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Pre-season MA request

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
 Hey folks, 

This is some video of me skiing near the end of last season (before breaking my wrist in Whistler on day four of a 30 day ski trip... ugghhh...). To pick me out, look for the only guy on the right side of the lift tower. If it looks like I'm shopping, it's really because I was looking for some fun spots on the trail - ie trying to find that berm. This was my third season.

Any thoughts on what to work on for next season? Thanks for the feedback!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAEtm8Y6Ook


post #2 of 17
Stealing a thought from Weems, I would suggest working on edge changes. It's the one thing you have to do in just about every turn so one can never be too good at the tipping skills to put a ski on and off its edges smoothly. 
post #3 of 17
David,

I like your tall stance and directional control of your skis. Like Onyx has noted, you could add more gradual edging movements to help make smoother, more rounded turns. This will get the skis turning you more and you turning the skis less. However, my next step for you would be to introduce "steering into counter". At the finish of your turns you can see your shoulders slightly rotated into the new turn, but your hips are square to the skis. We want to finish our turns with the lower body (legs) turning more than the upper body (hips and shoulders keep the same alignment). The change you need to make is to hold both your shoulders and hips facing slightly more down the hill as your turns finish. This will put you into a "preturned" position where a diagonally forward movement of your body core increases pressure to the ski tips and "drives" the new edge change at the ankles. The movement is diagonally forward relative to the skis, but straight forward (into the inside of the new turn) relative to the hip and shoulder alignment. I believe developing these movements first will enable the edge control movements that Onyx has suggested. You're ready to move into a new world where the skis start drifting out laterally from underneath the body where the edges of the skis transition from being the brakes into being the accelerator. Your shopping habits will never be the same.
post #4 of 17
A wider stance might help let the skis turn you, instead of you turning the skis so much.

Note where in the turn and where on the skis the snow comes off.

Ironically, less effort may lead to better turns!
post #5 of 17
WOW!  If this is only your THIRD season, that's incredible!  I know some people who have skied 20+ years and don't look NEAR that good!  Keep up the good work!
post #6 of 17
If this was your third time on skis ever then you have great talent. Very nice skiing.

I did not read the other postings so you will have my unbiassed opinion. You ski great and I liked your turn shapes and most everything I saw however there are some things that you might want to think about. You said that you were looking for some fun parts on the slope but you did not say what you were going to do with them. I was not there so I cannot be sure but to me it looked like you did not use the small bumps and the ridge to turn on like you could have. Not should have but could have. There's a million ways to ski and non is more right than the other, just different. All those sparce small bumps and that ridge and piles of snow are great places to turn. Insted of up-unweighting, which is the technique you use, let the bump do the work for you. Consepts like pre-turn and counter-steering methods work great and provides you with more tools for having fun on the slopes. To notch it up quite a bit, get into carving.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback, guys! 

onyx: Good catch with the abrupt edge transition... I feel like I don't have the subtle muscle control to do better at this point :( I wonder what drill I can use... hmm...
therusty: are you talking about proper crossunder skiing? Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to do that in all conditions?  At step 7 (CSIA model), our club talks a lot about lateral extension, and good angulation, but I haven't seen a lot of drills to force lateral extension. Maybe grasping the pole like a sword, then dragging the poles along the snow on both sides throughout all turns would encourage a lateral extension? (or at least dragging the pole against the snow on the outside side?) The counter-rotation you suggest -- ie keeping the shoulders and hips square to the hill... It's funny because lots of instructors tell me I ski like a robot with too much counter in the shoulders... though I can definitely feel little counter in my hips! So I bet you're onto something good with a hip counter-rotation. I bet a good drill for that would be... the hip-o-meter, where you attach the poles around your hips (like, belt style).... then ensure the hip-o-meter stays square to the hill... hmmm!

Last year I could only extend laterally on greens and fairly flat blues, but it was a blast...   

docbrad: I'm torn on this suggestion. I skied in a wide stance to pass my level 1... yet every time examiners would say "ski wider" I'd see them zip down the hill in a narrow stance  the funny thing is I run across a lot of level 3 and 4 instructors who say "I have the same problem as you, I ski in a narrow stance". And yet they're the best skiers on the hill. The argument for a wide stance is you can somehow get high edge angles. based on the level 4s I see, they get on high edge angles with lots of extension in the outside leg and flexion on the inside leg. When you have one ski up a good foot above the other, I'd say that gives you all the separation you need... the counterpoint is I'm almost positive I've tripped over my own skis! during transition between edges and having the widest parts cross slightly. So I should probably get them at least a bit further apart. 

