Wow, Epic--great analysis, and all I ever would have hoped for from one of my clinics: that you go out and play with a topic, explore it, challenge it, learn to more deeply understand it. It's not really our job as instructors to identify "right and wrong," but simply to understand cause and effect.
I'm not sure I really like your term ("Foot Squirt™"), but I can live with it! I'll explain in a moment, and I'll use the term cautiously regardless.
So I have a few random thoughts. Since you brought up a lot of great points, this post is going to be a long one--and I apologize in advance!Not really a Squirt
First, I think that the reason I don't care for the name "Foot Squirt™" is that I don't think it really describes what happens--or what should
happen. It may well feel like the feet suddenly accelerate and "squirt" forward, but in truth, it is merely the continuation of the existing momentum of the feet through the transition. The feet travel faster than the body in smoothly linked, offensive turns like these (because they take a longer path), and the transition is simply where they come from behind, pass underneath, and then move ahead of the body across the hill (while the body takes a shortcut down the hill to get ahead of--downhill from--the feet, to "cut them off at the pass," so to speak). It is a continuous movement--not a sudden acceleration at all. But it certainly can feel
like the feet squirt ahead, can't it? By contrast, the so-called "foragonal movement" (at least the problematic version of it) of the body (CM) requires either a sudden slowing
of the feet, or a sudden acceleration of the body
at the transition, in order for the body to move forward of the feet.
No matter what you may call it, it is not a new movement or idea. In the '70's, Ingemar Stenmark and others showed essentially the same thing, which was then dubbed the "Jet Turn." As today, many people misunderstood the move as involving substantial tail pressure and "back seat" balance--inspiring the invention of the notorious "Jet Stix" that clamped to the back of your boots to support you when you to lean way back.
---"The Move" in different situations and turn types
Like many things, this move is most obvious in certain situations. Complete, dynamic, short-radius turns are most dramatic and obvious, as you note. The longer-radius the turns become, the more subtle the move. But I submit that it still happens. Likewise, it becomes more subtle at lower speeds--as most movements do. But the principle remains the same.
The "back-seat" appearance of the hips behind the feet is also most dramatic in retraction transitions, when the knees flex deeply. But the principle holds for extension transitions as well. Consider the extreme version of extension turns--"leapers," where the transition occurs in the air, following a vigorous extension of the legs to leap off the ground. If you are to land in balance from a leaper, you must allow your feet to move "out to the side," which is still "in front" of you when you are traveling across the hill. It's still the same!
As I have described in the other threads you linked to, I think of this move more as a lateral than fore-aft thing, even though it certainly looks
like a fore-aft issue. It really represents the skis moving across to the right side of the hill (relative to my body) in a left turn, and to the left side of the hill in a right turn. Because it takes place when my skis and body are both somewhat facing and traveling across the hill (in the transition), it appears
that my skis get "ahead of" me for a moment.
In any case, grasping this point helps explain some of your other observations. Since I don't incline
as much, and my skis don't need to be as far out from under me at low speeds or long-radius turns (all else being equal), it is easy to see why this movement of my skis "squirting" off to the "side" will be more subtle in these turns.
---Squirt and Foragonal Movement--not really opposed!
Something you have not mentioned is that the more complete
the turn (the more you are traveling across, or even back up, the hill), the more obvious this movement becomes. Again, that should make sense, since the reason this "lateral" move appears to be a fore-aft move is that the skis are traveling across the hill when it happens. If they are traveling more down the hill (as in a less-complete turn), the move to get your CM downhill of your feet and your body to the inside of the next turn will, in fact, feel a whole lot more like your "foragonal" transition. To me, this is the crux of your "reconciliation" of the two seemingly opposed movement patterns. In high-speed turns more down the fall-line, I definitely feel like my hips move "forward and diagonal" of my feet, down the hill in the transition.
In truth, they are not opposed at all. (That's not to say that the way they are sometimes done or misinterpreted does not lead to completely opposed movement patterns, but that's another story!) It is simply a matter of angles and direction, along with duration, intensity, rate, and timing ("DIRT"). It may also be a matter of perspective for some. "Foragonal" suggests that the body (CM) moves "forward and diagonally" down the hill at the transition--and certainly, it does, even in a dramatic "foot squirt" type of turn. The missing piece of understanding for some skiers is simply that, as the body moves forward and diagonally, the feet don't just stand still.
"Forward and diagonal" is relative to the hill--not to the skier's feet, as the feet move even faster than the body in their own direction--across the hill.
It may even be an issue of semantics. Which direction is "forward," anyway? It could be several things: the direction your body faces at the moment, the direction it travels, the direction your skis point, or the direction your feet travel. Or it could refer to the direction your body or your feet are going to be pointing or traveling in the future. It could also be down the hill, or toward the apex of the new turn, or toward the next gate...or any number of other things. Without specificity, "hips ahead of feet" really doesn't mean that much, does it?
My biggest concern about so-called "foragonal" (or "forwagonal") is that it tends to be interpreted as a directive to move the hips "foragonal" relative to the feet.
That requires either that the feet suddenly slow down in the transition, via a checking edgeset or a vigorous "pulling back," or that the body (CM or worse, hips) suddenly accelerate, requiring an active, muscular extension of the knees and torso (usually) and often an active weight transfer and extension of the uphill leg or retraction of the downhill leg. Any of these things results in a very abrupt, non-smooth, non-continuous transition that requires some sort of muscular effort. (The "squirt" transition is the opposite, as the release
of all effort as you exit the previous turn allows the momentum of the body and the feet/skis to continue smoothly and unimpeded on their separate, crossing, paths.) I cringe when I see instructors--especially very high-level instructors--who cannot make a clean, smooth transition because of this misconception. They typically finish their turn still uphill of their feet, on an engaged edge, and initiate their next turn with a powerful "up" extension to force the "foragonal" movement of their hips relative to their feet. It's butt-ugly!
