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Thread: How to decrease skidding while pivoting

  1. #1

    How to decrease skidding while pivoting

    Good morning,

    I've been thinking about pivoting lately and have a question.. In a normal ILE transition for example we can apply early weight and edging to the new outside ski long before we reach the fall line, decreasing the chances of skidding out in a turn. Pivoting is exactly the opposite, where we try to reduce weight and edging before or even slightly after the fall-line. So the question is, how can I reduce skidding when doing a pivot, especially on steeper harder snow?

    Thanks very much

    Toby
    Last edited by Toby; December 18th, 2013 at 12:29 PM.

  2. #2
    I have my own seat in the pub Skier Village Coach Coach Rick's Avatar
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    Toby, please clarify your question for me.

    A pivot involves no meaningful skid because the redirecting of the skis down the hill and into the new turn is executed with unweighted skis, just as you pointed out. Are you asking how to ensure that unweighting occurs, so you can avoid skidding, or are you asking how to minimize the amount of skidding that happens during the feathering period that happens after the pivot has been accomplished and you're reengaging your edges and weighting your skis, attempting to begin carving?
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  3. #3
    I have my own seat in the pub Skier Village Coach Coach Rick's Avatar
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    Interesting, watching the Men's WC GS yesterday, and listening to Doug Lewis's commentary. Seem's he recently has discovered the guys are pivoting. Problem was he didn't really understand why they were doing it, or how it should be done. He was calling it a skivot, and was continuously pointing out on each racer when they did one, and deeming it a mistake. But he was only noticing the poorly executed ones, done too early, and resulting in a prolonged skid and speed dump before arriving at the time to engage and turn. Done well, the timing and edge control skills are so good the untrained eye doesn't even notice it happen, because any post pivot skidding is so minimal.

    Doug contended that Ligety is fastest because he doesn't pivot/skivot, he just carves arc to arc, all the way down the course. Not true, Doug. Ted pivots too, he just does it better. It was funny, because as they were cutting out to commercial they put up a slo mo clip of Ted making two GS turns, stating, "when we come back the king of GS will be about to run". The funny part was that in those two turns Mr. GS did 2 massive, expertly executed pivots.
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  4. #4
    Hi Rick,

    I see the confusion in my question. So to clarify, I would like to better understand how to minimize skidding after the pivot has been completed and reengaging edges and weighting the skis to begin carving.

    Thanks so much..

    Toby

  5. #5
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
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    Toby, since CR hasn't weighed in yet, I'm going to take a guess and see if I'm close to having the same answer as him.
    You're asking, as I understand it, how to engage your edges after an unweighted, pivoted turn entry on steepish hard snow.

    I suspect that your unweighted (or lightened) pivot will get the skis out of the old turn and pointing down the fall line, or even pointing across the hill in the direction of the new turn. At this point the skis will press into the snow heavily, but your body will be heading down the hill in a direction different from the way your skis will be pointing.

    Chatter comes to mind. CR mentions feathering.

    My experience has been to pull/slide the new outside ski/foot backwards relative to your body (this involves extending that outside leg backwards - the knee goes back and straightens out some). This move gets your upper body forward over the outside ski. It weights/pressures the shovel of that outside ski and bends it, hopefully enacting a carve.

    You can also add a bit more edge angle to that ski, just a little, and angulate appropriately so your weight is over that ski.

    For me in this situation, sliding that foot back (not increasing the edging) has the biggest impact on getting a carve going at the bottom of a turn when the ski wants to skid.

    On a side note, you say you are doing pivoted entries on steep icy groomers. Are you racing GS or slalom? This is something racers do when they don't have enough space to carve the entire next turn.

    I find OLR a much easier tactic for initiating turns on that kind of surface. Flexing the old outside leg (Outside Leg Relaxation) causes the upper body to topple, and if you extend the other leg to keep it in contact with the snow you'll get a nice controlled turn entry. It doesn't have to be fully carved. On skis with a turn radius from 14-17, you can still get a short radius turn if you also turn your feet/skis manually at the top of the turn, before the skis point down the fall line (and beyond). With this type of turn entry you never lose or lighten your contact with the snow, so you don't end up pressuring the skis suddenly on hard snow. Sudden changes are hard to control on ice and hard snow; it's like stomping on the brakes when skidding on ice while in your car.
    Last edited by LiquidFeet; December 26th, 2013 at 12:38 PM.

  6. #6
    Bought a home Skier Village Coach songfta's Avatar
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    Just a few random thoughts on this:

    Pulling the outside ski backwards seems a bit counter-intuitive toward keeping the inside ski tip lead from getting too extreme. Instead, I'd look into dorsiflexion of the outside foot: try pulling your foot toward your shin, engaging the boot tongue. This will maintain the positive forward pressure without causing the outside ski to drift too far back.

    The other component here is making sure your inside leg is actively retracted. By this, I mean that there are multiple muscle groups and movements involved in concert: dorsiflexion of the inside foot; lifting with the quadriceps, psoas and rectus femoris; and engaging the hamstrings to ensure the inside ski is actively controlled (this will also help reduce A-framing, as the LTE will be engaged if these muscle actions work in concert).

    As for pivoting during the active carve phase, it's a bit of a devil's snare. Any and all pivoting should occur before the edge is set to carve. That's the "stivot" that Lewis, Porino and others talk about: an unweighted pivot of the skis to align them properly to carve the turn. If you try and twist the skis while in the midst of a carve, it can result in chatter, skidding, and all sorts of less desirable actions from the skis. This is due to adding another vector into the balance of getting the ski to carve, and tends to reveal itself the most on harder surfaces.

