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Tall skiers and locked edges

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Firstly, has this been discussed before. If so I'll go and look at the thread.

I would like some help. Many/most of my tall students, the lanky not stocky ones, seem to drop their knees into the turn at every opportunity.

I recently had a student for one hour who had been taught in the alps for one week along with their partner.

Their partner skied technically quite well but they used their unweighted ski on edge like a brake. This obviously resulted in diffuculties turning their wedge and consequential rotation etc. Being tall, they had a visually narrow stance. They were also keener to put their feet parallel in between turns.

After an hour the student was still skiing quite knock-kneed despite us working on the problem from intellectual and kinesthetic standpoints.

It was quite an ingrained problem and thinking about it many of my tall beginners have the same tendencies. The lankier they are the more inclined they are to tip a ski on edge when gliding and it is more difficult to correct.

Any comments or suggestions welcome.
post #2 of 11
Nettie, I find that the lankey skiers, who have this problem, generally underwent a big growth spirt and have not adjusted balance to their new size. They try to make a smaller shorter frame in ensence when they are on a slippery surface, such as snow. I think A-framing in that situation is a normal response to wanting to be shorter again where they were comfortable.
Giving them some understanding of why they may not be doing so well at least tends to relax them and the seem to do better.
Of course, there may be alignment issues, but most with this problem show up in rental equipment or cheap stuff and there is little that can be done on the spot.
I am interested in others responses on this one.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre eh!:
Nettie, I find that the lankey skiers, who have this problem, generally underwent a big growth spirt and have not adjusted balance to their new size.
Good point Pierre. It is surely persistant though. Some of these people are in their early thirties and forties.

I was thinking along the lines of long levers and hence more fine control was needed. As they make an unrefined movement it is magnified more than for a shorter skier. They may then feel the need for more security.

I knew a guy in Whistler who was the same type of build. I may try to get in touch and ask him what, if any, problems he had. He is such an elegant skier now and an instructor. I think his name is Clayton.

Addition

Many of the lanky beginners have peculiar hand positions to keep their balance initially. Hands out to the side, with wrists turned out and palms up.
Reminds me of the geese with the genetic wing defects which look like they have had their wings broken by thugs.

Trying to hold my arms like this puts them in a more locked/rigid position than normal.

I think your suggestion of relaxing may help. I couldn't get a shallow slope for the intermediate; we were wedge christie-ing down the steepish main slope. I would have prefered the beginner's slope but it was being used for tobogganing. It probably would have been less of an issue in a resort.

[ July 22, 2002, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: Nettie ]
post #4 of 11
Quote:
I was thinking along the lines of long levers and hence more fine control was needed. As they make an unrefined movement it is magnified more than for a shorter skier. They may then feel the need for more security.
I think your on the right track. I mostly teach high school kids in our evening program. Adults here are largely couch potatos.

I think this year that I will be teaching days but that probably means I will be teaching evenings also cause my daughter is still 9 months away from driving herself.
post #5 of 11
Quote:
I was thinking along the lines of long levers and hence more fine control was needed. As they make an unrefined movement it is magnified more than for a shorter skier. They may then feel the need for more security.
Nettie, you're probably right about the difficulty of harnessing all that leverage. While there are plenty of great skiers who are quite tall, there are probably not a lot of great skiers who are tall without much muscle mass (ectomorph). I can think of one or two.

Skiing is the natural domain of mesomorphs--people of middling height with a tendency to grow muscle cells.

Of course, skiing is a bit like golf, in that people with "unathletic" body types--the endomorphs to tend to grow more fat cells and the ectomorphs who are lean in the extreme--can be quite good at these sports by substituting finesse for power.

The problem you are describing is that these tall people get locked into a position in which one might presume they feel secure. The dysfunctional word in that sentence is "locked" as in "not free to move." Skiing is a sport of dynamic balance achieved through free and responsive movement of the body segments about the joints.

