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how to increase extension/edge angle?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I would like to work on getting my skis way up on edge, higher than I currently can while running gates. What is the key to this? I was told (by a fellow racer, not a coach) NOT to drop my hips into the turn to create more edge angle, as it would result in excessive countering movements (which I am already fighting, the subject of another post). I notice that in my crossover, when my body goes downhill, my skis go up on edge, but not as much as I would like. I often hear about "extension of the legs" during crossover, but can't figure how to extend my legs more when they are already on the snow-I am beginning my turn with my knees already flexed somewhat. I notice that my outside knee is flexed about 30 degrees at the apex of the turn, and I can't seem to straigten it more that 30 degrees-I know from watching top racers that it should be straighter. I can't just "extend the leg"-I have tried. I must need some sort of lightness during crossover that allows me to extend my legs properly.

Is leg extension the key to creating high angles? How else can I get a greater edge angle-as I said before, dropping the hip lower seems like an obvious way. Or, is it something else entirely? I have been working on a wider, more even-footed stance, which is obviously key to keeping better balance.

Anyone have a drill that I can work on at slow speed to get the feel of leg extension during crossover?
post #2 of 22
The key is going through neutral accurately while keeping the new inside foot back while lifting the inside hip into the turn instead of dropping the inside hip and countering. Dropping the inside hip is a recipe for park n ride. You will be late at the gates and backseat. 97% of all racers seem to drop the hip and counter. Some are strong enough to win locally that way.

[ March 08, 2003, 09:10 PM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #3 of 22
Dog, another way to think about keeping the inside hip "higher" is to think about moving the inside hip forward. It's kind of a twist of the hips separate from the position of the shoulders. As Pierre notes, flexing the inside ankle (or holding the inside foot back) is an important part of allowing the inside hip to move ahead (or get higher).

If you stand neutral in the corner of something like a kitchen counter and support yourself with your hands, you can roll your feet onto corresponding edges while flexing the "inside" ankle and allowing the inside hip to slide forward without allowing your shoulders to twist into a countered position. You'll probably have to push the inside hip forward at first to create the separation between the hip and shoulder. Practicing a little will help you to move the hip ahead more relaxedly. For a nonathletic klutz like myself, it took several weeks of thinking about this on snow and practicing it in the kitchen to get to where the inside hip would slide forward somewhat automatically without excessive shoulder counter.

It's also important to remember "ankleation" (or edging your feet) while getting the inside hip forward.
post #4 of 22
Thanks Kneale, spot on. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #5 of 22
Beware the crossover! Seek neutral. Why move laterally when the feet aren't going laterally! I see this as an inherent cause of counter. Don't seek to move the C.O.G. inside the turn radius. Seek to go in an intended direction.

Get to neutral and tip the new inside foot. Those skis will "hook up". Then just keep tipping and go there!

Crossover will kill a turn
post #6 of 22
I'm just going to throw in couple things my coach has been working on with me recently.

Keep your bellybutton in front of your boots. This focal point will bring your hips forward and give you a more upright, "stacked" stance.

Hands up, extended in front of your goggles. Look at the backs of your thumbs.

Find a center for your shoulders. Find a plane your body can maintain a distance from the snow while your feet work side to side, bringing the knees up and over in the transition. No up and down movement should be evident.

Keep the skis widely spaced and in contact with the snow. My coach calls this riding the bull. I focus on rolling the inside knee "straight" down into the snow. Pull the outside ski back to straighten the leg.

Done right, the skis almost seem like they're a few feet behind you and the shoulders are on a rail going straight down the hill. More of the edge pressure is up high in the turn, and the skis seem to track naturally across the hill in transitions.

1,000 or so runs later, you get the idea. Sorry if my explanations are a little unclear. My coach usually skis behind me with a headset (I have only headphones) and give instructions. That way I can't whine and we don't have to stop to correct problems. Hope this helps. I'm sure someone here will disagree with the approach as described (I have a couple of Masters coaches that kinda gave me a quizzical look), but it seems to be working for me. Something to play with at least.
post #7 of 22
Alaska Mike, I think your coach has a great approach, especially using headsets with you.

