While I hesitate to tip my skis into this heady discussion as I am no scholar of the topic, I will offer my own interpretation which comes from the journey I made two years ago from old school to new technique under Rick's watchful eye. During the culling process at the beginning of our week together last summer, Rick's colleague "complemented" me on "skiing so beautifully in that passe style." After 45 years of snow plow, to stem christy to parallel to wedelin to some kind of hybrid "style," I was still pressuring skis into a turn, which to me meant actively weighting the down hill ski against the snow. Speed control was not so much achieved through turn shape but by scrubbing speed by pushing the tails out or other foot steering. And this triggered course change as well. And I could do it just like Hans Schnieder taught.
My first "teacher" prompting me away from this approach was not Rick, but a pair of Volkl Supersport 6* which were the first shaped skis I got several years ago. I had no clue. I figured, I am an expert having grown up on skis some 40 years before. I attempted to ski them like a straight ski. And I was rewarded with painful and near disasterous results. I had numbing fatigue and even quad cramps up the chair as I tried to figure out what the hell was going on. They were like skiing a bucking bronco. What I did not realize until a few years later was the inapplicability of old school technique to these very burly shaped skis whose sole reason for being, it seemed to me, was to propel me into the woods. Fast forward to summer June 2009 when my wife and I spent a week training with Rick. Through a series of very fundamental drills, my brain reconnected with my skis in a very different way. And what I learned moved me into a carving technique, and this discussion.
How I think about it is how I have come to feel it. I tip the ski in to start the turn. I apply no active pressure to the ski. What the ski first feels is the unavoidable product of my shifting weight under the influence of gravity. As the turn unfolds, my job is patience - to keep the full edge of the ski connected with the snow, initially along the default path dictated by the ski's geometry. As the process begins to unfold, the turn emanates from a stubborn partnership between my body and the snow, neither one willing to relieve the ski of its inclination to stop bending. The byproduct of this process is a rebound energy waiting to be released. As the turn matures the ski feels this energy build, and it wants to release this pressure by straightening. As the ski bends more, the energy increases as does the ski's desire. This dynamic exists in response to the resistance (not pressure) created by the refusal of my legs and the snow to let the ski depart from its trajectory. The more we resist, the tighter the turn and the greater the stored energy as represented by a deeper bend in the ski. My body responds dynamically as this resistance builds. I get more countered and perhaps lower which allows me to match the pleas of the ski to straighten. As the resistance increases, the ski must be put on a steeper angle relative to my partner, the snow pack underfoot. The snow must make its own adjustments to "counter" the increasing energy generated by the tightening of the turn and my unwillingness to release the kinetic energy. That is where the partnership happens. If I give up first, there is nothing the snow can do about it. And if the the snow gives way, or I hit some ice which I have not managed well, the ski straightens, and the energy generated by the cocked ski is instantly released, and the turn ends. But if well controlled, that release of stored energy can be used as a "pop" to propel me into the next turn. And it all begins again.
In my long experience in our shared passion, the technique I learned to carve a turn has given me the most pleasure. Once you feel that kinetic magic unfold underfoot, and harness that power, there is no going back to that "passe style." Even Hans Schneider would approve.
Edited by deliberate1 - 11/6/10 at 12:58pm