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Do you unweight on the steeps?

post #1 of 87
Thread Starter 
Even a little bit counts.
Be honest, this is anonymous.
post #2 of 87
Miles--is the question "Do you?" or "Do you NEED to?"

(And we'd better watch out here, lest we end up in another endless debate over the meaning of "unweight". . . .)

Good question though!

post #3 of 87
Ditto Bob,

Regardless of terrain, I only unweight when I need to.

A good discussion topic might be when does anyone really need to?
post #4 of 87
Our blacks are not very wide and by eleven are ice with sugar piles. I often use the top of the pile to give a bit of unweighting. Other times I just "revert" to old school because a nice round turn is quite academic when the alternative will get you out of trouble. Rocks and trees hurt!
post #5 of 87
I unweight in the steeps when I lose control of my skis and my body slides down the hill like a drunk fish out of water.
post #6 of 87
Depends on the circumstances, and for me, it’s mostly because I have too. : ----Wigs
post #7 of 87
Most likely there should be some distinction here between the pressure on the ski and what might be called an exagerated upward movement to take pressure off the skis. In order to bend the ski so it will turn one needs to use weight and centripital forces. More or less of ones own weight on the outside ski causes more pressure to be exerted for that ski so it bends more and the radius of the turn decreases. In order to get out of that radius the pressure will have to be reduced on that ski either by putting more "weight" on the other ski or by pushing off the highly pressured ski to change the pressure to the other ski. The more "push" the more we say we are "unweighting". So from my knothole we are always unweighting, it is just the degree. Get into a lot of sierra cement or mashed potatoes and you will find that there will be some "unweighting" required if you choose to change the direction of your skis.
post #8 of 87
I look at unweighting going to a point of "zero pressure" on the skis, or temporarilly dis-engaging the skis working relationship with the snow.

This is pressure control at one extreem end of the spectrum.
Still occasionally useful, but mostly overused (abused) as a leftover of movements built to accomidate skis that required dis-engagement so they could be re-directed into the falline to start a turn.

I use it only when I need to, not when I have other easier options.
post #9 of 87
I differentiate between movements that merely release the g-forces of the turn--i.e. releasing the edges by flattening the skis, and steering the skis straight, akin to letting go of the steering wheel of a car and allowing it go straight--and vertical movements expressly intended to remove all pressure from the skis, possibly even lifting them off the snow. Only the latter fit the classic definition of true "unweighting."

ALL turns involve some sort of edge release from the previous turn or traverse. There is no centrifugal force during that moment of the transition from one turn to the next. But the full weight of the skier may still remain on the skis. Again, think of the car in a series of S curves. Centrifugal force throws the passengers from side to side, but the wheels never leave the ground in the transition.

True unweighting, as I define it, involves eliminating both the centrifugal force AND the pressure from the skier's weight--literally "unweighting" the skis. The simplest form involves jumping up in the air, but other forms include a quick retraction of the legs, going off a bump or jump, or rebounding with the help of the skis as they spring back like an archer's bow from the reverse-camber of a carved turn.

We do NOT need to unweight the skis--by my definition above--to go from one offensive gliding turn to another, any more than a car needs to get airborne between turns. (Indeed, like a car going over a frost heave just before a sharp curve, unweighting is a PROBLEM when trying to link precise direction changes!)

True unweighting is good for two things. 1) It can be fun! 2) It facilitates displacing the skis sideways, making it easier to get them into a defensive skid. On the steeps that Miles refers to, it helps us whenever we need to BRAKE. But it is counter-indicated, detrimental, and inefficient whenever we do NOT want to push the skis into a skid!

Modern slalom racers often take great pains to AVOID unweighting their skis between turns, absorbing the extreme rebound energy of their highly-bowed little skis with strong, perfectly timed retraction of their legs as they roll the skis off their edges and onto the new edges. This allows them to get the pressure needed to bend their skis and carve as early as possible in the new turn. But when they need to redirect their skis in the transition, they harness some of that rebound energy to unweight just enough to allow them to displace their skis as necessary.

To make a long story short, as others have stated above, expert skiers unweight whenever they WANT to (for fun), but otherwise only when, and only as much as, they NEED to accomplish the objective of any given turn.

But MOST skiers unweight a LOT in the steeps, in order to get their skis quickly from one aggressive braking skid to the next. Think of the hop turns that many so-called "extreme skiers" use to hack down the steeps. The very best glide....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

(PS--I am NOT trying to open a debate about the "correct" definition of unweighting. No one needs to agree with my definition here, but you do need to recognize that it is what I mean when I use the term in this discussion.)