SkiFox: Ah you're too kind. There are a couple of other guys who're on their third or fourth season in our ski club and they beat the pants off me. (I like the thrill of competition!) And I got over 30 days a season, with at least 30 lessons a season. Most people probably get fewer than 30 lessons in their entire life! After 90 lessons, I figure I'm actually in the dunce range. I met a teenager at Silver Star--it was his FIRST season, and he had passed his level 1, 2, and 3 instructor ski exams! He met up with our group at one point, and casually skied down a steep black doing short radius turns... on one ski! Yeah, first season. Unreal! 

tdk: ohhh nonono not third time, third season!!! wouldn't it be cool if it were the third time...  could you imagine? Regarding the "fun parts", it was a berm I just wanted to go up and down for kicks. Tamest fun you can imagine! Please pardon me for the question--I only know CSIA terms... does "pre-turn" mean keeping your hips and shoulders square to the hill? (if so, in CSIA that's known as counter-rotation) What is counter-steering? Is that lateral extension?
post #8 of 17
Quote:
 docbrad: I'm torn on this suggestion. I skied in a wide stance to pass my level 1... yet every time examiners would say "ski wider" I'd see them zip down the hill in a narrow stance  the funny thing is I run across a lot of level 3 and 4 instructors who say "I have the same problem as you, I ski in a narrow stance". And yet they're the best skiers on the hill. The argument for a wide stance is you can somehow get high edge angles. based on the level 4s I see, they get on high edge angles with lots of extension in the outside leg and flexion on the inside leg. When you have one ski up a good foot above the other, I'd say that gives you all the separation you need... 
i agree: many instructors say one thing and then do (ski) another. but i do think a functional width allows greater tipping off the ski along the long axis, and helps get away from a pivoted underfoot move.

i really notice this in pivot slips:  you just cant keep the belly button down the fall line if the ankles are crunched together. 

but back to skiing not drills:
 
the increased ease of tipping should result in a smoother turn shape
post #9 of 17
Quote:

I skied in a wide stance to pass my level 1... yet every time examiners would say "ski wider" I'd see them zip down the hill in a narrow stance  the funny thing is I run across a lot of level 3 and 4 instructors who say "I have the same problem as you, I ski in a narrow stance". And yet they're the best skiers on the hill.

 

I think part of the reason this may be confusing to you, is understanding the difference between an independent leg stance & a limiting leg locked stance.  You are correct that some of the best skiers ski with a very narrow stance.  The difference is that their legs work independently yet simultaneously.  To be able to execute some of the things that therusty has suggested, one needs to have a stance where all the body parts can work freely & independently.  Until you free up your legs & hips/pelvis, you will not be able to counter your hips without excessive inside tip lead.  Once you find that magical key, you will unlock the ability to progressivly edge the skis, create proper angles, control pressure & shape your turns with more acuracy.

JF

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post

 

I think part of the reason this may be confusing to you, is understanding the difference between an independent leg stance & a limiting leg locked stance.  You are correct that some of the best skiers ski with a very narrow stance.  The difference is that their legs work independently yet simultaneously.  To be able to execute some of the things that therusty has suggested, one needs to have a stance where all the body parts can work freely & independently.  Until you free up your legs & hips/pelvis, you will not be able to counter your hips without excessive inside tip lead.  Once you find that magical key, you will unlock the ability to progressivly edge the skis, create proper angles, control pressure & shape your turns with more acuracy.

JF


Really good post by 4ster .  At the narrow end of the functional spectrum, imagine that somebody just picked you up and hung you on a hook.  If you imagine how your legs would hang, that is functional.  Or just balance on one ski while you are standing still, pick up the other ski, relax and set the leg back down.  Where it falls will probably be functional.  The key is to have enough seperation to be able to flex the inside leg without hanging up on your boots.  If you have that, you'll have enough seperation to move everything else that 4ster mentions.

