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A-frame, boot alignment issue, or both? (pics to help out)

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
So I've had this problem ever since I started skiing regularly (about 5 years ago, and about 40 days a year)

Background: I'm 18, 175lbs, and I consider myself to be an advanced, aggressive, and strong skier. I race too, but just at a high school level so I'm on race skis, but not stock skis. (translation: I race for a high school, but I'm not good enough to take my racing anywhere, and I typically get crushed at all my races)

Anyway my coach has been telling me for the past few years, more heavily this year, that I ski a-framed. At first she thought it was a canting issue, but then she kind of decided that it was just me skiing a-framed.

Personally, I think it's an alignment issue. I'm a little knock kneed (not too much though) but I think it could have something to do with the way my foot sits in the boot. If I'm going straight, I find it very hard to roll my inside ski on edge. I usually let the outside ski edge first, and then let the inside ski follow later.
In fact, if I'm skiing on a green run I can put my outside ski on edge and have my inside ski lay completely flat on the snow.

My coach told me to pretend that there was a ball between my knees, hoping that I would drop my inside knee more. She say's I have great angulation, but that if I were to get my legs more parallel and drop my inside knee more, I would get even better angulation.

I tried dropping my inside knee while just free skiing and while it admittedly felt like I was more parallel, I felt unbalanced and it just didn't seem like I could ski like that on a consistent basis or on anything other than mellow groomed runs. When I "angualte" it feels like I could almost drop my outside need behind my inside knee.

My girlfriend says I ski like no one else she's ever seen.

The following two pictures were taken using a disposable camera, and unfortunately, the quality of the camera shows in the quality of the pictures. Nevertheless, I still think you can see my leg work fairly well.

Feel free to ask questions.

Thanks for your help!

1st pic: I'm near the apex of my turn. 2nd pic: I'm near the beginning of my turn.



post #2 of 51
Hip dropping back and inside, possibly due to excessive counter, makes it tough to have parallel shins in that position.

Being a bit taller & more square in the hips, working on edging with the ankles & knees as well, and only inclining into the turn as the speed/forces dictate will help.
post #3 of 51
First question. Do you have orthotics in your boots? If not, get some good ones made by a Pedorthist or well established ski professional.
Two.Have you been checked for alignment? If yes, what was it? If no, get the orthotics first then get it done.
Witherall said, in How the Racers Ski,(1971)"When an athlete can't change a problem, no matter how hard they try, it's ususally equipment"
I've seen a lot of skiers look like that(most were women). It's usually wide hips, fallen arches and a lot of negative cant(when shins are straight skis are on their outside edges) It's not very common these days because most top end boots have lots of positive cant and most skiers are too much on their inside edges.(causing them to bank their turns or sit back or both)
post #4 of 51
It's real hard to tell in these pictures I think SJ has said a lot.

There also seems to be a lot of tip lead possibly due to counter as well. If you can get your "knee" behind the other in order to angulate, then you have way too much tip lead going on.

But by your description of what it's like to ski on flats I would have your cant and alignment checked.

You don't mention where you live or ski so I can't recommend anyone specific.
post #5 of 51
Have you ever heard the term "ski a little cowboy". When you begin to initiate a new turn try to be on the little toe of the old inside ski and the new inside ski at the same time for just a second. This should create stronger activity of the inside half at the top of your turn. Give it a try doing railroad track turns on a smooth green run.
post #6 of 51
Hi Dipstick--

It's always a good idea to have your boot setup checked. You may well have an alignment issue, that could be solved by a corrective footbed, a cuff alignment, a different boot (i.e. the new Fischer, which is great for the commonly over-pronated, underedged skier), and/or a canting solution.

An a-frame often does indicate an "underedged" skier, but it can as well result from a movement issue. In your case, we can't rule out the alignment possibility, but I think there are probably some movements you could focus on either way.

If it's an underedged alignment issue, the a-frame results from the need to create excessive knee angles in the outside leg, in order to get the ski to hold. You may well be doing that, but even if you are, you are clearly NOT doing much with your inside leg--which is the other common cause of a-frames.

My suggestion is a) have your boot setup checked, and b) focus on more actively tipping your inside foot and leg, and driving your whole body forward through the turn.

