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Upper/Lower body separation: why?!

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I am genuinely puzzled.

there's a bunch of Canadian kids teaching here. The boss likes the Canadian system. None of them is higher than a Canadian level 2.

But I keep seeing them teaching upper/lower body separation before anything else, and I cannot comprehend it. I rarely teach this, and it's usually after everything else.
First thing I look at is the stance and balance stuff, and then work up from there.

again today, the main culprit got a level 3 group, and after half an hour, there they were, with their poles up making "windows" down the hill. huh?! Am I missing something?! Is there an explanation?!
post #2 of 39
Uh oh, Ant--sounds like another case of teaching parts without understanding the whole. Why don't you ask them WHY they are teaching that to these specific students. If their answer is something like "because they need it," or "because they don't have it," keep asking. WHY do they need it? Ask them, too, where they think the "separation" should be--is the pelvis part of the lower body or the upper body? (In modern leg steering, the legs turn independently beneath the pelvis; other, usually less desirable, mechanisms involve the whole lower body, including the pelvis, rotating as a unit beneath the TORSO, with a "stretch zone" through the abdomen). Ask them about the benefits and drawbacks of each of these alternatives. Ask them if there are any pitfalls--any potential "deadends" or bad habits--to be concerned about with the "picture frame" exercise (there are many). I'll bet their "answers" will illustrate why they are not yet full-certified....

I'll bet it's one of those things they just accept and teach without thinking or understanding. They are teaching "upper-lower body separation," not "skiing," and, while it does have a place in skiing, I'll bet they can't articulate what it is. It's a perfect example of what Ski&Golf brought up in Anecdotal/Rote [vs] Functional Lessons .

I hope your southern winter is going well, Ant--sounds like you're getting the snow we didn't get here last winter! In fact, it sounds like you're getting the RAIN we aren't getting this summer too....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 03, 2002, 08:05 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #3 of 39
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
Uh oh, Ant--sounds like another case of teaching parts without understanding the whole. Why don't you ask them WHY they are teaching that to these specific students. If their answer is something like "because they need it," or "because they don't have it," keep asking. WHY do they need it?
Ask them about the benefits and drawbacks of each of these alternatives. Ask them if there are any pitfalls--any potential "deadends" or bad habits--to be concerned about with the "picture frame" exercise (there are many). I'll bet their "answers" will illustrate why they are not yet full-certified....

WHy aren't they fully certified? They have probably just got their level II and need to get experience. (Not to start a debate on something before my time, the one level, full cert)
Give them food for thought, mentoring and the benefit of experience. Encouragement AND INFORMATION to learn more rather than berating them for not knowing.
Most level I/IIs have limited exposure to tactics except in list form.

BTW most of the CSIA I and II cert courses introduce favourite exercises/tactics of the course conductors to improve the candidates skiing. If you see a more experienced instructor using an excercise for a certain point across a varied range of student skill level it tends to stick as a 'Good exercise' in the mind.

How do you find out what the 'deadends' are? Trial and error? In skydiving and flying we 'hangar flew' in the bar and chewed the fat about things like safety, equipment etc. Much like Epicski forums.
post #4 of 39
Hmmmmm. I agree with BB. I believe that upper/lower separation is important, but not at the expense of efficiency. By turning the upper torso down the hill, these instructors have neutralized their student's (much needed) range of motion.

I try to think of separation as occuring naturally as I turn my legs under my torso, not the other way around. The "picture Frame" turn is a very contrived move and it must be UNdone to achieve an efficient, simultaneous edge-change. (yeesh. I am definitely a ski instructor... who else talks like this?) It's just not very conducive to staying square and relaxed. Of course, this is just one man's opinion.

If your fellow pros are going to can this maneuver and use it in EVERY lesson, then I would say they are making a big mistake. If they are using it as a situational maneuver to develop an understanding of the student's range of motion, then I would say it's not so bad, though I can't think of the last time I used it in a lesson!! I do understand, on the other hand, that less experienced instructors will often interpret an EXERCISE as a way to ski. Most times, this is where the lack of understanding will come into play. If you present them with some alternate ways to accomplish what they're after, the good ones will get better over time, and the less-capable will get fewer request privates!!!!

