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post #31 of 45
Holiday - I couldn't agree more. Take a look at my last point in my message posted November 07, 2002 10:15 PM in the thread,
To Ski or Not To Ski the Slow Line Fast

Tom / PM
post #32 of 45
Originally posted by nolo:

It's an interesting, perhaps even revolutionary, idea, because traditional movement analysis seeks to isolate causes from effects and to treat causes in order to improve effects or results. As I understand it, you would be quite specific about the desired result instead of providing detailed instructions on how to get that result. You set the task but let the learner do the learning. Work outward from the result you want from the skis.

Do I get it?
Revolutionary mostly perhaps so few people actually develop or utilize an approach along this line. From my experience this is a more heavily emphasized aspect of free-skiing and extreme camps than more traditional instrucion. In a previous post on the "Balance, Power, Purpose, and Touch" I responded to another of Holiday's reference to this concept with:

I am very much with you and Weems on the concept of "ask for the ski (or racquet) to create a line or path and often the body solves the problems without creating postures." There is in fact some good literature on this. In one such study they termed this "implicit" learning as opposed to "explicit" learning where you describe specific body positions or segments of movements. The studies show how much more effective implicit learning generally is.

Nolo, if you're interested email me and I'll see if I can dig up the article (I think it was a preprint). When I read it (as well as some athletes I have shared it with) there was immediate recognition of it's truth and relevance based on personal experience and perspective.

Sorry about quoting from my own post but I didn't want to appear to repeat myself.
post #33 of 45

I am (NOW) taught a fair bit from 'feel' of skis up. I do need to be told why a certain thing 'feels bad' - ie what has to change - but it is the 'feel' I am learning to adjust (it is my feedback).

Not sure if this is related
post #34 of 45
Si, from recent personal experience, "create a path" and "implicit" have notched up my tennis instantly. This has been a true breakthrough, and now that I am "creating a path", I and my body truly "get it"!

First, I was taught just one segment - create the path, and STOP! Nothing further. No "follow through". That created a result and a sensation, and they in turn have taught mind and body what I'm "supposed" to be doing. The rest is to follow, but first things first - "create a path". FAN -TASTIC!!

If this also would work in skiing, I CAN HARDLY WAIT!!
post #35 of 45

For many years, the fundamental basis of my lessons has been, "Smooth, round turns". If I can get a student to create and follow a smooth arc leading to another smooth arc all the parts of the turn fall into place. Errors disappear, abrupt, jerky movements go away. The student becomes ready for coaching in the subtle movements and cues of expert skiing. One really great part of this is that if the student forgets everything else but round turns the turn will "teach" them the next time they ski.

post #36 of 45
This is good stuff from everyone. I don't play tennis but I have had an awakening from my participation in Tai Chi that has got me feeling just like Oboe, I can hardly wait! Rooted skiing. Developing my root, nuturing and growing my connection, so I may better read the forces, and developing that structural awareness to accept and go with the forces and not react and resist. I haven't been this exited and awakened about my body and mind since I don't know when, maybe never. My desire to ski has never been stronger, nor has my desire to turn othes on been stronger. Much to play with. So I'm not sure yet how I will work this into my teaching.

I like the concept of thinking where our skis need to go. It so easy to overlook things we as good skiers take for granted, and do intuitively.
post #37 of 45
Since there seems to be interest I thought I would make a further comment on implicit vs. explicit learning. In the study I referred to they demonstrated quite nicely another aspect about the differences between these two approaches. They found that implicitly taught learners were better able (than those explicitly taught) to reproduce what they did in practice when under the pressure of competition.

As I have talked to athletes about this concept they all agree that in order to achieve true competency that is consistent, even under pressure, you have to achieve a level of "implicit" (automatic?) skill. The moment you have to think about something like the position of your elbow when you are serving in tennis or the position of your body in the fore aft plane while skiing, it is highly unlikely you will be able to perform in moments of pressure.