From these pictures, it looks like you tend to settle down, inside, and back as the turn progresses, creating excessive hip counter (hips facing the outside of the turn too much) and hip angulation. Your inside thigh points strongly to the outside of the turn, rather than into the direction you're trying to go, as it would if you were running through a turn. If you would drive that inside thigh into the turn, it would activate the inside leg, and pull your whole body a bit more square to your direction of travel (don't overdo this, or opposite problems can arise). Your thighs and shins would become more parallel, and the a-frame would, at least, diminish. Think of the movements you would make if you were skating, or doing "1000 Steps" through the turn. (These are not simple things to describe--if you aren't absolutely clear on what I'm suggesting, there is no substitute for a competent, high-level certified pro.)

My guess is that your turns begin with a pronounced "up and over" move to get you out of the back seat and into the next turn. Am I right?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #7 of 51
A great drill to help with A-frame involves railroad track turns holding a ski pole just under your kneecap with your hands holding the pole just on the outside of your knee.

Do the rr track turns. If you immediately feel your A-frame developing it will be because your inside knee will no longer be touching your hand. Do these repeatedly to see what it takes to keep your inside leg active enough to keep the legs parallel.

From there do some easy open parallel turns with the ski pole and hands again. Do this until you feel you can keep your knees against the hands and the legs parallel.

Although alignment could be causing it my guess is that you have a lazy inside half.

Other things you can try. Ski on one ski. Yes, take one off. Concentrate on the turns where the remaining ski would be the uphill/inside ski. This will really make it active. You can't fake this.

Bob
post #8 of 51
Dipstik, all of the above comments apply. I'd like to add this idea. WVSkier's exercise makes me feel very unbalanced because of how far I have to bend over to get my hands next to my knees.(Short arms?) Once you've gotten the feel of moving both legs laterally at the same time and the same amount ,with WVSkier's drill, try this.
Take a bungy cord 30" long and loop it around your legs just above the knee's.The cord should be long enough to allow your normal, or a little wider, stance and short enough so you feel the tension on the cord because it is stretched.Fine tune the length by tying overhand knots in the cord. Now go ski easy terrain, maintaining the tension. Like WVSkier's drill, you will get instant feed back when your legs deviate from parallel. Also,focus on starting the turn with your inside foot.I focus on what my foot/ankle is doing inside the boot. Practice for several thousand turns or until the new habit totally replaces the old, whichever comes first.
post #9 of 51
I'm no expert, but those knees don't look anywhere near over those skis, coupled with what dipstik's saying about edges, it seems to be pretty much real bad alignment at the center (no pun intended) of this problem.


Now, since instructors can't do anything about alignment, they use the principal that if all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, it's no wonder you get a variety of drills and this and that rather than attacking the problem at its source and going on from there.


P.S. A photo of you just standing still might actually be more informative.
post #10 of 51
Dipstick - Stance and alignment are everything, once you have that you can work from the ground up on refining your technique, but you first must address your stance first. I would play with putting 8 small strips of duck tape (4 strips = 1 mm) on the inside edges of both skis. You can accomplish this by placing the strips on both the toe and heel pieces (16 strips total .25 x 1.25 inches approx). Go out and ski a run or two and see if that changes how you feel on the ski. Ask yourself if you are standing flatter on the ski? Do you turns take less motion etc? Then have some pictures taken again and see if you notice the difference.

Once you are dialed in on your stance everything else becomes easier in terms of refining technique. Most instructors have no concept of alignment issues and rarely even look at a students boots to see if they are fitted and standing properly. I see some good things in your skiing, but your hip dropping back can because you are trying to compensate for something in your stance, I do NOT see you over 'counterd' as some other poster mentioned.

Here is a good resource about stance alignment and boot fitting www.skibootfitting.com - if you need the name of a master bootfitter in your area, let me know I can put you in touch with a competant professional.

Good Luck!
post #11 of 51
Top picture is not too bad at least from the angle. Looks like a pretty good turn maybe a little of the A-Framing. There is always a little A-Framing - always. In the bottom picture you are definitely ahead of yourself in the turn. Too much lean for the stage of the turn and too much rotation for the stage of the turn. But if you look at the outside leg and ignore the inside, the direction of the ski and the body angulation and lean look OK. The inside ski is actually in a bit of wedge. Rotate that inside knee in. A-Framing is a remnant of old balance issues. You're not committing to a true parallel turn on corresponding edges. Try skiing on one ski for several runs a day - the right ski. It may be that you do this more in turning to the right as the left turn looks better.
post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice so far guys, it is all very helpful. I will go through and respond to each post and all the questions sometime this weekend when I have a little bit more time. I will also try to get a pic uploaded of me standing in my boots.
post #13 of 51
I coach 11-12 yrs old kids, and you see alot of that stuff. Here's what I see:

Your angulation is done with the hips rather than the knees/ankles. As a result, your legs do not work together well, and your ouside ski lags your inside. This problem could be caused by a lagging outside arm.

