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Questions about neutral, hey Mr Barnes sir.

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

A couple of questions concerning this idea of neutral.

From what you have written and S&G's definition I gather that you are saying that equal weighting, equal edge angles (both flat on the snow surface) and even tips (no ski lead) all occur at the same moment and that this moment is the transition between turns. The following is based on this assumption.

I'm going to start with the edge angle thing. I agree that each ski must pass through neurtal but not that they must both pass through neutral at the same time, also as I write this I wonder if both skis ever have to be at the same edge angle. Tell me if this makes sense to you. If I am striving to have both skis actively engaged and carving then I must have the inside ski tipped slightly more than the outside ski. At some point in the last half of the arc I 'release' or begin moving the outside ski from the big toe edge to the little toe edge. This move makes the differences in the edge angles even greater. If I continue this active move then the edge angle of the ski that I am guiding is going to continue to lead that of the other ski. The guided ski will pass through neutral a moment before the other ski and if I continue to actively tip what is now the inside ski it will continue to lead the other ski in edge angle change. Another way to say this is that I am constantly tipping one ski or the other away from it mate so that they never will have equal edge angles. This would mean that one ski is flat, the next moment both skis are on the outside edges, and then the other ski is flat. Transition is that moment when both skis are on their little toe edges.

I'm going to save the other questions for later because on reading what I just wrote I think that instead of stirirng a hornets nest with a stick I might have just hit it with a baseball bat,


[ October 03, 2002, 10:07 PM: Message edited by: Ydnar ]
post #2 of 22

What you have described is the basic "o-frame". the basis of the Super Phantom Move. After transfer is complete, pulling the new free-foot back so that the heels are close and even completes the movement. As the skis approach "neutral", the old stance leg should be flexed, or shortened, to transfer. This is the backbone of PMTS.

The difference in what you are describing, and the SPM, I suspect, is the bringing the free-foot hell back and in.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 

O-frame,I like it. I like it so much that I wish I had thought of it. What a great term.

As you know from past discussions the idea of transfer is one of the points that my skiing model and the PMTS skiing model differ on. For me the transfer of pressure to the outside ski is an outcome of the movements we are making and the physics involved in skiing. Here is another point where I think my model might help me out. See, if the following makes sense to you.

In what you are describing as the Super Phantom Move after the active transfer it is necessary to pull the free foot back to bring it close to even with the stance foot. I played a lot with pulling the free foot back over the past couple seasons and came to the following conclusions. The feeling of pulling the foot back and holding it back can be a great aid in a turn. But better than having to pull the foot back is to never have it advance to the point where it needs to be pulled back. If I keep the movements of my feet and legs lateral then I seldom find that the new free foot has to be drawn back so I am saving a step. I wonder just what it is in the SPM that creates the slight lead that you are pulling the free foot back to eliminate. My conclusion is that when you flex the leg for the transfer the flex occurs at the knee and hip, this is because you are eliminating the pressure needed to keep the ankle flexed in a stiff ski boot. This type of flexion of the leg moves the foot forward in relation to the hip hence requiring the pulling back of the free foot after the new turn has started. By keeping my guide leg long and strong and letting the physics of the turn take care of the transfer I maintain enough pressure on the about to be free foot to keep the boot/ankle flexed as the old outside becomes the new inside and I end up with my heels already even and no need to pull the new free foot back.

So, by not having the transfer move in my skiing model I am also able to eliminate, or at least minimize, the need to make the pull the foot back move. Instead of having a sequence of start the release move, relax or flex to transfer, finish the release move to engage the new stance ski and then pull the new free foot back; I just make what I call a full weighted release into the new turn and go. Now either of these models result in a very high level turn but I feel and others have told me that when i ski using my model that the turns flow together a little better and the possibility of a micro-traverse between the turns is eliminated.

Another interesting way to eliminate the need to draw the new inside foot back is to move the old inside/new outside foot forward as it passes through the edge change. This results in the two feet being very even as the new turn unfolds.