[ March 16, 2003, 10:16 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #10 of 87
The answer is too simple and nothing new. In the steeps, if one wishes to maintain control without too much speed, one does not want a long turn for obvious reasons that ones speed would otherwise increase too rapidly. By removing the beginning of a normal turn into the fall line by unweighting/jumping into the end of the turn with skis across the fall line such is accomplished. Now what is the benefit of adding extra vertical effort into the turn to unweight? Well by getting more dynamic up and down motion one may get a better bite into a slope which increases edge hold. That does not imply actually lifting skis and removing all edge contact as with ugly hop turns but rather is a matter of relative edge pressure decided on a turn by turn need. The more difficult and uneven the terrain, the more one might have to lift up the edge so as not to get it hung up. With steep smooth groomed or corn snow etc one can make smoother short swings. In many less pleasant conditions one finds off the groomed in steeps, one may need to adjust added emphasis in each turn for what is in front of you just like a bump skier in moguls. Does this mean it doesn't fit the carve/skid simple box some here seem to want to fit all turns into? [img]smile.gif[/img] -dave
post #11 of 87
In really steep terrain 50-55 degrees I have seen even world class free-skiers unweight or even jump turn the first turn or two to get their rhythm going (especially into a narrow corridor like a couloir). Given the high risk of falling in this type of terrain I think this is done to get the "flow" going to guarantee success. Funny, they don't seem to give it a second thought.
post #12 of 87
I'd consider that a "need to" situation. Another tactical reason to do that is to start with a bombproof turn that will work in any snow conditions, it is easy to dial back if unweighting is overkill, but pretty hard to adjust if a weak first turn leaves you stalled (or worse sends you tumbling). [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

[ March 16, 2003, 05:48 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #13 of 87
With my old straight skis, several years ago, I use to; I would think we all did. However, now with shaped skis, it's just roll the ankles and keep motoring....I meen skiing.
post #14 of 87
Do any of you guys ever watch World Cup GS or Slalom races?

There's a TON of unweighting going on there. Still. In 2003. Even with the newest skis.

Do any of you ever ski things that are 40-degrees plus, about two ski-lengths wide, with rock walls, trees, moguls, or other unpleasantness below or to the sides?

There's a ton of unweighting going on there as well.

I'm sorry, but anyone who tells me they don't unweight is going to have to show me how to survive some of these situations without unweighting.

post #15 of 87
Ski Technique Intellectual analysis reply .....

On the STEEP do we ever really unweight? I mean if ya think about this, even if your skis leave the snow isn't GRAVITY still pushing us ever downwards. I am 74 kgs no matter what I do, unless I barf breakfast on a cliff band that is.....

I strive not to unweight BUT I do retract my feet a lot !!!!

.... 97% of instructors cannot ski STEEP terrain well anyway .... but they do have excellent TEACHING skills :

Real Life Reply ....

Bob.P I am with you. Enjoy those Utah STEEPS.

However, now with shaped skis, it's just roll the ankles and keep motoring
What, are they making "shaped" cross country skis these days???? I mean Ontario has STEEP??

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ March 16, 2003, 10:55 PM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #16 of 87
Are my skis unweighted while I'm sliding down a steep, narrow chute on my back?
post #17 of 87

Totally agreed - except for the "unpleasantness" which is such a big part of the thrill and attraction (and some pretty tough falls in my brief ski history).
post #18 of 87
Theoretically speaking one should be able to redirect the center of mass into the turn on any steep and bring the skis around as if they were on a blue groomer. The only exception would be some extremely unpleasant snow conditions.

Knowing what should be done and knowing how does not automatically grant one the balls to do so.
post #19 of 87
When someone asks, "Do you beat your wife?" we can expect some debate over what constitutes a beating and who qualifies as a wife, but surely what the question seeks to establish is some ongoing pattern of use or abuse. I believe we have a similar situation here. The question is not "have you ever unweighted in the steeps?" which asks for familiarity with the concept. I am sure everyone on this thread can unequivocally say YES to that uqestion. But when the question is phrased, "Do you?" is asks if unweighting in steeps is a recurrent thing that is pretty much elected. To answer in the negative is not to say NEVER, but NOT USUALLY. At least that's how I understand the question.

I find a hop initiation disruptive and feel most stable using a softer retraction movement to initiate.

I ski steep terrain all the time, and can assure you that balls are not strictly necessary to do this. To cover the rare event, the adjectival form of "balls" was created for use in sentences like, "Lookee at the line that ballsy chick set down!"
post #20 of 87
Steep terrain requires extra input for me to stay in my comfort zone regarding speed. Let it be known, I am a known abuser of this restriction!

Clearing the ski from the snow surface allows my turn initiation time to be cut to the minimum.

At present, I am working hard on retraction as the most efficient way of achieving the results I am looking for. Plus, I like the looks of this technique in almost any situation. Steeps, bumps or narrow corridors.

