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More WOW moments in my skiing.

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Last Monday I was working with Tom Dew at Seven Springs on developing far more active ankles and ended up selecting progressions that opened up a big Wow moment for myself.

The wow moment came as a result of putting together recent work with Sean Warman and much of the recent discussions on inside ankle flex here in Epicski. It even brought up stuff like nolo’s “push on the gas pedal”.

I and Tom had been working all morning with traverses and side slips where the only release mechanism is ankle movements. All other movements including knees and hips was shut down. This is a good exercise for ankle only movements.

I then stated that these movements could even be done in a snowplow stance. I tried this and was amazed that I could snowplow with my knees locked and shins off the fronts of the boots and use only inverting the new inside ankle in the boot to turn. The turning power is instant and strong. I could easily hold the snowplow on the steeps and turn nearly 90 degrees across the fall line. Whenever I involved knee tipping and CM movements along with inverting the inside ankle the results were not as satisfactory and I immediately could not hold the snowplow stance. Wow.

I reasoned that I should be able to repeat the same movement patterns in a parallel stance and would the results be the same. I could not repeat the same effect on turning in my normal fairly narrow stance but when I widened the stance substantially I could repeat the effect of turning using only inverting the inside ankle. Again, CM movements or knee movements to complement the inversion of the ankle produced a far different result that was not as powerful.

I next tried to incorporate this ankle inversion only movement into and open parallel turn with a really wide stance. I immediately noticed that the pedaling action recently described here in Epicski was absolutely essential to keep the CM in place . I also discovered that I needed to flex the inside ankle straight forward to prevent tipping the knee with the foot. Strange feeling.

The resultant open parallel turns were a perfect C shape and I was able to bring them 90 degrees across the fall line. That is something that I have seen D team members do but have never seen anyone else reproduce.

I have been playing with this for a week now and I am gaining some real insights into the relationship between lower leg movements and ankle movements. Even slight tipping of the inside knee into the turn with the ankle results in a movement of the CM off of Top dead center and results in a slight abstem of the downhill ski just before it reaches 90 degrees across the fall line.

In order to initiate the new turn, I must tip the knee back straight and allow the CM to move back over top dead center. The result is a slight traverse between turns if I do not want a slight wedge to open up. The slight abstem and knee movements were so slight that another instructor could not pick them up easily and was very unsympathetic to my dilemma. In his words “ I can’t see anything wrong. I have never seen turns as perfect and round as those turns.”

Most of my tracks either showed a very slight abstem and wedge or had a ski length traverse between them when tipped my knee was involved. I can now prevent the knee tipping at less than 5mph but when I increase the speed,I naturally move the CM with knee and hip movements and the abstem becomes visible to other instructors.

I would never have guessed that focusing entirely on the ankles would produce the desired finish across the fall line that was so elusive to me. I have always tried to move the CM more into the finish of the turn. Driving into the finish as one would say.

Needless to say my closely held beliefs are once again being challenged. When will the upsets end. [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ February 29, 2004, 06:10 AM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #2 of 19
Pierre -

That's amazing and neat. I have always (well, for the last year or two, anyway) thought of lateral ankle movements as not doing all that much themselves, but served more to trigger lateral movements higher up in the body.

Since the cuff on alpine boots reduces the effect of lateral ankle movements, probably there is at most only a few degrees (to each side) of edge change available to you from just your ankles. So, I presume you must position your knees and hips quite accurately to give a flat ski when your ankles are in neutral, otherwise I would suspect that you would have problems with a clean release. Is this something you observed / consciously worked on?

Keep it up, bud. Lotsa good stuff coming out of Akron these days!

Tom / PM
post #3 of 19
Very interesting, Pierre. If I understand correctly, you are saying that tipping of the old outside/new inside ski is more efficiently done with more ankle movement and less knee movement?

" ... I also discovered that I needed to flex the inside ankle straight forward to prevent tipping the knee with the foot...." I am not sure I got this one (inside ankle straight forward) figured out. Do you mind rewording, Pierre?
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally posted by PhysicsMan:
Keep it up, bud. Lotsa good stuff coming out of Akron these days!
Here's a statement I strongly agree with.

Pierre...I'd have to say I'm amazed but not surprised. One of the traits that I've noticed from you, and the other top instructors here, is the knowledge that you can improve your own skiing and the desire to continually look for ways to do so. It's a real good example, and lesson, for the rest of us.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Very interesting, Pierre. If I understand correctly, you are saying that tipping of the old outside/new inside ski is more efficiently done with more ankle movement and less knee movement?
Less lateral knee movement yes. That little 2 degrees of ankle movement is much more powerful than I though but I could not discover this until I learned to shut everything else down.

