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Let's talk about Purpose

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
In Weems Westfeldt's Sports Diamond Purpose is one of the four corners, along with Will, Touch, and Power. I'd like to understand the Purpose corner better, hence this thread. Those interested in learning more, please join me!

Everyone has a purpose in skiing. Mine is to create a platform. What's yours? 

Bob Barnes's concept of Skiing the Slow Line Fast is all about Purpose. This leads me to a realization: in order to change your skiing, you have to change your Purpose.

For teachers, the job is essentially to help the student discover a more effective Purpose. To do that, first they need to make the student aware of his or her (current) purpose. Often the purpose is to slow down ("skiing the fast line slow"). What other Purposes are evident in students' skiing?

It seems to me that Purpose is not equal with the other three, Power, Will, and Touch, but that the other three serve Purpose. 
Edited by nolo - 2/13/10 at 4:16pm
post #2 of 21
My purpose right now is to just to try to keep an offensive mindset.

I think most purposes for many skiers are oriented towards simply not falling down, especially as the speed picks up or the terrain gets steep, and this is why progression can be difficult.

For me, I believe that after a certain point of advancement, skiing is largely a mental game and is more about confidence -- the confidence to use the technique one knows that he/she is capable of. When I get defensive, everything falls apart. This usually happens on steep terrain and sketchy conditions I am not familiar with. I know I can ski it well(by my defintion of 'well'), I just pull back and get tense.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
What do you do to "pull forward" when you feel yourself tensing up and pulling back? Is it a thought or an action?
Edited by nolo - 2/14/10 at 8:48am
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

I'd like to understand the Purpose corner better, hence this thread. Those interested in learning more, please join me!

[snip]

Bob Barnes's concept of Skiing the Slow Line Fast is all about Purpose.

Yes, moving toward the slow-line-fast thing is closely related to my sense of skiing purpose at the moment.

Slow-blooming carving technique improvements seem finally to be opening out fully for me this season, after years of being bud-bound. I've had some ecstatic moments - even whole hours - when I have found myself skiing "in slow motion." Every persistent athlete is familiar with this phenomenon. I get it sometimes when I'm having a good day on my mountain bike. It's when you stay off the brakes and carry momentum through every turn by picking just the right line and committing to it; when you negotiate every rock step-up and slick log perfectly; when you spin up a climb like it was no big deal, that you have dabbed or even crashed on many times before.

In my skiing this year, these moments have come as I've found myself arcing clean turns at higher speeds, on steeper slopes and harder snow, than I previously would have been able to sustain. I'm managing more often to maintain quiet, deliberate movements and sufficient speed control even where there is significant pitch. When everything is really working right, a part of me recognizes that I'm rocketing along pretty damn fast - faster, clearly, than can be safely supported with more than a very sparse sprinkling of other folks on the hill. At the same time, another grinning part of me knows deeply that I'm now really good at maneuvering this plane. I'm confident but (I hope, for my own sake and others') not cocky. I know how to find the "slow line" that I can "ski fast." It's not all in my head; my diminishing (beer league) race times reflect the reality of this change. At some very satisfying level I "get it" now in a way that even last year I understood intellectually but not holistically. Of course, this feeling happens, we hope, again and again in different areas throughout our skiing lives. But this is a big one for me.

So NOW... my PURPOSE is to try to extend this "slow motion" feeling of mastery to other terrain and conditions, beyond the predominant rock-hard-but-very-consistent groomers that I've gotten good on because that's mostly what guys with families and regular jobs get to ski in my neck of the woods. I know that when I get into the bumps or the super-tight trees we have here in Maine I'm not going to be skiing fast or arcing clean turns. I get that. The point is that I want to leverage that burned-in feeling of always moving the skis forward through the snow with great centeredness into new terrain. I want to "ski the slow line fast" even in the woods or new wet glop. I want to minimize the awkward lifting and pivoting motions that still plague and embarrass me at times in certain off-piste terrain and conditions - for example, in a steep glade in variably hard-and-soft, thick-and-thin snow. I'm addicted to the slow motion experience and my purpose is to find more of it. :)
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

What do you do to "pull forward" when you feel yourself tensing up and pulling back? Is it a thought or an action?

