Not holding back on Rotary skills teaching

PMTS Forum

Yes - that's true

Postby John Mason » Fri Apr 30, 2004 1:31 pm

Yes, that would be true, because you can just traverse with flat skis and they will want to turn to the fall line. If your facing downhill, then a rotary component might be added, but is not needed at all to get these skis to turn in the 2 footed release. You can just ride them around just facing the ski tips if you want and they will still turn towards the fall line.

Then there is no rotary in any of the 3 PMTS releases. You might have some accidently, but it's not required or even desired to get the releases to work.

I sit corrected!
John Mason
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Re: please edit question

Postby Occasional Guest » Fri Apr 30, 2004 6:25 pm

John Mason wrote:Did you mean "where does a skier get his rotary leg steering?" I'm assuming "sit skier" was a misstype.

My first lesson I was taught to steer my outside leg by twisting the foot with the lower leg.

My brother, who picked up skiing this year, found a thingy on that has people pointing their knees inside the turn to the new direction. This will also create a rotary steering motion of the feet.

Over on Epic, often you'll hear "steering" described as an outcome to things that make the skis turn. Ok, but you'll often hear the term "pointing" at the same time. Pointing is active steering as well. Also on Epic many mix inside leg steering into the turn by advocating pointing the inside leg towards the inside of the turn - or diverging the tips. Any inside leg steering creates rotary action as well, but is counter to carving and riding the skis as the skis turn you.

All of these compromises will generate a turn by a mix of a pivot action but some carving may also be present. In general a skidded turn will result which is not a turn that will do well in crud or bumps. Might work fine on smooth groomers, but why limit oneself.

The other "in vogue" difference is in stance width. I have read many people over on Epic post that a wide stance width allows for greater edging. A wide stance has many negatives. You can get extreme edging just by ankle flexion without resorting to the needless effort a wide stance creates. PMTS with its suble foot movements to create turns, is not effective with a wide stance. A wide stance makes much more work to "release" a turn. (I used to ski with a very wide stance, and it was much harder)

No one is saying rotary doesn't occur. The body faces down the hill and is still and the lower body rides the skis as the skis carve their turns. So rotary is happening as a result of the skis being tipped and carving. The PMTS difference is a greater focus on pure carving by tipping the inside foot and drills that eliminate direct steering inputs that many skiers have in their muscle memory from bad ski instruction.

Before I get any more interesting "private e-mails", I should point out that much of the ski teaching profession that is not doing PMTS do say you tip to turn.

There are, however, differences in the more enlightened non-pmts tip to turn crowd. These differences include, the addition of pointing the inside ski, a wider stance, lack of emphasis on one ski balance. Also, tipping to turn to many often means both skis at the same time. While this can work, using the phantom move or tipping the inside ski first, which causes the outside leg to follow as a passive action, is a better way to turn. Tipping both skis at the same time requires skill to avoid not crossing the tips. I wonder if this issue is what causes some non-PMTS people to advocate pointing the inside ski into the next turn - that is - diverging the tipes. This may also be why many of these people also advocate a somewhat wide stance. Tip divergence is another way to avoid crossing tips, but then you are not parallel which is not as good a way to be in bumps and crud. This lack of emphasis on the phantom move is the other non-pmts difference even among people that also eschew active steering inputs.

Given the question, I may have accidently answered it above.


That was quite an opus you posted. Do you really have that much expertise having only skied for a couple of years in Indiana? I bet you have been skiing much longer or you are quite the fast learner.

I want to respectfully disagree with a few of your points. I am certainly open to a lively debate on the matter and look forward to your response.

Inside leg steering may involve tipping the inside leg towards the center of the turn. Is this a rotary movement? Yes, in so far as the femur will rotate in the pelvic structure. Watch the inside knee of any slalom racer and you will see lateral movement. We have two legs,hence, why not utilize both to create edge angles?

Do not associate tipping the inside knee with automatic divergence of ski tips. In addition, I can assure you in the case of World Cup skiers there will be both convergence and divergence of ski tips in these wonderfully gifted athletes as they seek the fastest line on a race course.

