Big Sky Camp revisited - and a tech comment and question

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Big Sky Camp revisited - and a tech comment and question

Postby John Mason » Sat Mar 06, 2004 10:12 pm

So, last place I skied before Big Sky Camp was Perfect North. They have a little black (that normally has 5 people at a time on weekends in either the state of falling down or the act of getting back up at any given moment in time) that gets bumpy and crudy pretty quick. This is the type of run that would normally drive me nuts at prior current level of ability.

At Big Sky Camp we drilled two days pretty much on the phantom move (ski lifted, tip down, tilt and turn) on groomers and lots in bumps. Before this camp I would totally revert to very wide stance, each ski with a mind of it's own railing in it's own unintended direction, when every I encountered bumps or crud.

So a regression. I have two sets of skis, Head I75M chips and Volkl 6 stars. I got a nice gravel gouge out of my Heads so dropped them off at shop at Perfect North to get repaired. I head out my first time since camp on my 6 stars to practice and see how my sking has been effected by the camp. Immediatly I notice I can turn on a dime. I begin to wonder if it's the skis. After lunch I switched skis back to the Heads and I can turn on a dime on these too!

So I started going down the bumped and cruded little Black they have here. What a difference. By balancing and doing short radius turns on one ski the crud has very little effect. What little up down disturbance is nothing compared to the Mogul drills Diana had us doing. I was able to pick a line and basically just ski down the fall line. WOW - this is fun!

Bottom line, though I cut camp off early, I still got a big benefit from it. I go to Mammoth later this week where I will seek out a true bump run and continue my practice.

(Diana also canted my right boot 1.5 degrees which really had a wonderful effect. I did not realize how much my right ski big toe was still trying to dig till I skied totally neutral today. That was very nice indeed!)

Now a technical observation and question. At the Big Sky camp I did not trust my turns left over the bumps. There were 2 reasons for this:

1. My canting was not correct on that foot so objectivly it was harder turning left for me as my big toe would tend to want to rail instead of allowing a proper release. I could do it but it was noticably harder than turning right.

2. My bigger reason in general - I'm a technical learner. I must understand with my brain before I implement with my body. I'm not a monkey see monkey do learner. I want/need an explanation. I did not see how the phantom move would allow a turn tight enough to turn on a dime at the top of a bump and carve down the side of the same bump. My confusion was because a carve that tight would be way tighter than the turning radius of the skis some sort of pivot/twisting action would also be required and that thought is anathama to PMTS methodology.

Yet, I would watch Diana do these turns, Harold does them in the book, Heck - even I was doing them sometimes. But, since I didn't understand how this could be, I did not trust that my skis would turn this tightly. Then I realized and actually found a paragraph where HH confirms this that inside leg tiping action causes rotation. Tipping, in fact, causes strong irresistable rotation. I had felt this. On the bumps when I did it right the skis rotated just fine and in time. Another example of tipping and the rotation effect happens is in hoverering turns. If you are going at speed doing GS turns and have a ski with good rebound, you sometimes are mid-air at the release yet when you tip, even with no contact with the snow (a hover turn?) the ski's turn too in mid air ready to engage upon landing. In Harold's explanation and caution on this, he states you should not turn the stance ski or think that way, but tip the inside ski. This will cause stance ski rotation. :idea: I realized - ah - that's why I can trust the phantom move in bumps or trees or steeps - turn on a dime save your life turn!

Any comments on my understanding of this technical point are appreciated. My observation is that strong tipping creates strong rotation such that the ski's will ski a much shorter radius than their natural carving turn radius. (Today I was sking short little linked phantom turns on a dime on a 5 foot wide snow path (as it's melting at Perfect North) where everyone else was wedging to control their speed.)

My mind would still like a bio-mechanical explanation of why this tipping correlates to rotation. I had thought that the tipping simply made the skis turn because the ski's are tipped and thus turn because of their shape and the bend that is created. But now I see that is true to a point, but even more tipping then creates a strong rotation where the body must be forcing the ski to come around as well for these very sharp turns.

The cool thing about these turns is they are still S turns and not Z turns. They are linked curves not jumped straight lines.

So it was kinda a fun :D eureka day for me today.
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Postby Guest » Sun Mar 07, 2004 10:44 am

John,
One explanation for the inherent propensity of the skis to rotate into the turn come to mind. Imagine yourself skiing down the fall line with your upper body pointed straight down that line. As your skis make turns, it requires your torso to twist to accomodate that motion. Your legs, hips and trunk become a coiled spring which automatically wants to unwind into the next turn, thus giving you a much shorter radius turn than dictated by the skis sidecut geomitry alone. Hope this helps.
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I'm familiar with that effect, but this is much stronger

Postby John Mason » Sun Mar 07, 2004 4:27 pm

You can hold your poles upside down and then grip them under their grips, then turn them upside down so they are a handle length shorter and drag your tips. This stops pretty much any upper body motion and allows easy short radius turns. Your legs do the S path but your body is still and stable going down the fall line.

