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Point with the knees?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
During my last lesson, the instructor had me point my new outside knee in the direction I wanted to go. Right turn- point the left knee, left turn- point the left knee. Interesting concept, and it's never been taught to me in that manner before. I'm sure the same effect has been shown to me in another way, but this was a different approach.
That was followed with exercises on left ski forward/left turn, right ski forward/right turn. This allowed a more stable two-footed platform while turning in powder on the steeps. I understand the effect of the movement in relationship to pressure on the boot tongues, but once again it was an approach I'd never heard in that context.
Effective? In my case, yes. However, I was wondering if the same drill would be effective at the beginner level. Is anyone else using this exercise?
post #2 of 15

If this works for you, great. Personally, I don't like the concept of pointing anything in the direction of travel. In fact pointing the inside knee tends to create a V shape in the skis and (in my opinion) makes two-footed skiing more difficult. But that is my opinion only.

For two-footed skiing what helps me is to drive with the inside hip and shoulder, but I definitely do not point the knee, as that would tend to break the equal carving action of the two skis.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
The focus was on pointing the new outside knee. It was more like a slight inward/forward movement of the knee, which set the ski on edge. I noticed a slight wedge when I first did it, but when I combined it with the forward movement of the inside ski the wedge disappeared. It wasn't like I was flexing the joint, rather pointing the whole upper leg and knee in the direction I wanted to go. It was definitely interesting. I see the parallels with an A-frame stance, although the effect wasn't as extreme. I haven't seen the long term effects, though.
You drive with the inside hip and shoulder? That's contrary to anything I've been taught about powder skiing. I've always been taught to drive with the outside shoulder (to some extent), punching through the turn with my outside hand. This keeps me more square to my skis (not always facing down the hill) and allows equal weight on both. I usually do round, medium-radius turns on steep powder sections, so the difference in technique might be explained that way. I'm definitely not the zipperline-type skier, and constantly facing down the fall-line makes it harder to complete the turn.
post #4 of 15
During a recent clinic the instructor phrased it a bit differently.

As soon as you are into one turn you should be "into the future" by rolling across the thigh to where you "will be".

Sounds like the same thing and it keeps you rolling across the fall line with no "coffee break" time (traverse).
post #5 of 15
The way I heard it and yes it worked for me is to lead with the thigh/knee and chase with the other Thigh/knee. This puts both skis on edge at the same time. It also gets the leading leg out of the way so the other one can move to the inside as well. The other thing it forces is the CM to move across the skis. The body mechanics are such that if you move the thigh to the inside of the turn, your hips have to follow. this moves the whole CM down the hill or at least across the skis.

The other way it was explained is if you take your normal walking pattern and just start walking down the hill in a curve. Lets take a left turn for example, you don't step across your path with the right foot and then untangle your feet and step straight forward with your left foot, then across with the right foot.... This would be very awkward. Just like the 1000 steps exercise. You would step forward and to the left with your left foot, then bring your right foot forward and in not across your body. then left foot to the left/forward....

It works in different ways for people but the concept is the same.
post #6 of 15
Mike -
Some years back I got similar advice and it was a major milestone - from that moment on I have always had rock solid initiation and now love ice even. But I was told to lead with the opposite knee to what you were. I had to go back to my diary to make sure because I did recall that we were given two similar choices.

Anyway, basically I was given the option to either roll both knees towards the the new turn or roll the downhill knee. I chose the latter on advice that it was better as the other was considered to be limited to lower speeds and slopes.

I wonder if the differing advice is due to different stages in skiing development. It strikes me that leading with the uphill knee is a bit akin to early learning stages where we concentrate (it seems to me) on putting weight on the uphill ski before releasing the lower.

Anyway, you might also try leading with the lower ski instead, especially on the steeps. And I'm glad to hear that however you do it, it has made a significant difference.

post #7 of 15

Sorry, I misunderstood your post. I now realize that your were told to point with the outside knee. Nevertheless, I don't use the notion of pointing towards the direction of travel either way.

As for the two-footed skiing, I was refering to skiing on groomed slopes where the idea is to carve with both skis. Personally, if I don't drive with the inside hip, I sometimes catch the inside edge. Note that when I say "drive with inside hip" I don't mean to suggest that the inside boot should be way forward of the outside boot. On the contrary, they should have a minimum of stagger. By the way, most racers will tell you that they drive hard with the inside hip/shoulder for two-footed carves.