Until embedded into muscle memory to the point of becoming an unconscious response, actions require thought. The two are inseparable. If a skier is not recovering instantaneously, but are rather just lingering in the back seat, they are not living in the land of unconscious response.  They need to think about what they must do to resolve the problem, then do it.   But first, they need to have developed the knowledge and tools that make implementing a recovery strategy possible.  Skill building is the foundation of great skiing.  
post #6 of 21
What's the over/under on responses that follow the line of "my purpose is to have fun!"
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
I guess that having fun is the one universal purpose for skiing (why we ski), but the Purpose I'm talking about is one that guides the act of skiing itself (why we ski the way we do), not the global experience, if that makes any sense to you. 
post #8 of 21
 I like the concept of having purpose, but I'm trying to think of a singular purpose (other than having fun) and I can't think of one.  There are a number of things driving my motivation, it can change situationally or even by my mood at the time.  I think it can be a powerful concept to adopt a singular purpose, for a while, for the sake of developing skills.  However, I also don't particularly like the idea of getting too locked into one singular purpose for too long.
post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post




Until embedded into muscle memory to the point of becoming an unconscious response, actions require thought. The two are inseparable. If a skier is not recovering instantaneously, but are rather just lingering in the back seat, they are not living in the land of unconscious response.  They need to think about what they must do to resolve the problem, then do it.   But first, they need to have developed the knowledge and tools that make implementing a recovery strategy possible.  Skill building is the foundation of great skiing.  

This is such a catch 22 though Rick.  One of my problems while skiing is thinking too much and not trusting myself and my skills (as MojoMan said.)  I've been coached to sing while skiing to stop that inner monologue.

However today for example in 10" of fresh snow all chopped up I did need to keep reminding myself to keep my hands in front of me and my skis closer together.  Without those thinking reminders I skied worse.

Then again I don't have to think about other things anymore.  
post #10 of 21
 Back on topic though - my purpose today was to just ski in the light fluffy deep snow without worrying about it.  To just "go."  To "trust."

My skiing was better with a bit of "letting go."  Letting go of the tension that us Eastern skiers who ski mostly on packed powder feel when we get in deep snow.
post #11 of 21
Aggreed, mango. I am having the most fun and skiing at my best when I am relaxing and letting things happen as opposed to forcing them. This is the biggest obstacle I face in my skiing. For me, it is easier said than done when faced with situations or terrain that is intimidating. I have learned there is no technique or advice that can overcome the tendency to get defensive. Gaining the confidence that comes with experience in these environments is the only remedy I have found.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

What do you do to "pull forward" when you feel yourself tensing up and pulling back? Is it a thought or an action?

I find that consciously pushing my hips forward and getting more upright helps me get back to where I need to be. The smoothness comes back and I stop doing slash turns. When it's really steep or the speeds pick up, a consciouss effort to stay centered is needed to fight the urge I have to pull back. If I don't make the effort or get too overhwlemed, it all goes out the window. In situations where I am comfortable, remaining centered isn't even given a thought and is simply an action.    
post #13 of 21
 On second thought I realize that I'm talking more about "will" then "purpose" in terms of the Sports Diamond.
post #14 of 21
So what is my purpose?

I've actually done a meditation to determine that in my life (not in skiing) and came up with my purpose is to love, my purpose is to share, my purpose is to teach.

But in skiing, my purpose (besides to have fun) is to develop my skills and to ski better and more confidently.

So my purpose then is tied in with my will.  My purpose is to ski confidently, and to accomplish that I need to ski with a strong will as well.  Interesting.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post

I find that consciously pushing my hips forward and getting more upright helps me get back to where I need to be.

Harald Harb has an interesting exercise for this, where he vigorously pulls his feet back while skiing along - even to the extent that the tails of his skis come up off the snow.
post #16 of 21


Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post




Harald Harb has an interesting exercise for this, where he vigorously pulls his feet back while skiing along - even to the extent that the tails of his skis come up off the snow.
 
