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What a shame.

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
I just read the “turn radius” article by Deb Armstrong in the spring issue of the professional skier. Wow, what a discombobulated conglomeration of unadulterated hooeey!!

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Deb. I watched her win gold in the GS at Sarajevo by having the courage to use an unconventional technical strategy appropriate for the slope and course that distanced her from the rest of the girls in the field. However, from the text she offers in this article I fear her current thinking has been corrupted by common technical themes among her current peer group, which has left her struggling with the same issues as many others in coming to grips with proper usage of the new equipment.

To begin with (for those who have access to the magazine) observe the picture of her skiing. This picture is suppose to represent the efficient and proper creation of high edge angles, yet to me it is a prime display of poor bio mechanics and balance. There is severe angulation in the outside knee, which makes for a very structurally weak (and injury prone) body position. That excess knee angulation is a result of a pelvis too square to her skis (notice the shoulders following the direction of the skis). Her too square pelvis makes efficient balance enhancing angulation impossible, which necessitates the use of excess knee angulation to keep the hips more over the feet.

Also notice how the lack of a forward drive of the inside hip (the cause of a too square pelvis) has resulted in her hips being left behind her feet. As such, her center of fore/aft pressure is on her heels, confirmed by the tip of her inside ski being off the snow and the snow flying off it’s tail. This is in spite of excess forward flexion of the outside ankle, which is transferring too much pressure to the front of the boot cuff, compromising through the foot balance.

This she offers as an image of good skiing. Please, spare me.

Contrast it with the picture of Schlopy on page 9. Here you see an example of balance and edging efficiency. Pelvis and shoulders in rotational alignment and countered to the outside, allowing for effective balance enhancing angulation/flexion at the hip. Inside hip, shoulder and knee are driving forward strongly. Outside knee only slightly flexed and not angulated, in other words a straight and strong outside leg. Outside ankle flexion more modest, resulting in a solid through the foot balance platform. The contrast between the two pictures is dramatic.

She goes on to present text designed to encourage the reader into her misaligned and unbalanced body position. She speaks of pulling the inside foot back to the point of raising the tail of the inside ski off the snow, a tip sure to replicate her overly square pelvic position, and negate effective usage of the inside ski.

She also encourages the reader away from “undesirable outside ski bias”. She rightly encourages a strongly flexed inside knee and ankle; this is necessary to produce high edge angles. But to then encourage a non-outside ski bias in resisting the forces those high edge angles produce is really leading the reader astray. And it’s even contradictory to the idea of the tail of the inside ski lifting off the snow, which requires an outside ski bias, and her own picture in the article which displays outside ski bias.

Finally, she inaccurately states point blank that, "knee flexion increases shin angle in relation to the ski", and offers a picture that clearly shows how wrong the statement is. Very sad.

In all I found it a very inconsistent and technically misguided article. I think it reflects the state of misunderstanding and confusion that currently exists within professional ski circles, and only serves to perpetuate that unfortunate situation. If this is what PSIA is offering to it’s membership as state of the art guidance, the road ahead to true understanding may be long and bumpy.

[ March 27, 2004, 06:06 PM: Message edited by: FastMan ]
post #2 of 65
I have to agree with you, for the most part, FastMan, although I might not be quite so harsh on Deb, given the topic she was discussing (increasing edge angle to tighten carved turn radius), and given what we both know about the movements typical of ski racing in Deb's competitive days.

I do agree that Deb is a bit too square in that picture, which largely explains the knee angles and lack of hip angles she shows. But the knee angles are considerably less severe than they might have been in "her day," when racers like Deb, Phil & Steve Mahre, and so on, would typically drive their outside hands way down and forward ("punch the pygmy") in a very flexed stance, pulling their shoulders and hips around into the turn, causing extreme knee bend and knee angulation of the outside leg.

Here is a picture of Deb competing, showing the upper body movement, although I'll admit that it isn't the best illustration of the whole syndrome. This is Deb's (and skiing's) past, and the photo of her in TPS shows marked improvement, don't you think? She may still be a little too square, but at least she isn't rotated into the turn with her upper body and hips. And her inside leg activity is MUCH better (that is, more contemporary) in the TPS image.

I've worked with Deb Armstrong a bit, and I've given her this exact feedback. Her past of upper body rotation and excessive squareness very much interferes with her ability to perform modern, contemporary movements. To her credit, she has worked hard to make some changes, but I believe she has a ways to go yet. I also believe that she may be confused by the myth that is so prevalent these days that skiers should TRY to remain "square" with their skis. While many top skiers remain excessively countered, with too much inside ski lead, Deb is not the only ski instructor out there who has let the pendulum swing too far the other way.