But, the rotation I'm talking about, you can as a test be totally sloppy on your upper body if you want. When you tip that unweighted inside ski, if you tip if far enough you will almost whip around and do a 180. This will happen even if you keep your upper and lower body stiff and not allow twisting at the waist. This is the essense of the power of the phantom move. If you have not felt it yet, you need to try it out and see what it does. The first time you really get it right (like I did on in the Dec camp) it will almost throw you.

This is not to downplay the importance of what you are saying as there is a winding/unwinding benefit. Lito refers to this as dynanmic anticipation. From my own experience my opinion is that the best benefit of a stable upper body is that keeping the upper body straight and stable creates much better edge angles and improves carving and the ski's ability to hold an edge. This is because the body will naturally form a C shape when the upper body is not following the turn but pointing down the fall line.

So, to narrow my question down, what is it about the pure phantom move when done to excess just for fun that creates a very strong rotational effect far beyond any innate design of the ski's or relation to the ski's turning radius. My son, who is a very strong and naturally roller blader, when I discussed this with him, says - oh yeah, that's the normal way to turn effortlessly on your roller blades. It'll turn you on a dime. His response had an attitude like, "didn't you know that Dad, everyone knows that". He told me to walk forward and lift and tip the inside leg (left leg) while I'm beginning my fall forward off my outside leg (right leg). He said I'll feel a strong rotation of my right leg wanting to go left. He was correct to the point that being in shoes instead of a rolling or sliding object, it was uncomfortable. Yet the feel of this rotation motion has nothing to do with what it would feel like if I initiated the rotation or twisting of the right leg with my right leg.

In any case, that above test has nothing to do with my upper body position as everything was straight at the start of the walk. I notice that as you tip the inside leg (left in this case) while just starting your fall forward, like interuppting your stride, your body leans left and your right leg is rotated strongly as if to catch up with that lean. The right leg must turn to keep up and it does with no conscious effort to do so.

If you tip your inside leg (left leg), however, while keeping your balance on your right leg, there is no rotation effect at all. So the rotation effect only occurs as you simalteneously allow your body to begin to fall in the direction of the tip and the strong physical force that rotates the other leg to come around occurs. These are my observations. I find it fascinating that you can illustrate this for yourself without skis or rolerblades just by observing what happens at the begining of a simple walking stride if you let your body do what it wants to do when you tip the unweighted foot.

Now I'm ready for the expert explaination of biometrically why this occurs. Emperically, it's obvious it does.

I believe once people understand and can illustrate and realize that the phantom move genreates and controls the amount of stance leg rotation, that the confusion traditional teaching creates by observing racers but not understanding the causes of the rotation will allow for more people to embrace the rather obvious principles of PMTS. I think people in the TTS methods of sking are so ingrained on the idea of rotation they are stuck that you must rotate your stance leg without realizing this is a result and not a cause. If you switch it and treat it as the cause then you have the biggest root difference of the two methods of ski instruction. It's a real and fundemental difference. The simple walking test my son showed me makes it clear to any impartial curious person.

Also, at the race camp I went to last August we were never told even once to twist or rotate our outer leg. Their total focus was also inside leg tipping. They didn't use the same terms and were not as structured in the developmental approach as what HH as presented, but many of the excersizes we did were the same and the focus was the same. (and if you observed the really good Master's racers in the group you can see the active inside leg tipping at the initiation of all turns as well as close stance - the "go ahead and use a wide stance" is also something that holds people back from what I've seen and experienced myself)
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Postby tommy » Mon Mar 08, 2004 3:03 am

So, to narrow my question down, what is it about the pure phantom move when done to excess just for fun that
creates a very strong rotational effect far beyond any innate design of the ski's or relation to the ski's turning radius.


John,

I've also noticed the strong rotation caused by the free foot tipping, and I've played with it on gentle slopes, trying to understand what's actually happening. Your post triggered some ideas for possible causes:

It appears to me that there seems to be at least 2 different things happening when you tip the free ski:

* your CM is able to move to inside the new turn, putting the new stance ski more to the edge, thereby causing it to bend

* there is a torque generated by the brushing contact of the tip of the free ski against the snow.

One way to visualize the rotating effect of the torque is imagining that you have a rope attached to the tip of your free ski, and someone down the fall line gently pulls on that rope. This would generate a rotating force towards the inside of the new turn.

The idea of the rotation caused by the torque should be easy to test: since the magnitude of the torque is dependent on the distance from where the force is applied to the pivoting point (under your CM), and on the amount of force "pulling" in the rope analogy, then this idea could be tested by varying the amount of pressure of the free ski tip to the snow. An other test would be to make the contact point of the free ski to be more towards the back of the ski.

It would be interesting to test this "hyphothesis" on snow. Unfortunately I'm not able to ski until next weekend...

Cheers,
Tommy
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I think you'll find even in the air it does it

Postby John Mason » Mon Mar 08, 2004 3:13 am

I used to think that on low grade slopes like greens that the phantom move was acting like a rudder with the tip in the snow, but, it'll still whip you around even if the ski is in mid-air.

I'll be interested in your test this weekend.

There must be some skeletal, hip-body, action that does this. What I don't get still is that this type of torque does not seem to affect your knees like trying to leg steer directly.