For powder skiing on the other hand, I am about as neutral as I can get. I keep my legs very close together and do not emphasize driving with either side. Like you, I like to keep square over both skis.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
He was a PSIA Level III instructor, and is a telemark instructor/examiner. Watching other guys tele down steeps (40 degrees plus), it seems to me the technique closely mirrors what they are doing. I don't tele, so this may be a misconception. However, is it possible that this is an adaptation of their technique?
Turn intiation is still shifting weight downhill/across the skis, but the forward/back movement of the skis pressures the tongue of the new outside boot. It definitely allowed me to maintain a more two-footed stance where I was using a more one-footed stance. It gave me something to do with the inside foot besides completely unweighting it. Can't complain there. It was an interesting focal point other than the "oh-my-God-I'm-going-to-die" focus of my previous trips down those particular slopes.
post #9 of 15
A stem maneuver would put the outside ski into an uphill relationship with the CM, but it wouldn't do much for creating a sense of flow of the CM downhill, Pierre eh. I'd rather take the student to a less challenging place to allow true commitment movements. A stronger two-legged extension (pressing both feet into the snow equally) might encourage greater commitment than a stem.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
A lot of the patrollers at Alyeska use two legged extention and upper body rotary movements when in deep snow. Then again, they develop their technique carrying packs and equipment.
I've worked a little with two legged extensions and upweighting/downweighting, but I find them difficult to control when the snow is cut up and heavy. Working small bumps to get the skis clear of the snow helps, but the effect isn't always as controllable as the method I was taught the other day. Quite possibly I'm doing it wrong.
The thing you both seem to agree on is that downhill commitment is the key, and I have to say that is probably at the core of difficulties I have. I'll have to pay closer attention to exactly what part in the turn I am shifting my CM. If I am waiting until the skis are running I am probably too late. I just wish I had've explored this earlier in the season.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
It's amazing watching an instructor carve fluid arcs through difficult snow. The apparent minimal energy expended and balance exibited is truly inspiring. A lot of the reason I take lessons is to give myself a target to shoot for and to provide a physical model. This season's goal was to expand the terrain I can safely ski. While I don't really consider myself proficient in the more advanced terrain, I've found myself enjoying the steep and deep more than ever before. Once the mental hurdles are overcome, then I can focus on refining the skills.
Next year... heli skiing and not making a fool of myself in Austria.
post #12 of 15
I worked on the exact same drill(s) while skiing in Colorado the past few days. (By the way, I have to say, flying in west from Denver yesterday in the clearness of early morning - I hope my aerial photos of Vail turn out - to fly in over the San Bernardino and MY San Gabriels laden with MORE NEW SNOW with more coming was...nice.)
("COME TO L.A. TO SKI IN MAY." Has a nice ring to it. )
I have not read any of the posts to this thread, so I don't know if he's posted a reply, but I took a cue from DCHAN'S LESSON AT THE CANYONS notes, and worked a variation of yours by, if I read and understood it correctly, pointing my "free" ("non-stance"...Harb's terminology) knee in the direction I wanted to turn. This was extremely effective in tipping and inititation. I would still get lazy from time to time and not be active in the movement but when I focused and just DID THE DRILL, my turns became much more polished and forceful; and the movement, along with the pulling back of the "stance" ski, really took some of the rust off. And in the wide open of Arapahoe Sunday, with all that room, it proved ideal to work stuff like that. The snow was sweet and stayed dry throughout the day, so the chances of catching and edge (I also worked on skiing more two-footed, a lesson made difficult, obviously, in damper, heavier snow) were minimized.

I don't know if this will make sense to anyone, as it will seem the obvious thing, but as I make my two-steps-up-one-step-back improvement, PART of the progress seems to be about understanding that the finer movements are about the small parts (the feet) more than the big parts (the legs).

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[This message has been edited by ryan (edited April 10, 2001).]</FONT>
post #13 of 15
I think you just learned one of the best kept secrets. Little movements in the feet are much easier to perform than the big movements of the legs.. You do however have to get to certain proficiency level to start to feel that. It sounds like you had a breakthrough moment.
Glad the tips helped. Now get out there and carve up that new snow in your little hills down there. I'm going to try for one more day in Tahoe this Friday.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply. The whole "point with the knees thing" wasn't really a breakthough for me, but since I had never heard of it I thought I would bring it up here. Interesting, yes, but not something that did anything for me.
In regards to the method you mentioned for beginners (steering with the tips), wouldn't that lead the student to think that turns are primarily a rotary (ankle) function? How do you overcome this perception?
The "push forward the inside ski/pull back the outside ski" is something that seems to make sense to me, and did lead to a more comfortable turn in steep/deep terrain. Wouldn't pulling back the new outside ski result in pressure on the boot tongue/ski shovel, while pushing forward the inside would do the opposite, all while maintaining a more or less equal weight distribution over the skis? This isn't something I use on groomed slopes, but I went to the lesson with the expressed purpose of curing my one-footed stance in deep snow. Before I was using variations of a hop turn to make round, GS radius turns, but the results weren't always consistent and they wore me out quickly. It has since become my primary turn-style in powder, since the end result is far superior to my old methods. It's something I need to refine and explore further, but right now I can't complain about the results.
The reason I asked about these different physical cues is that I notice that each time I take a lesson the instructor has their own set of focal points which they explain everything else from. The is a good chance that I will be instructing for an extremely small school next season, and I'm trying to compensate for my own lack of experience. With only two ski instructors (told you it was small), chances are I'm going to be thrown to the wolves after a minimum of supervised instruction based on economics and availability. While I will only be instructing level 1 or 2 students, any tricks that I can add to my meager collection will increase my chances of sucess.
Thanks again.
post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks again. You have a way of reminding me of what I've internalized and then forgotten after 25+ years. "How do skis turn? I dunno, they've always turned like that". I'm still trying to discover what are "causes" and what are "effects".
During a first lesson, do you describe why a ski turns (shape, bending..) or do you consider that too much information?
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