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Free fall, floating down the hill.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

There has been something that you have alluded to in many of your posts that I have always felt that I have been missing your meaning on and I think that I might have finally figured out just what it is. In one of your recent posts where you were explaining why you have reservations about the use of the wedge in teaching you commented that one of the things that you felt students needed was to be introduced to the ‘free fall” feeling sooner and that the wedge because of its inherent braking characteristics was a road block to the new skier’s experiencing this feeling.
I think that what you are referring to as the free fall sensation is what I call the “float”. This is that feeling of falling or floating down the hill after the release of the turn and before the skis are fully engaged in the new turn. This moment in a turn seems to be the essence of skiing for many of the people who engage in our sport. It is the reason they ski and many have expressed that it is as close as they can come to flying. Because of the way that most people react to it I have always pointed it out to my students when they begin to ski at the level that they can truly experience it. So it has come to be a rather interesting point when I realized that one of the things that I am doing in my highest levels of personal skiing and teaching is working to minimize the duration of the float in my own and others skiing.

Think about this for a moment. What is one of the major goals of modern skiing on shaped skis? Skiing arc to arc. Going from one set of engaged edges to the other set of edges in zero time. Isn’t one of the goals in PMTS to cleanly release the old turn and instantly engage the new one with one simple physical cue (the Phantom Move and in particular the weighted release)? Yet, if you actually accomplish these goals then there is no float in the turn. When I feel that I am skiing at my best I always feel the force under my feet that I am using to direct my body to where I want it to go, and if I am feeling a force under my feet then I can’t experience the floating free fall sensation. What I am teaching to my best students is to release the old turn with a relaxing of the outside leg and a tipping of that foot to the little toe side. When they perform this movement perfectly the CM and the skis will cross paths, pressure will move to the outside ski of the new turn and the edge of the new outside ski will engage and begin carving. All in as close to zero time as is possible and when accomplished the float is gone.

Now, this brings to mind the question, if I accomplish my teaching goal, and along the way minimize or eliminate the float, am I going to lose students or worse yet turn people off to
skiing? My experience makes me think that I am reaching my teaching goal but not turning off people to skiing, in fact it seems to me that when I accomplish my goal the students are even more jazzed about skiing than they were when we started. What I can’t help but wonder is going on here?

Well, of course I have an explanation of what I think is happening. I’m not just taking away something from the student. I must be giving them something to replace the thrill of the float with. The only thing that I can think of is that feeling of force under the feet so that instead of “floating” down the hill they are now “powering” down the hill. I would imagine that it’s like the difference between a hang glider and a powered hang glider, both give the participant very positive enjoyable sensations of different types.

I don’t know if I’m on to something here or just babbling. Anyone out there care to comment,

post #2 of 7
I think flying an F-14 at Mach 2 is probably pretty fun. Turnoing it at 4.5 G is probably more fun though. When I'm really having fun skiing I too feel like I am flying (and sometimeshum the Top Gun theme). I get my float from the terrain and get a thrill from pulling G's too. Of course if you want more float, there is always powder skiing. That'll thrill your students!
post #3 of 7
I would say that getting significant pressure at the top of the turn on anything steeper than an easy blue at lower speeds is beyond the reach of most people. It needs to be set up very early in the previous turn. Not to mention it takes up more trail width than most lower level skiers have available to them. For the rest, there will be some float happening in good turns as the skis are steered into the fall line.
post #4 of 7
I don't think this is a question with only one answer. The idea of early edge engagement is that it creates pressure and speed control in the early part of the turn. Watch racers, particularly slalom skiers, and they definitely "float" before they engage their new edges. They also ski at the limits of control, in a way that would make most of us uncomfortable. Ski instructors tend to over-emphasize carving and control, probably because that's they need to show to most clients. That's also why their perfect turns are slow. (Why are ski instructors like minivans? They all look alike and go slow.) I can carve clean lines as well as anyone, but in my personal skiing I try to let loose and enjoy the feeling of flying down the mountain.
post #5 of 7

I don't see much dilemma here. People get jazzed by the sensations of free-fall (float) and/or g-forces. A turn typically starts out on the free-fall side and ends up with us "pulling" g-forces. (No wonder skiing is such a blast - often in spectular settings no less!). As a skier improves they get to play with this transition while increasing their control of it. The goal is to show someone how they can learn to go from from free-fall to G's with a range of transition speed, from slower to quicker.

I do have a further interest in exploring the tradeoffs that naturally occurs early on between providing comfort and security from natural fears (falling, speed, collisions, etc.), the frequently negative consequences such fears can have on skiing movements, and the desire to get skiers to experience the feel for free-fall and g-forces without evoking such fears. As I've stated before, I think that many of the approaches to providing security early on often have lasting consequences which inhibit a persons ability to progress to the experience of free-fall and g-forces.

A side note: I very much enjoy my discussions with you, Bob, and many others here. But I would like to clarify that I don't think I solely or exclusively advocate for anything PMTS. When you say I use PMTS dogma I disagree from 2 points of view. First, I often use my own terminology and not that of PMTS when describing skiing movements. Second, in my interpretation I don't find the approaches in PMTS to be especially dogmatic, although I do find Harald to be intent on specificity (there's a fine line here, I know, and sometimes specificity becomes dogma). So I guess I would ask that you respond to me as someone describing my own thoughts (and interpretations of the thoughts of others) for myself, not using someone else's dogma. I am much more comfortable discussing my own thoughts and interpretations as opposed to that of a separate entity. Thanks! [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ July 10, 2002, 10:18 PM: Message edited by: Si ]
post #6 of 7

Nah - I actually love the feeling of CONTROL - at whatever speed & whatever type of turn. I like to know I have skied as I have chosen to. Not as dictated to by something(one) else.

I DETEST not 'feeling' skis on snow(instructors are working on a cure for that atm).
When I talk to the girls at work (all tried skiing but not keen on it) what they describe as 'good' skiing is CONTROL - they stopped skiing because they always fell down or got out of control & they were cold & miserable. (I live very close to the snow - so most people are taken skiing by the local schools)

I think that many ski instructors & MOST good skiers try to SHOW beginners what they enjoy about skiing - that may NOT be what the particular person will value.

Over here there is a large imbalance in sexes re skiing. I firmly believe that the ski schools & lift co's would benefit from thinking long & hard about what would attract the missing females to skiing - families will tend NOT to ski if MUM dislikes a snow holiday.... etc..

End of rant - just my pet peeve.....
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses.


Sorry, I should have used the phrase PMTS "principles" instead of "dogma". I know that you are open minded and use the principles derived from PMTS because they have worked for you and you have used them sucessfully to help others.

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