If this finding generalizes, then certainly there is clear advantage in skiing where people regularly find themselves "under pressure." Beyond this, however, is the hypothesis that explicitly taught movements may actually be detrimental to performance, especially under pressure.

I don't mean to state this as fact, I only offer it in suppostion.
post #38 of 45
Ydnar, those smooth, round turns . . . I can just feel them now! Thanks!
post #39 of 45
Excellent discussion everyone! This is the first time I've had a chance to read through this stuff. Just a couple thoughts (and I added some comments yesterday about the "slow line fast" in general in the other current thread, "To Ski Or Not To Ski The Slow Line Fast.")

First, the notion of "the slow line fast," as I employ it, most definitely DOES apply off piste. It's just that a "slow enough line" in "slow snow" is much straighter than it would be in faster conditions. Tip Nolo's parking lot up to a higher angle and you have exactly three choices: go faster, ski a slower line (i.e. more complete turns), or brake. If you were going way too slowly before, the "faster" option is good. If you were already going just the right speed, and you want to maintain it, the choice of skiing a slower line is usually more elegant, more efficient, safer, and more fun than hacking away with your skis as brakes.

Indeed, as Holiday suggests, the braking option doesn't even work reliably off piste. Forcing skis sideways in deep or heavy snow is a lot of work at best, and GETTING them sideways is a risky proposition, especially in inconsistent conditions! Remember--it is IMPOSSIBLE to catch an edge if your skis are pointing the direction they're going!

As I stated in the other thread, it is essential to understand that "the slow line fast" really means "a slow ENOUGH line, as fast AS YOU CAN." "Slow enough" does NOT mean, necessarily, SLOW. And "as fast as you can" need not be FAST! "Too fast" and "too slow" on skis are states of mind--not speeds (the ski patrol notwithstanding). Too fast for one skier is too slow for another, and vice-versa.

As Cal has rightly said, slow enough lines "exist everywhere, on any trail, under any conditions." They can involve very short turns, very long turns, or anything in between. They may involve the use of moguls, gullies, and other terrain features, or they may simply be a matter of completeness of turns. Even a straight run down the fall line may be "slow enough" depending on the skier, the slope, and the conditions. Yes, we may well ski a faster line in deep powder, but it must still be "slow enough" if we expect to continue to enjoy the glide!

Sometimes the slow enough line requires more skill than we have, so we must resort to braking. And EXTREMELY narrow chutes, where the skis can barely fit sideways, pretty much require braking moves. Everywhere else, it's just a question of trying to GO UPHILL to slow down, rather than trying to STOP GOING DOWNHILL! You don't even have to succeed--it's the intent, the mindset, that counts, and that affects the movements. In steep powder, it's unlikely that the skis will actually take you back uphill, but the skier who tries to slice through the snow looks very different from the one who tries to brake.

The "implicit vs. explicit learning" issue is integrally related to the concept of the "slow line fast." The whole key to "perfect turns" is very simple: focus on your line. The fundamental movements of these turns will happen, regardless of skill level, whenever a skier truly focuses on skiing a precise, specific line. Rank beginners, on skis their very first time, will make these movements instinctively if they try to follow a path you draw on the snow (on the flats). They will not try to throw their skis sideways, or hit the brakes, either with a parallel skid or a braking wedge. They won't fall into the back seat, or remain static. They WILL move their feet and skis in the right direction, and move their bodies in the right direction. They will make what I call "positive movements"--movements in the direction they're trying to go. And they will do it with NO "explicit" instruction telling them how!

Of course, they won't do these things very skillfully at first. There may need to be some explicit instructions along the way to help develop the skills, but the fundamental nature of their movements will be identical to the fundamentals of Hermann Maier's movements as he follows HIS chosen line down a course. In that both are trying to GO on a specific line, both are doing THE SAME THING!