In addition I caution you to never think in terms of carving and riding skis. There are a variety of ways to shape or steer a turn and passive riding of a ski in a turn in a static manner is the hallmark of intermediate skiing. Skiing is about movement. Again, observe World Cup athletes.

As far as skidding and bumps go. I have yet to observe a skier who is able to "carve" turns on steep bump runs with large moguls. Maybe for one or two turns but not a classic steep bump run like Drunken Frenchmans at Winter Park or Whiteout at Steamboat.You show me that person and I'll bring the kryptonite. There is no where when a variety of "steering" skills are more needed than in a high performance bump run. All skills are needed including balance, tipping the ski, turning the ski, flexion, extension, and yes at times even a little skidding.

On the subject of skidding I assure you a World Cup athlete will resort to a little skid or "feathering of a line" if he is too high on a race course.

You seem to focus on divergence and convergence as it relates to "tip crossing". I assure you much past the first half day on skis students don't cross their skis. It is only in those early hours much like a toddler learning to walk.

Lastly how does ankle flexion involve edge angles? Ankles do not tip. As Mr Harb has pointed out one cannot refute science. Ankles hinge....they dorsiflex and plantarflex. The foot is tipped below the ankle in the sub tallus. In addition a wide stance makes creating edge angles more difficult while a narrow stance makes edge angles easier to create.

I know you are quite the student of the sport and again say all this with respect and look forward to your response.
Occasional Guest

Hi Occasional Guest

Postby John Mason » Fri Apr 30, 2004 10:26 pm

You are properly pointing out the differences of the normal advanced tip to turn view most espoused in much of the skiing community as it differs from the focus of PMTS.

As far as carving the bumps as opposed to using rotary movements much has been said here in other posts already. I am a beginner bump skier, so I'll let others comment.

You do bring up a key point of difference, the idea that even in racing a racer will use active pivoting actions to shape the turn rather than modulating the tipping to do the same thing. Since there are WC skiers here that can respond to you I'll let them do that.

I've skied just over 1 year. I started March 2003. From then till now I have about 70 days in. Most of these days have been out west and include Breck, Copper, Beaver Creek, A-basin, Winterpark, Mammoth Lakes, Mt Hood, and Big Sky. In that time I had a very traditional 1st lesson, a PMTS lesson, a one week PSIA taught race camp, a one week PMTS blue/dark blue camp, a tad of a PMTS all mountain camp, and the very tail end of a private lesson with HH. I have bought all of the most popular ski instruction books and many of the not as popular.

This whole concept of the role of "active steering" (I clarify that as opposed to steering being an output or result of tipping) is indeed a big difference between what I read. For instance, in Ron LeMasters book he repeatedly brings up steering as an input and documents in his pictures racing using active steering inputs to shape the turns. But, when I look at these same picture sequences I see the racers modulating tipping to shape the turn. So there is definately controversy here on the role of active steering movements.

An interesting point echoed by Witherall in his book the Athletic Skier, and Lito Tejada-Flores in his book Breakthru on the New Skis and Bob Barnes over on Epic is that when your weight is primarily on one ski and that one ski is carving, you can't effectively add rotary movement or pivoting actions into your turn. Not that those three authors agree on the neaunces of skiing because they do not. So the question becomes, if you are in a pure carve, how can you control the shape of the turn. Or, what is the best way to control the shape of this carved turn? Must one rely on rotary input? All the prominent authors agree in a one ski carved state that ski is going to resist turning.

On page 90 in Lito Tejada-Flores book he presents the simplist answer in pictures and text that also just happens to agree 100% with what PMTS teaches that simply changing the amount of phantom edging with the free foot does the trick. Now this may seem too simple, but it also matches my experience on the slopes.

The biggest obstacle to experiencing this effect on a carved turn a person will have is if they are wedded to a wide stance. A wide stance breaks all this.

The ankle flexion question you brought up is obvious to anyone that has gone through PMTS training, but it's easy to illustrate. A corralary to your question I've heard people bring up is how can you tip the foot with the boot on. Interestingly the top racers use a foot bed that is not rigid but allows for pressuring the inside of the bottom of the boot. Anyway, if you stand in a doorway with legs straight, pick a foot and tip it. See how far you can do it. Now, let yourself drop 6 inches then try it again. Drop like you would when you ski, that is not to the back seat but with ankle flexion staying balanced. You will find you can tip much more. The difference is clear.

