Hi Bud, sorry for my tardy return. Between the holidays, and work, not a lot of time for forums. Anyway, here's my response to your comments. I'm going to write with the objective of not only responding to you, but also speaking to the student level readers of this thread, so please, Bud, don't feel I'm talking down to you. I know you will be well aware of much of what I'm going to say here.
I very much agree with your assessment of why beginners pivot. It's usually a fear of the acceleration that happens through the top of the turn, as the pitch of the slope steepens while going from initiation to falline. By pivoting, that acceleration period can be greatly avoided, and the pivoting skier can be quickly out of the falline again. It's the epitome defensive skiing.
This defensive pivoting I'm describing is generally done via upper body rotation. (For those not sure about what upper body rotation to produce pivoting is, the following link provides a detailed explanation, and video clip example) http://www.yourskicoach.com/SkiGlossary/Rotation.html
Skiing in and out of counter results in something called anticipation, where at the end of a turn the upper body faces down the slope, while the skis/feet/legs face across the slope. That Anticipation creates a twist in our body, that, like a loaded torsional spring upon release, wants to snap us back into directional alignment once we release our edges at the end of the turn, with Body and skis once again facing the same direction. Here's a link the explains how anticipation works to power a pivot, with a video demo of it. http://www.yourskicoach.com/SkiGlossary/Anticipation.html
As you can see, both "Rotation" and "Anticipation" can be used to power a pivot. The difference is that Rotation is a very crude, energy and movement intensive way to do it, and Anticipation is a very energy and movement efficient way to do it. Watch the video clips in the links above again. to see the contrast of efficiency in each method. You'll notice the extra strength and body movement required to execute the upper body rotation version, and the comparative effortlessness of the anticipation version.
So Bud, when you say this: Quote:
The problem I see with trying to teach early edge engagement is the skier feels lots of acceleration with little control of line
I understand your fondness of teaching skiing into and out of counter. It allows your skiers to rid themselves of upper body rotation, while still avoiding that scary top of the turn acceleration that comes with early edge engagement. They still pivot, avoiding the speed increase of early edge engagement, but they do it much more skillfully and efficiently. For those who'd like to see a world class example of using Anticipation to power a pivot, here's a montage I produced from this years World Cup at Beaver Creek.
The anticipation and pivot is pretty easy to see there, isn't it? Can a non pivoted turn initiation happen when anticipation is present? Yes, but it's a pretty high level task. You have to fight the upper body's and Leg's desire to spring back into directional harmony upon edge release. This is why when top level skiers desire to initiate a non pivoted turn, be it steered, or arc to arc carved, they will generally remove some of the counter that was being used in the previous turn as they approach the transition into the new turn. That unloads the anticipation spring a bit, making a non pivoted initiation of the new turn a much easier task.
Here's an example of the current best GS skier in the world eliminating much of the the counter of the previous turn as he approaches edge release. Notice how much counter he eliminates from image 1 to image 2. He's not even to edge angle neutral yet, and the counter is almost gone. In pure forms of skiing into and out of counter, the amount of counter would actually increase from image 1 to 2. Then see how early in the new turn, in image 3 of the montage, Ted's already fully returned to square, well before where you would see it happen in pure skiing into and out of counter, in which it would happen at the falline. The result is that Ted produces a much less pivoted turn initiation than the strongly anticipated execution of Simoncelli above.
So, Bud, now that I've explained a little bit to the readers about what anticipation is, let me get back to your question: how can square, and the early edge engagement it results in, work for the lower skill level skier? Actually, it works great. Rather than teaching them a better way to pivot and avoid the acceleration phase of the turn, I teach them how to totally eliminate the pivot, and come to embrace and enjoy that acceleration phase. I do it by showing them other means to control their speed outside of pivoting. Turn shape and skid angle become their safety line.
With those tools, turn shape and skid angle, they have the means to manage their speed however they desire, or put on the brakes at any moment they choose, regardless of the terrain they're on. Just having the knowledge that they have those tools close at hand allows them to relax, and begin to look at the top of the turn acceleration as something to have fun and play with, rather than dread and desperately try to escape. It's empowering for them. It's fun to watch the top of their turns gain shape, and their general skiing speed spike up, simply because they know they have the skills to put on the brakes when ever they desire or need to.
I know, it seems counter intuitive that teaching someone how to manage their speed would result in them skiing faster, but that's exactly what happens. It's just a confidence thing. It frees them from their fears, so they stop holding back. They stop skiing defensively.
Of course, there's a teaching progression that gently guides people to the point of enjoying the acceleration experienced when engaging early, but if it's followed, progress and comfort comes very rapidly. In most cases I can, in a couple hours, have people completely free of the default pivoting they've had plaguing their skiing, even those who have been pivoting for years. Yes, my example of leg steering on my website is an advanced version of non pivoted leg steering skills (small skid angle and short radius), but there is an easy to follow progression that leads a skier to that level of execution, and it's not as hard to achieve as one might think. Plus, by developing just a rudimentary set of turn shape and skid angle skills, students can quickly find comfort and enjoyment with early engagement and top of the turn acceleration, even on steeper terrain. They can leave default pivoting behind them, forever more, and come to discover the joy of letting their skis flow unharnessed into the top of a turn.
Happy Holiday everyone! May the snow be deep, and your turns be non pivoted.
Edited by Rick - 4/24/11 at 12:15am