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Fluidity of Movement

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
In my own profession, my movement style has been characterized by many, as being very fluid. This is not necssarily a value judgement. There are some styles of movement that are specifically not fluid. For some, that is their preference.

But in order for fluidity to happen, certain conditions must be met.

I must be in proper alignment.

I must be in sync with the music. If there is no music, there must still be a sense of structure, and rhythmicty.

The transitions between moves must be logical.

There must be space to move in a relatively unhindered manner.

I need to relate to the environment around me as if it were a tangible presence.

I must be relaxed, but not so relaxed that I lack control.

I need to feel as if my center of gravity is over my base of support, and leads me into a move, rather than lag behind.

NOW, we get to the mountain! SOMETIMES, I can be very fluid when I ski, sometimes not. If I am not in alignment, if I PERCIEVE obstacles in my choses line, if I do not understand a transition between turns, if I am too cold to relate to the environment as anything other than an annoyance, I will lose all sense of fluidity.

What, in your opinion, must be happening, for a skier to achieve fluidity of movement?
post #2 of 33
Peace of mind.
post #3 of 33
Yep - I'm with Nolo...

Fluid movement was(is?)a big problem for me
Falls Creek instructor spends lost of time working on that - the main instruction he gave after a few tries was that I think about "flowing down the hill".

When I went to Thredbo my instructor there was trying to get me to do something better - he asked for 'Constant pole movement'
After a couple of not so good runs we had a run where he was quite pleased with the result & asked me on the lift(as he does) "so what were you thinking about then?" - when I replied "flowing down the hill" he looked puzzled - I explained that it was the Falls Creek guys words & that I had just realised that they were trying to get the same sort of thing happening.

When we talked further I realised that "flow down the hill" conjured pictures of a small mountain streamlet - bubbling it's way around/over rocks(bumps???? for BIG rocks???) round trees - finding a nice path.

Our decision - PROBABLY the most important thing was the image is a PEACEFUL one for me- very RELAXING. whenever I conjure that image I SKI BETTER!
post #4 of 33
In order to provide fluidity of movement down the hill a proper release is necessary. This is especially noticeable in racing. So appropriate movement is a must.
post #5 of 33
For me, flow comes from RELAXED effort (if that makes any sense) to keep everything moving toward the future continuously. This requires that I not think about what's happening now, because it's already in the past as I think about it. So, along with Nolo's "peace of mind" I'd add faith.
post #6 of 33
LM I think all the responses are accurate, and certainly your list is totally applicable to skiing.

We used to have a principle in PSIA that described this phenomenon. It was called "total motion", and the idea was that nothing was "held" in position. I used to say to students that when you're in a position long enough to recognize it as a position, you've been there too long. (Cute phrase and accurate, but it never helped improvement!)

We do a lot of work on the edge release in order to connect turns so I very much agree with Harvey D.

I believe the trick is to find the held places and move through them. And the edge release is a good place to start.

Here's a hint that relates to this: The edge release is part of the whole arena of transition between turns--when the skis come out of the acceleration down the hill, across in the traverse, and back down into a new acceleration. MOST skiers who are struggling (my belief) get held here, and they do so because they perceive of that place as a finish to a turn--a place of safety where they can have relief and turn shopping. Things just sort of stop there.

Now I've always known about the importance of linking turns, but I once took a clinic from a racer named Stephan Heinzch who really clarified it for me. We asked him to describe his turn from beginning to end. He said, okay, and then proceeded to point his skis downhill (holding with his poles) and said, "Now I'm ready to turn." FLASH! Before he went any further, I understood skiing in a new light. I'm a ski instructor, and my turn starts in the traverse and ends in the traverse--it's about speed reduction for my students. He's a racer and his turn starts in the fall line and ends in the fall line--it's about speed maintenance. Once I adopted his paradigm, the artificiality of turn finish in/turn start in the traverse went away forever (possibly because I already did that when I free skied). This, in turn, obliterated the holding at the critical transition and upgraded the fluidity.

I think actually that this difference in perception(conscious or unconscious) may even be the real difference between an expert and an intermediate. You see allusions to it all the time.