Consider too, though, that the title of the article is "To vary turn radius, improve your range of lateral motion." As an illustration of increasing edge angle with lateral movements to tighten turn radius (as the caption suggests), it does serve the purpose.

Still, I agree with you that she remains excessively square, with all the usual consequences, and that the rest of the article is confusing and disjointed, at the very least. I too am disappointed, not so much with Deb as with the editorial policies of TPS. Remember that, for better or worse, TPS most definitely does NOT represent PSIA. As the magazine clearly states (page 2), "Opinions presented in The Professional Skier are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Professional Ski Instructors of America...."

I have mixed feelings on that policy. TPS is the official magazine of PSIA, and as such, it does represent PSIA in some ways whether it wants to or not. I appreciate that it is not afraid to publish diverse, controversial, and sometimes even downright wrong, information. It's all food for thought, and anyone who takes what they read in a magazine article (or an Internet forum) as gospel is a fool. But I do recognize that many who read TPS are new, inexperienced instructors who are just looking for some good, useful information and lack the perspective to be critical of what they read. There have been many FAR worse articles than this one, and to the extent that people believe that they represent PSIA, I'm embarrassed!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 65
I would like to follow this topic can you post some pictures from the article to illustrate please.
post #4 of 65
Hi Hunter--I tried to find Deb's article online, but I wasn't successful. I know it's pretty hard to follow the discussion here without actually seeing the photo or reading the article! The PSIA site (www.psia.org) has an archive of many past articles from TPS, and perhaps they'll include this one at some point. But it's not there yet.

All I can suggest is that you try to find a copy of the magazine (The Professional Skier, Spring 2004). See if you can borrow one from an instructor.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #5 of 65
Thanks for looking.

Hunter
post #6 of 65
My copy is no doubt sitting at home in oz! When I get home I'll try scanning it for you hunter.
post #7 of 65
Quote:
Originally posted by ant:
My copy is no doubt sitting at home in oz! When I get home I'll try scanning it for you hunter.
[img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #8 of 65
You'll have to remind me! You know what my memory is like.
post #9 of 65
Hi--Been lurking here for a few weeks and finally decided to register when I saw the post about Deb Armstrong. Don't have the mag in question but can direct you to a short video done at the Taos ski area. Go to the Taos Ski Valley web site, then select #1 ski school, then select ski tips video, then on the rt hand side select Foot and Ankle and Knee and Ski. Sorry for not supplying a url link. Not sure how to do that here, being only mildly computer literate.
I'm not an instuctor, but what I see on that video is not the way I'd want to ski. It's probably efficient but to my eye ugly. Shows no grace, artistry, effortlessness. What do you knowledgeable instructors say about that video? Am I all wet or is that what modern skiing is all about?
post #10 of 65
Just went and checked out that video.
It does look ugly but that's mainly because she's doing a pretty sloppy job at it, letting her sticks run around all over the place.
In my book either you use and plant them, or you keep them off the snow unless to correct a loss of balance which didn't occur here.
Look t the vid a couple of times and you'll see that the last 1 1/2 turn you can see are actually a bit better than the others.

It does look pretty square but I think the way she presents it on the vid is a good way to help traditional skiers step up to the new ski's.
It lets one feel that you can make the ski's turn easier and shorter without using to much upperbody movement, and that's what the square stance is all about, to get acquainted (sp?) with all ski-movement being directed through the lower limbs.

I cannot comment on the article as I haven't even seen, let alone read it, but I do believe the techniques described by Fastman are more oriented towards racers and racing on GS courses and wider. I don't think it'll help you alot on a slalom course but I could be way wrong here.

Anyway, I think for most intermediate skiers it's not all that wrong (not the vid at least) and that a strong forward pelvis drive is reserved for expert skiers on really fast courses. I guess it all kinda depends on the target group.

Please correct me if I'm wrong! I love to learn especially on the subject of skiing...
post #11 of 65
Welcome to EpicSki, Bendskier--thanks for digging up that video clip. Unfortunately, for some reason, it doesn't play on my computer, so I can't comment on it (yet).

