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Why is this a bad thing?!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I've been going through all my educational stuff, getting my brain tuned up for my next hiring clinic (yes, even with PSIA II), and doing a bit of idle movement analysis on the resort ads on TV! I see a lot of boys skiing in a very flexed position, crunched down and staying down.

Now, if I was to comment on that at a hiring clinic, I know what the next question would be: "why is this bad"?

And why is it so bad? A lot of people seem to enjoy skiing like that (mainly young men). My take on it is they have to use more muscle to turn the skis, that it's harder to release the old edge, and it's also harder to engage both edges strongly, for a good carve. What are peoples' thoughts on this though?
post #2 of 21
Skiing in a hunched, crunched position greatly reduces the bodies rotary range of motion. To illustrate this idea while standing in the snow, have your clinician crunch down and make an arc in the snow with his right boot, around his left boot. The boot will leave a clear mark in the snow. Next, have him stand tall and do the same manuver. You will notice that the arc is larger when he is standing taller because it frees the hips and adds to the limited rotary movement of the legs.
post #3 of 21
Standing tall allows you to use the skeleton to carry much of the force that builds up during a turn. Crouching short makes your muscles perform that function. Too fatiguing.
post #4 of 21
I believe the reasons are twofold, and interlinked:
1. Perception that this is a "good" way to ski.
2. Male ego proving the ability to ski in such a way.

post #5 of 21
Aggressive, racer-esque skiing demands a certain "posture".

These are not recreational skiers, they are "in training"

Besides, the youngsters have energy to burn, so what matters anything but fun and attitude.

SO, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG with that group skiing that way.
(except for the increased likelyhood of being out of control)

Ant, you should not ski that way in uniform!


post #6 of 21
I think Kneale, CalG, and Fox pretty much have it nailed down. Unless it's for aerodynamic reasons (i.e. during speed events), I think it's mostly misperception. A lot of skiers absorb with the upper body and keep the legs relatively stiff. But good mogul skiers and racers seem to keep the torso upright/relaxed and absorb with the legs. Even when the skiers learn to absorb more with the legs, that hunched-over approach stays, as habit.

Plus, it looks really cool and fast to hunch.

I was standing around the lodge wearing my ski boots talking to a few friends when my coach walked up and said, "there. That's the posture you should have when you ski." My body was upright and relaxed, without a "posed" position, and my knees were naturally bent by the forward tilt of the boot cuff. Everything just lined up and stacked naturally. Wish I could do that on skis.
post #7 of 21

Welcome to EpicSki! We hope you'll become an active participant in the great discussions which go on around here!

Seeing as you are from Stockton, how was the season at my old home area- Bear Valley? Or do you ski Kirkwood mostly? Dodge Ridge?

Either way, you are in for a lot of fun and excitement on this site- . It's a little slow in the sumers, but it ROCKS during the season.

Best regards...

post #8 of 21
High level skiing uses high edge angles. High edge angles mean the hips are close to the slope. The hips should stay at approximately the same height between turns. Ant, is this what you call a crunched position? If the skier transitions from one turn to another with an upward motion, the skier is doing it wrong.

Most ski instuctors ski with a overly upright stance. The PSIA magazine "The Professional Skier" often accidentally highlights this. On one page there will be a PSIA demo team member in a upright narrow stance, on the next page in an advertisement there will be a freerider or racer in a low wide "modern" stance.
post #9 of 21
Even when the skiers learn to absorb more with the legs, that hunched-over approach stays, as habit.
Guilty but continually working on "it".

Most ski instructors ski with an overly upright stance. The PSIA magazine "The Professional Skier" often accidentally highlights this.
This would explain why the only critic I ever get from “Examiners” is “ya could stand up more”. This is really funny because when I stand really tall I find myself too much on the uphill ski, which was the critic I received when I was training for full cert. How the wheel turns. Now my two footed, more even weighted but some what “low” stance is in vogue.

I love skiing …. But not the formality of SS “gangster image” turns.