    So how do you avoid skidding after a pivot move? Simply put: commit to the carve after the pivot (or "stivot") is completed. That means staying forward, engaging the outside edge, making sure the LTE is engaged (as much as is possible without leaning in), and committing to the ski's ability to carve. You also need to be mindful that you don't lock your hip into too much of an old-school counter-rotation movement, as this tends to exaggerate inside tip lead (basic biomechanics here).

    If you need to tighten the turn radius for GS-style turns, that means getting comfortable with having your outside ski far away from your center of mass, harnessing the extreme angles, and flexing the ski into as short a radius as possible. It's not easy, for sure, and for most skiers, the discomfort level tends to impede the necessary motions.

    But I'm sure, Toby, that you are willing and able to give it the effort to master the movement. So go for it!
    Last edited by songfta; December 26th, 2013 at 03:21 PM. Reason: Getting rid of the blasted asterixes of doom!

  7. #7
    I have my own seat in the pub Skier Village Coach Coach Rick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toby View Post
    Hi Rick,

    I see the confusion in my question. So to clarify, I would like to better understand how to minimize skidding after the pivot has been completed and reengaging edges and weighting the skis to begin carving.

    Thanks so much..

    Toby
    So, Toby, you're asking the "ancient Chinese secret" question. The ability to do this well is one of the things that separates the winners from the also-rans on the World Cup. It really comes down to the quality of the skills you bring to the table. All the foundation edging skills drills you'll find in my "Basic Edging" and "Advanced Edging" Building Blocks DVDs will help you develop those skills. They develop the fine edge control skills that mysteriously come to your aid when you need them in situations like this. It's why you'll see top level racers still working every season on refining their skill level at what appears to be these very basic drills.

    In combination with your skill development training, here are some strategies to focus on.

    Coach LF is quite right, in stressing the importance of moving forward on your skis by the time of engagement. Not too far forward mind you, because you want to employ the entire edge length of the skis to help you grab and hold, but enough to get some pressure onto the front of the skis so it can help to get the new turn underway. If you find your tails washing out as you reengage you've moved too far forward. If your skis feel like they're running away down the hill on you as you reengage you've not moved forward enough.

    Pulling the outside foot back, as Coach LF suggested, can be a helpful strategy. Remember, when you begin your transition/pivot, your center of mass will be uphill of your feet. If it stays there it will be in the back seat after you've pivoted the skis downhill. It has to move forward in relation to the feet. LF's suggestion to pull the feet back is one way to make that happen. Another way is to allow the upper body to dive across the skis (down the slope) as you transition and pivot. That will automatically put you into a center/fore position for the start of the new turn. Dive across the skis to the degree that you have the dorsiflexion of the ankle Coach Songfta suggested and you'll have it right.

    Finally, and very important, is the manner in which you reengage after the pivot. Coach Songfta touched on keeping loose in the joints and not locking the hip. Right on. You need to touch back down softly, gently. You're going to be coming down with a lot of force on the ski, and it's easy to overpower the edge such that it just can't hold, and breaks away. Try to soften the blow to the snow, so to speak, by absorbing some of the forces into the leg while you feel for the edge to find the snow and develop a platform upon which the remainder of the forces can be absorbed as you progressively allow it to load the ski.

    It's a hard thing to teach, really. It's one of those things you'll get better at as your skills grow, and you practice, practice, practice, aware of what outcome you're shooting for. Just keeping thinking; dive over my skis, good balance, and a soft touch. Think of walking on thin ice. It will hold a sledgehammer if you gently place it down, but will bust through in a heartbeat if you drop onto the ice like a sack of potatoes.
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  8. #8
    Thank you LiguidFeet, Songfta and Coach Rick for all the incite!

    There are a few things that come to mind:

    1. An increased level of angulation is needed. My very first MA video revealed I had an overall tendency to lean into the hill and not over my outside skis as generally required.
    2. More use of ankles to create the subtle movements (feathering). I only recently discovered my ankles a season ago. Clearly before I was using gross motor movement with my legs and hips etc.
    3. Make sure you have boots that allow you to properly flex forward (I learned this from experience). That will definitely contribute to gross motor movements that are destructive to subtle motor movement.

    What does it all add up too? It appears from past experience and without realizing it I was setting myself up for a series of linked hockey stops, which would completely explain my chattering and lack of turn control.. Below are a few things I should work on to assist with all of the above.

    1. work more on angulation drills. With proper Angulation I learned one can even keep more weight on the inside ski while still holding good purchase on the outside ski.
    2. Concentrate on the use of ankles and how they add to finer edge control.
    3. Working more at using the inside ski to create the start of the turns. I learned last year that helped to smooth out turns more and interestingly seemed to help with better edge control I think..

    Thanks again to everyone's assistance! Greatly appreciated...

    Toby
    Last edited by Toby; December 27th, 2013 at 07:06 AM.

  9. #9
    Home Sweet Home Skier Village Coach mastersracer's Avatar
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    This type of move also requires strength to permit the skier to overcome the tendancy of the ski to try to roll (decreasing edge angle) and continue to slide rather than hold the newly set edge and carve. It is a balancing act (as has already been mentioned) to apply the pressure and edge angle to the ski to get it to engage and hold the necessary edge angle while at the same time to not exceeding the ability of the snow to hold the carving edge avoiding chatter.

    The difficulty is applying strength to hold the edge while controlling pressure to avoid chatter. "Supple strength" is what I call it when I am trying to get my racers to be strong but soft, such as when dealing with micro-terrain in DH. You need to be strong to hold the turn, but while applying the strength you have to be able to respond to the micro-terrain to maintain consistent pressure on the snow in the turn; i.e. the racer determines the pressure, not the terrain.

  10. #10
    Hi Mastersracer,

    When you mentioned suttle strenth, this sounds somewhat like using muscle strenth to resist turn force, but not to lock your joints. Is that kind of what you mean?

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