As in mogul skiing, I try to maintain the ski tips in contact with the snow to develop and maintain a carving ski.

Tails follow the tips!

post #21 of 87
This photo should answer a few questions and confuse a few people as well. Weighting and Unweighting is a result of the movement of the Centre of Mass(C.O.M.) and it's relationship with the Base of Support(B.O.S.) The C.O.M. can be described as the three dimensional balance point of an object. It is not a fixed point, it will move as an object changes shape. While skiing, forces such as gravity and centrifugal force act on the C.O.M. and are felt through the B.O.S. The B.O.S. can be desribed as the feet. The B.O.S. deflects and captures the C.O.M. at different phases of the turn. To change parallel edges at any speed on any terrain or in any turnshape, the B.O.S. must cross under the C.O.M. This crossover results in a rising of the C.O.M. and therefore unweighting occurs. In this image to spot the C.O.M look at the area around the hips and waist. You will see a definite rising tragectory of the C.O.M.

So to answer the poll question, yes, most definitely. Especially if you are making a parallel turn.
post #22 of 87
I guess the answer is when you need to or you want to. Why do more work than necessary and get to the bottom of the steep totally exhausted? I recall skiing the snowfields at Sugarloaf (not exactly real steep but...) a few years ago and being behind a kid who jumped up on every turn in the mogul field. My god the energy needed for that would have had me in the lodge after 1 run. Of course being 11 or 12 that wasn't such a problem for him, but he was real tired.

I agree with starting the first turn with a bit of a jump. It gets you set and ready to go down. A lot of times though, if I had more hutspa (sp?) I wouldn't need the jump to start the turn like Pierre is talking about.

There's nothing like skiing short radius turns on the steeps (not super steep-don't have the hutspa for that) with good consistent snow on them and making rebound turns where you're in the air at the end of each turn. With the newer slalom skis you can make a nice round carved turn and then get air at the end pull the feet back a bit and go right into the next turn. Fun, Fun, Fun! I was lucky to have the conditions this weekend-nice soft spring snow slightly slushy but firm on a relatively steep trail. Put together a string of maybe thiry turns that were so much fun! (It was also lucky that this great run was in my L2 exam)

edit: just saw the professor's photo. Yeah! that's it. Do something like that on a steepish trail and it's just a blast! Especially in soft snow when the tips dive into the turn and there's a bit of spray and the sun's out and it's warm... (They didn't exactly look like those ones but they sure felt like it)

[ March 17, 2003, 09:18 AM: Message edited by: Tog ]
post #23 of 87
Tog: It's spelled "chutzpah" (I think).

Ski Professor: Great image. Thanks for posting that. I don't know that it supports my position but I love the shot.

Si: You're sick. Seek help. The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. :

post #24 of 87
Good illustration, SkiProf, showing a clear example of unweighting in the transition of slalom turns. The skier (the great slalom ace Benjamin Raich) uses this unweighting to help redirect the skis prior to engaging the edges for the next turn. As I've said, this is still an important movement option. It would be counter-productive, though, if he did NOT need to displace the skis from their tracks between turns.

This crossover results in a rising of the C.O.M. and therefore unweighting occurs.
We must be careful with statements like this one. Yes, this is what happens in this photosequence--the CM rises as the skier releases and changes edges. But it does not HAVE to rise. "Rising" (extending) does not cause edge release--flattening the skis on the snow does. That flattening can occur with retraction (flexing) of the legs as well, eliminating the rise and the consequent unweighting. Retraction is more work--that moment of flattening the skis is a good opportunity to stand up and relax briefly between turns--but it is an essential option for those times when we need to release the edges WITHOUT extending and/or unweighting. Moguls are probably the best example, but linked, carved ("arc-to-arc") slalom turns are another.

Here's one example, by Ron LeMaster, of Sarah Schleper linking carved GS turns, minimizing the unweighting with an active leg retraction during the transition (frames 4 and 5):

And here's one from my own collection, of Laure Pequegnot's winning run at last year's Copper Mountain World Cup slalom, showing minimized unweighting and ski displacement, again through retraction at the transition (especially the second and third transitions):

And another!

It is traditional and still common to equate "rising" with "releasing." But to take full advantage of the capabilities of modern skis, we must recognize that these are two separate movements that are not causally related. Yes, they often go hand-in-hand, because they can. But it is quite possible to rise without releasing, and to release without rising. It is often important, as in SkiProf's illustration, to rise during the transition. But it is absolutely NOT essential.