I wish we had an open resort or two where we could go and play with this stuff tomorrow,

post #4 of 22
One of the big breakthoughs in my skiing was when I learned it was easier to move my feet back to adjust my weight forward than to move my body forward. Hence, I get a little twitchy about talking about moving a foot forward. I agree, we need some snow to"work this out".
post #5 of 22
YD, your reply to Rick sounds to me as though you are closer than you realize to passing through Bob's neutral. Regarding Bob's neutral, I think you're making too much of the edge angle thing.
post #6 of 22
Originally posted by Ydnar:
Another interesting way to eliminate the need to draw the new inside foot back is to move the old inside/new outside foot forward as it passes through the edge change. This results in the two feet being very even as the new turn unfolds.
Ydnar – What I have found with experimentation is that actively guiding both feet through the turn takes care of tip lead and counter naturally. Pulling the foot back is regressive or passive movement. Your turning downhill and yet you pull your inside foot uphill? Opposite directional move seemed to make no sense. However I have also found you need to acquire a “feel” or sense of how much active steering is required of both skis. It is a different feel at first but becomes very natural in a few runs. In addition active steering of both skis really shapes the turn. Here in our midwestern hard pack the active steering also allows great edge grip. Two edges are better than one for sure or are it wider is better?

The added benefit I did not count on was a natural but almost eliminated tip lead and counter. This does not mean both disappear but they are definitely less and in this case I believe naturally less is better. The transition from edge to edge seems to be more natural. Relax and release and look out here we come so to speak.

I also agree lateral release helps immensely. In fact the skier will find good body position, angles, and lateral release are a natural result of guiding both feet around the turn. It happens and then you can explain to the student why versus trying to have your student accomplish good lateral release, angles etc. I almost forgot the turn starts at the top or earlier because the skier naturally is not passive at the beginning of the turn, which can create a slight hesitation.

It is hard to believe one simple movement such as actively steering both skis around the turn can do so much for a skier but I believe you will find it can. I have worked with this for several years now and find it one real good way to go. As has been said many times skiing starts in the feet. (Actually it really starts in the head!)

Have a GREAT day! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

I understand you feeling twichy about my comment about moving a foot forward. Your experience with centering yourself by feeling the feet move back has shown you what a powerful tool adjusting the feet (low mass, easy to move) rather than the body (larger mass, harder to move) can be. It is natural to think that moving the foot/feet forward will result in the skier slipping into the back seat. My experience is that this doesn't happen in the case that I am describing. And to be totally honest about it I'm not sure why, logically I would agree with you that the move should result in the skier emerging from tne transition a little behind as I do if I try moving both feet forward through the transition. Like I said, it would sure be nice to go out and experiment with this. Here is one off the wall thought that occured to me as I wrote this.

As we move through the transition the body is moving down the hill faster than the feet. The move I am talking about making simply helps the base of support keep up with the body. This would be akin to my moving my feet forward a little when skiing from a packed section of slope into an unpacked section. I am anticipating that the two body parts will be moving at different rates and making an adjustment to stay centered before my stance is compromised. This way I am moving from a centered stance through a slightly unstabe stance back to a centered stance rather than having to fight my way back to a centered stance from an unstable position.

post #8 of 22
Wow--lots of good thoughts here!

Once again, I've got throw out a caution about thinking about "real skiing" in absolute terms of precision and theory. Real skiing, especially at a high level, involves athletic abandon! Watching World Cup racers, you could "disprove" every theory about "correct" skiing that has ever been held. But that does NOT discredit the theory! In almost any pursuit, from art to athletic activity to literature, the highest levels involve breaking the "rules"--but ONLY after those rules have been thoroughly absorbed and incorporated into the skill pool and understanding. Greatness in skiing results from DISCIPLINED CREATIVITY. Without the discipline, creativity leads to chaos!


So this concept of "neutral" involving three separate components that ideally coincide is valid, but it must be taken with a grain of salt! The idea loses its practical usefulness if we view it through a microscope. I agree with you, Ydnar, that the skis are rarely at the same edge angle, in practice. Nor are they ever truly, geometrically "parallel" either, but that does not negate "parallel" as a useful concept. Nor do they ever move truly simultaneously, if we divide time fine enough, but the distinction between "simultaneous" and "sequential" movements still has use in practice.

