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Drop that shoulder!?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
It seemed for a little while that I had reached a plateau in my skiing and no matter how hard I tried to follow all the advice on alignment, turn initiation etc. nothing seemed to help -- it seemed that I was doing something fundamentally wrong that caused a lot of symptons. These symptons were then what other skiers and instructors told me I had to work on, but each time I addressed one problem another would worsen.

Frustrated I would observe all the good skiers from the lift to see wether I could perhaps pick up what the problem was. After a while it occured to me that it seems that the better ones tend to keep their downhill shoulder quite low -- I then tried to emulate this and lo and behold most of my issues were solved instantaneously, my skiing felt a lot more natural (other than the initial odd sensation of having the downhill shoulder low) and I did not have to think about keeping my hands in front of me anymore.

My question now is: is this really something that works for most people and would constitute good technique, or is it something that happens to work for me and that masks some of the results of poor technique i.e., have I found the fundamental problem or have I found a way to mask it? (I realize that is a hard question to answer without having seen me ski)

[ January 29, 2003, 01:51 PM: Message edited by: Semmed ]
post #2 of 22
I think what your hitting on is knee and hip angulation. The upper body is more vertical and shoulders level to the hill while the lower body remains at an angle to the snow. Therefore, the body's center of mass moves towards the center of the turn. This allows the majority of pressure to remain on the downhill ski. Turns are more complete and speed is better controlled.

If the uphill shoulder is lower one is "banking" the turn, falling away from the fall line and into the back seat. Pressure is taken off the downhill ski which causes skidding and incomplete turns. We often revert to this on steeper terrain because we are afraid to commit the body to the fall line. We end up picking up more and more speed with each turn.

You have made a breakthrough in your skiing. Of course, a lesson will help confirm this.

I hope this helps...

post #3 of 22
I agree with Mark, although there is a point of diminishing returns. We used to drop the downhill shoulder significantly, but we don't need to anymore (another gear evolution thing). If you were tipping your shoulders into the hill dropping the outside/downhill one is a good idea, but don't go past level. If the plane of the shoulders is tipped downhill, you've gone farther than you need. It may feel okay, but it will limit your edgework.
post #4 of 22
I may be missing the point here, but dropping the downhill shoulder is good if it is done to keep the shoulders parallel with the incline of the hill. Any more than that may cause problems. The downhill shoulder isn't kept there. it changes throughout the turn to stay parrallel with the hill and fall line.
post #5 of 22
Yes, the "dropping" of the downhill shoulder is really the effect of the angulation. I don't think it is the movement that should be emphasized. The shoulders usually go no futher than near parallel unless there is a lot of hip angulation and countering involved as in short turns on steeper terrain. The point of emphasis should be the lower body (lower and upper legs) and their relationship to the upper body (torso and shoulders). The knee and the hips are the hinge points.
post #6 of 22
A-Mark- Very much agreed. I believe the emphasis we were working on was being slightly exagerated in order to present or model the point. As I posted in another thread, here, "adice on turning"(which, at first I tried to be succinct and confused everyone) we were practicing in letting the skis turn without anyhelp from us, then adding to this other turn elements in our skiing. The results provided nice turns with controlled speed throughout linked turns rather than that hard Z at the ends of turns you see people do in order to scrub off some speed.

[ January 31, 2003, 04:53 AM: Message edited by: jyarddog ]
post #7 of 22
Semmed, try moving the focus to the inside shoulder. Instead of lowering the outside shoulder, raise, (not tilt) the inside shoulder progresively through the turn. This helps me get long from my outside foot to my inside shoulder in a more natural stance.

I was clinicing yesterday, and our clinician had us doing John travolta turns in the bumps. Inside hand and arm straight up with finger pointing to the sky through every turn. this got us light, long from inside shoulder to outside foot, and structural, and it was fun. Try this on the groom. It might get you to a more natural long from outside foot to inside shoulder. Have fun. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #8 of 22
1. I don't agree with the idea of the plane of the shoulders being parallel to the hill. I really believe it should be level at most. Dropping the shoulder more than that, limits the use of both skis in carving and doesn't really add to the balance.

2. However, your movement in that direction, Semmed, probably did rebalance you through increased angulation, and I think that's generally a good idea.

3. I think this movement will be more powerful and permanent if you "drop that shoulder" relative to the other one, by tipping the body, at the hip/waist so that the axis of the torso remains pretty much vertical--straight up and down. This allows the legs to free up to edge and de-edge and turn and flex, etc. without the exaggeration of tipping too much to the outside.

4. In high performance skiing (read "high speed")--more in long turns than in short--we're seeing a slight inward tip of the torso (shoulders not so level) through the part of the turn with the highest edge angle. This helps apply more effective pressure to the ski.

5. Ultimately, tip the torso in- or outward enough to balance while edging, but don't take a good idea and over-work it.

Good breakthrough!
post #9 of 22
I agree with Weems on this one. Like he stated, by over dipping the outside shoulder one essentially binds you to a hard edge set that really can’t be manipulated much. When I’m carving turns across the hill or through a turn, I want as much control of edge manipulation as possible, and tipping to much to the outside, IMHO, greatly reduces that. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] --------Wigs
post #10 of 22
I agree. The proper word should be level in respect to each other... not parallel to the incline of the hill. Sorry if it sounded that way. If you were standing downhill looking up at the skier, his shoulders would move toward the inside of the turn and approach level at the bottom end of each turn. I think the shoulder can appear to be lower if the person is in a highly hip angulated position and is reaching downhill with the pole and arm of the downhill side. The action of reaching out and downhill rounds off and "drops" that shoulder.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
First of all thanks for all your insights.