Like Harvey D says--edge release.
post #7 of 33
Yes Weems--and Harvey--you can certainly identify "fluidity" by observing that edge release. But fluid edge release is an "outcome"--literally part of the flow--so we can't FIX a non-fluid skier by "fixing" his/her edge release! That's why Stephen Hienzsch's image was so appropriate--that edge release results from movement that starts way back in the previous turn. Throughout the turn, the fluid skier moves in such a way as to END the turn with the release--flat skis, and everything ALREADY moving (or perhaps STILL moving) into the next turn.

I see the same thing you described, Weems. Most skiers appear to think of their turns one at a time--start it, get it over with, rest and reaffirm your safety, THEN start thinking about how to make the next one. This thought pattern cannot possibly lead to fluidly linked turns! It's common to think of turns as having three phases--initiation, control, and completion. And there are also movements and mental activities that we do to PREPARE for the turn, prior to initiation. PSIA has long identified that, when turns are linked, that completion phase coincides with the next turn's preparation phase. These days, I'd take it even farther--the ENTIRE previous turn must prepare you for the next turn!

I prefer the term "neutral" to describe the start/transition of the turn, rather than "release," because it involves the entire body, rather than just the ski, all the skills, beyond just edging. All the way through the turn, the skier must strive to FINISH in neutral. When that happens, there is absolutely NOTHING ELSE that the skier must do to start the next turn--the "release" becomes a foregone conclusion and fluidity is inevitable!

Stephen Hienzsch was the director of the Mahre Training Center for its first 15 years or so, as well as the head coach of the US Disabled Ski Team, before his role in product development and marketing for Volant Skis finally took all of his time. He's an extraordinary skier, but he really did exemplify the clear, simple, no-nonsense view of ski technique so typical of racers. The Mahre brothers--and Stephen--were very big on up/down motion in skiing (flexion-extension), and we often exaggerated it to explore its importance. Tall and relaxed to release edge angles and float into the turn...sinking, sinking, sinking, to increase edge angles and deal with the pressures of the turn...THEN UP to finish the turn!

This last point--the return to "tall" at the turn's finish--was the crux! Too many skiers think of starting a turn tall, with flat skis, and finishing the turn low, skis on edge. And their turns are never linked, by definition! If you finish a turn one way and start it another, you HAVE to do something AFTER the finish to get back to the "starting position"--precluding linkage and fluidity. Only when the turn finishes where it starts (in body position and movement, as well as attitude), can it FLOW smoothly into the next turn.

Here are a few related thoughts, common "advice" that will devastate "fluidity," well-intended conventional wisdom that is more wives' tale mythology than truth:

  • "Extend/Rise/etc. to initiate the turn." (NO!--if you like to think in terms of rising and sinking, you should think "extend/rise to FINISH the turn"--that way you're already there!)</font>
  • "Start tall, finish small." (Instead, think "start AND finish in NEUTRAL"--and you won't even have to think about "start"!)</font>
  • "Start the turn by releasing the edge, and progressively increase the edge angle all the way through the turn." (Same thing--start and finish in neutral)</font>
  • "Start the turn with a 'lead change'--pushing the new inside ski forward...." (Lead change results from both skis turning separately, like the front wheels of a car, to steer the turn. Like a car, at the END of the turn, the wheels/skis point straight ahead. If you wait until you start the next turn, it's too late!)</font>
  • Finally, as Weems suggested, simply thinking of your turns as ways to CHECK SPEED (like almost everyone does) will absolutely prevent you from ever making the fluid, linked turns of experts! Fluid turns are OFFENSIVE--they result ONLY from the intent to GO THAT WAY, never from the intent to STOP GOING THIS WAY! We've discussed this point at length here at EpicSki, but it's always worth bringing up again. Intent dictates technique, absolutely. There's nothing "flowing" about "stop"!</font>
I'll never forget the image of Stephen Hienzsch illustrating these points to an eager group at the Mahre Training Center. "Rise OUT of the turn--that way you can traverse across the hill if you want to, or start the next turn immediately, your choice! If I asked everyone here to traverse across to the other side of the trail, how many people would crouch down low and stay that way all the way across?" He then demonstrated how silly this would look, squatted down, pushing with his poles, an evil, determined grin on his face.... "Exit your turn in that tall, neutral, relaxed stance, ready to do whatever you want!"
From neutral, holding the traverse simply requires a little ankle tension; releasing the edge involves only relaxing that tension. Of course, your whole body must already be moving in the appropriate direction too, for balance, as it comes out of the last turn....(another discussion!)