For what it's worth, on the "Full Reply Form" that comes up when you hit "Reply" at the bottom of the page (as opposed to using the new "Quick Reply" form), you will see a series of buttons. To link to another web page, click the "URL" button, then cut and paste the address of the page you want to link to into the window. You can give it another name, if you like, by entering your title into the next prompt window that opens up. Like this:

Toe and Ankle and Knee and Ski video

That's the link to the page you described. Hope it works for other people. Anyone have any suggestions as to why the video might not play for me?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #12 of 65
Quote:
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
...Unfortunately, for some reason, it doesn't play on my computer, so I can't comment on it (yet)...Anyone have any suggestions as to why the video might not play for me?
I can't see it either. It says I need QuickTime, but I have the latest version of QT already installed. Personally, I think its part of a Bill Gates conspiracy to put Media Player ahead of all competitors.

Tom / PM
post #13 of 65
Bob Barnes

doesn't work for me either. I just get a window with a little icon top left. One of the other Taos pages said something about needing Quicktime, perhaps that's the problem.

What you are saying abot square-on hips is interesting, do you consider it unnecessary to try and get absolutely square and have no skitip lead as is often suggested?
post #14 of 65
That's strange, because I just clicked on the link that Bob Barnes provided and the video opened. I have no idea why it won't play for anyone else. One of those mysteries of life, I guess
post #15 of 65
You need Quicktime to see the Taos/Deb Armstrong video. Go here to download Quicktime:
Quicktime download
post #16 of 65
I had the identical impression after reading that article. Fastman, I like your analysis.

I looked at her video from Taos (I had no problem viewing it.) I did have problems with her skiing. In that demo she just stands on that inside leg and pushes the outside leg around keeping most of the weight on the inside ski. Look at how the skis come closer together at the crossover point. I can't see how this can be effective.

But, Bob says:
Quote:
TPS most definitely does NOT represent PSIA. As the magazine clearly states (page 2), "Opinions presented in The Professional Skier are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Professional Ski Instructors of America...."
While this may be their statement, Deb Armstrong is a Division Clinic Leader and certainly in that capacity DOES speak for PSIA.

They may want to say that, and my opinion they say it because they don't want someone to try something and blame the magazine and sue them; but, this is the official publication of PSIA and these articles are reviewed by a professional panel of PSIA employees. How this can NOT be the voice of PSIA I can't figure out.

Bob

ps, Fastman, are you going to send in a letter to the editor?
post #17 of 65
She made the RM Demo Team...expect her to rep on a national level soon!
Perhaps an unfortunate article with less than ideal supplements....but, as BB stated, there have been much worse.
For the record, Deb is an aquaintance and a terrific representitive of our profession. Anybody with an international trinket such as hers gets a modicum of slack...but I am with Fastman and Bob on this one.
post #18 of 65
Quote:
do you consider it unnecessary to try and get absolutely square and have no skitip lead as is often suggested?
Yes, absolutely! Allowing some (appropriate amount of) inside tip lead and countering is essential in good skiing. The amount will vary from turn to turn, just as inside-wheel lead varies in a car.

What, you say!! Countering and tip lead in a car--how can that be?? Think about it. When you steer a car to the right, the wheels point to the car's right. The car does not quite point the direction of the wheels, but rather points slightly to the outside of the turn, and the inside front wheel leads the outside front wheel through the turn, slightly. The car is, in other words, "slightly countered." The car follows the wheels through the turn, but it never quite points the direction of its wheels when it is turning. This same phenomenon happens in most good turns on skis.

Several things can cause inside tip lead. One is the rotation of both legs independently in their respective hip sockets, similar to the steering of the car's wheels. Another is the difference in the hip and knee flexion of the inside and outside legs--the so-called "long leg-short leg" phenemonen. When you are in a turn, or even just a traverse across a hill, one leg is more flexed than the other. When you flex at the hip, it moves that leg forward. We have to give ourselves permission for inside ski lead as a result of these two factors.

The third reason for tip lead is actually pushing the inside ski ahead, either intentionally or as a result of excessive hip countering or hip angulation. This is a common cause of excessive tip lead. There was actually an article in one of the big skiing magazines a few years back by a top level US Ski Team coach advocating intentional "foot shuffle." A couple years later, this same coach wrote another article suggesting that many skiers were excessively countered, and that the Team was working on being more square. I think this second article may have started the current over-emphasis on "being square."

The pendulum swings, usually as a result of inadequate understanding. If that coach had truly understood the issue, he probably wouldn't have advocated excessive counter in the first place!

