:
I'm going to start with the skier in back-.
This skier would be approx a Level 7/8 in good conditions, dropping to a L6/7, with difficulty linking round turns with speed control, when it gets more difficult.

The skier in front-
This skier might be a Level 6/7 in good conditions, and a L5/6 in difficult conditions, without suitable edge control.

Vail, I know it's just a crappy black and white still photo, but are you saying that the skier in the rear is displaying superior skiing skills to the one in front? If this photo were taken in 1952 I might agree with you. The skier in the rear is probably not linking round turns on any terrain, let alone more difficult. The skier in the front is extendeded in the fall line and it is impossible to critique his POTENTIAL edging since there is no display here of any limitations at this point. The skier in the rear does not show reasonable even superior guiding(steering)skills to the skier in front. Only if guiding or steering were measured by the degree of rotary pushoff it probably takes this skier to make the next turn. Didn't we used to call them "booty turns"?

All I ascertain from these 2 skiers is that unless the person in the rear is "faking it", the skier in the front displays a more fluid and relaxed position and barring anything crazy happening to what he is doing at this point in his turn, he will probably continue as such. The skier in the rear displays a number of inhibitors based on current body position. Simply from looking at lots of video freeze frames I would not put these skiers as close as some others have. However I don't think it would take an immensely long time to get the "rear" skier (no pun intended) up to the level of the front.

Ric B, nice analysis. Simple but accurate, especially for the amount of info to work with. Those who stated starting with tipping or foot activities (not stance) as a starting point in improving these skiers, BRAVO!
post #20 of 46
I believe the skier in front is the better skier. He is tipping both skis very well. Because you can't see his knees I can't conclude that he has any A-frame at all. He has a better, more athletic stance and his skis are moving forward, whereas the rear skier seems to be skidding downhill. Could anyone think that the track of the uphill person would be narrower than the person downhill? That's a key give-away for me. Better skiers leave narrower tracks. It's pretty obvious to me that the skier in front is carving more than skidding.

Yes, tipping and active inside half are appropriate exercises for these students. Should they be together? Depends. If it were a private and they were buddies they'd be no problem. But, if it were Vail and there were four people in each of the Levels 6,7,8 classes, I'd probably have the one in front in a one level higher than the rear person. And, I'd really need them to ski to determine which class.

The biggest problem with the uphill skier is his stance. As someone with a narrow stance myself I usually hate to pick on someone with a narrow stance, but the key is whether each ski/leg combination is working independently. Sorry, the uphill skier is loafing with his inside ski. Like Nolo said, one half is working, the other half isn't.

Merry Christmas, all,


[ December 23, 2003, 02:24 PM: Message edited by: WVSkier ]
post #21 of 46
OK, I'm game. I'll take a shot at it.

Lets first start by evaluating the conditions. The surface looks fairly smooth, and given the grayness of the light, it might also be fairly firm. The terrain does not look very steep, therefore these skiers are probably not going very fast. I will go with these assumptions.

I'm going to start with the skier in back-.
This skier tends to use a fairly narrow stance. The general fore/aft stance seems to be adequate, but possibly a bit toward the ball of the foot. Judging by the body position (square, but not rotated), I might believe that the skier has some reasonable guiding (steering) skills. From that stance, refined guiding is the mark of a "competent" skier.
But unfortunately, the narrow stance leaves the edging movements quite limited. The square nature of the stance also limits the degree to which significant angulation can be achieved, resulting of the "banked" attitude shown.
Combined with the forward weighted stance, its likely the tails will skid laterally to some degree during the second half of the turn, as the energy increases.
This skier would be approx a Level 7/8 in good conditions, dropping to a L6/7, with difficulty linking round turns with speed control, when it gets more difficult.

The skier in front-
This skier has a slightly more open stance. There is good symetry in the legs, as evidenced by the similar angles of both skis. But since there is no visible reverse camber in either ski, I don't believe the edges are holding adequately.
There is a slight amount of spinal angulation exhibited, as the shoulders are not completely perpendicular to the legs. This would also lead me to believe there is a very slight amount of counter existing. But not enough counter to provide any appreciable knee or hip angulation, which would be necessary to create more effective edging.
Because I suspect weak edging, then it follows that any guiding (steering) movements will tend to be skidded. But it is possible that the skier might be able to maintain a semblance of an arc with subtle guiding. But if the speed or pitch of the hill were to be increased, this skier would soon find himself sliding sidewards.
This skier might be a Level 6/7 in good conditions, and a L5/6 in difficult conditions, without suitable edge control.