I think I like the tip, "Keep your bellybutton in front of your boots," but I wonder about the word KEEP. Is your bellybutton leading all the time, or would this depend on the phase of the turn?
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
I am having trouble visualizing this. Are you saying that I should be moving the new inside hip up and laterally instead of down? If so, should my hips basically be square? If this is the case, won't my hip head towards the snow regardless? It seems that my hip has to be low to create angles, it just isn't to be countered, correct?
post #9 of 22
As much as I complain about the headsets, it really is a good idea and I love the instant feedback. The difference is that I can experience the sensation she says looks correct right as it's happening, which leads to me retaining it more readily. She says she got the idea from a Canadian coach.

As for the bellybutton focus, we're using it for fall line skiing like slalom, but I've found the focal point works even when I'm doing wide SG sweepers. "In front" is a relative term, either in relation to the direction the ski is travelling or down the fall line. The key is that it keeps my weight forward in a positive manner- "do this" instead of "don't do that". Instead of thinking about getting my enormous bulk forward, I just have to think about that little, centally located spot. Somehow it makes it all easier.
post #10 of 22
I think of moving my bellybutton into the turn ahead of my feet especially at the start of the turn.
post #11 of 22
nolo, I just got back from Winter Park, where I had a pretty good lesson. The instructor gave me a great visualization aid for that movement: "Step up to the urinal, and don't dribble."
post #12 of 22
Originally posted by dawgcatching:
Is leg extension the key to creating high angles? How else can I get a greater edge angle-as I said before, dropping the hip lower seems like an obvious way. Or, is it something else entirely? I have been working on a wider, more even-footed stance, which is obviously key to keeping better balance.

Anyone have a drill that I can work on at slow speed to get the feel of leg extension during crossover?
I would suspect you are not shaping the bottom of your turn, which then makes it very difficult to go long leg (outside) short leg (inside). Try a “stall” turn to improve the shape of the bottom of your turn. In a larger radius turn make the turn start uphill (patience will be needed) and as the turn starts to stall start the new turn by moving your hips or belly button if you like towards the new turn. Be patient since you will feel a very “light” spot as the turn develops. Then as the turn is developing press down on the out side ski as you lighten the inside ski (pedal turn like pedaling a bike). As you practice you will develop a long outside leg and a short inside leg. Without a good shape at the bottom of your turn it is not possible to go long leg short leg and create high edge angles. There really is no turn (at the bottom that is) to allow it to occur. Only by being able to do a good long leg short leg turn can a skier really make a dynamic turn! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #13 of 22
At the risk of further exposing myself to ridicule, here's a couple more suggestions:

On a gentle slope, work on railroad tracks in an exaggerated wide stance. Both skis should be carving parallel tracks through the snow. Start with just passive carving. Slowly start to increase the depth of the turns laterally while maintaining the length of the turns down the fall line. Once again, the perception should be that this is all happening somewhere behind you, like your legs are just trailing along behind you doing lazy arcs. Resist the impulse to push the outside leg out into the turn. Rather, let the skis travel from side to side and have the length of your leg determine where the limits should be. The rest of the suggestions from my previous post will apply.

When it's flowing and not jerky, you're on to something. Try to keep a rhythm going regardless of terrain or other variables. Sometimes a turn may take a two count to go around an object, but try to maintain that cadence as much as possible so you are turning on command instead of turning at a whim. I don't usually recommend skiing and listening to music (safety issue), but if that helps you keep time I guess it can be excused. Singing also helps, although that isn't for everyone (despite their notions to the contrary). Once the skiing flows like a song, you're even further down the line. Now put on "Kashmir" to work on slalom rhythm changes... [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

Seriously, look to turn depth to get that leg extention. You're not going to get it in shallow turns, unless you're really doing something wrong. Examine your tracks and keep those legs wide and parallel. Have fun and feel the burn!
post #14 of 22
Thanks, Mike. This thread and the ski softly thread have given me my lesson theme for this week's class and I will try your wide track exercise and let you know how it goes.

