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Short turn puzzler

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Here's a good one for Bob Barnes, Todd M, and anyone else who cares to chime in (that means you, too, Pierre Eh! yuk yuk)

Sunday I skied with my coach Jim Weiss and he said it was time to move to a new "fast feet" short turn technique, since I have feet like winter molasses and that is holding me back.

Jim demonstrated an exercise and then asked me to try to follow suit. You're probably familiar with it, and most of you probably can do it in your sleep. Not me. Here it is.

Ski straight along a moderate blue groomer, feet shoulder width apart, and begin to make short arcs (tiny segments of the turn circle) by moving only from the knees and lower leg. The turns should be crisp and with minimal smearing/skidding.

Needless to say, Jim did this effortlessly. Jenny W, who was skiing with us, also did them quite effortlessly.

I proceeded to try to do these turns by applying rotation on her sugar plum... no wait, that's Zappa's move... by applying rotary at the ankle. Nothing I could do would help me sense the necessary knee/lower leg movement.

My learning style is through deconstructive discussion and discussion of feel/pressure/movement. For some strange reason, I wasn't able to follow Jim's cue on this one.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what to think about, what feeling to look for, what movement to sense? I'm talking about details here, not touchy-feely crap like "feel your knees flowing" or any Tim Gallwey psychoskiing.

Expectant thanks to all you technique wizards. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #2 of 16
Is this several short arcs to the right, say, to complete a turn, or is this one quick arc right followed by one left, etc., etc., with increasing speed?
post #3 of 16
What kind of ski were you on?

What kind of ski were they on?
post #4 of 16
My 2 bobs worth.

Yukis question is very relevant. For my answer I will assume you all had carving slalom skis between 160 & 180 in lenght.

First up there is no rotary being applied. The manipulation of the skis from edge to edge invokes turning along the arc of the ski. It is simply a rolling from edge to edge. My "descriptive" movement would be "to move the knees left and right over a quiet upper body". You can add and subtract independant foot pressure for a more dynamic turn or apply relatively even pressure for a more passive but short quick wedlen.

I am interested to know if I have this correct. Fire away.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 27, 2001 07:36 PM: Message edited 1 time, by man from oz ]</font>
post #5 of 16
Hey, Gonz, was this by chance a flat-ski exercise for braquage in which you foot-steer the skis, not using edging or leverage at the initiation?
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
answers --

Kneale -- (1) R-L-R-L; and (2) no, the point was not bracquage, but that is what I kept doing!

Yuki -- ME: X-Scream Series, JIM: K2 Four, JENNY: Bandit XX

Ozmeister -- uh, your description doesn't sound like what they did and what I was TRYING vainly to do.

...the puzzle continues... good questions, guys!
post #7 of 16
Focus on applying pressure to the arch of one foot, then the arch of the other. The rhythm should be like riding a bicycle, but with power only on the down stroke. (I used to use a Stairmaster analogy, but everyone hates them so much...) If you are facing in the direction you are travelling, down the fall line, and your basic stance is good, any necessary rotary movement or balancing/angulation SHOULD happen on their own.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 27, 2001 08:33 PM: Message edited 1 time, by David7 ]</font>
post #8 of 16
Hi Gonz--I'm a little unclear about the exact task too--were you looking for clean carved arcs, or tighter steered arcs?

Here are a couple thoughts. If you are trying to make quick little linked carved arcs, then you should be thinking more of tipping the skis than of "applying rotary." If this is the case, try thinking of the tipping starting even lower than in the knees and lower legs--let the tipping movements originate in your feet and ankles. Be sure to focus on the INSIDE ankle and ski to begin the movement. Roll that inside ski to its outside ("little toe") edge, and the other leg and ski will follow, allowing both skis to carve clean arcs.

