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# Technical question

Hi All,
Bob Barnes, Phil, VK, Oboe, Pierre, I have a question for you guys. After going to shaped skis, instructors said that it wasn't necessary to lock my knees and ankles together (as was the older Austrian style). It was now preferable to ski with feet a little less than shoulder width apart.
For the past two years, I've been skiing with about 12" between my boots. Having recently learned to make two-footed turns, I find my feet are naturally coming closer together. I'm not trying to bring them closer, just to pressure them more evenly and maintain good balance and posture. Is this what should happen? I'd appreciate your input.

Thanks all,
GF<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by GF (edited December 30, 2000).]</FONT>
GF,
You'll see lots of heat about this issue of feet apart or not.

I have absolutely no technical knowledge, BUT this is what works for me:

If a skier has poorly fit and aligned boots (use'ta be me) they can only ski with feet apart and equal weight on each foot.

When I got my new boots, custom footbeds, and the bootfitter's other magic, I can ski any way I want. With the feet close together, I can change my weight from one foot to the other without making big changes in balance. Stand with your feet 12" apart. Now lift one -- you have to adjust all the rest of your body to keep your balance.

I like skiing on one ski. All my weight is on the outside ski de-cambering it to a greater extent and turning more easily. When on steep slopes or high speed turns, the light foot is pulled pretty far up to clear the snow, but still not too far out laterally. In powder, of course, the feet are still glued together with equal weight.

Some say that there is a formula for how much weight to put on each foot -- 60-40, 1/3-2/3 -- but how do you measure this? Most skiers will try the proportions and end up back at 50-50, which removes weight from the outside ski, decreases the de-camber, and doesn't turn as easily as it could.

"Inside ski off the snow" works for me. Others will give all kinds of reasons to do something else, and most of these techniques work for some folks. They'll show photos of racers in all positions to prove their points and claim that this applies to almost all situations. Try different techniques for yourself and let us know what works for you.
Ken,

I used to lessen the pressure on the inside ski a little, and sometimes it would break contact with the snow. In my last lesson, my instructor told me that I need to maintain snow contact with both skis in order to turn more effectively. It was one of the weaknesses that we worked on. While I agree, more weight on one ski makes it camber more, the skier is clearly off balance. If the skier had to switch edges in an instant, they would fall over.

Two footed turns with balanced weight is necessary for proper quick short radius turns (a skill necessary to learn proper bump technique). The instructor teaching me was level 3 with 30 years experience. Here are some of the reasons he gave me. If you are always switching weight from one ski to the other, then you are limited in how quickly you can change turning directions. However, if its just a matter of moving your legs beneath you, or the upper body across the fall line, you can do it much more efficiently if you have your weight equally distributed on both skis.

I have noticed in some racing disceplines that skiers clearly use the outside leg more than the inside (some GS turns, Super G and Downhill). In slalom, both legs are used equally. The needs of the skiers are different, and so they use different technique.

Over the last three years I've learned to weight the outside leg more. Now it's time to master a different technique. In the long run, having a bigger bag of tricks will allow me to ski more vaired terrain with better results. Thinking of it that way, it's not a matter of which is right or wrong.

GF <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by GF (edited December 30, 2000).]</FONT>
GF,

I tell my students not to worry about how far apart their feet are. Holding your feet and knees locked together is a contrived stance but then so is holding your feet twelve inches apart and any contrived stance will have drawbacks. I tell my students to just let their bodies find a natural comfortable stance in relation to distance between feet.
Most end up skiing with their feet about as far apart as the are when they walk and making minor adjustments as needed due to conditions, a little closer in powder or bumps as little wider on steeps and at speed.
What is most important is it gives them one less thing to think or worry about.

As to pressure distribution its about the same. Let the turn distribute the pressure for you. You'll end up riding mostly on the outside ski which is natural but you may have some pressure left on the inside ski. Again, its one less thing to worry about

Yd
I'm not sure if someone has already answered this, but yes, it is normal for your feet to get somewhat closer together - in fact, I think PSIA calls it a hallmark of dynamic skiing, because it's often easier to ski certain turns and types of terrain like that.

