Wednesday, May 13, 2009

GEEKING OUT on Edging your skis in my sleep...

Disclaimer:First, I'd like to say THANK you to all the skiers I have had the opportunity to shoot at PSIA events. The snow was INCREDIBLY challenging at both the Tryouts in 08, and the 09 Academy (where these were shot.). All of the skiers here are very talented, capable of handling difficult, steep, mixed terrain and conditions. I have chosen a few snapshots that give a general idea of the movement patters I am describing.

If I used your picture and I don't have your name, or your full name, let me know!

Here's how big of a geek I am... its been three weeks of huge personal growth and hard work, as I re-enter school, I am in this incredibly intensive situation where we are meditating a couple of times a day and doing mindfulness and connectiveness exercises all day long, then I'm hiking, which is very meditative for me, and getting body work, which is therapeutic and moves energy, we are in psych class and integration class, which are all about mindfulness and processing... and also in Chinese theory, which is basically Buddhist philosophy applied to the body... so things are changing and shifting and moving and I am psychically EXHAUSTED! (Which is when you tend to give up and stop fighting and let change happen...)

I could write about all of that, and I have been in my journal, and I'd love to share some of it with all y'all, but here's what trumps all of that, that I MUST share first...

Its 11:30 at night and I have a MASSIVE breakthrough in my understanding of

moving along the length of the ski!!!!

skier: Mike Hafer

Here it is. There is a lot of discussion about moving along the length of the ski. What it means, if you can do it, what it looks like , how it makes the ski function in the snow, when it happens in the turn, if it can even happen at all. Some people hate the concept, for others, it unlocks their skiing.

I was laying there thinking about it, and I slowed the film down in my mind and watched the feet and skis. Can you truly move along the length of the ski before you initiate a lateral movement, and does that change your turn, how early you can edge? Rick Vetrmile asked this question of Megan in a clinic I was in at Aspen. I didn't really understand the question, but Shannon and I spent an entire powder day trying to figure out what it meant and if you could do it. When we came back the next day, our skiing had changed dramatically. This was two Februaries ago.

But what, exactly were we doing?

In my minds eye, I see the end of the turn, I see the bottom third of the turn, both skis are beginning to flatten as the down hill leg begins to soften. But before you allow your body to cross your platform, as you are coming across the hill on your uphill edges, you move forward. After you feel that you've "traveled the length of the ski", which I believe is a "proprioceptic imaging", an extended feeling of what part of the ski you are pressuring the most (The bottom of the turn tending to want to load the back of the ski, and as you move forward, even if its just an inch or two, if you are cued in, you can feel the pressure moving from the back of the ski, to the middle, to the front third, and even to the tip if you go that far forward...)

So if you are tuned in to the moment, and you feel the pressure "traveling the length of the ski", and you then allow your body to cross your platform, the skis are pulled to their edges.

(See, Squatty? I'm combining the balls that are in the air...)

skier: Jennifer Simpson

This is where the light bulb went off and I got all excited and literally sat up and bounced up and down in bed clapping my hands. Yes, I am a total goober, what's your point?

Moving the Length of the ski is the SAME THING as pulling your skis to their edges, and if you combine the concepts, the pull happens when it should in the turn!!!

WAHHH!! Oh my GOD!

Here is Squatty's concept on pulling your skis to their edges as I understand it and have been teaching it:

Stand in a skiing position. Your right foot is your outside/downhill foot, you are at the bottom of a turn.

Add pressure to your ski by PUSHING on your feet harder. Where did your center of mass/hips go?

Down and back, most likely.

Now, stand in a skiing position, and "PULL" your feet to their edges. (Increase edge angle to add pressure).

Where did your center of mass/hips go?

Most likely forward and across, just a bit.

Torso moves first, pulling weight off the outside ski, rather than pulling the skis to their edge and allowing the Center of Mass to travel across the platform in relation to the feet.

When you PUSH on your ski to add pressure, you separate the pressuring movement from the directional movement that you need. You make the critical edge angle, the magic ingredient that makes the ski slip or grip, a guessing game, your mass goes back, increasing the likely hood that you will have to make a big move out of the "back and in" position into the next turn.

When you PULL your skis to their edges, you combine that directional movement that you need to start the next turn with the edging movement, so you are moving simultaneously with edging and pressuring movements, your feet and core are talking to each other, you are not guessing where your CM should be, your CM is traveling to where it needs to be according to what your edging movement is. Because they are tied together, they tend to happen at the "right" time, and be proactive, both producing positive results, rather than sequential, each move requiring a compensatory move. (ie: Pushing to add pressure puts you in the back seat, you must move forward further before you edge. Pulling to add pressure puts you forward, increases pressure and begins the turn all at once.)

Before we go on, let's look at the "Balls in the Air" concept, also from Squatty, as retold by me as I understand it...

Skier: Stepehen. Bending the ski by pushing on it. Weight goes slightly back, ski slips.