The true expert is a virtuoso, capable of applying whatever is the right movement for any given situation or intent.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ March 18, 2003, 08:27 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #25 of 87
I agree with Bob on this one,
The Ski Prof's racer raises his cm, not to "cause" unweighting, but so as to effectivly get it from shot-1 to shot-4. The shot-1 low relationship of cm to snow would be hard to maintain thru to shot-4 without sitting on ski tails if cm/hips did not rise to allow room for the legs to pass under. He even flexes his hips and knees in shot-2 shot to minimise the rebound unweighting effect on his cm as he attempts to move hips as lateral as possible with minimum rising. Between shots 2 & 3 he completely transfers weight and balance to new outside ski and Shot-3 shows him re-centering while lengthening/strengthening his outside leg, reaching for the ground, to keep pressure on new outside ski, as skis and cm take diverging paths. The last thing this racer wants to do is dis-engage his ski-snow contact between these two turns. He might in turns requiring a big redirection between release and engagement, but that is not the case here where his right ski changes edge (2-3) while staying on it's line.

Pressure control skills go beyond simple weight-on, weight-off. They give rhythm and flow to the the mechanicis of edging and rotary. At the highest levels they reflect the true virtuosity of the skier. :
post #26 of 87
Originally posted by Bob.Peters:
Tog: It's spelled "chutzpah" (I think).

Ski Professor: Great image. Thanks for posting that. I don't know that it supports my position but I love the shot.

Si: You're sick. Seek help. The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem. :

Yes Bob, I will readily admit I°m sick. I will also admit that I am sicker in mind than in action. Oh well, it°s good practice. If the current or future hip ever gives out on me I should have little trouble fantasizing!
post #27 of 87
Great pictures.

I guess what they prove is that there is weighting and unweighting and rising going on to some degree no matter the steepness of the slope or the shape of the turn. I learned the old school technique and still like to employ it to some degree with modern equipment. I guess it comes down to style. I do, however, find that it is more pronounced, along with the pole plant, while making shorter radius turns. When making medium turns, there seems to be less of this rise, unweighting, and solid pole plant and even less rise and slight or no pole plant with longer turns.

Recently, I've been experimenting with my short radius turns on steep groomers by moving the hips forward while transitioning the turns. I feel like 60 percent of my weight starts in the ball of my downhill foot, moves to center, and finishes near the heal as the skis come under and forward of my body. The skis, though it may not be a true carve, feal like they are "scarving" throughout the turns. It almost feels like it's a carve but not quite. These are not shorty slalom skis I'm doing this on but 181 mid-fats.

I don't know if I articulated that well enough, I'm not a pro. I don't even know if it's "correct". I really don't care. What I do know is that it's a new sensation I've felt while making short/shmedium turns while using modern skis.
post #28 of 87
Here's a montage I put together of David Oliver, a trainer for the Breckenridge Ski School, in Telluride just a few weeks ago. Prospect Bowl had been closed the day before for avalanche control, and the snow was deep and soft, but inconsistent and somewhat heavy. David shows a little up-unweighting, just enough to get his skis out of the heavy snow and help him redirect his skis down the hill.


Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ March 21, 2003, 09:34 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #29 of 87
I love these great images. Someday I want to become literate with all the digital tools needed to create them.

I can see the tie in of the race images and the forced discussion Bob Barnes knew would happen and eluded to in his first post. Although I wouldn't call those images steep skiing and I doubt many here would. If it's groomed, I'd say it's not steep. I dare say that the new images in prospect bowl don't seem like steep skiing either, but I haven't been there so it may be.

I just saw the pole and figured it would be an interesting one, so here's my reply. I'm with bob and arc on the technical aspects, and like nolos version of "softer".

Ever see the Fellowhip of the Ring. If you have, you may be able to visualize the elven queen descending from her treehouse to meet with froto. She moves down the stairs almost as if flowing like water. As the foot touches the next stair, the weight doesn't settle on it, but flows through toward the next.

This is my image of steep skiing when I'm on and when those skiers I look up to are skiing steeps. there is no active unweighting, just the absorbtion of the g's, the consequent release of them and establishment of a new momentary platform (the next step) This can be offensive as bob barnes likes best, or even somewhat defensive, as in the case of my favorite turn due jour, the billy goat turn. (a slow speed, short swing turn in steep chutes and cliff bands, with a "relaxion" instead of an extension or active retraction.

So my vote is no.
Yep, sometimes we need to actively unweight the skis, but it sure feels better and is more fun when we're tuned into the "point of contact" enough to just flow through the transition.


[ March 22, 2003, 02:50 PM: Message edited by: Holiday ]
post #30 of 87
"The elven queen descending from her treehouse...almost as if flowing like water."

That is a fantastic image for steep skiing. The billy goat turn is a great name for it. I tell those who can do this "over the top" retraction that they can ski like a fly on the wall.

Thank you once again for authentic goods, Holiday.
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