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Thread: Balance, an outcome more than a skill?

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    Balance, an outcome more than a skill?

    Balance has been one of the four skills, and really the most central ski, in PSIA/ATS skiing as long as I've been in PSIA. But I've recently heard some mumblings that how it is viewed is starting to change. I don't know that anything is in the literature with any change (yet).

    One clinician I've skied with for a few hours was referring to five skills - rotary movements, edging movements, pressure control fore/art, pressure control side-to-side, and pressure control up/down. I haven't cavorted in more detail with the ski Gods much this season so I haven't heard the official line. Maybe I'll try to bring it up and ask about it at an event is a couple weeks (LIII skiing prep at Gore).

    So that got me thinking. Is balance a skill? Do we balance? Or are other skills used that result in balance?

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    I have my own seat in the pub Bushido Princess's Avatar
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    Okay, I want to give a shot at a response but before I do I have to put in a disclaimer. First of all, I am still what I consider a very a new skier only about to wrap up my sixth season. I only taught one season, my second season skiing, and that was in a PSIA based system. I am an intermediate level skier, a solid six on the PSIA 1-9 student scale with intermediate level skier knowledge, and I have Asperger's Syndrome/High Functioning Autism which makes me super focused on skiing which is my "special interest" but also makes my brain work and understand things in weird unconventional ways and sometimes I make connections and have understandings that no one else gets. They make total sense to me but not to anyone else. So please bear that in mind when you read anything I write.

    So here goes. I don't think balance is a skill in and of itself. It's something your body has or does not have. You can have natural balance or developed balance. I think that there are many skills that you develop when you practice drills like fore/aft and lateral balance drills that develop and refine your body's ability to balance. But I would not say that balance in and of itself is a skill that you learn. I think it's a physical body response that you can develop with drills that work on certain skills. And yeah, it's an Aspie thing to be repetitive so forgive me if I am.

    And I still hang around ski school so I hear a lot but I have not heard anything about changing the PSIA curriculum concerning balance as the center circle. It does not mean they haven't changed it, just that I have not heard that yet.

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    I have my own seat in the pub Skier Village Coach Coach Rick's Avatar
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    L2T, great thread. I've caught wind of the change too. Appears to me to be change for the sake of change, and at the core just a semantics based change. Pressure control fore/aft is simply fore/aft balance control. Pressure control side to side is simply lateral balance control. Different terminology for the same thing. Reinventing the wheel, camouflaged as innovation.

    Balance is definitely a skill, and it involves more than just staying upright. It's developing the ability to move our balance point about our base of support to pressure the skis in the manner we choose to extract the performance from the skis we desire, and/or employ the movement and energy efficiency we desire. The movements we use to manage our state of balance; flexion, extension, angulation, inclination, are simply the tools we use in the execution of the balancing skills we have.

    Balance on skis is not innate. Even the most athletically gifted will have to endure a learning period to become truly skillful at controlling their state of balance on their skis. And even the most athletically challenged can develop their balance skills to a point that surpasses the vast majority of skiers on the mountain. I've seen countless examples of each side of the spectrum, within the learning journeys of my own students/racers over many years of coaching.
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    The "changes" actually came about because the PSIA Alpine team was trying to find commonalities between all the different uses of skis: On the groom, in race courses, off-piste, in the parks, etc. They're trying to determine how best to describe skiing in terms that apply to good movements regardless of the uses.

    In the overlapping circles depiction of skills, balance was the result of the actions in the other skills. If you made good use of rotary, edging and pressure skills, you had good balance.

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    My horse knows his own way home Snow Sport Instructor SMJ's Avatar
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    I think the concept of balance includes stance, and I've been taught to first look at a students balance, fore/aft in particular and start my coaching with that if it needed it.

    So how can you remove the concept as a "skill" when it's the first thing we teach in many cases.
    I need to be a conqueror, a liberator of my potential, kept prisoner all these years.

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    First thing I look at is ski performance.

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    My horse knows his own way home Snow Sport Instructor SMJ's Avatar
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    OK Kneale, I'll buy that, but how the skier is balanced on their skis is probably the most important determining factor in how the skis perform.

    Isn't the ski performance an outcome, but the balance (and edging and rotary and pressure management) skills the cause?
    I need to be a conqueror, a liberator of my potential, kept prisoner all these years.

  8. #8
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    How the skis perform is an outcome of application of edging, pressuring and rotating skills. I think balancing is a result of the same applications. Inaccurate application of any of those skills results in imbalance and inefficient skiing.

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    Obviously a lot has to do with semantics and there's many different ways to describe the whole picture and individual picture.

    What I think drives the alternative view (and the alternate isn't any more or less correct than the older view; it's just a different way of describing things) is that it is cause and effect.

    So for example, rotary movements are a cause and turn shaping and turn radius are an effect that results from that cause.

    And then adjusting fore/aft and lateral pressure are a cause and being in balance is an effect.

    -K

  10. #10
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    I look at both; the nature of the skis interaction with the snow, and the state of balance the skier is occupying. Sometimes the state of balance is negatively affecting how the ski is interacting with the snow. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes the ski/snow interaction is fine, but the effort being used is greater than necessary because the skier is not in an efficiency optimal state of balance.

    Example; one skier may be able to carve cleanly, or steer precisely, while riding way in the back seat, or standing heavily on the inside ski. For other skiers, getting inside or back severely compromises the ski/snow interaction. Need to observe the entire package.

    Terrain can be a factor too. A particular balance state may not affect ski/snow interaction on a green run, but may cause it to fall apart when the slope steepens. Observing the balance state independent of the ski/snow interaction can catch problems before they actually make an appearance.
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