Rick's "O-frame," which is a great image of the active inside ski and leg that Ydnar described, does indeed suggest that both skis may not tip at equal angles, and they may not be flat on the snow at the same moment. Likewise, in true wedge turns, both skis remain at opposing edge angles and neither ski EVER becomes flat on the snow. But there is still a "neutral" moment in the transition.

Like many ideas in skiing, the "three neutrals that coincide" idea, while valid, is oversimplified. For anyone interested, let's look at some of the finer technical points (consider this fair warning to those who are NOT interested...). Those three neutrals relate to the three basic skills and fundamental movements of rotary, edging, and pressure control. (For newcomers, these skills stem from the reality that there are three, and only three, things you can do with your ski, using your boot: turn it, tip it, and push and pull on it--and that all ski technique distills down to increasing our skill at these three things.)

As with the front wheels of a car, when we turn left, our skis point to the left (we turn them with our feet with or without the help of their built-in carving ability), and when we turn right, they point right. In between, they pass through "neutral" when they point straight ahead. And if they turn independently of each other, each around its own pivot point, again like the wheels of a car, when they turn right, the right ski leads--its tip actually moves ahead of the left tip. Again, as they turn from right to left, the lead changes, passing through "neutral" when the tips are even. I'll call this "rotary neutral."

Also, when we make a left turn, the skis tip toward their left edges (the inside ski may, in a parallel turn, or may NOT, in a wedge turn, actually ENGAGE its left edge, but it rolls in that direction either way; otherwise it is a different kind of turn). When we turn right, they tip right. In between, they pass through "neutral." Let's call this one "edging neutral."

Finally, when we turn left, again as in a car, the forces of the turn pull us to our right, tending to cause more pressure on the right (outside) ski than the inside ski. And vice-versa. Between turns, there is a moment of equal pressure--the "pressure neutral."

These three "neutrals" all occur at that moment between left and right turns, so they must coincide if everything is to flow smoothly, right? Sounds simple, so why are we even discussing it? Because it is really NOT that simple, of course! (Few things are....)

There are TWO reasons why one ski will lead the other, BESIDES the obvious one of intentionally pushing one forward or back. One is the independent steering action, described above. The other is the natural outcome of having one leg more bent at the knee and hip than the other. (When standing, lift one knee--that foot moves ahead of the other one, right?) So in a traverse, or when inclined into a turn, the uphill or inside leg is "shorter" than the other, ADDING to the lead from steering--or perhaps NEGATING the even tips in the "neutral" moment between turns! Ahah! So the tips really do NOT have to be perfectly even in "neutral"! There may well be a little "lag" between the other neutrals and the change of lead.

Edging may be even more complex. Remember that there are several kinds of "flat"--there is "level"--perpendicular to the pull of gravity, and there is "flat on the snow"--parallel to the slope angle. The "line of action," which indicates the degree of lean of the skier balancing against the various forces of the turn, is often more significant in skiing than true "vertical." So tipping and flattening the skis relative to the inclination of the body is another meaningful concept. What do YOU mean by "flat"? It would be simple if we were standing still on a level surface, but that hardly describes skiing!

Furthermore, skis do not have to be entirely flat on the snow for their edges to release. They simply have to flatten beyond the "critical edge angle" that causes them to hold. This is why, for example, it makes perfect sense to talk of edge release in a wedge turn!

Finally, "presure" too becomes more complex when we add motion and a tilting slope to the mix. In a car on a level surface, pressure shifts to our left the instant we begin a right turn, and equal pressure does indeed happen at that moment of transition between left and right. But in a traverse across a hill, even when going straight, pressure tends to shift to the downhill side (think of a car crossing a slope). Since that transition between ski turns usually occurs when traveling across the slope, once again the actual moment of equal pressure may lag behind the turn transition. The actual timing will depend on speed, turn radius, and steepness of the hill--in ADDITION to any active movements the skier makes to "shift weight."

So again, "three neutrals" is a helpful concept, but as Kneale points out, it should not be taken too far, or too literally!