Not only that, when you are doing fast, linked short radius turns, this slightly lowered stance, not only allows for more tipping, but your upper body will stay more still since you are "shorter" when in transition and straighten out as the turn develops. Your upper body stays more still this way. A wide and more upright stance breaks all of this.

I would suggest popping up to A-basin tomorrow and introduce yourself to Erik the WC racer or Harold the former WC racer and discuss this with them or discuss your pivot slip bump ski technique with them and see what they say or what they can demonstrate. I wish I could be there, but I can't.

The diverging tips or pointing the inside foot into the next turn is an extraneous movement. Not a killer movement, but certainly not needed. As soon as a student is told to do that most students will be mixing some inside leg steering into their turns and create a skidded entry. Since it adds nothing and detracts from carving and using the skis optimally as designed, why do it?

When you tip the inside foot, the knee does move into the next turn, but the skis stay parallel. So you do see this inside knee pointing in a turn of a slalom racer. But this results from inside foot tipping, not from pointing the inside foot at a greater angle and diverging angle to the other foot. (well, unless the racer wants to catch an edge and have the skis go their own directions)

But not all racers ski turns the same way. There are different thoughts on these subjects. But, like I said, up at A-basin on Saturday you can discuss these different racing philosophies with Erik Schlopy and Harold.

My own experience has been to focus on exercises like the Super Phantom to help unlearn the active steering I was doing as I entered my turns. I have not found active steering or inside leg steering to be of any benefit to my skiing but as a negative movement that works against carving. In other words it's an early bad habit that one must work against in ones skiing.

Might one have to do a hip turn, or a pivot turn with gross steering inputs? Sure. Better that then coliding with that errant skier. But as my carving gets better and better, I have totally surprised myself on how versitile pure carving can be. But, that's a good question. In a PMTS skiing world what are the specific instances where one must pivot a turn? Like a hop turn? A right angle turn to avoid a collision? Is there a PMTS way to do these types of turns? Are these turns valid? Should a PMTS beginner be taught these types of moves? I still have these questions.

But, for every other normal type of going down the mountain turn, I find I don't need rotary input of any kind to shape and modulate the size of the carved turn. The phantom move or as Lito calls it phantom edging is flexible and powerful enough to do it all within the context of a carved turn.

What is your feeling of using phantom edging or the phantom move to control the shape of a carved turn? Would you do this, or "blend in" some sort of rotary input, even though all major authors agree you can't do this when you are carving on one ski. Would you say, widen the stance, carve on both skis, because then you can still do rotary inputs? Fine, that works, but why do it as it's much more work. If expert skiing is to be defined at all, (and many reading may not realize this, but many people do not want to even create a defined goal of what expert skiing is), expert skiing to me is that way of skiing that gets one down the hill in control utilizing the least effort. For me that meant adopting a narrow stance, learning to turn with subtle foot movements by focusing on tipping the inside foot whether weighted or unweighted, adding a proper pole plant to stabalize my upper body, being patient and letting the skis turn me, and dropping all maner of rotary input.

It's been a very fun 1st 70 days.

Oh, the reason in racing to not use both edges to turn is that the ski has much less bite if you split that weight on both skis. As most race courses can be icy (at Hood they work hard to get it hard and icy) A ski will bite much better by alternating your weight. But, ask Erik and Harold their view at A-basin. I know at the race camp I went to that was taught by PSIA people that just about all we worked on was one ski technique and holding that edge with one edge. It may look like a racer is skiing on both, but probably 90 plus percent is on the outside ski.

But I'm not a racer, so I'd ask Erik at A-basin tomorrow how he does his turns since he is one of the best in the world.
John Mason
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Postby Harald » Sat May 01, 2004 7:06 am

Our position in PMTS is that skiers do create rotary effects, either inadvertently or purposefully, but neither has a desirable effect on their skiing. I use the term ?effect? rather than ?movements?, because most skiers are not aware they create inappropriate rotary forces. We don?t teach rotary movements in PMTS because they occur as part of a tipping release, transition, and engagement.