Three cheers for EpicSki and those who dare to post.
post #15 of 22
Originally posted by Rusty Guy:
Beware the crossover! Seek neutral. Why move laterally when the feet aren't going laterally! I see this as an inherent cause of counter. Don't seek to move the C.O.G. inside the turn radius. Seek to go in an intended direction.
Good advice. Good goal. Work the length of the ski. Let turn shape and directing the C.O.G. work you into higher edge angles instead of trying to create them out of nothing.

But specifically HOW to do it is another matter. Alaska Mike seems to have some pretty good, specific methods. Still, moving things from drill to course, and practice to course, is very challenging.

One thing I have seen work very well is to work the twin-track stuff AK Mike is talking and then to bring it into steeper slopes and in the gates by concentrating on flexing the inside ankle(Contact w/both boots) to maintain the movement pattern you develop from the drills. A skier can flex the outside ankle without the inside one and still end up in the back seat, but the opposite is not true. If you flex the inside ankle the outside one will flex and you will(can) remain over the feet thru turn transitions.

Many, many people ski flexion/extension patterns that are from-behind-to-on-top (of the feet). What you want is on-top-of-to-ahead (of the feet).

Experiment with some ways to create a good traverse stance in both directions, then how to ski from one traverse directly into the other without ever losing that good traverse stance.

Another thing that may help is to picture turns as a fall-line to fall-line shape instead of the 'ol "C" shape and apply your desired movement patterns to the fall-line to fall-line shape.
If you start and end in the fall line, on-top-to-ahead (of the feet) has a very different meaning.

This sense can help change your desired ("C" shape) flexing/extending movements to flex-extend instead of extend-flex. The great racers are not always 'flexing,' per-se, as an action through the bottom of turns, but controlling the flex that occurs (or resisting the flex) and they aren't necessarily (always) extending through the tops of turns as much as 'controlling' that extension. If it gets used up before you really need it you won't have any left to use.

Huh. I hope all that makes sense.

[ March 11, 2003, 02:37 PM: Message edited by: Roto ]
post #16 of 22
I tried to exaggerate leg extention on Lookout (a steep groomed black run with some patches of ice) at Northstar. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

I was TOTALLY in control the entire run - physically, but absolutely not ready for it mentally. The skis were slinging my feet at speeds I had never thought possible. At first, I felt like a puppet with leg strings handled by a drunk puppeteer. : I totally forgot about any mental image of myself - and then it all clicked in.

I repeated the thrill three or four times (Thank God, there are usually not that many people on Looklout) and felt a little more relaxed when I realized that I was not skidding, and the speed was that of my feet, but not of my body, and that I had enough core strength to catch up to my skis at the end of each turn...

My friends later told me that they had never seen me ski with so much "confidence" : and "technique" : One of the runs, I stopped and hiked up after five turns to see my tracks. Then I understood what they had meant: these were five ideal, very-short-radius railroad-track "C" turns squeezed out of my skis which I thought terminally incapable of making such turns.

EDIT: PS: I had enough CM speed to generate enough centrifugal force to do that wihtout falling inside. And I don't think I will be ready to do that in SL gates any time soon...

[ March 11, 2003, 06:08 PM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #17 of 22
Originally posted by AlexG:
..and the speed was that of my feet, but not of my body, and that I had enough core strength to catch up to my skis at the end of each turn...
Congrats on the breakthrough and your introduction to controlled fall line skiing. You shouldn't have to pull yourself forward at the end of the turn. Rather your body should stay ahead of the skis, diving smoothly through the turn down the hill. That's why I suggest starting on a gentle terrain before progressing to the steeper stuff, so you can get used to the sensation without fear getting in the way. Half the trick is knowing you can throw that turn and the skis will come around.