Imagine that each step that you do to make a turn is a ball that you throw in the air. So I had time to think of each one of these things in every turn, my OLD jugglinlg pattern would look like this:

From the apex of the old turn: (This is carving on ego groomer snow.)

1. Continue to direct core energy straight down the hill, no matter the size of the turn. Imagine that your INTENTION can continue to follow the fall line of the Apex of the turn, as your legs begin to turn under you. (No matter the size turn. The countered position that you ski into will be appropriate for the size of the turn, either the turn will be long enough at at some point that "down the hill" energy of the turn will diminish and you will ski into a more square, less countered position, or, the turn will be short enough that your "down the hill" energy can continue, does not get dissipated by the un-winding forces of the turn, because its over already, and your legs turn under you as you stay in a more countered position.)

Skier: Nick Heron. Body, energy, intent, continue down the fall line.

2. (Right that's a lot to think about in the split fraction of a moment that your body is in the Apex!). Legs start turning across the fall line

3. Downhill leg begins to release

4. Skis begin to flatten (This may happen just JUST after the apex, but lets draw it out into all the thoughts)

5. Body begins to lengthen

6. Body begins to move forward

7. Because downhill leg is so soft, body begins to travel across platform as gravity pulls your core downhill

8. Edge change occurs

9. Move core to apex of new turn (Problematic for achieving Critical Edge Angle...)

10. Rotate femurs to the inside of the turn

11. Which increases edge angle, and pressure

12. Long leg, short leg, and flexion movements occuring

13. Bend the ski!

14. Keep energy moving down the Apex of the turn as your legs begin to move under you across the fall line

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Skier: Nick Heron. Softening.

If I wasn't so excited, I could probably think of fifteen other things to put in the turn, about hands, head, eyes, sensing, toes, arch, stance, and all that jazz, but lets just stay with feet and core. I think 14 things to think of every .75 seconds is plenty.

To juggle 14 balls, I"D BETTER BE A PRETTY DAMN GOOD JUGGLER! I'd better be able to throw each one of those balls in the air with confidence and excellent timing. I'd better know just how high I have to toss them to keep them going.

It would probably be easier just to juggle fewer balls.

Squatty's idea combines several of those ideas into one idea so you juggle fewer balls!

Here's the new concept of the turn, cleaning up some movement pattern ideas, and adding some inside knee stuff I learned at the same time from Weems, before the length of the ski epiphany:

1. Apex of the turn, energy continues to move down the hill

2. Down hill leg softens

3. Pull the ankle bone (Maleolus) of your foot toward the opposite metatarsal (Not the toe! The ball of the foot.)

4. Roll through the transition, patient

5. Allow inside knee to drive into the turn while pulling inside foot back hard,and drawing it up the leg. (Soft, Back, Allow it to draw up as a function of being soft, this develops long leg/short leg).

6. Legs turn in the true hip socket, allow energy of core to travel down the Apex fall line again.

Skier: Tim. Bracing, Pushing before edge change, rather than softening, pulling.

WOW, we went from fourteen to SIX!

Pulling the skis to their edge combined a bunch of movements, pulling back the inside knee allowed me to be stable to allow higher edge angle, eliminate shuffle, make skis move simultaneously into the new turn, and have a very strong inside half, so I could move my core down the fall line in the Apex of the turn.

Now, think about the propreoceptic idea of "Traveling the length of the ski", and add that in.

1. Apex of the turn, energy continues to move down the hill

2. Down hill leg softens and begins to pull back, creating a new strong inside half

3. Travel the length of the ski (there's the patient transition), while pulling the ankle bone (Maleolus) of your foot toward the opposite metatarsal (Not the toe! The ball of the foot.)

4. Legs turn in the true hip socket, allow energy of core to travel down the Apex fall line again.

Now there's only FOUR things to think of in the turn, and your core ends up where it should be according to the size and shape of the turn you are making.

I'm a very happy person right now.

Thoughts? Feelings? Agree? Disagree?

Tell me tell me what you think! I'm going to make a video tonight that shows how my understanding of this has changed the way I ski with my hands. (Which are a representation of how I ski with my feet...) anyhow, that will make more sense when I post the video...


Jongira said...

Thoughts? Feelings? Agree? Disagree?
Thoughts? none.
Feelings? how lucky you are, to have found a world which you understand, and, in which, you can dance.
Agree/ Disagree? I now have a fused ankle, and my legs disobey my hopes. But, dear kate, you have found a glorious thing, which I sometimes search for, called 'ephiphany', and I envy (and rejoice in) your insights, and celebrate your freedom.

- J

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts. Rather than being tipping focused, what if your focus was to become bending tool based. You want the ski bent hopefully from the tip to the tail throughout the turn. I found when I became focused on the tools performance, I noticed I began moving 'along the length of the ski' and this allowed me to bend the tip of my ski early in the turn. If I moved in the wrong direction or too much/too little my ski gave me feedback. I then could make adjustments.