Now we are getting to where the rubber meets the road!
First, I'd like to make an observation-. It was/is a point of contention for a very long time as to whether "balance" is a skill, or an ability. To define these zones as per PSIA- a skill would be something which could be improved upon, whereas an ability would be something you are born with. Personally, I believe it falls into both of these categories, but a case may be made for either point of view.
This has been one of the most in depth threads I've seen in quite some time, and I'm really looking forward to hearing more from David M. He obviously knows his stuff! Though not "classicly" trained, biomechanics has always been a fascination with me, and I've studied quite a bit. But DavidM has certainly increased my knowledge in several areas.
And though this has all been very interesting to some of us, there are others, I'm sure, who are deer in the headlights/ eyes glazed, lost. It took alot of focus to wade through this entire thread.
So our average viewer is asking, how does this information help me ski better? I'm not sure if what I'm about to write is going to clear the water any further, but I feel it's important information.
Knowledge of biomechanics is still only part of the equation. But I will agree with a point brought up on page 1 by whtmt, regarding static vs. dynamic balance. Most of what has been described has been static/semi-static, and oriented around how to manipulate the foot/ lower leg. Important? Of course!
But the problem most skiers have isn't really that issue. It has more to due with balancing against the various forces which act upon us as we ski. Only in the preceding couple of posts has the relationship to physics starting coming up.
Since the nature of skiing is so dynamic, I often will substitute the word equalibrium for balance. For all of the previous info to be effected, a certain ratio (almost used the word balance) of relaxation/tension must exist in the body. How do we achieve that state while skiing? By neutralizing many of the forces acting upon us.
You stop by McD's for a cup of coffee on your way to work. Some bone head driver pulls a move in front of you causing you to make a sudden direction change. Since the car only moves in a level plane, your coffee spills, resulting in your receiving several million dollars.
In an airplane, given the same set of circumstances(theoretically), because the aircraft can move in various planes, the coffee remains exactly where it was.
We as skiers are capable of moving in multiple planes, so by equalizing the forces in any given plane, we can use this to our advantage. We can remain semi- relaxed, able to create our next move. For if we are not relaxed, and the muscles are already active, they can not do anything else until they do become relaxed.
( This is a very common issue with recreational skiers- they do not understand that muscles can only do one thing at a time, then must be relaxed prior to their next operation. Instead, they try to go from one movement to another without relaxing, resulting in involving larger muscle groups to overcome the resistance of the original muscle.
LM/ DavidM- should we have another thread on this issue?)
As previously described, because of the way our bodies are built, fore and aft movements(or acceleration /deceleration) of the CG are some of the hardest for the body to adjust to. By attempting to move the CG at a very consistent speed, with a minimal amount of direction change, we reduce the susceptibility of the body to "lose balance". Same goes for lateral movements. Though the body more readily accepts these movements by broadening the base of support(widening the feet), it is still possible to overdo these movements. By moving toward the center of the turn just enough to zero out the centripital and centrifugal forces, we again reach that state of relaxation. The best/ smoothest skiers are those whom are capable of finding that state of equalibrium most often.
Creating turns while skiing is nothing more than re-directing the CG in the direction you want to go. How much edge you use, how quickly you turn your legs, how much you move into the turn, etc., are all mechanisms to achieve this original goal.
By minimizing excess movement of the CG(by equalizing forces) while skiing, balance/equalibrium is within reach of every skier!
: Just my $.02 worth!