One final thought, regarding the "pulling the feet back vs. pushing the body forward" debate: remember that these are both RELATIVE concepts--what matters is the relationship between the feet and the body. Remember that, even if you "pull them back," your feet, and the rest of your body, probably continue to move forward, or down the hill! As long as both are free to move, we can easily adjust the relationahip of our feet and our upper body, by muscularly moving them against each other (equal and opposite reactions, remember--they BOTH move, making this "either-or" argument perhaps meaningless). What we cannot do without involving some EXTERNAL force is actually accelerate our center of mass "fore and aft."

So if you're sliding down the hill, and you decide you're too far back, you can easily adjust your balance by pulling your feet back, relative to your upper body. Your feet move back, your upper body moves forward, and YOUR CENTER OF MASS REMAINS UNDISTURBED. You CANNOT simply accelerate your center of mass FORWARD to "catch up with your feet"--without pushing off from the slope with your poles or something. I believe that this is the core of the issue of this debate. When you "pull your feet back," like I said, your upper body also moves forward (relative to the feet), but since it is much heavier, the upper body moves much less, and it FEELS like the movement is entirely in the feet. Ydnar alluded to this above. Hence the validity of the advice, "pull your feet back for balance." It's right, practically!

For another image, imagine you are balancing on top of a mogul, leaning back on your tails. You can pull your feet back under you to center yourself, but someone ELSE would have to push your body forward to move it over your feet. It's simply not a "choice." This is why racers push off HARD with their poles to start a race--they can't just "move their bodies forward" by internal muscular force alone!

OK, back to "flow" and skiing!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ October 04, 2002, 10:36 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

Wanted to respond to you before I waded through Bob's response so I might end up repeating him here.

I pass through the three types of neutral (I guess you could say edge neutral, pressure neutral and rotaty or steering neutral) in every turn I make, so does every skier in every turn they make. I can't think of a way that a skier could make a turn without passing through the three neutrals. And I have a hunch that for most recreational skiers out there the closer that they can come to having these three things be simultanious the smoother their turns will be and the more flow they will exhibit. But at the very high end of things on a very detailed examination of the process I was wondering just how tightly Bob felt the simultanity of this holds true. This is espically the case because at the highest of levels the skier can chose when the various types of neutral happen.

Also, since I can't ski yet, imaging all this and experiencing the sensations second hand is as close as I can get to being there. And I'm one of those who likes to talk about their fantasies.

Finally, I feel that I know Bob very well from this forum and the image of him sitting at his keyboard with smoke coming out of his ears typing furiously while thinking, "!@#$%^&* Ydnar and his !@#$%^&* questions.' is one I just can't resist.

[ October 04, 2002, 12:08 PM: Message edited by: Ydnar ]
post #10 of 22
I agree with Bob, and am awestruck by his thoroughness and concentration--to be able to complete all that. Yd, I don't think he has the smoke coming out of his head. But, man, I can smell smoke in my own! Wow!

Also, please note the brilliant awareness about disciplined creativity. I have to believe in both discipline AND creative abandon in order to reach higher levels. Discipline without creativity is rigid and lifeless. Creativity without discipline is chaotic and trivial.

On the inside foot pull-back--I do it nearly always and consciously, because I believe the more I tip inward, the shorter that inside leg gets, and the more natural it is for the foot to creep forward (it gets squeezed forward). Therefore, my conscious effort is to hold back that foot creep so that I don't get over-countered.

The effect of an inside foot/leg moving forward is a counter-to-the-turn move not unlike twisting the torso away from the turn. It blocks me, while pulling the foot back helps me square up to my ski tips. This helps me continue to power the turn, because it maintains my alignment.
post #11 of 22

Your post may look long, but considering the depth of content, it is one of the most economical explanations I have read on the subject. My hat's off to you, Maestro!
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 