Here are the trade-offs you make with stance width.  It is easier to move your hips into the turn with a narrower stance.  You don't have a base of support, so even slight movements to the inside will cause you to start to topple.  As you move to a wider stance (shoulder-width and beyond) you increase your base of support so you are more stable.  Also, (for good or for bad depending on your philosophy) a wide stance facilitates braquage--which is the steering motion of driving the knees (i.e. as in a hockey stop).  If you want to steer, you'll get more leverage in a wide stance.  The disadvantage of a wider stance is that it makes it more difficult to move the hips into the new turn.  It is also more difficult to tip your skis effectively from a wide stance.  For this reason, for skiers who are still learning, IMO, a stance on the narrower side of functional works better because it won't hold you back from tipping your skis on edge and moving correctly into the new turn.

Other thoughts on stance.  Width can move around from turn to turn.  For example, if your inside ski has less pressure than the outside ski when making a carved turn (which is typical), it will have to take a more direct path through the arc which will cause your stance to widen a bit through the belly of the turn.  Also, good skiers will often move their stance width around proactively depending on what they are doing.  For example, you may let your stance open up a bit for a straight line and then drift back in for turns.  Finally, when you are looking at the seperation of skis of a skier who is *in* a turn, consider that much of the "width" component may be vertical.  IOW, from a functionally narrow stance, you can get just as much "long leg/short leg" as you can from a wider stance.  When you are angled into a turn, the vertical seperation between the long leg and the short leg can appear as if the skier has a wider stance than they are actually using.

There is no right answer here, but hopefully this will help you make some adjustments that work best for you.
Edited by geoffda - 10/10/09 at 11:09am
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
therusty: are you talking about proper crossunder skiing? Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to do that in all conditions?  At step 7 (CSIA model), our club talks a lot about lateral extension, and good angulation, but I haven't seen a lot of drills to force lateral extension. Maybe grasping the pole like a sword, then dragging the poles along the snow on both sides throughout all turns would encourage a lateral extension? (or at least dragging the pole against the snow on the outside side?) The counter-rotation you suggest -- ie keeping the shoulders and hips square to the hill... It's funny because lots of instructors tell me I ski like a robot with too much counter in the shoulders... though I can definitely feel little counter in my hips! So I bet you're onto something good with a hip counter-rotation. I bet a good drill for that would be... the hip-o-meter, where you attach the poles around your hips (like, belt style).... then ensure the hip-o-meter stays square to the hill... hmmm!

 


I'm not necessarily talking about cross under. The only way you can get your feet out from underneath your hips through out more of your turns without falling over is to have enough turning forces to support you. You can achieve this with cross over or cross under. At slow speeds and low edge angles, you won't need to do this. The trick is developing more edge angles and more speed than what you think you "need" to ski and doing it earlier in the turn. One way to think of this is to replace skidding (even subtle skidding) with turn shape as your primary speed control mechanism. Find every spot in your slip where your outside hip is to the inside of the turn relative to the inside edge of your inside boot. In every turn where this happens you are pushing snow laterally (skidding). If you were to get in this position earlier in the turn (above the fall line instead of after it), you would not be skidding at those points. You'd be accelerating instead of braking.

Cowboy tuns (skiing with feet wider than shoulder width apart) are the best drill to force lateral extension, but this drill often asks for more than skiers are ready to give (and cheating results instead of lateral movement). White Pass turns are also good at developing this skill, but the relationship is more subtle. The dragging both pole tips in the snow drill also helps to develop lateral movement by taking away upper body tipping movements intended to get your mass to the inside of the next turn.

Another subtlety is the use of the term "counter rotation". This implies a rotary movement of the upper body in an opposite direction (like a windup prior to a spin move). What I'm suggesting here is that the upper body merely turns less in the finishing phase of the turn than the lower body. The upper body does not need to stay facing squarely down the hill unless you're doing short radius turns. A countered relationship is created but the lower body turning more than the upper body. So I get worried when people call this counter rotation as if they were speaking about an upper body movement when I'm trying to convey a lack of upper body movement. The hip-o-meter is a good drill, but can be more difficult than it seems. Start this one slow on green terrain understanding that at slower speeds on flatter terrain there won't be enough force to support a lot of counter. You want to develop where the proper separation point between the upper and lower body is and feel the tension at the separation point before moving up to steeper pitches and faster speeds. Try this drill at home: stand up and rotate your upper body without moving your hips and compare to rotating your hips and shoulders together. The former is how you're skiing now. The latter is how I want you to ski.

