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Spacing between boots

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Is this gross generalization fair?

"Through own's whole turn, the feet should remain equidistant. In other words, their is no point in a turn where the distance between ones boots should change."
post #2 of 27
It's fair if you are trying to pass your PSIA exam. Otherwise....
post #3 of 27
If you're talking about the distance from your centerline OK. When the skis are on a high edge angle and there is a lot of vertical seperation the distance from the centerline is the same but the actual distance between the boots is quite a bit.(like a bike with one pedal up and one down)
post #4 of 27
Originally posted by milesb:
It's fair if you are trying to pass your PSIA exam. Otherwise....
...an ideal to strive for? Meaning that when you are able to ski with your feet equidistant throughout a turn you are maintaining the most ideal dynamic balance possible?

The steeper the terrain and challenging the conditions on/in which you can achieve this ideal indicates a thorough mastery of the pitch or conditions?

Just thoughts for discussion.

post #5 of 27
You know, that's really a good question, FishnSki, with philosophical as well as technical ramifications.

There is no particular, fundamental reason why your feet "need" to stay equidistant throughout turns--there are very few laws in skiing, and even fewer enforcers! In the only truly objective measure of skiing--racing--you will see ski spacing varying sometimes a lot, within turns, from turn to turn, and from racer to racer. In other turns, their skis remain virtually equidistant throughout. It's a question of function. Racers have more important things on their minds than the distance between their skis.

It could be a a matter of esthetics, though--if it's important to you, then it's important. Rarely could consistent spacing become a liability--except if you were to AVOID varying the width even when the situation demands it.

But it's fair to say that the ABILITY to keep your feet equidistant if you choose shows a great deal of precision and discipline--and the INability suggests something is lacking. There are lots of skiers who cannot do it even when they try. In that regard, it's a good test, and as MilesB suggests, it's something that might be looked for at some parts of an instructor's exam. It's not that we care whether your stance width varies, but if you can't control it, you reveal a skill deficiency, a balance issue, or perhaps an equipment/alignment issue.

In the exercise/test we call "Railroad Track Turns," we look very much for a consistent stance width. Since the whole idea is to control the skis' arcs through tipping movements of both feet, a consistent stance shows great discipline and skill--good balance and pressure control, and the ability to tip both skis equally (nit-pickers will point out that the inside ski actually must tip slightly more than the outside ski, to allow it to carve a slightly tighter arc). It's harder than it looks! But, as I've so often emphasized, EXERCISES ARE NOT SKIING. Exercises have rules--"should's" and "shouldn'ts." Skiing has few.

So practice keeping your stance width consistent. Develop skill and discipline. It's something to play with on the flats and the otherwise boring sections of the mountain. But don't worry about it while you're skiing--that's what discipline is for. It sets you free!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 12, 2003, 07:29 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #6 of 27
I never worry about the distance between my feet when I am skiing. When you are carving a RR-track turn, there is no way you can separate the feet or move them closer without braking the shape of the turn ("derailing").

Is it ideal? Probably, if you are a carving artist. Is it balance? Most definitely. Is it dynamic? IMHO, it is not. I find all attempts to make skiing boil down to a simple formula, like "roll your edges", or "tip and turn", or "wedge", or "don't wedge" - limiting. It is OK as an exercise, like "today we are working on keeping feet equidistant" - but it has to be followed by "today we are working on sidestepping" - or whatever else.
IMHO, a dynamic skier is able to use the entire arsenal of techniques and adapt them to the conditions - while staying in balance.

OTOH, such approach would throw ski manufacturers out of balance [img]tongue.gif[/img] They make different skis for different conditions, so that we could use the same technique where it has to adapt.
post #7 of 27

As just stated a rr track turn is merely an exercise. In doing the exercise it is very easy to vary the stance width and as stated that is not the purpose of the exercise.

Too much weight on the ski will cause the stance width to widen. In essence the outside ski isn't "engaged". Being "O" framed will do the same thing.

RR track turns are not designed to be particularly dynamic, although I have seen practitioners on short shaped skis make the it fairly fun to watch in the event they are quick on their feet and can create angles with their feet. Again....the exercise merely guages a skiers ability to tip the ski from the talus up and it points out whether a skier is able to eliminate skidding or tail pushing from this particular exercise.

It is clearly the genesis of a more dynamic carved turn.
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Lots of good responses. Thanks. I will elaborate. And I apologize in advance for the length.

