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New topic: shoulder position

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
One thing I’ve noticed in a lot of technique discussion is the position of the upper body, hands, countering etc. Nowhere have I ever heard anyone discuss shoulder position. To me, this has been a huge breakthrough.

We’ve all heard hands out in front. Where is front? The direction you are going? Straight down the hill? I see skiers all the time striving to keep both hands the direction they are going. All this accomplishes is taking away all counter, flattens the skis, and turns are skidded. Think about it, shoving your outside hand forward, brings your outside shoulder forward and removes all counter. Now you cannot effectively extend your outside leg, get your hip into the hill and get good edge angles.

Look at any good gs racing picture. The inside shoulder is always leading the turn, (or at least never behind the outside). More importantly, the outside shoulder moves back. Never does your outside shoulder, arm, hand lead the new turn, yet so many skiers ski this way.

When you allow your outside shoulder to move back, you feel a distinct twist in the waist. This separates the upper and lower body, allowing all sorts of other good things to start happening.

Am I way off base here? Instructors? Why is this not stressed more in lessons?
post #2 of 24
Perhaps someone from downunder can qualify this but, I have heard colleagues from Austrailia refer to the parallel planes associated with the ski tips, feet, knees, hips AND shoulders as "the sames".
As Bob described the effect that slope has on the extra flexion exhibited in the uphill leg ie: "giving ourselves permission" to allow a natural tip lead, so to should the rest of the body right up the kinetic chain mirror that natural lead.
This appropriate counter is sometimes displayed in the pictures you describe of GS racers. The inside half, strong and balancing, slightly countered does typically show in the shoulders as well.
Now the hands....I have always advocated freedom of movement for balance...but disciplined to avoid the pitfalls of excessive or insufficient rotary...
One thing we tend to express when teaching hand position is contrary to what is natural when balancing with the aforementioned appendages...pulling the elbows in and pointiing the thumbs up! Natural balance happens with the elbows forward and away from the torso with the PALMS FACING DOWN!
How many times though have we admonished our clients to not "row the boat"? Of course in short radius turns or in the bumps the twisting of the arms to a thumbs up position is somewhat necessary to affect quality pole use....but what I see from people coached to "discipline" their upper body and hands, particularly is somekinda Frankenstien, tray carrying, bicycle riding position that is contrary to effective balancing movements.
post #3 of 24
My take on this is we are talking about a very high level of awareness and skiing. (good job if you are starting to get this)
The alignment of the shoulders I find are very subtle movements. leading with the hands the shoulders for most skiers will follow. This is usually why most lessons I teach don't ever get to the state of talking about shoulders unless the student brings it up.

Depending on intent, the shoulder position will change. How tight of a turn you are trying to make and where you are headed will dictate how much counter you need.

Counter is not bad. It's just a matter of blending the correct amount for the intent of your skiing.

This also goes back to new modern skis making it easier to tip and turn the ski.

I find that big GS turns require much less counter, Runs down the bumps or tight turns on steep crud require more.

Arby, as far as how you are talking about this, make sure you are describing your turns more precisely.

Inside, outside, edge, etc need to be referenced as to where in the turn you are.

Initiation, shaping, completion, "New inside", "New outside", "old inside" "old outside" etc. for a lot of the instructors it just "makes sense" but for a lot of our other skiers that are reading this, they might get confused without these contexts.

No, I don't think you are way off base, Thanks for the thoughts.
post #4 of 24
Very astute observation Arby, little is mentioned about this topic. And funny you should happen to bring it up now, I just previously posted the following excerpt in another thread that relates to this:
--------------
5) Rotational alignment of hips, torso and shoulders. No matter what the needed edge angle, or counter, they stay in the same rotational plane. No torso torque.
--------------

Your right on with your assessment. Rotational alignment offers the strongest position. Sometimes torqueing the torso through misalignment of the hips and shoulders can be useful, such as executing anticipated turn initiations, but generally a strong aligned position is the most efficient, functional and well balanced. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Here is a pic that shows exactly what I mean. (I hope this works). shoulders

I know this is highly exaggerated counter and high level skiing, but it illustrates in order for the inside shoulder to lead, the outside must go back. I love this pic.
Like I said earlier, focus on what position your shoulders are in and other good things happen.