They're just not advocating "locked" together feet.
GF,

I think Ken makes a good point about alignment. So get it checked out.

As to how far a apart your feet should be, shoulder width should be about the maximum, but this may or omay not be a hard and fast rule, in many conditions.

However, this brings me to a question. Does "far apart" mean the space between the inside ski edges, or from outside edge to outside edge ?

Anyway, after having your alignment and boot fit checked out, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Ski to make your own self happy. Don't get hung up on how far apart your skis are.

After all it is about "Happy Skiing!"
Wink,

I had my fitting done by Surefoot in NY. I believe the alignment is correct (I also have a sole grind on one foot), but I will have it rechecked when I go for my next and final fitting on Tuesday.

I was taught that feet shoulder width apart meant from outside edge to outside edge. The inside edges should correspond to the edges of your rib cage.

This is consistent with what you'll see from DH skiers while in tuck.

GF<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by GF (edited December 31, 2000).]</FONT>
Hi GF.

Let me throw my 2 cents.

First, I think a lot of different things got mixed up in previous replies. In your original post you said: “After going to shaped skis, instructors said that it wasn't necessary to lock my knees and ankles together”. Shaped skis is the key here. They allow you to make CARVED turns with less effort. Thus lets leave bumps out of discussions. Bumps are skied on straight skis and proper technique is linked SLIDING. When you slide you do want to keep your feet together with even weight distribution.

Now back to carving. In order to make ski carve a turn you need to put it on edge and apply pressure. The more angle you have the tighter you turn is (given enough speed). In order to achieve good angles you need to have your feet apart and your heaps counter-rotated (along with your body). If you have your knees locked together you hips are also locked preventing you from having a balanced and powerful stance through the turn.

Weight distribution: it is much simpler than many people make it sound. Your inside ski does not have to leave the snow (no stepping at the end of a turn) but you always have more weight on the outside. The tighter you turn (the more angulation you have) – more weight goes to your outside ski. The ratio is such that gives you the most power and balance through the turn. When you are in the middle of a turn your outside leg is straight, while your inside leg is bent (if you have a good angle you will have more than 90 degree angle at your knee on the inside leg). Your straight leg is MUCH stronger than you bent leg and thus it carries more weight and transfers more pressure.

One simple drill that demonstrates the importance of having you legs PARALLEL (your knees are the same distance apart as your skis). Get on a wide, flat, “green” slope (one you would feel comfortable just going straight down without any turns). Start going down, feet shoulder width apart. Move one foot forward, about boot length – your skis will start to arc a turn, with you forward ski becoming the inside one. When you do that it is important that you do not force anything, keep you upper body relaxed. Just move your foot forward and feel how the skis respond. Once you start traversing the slope – move another foot forward (you’ll see that it requires weight transfer) and make a turn in the opposite direction. Once you feel comfortable with making effortless linked turns just by changing your forward foot try this. After you move foot forward and your skis start to turn, move your inside knee (the one that is forward) towards the inside of a turn (think about steering with your inside knee in the direction you want to go). Do not be afraid of exaggerating the move and becoming bow-legged. Feel the change in the radius of the turn your skis are making.

Wish I could show it to you. Try it and let me know how it feels.

Ski fast

VK

------------------
Making a turn where you have to is different from making a turn where you want to...

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[This message has been edited by VK (edited January 02, 2001).]</FONT>
Pierre eh,

I have a problem understanding the idea pulling the inside foot back. I know that you have discussed that when carving a turn the amount of steering and outside edge pressure of the inside ski will effect the turns radius.

However, my question goes to one of cause in effect. Does the inside foot move back because all your other technique is correct and this is effect of a well carved turn? Or, Do you need to pull that inside foot back, have edge pressure and actively steer the inside ski to have well carved two footed(sp?) turns.

The active pulling back of the inside foot seems unnatural. Especially, when everything else seems to hammer downhill movements. Center of Mass, Hands, Countering and such.

I am totally out of it here!!!!

ED
Good comment Pierre about the possible loss of pressure on the front of a boot.

Let me correct my statement: Push your foot forward, LEADING WITH YOUR KNEE, so that your lower legs are parallel.