First some personal history. When I first started to ski (again), in general, my stance was too wide according to the various instructors I worked with. While I never made a conscious effort to shorten up the distance between my skis, over time my feet moved closer together. (I was even criticized last year for having my feet a little too close!) The smartest thing I have heard specifically about width of stance is : "As wide as you have to but as close as you can". That same instructor (in a different season, different lesson) told us to imagine a pipe between each of our boots attached with a swivel that would allow the pipe to move in any direction. That is the way he wanted our turns. (Both these lessons were with Extremely Canadian in Whistler).

Now the reason for my question. Last week I noted while watching my brother-in-law ski that his stance was narrow at widest part of the turn and was wider as he hit the transition. Essentially he was skinny at the outside of the turn, kind of wide (V-ing even) at the middle (transition) of the turn and then narrow again for the apex of the next turn. So I started thinking about my lessons and hence.........................the reason for my post. It should also be norted that we were in spring-like conditions. SOrt of wet mashed potatoes type of snow density.

My own personal opinion is that equidistant is good. I don't mean that the distance should be the same on a 45º degree slope as it should on a 30º nor that it shouldn't vary with snow type. But that it shouldn't vary from right turn through transition to left turn with everything else staying the same. I also think that a narrow stance is very helpful for powder skiing.
post #9 of 27

I think your brother-in-law was right (let the instructors chastise me ) . In mushed potatoes, you want to have a nice large platform at the outside of the turn and to reduce the platform while in transition: keeping your feet closer together will prevent you from skidding in the spring mush at the highest-pressure point of the turn; keeping them apart will allow you to transition easier by using the technique FastMan described a couple of months ago.

[ August 13, 2003, 11:44 AM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #10 of 27
I gotta agree with Bob Barnes. From my perspective, stance width is dependant on you anatomy. You want to be able to tip your inside ski to it's little toe edge (some say big toe edge, but the result is similar). If you are knockkneed, tipping from a wide stance is difficult. If you are bowlegged, a narrow stance will keep you on your outside eges and let you rail very easily. Ideally, you should consider getting aligned. Then you can have a stance that will keep your skis flat to the snow. Properly done, you will have a straightline from you second toe up through the middle of your kneecap and end at top of your iliac (hip point)spine. This is all done with a carpenter's framing square and a plumb bob. With your legs properly aligned, the boots may either be shimmed under the bindings or ground to achieve flatness. The end results will give you a space between your boots of 1-3 inches.
post #11 of 27
When the day is fresh and there is energy to burn, "skating" puts some zing in my skiing. This naturaly leads to changes in "space".

Later in the day, when I am perfectly happy to let gravity do ALL the work, keeping the skis and boots about constant separation is satisfactory.


post #12 of 27
I would agree with all the above, however; if the skiers stance width changes through the turn it could indicate he is braced against the outside ski. If the boots 'bang' together at some point, then there is a usually a lack of active steering with the inside ski. I see this often in 'banked turns'.
post #13 of 27
It is pretty simple ... where your feet are will depend on what the dance is n how well ya practised before the ball.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #14 of 27
I like it [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #15 of 27
Last week I noted while watching my brother-in-law ski that his stance was narrow at widest part of the turn and was wider as he hit the transition. Essentially he was skinny at the outside of the turn, kind of wide (V-ing even) at the middle (transition) of the turn and then narrow again for the apex of the next turn.

What you have described here is very likely a sign that your brother-in-law could use some work on the activity of his inside leg and ski. Here's what I believe is happening: In a turn, everything feels pulled to the outside, of course. If we stand exclusively on the outside ski and relax the inside leg, the inside ski will be pulled toward the outside ski, and the stance will narrow as you described. Then, as he reaches the end of the turn and the transition to the next, he starts thinking about the new outside ski, and activates it with some twisting that causes the widening stance and the little stem ("V").

The main problem with this lack of inside leg activity is that it often results in more skidding than he probably wants. That twist of the new outside ski in the transition starts it skidding. And when the inside ski gets too close to the outside ski, it gets in its way. Because the outside ski's tip can no longer carve into the turn, the only option remaining is to skid its tail OUT of the turn.

There are two possibilities for inside leg activity. One is to put some weight on it and tip it, so that it carves like the outside ski. This is the skill the Railroad Track exercise helps develop. When it carves, the snow pushes it through the turn--into the turn, AWAY from the outside ski.