Anyway, Ant, Bob's already beat me to the punch, so I'll just quiet down.

Spag :

Robin, You're familiar with the Canuck system. Is this maneuver a part of the itinerary? (Red Wings rule.)

[ August 03, 2002, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #5 of 39
Nettie--you are absolutely right, and I apologize if my post sounded like I was suggesting a confrontational beration of the instructors involved. I can see how it might look like that, but it was not my intent.

These instructors may well be dedicated, eager, talented--but misguided--pros-in-training. If so, my issue is with their trainers! There is the possibility, too, that they were using the exercises Ant described effectively, addressing genuine needs of their students, with full awareness of the pitfalls. Unfortunately, the odds are against this, but the questions I suggested would have revealed the truth, while giving them the benefit of the doubt. Those questions need not be asked confrontationally. If they DID have good reasons for what they were doing, it would have been genuinely instructive to hear them!

My real concern, as I said, is with their training. As you pointed out, skydivers get their initial practice on the ground, where they are unlikely to hurt anyone. It is a pet peeve of mine that the ski industry allows--actually, requires--instructors to fall flat on their faces with real, live, paying students as their victims. Yes, every lesson we teach is in many ways an experiment, with our students acting as lab mice, but the minimum level of competency we require before putting instructors with students is woefully low. If they're dedicated, those instructors will probably continue to learn, and eventually they will understand the errors of their ways and teach more effectively.

But the STUDENTS are the ones paying for the learning experience here, and they are, frankly, getting the shaft. That's not good for ANY of us--not the students, not you or me as career pros, not the instructors involved who are only doing the best they can, and not even for the resorts that are "improving" their bottom lines by not "wasting" money on real training!

Yes, I am a little quick to become irate at incomptetent instruction--and you're right to call me on that. I would not berate those instructors, though, but I might well chew on their trainers! I do not disparage less-than-full-certified instructors, any more than I would criticize someone for not yet finishing medical school. We're all on the learning curve somewhere! But I would certainly be concerned if we let 2nd year med students perform unsupervised surgery on live, paying patients, undergraduate engineers design bridges, unlicensed flight students fly airliners....

Competency is a relative thing, of course. But most professions require a certain minimum level of it before they turn their pros loose on real jobs. Any such standard-enforcement in the ski industry is left up to each individual ski school. And competency costs money....

As always, this is more a warning to the consumer than anything else. Knowledge is the only protection against incompetent ski lessons. Demand a certified pro, have high expectations, and demand your money back if either of these doesn't happen! Only when consumers refuse to pay for lessons from unqualified instructors will the resorts finally realize that it is in their best interest to raise their standards.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 03, 2002, 04:01 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #6 of 39
Hey Spag! Where ya been bud...keepin' an eye on the canary?
I am with Bob too! I don't think his inquisition was meant to be harsh or to dis these fine mapleheads. His approach is to have them question their rationale for employing the excercise.....WHY, FOR WHAT CAUSE? Is this addressing their movement needs, goals etc? Canned lessons are the domain of less skilled/experienced instructors who struggle with cause and effect relationships from MA through to an effective lesson plan....they are mimicking something that seemed to "click" when they experienced something that altered their own skiing. Bob is definitely not condeming them...most inexperienced instructors tend to gravitate to lesson plans for specific levels that have some rudimentary effect...but they are treating symptoms that may or may not exist.
Trust me, this is not a prescribed Canuck thing...just like it would not be associated with a PSIA or PMTS thing. So Ant don't prejudice your opinion about the CSIA because of what a few well intentioned but inexperienced clones are doing....show them the way...just like Bob suggested. (nice talking the other day BB)
post #7 of 39
Ok, Bob...that's twice in one week...simultaneous mind melding....it's givin me the hebby jebbies!
post #8 of 39
Hey Robin. yeah, I've been logging a few hours in the dirt, but those days are over. I'm back at the ski area helping with the New Snowmaking project. Whoopie! I haven't had this much fun since I watched the pigs eat my baby brother. Plus, the Sturgis Moto rally is this week. Tomorrow the Wifie and I are going to see Joan Jett rock the house at the Full Throttle Saloon...(if you remember last years' Sturgis posts, that's the place with the ever-popular mechanical bull!!! I'm pretty stoked.)