It's easy to see where the "too much counter in the shoulders" comment comes from. But it's "too much counter" relative to the hips. We don't want the shoulder turn to be reduced so much as we want the hip "turn" to be increased. Note that I put turn in quotes, because what I really want is for the hips to turn less than the lower body as the turn finishes. I don't want to see the hips turn more into a countered position as a means to start the next turn.
post #12 of 17
FWIW - I've found focusing on stance width to not be productive. I have found the term "functional stance width" to be very helpful. It's not likely that changing your stance width alone is going to solve any problems. It's more likely that your stance width is a result of other movements or lack of movements and that a too wide or too narrow stance width then causes other problems. If you focus on efficient movements of the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders it's likely that your stance width will naturally not be a hindrance to your skiing.

When I learned to ski, locking your legs together was "ideal" form. As equipment changed, a wider stance became more desirable. But other movements had to come with the stance change to make it work. As I started teaching, I often slipped back into a closed stance as a crutch to overcome my failure to use new movements. I was never successful at forcing my feet to be further apart. However, as I got better at using the new movements, I stopped getting the feet too close together comments. Still, it does get confusing to see the comments not "match" with what is seen on the hill. It's only when you understand that stance width needs to vary to match the task at hand that this begins to make sense.
post #13 of 17
Rusty that is precisely what Tom Burch told me a few years ago.  He said that he never teaches stance width, that it is a result, not a cause.
post #14 of 17
Holding your feet anywhere--close together or far apart--takes away from your ability to move naturally.  In the same way, turning your hips along with your feet limits the forward-and-across-the-skis pathway your torso should take, as The Rusty notes, for letting your skis move away from your body into a more rounded arc from the beginning of the turn.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
 Wow, thanks for all the thoughtful discussion! This community is so great because of the diversity of thought -- finally I've found people whose instruction resonates with me! I'm looking at definitely the following three drills to encourage lateral extension:

1. "Outside ski angle follows the inside ski angle" drilling (to set up a good turn shape)
2. poles held like rapiers, arms wide, poles constantly dragging on snow (to get low, "own" the range of motion, and extend)
3. hip-o-meter and variations (in gate training we've used a foamie and kept it pointed toward the outside of the turn to encourage counter-rotation)

Two drills I'm still confused about:

Cowboy turns: any videos of what this looks like? if you're standing wider than shoulder width apart... ... how can you extend laterally? I'm having a hard time visualizing this working. From a standstill, or even with your mass travelling down the fall line, the instant you tip your "inside" ski on its edge, gravitational forces will start pulling your centre of mass farther to the outside--I'm picturing the total opposite happening of what we want, where you'd just tip over! basically, how is it possible to get the centre of mass more to the inside of your hip when your stance is so wide? (it seems as impossible as applying angular velocity to a tricycle)

White pass turns: is the white pass basically skiing on the inside ski throughout each turn? Sounds harder than one foot skiing! 


On a side note, among the hundreds of folks I ski with, lateral extension seems to be the single most difficult skill to develop. In our club there's a massive plateau around steps 6 and 7, which is where lateral extension should begin to appear. I so rarely see a skier make that jump from banked skiing to angulated skiing... hopefully the level 2 CSIA course can beat it into me. (The level 1 course was very pivot-heavy, and for various reasons not worth discussing I'd like to minimize pivoting.) In any case, if I can find a working progression for me, I can hopefully adapt it to other learners. 

Take care, 

David
post #16 of 17
Can't find video.

In the cowboy turn, you can extend your new outside leg to shift your center of mass (com) to the inside of the new turn. You're right about tipping the new inside ski to start your com moving. Cowboy takes that away. You have to shift weight over the top of the new inside ski and get it flat before you can tip the new inside ski. If you have trouble getting to the inside, try bending your legs more before you start. You can't do this drill stiff legged. You can do this drill indoors without gear on. If you move to the inside purely laterally you will tip over. Add some forward component so your heels come off the ground a little and you'll feel the movement better.

White Pass turns are harder than one ski skiing because every turn is made with the inside ski weighted. For those of us who are dsylexicly challenged, the timing of the weight change also messes with the head. The simplest explanation is that you pick up the inside ski as you finish a turn, make the edge change for the new turn with 100% weight on the new inside ski and then set the outside ski down after you pass through the fall line. But after you "get it" White Pass turns are easier than one ski skiing.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
 Thanks for the clarifications! Hopefully I'll be able to report in lots of progress by the end of December.
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