Also consider that move in the contest of the drill I suggested. The idea is to demonstrate that having the inside knee forward and out aligns your hips for better balance (it may feel a little weird in the beginning, though) and angulation, resulting in tighter turns. I suggested a two step approach first do it with your inside knee moving forward and then adding the movement to the outside. The change in turn shape is noticable even on a very flat terrain. Also doing that exercise on a flat terrain allows for easy distinction between carve and skid.

On a steep terrain at high speeds all my weight would be on the outside ski and my inside may be in the air. However I would still lead with my inside knee, since that move would bring my whole body forward, thus increasing pressure on the front of my outside ski.

As far as pulling your inside ski back....
I believe you were not discussing the carved turns on modern skis - rather the classic turns that involve skidding:

"As Pierre suggests, these differences are well-represented by the classic maneuvers known as the "stem christie" and the "wedge christie." While some contributors here have lumped them together, they could not be more opposite.

To over-simplify, perhaps, offensive "direction-control" turns, as represented by the wedge christie, involve "PULLING the INSIDE ski TIP IN to the turn." Defensive "braking" turns, like the stem christie, involve "PUSHING the OUTSIDE ski TAIL OUT of the turn." "

There is only one movement back in a carved turn I can think of. When going fast and the G's are high, starting from the middle of a turn extend your outside foot back (nordic-track move). That'll help you stay forward through the end of a turn. Espesially helpfull for those (like I am) who tend to find themselves trying to catch their skis at the end of a turn.

VK<FONT size="1">
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[This message has been edited by VK (edited January 02, 2001).]</FONT>
Here is the approach we are using on the race team to a GS (read as: medium radius cruising) turn.

1. Hips are centered over the feet and ski. This is accomplished with ankle flex. Soft boots are the key, especially for shaped skis.

2. Feet are hip-width apart for a few reasons: a) that's how you stand naturally in your bunny slippers; b) it allows more range of motion side-to side in order to set the skis on edge.

2a) Shins 'tip' into the turn in tandem. Both shins should be parrallel. if you don't tip both skis, you will allow one knee to hit the other, limiting your range of motion, and also you need to carve both skis around the turn. Dragging the inside ski slows a racer down.

3. The hip is brought across the skis at the transition into the next turn. I teach aiming the hip at the new inside shovel. It brings the hip across and forward, rather than just across. In this instance, the weight is maintained at the center of the ski, allowing the acceleration from the end of the turn and still keeping the skier in control.

4. Hips and shoulders maintain a 'squared' relation to the skis, not the fall line. This reduces lead change in the uphill ski to a minimum, and eliminated that extra motion when in the transitional phase of the turn. As the fall line gets steeper and the turns get shorter, naturally more of a countered position becomes important to maintain an edge. However, watch the World Cup. Von Grunigen and others have stayed square to their skis for several years.

In this type of dynamic meduim radius turn (as well as SG/DH), the transition is a retraction of the knees and ankles, allowing the skis to cross under the body. At the same time, the hips move across the skis into the fall line. At the belly of the turn, the legs are extended, applying maximum pressure (using the skeleton) to the ski. As the skis return across the fall line, the retaction/cross-over/cross-under occurs.

Takes a bit of practice, but the results are explosive.

Just my \$.02.

Aaron
Thanks for al your great posts, this has been a really informative thread.

After a lesson I had yesterday, I'd like to expand a bit on AJ's comments.

AJ said 2a) Shins 'tip' into the turn in tandem. Both shins should be parrallel. if you don't tip both skis, you will allow one knee to hit the other, limiting your range of motion, and also you need to carve both skis around the turn. Dragging the inside ski slows a racer down.

This is now called (by the PSIA) "dynamic extension". DE refers to the flexing and unflexing of the knees and ankles in transition (right at the time you plant the pole). An up and down movement results, although that's not what the skier should be thinking about in order to acomplish it.

When you switch edges during transition, there is a moment when the ski is not on edge, it's flat. If a ski is not on edge, and you move the skiers center of gravity forward, the skis will point downhill (falling leaf illustrates this point perfectly). It's simple physics. So, when the skis become flat and the skier extends into the front of the boots (and into the turn) the ski starts slide-turning downhill. As your ankles and hips angulate, the edges take over and you carve the rest of the turn.