Over the many years that I have been teaching skiing I have seen it evolve from guiding the skis with the focus on the outside ski, to a greater awarness of guiding the inside ski, to guiding both equally, to guiding with a focus on the inside ski, to initiating with guiding the inside ski leading to guiding both skis through the rest of the turn, to shaping the turn using guiding of the inside ski almost exclusively and letting the outside ski be my 'ride ski'. In the early years the guiding was mainly a rotary thing with edging developing as an outcome of the rotary, since the advent of shaped skis I have added greater awareness of tipping the inside ski as well as pointing it, Now, I wrote all that to say this. I have noticed that ever since I started to work the inside ski into the mix that there is a tendency for skiers to push the inside ski forward as they get a feel for using that ski. The pulling of the foot back was a correction for those who ended up with excessive ski lead because of this and also for those students who came to me showing to much ski lead. Idealy, the students learn to make the guiding moves without the forward component but even then the sensation of holding the foot back keeps the feet in the realtionship we want. I think that this 'functional tension' sensation is what Weems is talking about in his post. I doubt if his inside foot ever gets to the point where it has to be pulled back because he is maintaining an optimal relationship between the feet through the whole turn. As to this pulling back of the foot being regressive in that it is a move in the opposite direction to the direction of travel I can only say that the move has no effect on the flow of the CM down the hill. In this respect it is very unlike stepping off the downhill ski onto the uphill ski as an initiation move which does affect the flow of the CM forward and down the hill.

Sorry for the rather long response to a minor point but like I've said before I can't ski so I will talk about skiing.

post #13 of 22
Ydnar--I know what you're thinking: "the sooner we can get Barnes to wear out his keyboard, the sooner we can end this hell...!"

However, I think that if you DO get around to wading through my post, you'll see that we are directly in line with our thinking here. Thanks for an excellent summary!

Discipline without creativity is rigid and lifeless. Creativity without discipline is chaotic and trivial.
Weems--that's beautiful! Would you mind if that quote showed up in my book (if I ever manage to finish rewriting it)?

Nolo--please put your hat back on--winter's coming!

Thanks everyone!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the in depth reply, How did you know what I was fishing for. You basicaly answered not only the questions in my original post but most of the ones I didn't ask. As is so often the case replying to your post would largely boil down to saying "me too". But there are a couple points I would like to add a comment to.

First, on the subject of WC racers breaking the rules of skiing. As you pointed out we can find instances of them breaking our rules all the time but I think that one of the reasons that they can do this and get away with it is that they have such a deep, ingrained understanding of these rules. Another way to think of it is that they are so good at performing within the rules that they are able to move beyond the rules and not instantly encounter disaster and then get back to functioning at the limit of the rules.
Great musicians master their instruments and the music, then they forget all that shit and play. That is what the racers do establish mastery of their enviornment then just go.

I found it interesting that on the edge neutral point that it is at the two extremes of the skill spectrum, wedge turns and O-frames, that there is really much basis to question the simultanity of both skis passing through neutral. Now, here is a thought. As you pointed out in wedge turns the skis never really go flat as we usually think of edge neutral but there is a moment in the transition when the sum of the angles of both ski in relation to the snow is 0 and that would be the moment of edge neutral for wedge turns. You could even apply the same argument to my original question, and rather than thinking of each ski passing through neutral indivdually think of that moment when the sum of the skis edge angles is 0.

Other than that I think you covered the subject like mud and I must add my compliments to Nolo's "Boy, he sure can 'rite good can't he".

post #15 of 22

Uh, ... ME TOO!

Great illustrations of the need break the rules. It's the step that elevates science to art! But it starts with science. Art arises from discipline. Any improvizational jazz musician who can't play the scales WELL ... should probably not improvise!

I had thought of your idea of neutral in a wedge turn occurring when the edge angles combine to equal zero (which would mean that the skis are at equal but opposing angles on the snow). It sounds like a reasonable target. But on closer inspection, I believe we would find that this too is arbitrary, and no more accurate or necessary than the notion that neutral in a parallel turn means both skis are precisely flat. And what happens to that relationship as the wedge turn evolves to parallel with speed and skill?

So how WOULD we define "edge neutral" in a wedge turn? Hm-m... One possiblity might be that "neutral" is the edge arrangement needed to just barely hold a traverse in a wedge, with both skis brushing equally--enough edge to hold the traverse, but not so much that the ski locks up or carves uphill. This would support the definition of "neutral" ending a turn. And from this arrangement, simple steering would suffice to initiate the turn downhill--with no further reduction of the downhill edge angle needed.