Just think--you could try this NOW--Silverton, Colorado's newest and highest resort actually opened for skiing this morning with several feet of fresh powder, making big news after our year of drought!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ October 02, 2002, 09:52 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #8 of 33
I am humbled by the great answers that Harvey, Weems, and Bob have offered to Lisa. I'm getting the idea that people ski the way they THINK (or have been taught to think). Can we change the way people ski by teaching a new way of thinking about it?
post #9 of 33
Boy, to me this is much simpler. And, I don't think it has anything to do with edge release being the key.

To me, it's just feeling comfortable, that go with the flow that comes with mastering something to the point you don't have to think about it. Maybe this is what Nolo meant when she said "Peace of Mind".

Take the average skier down two or three levels in terrain and they can be very fluid. Now, do nice things like edge release happen here? You bet they do. But, that's the result, not the reason.

[ October 02, 2002, 10:24 AM: Message edited by: WVSkier ]
post #10 of 33
That is what I meant. No fear. No judgment. No doubt. Just breathe in and breathe out.
post #11 of 33
Originally posted by nolo:
I'm getting the idea that people ski the way they THINK (or have been taught to think). Can we change the way people ski by teaching a new way of thinking about it?
Exactly. I don't think people have problems with how to ski. I just think there is confusion about what it is to ski. And this gets into the realm of what it is for me as opposed to what it is for you. Therefore it's hard to pin it down. But my biggest advances were about changes in perceptions of the task at hand, rather than a new move.

Those perceptions can come from all of the suggestions of all the writers above. That's maybe the art of the teaching--finding the right one for the right person at the right time, yet staying within the realm of reality (skis, snow, body, gravity, etc.)
post #12 of 33
Originally posted by nolo:
That is what I meant. No fear. No judgment. No doubt. Just breathe in and breathe out.
Also true. And very much fun.
post #13 of 33
Originally posted by nolo:
Can we change the way people ski by teaching a new way of thinking about it?
I'd even say that this is the ONLY way to make REAL changes in someone's skiing. We get better at anything we practice, so even without our help, students will improve at what they're thinking of doing. It's only when they think DIFFERENTLY that their skiing CHANGES.

To my mind, Nolo's words represent perhaps the most important concept in ski teaching! It's the classic "paradigm shift." I think most lessons fail because the student's paradigm of turning is massively different from that of the instructor. For example, the instructor teaches "for a better turn, release the edges and point your skis downhill...." to a student whose idea of a turn is something that slows you down! This lesson can't succeed!

Either the student will need to develop a new paradigm of the turn as an offensive "go where you want to go" tool, or the instructor will need to recognize the student's defensive intent, and teach defensive braking-type "turns."

For those who haven't been here for previous discussions about this stuff, I'll go "full circle" and remind you that even STOPPING can result from this "GO" thought--if you GO uphill! The best skiers--the ones who exude "fluidity"--while they are expert with ALL the tools including braking, habitually glide and carve. They rarely think of turning to slow down--they think of turning to follow their chosen line, to go where they want to go. The keyword is GO! And they choose a line that prevents the need for speed control. They complete their turns far around each circular arc that GRAVITY controls their speed for them, leaving them free to try to ski that line as fast as they can, gliding fluidly, and enjoying the ride!

This is the background behind my usual suggestion to "ski the slow line fast"--or more accurately, "ski a slow ENOUGH line as fast as you can, when you can." (And brake only when you have to.) And the key: ANYONE can choose to ski a slow enough line, at any level of skill (once you can make some sort of basic direction change). This doesn't take practice or skill--it just takes UNDERSTANDING and CHOICE--the right "way of thinking about it."

The "fast as you can" part--THAT is where the skill comes in. A more skillful skier can ski ANY line faster. If you think of your turn as a way to slow down, to scrub speed, you are obviously NOT trying to ski as fast as you can. Change the way you THINK about it--learn to think like an expert--and your skiing will change 100%, IMMEDIATELY!