Let me know if this makes sense to everyone.

GF
Sorry to interject here, cause I know you're carrying on a very technical discussion, but could I say that the statement

"Bumps are skied on straight skis and proper technique is linked sliding" (VK)

seems a little exaggerated? The same techniques for carving regular turns will work with shaped skis in the bumps. Try it! <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by skiandsb (edited January 03, 2001).]</FONT>
Pierre eh,

I think I get it but I will need to see it on the snow. Does your last post verify my suspicion that the pulling back of the inside foot is a result of doing everything else right and not a movement unto itself?

Can you give a discription of a left direction carved turn giving the relationship of the hips to the inside tip? This might clear up some of the abstract visualization problems that I am having.

Thanks, going to BM tonight to put some of this on the snow. Can I talk you into coming over?

Later

ED
Pierre eh,

120!! Yikes!

Well,you will be the clinic man tonight. I remember way back when . . . whew . . . just got a cold chill. Hope the classes go well and your students are motivated. If it is a movement unto itself I will be working on it tonight. Thanks and uh . . . have fun? .

Later

ED<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Fast1EV (edited January 03, 2001).]</FONT>
I think Pierre's comments are great. Although I never think of pulling the foot back as he describes, it definietly happens. Depending on the student, one description or the other may work. Here's the progression I use to get people into the turn. I used it this weekend on an adult level 8-9, strong skier with 'dated' technique. He struggled a bit with a pair of 192 GS skis with a 24M radius, so I put him on my 178 / 16M radius skis, and he got it in less than 6 turns. (I'd tell you which skis, but I'm also a rep and don't want to be accused of a shameless plug )

1) carved traverses both directions across the hill, leaving 2 cleanly arced tracks. Both shins need to be parrallel in order to do this.

2)Carve-slide-carve traverses, so that the skier flattens the ski momentarily, then regains the edge. The skier can also tell how their weight is distributed. If the tails drop downhill in the slide, they are in the backseat.

3) carve-slide-arc traverses, so that the skier carves in a traverse, flattens the ski, allows it to point downhill, and then applies the edge, coming around. This is best on flat terrain, since you need to wait a bit for the ski to come around without steering. Some students may not like the lag time during the direct point downhill part. The skier need to have faith that the ski will come around. Emphasize edging and pressure, not steering. The more shape to the ski, the more effective this is.

4) Link 'em!

5) Once they are getting the carved turn to happen, with the flattening, I bring the hips-crossing-the-ski thing into play.

It works pretty well for most people, and there are a million variations. One big probelm I see, particularly in advanced skiers, is boots that are too stiff. As shaped skis have come into play, you need even more forward ankle flex to make the ski work. Usually, I end up having the student undo the top buckles and leave only the powerstrap on. Personally, I am in a Technica Icon with the little stiffener dealy thingy all the way loose and both sets of wedges removed from the cuff. A far cry from my Rossi Course Ks, but also much better.

Any comments on this would be much appreciated.
To all involved in this post,

Inside foot forward, outside foot back, pull this, push that. I"M SO CONFUSED!!! One thing for sure that I'm seeing here is a giant lead change. Is this good??????

VK

>>
>>There is only one movement back in a carved turn I can think of. When going fast and the G's are high, starting from the middle of a turn extend your outside foot back (nordic-track move). That'll help you stay forward through the end of a turn. Espesially helpfull for those (like I am) who tend to find themselves trying to catch their skis at the end of a turn.<<

IMHO, if one pulls their outside ski back through the turn, the ski flattens and looses it's edge. Also, now the tip of the ski is overloaded and the tail washes out.