Also, I would suggest trying this exercise on an easy green run first, before going to that "moderate blue groomer." You will pick up quite a bit of speed with these clean but incomplete arcs. The moment you start having concerns about your speed, even subconsciously, you will start taking measures to control it. Specifically, you will start twisting the skis to scrub off a little speed, whether you want to or not--which sounds like exactly what happened! At the very least, don't let yourself go straight downhill for long before starting to turn. You don't need any speed for this, and if you're like most skiers, you don't even think of turning until you feel a need to control speed--at which point your movements will become defensive, the antithesis of what you need for this exercise!

If it's more of a steered arc you're looking for, you might try this exercise. Find a nice, smooth, preferably "corduroy" area with little or no pitch, and take off your skis. First, practice the steering movements of your feet and legs while standing in one place. Make sure you are turning your boots ONLY with your feet and legs, that your upper body, from the pelvis up, does not rotate or counter-rotate, and that you are not bracing yourself with your poles. Practice turning both feet left and right, smoothly and slowly, independently of each other but simultaneously. You MUST have enough space between your feet that they can each rotate about a separate axis.

Once you've got this movement (and don't take it for granted--most skiers need a lot of practice with this one), then add a little forward movement to it. I define "forward," in this case, as the direction the boots are pointing at any moment. Shuffle your feet ahead while turning them smoothly, and see if you can draw two distinct "S-shaped" tracks with your boots. Remember--your boots are allowed to move ONLY in the direction they're pointed. DO NOT twist your heels out! Look very closely at your tracks, to make sure there is no displacement whatsoever of the boot heels. Your tracks should be smoothly curved arcs no wider than your boot soles.

Once you've got this, consistently, then put your skis back on and try to find the exact same movements and sensations while you're skiing. Your upper body should be very still. Your feet and legs should be constantly, but smoothly and subtly, steering your skis, moving and rotating in the hip sockets beneath a stable pelvis--the way the front wheels of a car steer beneath the car itself. While the tracks will not be the razor-sharp arcs of a pure-carved turn, your skis should clearly move only in the direction they're pointed.

This exercise is very effective--I've used it often with instructors. But it requires a close eye to make sure you are doing it right. The correct movements are subtle. If you have a habit of rotating or counter-rotating, and especially if you have a habit of braking (even a little), then the movements involved will probably feel uncomfortable for a while. They are very different, fundamentally, from the movements of an intentionally skidded, braking turn. And without that braking sensation, it may well feel like you aren't "turning" at all. Keep at it!

I don't know if this will help, but think about it. Try the exercises, if they seem appropriate. Let us know how it goes!

Happy New Year!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #9 of 16
Think Carefully about what BobB is saying. I think I understand the type of turns you are trying to make. Something else to consider is your equipment. You didn't mention the lengths of the skis that everyone is skiing on but my experience with the K2 four and the bandit xx is that they carve tighter arcs and will will take more less input to create these little arcs. I'm also skiing on the Salomon X Scream Series and I find following the persons I am clinicing with that I often have to really work at getting the skis over to match their turns. (most of them on much shorter more shaped skis) When I was playing with the Volkl Vertigo Motions 170s and tried the same exercise while trying to get a feel for them they really turned some tight arcs..

Just me Rambling..

PS you mentioned not wanting touchy feely things but one you might want to consider is while you are making these "arcs" to think of a windy day and you just dropped a piece of paper. You step on it to keep it from flying away and happened to catch it under the inside edge of your boot under the arch. If you are in boots, you need to keep the edge down or the paper will blow away.

now when you are turning your arcs, keep that feeling under your foot.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 27, 2001 10:23 PM: Message edited 1 time, by dchan ]</font>
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
David, Bob, dchan... GREAT STUFF! Thanks to each of you. Good images from each.

Bob, I'm sorry I wasn't clear about the pure carve vs steering issue. Jim was talking about steering, as he is using this to teach me a short turn effective in steep terrain. I can make small turns, but as Jim says, they're just micro-versions of my GS-based carves.

Bob, I will try your exercises on Saturday. David, I will keep your Stairmaster image in mind -- it's a good one. Dchan, your "hold the paper down on a windy day" image also is good, and not at all "touchy-feely."