I have no trouble putting both these skiers together, despite what I've said are the differences between them. It would not take long to get them both on the same page...
With both skiers, (if they agreed) I would approach them with some ideas as to how to increase their edging effectivness. Introducing some greater ranges of movement would facilitate stronger edge edge control. That would be followed by refining/adding strong guiding movements.

Thes are just a few ideas that came to my attention.

post #22 of 46
I will tell you why I put the person in the rear at level 7/8. The key here is where the fall line actually is. The fall line goes from right to left at an angle. The person in the rear is past the apex of the turn and decreasing angulation (relaxing for the next turn). At that point a level 6 skier would be allowing more tip lead than what this skier is showing and backing the pressure off the fronts of the boots to much. This skier is not doing that. From the angle the shot is at and knowing the skier is in the finish of the turn, I cannot conclude that no angulation is taking place. The shoulders are relatively level. the hips may be dropping away from the camera. I also cannot conclude that there is no day light between the skis from the angle of the shot because this person is in the finish phase of the turn. I cannot conclude tail push because the skier is forward on the boots, its a green run with fairly tight turns and therefore would display tail drift with fairly low edge angles. I cannot put that person at 9 because I don't see the stance as being very conducive to really flowing into the next turn. There seems to be a little bit of counter rotation build in at this point, probably a carryover from bump skiing.

[ December 22, 2003, 02:43 PM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #23 of 46
M C Extreme,

I base my conclusions on the space between the ankles and the lack of space between the knees. It is just a clue, nothing more. It would take a complete workup of measurements to ascertain what corrections need to be made and custom footbeds constructed. Lastly, I would make on-snow verifications as to my findings.

Because of the aforementioned space between the feet, this skier MAY not be able to tip to the little toe edge. Even with a corrective foot bed and cants, some knock kneed skiers find it very difficult to get past a flat ski.

[ December 22, 2003, 05:39 PM: Message edited by: Rick H ]
post #24 of 46
Rick H-
I'm not sure I agree with your evaluation. If you look closely at the front skier, you can see his inside ski is tipped up on a higher edge angle than his outside ski. So your argument re: the alignment doesn't hold water in the context you described.


First, I tried to lay out the parameters of the environment, so as to resolve some argument before they started.

I make my assessment of the skier levels based upon my perception of skills already developed and integrated, and giving each of those skills a priority of importance.

I get the impression that the rear skier has better skill integration than the front skier. Though there are some affectations in that skiers appearance I don't necessarily care for, I can accept that possible integration as a higher level of skill.
As for the rear skier, being near or at the end of a turn, I don't see the typical out-of-balance position that normally would result from a significant hip or heel thrust. This is what gave me the impression that the skier had "reasonable" guiding skills. It's tough to make a decent turn in that stance, and to stay in balance. To do so promotes the idea of skill integration.
By the way- what in the photo shows the rear skier in other than a relaxed and fluid posture?

I will grant you that the front skier has a more athletic stance than the rear skier. But since when does an athletic stance alone make a good skier? If thats the case, then most of the 19 year old scuds we had on Vail Mtn today should be the ones giving the lessons.

Though there is a solid base from which to build, I do not find many positive traits currently exhibited in the front skier. I see more whole body inclination/banking going on, rather than any sort of deliberate angles being created in the legs or mid body. As I stated in my earlier post, there is some spinal angulation. By the point in the turn (fall line) where he is shown, there should have already been some other activities happening. But visibly, they haven't. So I can only assume they are not going to happen.
Therefore, active and accurate guiding of the arc will not occur, and the ability to increase the edge without the CM falling further toward the inside of the turn is minimal. How can this limitation be construed as superior to the other skier?