It's a paradox to me at this point. My trust, though, is finally ahead of my mental understanding, which for me is not the normal way I learn. But I'm getting enough experience that the all purpose phantom is getting more real to me.
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Postby tommy » Tue Mar 09, 2004 9:36 am

John,

I coudn't wait until the weekend to test the "rudder hyphotesis" - today I went to my local little "hill" (former garbage dump!) to see if I could find out what it is that makes the phantom move so effective.

I did the experiments on a very shallow part of the slope, with long traverses. I did a number of runs as follows:

1) Lift the free ski, but don't tip it. Result: the stance ski continues more or less straight
2) Lift the free ski and tip it, but at the same time, keep the stance ski from tipping to the new edge, by moving CM over/inside it. Result: the stance ski continues more or less straight (if you manage to keep it flat, which takes some effort when tipping the free ski).
3) Lift the free ski and tip it as in normal phantom, without letting it touch the snow. Result: a turn (and body will tip inside the turn!)
4) as #3, but put some pressure on the tips snow contact: Result: somewhat, but only somewhat more radical turn.

To summarize: it seems that it's not the "rudder effect" that makes the phantom move. Instead, it seems that the tipping to the little toe edge makes the body to move into the turn, and that is what causes the turn. Now, this effect could obviously be caused by the stance ski getting to its edge, which would lead to a carved turn. But since the phantom can also generate a "rotational turn" (skidding) I guess there is something more going on here, in addition to the edging of the stance ski, and that something has to do with the CM moving into the turn when the tipping occurs.

Cheers,
Tommy
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Postby milesb » Tue Mar 09, 2004 12:05 pm

Try it without poles, and let us know what happens.
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Hi Milesb

Postby John Mason » Tue Mar 09, 2004 2:41 pm

In my own case, I only recently started using my poles (since December), but the phantom move has always had a strong rotational effect regardless of pole use or not.

In GS type turns I don't really use the poles except as little feed back antenea on where I am in relation to the slope. In steep stuff, I do use the poles to help time my turn and less often sometimes for balance.

But these little phantom move rotational tests can be done at slow speed on shallow terrain leaving your poles in your pocket so to speak.
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Can't wait to hear Harald's thoughts

Postby JimR » Tue Mar 09, 2004 8:05 pm

A thought. If I am standing still and then take a step forward with my left foot, my hips open up as the foot moves forward. Then, as my body comes forward, my hips close as the left leg rotates inward (whatever that is) relative to the hip. This is a more muscular move than moving the foot forward, because I am pulling the rest of my body forward. Maybe this behavior in the fundamental motion of walking is one of the reasons that our legs have an easier time rotating toward center (of course, the other is any time in PSIA instruction re: snow-plowing and wedge christy'ing). Maybe what you are feeling is merely the extra strength that allows the leg to rotate more strongly/naturally in one direction, combined with enough control on your part not to let this happen before your edges are engaged so as to prevent a skid or wedge initiation. :?:
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Getting closer perhaps

Postby John Mason » Tue Mar 09, 2004 9:11 pm

I notice that as I do the phantom "stand in a door test", that as I let my body lower increasing the right leg ankle flexion while tipping my left leg and letting my body tip towards the left all at the same time, then my hip rotates counter clockwise (viewed from above) as well as tipping left. This creates a strong rotational pull on my right foot that you can feel. As you remove the above movements the rotational pressure gets less. It's not the moving up and down that does it, because just lowering yourself and remaining statically there will also leave the rotational preasure there.

There is no walking like motion here. But there is obviously some sort of very skeletal structual thing going on here. The most apparent change is the hip rotation created. The leg strongly wants to stay neutral in relation to the hip and not be pointing outward. So you may be onto something in your post in stating that the body in some situations doesn't like the leg to be pointing outward.

I would hate to think about any of this while I ski. I know the move works and works very well. I'm just trying to understand how that activates the Kinetic Chain to make the ski turn. I don't see how anyone could "rotate the femur from the hip" in any intentional fashion to create this type of rotation. That is a muscular effort. This seams to be a skelatal "must move preasure" that is effortless. Yet the preasure is very controllable by varying the amount of the inside leg tip as well as the amount of right leg flexion. And this is where this analysis might be helpful. Usually this turn is described as being more or less solely modulated by the tipping of the inside foot. But the effect is stronger the lower you are as well. (at least on my body in my doorway :D )

I would suppose if someone has a very upright skiing stance they may not have ever felt this effect or think it wasn't strong enough. Also I would postulate that the tighter the turn you want to make would be easier as you lower your stance. (not stance leg - your whole ski position height from bottom to top) But I may be wrong here as I can't really see exactly what I'm doing. It is easier to tip your inside leg over farther the lower you are. So maybe it is the tipping creating the "O" at the knee area that's the thing more than the amount of flexion. I'll have to have someone else watch me or video me and see better.

Basically - bottom line - I'd like to have the Kinetic Chain defined instead of being a "black box". But, I wouldn't get hung up on this. The move works. I'm just weird in that I (and no doubt many others) want to have the black box opened.
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