Think like an expert, and you'll ski like an expert, as skillfully as you can. Keep practicing, and you'll do it better and better until you become an expert yourself.

FAIL to think like an expert, and you'll get better and better at whatever you're doing. But that road does not lead to expert skiing, no matter HOW good you get at it! This explains the myriad skiers who have become very very good at very bad skiing. They get down the mountain, probably any run, in "control" (control of WHAT?), but they don't glide much. They work hard, hacking, chopping, braking. They have little control of their line, too--it isn't what they've practiced, after all, and the braking they've gotten so good at relies on SKIDDING--which sacrifices control of line!

To become an expert, you HAVE to start by thinking like an expert!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #14 of 33
Weems – I really appreciate your post. This confirms what I have said for several years when asked what skiing is and I would reply “Going downhill and turning your feet”. Why would I answer in such a simplistic way when we all know there is more to it? State of mind! If we can make the complicated simple in the minds eye of our students then the complicated in fact does become simple because they believe it is so. (Also I find the statement helps me to understand I must not overstate the obvious and over explain skiing.)

Keep it simple, fun, and flowing since skiing is not talking!

Have a GREAT day!

post #15 of 33
This is what the EpicSki Academy is all about. Please join us!
post #16 of 33

One thought that might help readers of this thread is a simple definition of "neutral". I know it was somewhat confusing at times last season, even in TA training.

I think (it's been a long summer) the final definition we came up within our group was that "neutral" is a point we passed though (not a position) when weight was equal, edge angles were equal and neither ski had any lead, all happening simultaneously.

post #17 of 33
This is where Bob and I have a difference in the nuance. I understand what he means with this concept, and I understand the advantage and the use.

I just have a problem with it in my personal skiing perception, because when I go there it feels like nothing is happening. The passage through neutral for me is too fast for neutral to register. If it registers it feels like a dead position.

I don't have an argument against it. It's just not in my picture. I do use the concept if I feel a person is over-attacking. That, too, creates a loss of fluidity.
post #18 of 33
Yes, Weems--"neutral"--like any "position" we could describe as a moment in a movement--doesn't last for any measurable amount of time! I liked your description earlier of the problem with positions--the moment you recognize that you're in it, it's too late! As you said--it is accurate, from an analytical standpoint, but not necessarily useful from a "what to do" perspective. You COULD take a picture at just the right moment, showing that the skier really was "there," but it's more like passing non-stop through a doorway--it was never a static position.

In order to walk through a doorway, we don't have to imagine ourselves stopping in it, but we DO have to direct our movement precisely to make sure we get through it. And the direction you intend to be going on the other side of the doorway determines the direction of a lot of your movement on THIS side of it. In this way, I can "work" with the notion of striving to finish a turn in "neutral"--it's not the destination, unless I don't plan to link into another turn, but it is a useful target, as the doorway to the next turn.

It is tough to put the concept of "fluidity" into mere sequences of words, isn't it? See you on the slopes!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #19 of 33
Thread Starter 
Lots of awesome stuff here, actually enough to make me shut up and listen for awhile. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

Nolo said; "Peace of mind". Well that would be the starting point, would'nt it? Skiing, like dance is not just an expression, but a reflection of who you are. This would explain how the sight of a fluid skier, on video, TV or real life, would make me immediately like the person! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Kneale said: " For me, flow comes from RELAXED effort (if that makes any sense) to keep everything moving toward the future continuously. This requires that I not think about what's happening now, because it's already in the past as I think about it. "

Sounds like someone who has "peace of mind". Oh if we could, but live our lives this way! [img]smile.gif[/img]

From Weems: "when you're in a position long enough to recognize it as a position, you've been there too long." In person, our "gravity guru" says that the legs are neither straight nor bent, but bending and straightening. So being static in your alignment can also be a hindrance to fluidity, since it will make you more likely to to adopt a position, as opposed to flow into a transition. Isn't this why, in skiing, we speak of fore/aft alignment, as opposed to just "alignment". There is an implication of change that is ever present

