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# circles

Nolo said in the "short turn" thread that she teaches circles, not turns. i've tried to do circles and always topple over from lack of speed or nearly break my leg from too much speed.

How do you do them? Is there a PISA way and a PMTS way?
Trey – While I don’t want to speak for Nolo I would see “circles” as a way to have a student visualize a turn. Much like having a student understand a turn is round. A lot of skier’s cannot “control” the turn because they start turning too late and stop turning too early. A pure turn starts before you tips cross the fall line and finishes after your tips cross the fall line going in the opposite direction. Do we ski this way? Absolutely we just modify size and shape to go from here to there and once in a while release part of the circle to gain speed or direction. If we are always moving into the turn with our center of mass, varying pressure on the ski, edging, shape etc. we will be in control of our skiing circle.

I suspect if you are slowing down too much you are “hanging” in the “circle” too long. If you are gaining in speed I suspect you aren’t getting in the circle early enough and the speed you start to gain has you getting out to early to gain you think more “control” and the speed keeps building. Try doing some side slips, then side slip change ups (a side slip and then release your edges, pivot your tips to the opposite direction, side slip a little, and then release and pivot the tips to the opposite direction. All the time your upper body shoulders are facing more or less down the hill). Then repeat the change ups but as you release the edges from the sideslip instead of pivoting the flat skis (or steering the tips) to the opposite direction as the edges release “carve” them around to the opposite direction and then repeat on the opposite side etc.. This will help you to feel the early part of the turn and the full completion of the turn or half of a circle. Then start working on linking the half circles together. Then vary half circle size, speed, etc.
The circle is a shape, distinct from a square or a triangle or a straight line. I see people making triangular or Z-shaped turns, square turns (hockey slides), and straight lining. Can you see in your mind's eye how a circle is the best shape for the turn, compared to the others?

(When I talk about the shape, I am talking about the directional line the skis make in the snow...)

Visualize having four long sections of rope and a slope. Lay one rope down to demarcate a straight path, aka the fall line. Then lay a rope down in a Z-path and another in a right angled path. Can you see where the skier needs to leave one straight line abruptly to follow the other straight line?

Now take the last rope and lay it next to the others as a series of S-es down the slope. See how the curved arcs of the rope allow the skier to stay on one continuous line by smoothly and gradually changing edges to change the direction of the curve left and right?

Another idea is that when the skis are going straight down the fall line, they are directly in the path of gravity. When they are across the fall line, they are completely out of the path of gravity and therefore stopped. In a round turn, a skier spends about the same amount of time in and out of the path of gravity.

Draw a box in the snow, and round off the corners to make a circle. Moving gradually in and out of gravity's path is the secret to the circle. It's the secret to smoothness, by evening out the starts and stops that are inherent in each turn.

This is what I call guidance and steering, going from one set of edges to the other and keeping the edges engaged as long as it takes to keep a consistent rate of descent and maintain rhythm, and no more.

Rounding out railroad tracks is how I like to develop a sense of the skis' preference for making circles over any of the other shapes.

The curves are arcs of a series of imaginary circles going down the slope. Keeping consistent circles is a PSIA-type task, as is doing a series of one size circles and changing in the space of one turn to a set of different size circles, often corresponding with a terrain change that makes the change of tempo appropriate. Often the additional request to not change speed is given.

I also said that making circles is a technical thing, but the size of the circle is tactical. The PSIA task I described involves both physical technique and tactical thinking.

I'm not PMTS-trained so I'll let that gang speak for themselves.
"I suspect if you are slowing down too much you are “hanging” in the “circle” too long."

Would that also cause the turns to look more like the NY Times crossword puzzle than a circle?

Great description, Nolo!
A turn should not be a time to slow down. It's a time to go faster

As the inimitable Mr. Barnes would suggest,"Ski the slow line as fast as you care to."

Is that right Bob, or did I butcher the adage?
>>>going from one set of edges to the other and keeping the edges engaged as long as it takes to keep a consistent rate of descent and maintain rhythm, and no more.<<<

Thanks, nolo, the "...and no more.." is what is so hard to drum into some students heads. They ideea of either always being on high edge, or off, lacks the understanding of the fine and subtle art of edge control.

Rusty, we need to make a distinction between forward speed and vertical speed. A skier going very fast in a forward direction cans still ski a slow line that is economical on vertical descent.

..Ott
Ott, you just described the difference between gross motor control and fine motor control. Therein is the difference between the novice and the expert.
Trey,

Are you trying to do full circles - 360 degrees - or half circles - 180 degrees?

I have tried to do full circles, but could only muster about 225 degrees - pointing back uphill at about 45 degrees before I ran out of speed.

Lurking Bear
lurking bear, the secret of completing full circles is to pick a fairly steep slope that abruptly ends in the flat.

You need to get going very fast straight down the lower part of the slope and do your circle on the flat where there is no uphill [img]smile.gif[/img]

....Ott
Quote:
 Originally posted by nolo:Ott, you just described the difference between gross motor control and fine motor control. Therein is the difference between the novice and the expert.
Adult beginners have a real hard time with this. Just the way we live in modern society severs our relationship with smaller muscle groups. Sometimes, the more fit that a person is, the more they have this problem. My colleagues often tell me that their ski instructors talk about how they muscle their turns.