[ June 09, 2003, 06:57 PM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #10 of 21
Skiing in a deeply flexed position is strenuos. I found myself skiing this way in a clinic last December. Evidently my skiing was alright in other respects because the ex demo-teamer I was skiing with complimented me on my skiing and even went so far as to say some things to the group as a whole about how the "tall" stance that folks had been pushing over the last few years was not all it had been cracked up to be. I have no idea whether these latter remarks were in any way a response to my skiing. Most likely they reflected a personal conclusion based upon a great deal of personal experience and observation. I tend to agree with her that any "one size fits all" visual analysis of stance neglects differences in personal physical proportion as well as various equipment related differences. What I do know is that in this instance I was getting very tired, rather quickly. I just was not in shape to hold a position that might have been advantageous to a racer. Eventually I tracked down the apparent cause to some modifications I had made to my new boots the previous Spring. I typically have a problem with excessive forward lean built into ski boots because of my large calf muscles and perhaps short legs so I had been modifying these boots extensively to gain a comfortable centered stance, including grinding almost a quarter inch out of the foot base inside the shell. Evidently I overdid the lowering of my heel. I just adapted my skiing more or less automatically to the altered condition of my equipment. The main drawback seemed to be the fatigue of having to support my weight with my leg muscles. Once I figured out what was happening, I put wedges back into the boots, beneath the bladder, and I found I was able to ski comfortably in a more upright stance. A relaxed upright stance allows your skeletal structure to efficiently carry much of your weight. Carrying the forces generated by carving is also much easier if you are able to ski with " straighter" legs for the same reasons. One thing the experience did show me, though, was the advantange of generating carving forces high in the turn and flattening and releasing the edges a bit earlier toward the "end" of the turn. Far less fatiguing, or so it seemed.
post #11 of 21
Originally posted by man from oz:
This would explain why the only critic I ever get from “Examiners” is “ya could stand up more”. This is really funny because when I stand really tall I find myself too much on the uphill ski, which was the critic I received when I was training for full cert.
I find this bit of advice confusing. By "stand up more", most people would straighten their legs, leading to the symptoms you describe. I think it's almost as bad as "try to get really dynamic".

- Try bringing the hips forward. Keep your belly button in front of your boots.
- "Open up" your shoulders a little- an open hand pole plant helps with this.
post #12 of 21
Lets be careful to point out that when we speak of the low positions seen in racers we are not associating those low positions with flexed outside legs. The low position is a result of the need to lower CM and move CM well inside of the feet to balance the high turning forces resulting from high speeds and severe edge angles. Even though CM is very low the outside leg is still quite extended to best resist the high forces being encountered. An extended leg is a strength efficient position and racers are just as interested in strength efficient positions as other skiers, if not more so, because the great forces they have to deal with.

The only time your going to see significant flexion in the racers outside leg is when retraction is employed during turn transition. At that moment there is very little pressure on the skis so a flexed leg does not prove to be a liability, but once pressure begins to again develop the new support leg has already been re-extended and is well prepared to accept them.

I would guess that Ant is referring to deep flexing of the support leg during the high force portion of the turn which is very taxing on the muscles. The result is a support leg that is in constant state of flexion, and a dropping of the CM even when low edge angles are being used.

This is NOT something you will see racers doing. If a racer is making a large radius turn that requires a low edge angle (flatter ski) you will see a much higher CM position because the forces generated by a low edge are much smaller and do not require CM to be moved inside of the feet as much. To keep the support leg in a strong extended position, while at the same time moving CM closer to the vertical plain of the feet, CM must be raised. The only time you will see a racer exhibit significant support leg flexion while riding a low edge will be when it's done for aerodynamic purposes, such as while tucking.

[ June 09, 2003, 09:07 PM: Message edited by: FastMan ]
post #13 of 21
My flexing is more around the hunched shoulders and "breaking waist" area. Something I always need to work on when skiing bumps. It comes from self taught skiing and a late start (21 yrs) I know that I suffer from "lazy leg" or just lack "big muscles" in the legs from doing more surfing (upper body) than skiing (lower body). Surfing gives me a strong upper body and very strong back but does nothing really for my chicken legs.

Last year for the first time in my life, pre season I worked on leg & core strength (abs) as well as leg agility. Once the season came around my concentration moved to active extension focus using the "new legs\core" I had made in the gym. This worked a treat and I skied some of the best bumps (not my strongest area) ever.

Now we all know when we make changes, other changes occur.

So I then found myself having to work on a more upright body with using my core strength to keep the whole body balanced over the middle of my now more dynamically extending legs.

Do I "crouch" .... umm yep sometimes when I get lazy & tired (like about 3:30pm after skiing Grouse Mountain bumps with SCSA all day). Do I get sore legs? ... um, only after a few days of "outside SS" punishment. I think the clinicians description one day in 3ft "interesting" pow was "You are a very compact skier". (funny what clinicians can see when they follow you )

Strong but not overly flexed legs, a straightish back with an unpronounced shoulder "hunch", soft forward hands and a big smile seems to do the trick. But ya know when we let it all hang out on the mountain an 90% "perfect posture" rate is something to strive for. (100% when getting air) When making, in uniform SS turns, 97% "perfect posture" is pretty well the target.