---"Neutral" and those Pivot Slips....
So that brings me to the reason we did those Pivot Slips at Stowe. To me, the real key--the cornerstone of this whole thing, and the common ground between all offensive, smoothly linked turns (fast, slow, long, short, complete or down the fall line, "squirted" or "foragonal"), is the thing I call "neutral." As I am using this term here, neutral refers to my attitude when I am not turning, but ready to turn either way--or to continue in a straight run or traverse. In linked turns, then, "neutral" is the "inflection point" between turns--the moment one turn ends and the next turn begins. It is, therefore, my "position" (although I use that term cautiously because it is never static when linking turns) or "attitude" at the beginning of a turn. By definition, then, it is a position from which the least possible amount of movement and effort are required to start a turn. (Remember that release of effort
is a hallmark of great transitions.) Finally, because it is the beginning of a turn, it must also be the end
of the previous turn--otherwise the turns cannot be smoothly, seamlessly linked.
So neutral is how I begin my turn. But if I think of it instead as how to finish
my turn, the new turn truly will begin without effort--by definition. Everything I need to do to start the turn, I've already done. Every movement that must happen to start a turn is already in motion as I exit the previous turn. The sensation is of complete effortlessness, the unmistakable feeling of simply floating into the new turn.
And Pivot Slips embody neutral, again by definition. In a Pivot Slip, I want to release my edges and sideslip down the hill, in an attitude from which, with no additional movement required, I can simply guide my ski tips down the hill whenever I choose. It is "countered" ("anticipated"--the legs rotated in the hip sockets--"wound up" with some tension required to hold the position). In the sideslip, your body (CM) must be directly above your feet, with balance biased toward the downhill ski. Fore-aft balance is critical--if you balance forward on the balls of your feet, you will not be able to guide your tips down the hill; instead, your skis will pivot about their tips, typically requiring an edgeset and a "pushoff" to twist the tails out. To do a Pivot Slip, you must get off your boot tongues and balance much closer to your heels than your toes, in order to free the tips to be guided down the hill. Let me repeat that: you must stand with some pressure on your heels,
and with your ankles somewhat extended
. Does that ring a bell in the context of "foot squirt"? Thought so!
Edges released, body over downhill foot, countered, balanced directly below the tibia and ankle...that describes the sideslip phase of a Pivot Slip, as well as the "position" at the neutral moment when a turn begins--when the paths of the feet and the CM cross. So Pivot Slips are an ideal way to explore and get a feel for neutral. The entire maneuver, including the pivot phase, takes place in neutral, actually--as you should be able to pivot either direction, or stop pivoting, or change the direction of the pivot, at any point, with no other preparatory movements needed. Neutral--particularly the fore-aft component--represents the "middle" of either the "foot squirt" or the (proper) "foragonal movement." Fore-aft-wise, it is the middle of the movement of the feet coming from "behind" and moving "ahead" of the body across the hill in the transition. And this moment, alone, is the same whether it is a very low-speed wedge christie or basic parallel turn, or an extreme high-G-force dynamic carved turn. Of course, the feet will move much more away from the body in more dynamic turns (they will "squirt" more), and much more subtly in slower turns. But the principle is the same.
And that's why we practiced Pivot Slips. Of course, because there is no turn (change of direction of travel) in Pivot Slips, there is no actual "squirt"--the entire maneuver takes place in neutral. The point is to practice Pivot Slips to become familiar with what neutral feels like (hips NOT forward of feet!), and then to seek that sensation as we exit a real turn. If you do that successfully, you will have initiated the "foot squirt" movements at the end of the previous turn, and they will continue as you release your effort, pass through neutral, and allow the feet's momentum to carry them "ahead" of your body across the hill, as your body continues its path across the path of the feet--"foragonal" down the hill. Pivot Slips don't involve "squirt," but they are a great way to discover the principle, and to learn to apply it accurately even in low-level and low-speed turns.
Regarding Thousand Steps, I contend that they do, in fact, demonstrate (and require) the principle of the "foot squirt." If you step continuously, without stopping in the transition, you must step to and through "neutral" and allow the exact same crossing of the paths of the feet and the CM as in any other offensive turn. It is also exceedingly difficult to do Thousand Steps with "tip pressure"! On the other hand, if you stop stepping your feet during the transition, or if you actually step your tails out in a pushoff-type transition, it will demonstrate the "bad" form of misapplied/misunderstood "foragonal motion" that I so dislike. Remember that good Thousand Steps involve creating "V's not A's" with your skis--diverging, not converging, steps. I suggest going out and doing some Thousand Steps while trying to apply your understanding of the "foot squirt" and see if it actually does apply. (Again, if you envision an actual, sudden, accelerated "squirt," you will not feel that, because that is not an accurate image of what really happens.)White Pass Turns
As I described in the "Is this aft" thread, an unintentional White Pass-type turn is often the outcome of an exaggerated "foot squirt" transition. Because the "squirt" really is best looked at as a lateral move of your feet out from underneath your body toward the outside of the turn, it's easy to see why it can result in ending up balanced on the inside ski at times. Of course, the "real" White Pass Turn of Phil and Steve Mahre was an unintentional move itself--and for the very same reason! Do "the Squirt," and you, too, will sometimes do White Pass Turns without planning on it--just like Phil and Steve. They are almost one and the same. That's why, if you try to do "Foot Squirt" AND White Pass Turns together, you are absolutely right that they will probably become linked recoveries...or not! It's like adding gasoline to a grease fire!
Well, that's way more than enough for now, for me! I had not intended to stay up this late, and I wish I had time to pare this post down with some editing. But I hope it provides more food for thought as we continue to explore these concepts.