Quote:
" ... I also discovered that I needed to flex the inside ankle straight forward to prevent tipping the knee with the foot...." I am not sure I got this one (inside ankle straight forward) figured out. Do you mind rewording, Pierre?
Well the first thing that I feel is the inside of the cuff at the 3:00 position when I invert the ankle. Previously, I would next flex the ankle and feel the boot cuff at about the 10:00 to 11:00 position on the shins. I am now feeling more pressure at the 3:00 position and flexing the inside ankle to feel the cuff at the 12:00 position or straight forward instead of lateral into the turn. I don't totally own the why part of this equation yet but the results are astounding.
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre:
... where the only release mechanism is ankle movements. All other movements including knees and hips was shut down...
Whoa! I just tried this in my street shoes. I can do it when sitting and there is absolutely no weight on my feet, but I found it almost impossible to do when standing - my knees just want to immediately head off sideways.

Much dialing in is obviously needed ...

Tom / PM
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
PM you have just discovered some of the obstacles you have to overcome for real discoveries in skiing. Little movements like the knees go with the ankles are harder to shut down than anyone would imagine.

The key to really working on you're own skiing at the high levels is to be able to isolate movements while shutting other movements down. Easier said than done. Get use to skiing at less than 1mph to really dial in.
post #8 of 19
I'ze workin' on it, boss. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Tom / PM
post #9 of 19
Hey Pierre-
Put some heel pieces on those skis of yours, and you'll really have a few "WOW" moments...

:
post #10 of 19
>>Tom and I had been working all morning with traverses and side slips where the only release mechanism is ankle movements. All other movements including knees and hips was shut down. This is a good exercise for ankle only movements. <<

As we worked on this I would think I had everything else shut down and Pierre would say "moved your hip, moved your knee" even when I thought I had not.

I worked on it by myself yesterday and I could almost get it done. I had two edge tracks with no divergence and then the sidelip. The tracks did have a slight arc to them though. If I only went foward one ski length the arc could not appear.

Thanks so much Pierre for spending the time with me. As you have said sometimes the instructor learns as much as the student.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Vail snopro said:
Quote:
Hey Pierre-
Put some heel pieces on those skis of yours, and you'll really have a few "WOW" moments...
Aah come on now, yur pickin on me. Every time I climb back on alpine equipment my first though is "Oh boy this equipment is way to fv(kin good". Its like stepping from a 74 U-Haul into a Porche. Right out yur steering from ditch to ditch at top speed. It takes me a half day of skiing to even settle down.

In the last two weeks other instructors have been telling me that I ski better alpine on tele than a lot of the examiners do on alpine. Thats funny because yesterday I was doing some straight glides with kick and my heels were lifting about an inch inside my tele boots. My heels never lift when I am in alpine mode on tele. The flex patterns I use are different. I stopped and buckled my boots tighter. They were in bedroom slipper feel mode were I had been skiing with them for half the day.

I teach alpine on tele gear and must always remember that I can tell students to feel for things that I myself do not feel in tele gear. Like the tongue of the boots and the ball of the foot at the same time.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Tom Dew said:
Quote:
I worked on it by myself yesterday and I could almost get it done. I had two edge tracks with no divergence and then the sidelip. The tracks did have a slight arc to them though. If I only went foward one ski length the arc could not appear.
What has the effect been on you're skiing when you work these ankle movements back in?
post #13 of 19
>>What has the effect been on you're skiing when you work these ankle movements back in? <<

I think my feet stay more parallel; it "quiets" the upper body, and allows a smother flow into the new turn.

Today I skied the small bump field at Mad River Mt. I was able to ski it top to bottom without stopping. As you know this is quite a breakthrough for me.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
I have not been entirely satisfied with what I wrote above here:
Quote:
I next tried to incorporate this ankle inversion only movement into and open parallel turn with a really wide stance. I immediately noticed that the pedaling action recently described here in Epicski was absolutely essential to keep the CM in place . I also discovered that I needed to flex the inside ankle straight forward to prevent tipping the knee with the foot. Strange feeling.
When I reviewed what Sean Warman wrote in TPS. He said:
Quote:
When a skier is moving forward during the transition, the downhill leg shortens as a result of two components: flexion in that ankle and knee combined with rotation of the thigh. This allows the skier to flex laterally through the boot cuffs.
That is not the same thing as what I wrote. There is indeed rotation of the femur in the hip socket when flexing the ankle and knee straight forward when combined with tipping the ankle. The pressure on the inside edges of the skis would produce pressure laterally on the cuff.