Anyway, Bob, I didn't think that you were being overly subjective or even confrontational. I hope my post didn't contribute to that line of thought. Nettie makes some very good points and I had no intention of bashing CSIA in any way.

That said, Canadian hockey teams have to wait another year for a try at the Cup due to my Wings' prowess on the ice, and that makes me happy. As far as the separation subject goes, I'll sign off with this.

Canned lessons and exercises can be a black hole from which some instructors cannot escape until someone comes along and challenges them to try MANY, MANY different approaches. Someone did that for me, and if you think back, Ant, someone probably did it for you too! My best suggestion is step up to the plate and give these guys and girls something to gnaw on for awhile. If you don't feel comfy doing it, put a bug in a trainer's ear and make a difference for your Canadian cohorts!!! Cheers.

Spag :
post #9 of 39
Originally posted by ant:
...poles up making "windows" down the hill.
Ant, could you clarify the exercise for me. I am interested from the correct usage point of view and the benefits of it, no its appropriateness to level 3s or use in a 'canned lesson'.

We are talking holding two poles up in front of us vertically to see the bottom of the hill between them? Isn't this one exercise for rotation and, more importantly, for an awareness of how the feet can do all the work in a turn and the upper body does not need to get invovled?

In that respect it is one of a set of useful exercises to build awareness which have more than one function.
What are your thoughts? BTW I have only done the exercise as a student three times in my whole life.
post #10 of 39
The problem I have with the window frame exercise is that most instructors don't select a stationary object to keep in the window frame. Without an stationary target, there is no feedback on rotation. Selecting a target that doesn't move provides better feedback.

Even so, most students hate this exercise and its use should be limited to only illustrating the concept of upper/lower body separation to students who don't comprehend what you are talking about in the first place. Beyond illustration the exercise is not natural.
post #11 of 39
Originally posted by Pierre eh!:
The problem I have with the window frame exercise is that most instructors don't select a stationary object to keep in the window frame. ... Beyond illustration the exercise is not natural.
I meant a stationary object not the bottom of the hill. Sorry Pierre for not describing it correctly.
This one goes in the same bucket as pole pointing with arms straight and baskets together, Yes?
post #12 of 39
I truly despise the "picture frame" exercise, because it feels so contrived! I always feel as if I'm being taught an "exercse" as opposed to a functional, usable skill for skiing. Infinitly more effecetive for correcting something such as counter rotation is to simply teach a pole touch that goes down the hill!

The thing about teaching upper/lower body separation, is that in a subtle way, it sounds out the incorrect message that the muscle groups in theswwe areas can and should be isolated while skiing.

That just goes against everything I've learned about how the body functions, which is as a chain, with a movement/alignment on one part of the body effecting another.
post #13 of 39
We did this one at race camp, and for our purposes it served a few points. First and foremost, it reinforced countering. We first did it with the instructor in the "frame", and later tried to keep a fairly narrow stubby course completely in the "frame". This led to us looking ahead more than one gate (which further reinforced countering). Also, to some degree it made it obvious who was dropping a shoulder and banking their turns. Obviously, there are specific drills that you can use for each of these problems, and we used a few of them too, but this one worked in context. I'd like to think that all of us were above a level 3, so the application and understanding of the students were different.
post #14 of 39
The "picture frame" exercise, and its many variants, CAN be helpful, in rare cases, and for the right reasons. Unfortunately, as Ant observed, many instructors use it for everyone, routinely, and that can be a problem.