What you can do to fix this:

Find some nice flattish terrain. Hold your poles horizontally, and keep them constantly facing down the fall line. This will isolate your lower body. Then ski down and do some rollerblade turns, where you just roll onto your edges with little force or effort. Keep an eye on your tips and make sure that they are parallel at all times. you may have to constantly "pull" your outside tip to the same level as your inside. Then also think about going O-frame. To do this, it's alot easier to think about angulating the outside leg less, rather than angulating the inside more. Rather than worrying about alot of angulation, get your knees working together and it'll come on its own.

And whenever you ski, make sure your tips are at the same level, and your hands are stable in front (you're not cranking your outside arm into the turn).

That was long-winded, but it has worked, from my experience.

Good luck!
post #14 of 51
Quote:
Originally posted by dipstik:
Thanks for all the advice so far guys, it is all very helpful. I will go through and respond to each post and all the questions sometime this weekend when I have a little bit more time. I will also try to get a pic uploaded of me standing in my boots.
Dipstick, I will re-iterate that you should focus on your stance and alignment. You have received a lot of technique critque and suggestions, yet a freeze framed picture only tells you part of the story. Without your stance being assessed first, all the drills, instruction and so called : 'expert' technique analysis doesn't mead diddly squat until you can have someone analyze your stance and how your boot is fitted.

Stay positive, it will come together [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #15 of 51
question-what exactly is A-frame?
post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally posted by nancie2k:
question-what exactly is A-frame?
It's when one leg (outside leg) is more rolled over or the knee is posted up against the inside knee making an a slanted A shape.....
post #17 of 51
I'd like to know what kind of boots you are skiing in. Without wanting to trash any particular brand, I had the same problem, but to a lesser degree than you. After doing a lot of research on the subject, I found that besides alignment issues, that there are a lot of boots on the market that can contribute to the problem, particularly if you are somewhat knock kneed to begin with.
post #18 of 51
I believe he's on Dalbellos.

In terms of bootwork, it may help, but it won't fix it. You can spend alot of money on wedges and stuff, but if your technique isn't working, the problem won't fix itself.
post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally posted by D(C):
I believe he's on Dalbellos.

In terms of bootwork, it may help, but it won't fix it. You can spend alot of money on wedges and stuff, but if your technique isn't working, the problem won't fix itself.
How do you know it won't fix it? If you are not stance balanced in a neutral position and flat on your skis you will have anatomical challenges and you will limit your ability to perform ski skills correctly. You can only develop the strongest of technique when your body is in a comfortable position, most importantly in your boots. This is why a master boot fitter is esential to reaching one's ultimate potential.
post #20 of 51
:yawn:

So American. Don't blame the technique, blame the equipment.
post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally posted by Smooth Johnson:
:yawn:

So American. Don't blame the technique, blame the equipment.
So obnoxious Aussie. No one said not to blame technique, I guess discerning my point was a tad too much for you to comprehend. The point was that one needs to be aligned first. You start from the ground (feet) up. Once you are aligned then and you still have difficulty making the proper movements, then you know it's technique. If you are NOT aligned/balanced then you DON'T know if it's an alignment issue, technique or a combination of the two.

If that was too hard for you to understand I will draw you a picture next time.
post #22 of 51
A thought occurred to me.
I've heard this argument so many times.
I wonder what the instructors who think alignment isn't important would say if they tried skiing with their equipment two or three degrees off once?
post #23 of 51
Ya, I'm ready with the same restort. Stick a couple of credit cards worth of cant under your heel sometime and watch your technique go to hell.
post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally posted by SLATZ:
A thought occurred to me.
I've heard this argument so many times.
I wonder what the instructors who think alignment isn't important would say if they tried skiing with their equipment two or three degrees off once?
Precisely. The best instructors are cognizant of how boots and equipement fit their students, unfortunately many instructors don't have a clue, so they try to fix something with a hammer when they need a saw.
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally posted by NoCleverName:
Ya, I'm ready with the same restort. Stick a couple of credit cards worth of cant under your heel sometime and watch your technique go to hell.
Well that is a genius idea : . If you think stance balancing is just putting cants under your heel then I feel bad for your students and even bad for you. It still amazes me how many instructors out there are so out of touch with bootfitting and stance.
post #26 of 51
Whoa junkie, NoCleverName was just agreeing with you, using the credit card example as a way to throw of the balance of someone who might think that it's not a problem. He didn't say that that's all there is to it. You owe NoClever an apology. And you're even from my old home state too!! Now let's hear it.

ps. I don't think it's an equipment problem.
post #27 of 51
Quote:
Originally posted by SirTurnalot:
Whoa junkie, NoCleverName was just agreeing with you, using the credit card example as a way to throw of the balance of someone who might think that it's not a problem. He didn't say that that's all there is to it. You owe NoClever an apology. And you're even from my old home state too!! Now let's hear it.

ps. I don't think it's an equipment problem.
p.s. I agree with you.

