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"The hardest skill to master..."

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 
Todo on the Rotary Skill:

Quote:
It is the hardest of the skills to master, you need a deft touch to use the correct amount and at the right time from the right place.
This is just enough different from "Rotary: the Master Skill?" to justify a new thread (I think).

I would have a hard time agreeing with this statement, because I think equally difficult is learning how to apply pressure effectively. Furthermore, feel is inseparable from finesse. What is difficult about skiing, and what separates skilled performance from not so skilled performance, is to orchestrate the repertoire of skills-related movements that both subject and observer appreciates as "feel" or "finesse."

A few months ago I watched a dress rehearsal of a symphony orchestra. The ensemble worked a piece of music over and over until it went from being unconsolidated and dissonant to being a harmonious, organic whole that flowed together. What was interesting was observing how the orchestra accomplished this over successive approximations and how the conductor coached them to arrive at a place defined by his ear.

The trust and respect of the orchestra members for their conductor was obvious. They willingly gave up their dominion as individual musicians to his leadership for the purpose of bonding together each part into a whole they could never achieve alone.

It is like that with skiing, ski teaching, and managing a team. It's not an individual play, but a team effort.
post #2 of 80
Don't my "rotory boots" take care of all of this?

(has this been a list topic)
CalG
post #3 of 80
Thread Starter 
Need more information, CalG.

What's a rotory boot?

I am ranting about the tendency to examine the skills parts and give them value when fercryin' out loud, they have NO VALUE separate from the other parts when the purpose is flow, feel, finesse, and balance. (Please add to the list. I'm sure there are more or better words for the desired RESULT.)
post #4 of 80
Whether or not one has mastered a particular skill is irrelevant if the timing is off. For example..... short radius turns: tipping then turning instead of turning then tipping. In other words, edge first then steer would seem to be the 'approved' way of more carving, less skidding. In bump skiing the order might be reversed so that the ski stays flatter at the top of the turn , then skidded ( edged) as the turn progresses. In MHO, the real "master skill" would be the ability to blend the skills and timing so that one is always in balance over the skis. I would agree that rotary skills are generally the weakest ( in my skiing, for sure ). It would be helpful for me to have a better understanding of the timing of steering and edging, particularly in short radius turns on steep pitches. A prescription for the "perfect" short radius turn ?Please send us some good thoughts and prayers for relief from this fire, it's getting hard to breathe in Colorado! Thanks !
post #5 of 80
"Flow, Feel, Finesse, and Balance."

Joan, I'm not sure you need any better words than those.

"What is difficult about skiing, and what separates skilled performance from not so skilled performance, is to orchestrate the repertoire of skills-related movements that both subject and observer appreciates as "feel" or "finesse."

Absolutely, and I think this forms the basis for highly effective teaching. In order to accomplish this orchestration it is often necessary to take out or reduce certain components which are being performed out of sequence, inefficiently, or to a greater extent than they should.

I have had a number of experiences in tennis where just suggesting that someone exclusively focus on being smooth (and giving approprite feedback) accomplishes a lot in this direction. From there it is then frequently possible to make some real progress.

In this vein I see the effectiveness of Harb's PMTS approach. From my experience it helps produce a sequence of movements that don't have too much of anything, strongly promotes balance, and keeps a skier in position to freely and appropriately add in pivoting ski movements (in the plane of the snow surface), increased degrees of tipping, or other movements as desired. This is not to say that the PMTS progression is unique in this respect, only that it is effective.
post #6 of 80
Thread Starter 
SnowDancer,

I am sending a prayer your way. We had enormous fires in western Montana in 2000. It takes its toll on the lungs of everyone. Our cattle were in tough shape for a year and the 2001 calves were puny compared to usual.

Si,

I would like to ski with you some time. Whether a person is allied with PSIA, PMTS, CSIA, the Swiss Federation...what have you, if they are teaching movements that lead to the result we define as flow, feel, finesse, and balance, then the content is the same. Good instructors have a tight customer focus, are concerned about student learning, and are creative and effective communicators--using their bodies as well as their words to drive home a point.