I would focus on movements closest to the snow--tipping the feet. Standing so that the skeleton supports you, see how very small movements with the feet can create a direction change. Start with small deviations from the fall line and make them longer and rounder. Get the movement to start at the bottom and move up, instead of starting at the top and moving down. Make minimalism the value--how small a movement can you make to get the result you are after?

That's how I would approach it.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
[QB

I would focus on movements closest to the snow--tipping the feet. Standing so that the skeleton supports you, see how very small movements with the feet can create a direction change. Start with small deviations from the fall line and make them longer and rounder. QB]
In general that seems a good idea. Our ski slope is a bit restricting on what excercises can be accomplished by beginners and intermediates with a fear and control mentality.

I better repeat the teaching environment that was available for this intermediate. Steep slope, about 25 feet wide, 200 yds long with ridge at mid point, covered in 6 inches of sugar snow pushed into piles over hardpack.

Telling him to make rounder turns results in him trying to do it by rotation even more. He has little feedback from his feet and legs and is completely unaware even after working on unlocking his inside foot for an hour: whether his edge is on, off or less on than before.

Fall-line skiing is NOT on the agenda. We did do some stuff across the slope though.

As soon as he moved he tucked his inside knee in as a brake. Result: that ski went pretty much straight on.

Crabs are scary for more than a couple of turns due to the slope but we tried them. He felt the edge effect then but could not identify it in normal skiing. Skiing bowlegged and leading with the locked, inside knee still were perceptually the same to him.

Maybe own-time practice will help. He was only having a lesson so he could have free ski access to the slope.

I have discussed with other students (about 40, all high-end intermediates/advanced) the concept of round turns. None of us knew HOW to achieve them from the request 'Make your turns rounder'. We understood the concept but not the blend of skills needed.

It was the same with 'Drag your poles'. I think that most instructors who use this phrase are blissfully unaware that to most students this comes across as 'Dangle your poles by your side and don't worry what they get up to. I want you to cease focusing on them.' In fact it was abit of a suprise to realise I had misunderstood for years and had wasted all the benefits I could have gained from the excercise.

I had many lessons in Canada over a period of five years and didn't realise that I had to do something with them. In Europe I couldn't speaka da lingo so it wasn't a problem.
post #7 of 11
Do it across the slope then. Call it catch and release. (That would work in Montana; maybe not in London.) Catch the edge, release the edge, without locking up the body.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
[ July 23, 2002, 11:44 PM: Message edited by: Nettie ]
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
My original reason for posting was to check if my premise of lanky skiers being more likely to lock edges was true.

I am still a few posts short of an adequate response there.

I'll try the edge/release/edge across the slope, Nolo.

Thinking about things this morning and having read a lot of technical movement stuff I now think that the locked edge probably has a dual function.

1/ A security feature for stability early on especially in lanky skiers. Not to be confused with alignment problems or accidental edging.

2/ A stabilising feature to provide the upper body with a fulcrum to swing outside leg around.

This results in an undesirable positive feedback loop,

where the locked edge
enables rotation (and turning despite edge lock)
which causes unbalancing
which promotes a need for security
which can be provided by a locked edge
enabling rotation....
post #10 of 11
I'm a classice ectomorph (6' 130 in high school) and I tend to ski on my inside edges and drop my knees inward. It's my knees fault. Although my static alignment measures pretty straight, when I bend my knees they travel inward throwing my alignment way off and putting my on the inside edge. Also I walk with my feet pointing out and when they're forced to point straight ahead it points my knees further inward exacerbating the problem. I may take up the mono-ski!!
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by Trey:
I'm a classice ectomorph (6' 130 in high school) and I tend to ski on my inside edges and drop my knees inward. It's my knees fault.[quote]

That's probably what I'm seeing here.

Another tall lad in class today. Twelve years old and 6 foot tall. All arms and legs and knees and elbows. amazing how they can all go in such different directions. He was ill-coordinated but got things much more under control after an hour. We only did one quick bit of turning and he was actully quite good on his only turns (two!)
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