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Upper/Lower body separation: why?! - Page 2

post #31 of 39
I'm in way over my head here, but isn't one of the points of counter-rotation to keep the CM moving down the hill and efficiently into the next turn? I see way more skiers fight the natural counter of the hips by rotating their shoulders than those who go with that natural twist- myself included. It seems to me that leads to tails washing out in turns and makes it harder to shift the weight for crossover/under/whatever.

Taking your example of a traverse on a blue slope, I can see your point when the turn is uphill where the skis are already relatively on the correct edge, but when the turn is into the fall line, wouldn't things change? If the body is facing the direction of the skis' travel and you execute a turn downhill using only edge angle, the body would continue through a larger arc than if the body led into the turn (countered), and this would limit the use of edges and lead to lateral instability. Am I missing something there? Did I misread your point? Usually when I initiate a turn, it is into the fall line, not away from it (uphill).

I would think an early introduction to countering who eventually fall into a natural counter dictated by the size/shape of the turn and the terrain. Also, I've found a focus on a countered stance prevents me from banking- which 90% of your intermediates do. While I've used a few focal points to prevent banking (crunching ribs, lifting a shoulder...), nothing seemed to work as consistently as hands up, forward, and downhill.

post #32 of 39
AM, you make some very intriguing points on the subject, and I don't have time to do the response justice, as I am leaving the state for a short jaunt. I don't want this discussion to end just yet, there's still some stuff out there. Barnes? Robin? SnoKarver? (everyone else?Alaska Mike has set up a good discussion, I think. I'll be back on Monday, and I've got some information, so please keep this going!!!

See you in 3,
post #33 of 39
AAAAARGH! I wrote a big huge response and lost it while trying to post!!! RAGE! ANGER! VIOLENCE!!

Anyway, I'll just do this again.

AM. I don't think you misread my post. I was being a little too vague. When I stated that we need to stay true to our direction of travel, I meant it, but it doesn't mean that there is NO counter!! In any situation where we will be finishing a turn/starting a new one, Countered Stance will exist. What I'm saying is that we don't need to CREATE it.

If I was to traverse a slope, I would find that one foot (my uphill foot) will be HIGHER than the downhill foot. In order to stay upright, I need to bend my uphill leg at the ankle, knee, and hip. This will cause my uphill foot to also be AHEAD of the downhill one. This natural, skeletal action will also cause my hips to face a little bit downhill. If I'm lined up right, my torso will be facing there too. Viola! Countered stance! But I didn't DO it, it HAPPENED.

By not twisting my torso beyond that point, I can stay in that solid, balanced stance that evades us so often. If I were to contrive this countering action, I would have to throw myself slightly out of balance on every single turn. Not to mention the distance I have to move in order to get from one countered position to the next. This seems trifle on paper, but after 700 turns or so, I would start to feel the burn in unnecessary places. If efficiency is what I'm after (it usually is. I like to ski all day!), then I need to throw out unwanted baggage. I consider a contrived counter-rotation just that.

When I see people teaching the "Picture Frame" turn, I see people teaching a POSITION. A static, contrived, and unstable position. When we create something like this for a student and tout it as a "great way to ski", I don't think we do skiing justice.

To answer your question, YES, one of the points of Countered Stance is to help move the CM down the hill. I contend, however, that moving your center down the hill is INTERNALLY driven. You will go with your skis or you won't, regardless of whether or not your upper torso is facing straight down the Flail Line. Using only the natural tendency of the skeleton to align with your two feet on different planes is enough. The rest we can do with the other skills. You need not anticipate each turn, just be proactive with each. (easier said than done.)

YES, the CM does need to move down the hill and inside the turn to compensate for the Tipping you will be doing. But tipping doesn't just happen in the feet or even just in the lower leg. We have to get the hips invoved as well. They must be allowed (I say ALLOWED, not FORCED) to move inside with everthing else or your skis will cross right under them in the wrong phase of the turn. Put simply, You can turn your CM to the OUTSIDE of the turn if you don't actively go along with your skis. (OUCH!!!) Especially when we start talking about blending things like leg rotation and pressure control movements into the tipping skill.

So you are right AM. If we just tip our skis down the hill and don't let the CM move along with the skis, we will be moving away from the next turn. And Banking is a danger, but truth be told, I've seen the WC skiers begin to displace the upper torso on a side/side plane more than before. It had been discussed on another thread (I can't find it) that maybe banking isn't such an evil thing anymore, to a certain extent.

Do I EVER Counter? Yep. It's a valuable tactic in the bumps and steeps. I do, however, ski alot more efficiently in the steeps by not contriving it. But when things get tight or I get into trouble, I can throw myself to the bears and use a little athleticism to get down the hill. Simple fact is, I know no other way to ski a zipper line than to counter a ton... but to me it's definitely a tactic, not a skill.