From Bob Barnes: " Most skiers appear to think of their turns one at a time--start it, get it over with, rest and reaffirm your safety."
Or they do one other thing. I once had the pleasure of skiing with Tog, who used to be a frequent poster here. At one point, he turned to me and said "You know you don't have to evaluate every single turn".
Yeah, I guess I have a tendency to do that. But this reminds me of something else, froma students perspective. I have had some excellent teachers who have one minor flaw. They will stop the class to a point way too early in any given run. The first few minutes usually involve some trial and error. Unless I am doing something drastically unsafe, I need some time to play with whatever ideas they are giving me. If they stop me too soon, it breaks the

As for the whole "edge release" thing, still thinking about it. Haven't formulated thoughts into word, so I won't blather!
post #20 of 33
I'm moving this post to a separate thread to avoid the possibility of hijacking this one.


[ October 03, 2002, 01:58 PM: Message edited by: Ydnar ]
post #21 of 33
Maybe it's just a difference in learning syles. Some skiers have to intellectualize the process others may have to feel it. No matter which syle works for you, when you reach the point of competence I think you quit thinking about it and just do it.
post #22 of 33
OK, I'm looking at slalom pictures on www.ronlemaster.com . What I'm seeing is transitions that happen as fast as possible. I'm seeing maximum edge angle at the very end of the turn. I'm seeing racers doing various things to start the next turn. I'm seeing turns ending tall, turns ending low, turns starting tall, turns ending low. All this also frequently happens in the tighter GS turns.
In short, I am not seeing the fluidity that is being discussed here. Not making a value judgement, just an observation.
post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 
Nolo asks us if we can change the way people ski if we can change the way they think about it. One of my biggest breakthroughs happened last year, when the instructor told me to try to make the turn as SLOWLY as possible. I ended up getting down the hill much faster than usual.

This talk of neutral is interesting. In acting class, if you want to create the postural distortions inherant to a specific type of character, it is always important to understand neutral posture, first. Otherwise, you are putting a distortion on top of a distortion.

I think part of the problem is that many people cannot find neutral posture on skis. But in their haste to ski more challenging terrain at a faster pace, they end up putting a distortion on top of a distortion.

Miles, I think you are probably right, but as I said, fluidity is just a personal preference. There are some superb skiers who would not be called fluid. Its the difference between Janica Kostelic and Sarah Shlepper. Sometimes, itvall comes down to esthetic preference.
post #24 of 33
I want to join those who feel that to change someones skiing one of the most important things that you have to do is change the way they think about skiing. Indeed there have been times that changing the way someone thinks about skiing has been all that I have had to do and then I just sit back and watch the student make changes without any further 'teaching' on my part. Someone else said and I agree that very little progress can be made without challenging the skiers preconceptions in some manner.

This challange can be something simple like explaining that keeping the shoulders faced straight down the fall line isn't always the best way to ski and that allowing the upper body to follow the skis is OK, or a more complicated idea like turns are for going faster not for slowing down.

Challenging and changing the students thinking is the one thing that has made my teaching so successful over the years. The only thing about it that bothers me is how often what I am challenging and tryiing to change are ideas that the student has learned in olther lessons that have been presented as 'the truth'.

I mean after all only I have the true word.

post #25 of 33
Sometimes it all comes down to esthetic preference
Yes, LM, this whole concept of "flow" is largely an esthetic idea, a subjective, personal experience, although there are a few objectively measurable qualities that define "flow."

I look at Ron's slalom photosequences, Miles, and I certainly see "flow"--while highly athletic, those are incredibly fluid turns! One measurable attribute of "flow" that is especially visible in a photosequence is the continuity and simplicity of movement. The body (center of mass) moves in a sinuous sine-wave-like curve, with no abrupt changes of direction, no interruptions or hitches, no "pushoff" turn initiations where the body first moves to the right to go left. These photos show this fluid motion, especially the sequence of Sarah Schleper. Even Mario Matt's big lateral step occurs smoothly, without disrupting this smooth flow of the center of mass.

You're certainly right, though, that we can see a huge variety of athletic movement in these race sequences. Steps, rebound, "weighted releases," active ski reorientation (steering) before edge engagement--the gamut of technical possibility shows in just these few turns! It's a beautiful thing.