Those young blokes that are skiing "low" are just pretending they are about to hit a big air shot and are way : Its an inner space thing. Or maybe they are just holding their pants up .... turn, grab, turn, grab etc ...

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ June 09, 2003, 10:18 PM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #14 of 21
There is another Oz theory .... that attempting to ski a wider more evenly weighted on both skis stance will manifest a slightly "squatted" stance appearance. Ron L gave this theory some "thought" in a discussion last winter.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #15 of 21
Not and instructor nor profess to be, but 2 theories on this stance.

1st, young people are typically in FAST or training modes and like to get low. They pitch forward in the afore mentioned zig-zag position and then counter by bending over at the waist. It seems to allow them to stay low at speed and make fast turns in a race course. I see many of the mountain school students in this type position.

Then, on the 2nd front, it limits your ability to be flexible. See many people bent over in rough terrain or bumps? I don't think so. Once you bend at the waist and knees, you have lost your ability to extend and compress. You need to be more upright throughout your stance in order to be an all around skier.

Finally, don't know about you all, but my back couldn't take that beating for 6 hours a day, not even when I was 20.
post #16 of 21
My experience is that many skiers equate agressive skiing with muscular exertion. So by being low and flexed and feeling the muscles work overtime they must be skiing 'hard' when in fact it's just biomechanically ineffiecient. The hardest thing is to get an untrained but athletic person to 'let go' and focus on balance and controlling what the skis do under them instead of 'making' the skis do what they think they should. They seem to want to short cut the learn to balance on a working ski and then become aggressive in how you get that ski to work and go straight to lots of muscle at work must be skiing well. That same muscular exertion pretty much assures they'll never really feel how to balance on that moving platform. Should keep chriopractors, physios and orthopods employed though.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Some interesting stuff here folks! I advocate a relaxed, natural stance to my guests, the one that feels balanced and strong to them. But I do notice a tendency, especially amoung young men who don't take lessons, to ski wiht their legs in a pronounced zig-zag. Their shins are pushed forward into the boots, the ankles are very flexed, and their thighs are lower, to counter-balance, I imagine. And there's sometimes a break at the waist too, to complete the zig-zag look.

The chaps on the ad (Perisher Blue one, Oz) are skiing like that, I also think I notice some back-of-centre weighting. There's some very serpentine turning happening, with skis that are more flat than edged. Turns for show, evidently.

So I got to thinking about that...and how it would probably crop up at the clinic, as stance is so crucial...but at a hiring clinic, or in an exam (very similar situations!) when you come out with a statement, they always want you to expand on it, to check you understand the concepts.

So I could say "they are using a lot of muscle and will get fatigued", but I'm sure one should go on to talk about efficiency of movement to effect better overall skiing...points which are covered in the discussion above.

The low stance of a racer is totally different, as a racer is stacking her bones up in a strong way, to exert big force on her skis and to absorb the force of the turn. These fellows in their zig-zag stance aren't stacking their bones up at all, they're folding up their bodies and using muscle to do everything (i reckon, anyway).

I find I keep returning to these basics...I want to really grasp them; in the same way that I think balance is the key to everything in skiing, these basics to me are the key to everything in teaching. Everything in this discussion is grist to that mill!
post #18 of 21
The best thing I ever learned from an instructor was to stand up more. My legs were always tired after a run, more so on a bump run. At Jackson, the first thing she told me was that I was leaning back and riding the tails. I didn't think I was doing it that much but I took the advice. It was an amazing break through.I immediatly felt the difference. I could ski the whole day and not be anywhere as tired as before. If these kids want to ski all hunched over and they can have fun doing it, so be it. They have the stamina to get away with it. Later in life is another story. The instructor explained it very simply to me. You are always trying to pick yourself up when you don't stand up. A simple thing that changed the way I ski. Kids want to have fun and screw around, nothing wrong with it.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
It's funny how people think that these odd poses are correct skiing. How often in a lesson do you find yourself trying to change this perception?! People have a mental image of the skiier all bent up, with their bum sticking out. I wonder, do they really want to look like that? Or do they just think they should look like that?!
post #20 of 21
Maybe they think it makes them more aerodynamic. Maybe they want to look like a racer. Form follows function? Function follows form?
post #21 of 21
My $0.02: I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing, as long as they don't stay in that stance forever whenever whatever they do. In a nice long empty straight run of corduroy - why not give it a good high-speed run in a good tuck (when the movie Tuck Everlasting came out, and my daughter wanted to go see it, my first question was, "Is it about a very long DH race?").

But if they are going like that in moguls - I hope they have their insurance cards with them...

[ June 13, 2003, 06:41 PM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
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