The moment you tip the world of these beginners up a bit, though, you risk adding the need for speed control and survival, which trumps the need to follow a particular line. Now they aren't trying to GO anymore--they're trying to slow down. Their movements change fundamentally, unless they've already learned to choose a slow enough line, and trust themselves to ski it. No amount of "explicit instruction" to "roll your ankles downhill, let go of the mountain, and point your skis straight down the fall line to start a turn" is going to work when the last thing they want is to point their skis straight down the fall line!

The entire key to great turns is to make sure you are trying to CONTROL LINE--NOT SPEED! You MUST ski "a slow enough line" so that you eliminate the NEED for speed control, otherwise it won't happen, no matter how skillful you are, and no matter what instructions some instructor is shouting at you.

The implications of "the slow line fast" on much conventional wisdom are enormous. Almost everyone turns to slow down, but if you want to make great turns, I say you must only turn when you want to GAIN SPEED! After all, when you release your edges and turn your skis downhill without the brakes on, they WILL gain speed--so good turns are INCOMPATIBLE with the intent to slow down! You HAVE to want to gain speed when you turn, otherwise your "turns" will really be "brakes."

To make great turns, you have to want to GO FASTER, ALL THE TIME! In other words, you have to make sure you are always going a speed that is "too slow"--for you, at any given moment. That's why Disski's instructors have been so effective. As she says, they have led her on a VERY slow line as fast as they can ski it--a line so slow that Disski had no need to slow down. A line that, because Disski was trying to follow it without the distraction of needing to slow down, causes her INEVITABLY to make the basic fundamental movements of great turns.

So the slow line fast is not really a choice. It is a matter of fact. You HAVE to ski "a slow enough line as fast as you can" to make the type of turns that result ONLY from this intent. You certainly have the option of skiing faster lines, but the moment you ski a line that is not "slow enough," the fundamental nature of your movements will change. There's nothing right or wrong about that, and no value judgement implied--it's simply a statement of fact! If you value the type of gliding, sensuous, precise, efficient (but not necessarily pure-carved) turns that result, you have no choice but to ski a line slow enough that you can make them.

Well, I didn't expect to write something this long, but this issue is so fundamental, and so essential to great skiing, that I got carried away (as usual).

Learning to ski the slow line fast, to adopt the habit of an OFFENSIVE state of mind (not necessarily an AGGRESSIVE state of mind), involves a true paradigm shift for most skiers. If you "turn" to slow down, you haven't made this shift yet--that alone is a defensive thought. It is an all-encompassing change, and it may not make sense until you've arrived at it! But it is a change that will not only make your on-piste turns smoother, more effortless, more elegant, and more carved, but it will give you an entirely new sense of control everywhere, and it will make off-piste skiing not only possible, but enjoyable! It will allow you to ski ANY line faster, and with more control. It, and it alone, will put you on the path to expert skiing--the slow line is the ONLY line that takes you there!

It's worth pursuing!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ November 10, 2002, 02:12 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #40 of 45
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
To make great turns, you have to want to GO FASTER, ALL THE TIME! In other words, you have to make sure you are always going a speed that is "too slow"--for you, at any given moment. That's why Disski's instructors have been so effective. As she says, they have lead her on a VERY slow line as fast as they can ski it--a line so slow that Disski had no need to slow down. A line that, because Disski was trying to follow it without the distraction of needing to slow down, causes her INEVITABLY to make the basic fundamental movements of great turns.

YES - they ski a line where I can simply think - "Go where they go - try to keep up"
Sometimes I see them head up the face of a cornice or some such - & I think 'uh oh' but I KNOW because I have followed so much that I will be Ok if I just 'ski the line' - so I do - & go places I would NEVER go alone - then I gain the confidence to do it my self. When I 'cheat' on the line - I pay the price - the skiing becomes harder!

I have spent a fair chunk of this season just following great lines - it is slowly sinking in & my skiing improves!