I hope I'm not posting a copyrighted pic. AC / dchan, delete if necessary.

[ April 07, 2004, 02:48 PM: Message edited by: Arby ]
post #6 of 24
What about that "twist in the waist" that Arby described. Would that still be considered as having the torso in alignment, with the navel pointed inside the turn? I feel that this is a key component of this move.
post #7 of 24
Unlike us mortals, this very strong racer probably has the strength to pull himself back up and in front of his skis. If we could see a side picture of him at this point I think we would see his hip's way behind his feet and his hands driving forward to keep him from getting shot out of that turn. He's way inside of the arc of the turn. Part of this skier's need is to get that arm and shoulder around that gate so he doesn't hook it. I don't think the shoulder position in this picture has much to do with his intent but more a symptom of what he was trying to accomplish.

I don't see that so much as counter but doing what you need to to create those edge angles and still get around that gate in the quickest way possible.

Can we learn from this picture some good skiing mechanics? You bet. But it's hard to apply it to our every day skiing. IMHO
post #8 of 24
Looks like Von Grunigen. Dchan is right. If he was not impacting a paneled gate, he would not have moved his shoulder to such a counter. His athleticism, fitness and strength create the functional tension his inside half needs to "get around" but will explode through to square about a nano second after this picture.
Of course Michael is not the biggest or strongest....Herman would just stick his helmet through the impact gate....depending of course on the line desired.
Kind of a retro shoulder move by Von Grunigen....kind of gives me bamboo flashbacks...OUCH!
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
My intent with the pic is to show in an exaggerated way, the relationship between the upper and lower body in a good carved turn. Of course us mere mortals do not ski this way (I wish I could), but by seeing an exaggeration, I know what hip angulation is, counter, leg extension, proper shoulder position and all that good stuff.

The racer is clearly making a left turn, but his upper body is facing right. His shoulders are well turned (waist twist), and this allows him to get that great leg extension/hip angulation.

I clearly see many skiers, probably 70 to 80%, skiing bass ackward body position to this photo. Can not apply these concepts to our skiing? I respectfully disagree.
post #10 of 24
Guys, Guys, Arby's picture is not an anomaly, an aberration. It's not caused by the need to get past the gate, it's not a position achievable by only racers with superhuman strength.

Look in Ski Racing magazine and you will see countless pictures of racers in almost exact replica body positions, and not all are passing a gate at the time the shutter opened. Yes, you will see an inside arm come accross the body to clear the pole in GS, but it has little affect on the orientation of the shoulders or pelvis, it's isolated to the arm. The gate is not the reason for the counter, it's all about balance.

Whenever such high edge angles, combined with an extended outside leg, are utilized strong counter has to be present so that hip flexion can provide enough lateral CM relocation to keep the athlete from losing balance and falling on his inside hip. Look at some of these strongly countered, high edge shots. There's pronounced forward hip flexion in each one of them. It's primarily about balance folks!!

Secondarily, it also provides some fore/aft leg separation so that the legs don't get pinched. Just try to ski with an extended outside leg and square hips at high edge angles like those in Arby's photo and see how long the outside ski stays in contact with the snow. The outside leg will pivot up over the inside leg and, WHAMO, your gone.

And this is not about strength, it's about mechanics. The positions reduce the strength requirements. I've seen some pretty skinny kids get into these positions.

YES, DO TRY THIS AT HOME.
post #11 of 24
I'll meet you half way.

I didn't say we can't apply some of what we see.
Quote:
"Can we learn from this picture some good skiing mechanics? You bet"
At upper level instruction and skiing also yes

Quote:
The alignment of the shoulders I find are very subtle movements. leading with the hands the shoulders for most skiers will follow. This is usually why most lessons I teach don't ever get to the state of talking about shoulders unless the student brings it up.