I know there are some of you others out there that can explain what has happened since shaped skis became the rage. My understanding of counter is still gong through its growing pains, but I like the changes I've made. I hope I've shed some light on my earlier statements. The post I lost was a little clearer I think, but OH WELL!!!

Thanks for your time, stay cool,
Spag :

[ August 13, 2002, 08:17 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #34 of 39
Don't you hate that, Spag? You've reminded me, though--the same thing happened to me a week or so ago, to a reply to your PM. I didn't have time to rewrite it then, but I've been meaning to....

The brief answer is YES--love to! I'll get back to you by PM shortly....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #35 of 39
Enlightening as ever.
However, I would say those exaggerated motions have their place in instruction, because they demonstrate the intended "direction". In my experience, a skier will take a drill and will incorporate a watered-down version of it into their skiing as he or she sees fit. Unless the instructor skis with that student every day, it's hard to convey complex, subtle concepts in a easy-to-remember manner. With a properly-applied, simple, large muscle focus point ("oh yeah, keep those stupid hands up"), a lot of other things can fall "naturally" into place. I rotated A LOT before I was "serious" about skiing, because it felt natural. My perception of natural is not always what is most efficient. There are too many other variables that have to fall in place at the right time/order for a student to reach the "right" conclusion. Sometimes it's just a matter of someone saying "don't do that" for the point to be accomplished, sometimes there's other issues.

In my little experience with the picture frame exercise, I found my body became a lot more fluid- not at all static. As I mentioned before, in short turns I was forced to keep my shoulders level, body countered, and hands up/and driving downhill. The added leverage of the upsidedown poles gave immediate feedback- Back? Tilting?... In context, it was a good exercise. I'm not sure it's something I would do with new skiers, though. The instructor could communicate goals for the exercise from several different angles with my group and still get a general understanding, based on our previous experience. Without that background, I'm not sure the exercise would have been as valuable.

As for banking- I ate it big time on a training course because I was so focused on my knees that I started banking. I wasn't going that fast, but my skis slipped sideways and I spun down the course on my back wondering why my edges failed. However, big edge angles/steep slopes can lead to some banking- and that's not always a bad thing. It's all relative to the body's position to the skis and how much leverage can be applied to the ski from that position. With the G forces the newer skis can put on a body at relatively slower speeds, sometimes maintaing a "straighter" body helps to overcome them with less energy expended. I'm not at the level of those World Cup guys and never will be, so I'll gladly keep practicing to avoid banking so much. It is fun to play with slalom waterski-like turns in deep powder, because the medium is so much like water in that you have a wide, fluid surface under you that doesn't require or allow a definite edge set.

This thread definitely gave me some interesting paths to explore once the snow falls again.
post #36 of 39
Well for what it's worth - had a fun time playing with one of my 'favourite' exercises the other day...
I get to carry the instructors poles across my wrists for the run - just balance them on top while in normal position
post #37 of 39
I agree with Alaska Mike about the use of exageration so students can "Feel" what's it's like to experience body separation. In striving uccessfully for the feeling,the technique will evolve and become part of the skier.

Just expeiencing the sensation of feeling the "twist" while slowly traversing a gentle slope, and then having them do a simple pole plant and release the ski edges, and watching their face as they realize the turn happens because of the stored energy. The untwisting of the rubberband, really, the desire of the body to return to a nuetral and aligned position. That's why the turn happened. It wasn't forced. This is a true break through moment for that skier.

True that shaped skis may have changed some things, but the use of "anticipation" has its place.

Overexageration helps greatly in learning this very important "break through" concept.

[ August 21, 2002, 07:54 AM: Message edited by: wink ]
post #38 of 39
As long as the "over-exaggeration" is very carefully taught, it can be a decent tool to develop a pattern... and yes, ANTICIPATION, has its place in my world of skiing.


A countered stance (when applied as "functional tension") also has its place.


Dogma is a dangerous thing folks. Just because something worked 20 years ago and is currently working now, doesn't mean I should consider it the "catch-all". I know that a countered stance works, but that's all it does. I doesn't do anything to help me IMPROVE on today's equipment. In fact it hinders me. I like to play with all options... some help me improve, some I keep in my back pocket in case I get into trouble.

Don't mean to be so grouchy, I want to go skiing!!! NOW!!

Spag :
post #39 of 39
Thread Starter 
I'm with Spag...in teaching lower levels, I find that teaching countered upper body is generally not necessary. When it comes to teaching them to rise up to start the turn, it is touched on, as the anticipation-thing is what they use to turn the sliding flattened skis into a turn. Shaped skis seem to work effectively if you stay over them, and turn with them. I teach people to try to move naturally, balanced and as relaxed as possible. The fully countered upper body comes into its own for aggressive short turns and moguling, but I haven't taught much of that stuff yet!
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