IMHO, anyone with a tendency to do that is going to have a really hard time making circles.or short turns.

It almost needs to be mental. Get into "flow state" and feel the movements as a continuom, as opposed to isolated parts of a whole.
Lisamarie -
If you are “hanging” in the circle (actually half circle) too long your completing your turn with your tips pointing uphill and in airplane lingo you “stall out”. Now you will need to make some mechanical move to roll over and restart your next turn. You are stuck. Now will you step or stem or back seat or rotate your shoulders or… whatever because you are stuck. In fact you can’t traverse a short distance because you are facing uphill. Momentum is lost! As exercises on a green run make linked “half” circles holding the same speed from the top to the bottom of each “half” circle with all half circles identical in speed and size. Ride the edge and FEEL the “tool” do the work. The difference between a good skier and a so so skier is as much sense of feet/skis than anything.
As posted a few items ahead of me, the secret is to find a headwall with a relatively flatter run-out. We all have our "favorite" sides to turn to and I like the left. At the start of the turn, I compress and drag my left hand in the snow. This wears out the fingertips of my gloves but gives the dudes in the chair above a sight to hoot at. While it gives a show, it also keeps my center of gravity low and my skis tipped way over on edge. You must carve an extremely precise edge now as any scrubbing will cut your momentum and your arc. The hardest part to accept is the 12:00 position, when you feel as if you may tip over while heading uphill and crossing the fall line again.

Two major points to heed. Always check out the uphill path you are going to take before you commit to the turn. Skiers traversing or heading downhill are not used to seeing someone skiing uphill at them and it becomes squirrel time if you are not cautious. Also, you must have a ski with a short turn radius. I ski an Atomic Beta Race 9.16 at 170cm and can "do the turn" 75% of the time (not every attempt is successful).

Lotsaluck!

Bruce
It helps if there is a little double fall line at the flat. Then you can bank off from it. The bottom of Pine Martin at Bachelor is almost a small bowl on three sides(possibly because people stopping make a berm at the end). It's the best place I've found. The finish area of the right-hand NASTAR course at Snowmass is pretty good too.
Bruce
How's the hip?
thaks for the reply's all. the EpicSage himself, prompted by lurking bear, answered my question; thanks OTT! Like the hand down idea too Bruce. nolo, am I correct that what you advocate is linking alternate HALF circles? I can do this if it's not too steep, but tend to get back if it's steep. Balance is the key for me.
Trey,

To only allow oneself 180 degrees in which to make a turn for any situation would be dangerous, as you point out. Some terrain requires a longer arc, in which case you would be linking arcs >180 degrees and the resulting path might resemble the links between jugsaw puzzle pieces.

Also, remember I didn't equate the shape with the edge angle, and I wouldn't say that a carved circle is better than a skidded circle, just different. A expertly skidded turn takes as much finesse and skill as an expertly carved turn.
Sometimes I practice letting the skis continue in their circle uphill until I come to a full stop. I haven't managed a graceful loop the loop yet. An instructor originally suggested it as a good way to check you really are carving a turn.

For me this has gave a huge psychological boost. I know that (as long as the slope is wide enough) I don't have to do anything special to stop - in fact I need to do something special to keep going. This helped me get over my fear of going too fast and ending "out of control". Now I realise that my skis actually want to go uphill; it takes effort (edge change) from me to turn downhill. My husband will tell you that over a few days I changed from always being last in our group to being one of the fastest. Now I have to wait for him!
You know? Sometimes, learning can be such a simple process. As a perpetually stuck intermediate skier, I've never viewed the turn in "circles" or arcs. It's not that I didn't know they were, but as I read this thread this morning, I thought about what I think of as I'm going down a slope. All I could see was my skis pointing about 30 degrees to the left or right of the fall line as I made my way down. There was no arc between them in my mind, I just wanted to make sure they got to that position. It was as if I focusing on the end position of the skis rather than the stuff in between. Once again, it's the journey, not the destination.

This past spring, I''ve been reading all the technical discussions here and reading all the skiing books to try and get different ideas on what I could do to improve. My first day skiing this year, I probably would have looked like a golfer at the first tee running through his/her mental list of things to remember. You spend more time trying to figure out whether you're rememebring everything you're supposed to be doing, than simply doing. The techniches I read about would obviouslyt help me, but without the visual, it would have been a disaster.

Thanks, nolo and Trey for the thread. Now I'm really getting the Jones to get out there.
Skidmo- So it turns out you haven't been just wasting your time here afterall! (wish i could say the same)
We have made psychological training one of our major projects for the last 3 years and I would say that it is still the area, in which ski racers can make the most improvements. We always say that in order to do something you have to be able to first visualize it in your head. I'm sure one of our scientists here will now spoil that great teaching tool by disproving it. But it works for me and I'm happy it worked for you too! Now imagine yourself standing on the podium at a world cup race!
>...We always say that in order to do something you have to be able to first visualize it in your head. I'm sure one of our scientists here will now spoil that great teaching tool by disproving it. ...

It sure won't be me! I agree totally about the value of visualization. That's probably the main reason I'm on Epic - I get to visualize sking all summer long. I swear that when I get back on skis in the winter, I'm often better than I was at the end of the previous season because of off-season visualization.

Tom / PM
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