[ December 22, 2003, 10:23 PM: Message edited by: vail snopro / ric reiter ]
post #25 of 46
Nolo asked who is skiing at a higher level. OBVIOUSLY the person in the back is. I'd say approximately 2-3 feet higher, based on the pitch of the hill.
post #26 of 46
Vail Sno Pro,

As I said, the space between the skis is just a clue. I would check further to verify my thoughts, ie, are the skis tracking? Are the tails sliding away? Are the tips and tails breaking away? So to assume that I am all wet, you need more information. I know that I would need more information before I would suggest an alignment session. Once again, the lack of space between the knees is merely a clue, not an assessment, on alignment.
post #27 of 46
Rick H; Its just my opinion but when I look at the front skier, I see someone who is using knee angulation as opposed to A framing with the outside ski.
post #28 of 46
Okay. Real answer.

I see the skier in the foreground as a better skier. Why? First, the more athletic stance that Ric talked about does have some positive benefits for the skier. First, but not obvious from the camera angle, is that the ankles are more relaxed and closed (as opposed to opening the ankle joint), as is the rest of the body. The legs and torso of the skier in the background are more rigid. This becomes apparent not just from the straighter body, but from the tighter stance and the elbows being tighter against the body. This leads to a couple of negative effects. At first glance, it appears that both skiers have a significant lack of angulation. However, it is a very shallow pitch to the hill, and if you look closely, you'll see that the inside pole tip of the skier in the foreground is slightly off the snow. The skier in the background has the tip of the inside pole dragging firmly on the snow. This shows me that the skier in the back has too much pressure on the inside ski, whereas the front skier is better balanced.

I also notice the the front skier is facing more in the intended direction of travel, and therefore is doing a better job of directing the skis. He(?) also has fairly parallel boot cuffs, without having the boots pressed together. Therefore, I see a stronger inside half. The skier in the back is having a problem with the inside half being too weak, and letting the inside boot press against the outside boot, limiting the amount of movement and angulation possible. This could be what is leading to ending up with too much pressure on the inside ski. It also disrupts the ability to put the skis on edge, and will make them skid more than intended. Because the skis are skidding more, you see the increased counter, as the CoM travels more down the fall line rather than in the direction the skis are pointed.

I might also suggest that the person in the back is not moving into the new turns properly because the hands are not in a proper positiion for a pole swing/plant/touch that is effective. However the person in front is prepared to properly move into the next turn. As a matter of fact, it looks as if the left hand may already be moving forward in anticipation of the next turn. In general, the person in front is more prepared for any eventuality. The person in back is hoping that the hill has no unseen surprises.

The person in front is using turn shape and direction of travel to control speed. The person in back has their CoM traveling more down the fall line, and is using pivoting and skidding as their means of speed control. I would also bet that the skier in front has much better early edge engagement than the person in back. This is due to the stiff nature of the person in back, who will have to move up and over the skis, and will be too light on their edges at the top of the turn. This would also lead to a much slower turn transition. The person in fromt will be able to initiate a turn much more smoothly, quickly and powerfully.

I would not put these two people in the same lesson unless (as happens around here a lot) they are the only two advanced skiers in the lesson, and the instructor can handle two very different skiing styles in the same lesson.

post #29 of 46
Rich H,

I have to agree with the others. If you looks at the boot cuffs there actually is not an A-frame. I think the loose clothing makes it a bit deceiving.
post #30 of 46
Often it is difficult to make critique generalizations from a single frame photo, but I think Nolo has offered one which I feel comfortable going out on a limb to make such an evaluation.

The skier further down the slope is clearly the better skier. He is carving his turn while the upper skier is clearly executing a boot locked steer. On such a flat hill the primary reason one would be steering turns would be because of a skill deficit, and if it were because of personal choice it would most likely not be executed with locked feet and the countered upper body I see here. The upper skier is almost definitely a chronic non carving tail pusher.

It is hard to assess what skills these skiers do have beyond what they are displaying in this photo and where an instructor would have to take them to get them to the next level, but my gut tells me if I were to try to go immediately to the introduction of carving skills to the upper skier (the tail pusher) and he/she were to somehow quickly grasp it I would be creating a public danger because the foundation skills would not exist to cope with the higher speeds associated with carving. I think prior to arcing development much work in basic foundation skills would be found warranted.
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