While these racers do exhibit it, being a "merely" esthetic concern, "fluidity" is clearly NOT their goal. Their goal is to win the race, at any cost. Racers show the ultimate in efficiency of movement, in that they must get the maximum effect from everything they do. And fluidity is a byproduct of efficiency. But they certainly also work harder in that short run than most recreational skiers, by choice! They do things that may involve extreme and explosive effort, in order to eke out another microsecond of speed--something rarely worth the effort or pain for recreational skiers. They DO make abrupt, less fluid, direction changes, whenever they need to.

So looking at racers in full flight to find the esthetic qualities we may seek as recreational skiers can be a mistake. We do NOT necessarily want to imitate everything they do, even if they approach perfection in their techniques! Rarely does either the precision of line, or the maximization of speed, take on the importance for recreational skiers that it does for racers. When it does, our priorities change too--from the pursuit of the purely esthetic to something else--like survival, perhaps.

One final note, just to clarify--Miles, you said you see "maximum edge angle at the very end of the turn" in these racers. I'd argue that, if the skis are at maximum edge angle and still engaged with the snow, they are STILL TURNING--hence not yet at the "very end" of the turn. The turn isn't over until the skis stop turning, which doesn't happen until they release that carving action. As a clearer example, think about what that skier still at "maximum edge angle" would have to do initiate the next turn--he'd still have to get out of this one first! The turn doesn't even end when you START flattening those skis--it ends (and the next one can begin) only when they have BECOME flat enough to let go--when they have RELEASED their edges.

If it's time to start a new turn (ie. your tips have crossed the "rise line" above the next gate, to use the classic racer's tactic), and you are still at maximum edge angle, you will be a LONG way off line by the time you actually finish this turn and start the next! Measured in seconds, the difference may be subtle, but that split second of off-timing will mean the turn starts many FEET from where it should have--not good in a game of inches!

This is another reason I like Weems's idea of thinking of the turn going from fall line to fall line, rather than from traverse to traverse. The first image, to me, suggests continuous motion that passes seamlessly through the transition. It suggests that skiing means going DOWNHILL, rather than across it, flowing with gravity, rather than resisting it, and the turn is more an attempt to go left and right, rather than an attempt to stop going down the hill. And we're right back to Nolo's thought for the day: does changing the way we THINK change the way we SKI? YES!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #26 of 33
Bob, I knew i worded that badly, but I was hoping it would make sense. Oh well. What I meant is that the racers hold a higher edge later in the turn than most recreational skiers and instructors would. Especially in the turns being discussed here, where the edge angle starts decreasing slowly after the fall line to the "nuetral position", resulting in a rather long smooth transition that happens all by itself. This also seems to be a big difference between PMTS turns and Epicski turns.
post #27 of 33
Good point, Miles. You've brought up what I would consider to be another common myth in skiing! I do agree with you that these racers often hold those high edge angles until very NEARLY the end of the turn--certainly well past the fall line.

I have often heard skiers, including instructors, talk about "untipping" the skis at the same rate that they tipped them. In other words, if you increase the edge angle smoothly and progressively for, say, 3 seconds in a long turn, then it "should" also take an equal 3 seconds to return them to flat. I have NEVER understood where anyone came up with this, other than as a possible exercise to develop smoothness! To me, it is an artificial notion, an arbitrary requirement imposed on technique with no practical reason. It COULD take the same amount of time, but it could just as easily and correctly take more, or much less! It depends on the task, and the desire of the skier.

Your observation that these racers maintain a high edge angle late into the turn, and release it very quickly, is dead accurate, Miles. And as you suggest, it refutes the "conventional wisdom" of "3 seconds flexing (angulating), 3 seconds extending."