There are good instructors who don't teach PMTS consciously, but who are teaching from the same pool of movements and from the same teaching philosophy as PMTS, as several recent threads demonstrate.

Everything else is "branding." You are an apostle for the PMTS brand. Bob is an apostle for the PSIA brand.

The only difference I see in your brand loyalty is that Bob is a representative and a purveyor of the brand service while you are a consumer of the service. PSIA would do well to make its consumers as loyal as its distribution team.
post #7 of 80
Thanks Nolo, I very much agree with what you've said. But I think I disagree somewhat with the perception that I am an apostle of PMTS. I frequently bring it up as an example mostly because it is the system I am most familiar with and one that fits my own perceptions on teaching and learning best. There certainly are others I feel similarly towards, Eric and Rob DesLauriers articles in Skiing magazine have very much fit my own perceptions in much the same way, in fact with a focus much more in tune with my own skiing terrain preferences. There are often other aspects of skiing articles and books I read that I am similarly inclined towards. Perhaps I use PMTS as an example too frequently, if so it is probably due to my own limitations stemming from a lack of exposure to so much of the theory and literature out there.

I will be the first to say that I think the right individual instructor can have a bigger influence than any system or brand. However, in terms of PSIA I have to say that what little I've read about ATS and Centerline I am not impressed. Mostly I see a descriptive system that does not give adequate specific guidance for optimizing progression.

From what I read here on Epic, from all sides, I don't often find myself nodding my head in total agreement. Usually I see too much of what appears to be dogma mixed into the fray (both from PMTS as well as PSIA disciples). Having some experience with and my own personal understanding of PMTS and its concepts I can ignore the PMTS dogma. On the PSIA side I don't have the personal knowledge to differentiate.

Let me add, that I find your tendency to avoid, question, or go beyond dogma to be commendable and I especially enjoy your contributions because of that.

I will say that in 4 or more years of listening in on these types of discussions I find the written descriptions to be changing. Especially from the PSIA disciples (especially those have have regularly been writing and posting for a while) I see a definite migration towards the PMTS philosophy. I suspect that many of those instructors have always used similar components in their teaching but I find the evolution of their writings to be clearly in the direction of PMTS.

[ June 18, 2002, 12:40 PM: Message edited by: Si ]
post #8 of 80
Nolo

My apology,
The reference to rotory boots was a troll directed at the PM advocates or anyone else who may have studied boot functions. I have not. The subject, if expanded, may derail your topic. So my apology.

I do wonder how the boot mechanics effect the feel of our skiing motions.

CalG
post #9 of 80
Back on topic.....

The hardest skill for the average skier? Without a doubt, Crossover (or whatever term or phrase you want to use to talk about getting the CM across that line that is perpendicular to the surface at turn initiation, and across the skis, so that both skis can be on the new turning edges and the body committed to the turn). The reason it's the hardest is because it's not a physical skill, it's a mental skill. A.K.A. Commitment to the new turn.

FYI, yes, I know, it's not one of the 4 skills of rotary, edge, pressure & balance.

[ June 18, 2002, 01:15 PM: Message edited by: JohnH ]
post #10 of 80
JohnH:

I think you are right. Crossover is intellectually difficult to master. It is just like riding a bike. How do you turn a bike at anything faster than a few miles per hour? You pull back on the bar opposite to the direction you wish to turn. Why? Because the only way to get the two gyroscopes (wheels) to turn the way you want is to make them "fall" in the direction you wish to go. This is identical to the way we make skis turn (we crossover or "fall" into the turn and weight, rotate, angulate the ski to turn under us. For a brief period we are falling without any guarantee the ski will rescue us.

This is the thrill in skiing. Once it is learned the skier lives for this rush. Each turn is freedom and control and power.

But, it is as unnatural to teach as jumping from a high place. All the natural defenses say, "don't do it, you will fall, you will be hurt." So, we end up with an endless supply of intermediate skiers who can't break their fear and crossover.
post #11 of 80
Sorry guys - have to disagree there.
Crossover was relatively easy to teach me - pressure control is the HARDEST.

Crossover simply required an explanation that 'throwing' hips at next turn start would allow EARLY edging = better edging = less sliding. Good - I like that idea. Easy to trust the instructor when the result is something I WANT badly.
Also it is easy to feel - ski poleless & pull pants in each direction - moves hips.

