A great discussion starter! We've all got those habits, and they can block our improvement, leading to great frustration.
To your specific issue of "leading with my shoulder," we might be able to help with a little more specific information. As Frenchie says, it is normal and not incorrect for one shoulder to lead the other, switching in the transition. And the shoulders will be more to the inside of the turn than the hips or the feet, as well. If you mean "lead with my shoulders" (plural), then I assume that you mean you turn your shoulders/torso into the turn first, before turning your feet and skis. Is that what you mean? Without more information to go on, I'll take a shot--but be warned it could end up way off target!
You have said that you don't turn with upper body rotation "anymore," but it sounds like this may actually be what you are describing, or at least a remnant of that old rotation habit. You can lead into the turn with your shoulders by twisting (rotating) your shoulders first, or by tipping your shoulders first, or both. Leading into the turn with the upper body (shoulders) will cause rotation, whether you intend it or not. That rotation will tend to pull your tails out into a skid, and it affects your alignment--causing you to become too square or rotated, which in turn interferes with your edging movements by pulling your hips out over your skis.
Keep in mind that without actually watching you, I'm only guessing here, based on your description. But if it sounds like you, and you really want to eliminate the habit, here are some thoughts.
First, I suggest that your "one-footed turns" (and Javelin turns, which are a specific variant of one-footed turns) may well be making the problem worse, rather than better. Here's why:
In most turns--all but "pure-carved" turns--some amount of rotary torque (twisting) input from the skier takes place to help redirect the skis. Plus, most of us developed our first habits on old straighter skis that usually needed more twisting than today's deep sidecut skis do to accomplish the same thing, so we even tend to overdo this twisting. On top of that, since most skiers (at least subconsciously) seek a braking effect from their "turns," the need for twisting the skis into a skid becomes even stronger. In short, for better or worse, your movements very likely stem from a need to twist your skis into the turn.
So you could eliminate the upper body rotation by eliminating the need for twisting the ski that causes it--but that is not a realistic solution. The need exists, so you need an ALTERNATIVE movement pattern to REPLACE the shoulder rotation.
The most intuitive, and arguably most powerful, way to twist skis is to pull them around with upper body rotation--twist the shoulders forcefully into the turn, then yank the skis around, in a "1-2" action. The old Arlberg Technique, that at least influenced how many of us learned to ski, was entirely based on upper body rotation. Hence--the habit you are struggling with. You, and about 90% of the rest of the skiers on the hill, whether they know it or not!
You need to develop more Independent Leg Steering. Perhaps the single defining movement of modern skiing is turning the feet and legs in the hip sockets, beneath and independently of the upper body.
It's the move you make when you lift one ski up and turn it, using only your leg. This might suggest that "Javelin Turns" should be a great way to develop the skill--but no! Try it: stand up, lift one foot, and turn it left and right. Easy, eh? You can turn it with no involvement of your upper body whatsoever. BUT--now try turning the foot you're still standing on. To turn that one weighted foot, your upper body comes back into play--either rotating first as described above, or counter-rotating like doing "The Twist." (Or you could grab onto a table or something and turn your foot against it.) It may be subtle--just your arms moving a little bit--but your upper body MUST be involved when you try to twist the one foot your're standing on. To exaggerate the effect, try turning the foot very slowly (as you would when steering a smooth ski turn).
Now put your foot back down. Notice that you can still twist it, even if you put a fair amount of weight on it, with enough force from your leg. And--you can also twist the OTHER foot, in the same way! As long as both feet remain on the ground, with a little separation between them, you can twist either one or both at the same time, without involving your upper body. Weight does not need to be 50:50, but there has to be enough weight on each foot to "anchor" it to the ground, while you twist the other one against it.
So--assuming the need for some twisting--those one-footed exercises actually prevent the one movement you need to develop to substitute for that "shoulder first" rotation. With one foot in the air, the more you need to twist the other foot, the more you NEED to use your upper body. The habit, in this case, is not one you can eliminate, and it is not "bad"--it is the only way to do it!
As is so often the case, the best strategy for eliminating a "bad habit" is to ignore it, and to focus instead on the movement that will substitute for it. Independent Leg Steering--develop this skill, and I'll bet the problem will vanish. More importantly, you will greatly improve your ability to carve clean turns, and to steer your skis precisely throughout your turns.
How do you do it? There, I cannot highly enough recommend a lesson from a competent instructor! First, I repeat that I'm only making an educated guess about your needs in the first place. And second, a good instructor will work with YOU, to find the best exercises, focus, terrain, words, and such that will work for you. A good instructor will give you feedback, to make sure you are actually doing the movements you think you are. Remember that improvement is CHANGE, and change feels, well, "different." The new moves will probably NOT feel right to you, at first, so an instructor who can give accurate feedback is essential.
Then you'll need to practice! A word on that--make sure you practice where you do NOT need the new movements. To change your fundamental movements, practice hardest on the easiest terrain. Then TEST your new skills on the harder stuff. Practice without distractions so you can focus on doing the new movements right. Otherwise, you are sure to just practice mistakes, and further ingrain your habits.
I'll join the others in recommending the EpicSki Fall Tuneup workshop in December at Stowe. This two-day clinic will bring some of the top instructors around to work with you. It will focus on fundamentals that you can continue to work with all season. And it happens early in the season, when habits are most easily broken and new movements most easily incorporated to replace the bad. Learn the details in the EpicSki Academy Planning forum. This is going to be a great event!
Meanwhile, if I've guessed wrong about your needs, let me know with some more details. Even better would be a photo or two, or (best) a short video clip. And let fly with any other questions!
Think snow--it won't be long now!
PS--Where is Liberty Mountain? I assume that the Maritime Republic of Eastport means Eastport, Maine. As a long-displaced, but still often homesick Mainer, this caught my eye!
[ August 22, 2003, 03:54 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]