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Thread: What to do after skis start turning

  1. #1

    What to do after skis start turning

    I wonder if anyone can help me understand different approaches I seem to be getting from different ski instructors.
    Both instructors tell me to start the new turn by extending the old inside leg (ILE??). What happens next differs hugely!
    Instructor A tells me to flex down on the new outside ski once the ski starts to turn.
    Instructor B tells me to continue to extend the outside leg throughout the turn whilst decreasing the pressure on the new inside ski. (long leg/short leg effect).

    What do these differences mean?
    Is one approach 'right' and the other 'wrong'
    Is one a beginner's technique and the other more advanced?
    Or what???

    NB - I've just pinpointed the main thing I'm confused about - I've not attempted to explain anything else I'm trying to do when turning.
    Hope this makes sense
    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    I have my own seat in the pub Skier Village Coach Coach Rick's Avatar
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    Hi MrsP, and welcome to Skier Village. The ILE description for starting the turn is clear, but after that it gets fuzzy for me. What instructor A is saying doesn't make much sense. Perhaps something might have gotten confused between what he was trying to say, and what you heard. Once the new outside leg starts extending, there's really seldom need to flex it again significantly as the turn progresses. A flexed outside leg is a weak outside leg. It's much easier to deal with the forces a ski turn imposes on you if your outside leg is extended.

    So the simple answer is; if what you've relayed is correct, instructor A is incorrect.

    Now, I'll comment on what instructor B is telling you. In general, it's more sound advice. Do understand, though, it's not the only "correct" way to turn. You can speed up the outside leg extension process if you desire, and reach full extension before the end of the turn. In fact, there are benefits to doing so. Extending the new outside leg puts it into a strong position, for dealing with the forces of the turn. If you don't reach full extension until the end of the turn, your leg doesn't reach full strength until the turn is about to end, at which time that strength is no longer needed.

    The other advantage of reaching full extension of the outside leg earlier is that extending the outside leg moves your hips up over your skis, and allows you to stand in a more athletic stance. The longer your outside leg remains flexed, the longer your hips are trailing your feet and you have to assume a very hunched stance to be center balanced on your skis.

    Hope that helps clear things up for you.
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  3. #3
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
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    MrsP,
    I'm curious about something.

    Are you a skier who has been skiing for a while, so you are taking lessons to get better? If that's the case, how do you currently start your turns? Are the instructions you've gotten a radical change from what you are used to?

    Or are you a beginner skier trying to figure out how to turn? If so, how are you doing? Can you turn reliably in both directions, and stop by turning all the way across the hill?

  4. #4
    Rick and LiquidFeet,
    Many thanks for your replies. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me.
    I've got about 10-12 weeks skiing behind me - at the rate of 1-2 weeks holiday a year. I'm happy on blue runs (US/Ca) at a moderate speed, haven't tried a black, moguls or powder. I've not found it easy learning to ski - partly because of alignment issues which I only got sorted at ~18 months ago, and partly because I've had lessons on several holidays and so with a different instructor each time. Their approach seems to vary and this is why I'm confused.

    It was the most recent instructor (Instructor A in my original post) who told me to start the turn by extending the old inside leg and then once skis have started to turn, to flex new outside leg down against the boot cuff.

    Instructor A's approach was quite different to what I was used to. Normally I started the turn by releasing the pressure from the old outside ski and extending the old inside leg. (Not forgetting Rick's tip about moving inside hip forward as well). I guess I'm trying to do 'pedalling'. I have tendancy to do this all in one go, and it was Instructor B who told me it was better to do it more gradually. (Thank you, Rick, for your comments re timing.)

    So, I'm confused! From my original description Rick though Instrutor A's approach was wrong. Is that still the case or are both approaches valid perhaps in different circumstances? What's the best way for me to progress from my default style??

  5. #5
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
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    That business of flexing the current outside leg once the turn gets started in order to press into the boot cuff is just wrong. Some people, and some instructors, think this is good for some odd reason. I don't know why. Ignore it.

  6. #6
    I have my own seat in the pub Skier Village Coach Coach Rick's Avatar
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    I agree with LF, discard the "flexing the current outside leg once the turn gets started" idea from your memory bank.

    I'll add, though, that after reading your last post I suspect I know what that instructor was actually trying to teach. Pressuring the boot with the shin is a common prompt for helping people to move their balance point forward, so they can better pressure the front of the ski, which bends the front (shovel/tip) of the ski more and makes it turn more sharply. The entire leg does not have to flex heavily to do that. Focusing on flexing the ankle forward, called dorsiflexion, is a better way of moving your balance point forward. Any flexing of the knee actually moves your balance point towards the back of the foot/ski, and must be compensated for by dorsiflexing the ankle even further, and/or flexing forward at the waist, leaving the skier in a very hunched and inefficient stance for executing a turn on skis. You can achieve all the moving of your balance point forward you need via dorsiflexion of the the ankle, and the leg remains long and strong for executing the turn.

