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A question about stance and leg power

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
First of all, I need to apologise if my question has already been discussed in another thread. I've read through old threads extensively but I only found bits and pieces referring to this. If you know an existing thread covering this, please point it out to me.

Background. I am the dreaded 15-20 day per year holiday skier (at least, until about two years ago, I used to get some additional skiing several weekends a year). Due to lack of funds I never took a lesson - but looked at instructional videos and tried to overhear instructors on the slopes (sorry guys, I know I was freeloading!). I learnt (a long time ago) and mostly still ski in a feet-locked-together position, unweighting to initiate the turn, skidding my turns, using far too much rotary movement...you name the wrong move, I'm making it. About two years ago I started to understand what carving was about and experimented with it. I think a lot of things worked well though I have a long way to go, but there's a particular one I'm puzzled about.

So now for my question. As soon as I try to carve fast I must, normally, move my CM well to the inside of the turn (I'm being agnostic for the moment on how this is accomplished, I've seen the long discussions about the kinetic chain and cause-or-effect movements). If I ski in a wide stance, this means of course that the outside leg is nearly stretched through the turn, while the inside leg is more or less flexed (depending mainly on the width of my stance). The trouble is, I seem to find that very tiring for the inside leg muscles. I'm fit (without being an athlete), so I guess the problem has to do with how I ski rather than with strength and stamina. One possible explanation is that I incline too much without angulating (that means I'm banking, yes?) and hence put too much weight on the inside foot - though subjectively I still feel I balance on the outside one.

A good illustration of this was during this spring, when I participated in an event requiring us to ski 30 mountain peaks in two days. By the end of the second day, I found that the only way my thighs would let me ski was to make wide controlled skids - trying to hold a proper edge through a carve made my legs, especially the inside one, burn too much.

Unfortunately, the only photo I have of me trying to carve was taken from too far away. For what it's worth, here it is: Carved (?) turn on a green run. I'm not sure that trying to touch the snow with my inside hand helped my stance!

Finally, I've read somewhere on this site that (as long as you're not racing, at least) it's useful to have a reasonably upright position, so that gravity and the centrifugal force are taken up by the skeleton rather than the muscles. I guess my point above is that in a wide stance at least one leg, which I understand is supposed to support up to 40-50% of my weight, is flexed. So where do you think I'm wrong with my logic and, more importantly, with my skiing?

Thank you in advance for any help!
post #2 of 7

AS you suggest it is rather difficult to tell much from the distant picture. I do think based on what you described and the position of your hands and arms in the picture that the tired thighs are not the result of the wide stance but from being too far back. You also appear hunched over at the waist a move that many feel puts them more forward but in reality puts them more back. This can be eliminated by maintaining shin contact with the boot tongue and keeping a straight back. Bending at the waist is often a balancing movement that occurs in rough terrain, when it does happen it is imperitive to straighten up and get tall again. Many times this doesn't happen and a skier will end up in the back.

In my own skiing when I find my self carving in an extreme long leg-short leg situation there is alot less strain on the inside leg than the outside leg. Remember that it is natural for the forces to build towards the outside of any turn. What happens to a coffee cup placed in the center of the dash board when you make a hard right turn?
post #3 of 7
I agree with Tom. I had an inkling that the fatigue you feel might be from being a bit aft. It's a fairly common situation out there. Shin/boot contact is good. (just don't try to "mash" down your boot cuffs or you'll end up with a whole list of new aches!) Keep the hands where you can see them. If your outside hand goes up and back like in that picture, it's a good indicator that you may be in the back seat. Also, just try to remain in a more upright and natural position. Many people, when trying to carve, attempt to get really far inside and low, because I assume, they are trying to get that "picture" to appear... Where the skier is agulated to beat hell and his/her hips are mere inches from the snow. Just stand tall and don't try to contrive that look that you see in so many pictures and films. It'll happen on its own with some mileage and patience.