OK - I'm just a fanatic student not an instructor -but that's my view of it
post #12 of 80
Thread Starter 
JohnH and Maddog:

How would you describe crossover from the perspective of the skis?

If I tip both my skis from left edges over to right edges, does my body have to cross over the skis?

If this is accomplished by throwing the body down the hill, what feedback tells you how far to throw it?
post #13 of 80
disski,

I don't doubt that for you, pressure control was the hardest, considering your disability. However, there is not one answer for everyone, and some people who are completely able-bodied, find it harder to learn other skills. My answer was not necessarily what was the hardest for me to learn, but was a generalization of my experiences of 19 years of teaching. I've had some rookie instructors that were so willing to accept what they were told, that they would literally fall, head first, down the hill because they would commit to a turn with a little too much enthusiasm. So, obviously, commitment was not their weak point.
post #14 of 80
Cross over has the greatest rewards, and so offers positive reinforcement for the correct action. The action is one of the real "break through opportunities" for any one. One's skiing dynamic changes after the first experience.
For me the action is simplified as feeling ones center,( lead by the head!) flow down the hill at a constant rate, while the lower parts, and skis move to accomodate terrain and path. That is, the skis take a longer path while the body takes a smooth path. The legs /hips connect the two. (note: A catanary is the fastest distance between two points!)

Pressure management is much more difficult to master. Variable conditions confuse "training", and there is not much of a thrill when you do it right. A smooth ride with confident edge grip is the result I experience. The best part about pressure management is the ability to turn anywhere, anytime.

A suggestion indirectly related to pressure management has been useful to me. "when a turn goes bad, get off it and onto the next. The bad turn isn't doing anything good anyway."

This expression has kept me much lighter on my feet, and allowed much more freedom in icey conditions. It really is pressure management to the extreme. Get on 'em, get off 'em. Feel the snow under your toes. What can you do with it? Move to the next scene. Do it again, and again.

CalG
post #15 of 80
Quote:
Originally posted by JohnH:
disski,

I don't doubt that for you, pressure control was the hardest, considering your disability. .
Not WAS - IS... my pressure control is atrocious!
RECOVERY is worse.....Oh well - we will work on those this year!
post #16 of 80
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
JohnH and Maddog:

How would you describe crossover from the perspective of the skis?

If I tip both my skis from left edges over to right edges, does my body have to cross over the skis?

If this is accomplished by throwing the body down the hill, what feedback tells you how far to throw it?
From the perspective of the skis??? Do you mean as if you were looking up from the skis, or how the skis perceive the move? Since skis don't think, I'll assume you mean visually, compared to the skis. (I probably just offended my skis)

Basically, if you were headed across the fall line (90 degrees to the fall line for argument's sake), the CM would need to be at an acute angle to the slope of the hill (with the base of the angle being downhill). Otherwise, sure, you could contort your body to get the skis on edge, the same way as you can while standing still, but you would not be able to apply pressure to that edge to make the skis turn or resist the centrifugal force of the turn. Also, the angle should be measured from the inside/downhill ski. Otherwise, you would need to make a stem/wedge to make the turn on opposing edges.

I think that answered the first 2 questions. The third question sounds a bit like a trick question. You do not throw your body down the hill. Although to teach commitment to a turn, it sometimes helps to use that phrase, because that is how a lot of people feel when they first try it. The feedback that tells you how far to move into the turn is internal balance feedback as well as some visual clues. If the skis have to skid out to turn quick enough to maintain balance, then the person probably dove too far laterally. If they fall head first down the hill, that is proabably also a good clue that they moved too far. If they end up in the back seat halfway through the turn, they probably moved too far laterally, and need to move more forward at initiation. If they end up with a stem (opposing edges), they probably did not move far enough. If they get on the new turning edges, but the turn takes too long (traveling across the hill waiting until they pass the fall line to be able to engage the edges - a.k.a. patience turn) they did not move quite far enough. This last example can trick the instructor, though. I've seen a lot of people who will fall head first down the hill because they are doing a patience tuen, and as the tip tries to drift down the hill on a flat ski, it will get caught in the non-perfect snow, and get thrown a little up hill, making the skier fall down the hill. Although it looks like they committed too much, they actually did not commit enough to get the CM across the downhill ski, and the skis on a controlable edge (this is a lot like a snowboarder in a flat side slip, catching the downhill edge - ouch!)
post #17 of 80
Quote:
Originally posted by JohnH:
...Basically, if you were headed across the fall line (90 degrees to the fall line for argument's sake), the CM would need to be at an acute angle to the slope of the hill...
I realize you probably picked this particular situation just for clarity of exposition with respect to the angles, but when on the snow, do you find it better to introduce students to crossover/under from this position, versus having them head straight down the fall line on an easy slope (but at relatively high speed), or something intermediate between the two?