I tried to ski lines for a learner friend - just her line. As her hubby won't ski with her : I spent the afternoon with her. It is HARD! How do you learn to ski lines for others to follow?
post #41 of 45
Great stuff since I read this thread last. And great snow in Tahoe over the weekend. Alpine opens Saturday.

you've got it. Working back from the point of contact uses implicit learning (as SI states, thankyou for the clarificaitons, SI). It isn't neccesarily all implicit, though. As you work back from the point of contact, there may be a need for for some explicit teaching. After all, we know that every learner is different. I think the key is that your working out from the point of contact toward the goal of creating the desired path, of skis or racket. If I ask you to resist the temptation of dropping that left hand, it's not because of a pre-concieved image I'm trying to fit you to, but because you skis are not creating the desired result and the left hand has such a habit built in that we need to address it directly. Even with this explicit point, we have worked our way up the body from the point of contact and it's desired result to this problem issue.

from a tennis standpoint, congrats on your breakthroughs. All the best players I know, work from their strings back. Create the desired path of the strings through the fuzzy yellow illusion and things continue to get better, and as SI said, not break down under pressure as much.

Bob Barnes,
Beautiful post, as usual. Although sometimes I think we work from very different premises based on you posts, this one was dead on. Having never met or skied with you, I've formulated my opinion based on your posts and long time western examiniers I've spent time with. Based on that, I sometimes thought you represented some the ideas I don't like about the psia's philosophies. Your latest pieces, especially this last one have changed that opinion. I hope we can ski together someday.

Until the next time...

post #42 of 45
Bob, great post, do these go towards your book?
I think I get the slow enough line as fast as you can idea.

I think most of us would do better to concentrate on what we want the skis to do than what we want the body and its parts to do. I have a habit of dropping my left hand at the end of turns to the left, with predictable results. I could try to stop dropping the hand or I could think about getting my skis go arc to arc. This would make doing the wrong thing difficult. The alternative approach would have me focus on not dropping my left hand.

I'm trying to understand what you're saying here. Would concentrating on getting your skis to go arc to arc really solve the problem of dropping the left hand? Couldn't you still go arc to arc while dropping the hand? Is there a -cause- to dropping the hand that could be focused on? Or is it that you know dropping the hand effects the arc to arc skiing, so if you concentrate on the arcs your brain will quickly pull up the idea "get the left hand forward" and solve the problem?

I guess I agree with concentrating on what the skis do in general. This is a lot like the discussions in the poles/hands threads where many are saying essentially to forget about the poles until there's a certain competency. Upshot: concentrate on the feet and skis, the TURNS.

However, lets take the racer and training gates. At racing speeds, dropping the hands back can have very big effects on ones turns. If the hands are back at speed at the turn, it can be too late to do anything about it. I'm not sure not talking about the hands/arms would necessarily work. OTOH, I've seen too much made of the hand issue where some people ski the gates like Frankenstein because they're thinking so much of they hands.

Comic note:
This discussion reminds me of "Fawlty Towers" w/John Cleese. Ever see the episode 'The Germans'? (There's a large group for dinner) There he's always saying "Don't mention the war" later he says "I did but I think I got away with it"

ps: where's the "point of contact" discusion by CalG?
post #43 of 45
Thread Starter 
There's cause (dropping of hand) and effect (rotating of body into turn, losing grip of outside ski). I am postulating that I might go in the back door instead of beating my head against the front door by focusing on the result I am after with the outside ski, which would be difficult to accomplish if my body rotates into the turn and I drop my left hand. It's a variation on the "make the wrong thing difficult" approach to ski teaching.
post #44 of 45
Speaking of "snow"...

I came across this photo while cleaning out some files. My wife took it this June in Big Cottonwood Canyon. I was going to cross the avalanche debris to ski some smooth stuff on the other side, but I decided to see if the junk was skiable. It turned out it was.

Since the topic of this thread was skiing off-piste conditions, I thought this qualified.

Actually, this reminds me of the typical groomed conditions at Snowbird.

post #45 of 45
Thread Starter 
You're looking bulletproof, Bob. Nice form.
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