|Originally posted by FastMan:
Don't allow a feeling of futility to creep into your phyche just because a student has allignment issues. My philosiphy on this issue is that unless it's an extreme misallignment the body will compensate for the situation and learning can readily occur.
Yes, the correction of moderate allignment problems can enhance the learning process and progression of the student, but in reality it is far down my list of criticlal factors in the skill development process. I know this flies in the face of current popular ideology, and I'm sure many of you reading this assume this Florida yahoo knows not of what he speaks, but I assure you I base my opinion on 20 years of guiding low level skiers through the entire development process to the level of ultra expert. Through that experience I have come to undrstand the capabilities of the human body.
The key elements of skiing are balance, edging, angulation, and rotation, and of these I place supreme importance on balance. With highly developed balance skills the students ability to adapt to, and perform technical tasks is unlimited. I've had my students bring their free heel cross country skis to class to ski on as a balance exercise and many were able to perform a variety of turn shapes, including high speed GS, while making the fact they were on X-C skis unrecognizable to even trained eyes. I see the influence of moderate misallignment on the ability to develop balance skills as minimal. The skier will make what adaptations are necessary and then with practice become competant at the task.
Yes, I've read the books, done the clinics, and made the adjustments in my students. But to be honest, beyond the gross misallignments I feel the merit of its importance has been elevated past reality to the point of being promoted as a easy miracle cure. We had Witheral do a clinic on canting for our ski shools top instructors and in my eyes it equated to demonstration of mass hysteria. Warren would observe as each instructor would ski down to him and he would then offer off the cuff suggestions for each instructor (example: 2 pieces of tape inside left, one outside right). After a coule more tweak runs he would declare us dialed in and the instructors would be just giddy with how much better they felt. The power of suggestion is strong, but I was still there a year after Warren had left and gone onto his next clinic and those now properly aligned instructors still posessed the same balance, edging and rotation flaws in their skiing. If I had had the time I could have quickly improved the skills of those instructors, with or without their cants.
Cants will change skeletal allingment, but not the skiers ultimate ability to perform a skill. I have experimented with exagerated canting (up to 4 degrees) both in and out on myself and while I obviously clearly feel the difference my body immediately compensates for the alteration and renders little influence on my ability perform. Racers do much with allignment, not always with a consistent philosiphy but more so influenced by personal preference. While therory suggests that the center of mass of the knee should be located slightly inside, if you have the opportunity watch world cup racer Benjamin Reich ski. His preference is for immediate edge so he has therefore canted himself so far outside he skis very obviously bowlegged, yet he still skis in perfect balance. The body will adapt.