Tom / PM
post #18 of 80
Interesting thing about pressure control is how it varies according to the ski. For example, I don't really need to pay attention to it on my Chubbs, as they will make a great turn no matter what I do (almost), although on hard snow they take a little toe-to-heel action to carve. At the other end, if I'm using my Elan Darksides, it is a real struggle to stay in the tiny sweet spot, and they won't hold on hard snow unless I'm absolutely centered.
post #19 of 80
Thread Starter 
JohnH,

You've never tried to "be the ski?"

1. To the ski, crossover is to tip from one set of edges to the other, no?

2. To tip to the right edges, the body has to get to the right of the skis, whether the skis are retracted and redirected under the body or the body dives across the skis.

3. The feedback has to be from the feet, where the movement originates: if I tip too far I lose my base of support (land on my head).

My point is this: cross-over, cross-under, and their hybrids are second fiddle to the action at the level of the skis. I believe that if a movement originates at the feet, that's where we should focus attention, rather than the secondary "cross-over" of the torso across the feet.

It's less scary too, because instead of it being a new scary concept, it's just tipping the feet, same thing on blacks as on greens. The only difference being the steepness of the slope and the greater range of tipping involved. If the student backs away from tipping on blacks, go back to blues and reinforce, then try, try again.

I believe when you say crossover is the hardest thing, you are saying that the turn transition is the hardest thing. And I would agree wholeheartedly with that. What is the turn transition but release/transfer of pressure/ engagement: a lot is happening, but at best this is one smooth, uninterrupted movement. That's hard to do.
post #20 of 80
Quote:
Originally posted by PhysicsMan:
[QB...but when on the snow, do you find it better to introduce students to crossover/under from this position, versus having them head straight down the fall line on an easy slope (but at relatively high speed), or something intermediate between the two?

Tom / PM[/QB]
Something in between. Since a straight run down the fall line doesn't involve turning, I do it on easy slopes (relative to the skier's ability) at whatever angle to the fall line keeps them at a comfortable speed... "Now little Billy, I want you to direct your skis exactly 45 degrees from the average fall line..." :
post #21 of 80
Nolo

You may be correct, but you are not having as much of a thrill as I am! .

When reading your description of pedicentric experience I tried to visualize myself on a steep. Compared to allowing the head and torso to lead ones' self down the fall line, trusting the skis to come around to make the catch, tipping the ski is like a date with your sister.

Like a desirable woman:
Some things are better off felt than understood.

CalG
post #22 of 80
Yes, Nolo, you're taking the term "Crossover" a bit too literally (been teaching too long??). That's why I ended my statement with the word "commitment", and used the phrase "However you want to describe...".

Also, your post assumes that you are not able to get onto the new edges without moving the CM across them. I would strongly disagree. I can stand still and be on flat skis or on either set of edges, corresponding or opposing, depending on the angles I make with my body. That's where my comment about falling head first down the hill doing patience turns comes in.