So I repeat--there is NO particular need to release the edges "slowly." (Nor is there a particular need NOT to, depending on the situation.) Sufficient edge angle relates to many things, but arbitrary "counting" is not one of them! Phil and Steve Mahre again had much to say on this point--in racing, they usually wanted QUICK! Before GS races, they would warm up by repeatedly sinking smoothly onto their downhill ski (increasing its edge), then EXPLODING up off it to the uphill ski. (Remember that virtually every race turn was some sort of a step turn "back then.") To paraphrase their classic advice, "In a turn, start tall, be patient until the forces pulling you out of the turn begin to develop, then sink, smoothly, continuously, progressively, to NEAR the end of the turn, then EXPLODE up....! The extension/flattening phase was much briefer than the sinking/edging phase. Regardless of the timing, though, the turn both starts and finishes "tall."

A side note: While the words the Mahres used were usually "tall" and "short," or "tall" and "sink," in reality, they implied the same complex relationships between flexing and angulating and edge control that we've been discussing. I still like the simplicity of "tall and short" sometimes, but it can confuse.... "Tall and short," in Mahre-speak, is primarily an EDGING movement and only secondarily a pressure control movement. It is especially important to understand this these days, when skiers (especially racers) quite often do NOT extend "tall" when they release those edges--and sometimes they even RETRACT their legs beneath them in the transition. Either way, the edging/release is the key issue.

I'm not sure how this idea represents a difference between PMTS and PSIA, other than that there are certainly a lot more instructors who are "out of date" in PSIA, by virtue of the fact that PMTS has only been around for a very short time! While I certainly don't agree with everything in the PMTS technical model, I would never accuse it of being out of date (yet)! On the other hand, I am not aware of anything in any PSIA literature, ever, that advocates this myth of "equal time increasing and decreasing edge angle," even though I have heard many instructors pushing it. I do get a lot of blank stares when I ask them "why"! Again, it's as valid as any exercise, for some purposes, but EXERCISES ARE NOT SKIING! Unfortunately, PSIA often takes the blame (and perhaps the credit) for any unorthodox information its individual members may put out.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #28 of 33
The difference is that without active steering to shape the end of the turn, keeping a high edge angle longer is the only way to keep the skis turning across the fall line. Again, I'm not making a value judgement, but it IS a different feeling. Interesting that you mention that "equal time" exercise, as this is the first I've ever heard of it!
Also, I said the "Epicski turn", as I'm assuming that is what was being described here and will be taught at the clinic. Maybe the "Barnes turn"?

[ October 04, 2002, 01:33 PM: Message edited by: milesb ]
post #29 of 33
Hi Miles--your contention, that "it's different," may well be true, but it still begs a crucial question: "Different from WHAT?" Certainly, none of these ideas conflict with any PSIA official doctrine that I'm aware of. And despite how they have often been represented here at EpicSki, I don't for a moment believe that PMTS entirely ignores the skill of active steering--they could not be that far out of touch! Again, PMTS cannot be held entirely responsible for how others--including its own instructors--represent it, any more than PSIA can.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

PS--by the way, the turns I have light-heartedly dubbed "Epic turns" go by many other names: "Center Line turns," from PSIA, and "PMTS turns," unless they have some other name for them. They are simply the essential, fundamental turns of good skiing, the foundational behaviors that identify great skiers, but certainly only one of their many options! We've discussed their technical fundamentals and the tactics behind them at length. They are DIFFERENT from "turns" for braking effect, and and they are not necessarily "pure carves" either. There may be room to debate some of the finer technical details, but I think you and I, as well as Harald Harb, Phil and Steve Mahre, and instructors and race coaches worldwide, would agree when we watch Hermann Maier or Michael von Grunigen, that THAT is good skiing! Call it whatever you like!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #30 of 33
Great topic with some outstanding comments. Many years ago now, I had a great skiing mentor in Dave Ingrahm that talked about passing thru neutral and into an upside down traverse. Idea being you got against your new edges at the very top of the turn unlike most of us that are against it at the apex and still against the old edge traversing instead of entering our new turn by way of the upside down traverse.

I think Weems was not a fan of feeling the neutral just as Bob was not a fan of the counting on the edge release and engagement. I have had both success and failure with both ideas depending on the student. BUT as both Weems and Bob attested to this is simply activities or exercises it is not skiing! If applied correctly they have awsome power to change your skiing, (especially neutral). Key for all of it is to not let yourself get into a position. Keep moving forward along an arc in balance so you can move in any direction as needed.
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