As in most things, I recommend exploring the range, from too much counter to too square/rotated, and letting your body ultimately make the decisions!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #19 of 65
Here's my MA practice on Deb's video:

1. Both hands move out to the sides at turn initiation, rather than being quiet and stable.
2. Rather than having a pole swing in the intended direction of travel, with a pole touch that complements the desired turn outcome, her swing is late and the touch is behind her feet.
3. Her tips diverge at turn initiation becuase the inside ski is turning faster than the outside ski. This indicates too much pressure on the inside ski.
4. Her stance is significantly wider than hip width.
5. She is carving well before the fall line.
6. She shows lots of flexion with not much extension. This could be a problem in uneven terrain.

Overall, it looks like a mixture of old school and new school. Driving the knee forward, pushing the hands in and out, lots of flexion and aggression -- that's how I learned to ski as a high school racer in the 70's & 80's, and she seems to be from about that same era. The wide stance, and weight on the inside ski are new school, but she seems to be going a little overboard with them.

That's my Level 1.5 analysis. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #20 of 65
This is interesting. I've just re-read the first post in this thread...the move that Deb is describing is what I think of as my bad, non-psia, crud-beating, cheating, 'tele' turns. Me and a friend came up with them on a knee-deep crud day at Keystone.

The move is to square up the hip by slicing the outside foot forward, while sliding the inside foot back, so that, as she says, the tail (or your heel) come up (or feel like they do).
The result is no tip-lead whatsoever.

The way we came up with, the skis seem to pivot more than in a standard turn, especially the inside ski.
Basically you can deal with sticky, deep cruddy stuff quite effortlessly. You never lose your outside foot from having it dragged back by the snow.
But it doesn't feel orthodox, it's more of a coping move for yucky conditions to me.

Our evil turn doesn't look like the photos in TPS however (my landlord's copy came today but since it's not mine I only flipped through quickly!).

I'm really surprised if someone In Authority is advocating it! I always feel slightly subversive when I use it.
post #21 of 65
Fastman,

I would like to hear your opinion/analysis of the two skiers pictured on page three in the Fischer ad.
post #22 of 65
Ant,

The tele turn is a valid exercise, but not advised for full time usage.

Technical articles are reviewed by numerous experts before publication. In the issue in which Deb's article was published, the technical reviewers were largely from the Demo Team. I see Shawn Smith and Dave Merriam on the list as well.

Anyone remember the article, The Automatic Turn, that appeared several years ago? That caused the greatest uproar in TPS history, I believe, and was what brought about the technical review board, to prevent the editorial staff from poor decisions.
post #23 of 65
Who doesn't advise it for full time usage? You, or PSIA?
I have used it for some time, as I said above, for coping with deep crud or very sticky snow.
post #24 of 65
Pivot slips are a great exercise, but I would not advise them as a way to ski.

The tele is a great exercise. Charlie MacArthur used them to great effect at a PSIA clinic I attended a couple of years ago. I used them in a class I did in spring conditions a couple of weeks ago and my students thought it helped them manage the crud too.
post #25 of 65
Thread Starter 
Hi Rusty, neither one of those skiers are displaying the degree of efficiency Schlopy is on page 9.

The racer on the left does not have a strong outside leg. There is too much outside ankle flex which is negating good bottom of the foot balance. There is too much knee flexion, which is weakening force resistance potential, and dropping the hips too far aft resulting in back seat balance (notice the lack of fore edge contact with the snow under the outside ski). There is too much knee angulation (notice the much greater edge angle of the outside ski) which further weakens the outside leg. Sometimes these outside knee manipulations are necessary to accomplish objectives, but it is not optimal efficient skiing, and not a picture to emulate.

The free skier with the nice smile on the right shows better form, but has slight flaws also. I like the strong outside leg. Outside knee flexion is minimal. Result: fore/aft balance seems good. Little outside knee angulation, keeps the leg strong. Outside ankle flexion appears more neutral, therefore he's better centering pressure across the base of his foot.

If I offered any critique it would be for him to add a bid more counter. It looks as though he is working hard to keep square hips and equal edge angles, most likely for photo purposes. Drive forward a bit more with the inside hip and it would pronate the outside foot more and really engage that inside edge of the outside ski solidly. It would also allow for more effective balancing through hip flexion. My suspicion is that in this photo he is over pressuring his inside ski, as a result of the square hips moving the lateral balance point to close to the inside foot. Hard to tell for sure though. Not bad skiing.
post #26 of 65
Fastman,

As has been the case in the past I think you seem mighty anxious to be critical of the tousands of members of PSIA and lump those individuals into one pot. Why do I say that? It is statements such as;

"However, from the text she offers in this article I fear her current thinking has been corrupted by common technical themes among her current peer group, which has left her struggling with the same issues as many others in coming to grips with proper usage of the new equipment."

or

"I think it reflects the state of misunderstanding and confusion that currently exists within professional ski circles, and only serves to perpetuate that unfortunate situation. If this is what PSIA is offering to it’s membership as state of the art guidance, the road ahead to true understanding may be long and bumpy."