As far as your wide stance question... I relate skiing to many other things in life. In this instance I'll use a staircase. If I were to stand facing the side of a staircase, with one foot on a lower step and one foot on a higher step, I would still be able to support 1/2 of my weight on each foot with a little thinkin', would I not? The problem is that in skiing, unlike standing motionless on a set of stairs, there is a force trying to put us on our oustide. (onto the "longer" leg) We must compensate for this by creating angles in the ankles, knees, hips, back so that we can strive for that perfect "equality" between our feet... even though realistically it will NEVER HAPPEN. I try to ski toward the ideal, while being perfectly content with the reality that is produced!!

So what I'm really saying is to loosen up those joints in the body while you are skiing so that they can do, skeletally, what you want them to do. I think your problem isn't that you don't know what to do, I just think you are trying to CREATE things that should just be HAPPENING and those things are getting in your way. If you need me (or anyone!) to be more specific, don't hesitate to ask!

Best of luck!!
Spag :

[ July 09, 2003, 03:41 PM: Message edited by: Notorious Spag ]
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Spag - guilty as charged, Your Honor. I WAS trying to create that picture. There was a time when I thought that was the main purpose of carving [img]smile.gif[/img] , then further reading (including this forum) made me understand more about efficient skiing.

Tom & Spag, thanks for both your comments. I think that in my 'normal' skidded skiing I am better balanced fore-aft. It's possible that when I try to carve I move further back, in an attempt to simulate an 'extreme' angulated position. I'll try to work on this once the snow starts falling.

On a side point, should I try in a turn to have my WEIGHT distributed evenly (or nearly so) on my legs, while most of the centrifugal force is taken up by the outside leg? (Tom, I thought that was where you were going with the coffee cup analogy). Or should I attempt to distribute the combination of the forces evenly on both legs?
post #5 of 7
Hi Cedric,

Great comments Tom and Spag,

From what I read into your comments, I would probably take this approach.

Unless you are trying to "paint a picture" to pass an exam or something like that, there's too much thinking going on here.

Assuming you know how to create edge angles, (sounds like it in your rambling) you know how to turn and your balance is good, then try to keep the weight even, and just go where you want to. "I want to turn that way" by using and holding your edge angles. or as in some of the other threads "tip left to turn left". Let your body handle the balance issue. Tom's comment about the coffee mug, comes to play here. as you move into the turn, all your weight will try to go to the outside. If you don't adjust your angles and weight to counter this, you will fall over. Your body will naturally do this. Maybe not with perfect efficiency but it does.

Then as your body's muscle memory begins to form, you can move onto other finer details of making this carved turn. and as Spag mentioned, with milage and time, that "picture" will just happen.
post #6 of 7
It sounds, and looks, like you are on a (hopefully fun) discovery path with your skiing. The leg fatigue one experiences as you get into carving is not an uncommon situation. One area for you to explore and play with is making sure that you legs are "flexing" (and extending) and not just "flexed" in a static position throughout the duration of each turn. For muscles to function efficiently they need to tense and relax in regular cycles to pump blood thru them so that they both are replenshed with new fuel, and they are flushed of wastes produced in the burning of that fuel. A static tensed muscle quickly burns all its fuel and gets clogged with something called lactic acid, which results in the burning thigh syndrome.

Here is a cycle to play with that is well suited to carving turns.

Start by releasing leg tension at the end of each turn (just soften them). Followed by extension of legs, after edge-change as CM moves inside, thru top of the next turn. Then as you start to load up pressure thru the falline, your extra leg length with share the load on the stacked leg bones, and make avaliable some range of flexion motion to regulate pressure thru the rest of the turn, which flows into the relax/release to start all over again. This produces a kind of "down-and-across" move thru each edge-change, and full extension (laterally, not vertical) in the falline.

Pump blood thru those legs and they will stay fresher, longer.

[ July 10, 2003, 10:25 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #7 of 7
Cedric...the Tom/Spag/Arc team to the rescue again(as usual [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] but $.01....
Your pic brought me back to my pre-Epicski days of not aligning my hips up(to a great extent) with the rest of the Upper body. Instead, they were just an upper extension of my legs, which leads to the endless-loop of over-compensating with every muscle in your body.
It only takes a couple seconds for gravity to begin pulling you into the backseat if you're doin' the twist...


[ July 13, 2003, 04:38 PM: Message edited by: HaveSkisWillClimb ]
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