Thanks, guys! Happy New Year!
post #11 of 16

I remember you saying that you skied with JW. Maybe I will see you this winter. I want to check out the new terrain and see how Jim is navigating on his new skis.

I find that it helps to lift the toes a bit while tipping the feet.

Pierre has a good tip with his bulldozer move. Reining in the inside tip lead is conducive to greater success at this task.

Finally, have you seen a master boot fitter to make sure alignment is not an issue?

If you are a PSIA member, you might check out Mark Elling's article in the latest issue of TPS regarding the importance of proper boot alignment on shape skis. Or ask Jim to share his copy.
post #12 of 16
Another thought on what was being done. Had a similar activity from a Canadian ski coach, Mike Weiss (related?)

The pressure changes from knees down are similar to jumping on a pogo stick(if you don't know what one is, forget it). Only your ankles and knees bend.

Doing this abrupt change(fast feet) in pressure, with a slight rebound, will eventually make you look like a porpoise..Tips up, skiis level in the air, tips down to snow level...repeat. Neat looking. Great for balance. Great for racer recovery in turns...drive the tips down.

Back to the exercise. If you add only a very slight knee lead for direction change when you are "pogo sticking" in your lower body, wow, quick short sharp fast feet turns.

Hope this helps.
post #13 of 16
You are going to hate this, but try skiing straight downhill while making short turns. Now increase the tempo WITH THE POLES. At some tempo you wil f--- up and recieve jeers from to chairlift. Back off a bit and try again.
Just like piano lessons with a metronome.
post #14 of 16
Old rule of thumb - New task, go to easier terrain.

Go back to flatter green terrain and do this exercise with a simple focus of only rolling your feet inside your boots (leave the knees, and rest of body free to react to the intent of your feet, not leading the causation). Sequence your foot movements by starting with the rolling one foot to the little toe side (big toe up), allowing the other foot to follow onto it's big toe. This, in the absense of excess baggage of other habitual movements, will produce clean RailRoad Tracks (RRT). A Key is to keep the rolling of the foot to it's little toe engaged (torqued), even when range of movement in boot is maxed out, for as long as you what to go that direction. This will recruit the rest of the body (progressivly bigger muscle groups) as needed. Also Key is to (release) trigger each direction change by rolling the opposite foot to little toe side (or big toe up), producing a moment of bow-leggedness as the transition starts until the other foot follows. Keep the movements slow and sequential until you can easily draw lines on flat terrain. As the order of movement of the feet becomes more natural, and their triggering of all other body activity becomes more relaxed and efficient, you will be able to let go of the rotary trigger habit baggage (save it to use by choice when appropriate). Progress by shortening the lead/follow gap so that you become more simutanious (but Fred still leads Ginger) and increment the terrain. Turn shape evolves from varying the timing, intensity, duration and rate of these movments. Start slow with a focus on the precision, accuracy and quality of your movements. Learn to walk before you try to run, or dance.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ December 28, 2001 09:14 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Arcmeister ]</font>
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
arcmeister, milesb, KeeTov -- thanks! everyone has been helpful in the ways I hoped, bringing different insights to help me with this little glitch that is keeping me from becoming a Level 9 skier.

nolobolono -- I talked with JW on Sunday about your referring me to the "Spirit in the Skis" article. He chuckled about it. What a great guy he is! Don't come over to LT for the Chair 4 terrain until mid- or late-January 2002. Bill doesn't want to open that new terrain until things are pretty darned deep & fluffy over there. My buddies on the ski patrol say it's good stuff. However, JW says he's going to open a bookstore at the bottom wheelhouse, because the ride up will require some distraction!
post #16 of 16
I'm with bob on this one for sure. All this talk of the knees... lets get down to the feet and ankles. The more you use them, the more you realize just how much you can do deep inside those hard plastic traps. Whether it's the quick carves, or the quick footed shaped turn, you're feet are the key to both.

cheers, Holiday
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