Yeah, it all starts at the feet, but this transition, initiation, commitment, crossover, corssunder, just-passing-through, move is still the hardest for the average Joan or John to learn. Of course, that's my experience here in the banana belt of skiing and with a minimal amount of time teaching out west. If I worked with nothing but advanced to expert level skiers who had already gotten past that point, I may find that most of my students had the hardest time learning fakie mambo in the bumps. All humor aside (as if that would ever happen), even if I did work with nothing but expert level skiers, and spent an entire season on pressure control, that does not mean it's the hardest skill to learn. It's just that we decided to spend a whole season dialing one skill in to perfection. You could just as easily spend an entire season working on movement into the new turn. (Heck, I've actually spent whole or multiple seasons doing each of those, and more seasons spent on other single skills/moves).
post #23 of 80
I think I know CalG's preferred method of learning, and it ain't cognative!!
post #24 of 80
Thread Starter 
Well, I guess I rubbed the wrong way!

Why bring up stationary tipping? What does that have to do with turning?

Some people ski with their heads (though they may not like to think about it) and some ski with their feet. Far be it from me to judge how you build your house.
post #25 of 80
Nolo, I think ya lost me there.

Why bring up stationary tipping? Because it shows that just because the feet put the skis up on an edge, it does not necessarily mean that the CM is across them.

I understand what you're getting at. Yes, turning happens at the feet, and some of the feedback comes from the propreoceptors down there, but it also comes (moreso, I believe) from the balance in the inner ear as well as the accuracy of the resulting turn. If you are heading across the hill and get the skis to the new edges by using your feet, how do you know you have committed to the turn enough (or not enough, or too much)? Do the feet tell you? Mine don't. (I'm not saying that yours don't - maybe they do) My sense of balance tells me that I'm either spot on, or that I need to make a correction. As is the case with a lot of people, they don't know what it's like to commit perfectly to a turn because they never felt it. I could probably claim that I had been a level 3 cert for a couple of years before I ever knew what it felt like to make a truly effective and efficient turn entry.
post #26 of 80
There are many ways to skin a cat...

For me, I never thought about teaching crossover. I always thought of it as the result of completing one turn and beginning the other. When you teach getting the skis away from the body, thus creating angles and forces, the rebound creates the crossover/under automatically. Don't you think?

Another thing, I don't like the thought of "throwing" your body downhill. Allowing it to fall is a better thought for me (although probably way to passive for racers). Remember your whole body is moving downhill at the same speed, simply slowing your lower half (through more edging for example) would cause the upper half to move down the hill.

In both cases, I think focus on one aspect causes things to happen in the other.
post #27 of 80
New theoretical basis for skiing from the feet:

The problem with committment, cross over, etc. is an instintive reflexive reaction to avoid a fall (fear of falling). This actually originates with sensory input from the visual and vestibular systems. Given this source of the problem, best to focus on a solution as far away as possible, the feet!
post #28 of 80
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
3. The feedback has to be from the feet, where the movement originates: if I tip too far I lose my base of support (land on my head).

My point is this: cross-over, cross-under, and their hybrids are second fiddle to the action at the level of the skis. I believe that if a movement originates at the feet, that's where we should focus attention, rather than the secondary "cross-over" of the torso across the feet.
Nolo, one other thing I wanted to bring up, because work is boring, and I'm feeling feisty.

You say that the movement [into the new turn] originates in the feet. If that were the case, then you would fall to the outside every time you tried to start a turn. Moving from one turn to another on skis is a lot like starting to walk, from standing still. If you started stepping your feet forward before you moved your mass forward, your feet would walk right out from under you. Likewise, starting a turn on skis. If you didn't move your mass inside the turn before your edges engaged, your feet would turn without your body, and would come out from under you.
post #29 of 80
WVskier, if I may be so bold I think you need to take it one step further. You need to get the skier to recognise said action not as throwing themselves down or across the fall line and not as falling across it either. The real solution is to recognize the movements we are talking about as SKIING, something that has no relationship to falling. When that is truly achieved (confidence in our skis and our ability to manipulate them) we no longer have to worry about all the negative reflexes evoked from fear of falling.
post #30 of 80
WVSkier,

For me, I don't really like either term, because with both, I tend to move too laterally, and my feet get too far away from my body. Sure, it feels cool, and in good, groomed conditions can work well for me, but if the conditions aren't perfect, I tend to get thrown around and lose my balance. I need to think about moving INTO the direction of the new turn. The only other time diving or letting go of the old turn works for me is in really steep terrain (chutes) when I'm using a lot more skidding to control speed.
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