Pushing the inside foot forward first, ( same thing as above ) would have the effect of putting the skier in the back seat from the git-go, I believe. The best thing I've seen here, and it works, is what AJ said. A crossover move. Don't worry about what your feet are doing, try this and see what your feet do. Move your center of mass to the new direction of travel. ( cross-over ) By doing this you won't have to worry about trying to catch your skis, because you will be there before your skis, and the skis have no problem catching up with you. I have worked with pushing the outside ski forward through the bottom of the turn with folks that have a big lead change. But this is a small forward push, because pushing the outside foot forward of the inside foot at the end of the turn is very hard, and a bad idea. VK, be careful of pulling and pushing your skis around in the turn. ---------Wigs
Wigs,

I was all set to post my progress with the "pulling the inside foot back" movement and letting Pierre eh know how it went.

But now you seem to indicate that the foot movement is a resulting movement of a proper cross over movement,which I still cannot visualize. Is it your positon that there should not be an active pulling back of the inside foot during carved turns?

Pierre eh,

I did work on pulling the inside foot back. Here is what I discovered and observed.

1. At first I could not inititate the pull back until after I was in the turn. (This may be a problem with my skiing in the back seat). However, with practice it got easier. However, I am not sure if the pull back was my actual initiating movement.

2. As I pulled my inside foot back and applied pressure to the outside edge of the inside ski, the shape of the turn was rounder.

3. The more I pulled the inside foot back the more outside edge pressure I seemed to create. However, I felt that I was not countered or was having problems staying countered.

4. The more I pulled back and the more pressure I had the tighter the radius of the turn.

5. Left turns were easier than right. I would catch an outside edge more going right and eventually widened my stance which seemed to cure that.

6. The exercise made me more conscious of pressuring the tongue of the boot and staying forward.

Well what you think? Did I totally miss the point or am I going in the right direction?

Later and Thanks,

ED<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Fast1EV (edited January 04, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Fast1EV (edited January 04, 2001).]</FONT>
Pierre, I wonder about your views on feeling the proper sensations. It seems to me that people with different physical makeups would feel different sensations even though the movement patterns are the same. Example: You describe the movement of the CM across the skis and forward as feeling like pulling the inside ski back and under. If somebody's center of mass is at a higher point on their body than yours, wouldn't the sensation that AJ described ( Directing the hips toward the tip of the inside ski )feel more pronounced than the one you described? Because that skier's CM movement is greater than yours?
And because that skier has a longer lever to exert rearward pressure on the inside ski, and thus would have to use less effort to keep the ski back? Am I completely off base with this?
Amazing where we end up on a thread that started as a question about width of stance.

I've often taught pulling back of the inside foot through the last half or third of the turn as a corrective move for students who have too much ski lead which usually means that their hips are locked into a overly countered position that makes the transition into the new turn difficult. Like Wigs I avoided having them move the outside ski forward for worry that they would move the foot in front of their bodies and put their knees at risk when they move into the new turn in the back seat. Then I talked with a ex-racer buddy of mine (named Robb by the way) and he said that in a similar situation he always teaches moving the outside foot forward because his race training is that any move should be forward. I tried this and found that if I flex my ankle as I move the foot forward and let the hip move with the foot I seem to maintain the body out front stance that is so important to skiing.
Further this can bring my feet into a side by side relationship (no ski lead) right at the transition of the turn and give me a very slight ski lead and lead of the inner half of the body immediately upon entering the new turn. This puts every part of my body in front of my point of contact with the snow and in an ideal position to use the forces generated by the ski snow interaction to direct my body where I want it to go. The term "point of contact" refers to the point under my foot where the pressure generated by the ski is centered.

Now I said all that just to set up these questions. Is moving the outside foot forward equivalent to moving the inside foot back? What is important here the movement of the feet or the relationship of the feet generated by the movement?

Hope this keeps everyone thinking and maybe a little confused.

Yd
One other thing. If you stay dynamically centered on the skis at the end of the turn, isn't the proper CM movement a passive kind of thing, just relaxing the feet and ankles and letting the rest of the body succumb to the forces of gravity and momentum until the other edges engage?
Is moving the outside foot forward equivalent to moving the inside foot back?
no.
All,

one thing we have to remember is that feel is not always something you can easily translate so that someone else will understand it. Also, no matter how much informtaion we provide, skiers can't watch themselves while they ski (without the help of video equipment). They depend on feel.