I agree that technique can only go so far on wrong equipment, but it will still improve. I would not be so quick to alter the boots...
post #28 of 51
Cool - ant has been egging me on to start trouble in here for years - looks like its worked. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

FWIW I don't ignore aligment, I just hate hearing excuses made for poor skiing. This season I have had quite a few students that I have sent in to have orthotics made/modified, and in the 2 most extreme circumstances, their boots shaved. These people were so off that no matter what they did their alignment completely prevented them from being able to turn. However with the bulk of people that I teach, it really is the least of their worries.

If somebody's alignment is debilitating, like it was in those 2 students I mentioned, I do something about it straight away. If it is the lesser of a few evils I address it in due course.

Of course it is hard to observe a skier from stills instead of video, but I am convinced there are some mechanical deficiencies in dipstik's skiing that can be overcome with correct technique. I can categorically say that if his aligment were fixed, with no other work being done to his skiing, his photos would look very similar indeed.

Quote:
Originally posted by SLATZ:
A thought occurred to me.
I've heard this argument so many times.
I wonder what the instructors who think alignment isn't important would say if they tried skiing with their equipment two or three degrees off once?
I never said it wasn't important, just that its too often used as an excuse or a crutch. It is possible to overcome poor alignment with good technique (As said in the Harb quote i posted earlier) - I learned to ski before we really became aware of alignment issues, and made examiner with 3 & 3.5 deg of knock-kneedneess. It's not ideal, but I worked around it, and right now the deficiencies in my personal skiing won't be improved by fixing it.
post #29 of 51
Cool - ant has been egging me on to start trouble in here for years - looks like its worked.

now you bloody stop that! fake.

I have been zeroing on alignment stuff this season big time. sometimes it's so glaringly obvious. sometimes I mention it to a person, and they don't feel a problem...yet. but sadly, they are going to. I'd found some guys with one leg that is totally flat, they are getting zero edge in a wedge and they just slide sideways in one turn. Or girls with that funny thing where their thighs are dead straight, and then their shins bow out.

I'm going to try and get my orthotics stabilised when I go home. either get something to fill in the arches, so I can actually ski one legged again, or else get some footbeds made that mimic my orthotics. because the balance I now have is phenomenal and unprecedented.
post #30 of 51
I tend to agree with the rude American bashing gentleman from Australia.

I have seen in my students individual alignment problems that make achieving efficient body angles difficult/impossible, but more often technical deficiencies are the result of lack of skill development. If I were to bet AMERICAN dollars I'd go with the percentages: skill deficiency.

A picture won't identify the source of the problem, be it technical or structural. You don't have to be structurally out of whack to ski like you are here dipstick. I can ski just like you are in this picture if I wish, with a flat inside ski, or I can drive the inside knee inside/forward and display similar inside ski/outside ski edge angles. It's a technical choice. Most who ski this way don't have that choice, it's the only way they know how to ski. They have yet to develop technical alternatives. Some won't be able to develop those choices because of non ski friendly genetics, but I feel they are the exception.

Sure, I think it's very smart to get set up in a boot that makes efficient balance and structural alignment possible right from the start of ones skiing career. In fact I strongly recommend everyone do this. Makes no sense not to. Just good luck finding a boot fitter/alignment expert with enough knowledge to do this properly, and don't be surprised if it doesn't turn out to be the golden key to instant greatness.

Slatz, I've done the Warren test. Done 2 degrees worth of tape on the side of the binding. Result: didn't feel much difference, my body instantly adapted. Reversed the skis. Result: didn't feel much difference, my body quickly adapted.

That little self test I did is why my first tendency now is to trust the ability of the student to compensate for small misalignments and develop skills to high levels. Body genius as I've heard Arc address it, I like that description. Some bodies are put together as though on Xmas morning with no instructions, and even genius can't help, but I find them the rare exception.
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