Depending on intent, the shoulder position will change. How tight of a turn you are trying to make and where you are headed will dictate how much counter you need.

Counter is not bad. It's just a matter of blending the correct amount for the intent of your skiing.
So we really don't disagree unless you feel this is the only way to teach/ski and should always use shoulder awareness in our lessons.

It's a great focus and will enhance most people's skiing if applied properly but it's just not at the top of my list most of the time.
post #12 of 24
fastman,

You keep talking about racers, even the less strong racers that use these positions to stay in balance are often way beyond the level 5-6 students we would normally be taking out. Most of them have found an edge and have begun to have the mountain push back at their feet. Their dynamic balance skills are well above the average recreational skier.

I did note that if Arby is gaining that kind of awareness in his skiing, That's great. But to tell all our students to focus on their shoulder position to get better balance, movement, efficiency would be beyond most of them. Get their hands in front, arms wide enough to allow for better balance and you've got something most recreational skiers can focus on. Tell them to align their shoulders one way or another and most will give you a blank stare.

I'm not saying it's not important, Just not at the top of my lesson plans for the average medium-upper level student.
post #13 of 24
I want to go back to Fastman's first comment. Rotational alignment is the strongest position. As Robin put it, hands, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles and feet all about the same.

Moving on to Fastman's second comment about balance and hip angulation, I agree and disagree. Hip angulation is a strong, slow move. Sometimes displacing the pelvis laterally is necessary due to the forces built up in the turn. However, rogational alignment would be ideal, if possible.

That said, the position of the shoulders is another powerful move. Where your shoulders go, your upper body rotation goes. Arby, you pointed out that most skiers seem to be rotating in to the turn. You're right; and that's wrong. In my experience, focusing a learning skier on such a powerful move results in an over-or under-rotation, and takes way too much thought to control.

I have recommended to many skiers the rotational alignment Robin discussed. It's a pretty simple concept. If they are aware enough to contort themselves in a GS course, then it really is about balance and power, and they probably don't need my input.
post #14 of 24
Here we disagree Fastman. Take away the gate, keep the radius and line intent....his arm/shoulder would not show so much counter. The gate does effect his position at that point in time. He could balance dynamicly with or without the "extra" counter he is using to clear the gate. Drop his hand to a natural position and you can extrapolate the counter or lack of.
You and I both know the functional tension required in the bicep and forearm to move through that gate without compromising balance due to impact. He definitely has twisted the upper torso to achieve the clear.
post #15 of 24
Hi and welcome to Epicski Rglovin.

See you Saturday?
post #16 of 24
One of my biggest breakthroughs came after switching to a pair of shape skis. I widened my stance and really started laying the edges over. And then I started pointing with my inside shoulder. It all sort of evolved mysteriously, but it's feels right and allows me to ski more athletically. Whatever technique people use for skiing, it should feel natural and fun.

Craig
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
skier219, you are fortunate that leading w/your inside shoulder feels natural. I would say for the vast majority of skiers, leading w/the outside feels right. Often in a lot of athletic activitites, what "feels right" is wrong, wrong, wrong.

dchan, I would hope, when you see a student clearly rotating into the turn, you would point it out to them. How would a student know when they are doing something wrong if it is not brought to their attention by their instructor?

When a student has decent balance, can make relatively good turns, but does not understand upper body, lower body seperation, it is time to start talking shoulders. I really don't think you need to be a high level skier to understand this.

I know I wish I had an instructor that brought this up many years ago. I would of been having a whole lot more fun MUCH sooner.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by dchan:
fastman,

You keep talking about racers, even the less strong racers that use these positions to stay in balance are often way beyond the level 5-6 students we would normally be taking out.
Yes, in this thread my primary focus has been on the concept and photo presented by Arby. And I agree, the edge angles and resultant body positions are unexplored territory for non or new carvers.

That said, the principles of balance and mechanical/structural efficiency associated with carving, regardless of the degree of edge, remain a universal constant. It's all about directing the forces to the right ground contact location, with the most efficient method of angulation. Rotational alignment is applicable to any edge employment when carving.