What these exercises can help with is stabilizing the upper body. It can TAKE AWAY problematic habits like shoulder or arm rotation. The problem is that it does not replace those wrong movements with right movements! It's like "punishment" as a teaching method--it can eliminate unwanted habits, but it does not reinforce any GOOD habits. Specifically, it is NOT a good habit to ski with your upper body always facing in the same direction!

Contrary to common belief, it really does not teach proper "countering," or even proper "upper-lower body separation." In contemporary turns, countering results from the feet and legs rotating beneath a stable pelvis. What "picture frames" develop is a stable TORSO--not necessarily a stable pelvis. More often than not, it results in countering (twisting) between the pelvis and the torso, not between the feet and the pelvis. And remember, "proper" countering is the result of a specific MOVEMENT of the feet--not the result of a simple LACK of movement of the upper body! Picture frames can easily develop very static, posed skiing habits with NONE of the right movements!

Like penicillin, this exercise can work wonders when something bad needs to be killed. But, like penicillin, it's not a toy, it should not be abused, and it should ONLY be prescribed when it is really needed. While novice instructors everywhere often use it as a daily staple, entire seasons can pass where I never once find the need to resort to these exercises!

Much better, usually, to focus on and reinforce the RIGHT movements, rather than to just try to eliminate the WRONG ones. For the habitual shoulder rotation turner, they NEED that rotation--it's how they turn! Eliminate that need by teaching them to turn their FEET, and the upper body rotation will usually vanish without so much as a thought.

All this brings me to one strong suggestion for instructors going to certification: while picture frames CAN (as I described above) be used to good effect, DO NOT USE IT in an exam! You'd have a hard time convincing me, 99% of the time, that you have a sufficient reason for using it. And most examiners are far less forgiving on this than I! If you decide to use it anyway, make sure you have an EXCELLENT reason, and that you are very aware of the piftalls. And don't say I didn't warn you!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #15 of 39
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
The "picture frame" exercise,
Thanks for the in-depth description, Bob.
I presume if I search the board dilligently I will find more exercise analyses from your good self.
If you are aware of any in particular and know the thread, will you post it please?

I like to know why exercises ARE used and what the pitfalls are.
post #16 of 39
You're welcome, Nettie--I'm glad my descriptions make sense! You'll find discussions of exercises scattered throughout many of the discussions we've had over the years, but it's hard to locate specifics until the "SEARCH" function once again becomes functional.

Ski&Golf's recent thread, "Anecdotal/Rote/Functional Lessons," is highly relevant to this discussion. Virtually ANY exercise that is taught by rote, rather than used as a tool specifically chosen to address a need, causes problems. I often point out that "every exercise has something wrong with it--otherwise it would be SKIING!" (If the search function worked, a search for that line would probably turn up a number of hits with discussions of how, and how not to, use an exercise!)

At the very least, it is important to understand WHY we choose a certain exercise. Is it used to ELIMINATE a bad habit, or to DEVELOP a good one? As Lisamarie pointed out above, exercises are useless for their own sake! The student deserves an answer to the question, "How will practicing this exercise make me a better, happier skier, by MY definition?"

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #17 of 39
A long time ago, I was taught when making fall line turns to try to keep my butt crack pointed up the hill. However, I find that I can only rotate my feet about 50 degrees from straight ahead without letting the inside foot get too far ahead. Therefore, I need to counter rotate my shoulders somewhat near the end of the turn to be ready for the next turn, if I want the skis to keep turning across the hill. Is this normal? :
post #18 of 39
I agree that countering the shoulders without a corresponding counter in the hips (although naturally to a lesser degree than the shoulders) is almost a pointless exercise. I found that if my hands fell back and I brought the poles back just a little, my uphill shoulder and hip fell back and I started rotating and riding in the backseat. Watching some of the juniors coming down the hill, we noticed the immediate difference between those who countered and those who rotated. Those who rotated had difficulty shifting weight downhill efficiently and ended up late (although youth and conditioning got them out of that jam more than once). My stiff body won't allow that much twisting, so where the hips go, so do the shoulders (and vice-versa).