    Now that you know the best way to move your balance point forward, we must discuss the merits of doing it. It sounds like instructor A left you with the impression that he was suggesting that is what you should always do when turning. I'm going to disagree with that. Skiing fore does have it's uses. As I said above, it transfers extra pressure to the front of the ski, which helps it to turn sharper. Thats an advantage when on the steeps, or when a very sharp carved turn needs to happen immediately. But the disadvantage is that it puts you into less comfortable and efficient stance. When your balance point moves to the balls of your feet, your ability to balance is actually compromised. The human foot is a marvelous instrument for keeping the body above it in balance, but to operate most effectively it needs to be weighted in the vicinity of 2/3 heel and 1/3 ball. When most or all weight is moved to the ball of the foot it's like trying to balance on the head of a pin. By leaning into the front of the boot, the boot cuff becomes the extra component for helping us remain balanced, but that then requires extra recruitment of the muscles of the body above to help us remain upright and not end up toppling over the handlebars, so to speak. We've lost the relaxed efficiency of a stacked, athletic stance, where the muscles can just rest and chill in the "ready to act when needed" mode.

    So bottom line is this: pressuring the boot cuff and moving the balance point forward is a great skill to have, so it's there for you in those instances when you need it, but it's not the way to ski all the time. Your default way of skiing should be center balance on your foot, in a stacked and relaxed, athletic stance, only moving fore when there's a concrete reason to do so, to achieve a defined objective.
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  7. #7
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coach Rick View Post
    I agree with LF, discard the "flexing the current outside leg once the turn gets started" idea from your memory bank.

    I'll add, though, that after reading your last post I suspect I know what that instructor was actually trying to teach. Pressuring the boot with the shin is a common prompt for helping people to move their balance point forward, so they can better pressure the front of the ski, which bends the front (shovel/tip) of the ski more and makes it turn more sharply. The entire leg does not have to flex heavily to do that. Focusing on flexing the ankle forward, called dorsiflexion, is a better way of moving your balance point forward. Any flexing of the knee actually moves your balance point towards the back of the foot/ski, and must be compensated for by dorsiflexing the ankle even further, and/or flexing forward at the waist, leaving the skier in a very hunched and inefficient stance for executing a turn on skis. You can achieve all the moving of your balance point forward you need via dorsiflexion of the the ankle, and the leg remains long and strong for executing the turn.

    Now that you know the best way to move your balance point forward, we must discuss the merits of doing it. It sounds like instructor A left you with the impression that he was suggesting that is what you should always do when turning. I'm going to disagree with that. Skiing fore does have it's uses. As I said above, it transfers extra pressure to the front of the ski, which helps it to turn sharper. Thats an advantage when on the steeps, or when a very sharp carved turn needs to happen immediately. But the disadvantage is that it puts you into less comfortable and efficient stance. When your balance point moves to the balls of your feet, your ability to balance is actually compromised. The human foot is a marvelous instrument for keeping the body above it in balance, but to operate most effectively it needs to be weighted in the vicinity of 2/3 heel and 1/3 ball. When most or all weight is moved to the ball of the foot it's like trying to balance on the head of a pin. By leaning into the front of the boot, the boot cuff becomes the extra component for helping us remain balanced, but that then requires extra recruitment of the muscles of the body above to help us remain upright and not end up toppling over the handlebars, so to speak. We've lost the relaxed efficiency of a stacked, athletic stance, where the muscles can just rest and chill in the "ready to act when needed" mode.

    So bottom line is this: pressuring the boot cuff and moving the balance point forward is a great skill to have, so it's there for you in those instances when you need it, but it's not the way to ski all the time. Your default way of skiing should be center balance on your foot, in a stacked and relaxed, athletic stance, only moving fore when there's a concrete reason to do so, to achieve a defined objective.
    This is the first time I've read anyone say this (the bolded part). It explains things very well; thanks, Rick, as usual.

    Another thing one can do: slide the outside foot backwards during the turn. This helps get that leg extended so the stacking works. As you slide it back, focus on pressing its heel down onto the sole of the boot. Said another way: slide the HEEL back, keeping it pressed down. This pressing-down back-sliding of that heel keeps most of the weight on it. The final result is better ski-snow grip for that outside ski.

    Rick, chime in and disagree or add more if you think it's needed.

  8. #8
    Rick
    Sorry about the delay in replying - prompted by what you said, I wanted to look at the Basic Balance DVD again. I think you're probably correct in that my instructor was trying to get me more fore balanced by flexing the ankle and I'd added in the knee flex incorrectly. How easy it is to misinterpret what instructors say!

    Having looked at the DVD again I have a query:
    In your post you said "The human foot is a marvelous instrument for keeping the body above it in balance, but to operate most effectively it needs to be weighted in the vicinity of 2/3 heel and 1/3 ball."
    But in the DVD section on center balance I thought you said that I should feel weight equally distributed on heel and ball of foot, not 2/3:1/3.

    Have I misunderstood again or is perhaps the equal weighting appropriate for the dynamic state and the 2/3:1/3 a static state?

    By the way I think your DVDs are brilliant and I really appreciate the technical details that you include in your posts.

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