Steering, pivoting and scarving is a different story.

Should shoulder position be the primary focus for new carvers. As you suggest, not necessarily. There are many skill areas that need honing at that early development stage. But I do believe that rotational positions, rotational variance and adaptation, and rotational alignment should be addressed early on as part as an overall basic carving development program.
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin:
Looks like Von Grunigen. Dchan is right. If he was not impacting a paneled gate, he would not have moved his shoulder to such a counter. His athleticism, fitness and strength create the functional tension his inside half needs to "get around" but will explode through to square about a nano second after this picture.
Of course Michael is not the biggest or strongest....Herman would just stick his helmet through the impact gate....depending of course on the line desired.
Kind of a retro shoulder move by Von Grunigen....kind of gives me bamboo flashbacks...OUCH!
The Fischers are a dead giveaway. At that phase of the turn, he's shifting pressure slightly towards the tail of the outside ski, which is part of the reason why he's in that contorted position. If he was square to the skis at this point, he wouldn't have enough pressure (on the outside ski) & the tails would break loose.

I'll bet he wouldn't be as countered if he had taken the correct line - I think he turned too early in that photo and had to take the gate out.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Arby:
dchan, I would hope, when you see a student clearly rotating into the turn, you would point it out to them. How would a student know when they are doing something wrong if it is not brought to their attention by their instructor?
Yes I would, but I probably would not use the shoulders as my focus early on. Getting the hands out in a "strong triangle" to their body, and focusing on where the hands lead (maintain the triangle) will very much accomplish what you are saying. I find it easier to explain this to most students rather than try to make them aware of their shoulders. The shoulder's would probably come up as part of the equation but like I said, it would not be my focus pointfor most students at this level.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by RGlovin:
Moving on to Fastman's second comment about balance and hip angulation, I agree and disagree. Hip angulation is a strong, slow move. Sometimes displacing the pelvis laterally is necessary due to the forces built up in the turn. However, rogational alignment would be ideal, if possible.
Hi RGlovin,
Welcome to the party. Not sure if I'm reading you right here but it looks as though you are suggesting hip angulation and rotational alignment are non compatible.

The counter associated with effective hip angulation is compatible as long as the inside knee, hip and shoulder are driven forward in unison. Vertical alignment suffers as forward hip flexion intensifies, but it's necessary to insure balance, and the negative effects are not as bad as substituting knee angulation would produce.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin:
Here we disagree Fastman. Take away the gate, keep the radius and line intent....his arm/shoulder would not show so much counter.
I partially agree Robin. Take away the gate and Michael's inside arm wouldn't be crossing the body the way it is in this photo, and his inside shoulder wouldn't be pulled across his body the way it is.

But those movements appear to me to be isolated specifically to the inside arm and shoulder. The outside shoulder is not moving in harmony, so shoulder orientation doesn't seem to be truly changing. Spinal torque doesn't appear present to me. His position looks very strong and rotationally aligned, and his balance very dialed in both laterally and fore/aft.

His position, minus the inside arm and shoulder push, looks very strong, balanced and functional. Why would he change it if there wasn't a gate present?
post #23 of 24
I'll buy that, Fastman, though torque through the upper body is hard to determine. Same old story, a picture is worth a thousand words....and none of them could be true! As Hundenmaster suggests perhaps too much too soon....pictures can deceive, montages can leave gaps and video loses the grade and texture of the snow.....the rest is late season conjecture!
post #24 of 24
Hi Fastman

I think you guys have beaten this horse enough. No, I don't think the two concepts are incompatible, but, biomechanically, the less hip-angulated, the more efficiently the skeleton can handle the pressure.

HundenMaster nailed it. I think the racer took the wrong line, and was linking a recovery. Not an ideal body position, except that he is in a gate, going fast and trying to set up for a turn we cannot see. Robin is right; it's all "late season conjecture," but fun.

dchan -- I'll see you Saturday.
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