Keep your hands and torso moving downhill. Pick a target downhill to focus your eyes on. If the slope is too steep to develop a "go there" attitude, pick another slope.

Play around with the exercise and see where it fits in with your skiing.
post #18 of 22
Thanks, Mike.

Whenever I try it - with that much outrigging of my a$$ - on a gentler terrain, I fall, as I do not have enough speed to develop a centrifugal force to counteract the gravity and keep me in balance, so I have to tame my desire to try hanging my hips that far into the turn. As long as there are no humans sharing the run, I am not worried about the slope or the speed.

If I had tried to move forward after the skis, I would probably have ended up in the woods smashed into a tree. For me forward and downhill are synonyms . I was reaching across the skis into the next turn, and they behaved like the Jinny on the first wish.

I liked the feeling. It's like what kids feel when Daddy tosses them up in the air and then catches; they feel the danger, but they know they are safe.

[ March 12, 2003, 02:29 PM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #19 of 22
Have you evere considered that youir boots have to much forward lean?
post #20 of 22
Rusty, I have never understood your desire to fight the crossover. If you aren't racing, then I think it is fine to ski that way. However, the crossover can be used to produce high edge angle.

Case in point: the man with the best edge angles on the WC- Bode Miller, also the man with the best (and most insane) crossover.

Now, the goal here isn't to ski like Bode. Mike's railroad tracking drills are spot on. A lot of times you can do that drill without any sort of agressive crossover move. However, I have seen many racers who are learning get stuck with low edge angles because they refuse to crossover and commit to the turn.

When completing and transitioning to the next turn, two crucial things need to happen. One is the crossover- where the power comes from. The other is a re-centering move. This one is much more sublte, and often people don't realize that this is happening at the highest levels of skiing during the crossover. Bode doesn't get from the backseat to driving the ski hard in the next turn just from the crossover.

I can't emphasize enough how important it is not to counter when making this move. Lots of railroad track drills help in getting the correct body position ingrained such that bad habits don't come back. However, the crossover is not the source of the counter.

My take- if you aren't crossing over, you are just skiing the course, not racing the course.
post #21 of 22
The higher the edge angle prior to entering the fall line, generally, the higher the edge angle through the remainder of the turn. Be aware of how actively, accurately and to what degree you are willing to TILT YOUR FEET up on edge at the 'switch,' prior to fall line entry (yep, using your ankles inside your boots) -

It starts in the feet. Don't just move the body and leave the feet in a bucket.

Then, read the above posts to play with the balancing issues -
post #22 of 22
I'm not a coach, but here are some things that have worked well for me.

If by 'leg extension' you mean getting your feet out from underneath you, it is hard to practice at slow speeds because you need centrifugal force to maintain that position. What works for me is patience. I stay with my turn long enough so that as I am crossing over and begin rolling over my edges, my skis are headed away from my body. In other words, I use the end of one turn to let my legs come out from underneath me on the other side for the next turn. This is why it's so hard to get your legs out from underneath you on the first turn. You'll have to develop a feel for how far you can let the skis come out without losing the turn.

Another perspective of leg extension is keeping a relatively straight outside leg. Then your skeleton is handling most of the force generated by the turn. This is good because bones are stronger than muscle and they don't fatigue. Take a look at a picture of an Austrian world cup racer and you will see this.

You also mentioned countering. For me to eliminate the excessive old school countering I used, I had to concentrate on what my inside ski was doing and keeping my hips square with my skis as much as possible. When you are doing the railroad track drill, pay close attention to the track of the inside ski. If you are countered too much, it will be impossible for the inside ski to carve because the counter will prevent your skis and legs from being parallel. Concentrate on rolling your inside knee into the center of the turn radius so that your lower legs are parallel to eachother and both skis have the same edge angle.
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