If you remain 100% balanced on the outside ski, the snow will push IT into the turn, but something has to pull the INSIDE ski into the turn--and that means YOU. A ski, boot, and leg are pretty heavy--say, I don't know, 35 pounds? Imagine a 35 pound weight on the end of a rope, and you're swinging it around in a big circle. Think how hard you'd have to pull on that rope! That is how much effort you, as a skier, must exert to pull the unweighted inside ski through a turn. That's a lot of effort. Any less, and it slips out, interfering with the outside ski (as in your brother-in-law).

Real contemporary skiing sometimes involves pressure on both skis, sometimes on just one. Either way, you have DO something with the inside ski. As I've often said, "The outside ski may be where the action is, but the INSIDE ski is where the ACTIVITY is!" In this way, skiing is similar to walking. You may stand on one foot at a time, but you have to MOVE the other one.

So your brother-in-law might try this: to initiate a turn, rather than transferring weight to the new outside ski and twisting its tail out, he should try to move the TIP of the INSIDE ski IN to the new turn, and continue that effort all the way through the turn. Note that is is not just a small change--it is the polar opposite of what he is doing now. Inside vs. outside, tip vs. tail, IN to the turn vs. OUT to a skid.... He will literally pull the inside ski AWAY from the outside ski, from start to finish. It need not actually move away--the stance need not actually widen--because the outside ski's carving effect will cause it to "chase" the inside ski. If everything is perfectly precise, the stance width will not vary--which may well answer your initial question!

"Right tip right to go right" This is the mantra I have repeated over and over in this forum, as the primary, essential move and thought of contemporary high-performance turns. It is an applicable thought whether you keep that new inside ski weighted as you enter the turn (as in railroad turns) or you transfer your weight to the outside ski. There is obviously more to the movement than the simple words suggest--clearly, you have to release the edge of the downhill ski before you can steer it into the new turn. But "right tip right to go rght" is really all you have to THINK about to make these things happen (in a right turn, anyway).

We've had many great discussions here at EpicSki regarding stance width, weight transfer, inside leg activity, and steering--all issues closely related to your question. If you have some time, search through the archives for those terms. Happy reading!

Best regards,
post #16 of 27
It is pretty simple ... where your feet are will depend on what the dance is n how well ya practised before the ball.
Man from Oz--that is beautiful!

post #17 of 27
PS to my long post above:

I want to emphasize that, while the outcome of the movements I described may well be a stance width that remains consistent throughout turns, that result is an OUTCOME of good movements. It should not be considered a goal in itself. It is the movements that are important, and that should be the focus, not the consistent stance width.
post #18 of 27
Breaking down what was said above:

Assuming that I have all or almost all of my weight on my downhill ski, could anyone elaborate on the timing of weight transfer with "right tip right"? In other words, at the point where my right tip goes right, what has (or has not) happened to my weight? Assume I'm on a average black cruising run.
post #19 of 27
Think about it. You finish your left turn on the right(outside)ski, now you want to tip it to the right. Which foot do you have to stand on to do that?

I'd say the left.
post #20 of 27
Be careful when you start thinking about weight transfer. It has been said (Nolo, I think) that weight transfer is something that happens, not by conscience effort. The body naturally shifts weight to the downhill foot as you begin to traverse the slope. It's the same thing that happens when you walk down a flight of stairs ( do it sideways to make the point). If you move to the new foot ( the left) before rebalancing (neutral stance) then two things happen. First, you are are committed to make a right turn because you are braced against the left ski. Second, you will find yourself to far to the inside to easily correct if needed. Face down the hill standing on both feet, then decide which direction you will turn. Just because you made a right turn doesn't mean you now have to go left, you may have to go right again because a gaper just crossed your intended path. Here's some exercises to try.
Face straight down the hill and start to turn left. As your turn starts to arc back up the hill, tip your skis downhill and release the edges, allowing you to go downhill. Begin steering to the left again. Repeat as necessary.Oh, try this to the right side ,too.
Here's another: As you go across the hill to your left ( weight is on the right foot) lift your UPHILL ski and tip the DOWNHILL ski to the right and see if you can stay balanced until you are facing straight down the hill.
One more: Ski left , right and down the hill , keeping your weight 50-50 all the time. It's hard to do it if you're used to bracing against the outside ski.
Railroad turns, leapers, thousand steps, there are lots of 'em.
When you can move to either foot at any time in the turn , you are centered and the stance takes care of itself.
post #21 of 27
Well said Bob!!
post #22 of 27
post #23 of 27
Something that has yet to be specifically focused on which has a major influence on appropriate foot separation is edge angle.