But I worry about where this analysis could lead by implication anyway. As you know, I get jumpy about statements like "in order to make a wedge turn you need to..." because I don't believe in TEACHING wedge turns (or parallel turns). I believe in teaching movements, developing skills, and teaching TURNS, and I recognize that the same movements may result in wedge turns, parallel turns, or a combination (wedge christie), depending on skill level, speed, and conditions. It is the movements that are fundamental. The wedgeness or parallelness of their outcome is merely incidental! Focusing on the DIFFERENCES between wedge turns and parallel turns can lead us astray.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #16 of 22
Originally posted by SLATZ:
One of the big breakthoughs in my skiing was when I learned it was easier to move my feet back to adjust my weight forward than to move my body forward.
Ah ha! I hope you're over 30 then. Years ago when I was having a horrible time getting out of the back seat, a very old and wily friend (who'd run a ski school here some decades back) taught me this very move, on the proviso that only people over 30 were allowed to know about it.

so now, when i have an upper intermediate with chronic back-seat-itis and it's really upsetting them, I teach them how they can easily pull the weighed foot back under them. huge breakthrough every time!
and they only need do it for a small while; then their body learns what you want it to, and they no longer have to do it. (I always warn them about getting into the scissor-thing).

In the case of women in rear entry boots, I sometimes also suggest getting some cardboard and making heel-lifts.
post #17 of 22
Originally posted by Ydnar:
I think that this 'functional tension' sensation is what Weems is talking about in his post. I doubt if his inside foot ever gets to the point where it has to be pulled back because he is maintaining an optimal relationship between the feet through the whole turn.
Yes, holding it back, not pulling it back. Flexing the inside ankle is the same thing, but since there is a natural tendency for the foot to creep ahead, the flex feels very different than normal. The other obvious reason is it keeps me driving forward since whatever load is on the inside ski lands on the front.
post #18 of 22
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr /> Discipline without creativity is rigid and lifeless. Creativity without discipline is chaotic and trivial.
Weems--that's beautiful! Would you mind if that quote showed up in my book (if I ever manage to finish rewriting it)?
</font>[/quote]Of course, on the condition that you get on with the rewrite.

As you know, I've got a fascination with "holding polarity", or maintaining the dynamic tension between opposing and interdependent imperatives (as opposed to choosing one or the other--carve/skid, old school/new school, clarity/flexibility, inhaling/exhaling). The polarity of discipline and creativity is enormously important. Think about "just ski for fun", or "work on my skiing". Why not both?
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 

Think about "just ski for fun", or "work on my skiing". Why not both?
I am constantly suprised by how many people, both instructors and students, seem to think that the two are mutually exclusive. In a thread last year,several folks took exception to my tag line. They felt that if they were in my lesson they wouldn't want to be made to smile but would want to grimly do drills and exercises narrowly focused on "working on their skiing". I would find that to be a very dreary lesson and if I had to teach that way I would have quit teaching long ago. My idea is to "have fun working on your skiing". That way you will work longer on the tasks at hand and get greater benefit for the time spent.

On the foot thing. This is one of those things where you need to get the student to do something before you tell them what you want them to do. Just telling the student that you want them to flex the inside ankle more produces some interesting contortions as they try to bend that ankle. On the other hand if you have them pull the foot back and then point out how that flexes the inside ankle an engages the inside ski you see the lights go on.

post #20 of 22
Have the student try telemarking (in their alpine gear). This is a great way to get people to experience some of the feelings you want them to create in their regular skiing.
post #21 of 22
Bob B helped me last year with a tip lead/counter rotation/park&ride issue.

I did turns in which I attempted to do three things:

1) Drive the outside leg forward a la (as mentioned by nolo)a telemark turn.

2) Drive my outside hand down and forward initially and then up (the motion would look like spooning chile out of a big pot or shoveling snow!)

3) Lastly finishing the turn tall and neutral.
post #22 of 22
YD. I agree with you in your post above. A lot.
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