The straight forward/no knee tipping thing seems to be an exaggeration on my part to correct a slight rotation. My problem with the abstem seems to be rotation of the upper body around the femur and hip socket when I tip the knee with the ankle.

The knee/shin should go laterally into the cuff as a result of the forces involved, not as a result of directly tipping. The straight forward action appears to stop the upper body rotation associated with the knee tipping.

My guess is that, right now, I am exaggerating going straight forward to stop the slight rotation but that my knee can become a little more active when the rotation becomes less automatic. This is much more in line with what Sean Warman wrote.

I suspect that the abstem problem is that I must be once again sticking in some rotation near the finish of the turn and that is what is causing the abstem. The knee just happens to go with the rotation or vis versa.

As Vail Snopro has pointed out in another thread, this rotation following the inside knee is also the mechanism for diverging tips. This same mechanism combined with a very strong inside half can cause an abstem instead of diverging tips at slow speeds.
post #15 of 19
Great topic!

Pierre, in my experience, the abstem in not a result of the ankle flex, rather a consequence of the forward movement of the inside ankle at finitiation!

Try raising your toes on the inside foot, or just pull the ski back throughout the turn. The seemingly small lead created by the forward ankle flex is enough to negate steering during the latter part of the turn. Thus the appearance of the wedge.

I'm going to try the wedge exercise with my next clinic group! Thanks for the information! :
post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 
mlewis said:
Quote:
Pierre, in my experience, the abstem in not a result of the ankle flex, rather a consequence of the forward movement of the inside ankle at finitiation!

Try raising your toes on the inside foot, or just pull the ski back throughout the turn. The seemingly small lead created by the forward ankle flex is enough to negate steering during the latter part of the turn. Thus the appearance of the wedge.
This is definitely not the case. What you are describing is classic lazy inside foot. If anything my inside foot wants to drop back not go forward on telemark gear. Lifting the foot in telemark boots to flex the ankle is the normal mode to keep the heel from lifting.

Maybe what I am calling an abstem is really a downstem. Downhill/outside ski tail breaks loose. I am drawing a blank right now on definitions. Its developing in the turn finish after I pass about 80 degrees across the fall line. I am finishing the turn to far inside and up forward over my inside foot for the dynamics involved. I actually think its a movement pattern involving tipping the inside knee and slight rotation of the upper body when I really think about the mechanics involved.

If I want to say the same thing without describing all those movements that I like to understand, it would be that I am not moving the CM progressively enough to square up at neutral. I'm hangin onto the turn to damn long. [img]smile.gif[/img]

The movements I am talking about are so subtle most instructors cannot detect anything is wrong even when I tell them what I think I am doing. The downstem is progressive and around a half a ski width in total at most.

This is all very picky of me on my own skiing. The D team does not have this downstem so why should I. I'll just about guarantee you that if I am doing it in a slow open parallel, I am doing it in all my skiing. I just can't detect it until I get slow and fully finish the turns in a very short open parallel, a full 90 degrees across the fall line. What else is there to do on 180' of vertical.
post #17 of 19
I work a lot with my clients on lateral ankle movement. I believe it gives a lot of extra into a turn.

When I introduce railroad tracks I start with the ankles only. Here's my progression:

</font>
  • Putting my hand on the inside cuff of their boot, I have the person press against my hand without moving the knee or hip, press against my hand using only the lateral movement of the ankle.

    On very shallow terrain, then, I have them put a ski pole on the front of their knees, right in the soft spot below the kneecap and keeping their hands on the poles right next to the knee.

    Using only the ankle tipping and with your knees still touching your hands, do railroad track turns back and forth, never turning more than 20-30deg off the fall line.</font>
This will really enforce the feeling of lateral ankle movements. The hands on the poles and touching the knees will help keep the tibias vertical.

Then take this feeling into some short, fairly slow parallel turns. You will be amazed at how much turning you can do with your ankles only.

I drive people crazy because I stand in line at the grocery store tipping my ankles back and forth. It looks nuts, but what a great feeling to finally get the ankles involved.

I like to say that skiing happens in your feet! at least that's where it all starts. Start the kinetic chain of events with your feet and see what happens!

Bob
post #18 of 19
[quote]Originally posted by WVSkier:

"I drive people crazy because I stand in line at the grocery store tipping my ankles back and forth."

And I thought I was the only one who did that kind of stuff.

Jim
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally posted by WVSkier:
When I introduce railroad tracks I start with the ankles only. Here's my progression:

Yep that's how I learnt them - just learn to roll ankle onto edge... then do edge-rolls.... then long turns...


Pierre - I'm glad you added that change - I was struggling with the description you gave but the new one fits much better with what I remember....
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