There is only one Erik Schlopy. You cannot duplicate his skiing nor can the average skier.
I think the primary difference is the dynamics involved in the turn performed by WC skiers.

I also think you missed the gist of Armstrong's article and that involved the relationship between lateral motion, edge angles, and turn shape.

"Misunderstanding and Confusion"

I can point out quite a few ski professionals that I belive have a fairly sound understanding of how to ply their trade and who don't seem particularly confused.
post #27 of 65
WC technique is based on efficiency. Eric Schlopy is not unique. There is very little variation in technique on the WC. All technical innovations, skiing or equipment wise come from racing. We use similar equipment, why would our dynamics be different.? If we dont try to learn from the best, who do we turn to ?
post #28 of 65
Biowolf--

While there is often a remarkable similarity between the techniques of different World Cup racers, there are also subtle, but important differences. Some of these represent the innovations that allow one athlete to rise above, changing the sport along with them. Other differences arise from the fact that we do NOT use similar equipment, if you consider the athletes' bodies to be part of their equipment. Two skiers may accomplish a similar technical outcome while looking quite different doing it, simply because of anatomical differences.

I would question your premise that World Cup technique is based on "efficiency." It is based on winning races--effectiveness, not necessarily efficiency. When races last just a couple minutes, efficiency is not necessarily part of the formula, any more than getting 30 mpg is the basis for Formula 1 race car design. Efficiency comes into play in important ways, no doubt, such as movements that allow the body to withstand maximum forces and stress without injury. Few movements are wasted, and much of World Cup technique is, indeed, "efficient." But there are many things racers do simply because they are FAST, things we may well NOT want to emulate as recreational skiers trying to enjoy skiing for hours on end with minimal stress on our bodies.

So I agree--we should learn from the best. But we should not necessarily emulate everything they do, and we should keep in mind that racing is not necessarily the same as skiing for fun.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #29 of 65
Thread Starter 
RUSTY, YOU SAID:
Fastman,
As has been the case in the past I think you seem mighty anxious to be critical of the tousands of members of PSIA and lump those individuals into one pot.

MY REPLY:
Rusty, please don't take the critique in my opening post as a condemnation of the whole PSIA membership, it's not intended that way.

My mentioning of technical misconceptions within the ranks of PSIA was meant to point out themes that are being carried to extremes by SOME, not all. If you reread my words closely I think you will see that sentiment. Bob's interpretation of what I was saying is right on the mark.

I have no burr in my saddle over PSIA. The only reason I brought this subject to this forum is because I read the article, found it very misguided, knew most the instructors on this forum would be reading it, and thought spending a moment of my time to offer some balance might help keep some from being whisked away down the same technical dead end road Deb appears to be presently traveling.

To reassure you of my lack of PSIA animosity I will tell you that there is misconception and misunderstanding within the coaching ranks as well, PSIA doesn't have this market cornered. I focused on PSIA because it's a PSIA publication.

RUSTY, YOU SAID:
There is only one Erik Schlopy. You cannot duplicate his skiing nor can the average skier.

MY REPLY:
Rusty, your talking about something I know here. Schlopy came out of my race program, we implanted the technical foundation that he rode to greatness. One seldom can duplicate the perfection of his execution, but one certainly can aspire to understand and assimilate the biomechanic principles he employs. Those principles apply to every skier. Everyone can use the same principles to achieve greater balance, structural efficiency, and edge control.

RUSTY, YOU SAID:
I can point out quite a few ski professionals that I believe have a fairly sound understanding of how to ply their trade and who don't seem particularly confused.

MY REPLY:
I agree, but beware, a confident presentation can sometimes camouflage porous content.
post #30 of 65
Bob,

You said "When you are in a turn, or even just a traverse across a hill, one leg is more flexed than the other. When you flex at the hip, it moves that leg forward. We have to give ourselves permission for inside ski lead as a result of these two factors."

Can you elaborate on this more with respect to what you mean by "giving permission". I have one leg shorter than the other. Because of that, I stand with the short leg straight and over the years that has caused my left hip to be back (not just when I am skiing). Consequently, my right turns tend to be over countered with excessive inside foot lead.

Any thoughts on how to rectify this?

Thanks.
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