GF
I'm a little confused(no surprise to those who know me). At what point in the turn do you pull the "inside" leg back? I think I've heard some of the comments to say at the beginning, meaning the "new" inside leg, and some towards the last third of the turn, meaning the present or "old" inside leg.

Thanks.
Pierre,

In teaching I refer to the outside ski as the ride ski and the inside ski as the guide ski.
Use of the ride ski is simple, the dynamics of a turn direct most of the pressure to that ski and place it on edge. Use of the guide ski is more complicated. Tipping the guide ski more to the little toe edge increases the edge of the outside ski affecting turn size and shape and pressure distribution. Retarding the lead of the inside foot helps to keep the body out in front of the feet.
There is one other thing that I teach my students to do with the guide foot. If the guide foot is pointed in the direction of the turn as well as tipped an even greater amount of turn shaping ability is given to the student along with enhanced speed control as the pointing gives the student a very precise way to create and control skid in the outside ski. If you haven't tried this use of the inside foot I wish you would experiment with it and give me your opinion of it.

Before anyone says that skiing is all about carving on modern skis let me say that 90 to 95 percent of all turns I see made involve some degree of skidding so I think it is very important for a skier to be able to control just how much skid and when in the turn it happens.

Yd
Pierre,
I've been using the terms ride ski, guide ski for about eight years. I came up with them when I was trying to sum up my lessons with rhymes that would be easy for my students to remember. At that time (before shaped skis) the emphisis was on the pointing of the guide ski as that rotational movement seemed to induce rotational movement in the outside ski without causing the hip rotation that so often accompanied rotational movements of the outside foot and leg. When shapes came along the idea seemed to work even better with them and somewhere along the line I figured out the tipping thing. Then I read about Harb's "revolutionary" concept of the stance foot and the tipping of the free foot. Darn, there went my chance to revolutionize skiing. Guess that I'll just have to settle for the fact that many people find me revolting.

Yd
This is one great thread! This is the essence of technique. However, it is very late on Friday night, and my son and I expect to hit Mad River Glen tomorrow [YES!]. I will have more to say about this later, but for now: The bulldozer turn, as describe by Pierre, eh! has taught me more about skiing than any instructor. I'll have more to say about this later, but for now, good night!
Fast1EV,

>>
But now you seem to indicate that the foot movement is a resulting movement of a proper cross over movement,which I still cannot visualize. Is it your positon that there should not be an active pulling back of the inside foot during carved turns?<<

I think all this depends on the radius turn we are making, the level skiers we are, and the type of terrain we are skiing. A cross-over move, IMHO, would be the call in a larger radius turn, whereas a cross-under move would be the call in a shorter turn. One must understand the mechanics of these two moves to understand what is happening.

I'm not disagreeing or poo pooing the playing around with the pushing and pulling of the feet backward and forward. Go ahead, do it. See what kind of results you get. But don't try to incorporate this into every turn you make for the rest of your life.

I think all would agree that in a turn in groomed or smooth terrain where one might use a large radius turn, our goal would be to engage our new outside ski as soon as possible. By moving our CM into the new direction of travel, which isn't straight down, but across and down, our CM crosses over the skis which puts our CM ahead of our skis and to the inside of the turn. This move will cause the edge to disengage on the old outside ski and engage the edge on the new outside ski early in the turn, and the skis will have no problem catching up with the rest of you.

>>But now you seem to indicate that the foot movement is a resulting movement of a proper cross over <<

I'm not thinking about my feet when doing this move. I'm thinking about moving the CM into the turn and the feet follow.

Again, I've played with pushing the outside ski forward through the bottom of the turn, and this does help with a more positive outside edge. But if you're not constantly thinking about it, you could end up in the back seat.

Hope this clarifies the subject a bit better. -----Wigs
Wigs,
If your shoulders are facing downhill, the outside ski foot must be slightly back of the inside ski foot in the second half of the turn.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by GF (edited January 06, 2001).]</FONT>
GF,

>>If your shoulders are facing downhill, the outside ski foot must be slightly back of the inside ski foot in the second half of the turn.<<

Yeah, that would be true in a short radius turn with a lot of counter. In my post, I was refering to more of a large radius turn. -----Wigs
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