AtomicMark described exactly some of the problems I was having when he detailed the symptoms resulting from improper knee and hip angulation. What I ended up doing is pretty much what Weems described in his third point resulting in a bit 'more edge' to work with (I can feel the edge set and I also get a lot more 'pop' out of the turn). Fortunately I am apparently not overdoing it, since the edge is not so hard that I can't doing anything with it, as Wigs described.

Next time I take a lesson (probably in the next few weeks) I will bring this subject up with the instructor. I will let you know what his/her diagnosis is.
post #12 of 22
Boy did I get taken to the cleaners. I guess my level 2 instructor is all wrong!

Reviewing my post I mentioned this was a drill to get to 'know' your skis. Let them do the turning. With all other proper aspects of turning we are perpendicular to the fall line. The shoulders, if traversing are very much parallel to the inclination of the hill. Of course this changes as one progresses through the turn.

The result is a control of speed throughout the turn, excellent stability, easily linked turns. it may be we are saying the same thing in different ways. Exageration is not the key, of course. This was a drill. The shoulder drop was de-emphasized when we started to link turns. 1/2 way through the turn the should is no longer down since we are then with the fall line.

Even though it worked beautifully I guess I'll trash it. That Travolta turn sounds neat, though. I'll give it a try!
post #13 of 22

I think it is something that works for most people. Some enhance that effect even further by trying to reach their uphill hand to the downhill ski. I think it only works in the control phase of the turn, where you want to make sure your downhill ski is dominant. It also pushes your center of mass down, while your skis are going sideways wrt the fall line; that creates a lot of torque in your body, which in turn allows you to spring effortlessly into the next turn.
post #14 of 22
I like the concept of dropping the shoulder, especially in intermediates. Too often people "cling to the hill" by leaning up into it and one thing I frequently use with these folks is to get them to drop the shoulder by angulating at the hips.

It's like if someone is skiing with their hands up by their armpits, you'd tell them to drop their hands.

The point is that overall, people should not ski with a dropped shoulder, rather, it should be somewhere between parallel to the hill and the horizon depending on the steepness. If you're on a 50 deg hill then you better have your downhill shoulder pretty low.

post #15 of 22
Hey guys, here is one of me forty years ago in 1963, talk about dropping shoulders and other contortions just to get a little edge on!


post #16 of 22
Ott, do you know how much money thousands of skiers paid to look like that!?!? Are those Rosemounts?
post #17 of 22
Yeah, with the aluminum side door and the packets, oh those #@#&% packets. Those are head steel poles, and would you believe, the grips are still on my new poles. Over forty years they have gone through maybe a half dozen poles. The grips are straight and I know exactly where the tips of th poles are with them. The newfangled angled contoured grips don't do anything for me. I forget which skis I'm skiing, maybe Heads, but in those days we got a half dozen skis at the beginning of every season. Thinking back, that picture may be only thirty five years old or so. I forget when the Rosemounts came on the market.
post #18 of 22
Hey Ott, you gotta little "A" frame going there. [img]tongue.gif[/img] BTW, I met a friend of yours, or should I say relative. Franz ? He was here skiing with some other folks and I ran into him in the liftline. He said, HEY! WATCH WHERE YOUR GOING!!!!. Not really, but I did talk to him some. Unfortunately, I was unable to take a run with him, but asked him to say hi to you. He said he’s been teaching at your ski area for 40 years. : That’s awhile, eh?-----Wigs
post #19 of 22
Hey Wigs, small world, ain't it? Franz and Rosie Bindreiter and Hank and Peggy Houseman are at Snowmass this week. Franz was given a big party and a plaque with a picture of him skiing in the first year of the ski school. I was in that but retired after 25 years, Franz is still teaching despite having a hip replacement a couple of years ago, he didn't miss a season. He is 72 now.

We were in that early group of instructors in Ohio along with Hans Dorn and Ziggy Baier, Bert Fischer and Walter Neuron, all ski school directors at Ohio areeas as they opened. Though all of the above are European, Franz is Austrian, I'm happy to say that skiing in the US has come a long way in the last fifty years and ski schools are now populated mostly by americans, at least the students can understand what they are saying now, with our heavy accents, we often heard students say "Huh?" [img]smile.gif[/img]

But on the other hand the students in those days also didn't want to take lessons from anyone that didn't have an accent. They were a different breed of students, mostly rich and snobbish, you know the kind.

What do you hear from Hans?

As for the A-frame and the knee tuck, hell we did anything at all to get those skis on edge.

post #20 of 22

Nice story! Like I said, I saw the whole group skiing. I wish I wasn't with my own group so I could have taken a run with them.

As for Hans, he doesn't teach here anymore. And I haven't seen him in a couple of years.------------Wigs
post #21 of 22

Hans has been at Mad River at least once this season. He runs Hans Dorn ski trips to Europe each spring. I didn't see him this year.

post #22 of 22
Hi Tom, if you see Hans tell him 'hello'from me. A few years ago we were going to meet him and Wigs at Snowmass only for Ann to get sick and had to call it off, haven't seen him in years. It has been forty years since we got our full certification together.

We wonder what next season will bring at BM/BW since the owners of your resort have bought ours. They are advertising deeply discounted Millenium Passes to go on sale Feb.15, they run TV commercials with actors and at least once a week take out a full page ad in our paper, with coupons offering discounts, at about 7k a shot. So they are spending money and I'm glad that this Winter will prove profitable for them.

I think the PSIA exams are here next week, are you going to be around?

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