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl View Post

What's the over/under on responses that follow the line of "my purpose is to have fun!"

Some days it is! (but I know what you're getting at =D ) I spent about a month or so only skiing for the sake of lessons and training. The last lesson day I went out and said "Tonight is only for fun". It was fantastic. I just went where I wanted to go and got it done however I needed to.  I grew as a skier that night. I skied stuff I never had before, and when it was time for my lesson we just did bump runs all night. It was a fantastic challenge and I had a great time.

Lately my purpose has been either "Just go out and have fun" or owning the trail before I even start skiing it. Aggressive skiing I guess? It's funny how all the technical stuff can sorta fall into place when you shift focus away from it for a while (I do this all the time in my job - just so interesting to watch it on a physical level).
post #18 of 21
It is clear, as it should be, that there are many purposes out there for each individual. And equally appropriate, each individual's purposes may change daily, hourly, or by the minute.  

Nolo's question however, brings up the idea that there might be a central or overriding purpose, as expressed so well in Bob Barnes's discussions about why we turn.  This challenges our thinking about why we do what we do...in a global sense (as Nolo says).  Is there something that we ALL are doing that can be described as purpose --even as we all seem to pursue different goals?

One of the fascinating things that I discovered as I started using the diamond is that I kept finding a common denominator at the center of every purpose.  I've come to call this "platform management" (at the suggestion of one of the participants in the thread that Nolo links to in her first post).   I'm not sure that platform management is even the right term--even though I'm beginning to think so.

The common denominator is simply "what do I want the skis to do in the snow"?  How does the tool manipulate the medium.  How does the rubber meet the road?  Ultimately this is what skiing "does":  The skis penetrate the snow, and therefore change the surface.  Since the edge can cut, and the sole is relatively flat, it seems to me that the ski cuts a platform out of the slope for me to stand on (or against).  If the angle of the platform is acute enough, the ski will carve.  If not, the ski will skid.  Either is fine, according to my needs.  And I refer to both as the creation and maintenance of the platform--for WHATEVER secondary purpose--to turn, to slow down, to descend, to go fast, to go slow, to have fun, and so on.

In other words....It feels like any other purposes must be achieved through this interaction of the ski and the snow.  We have it in Movement Analysis in PSIA-RM when we ask our pros to first describe what the ski does in the snow.  In my view, what the ski fundamentally does is create a platform of some sort.  This platform (or whatever term you wish to use to describe how the ski manipulates the snow) seems to be the most fundamental purpose of any movement.  Most other purposes are resultant from this central theme.

This whole idea really surprised me because I felt originally that the ideas in each corner of the diamond would work from the inside out---from the idea of Purpose to specific purposes of many kinds.  I did not envision that all these purposes would eventually point to a central one.  But there it was...whenever any movement was made, the ski disturbed the snow and created some sort of surface (different from the slope itself) for me to stand on (or against).

Since then I've also discovered what I consider to be the most fundamental paradigms of the other corners as well.  It sure has made my understanding simpler.

I would welcome your thoughts.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiteebow View Post




 

I'm not sure there's a ton of fight here other than the HH name drop. ;) I've had level 3's talk about the same thing, and tell me to do the same thing (though perhaps not as hard, though then again one did tell me to do the "Pelvic Thrust" from Rocky Horror Picture Show while trying to fix a breaking at the waist issue I was having).
post #20 of 21
 So Weems I get the idea of tactics being the secondary purpose and the elemental role of the base of support / contact point with the snow giving us a platform. I might be jumping ahead but from what I remember the power corner (polar opposite) was the movements we used to accomplish the tactical intent (purpose). So what about that power corner? What is the Elemental "power"? Standing and balancing? What about the tension? I'd love to read more about this.
JASP 
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Aha! Power boils down to a very simple concept too. I won't steal Weems's thunder, but he's refined the Sports Diamond to four very simple (not simplistic at all) concepts. 

I still think that the other three corners serve my Purpose. I need Power, Touch, and Will to achieve my Purpose.  
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