Watching Tommy Moe in the gates was an education all in itself. The straining forward I felt I was doing looked natural and fluid in his gate skiing. In his element, he looked relaxed and free to react as he saw fit. He wasn't pushing it at all, but he was faster through them than the rest of us. Those drills and exercises had been incorporated into his style so they weren't contrived "positions".

To our coach's credit, the only exercises we repeated with any frequency were balance exercises. He kept rotating the drills so that we had enough time to get the point of the exercise before we would move on to another. Later we'd come back to that exercise briefly and find that we gained the benefit without constant repetition. Hopefully that avoided the static body positions that result from hammering a drill over and over.
post #19 of 39
You said
"Specifically, it is NOT a good habit to ski with your upper body always facing in the same direction!"
Does this apply to (competition) mogul skiers? Slalom racers?

So Bob what are the good exercises/drills. You berate the "window" drill and give general concepts(ie " Eliminate that need by teaching them to turn their FEET"). Give us some specifics! How do you develop a stable pelvis and what wrong with developing a stable torso?
How about the other upper/lower body separation execises? Hockey stops/slide, Falling leaf variants, Hop checks, hop chops?
post #20 of 39
Hi Nord--I'm not really sure where to start with this one. (What do you want for nothing, anyway?)

First, that the upper body should not necessarily ALWAYS face straight downhill does not imply that it should NEVER face downhill. It's like a car--the wheels/skis turn beneath it, but it follows through turns. Competition mogul skiing, at least when it involves traveling STRAIGHT down the fall line, does not meet my definition of TURNING, as we have discussed before (going straight means not turning). Think of a car sliding straight ahead on a slick frozen lake, while the driver turns the wheels left and right--yes, the car faces the same direction all the time in this case. But that specialized scenario does not contradict the (obviously true) statement that "a car does not always face the same direction." :

As far as slalom goes, I'll let you decide:

How to develop these good skiing skills? We've discussed these things at length too, many times, in parts, and in whole. We've gone over pivot slips and hockey slips, hop turns, and falling leaf, we've visualized barstools and little pieces of paper, and "turning the left tip left to go left," and thousand steps, and pointing the arrow, and.... It's all there! But my real best answer to "how do you develop..." is:

Join us for the EpicSki Camp in Utah!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 05, 2002, 06:44 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #21 of 39
Yeah Nord, show up in Utah.

And quit trying to pimp Barnes for freebies. The guy has bills to pay.
post #22 of 39
Real quick before I hit the rack. Ant. An alternative to the "picture frame" turn would be the "Whisker Turn". I'll start with an explanation and end with its benefits. Once again, this is an EXERCISE... not to be confused with a TACTIC or a CHARACTERISTIC.

The whisker turn (if you haven't heard of it) involves using the poles like antannae - extensions of the arms. Have your student (or yourself) hold both poles upside-down by the handles, much as you would a sword. Watch closely and you'll see little kids whack each other with their poles... that's how you hold them! Next, stretch your arms out to the side with the poles straight out. The arms and the poles should be in a straight line, no breaking at the wrist. Now lower both pole baskets until they touch the snow. You'll find that on each side of your body there will be a triangle formed by the snow surface, the side of your body, and the length of your arm/pole.

Now ski. Never let either pole basket leave the snow. As the student moves along, he/she will be leaving two ski tracks, and two pole tracks. Keep the arms/poles straight, and the hands even with the hips. There will be a tendency for the student to lift the downhill basket off the snow during the last half of the turn... DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. It is crucial to this exercise that the poles drag on the snow surface, like whiskers. Whisker turns can be done for any level of skier from beginning turners to Bode Blow-up (oops, I forgot I'm not allowed to call him that any more. Maybe it should be Bode Damn-near-blew-up!)