I have yet to see a need to teach rotary movements to any skier, instructor, trainer or racer. A previous thread contributor suggested, and I agree, that no really good skiers try to rotate their legs to make quality turns. The skier?s thinking process that creates leg rotation provides a very poor feedback loop as to the behavior of the skis on snow. Loading skiers up with this thought process is an unfair burden and it?s ineffective.

Postby *SCSA » Wed May 05, 2004 6:42 am

Hi Occasional guest,

Don't get me wrong, I'm not thumpin my chest. But the only way I can ski Perregine or the steep bumps on Grouse is to carve my skis in the bumps. If I don't keep carving, I can't control my speed. All I worked on this year was carving in the bumps; I use my PMTS moves, tipping the inside way over and starting each turn with my downhill foot.

So I guess you better get your krytonite ready? :wink: :)

Re: Hi Occasional Guest

Postby BigE » Wed May 05, 2004 7:27 am

John Mason wrote:What is your feeling of using phantom edging or the phantom move to control the shape of a carved turn? Would you do this, or "blend in" some sort of rotary input, even though all major authors agree you can't do this when you are carving on one ski.

There are at least three definitions of the term "rotary input" of which I am aware, all meaning remarkably different things. I am always struggling to understand when I hear the term.

If you were to "blend in" rotary movement of the skis, it would necessarily come at the point that the edges have released, and you can actively pivot the skis. The notion here is that you can get the skis positioned further into the turn quickly, then start carving from there. Skidding will occur at the top of the turn, until the edges become engaged.

Why? This can be used for speed control -- a portion of the turn in which some speed is gained is bypassed. You lose the "high C" part, if you get my "drift". :D

Another definition of rotary input, as I understand it, is that of motion of the femur. Pointing the knees into the hill to increase edge angle rotates the femurs in their sockets. So this "rotary input" can be used to acheive high edge angles. This rotary input is useful from the point that the skis are engaged.

Another rotary input is that of twisting the shoulders/upper body, and normally used by beginning skiers to help them horse their skis to point to a new direction.

"Counter" could be considered another rotary movement, where the upper body rotates opposite to the lower. Think facing the fall line. But this is not common usage.

Funny thing: One could view learning to ski entirely as a "rotary input" progression!

First one starts horsing the skis around (beginner). Then as they improve, they learn to turn the skis with the legs only, and keep the upper body still (intermediate). Then they add some counter(High intermediate) as they get to steeper terrain. Finally, femur rotation is added to the mix for better edge control (advanced). Hmmm, that's kind of like what I see in real life.... :o
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Good Stuff Big E

Postby John Mason » Wed May 05, 2004 9:46 am

Those are all good descriptions of rotary. You left out the bread and butter PMTS turn though.

The action of pointing both knees in at the same time to edge creates that side cut turn from the other discussion and here is why:

1. In a side cut or railroad turn, the skis are put on edge for the new turn before the body has laterally shifted position into the new turn.

2. The normal progression that occurs when a carve is initiated with the phantom move is skipped

3. Tipping in this fashion adds a direct steering rotary force to the feet that can disrupt a carve. When you point both knees inside the new turn without regard to latteral tipping of the body further up, your feet also want to twist to return skeletal alignment to neutral. Thus you have something akin to steming turns and breaking the carve at the top of the turns.

In a phantom move turn where the free foot is tipped first the body moves into the new turn just before the outside leg laterally tips. This is the oppisite of a railroad or side-cut turn where both feet tip first before your body is into the new turn.

Here are two common errors in skiing that PMTS addresses:

1. It is an error to "stem" a turn because you have your outside ski forced into the new direction creating a wedge entry

2. Tipping both legs first before your body is into the new turn. This similar active movement of the outside leg makes the turn start before the body has moved down the hill inside the new turn. This railroad style of turn requires a wide stance to deal with the out of balance forces this type of turn creates. (otherwise you'd fall down)

But, by tipping the new inside leg first as your last turn ends, which helps move your body inside the new turn, the outside leg will laterally tip automatically as needed and support you as the new turn develops. The shift in balance is very easy because the stance is narrow. You are followoing the flow down the hill with the miniumum effort and maintaining a pure carve turn top to bottom.
John Mason
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