In a straight run some foot separation (about hip width, but it will vary depending on individual body structure) provides a good balance platform, a neutral stance (flat skis), and allows for easy application of edge to either ski. When the skier decides to turn he tips the skis on edge to cause the skis edges to engage and carve a turn. This tipping of the legs causes them to close together, the greater the inclination the more they close.

DEMONSTRATION: Take 2 pencils and stand them side by side about and inch apart. Now slowly tip them to one side, keeping them parallel to each other as you tip. Notice how they close together as they tip, and eventually make contact. Now with the pencils inclined to the point of making contact with each other restore the separation by sliding the inside pencil away from the outside pencil while keeping them parallel. Notice how much separation you now have in the feet of the pencils. It’s the same gross foot separation you will observe in still shots of World Cup racers making high G, high edge angle turns.

That closing of the legs caused by inclination creates all kinds of problems. For one it results in “boot out”, which is the hitting of the outside boot onto the inside boot or ski causing it to lose it’s grip of the snow and skip away to the outside of the turn. It also leaves less space for lateral knee movement, which is used to make fine edge adjustments. And for law of physics reasons it can cause more pressure application to the inside ski than is desired.

As the pencil demonstration illustrates the amount of foot adjustment needed to maintain leg separation depends on how far the skis are tipped on edge. In normal recreational carved turns where relatively low edge angles are employed very little foot space adjustment is necessary, but as greater edge angles are employed greater foot space adjustments must be made. From a theoretical ideal perspective the most efficient way to make such adjustments would be by altering the edge angle of the inside ski to cause it to carve a tighter arc than the outside ski and create the separation. But in the real world things happen very fast and there is not always space or time to execute such a plan. Normally what the skier will do to add foot separation as he adds edge angle is to simply bend the inside knee and pull the inside foot further inside. He can do this because he has the majority of his weight on his outside ski, which leaves his inside leg free to make this adjustment. Too much inside ski pressure will make this adjustment impossible and will result in legs that are too close together when making high energy, large edge angle, short radius turns.
post #24 of 27
That's what I was referring to in my first post on this topic.
The pencils describe it a little better than the bicycle because on the bike the pedals never get right next to each other.
post #25 of 27
I like the pencil model in demoing the stance width. Do you agree that adjusting independent ski pressure and stance width in the turn due to snow conditions is required to keep a smooth balanced carve. It seemed that my outside ski would drop away(bury,sink)from me in the turn in softer conditions on the groom(150cm-SL ski). To fix this I would redistribute my ski pressure to the uphill ski with a rather wide stance width. Problem solved. Weather this is the correct method or not it was working for me. [img]smile.gif[/img]
World class skier. Talk about high edge angle.

World's biggest ass skier
post #26 of 27
Fastman, the pencil model is superb. Snowdancer I'd like to suggest I have put forth the idea to not teach "active" weight transfer. In addition I will go way out on a limb and reiterate it's my feeling what we "feel" as weight transfer is merely our resisting centrifugal force.

Think of any average speed turn. We're not really involved in a weight transfer, however it sure feels like it.

I guess I always get the same feeling when I'm standing on a bus or train as it goes around a corner.
post #27 of 27
That's what I was referring to in my first post on this topic.

Yep, you sure did slatz. I had read it when you posted it and gave it a mental thumbs up, but your message seemed to go unnoticed by the readers and it slipped my mind that you had mentioned it. My apologies for not extending to you the credit you deserved.

Do you agree that adjusting independent ski pressure and stance width in the turn due to snow conditions is required to keep a smooth balanced carve. It seemed that my outside ski would drop away(bury,sink)from me in the turn in softer conditions on the groom(150cm-SL ski). To fix this I would redistribute my ski pressure to the uphill ski with a rather wide stance width. Problem solved. Weather this is the correct method or not it was working for me.

I absolutely agree slider, high level skiing is about being able to adapt and make adjustments as called for by our intent and the conditions. You made the same adjustment I make in that situation. It's one of the drawbacks of short length, large sidecut skis, they can be easily overpowered and buried in soft groomed conditions because they generate big forces which must be distributed over a short platform. It's like having a snow shoe that's too small. However, if the force is distributed evenly to both skis the platform is doubled in size and thus snow compaction is reduced.
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