What does this do? It acts as a stabilizer for the upper body, if taught correctly, and allows for the proper rotating of the legs underneath. (I'm not saying it CAUSES proper rotation, you still have to teach that!) The student will be forced to make flex/extending movements down low and tipping will have to happen in the ankle/knee/hip chain. Any rocking done in the spine or tipping of the shoulders will set off the basket alarm!!! The student will not be able to "pull" the skis around the corner by twisting or banking, because the basket will lift off the snow and they will know they have blown it. In light of that, it acts as a solid kinesthetic feed from which a student can get an idea of where they should be standing... particularly at the lower half of the turn. And finally, it places the skier in a position where the shoulders will tend to be parallel to the slope, the upper body true to the direction of travel (that doesn't necessarily mean "down the Hill"), and the hips/legs will have to remain soft in order to help keep that downhill basket on the snow.

I use this exercise quite often when I come across a student who tends to use full body rotation to start turning, or twists away from the fall line after the turn is complete. In the right circumstances, it can also help alleviate that pesky rotary push-off. (I use it on myself all the time for that very reason)

Pitfalls. This exercise does nothing to remedy fore-aft problems. It must be done on terrain that the student feels absolutely comfortable on. The blocking pole plant will not be there to save them!!! It is an exercise that will not allow for MUCH upper body involvement. A good skier will figure out how to make it work, a beginner will feel "locked up" from the hips up.

Anyway, just one of the many. It seems pretty invloved, but once you try it out yourself a few times, it should make alot of sense. Who knows? You may hate it!! I know I did at first.

Remember folks.... It's just an EXERCISE. The WAY YOU SKI will be up to you.

Gotta git gone,
Spag :

ps. I watched Blizzard Of AAAAAAAAAAH's for about the 500th time tonight. I'm ready to ski.

[ August 05, 2002, 09:59 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #23 of 39
That last post is funny... "real quick before I hit the rack." That dang thing took me a half-hour to organize!!!! Psssshh! Ski instructor are all the same.

Good night everyone!
Spag :
post #24 of 39
From what I can tell, the skier in the animation is staying well countered without becoming fixated on staying square to the fall line. There are obvious times when facing completely downhill is counter-productive (like on traverses). I guess the distinction between facing downhill and countering needs to be defined better to the student. They're often used in place of one another, and they're not always the same.

Excellent drill! I haven't done that one before, but I can imagine the requirements for doing it properly. Add that one to my bag of tricks when I need to keep a group of ankle-biters amused. How do you keep them from breaking at the waist?
post #25 of 39
I have found that if I don't look downhill, particulary while skiing steeps, my tails fall in front of my hips. Not good.

Barnes said it great. Zipper line bump skiing, is not really turning - not as we try to define them here at epic.

But in the bumps, if I don't look downhill, I get lost and out of sync.

...Really looking forward to training with different folks this year.

post #26 of 39
AM. That's the tricky part. Small children will have a tough time with this one because of a few different factors. 1)You will be requiring them to concentrate on two or three body parts at the same time. 2)Little ones tend to flex/extend from the waist up, and not in the legs. They haven't coordinated the joints in their legs to work in concert yet. I've seen it work with the occasional 5-6 year old, with mixed results. I tend to work this one above age 8 or 9... truth be told, mostly adults. 3) Small children won't really grasp the concept of keeping that pole basket down or why it is important.

As far as breaking at the waist goes, it may be as simple as taking a little time to set up. Make sure your student understands the concept of turning the legs under the body. Making bow-ties in the snow with the bottom of their boot is a good one. Also make sure that the student can flex and extend in the ankle/knee/hip. Create angles in all three of those regions. If the ankle doesn't bend, the student may find it difficult to "settle" or "soften" the other joints in the leg and allow for good flexing. That's where you'll find them breaking in the midsection. Every body part is attached to another and even the most mundane little maneuver can pooch the whole deal.

Gotta go break big rocks into little rocks,
Hope it helps,
Spag :
post #27 of 39
Hi Bob

How about an animation of a slalom racer in a flush?

The main focus of my questions was: How to eliminate the need to start a turn by upper body rotation by teaching them to turn their FEET?
(Which is probably what Ant's Canadian co-workers are trying to do.)

Nord's ideas for teaching turning with feet. The "window" drill is a bit unatural and some don't like it. So here are some other ideas.
1) Flush course set on shallow hill with stubby gates or GS panels.
2) Skiing focused on Tree or coach at bottom of run. Good in moguls.
3) Directed Hockey stop drill. Eyes on coach at bottom of hill. Coach signals direction and when to do hockey stops.
4) Hop checks or Chop.
5) Double pole plant both poles downhill of outside ski.
post #28 of 39
Thread Starter 
Wow, what a ton of excellent info!!!! (I shall email this page to my brother so he can print it out for me! I don't want to lose it).

As a bit of background to flesh out the situation, these kids are Canadian levels 1 snd 2. Teh Canadian system has 4 levels, they certify their hiring clinic as level 1, wiht no teaching experience.
These guys/girl all ski in a crouch, bent over at the waist with their shoulders rounded. Great flexion, little or no extension. They got hammered for that a week ago when we went for a rare ski with boss (who loves the canadian system, but works in a US ski school). Might explain why they like the pressure buildup of having the body facing down the hill; they need it to get the turn going!

A few weeks back, the girl (a 2) was asking peevishly how she could fix her group up. Their whole problem was their upper/lower body separation (she said), and they'd done drills to fix it, but it wasn't working. I couldn't help her. They start from a totally different place from where I start a curriculum. I gently suggested that maybe the cause of their problems was something more basic and fundamental. She just went off and asked the next person the same question...

I got the windows excercise from my swiss coach many years ago, as we were doing short radius turns, and I tended to move my upper body too much. It fixed that, and helped me to make carved short turns, and in that regard I think it was well-applied. but I have never had a student that I would use it with, I find it a bit stilted, stiff, and so-far there has always been some other way of achieving the objective. I like balanced, relaxed skiing, and windows isn't relaxed!

The info you lot have given here has helped me to put that exercise in context, in case I do ever want to use it (unlikely), the warning about hip rotation is very timely, and it's made me feel better about questioning the kids' use of it.
They also do the poles balanced on the outstretched hands exercise, but what they say they are focussing on is upper/lower body separation.
post #29 of 39
Originally posted by ant:
They (Canadian LI & II) also do the poles balanced on the outstretched hands exercise, but what they say they are focussing on is upper/lower body separation.
That was used in my level II by the coach for mostly lateral balance. Spill the tray of beer to keep shoulders in line with the snow.

It WAS used extensively when I learned to ski in Europe (in the days of stem christies, that being as far as a one week a year skier was expected to go). Then it was used for facing down the slope.

AH! nostalgia.
post #30 of 39
Hmmm another thought, and this is pretty open-ended. If you were to traverse on a blue, groomed slope and keep your upper body facing in the same direction as your ski tips, it would be possible to create a turning impetus by simply tipping the skis into the slope... no CONTRIVED counter rotation whatsoever. That is to say, by ONLY tipping the skis in this situation, they should turn up the hill until they stop. For a "skiddier" approach, we could do the same by just TURNING the legs, much as we do in the Falling Leaf exercise. (yes it is possible to turn the legs under us and keep the upper body facing the direction of the skis. The inside foot will lead the outside foot by the time it's all done.)

(I say CONTRIVED because I know I'll get flamed on the subject of the natural, skeletal counter that occurs when one foot is higher up on the slope than the other.)

If this is possible, is it not possible to remove the focus on "keeping the upper body facing down the hill", and work more on solid, stacked, balanced maneuvers? By teaching contrived maneuvers, are we doing right by our customers? or practicing planned obsolesence? Just fueling this thread, I guess, because I'm interested in what its participants are saying. This one hits very close to home for me.

Spag :
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Upper/Lower body separation: why?!