Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

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Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby SkierSynergy » Tue Nov 24, 2009 11:15 pm

During the Tech Camp this fall, I had a lot of discussion (and movement analysis) with Harald about counter action in the transition. I thought I would share some of the main points with the forum and let things develop from there.

The standard description of the stages of counter action through the transition are as follows:

1. End of turn. Old edges at their highest tipping angle. Counter action and balance for the old turn.

2. Middle of transition. Flat skis. Square (facing the direction of the skis) and a slight counter balance for the new turn (if the skis are flat to the slope and the slope has angle, there is a need for some counter balance at flat).

3. New turn edges. New turn counter action and balancing movements increase as the edge angles increase.

This is the description you get in the video on my web site:

Understanding Lower Upper Body Coordination


For the vast majority of us, these reference points are important images. Most people do not have an idea of active counter action that is referenced off of the angle of the skis. Instead, at best, many people ski the feet into counter action referenced to the position in the turn arc. That is, they keep the body always facing down the hill and just let the skis turn into a countered position at the bottom of each turn regardless of the tipping angle of the skis. More commonly, many people actually have a lot of active rotation somewhere in the turn.

So, for most of us the idea that there is active counter action of the upper body against a stable gripping base in the feet is a revelation. It suggests that as the feet roll from edge to edge, the upper body actions must change. The counter action of the old turn must unwind through square and then continue through to the opposite side for the new turn. Rather than the old adage to keep the upper body facing down the fall line, if the skis go to a high angle in the beginning of the turn, then the body must be turning towards the uphill side! Many of us have had to do this exercise with the hip-o-meter on.

As a general picture, to help change our old movement patterns, these standard stages of PMTS counter acting movements go a long way. However, for more dynamic turns, it turns out that the picture is a bit more complicated.

Here is a point that forms the basis of a more advanced understanding.

1. Any movement of the upper body (either rotation or counter action) before you are solidly on new edges (edged enough to resist the effects of any upper body movement) will result in skidding of some type.

How is this different than the standard explanation? The standard explanation would suggest that as the edge angles are reduced in the beginning of the release, the upper body is unwinding -- outside rotating forward in concert with the flattening of the skis. Further, the standard description would suggest that while the skis move through flat, the unwinding continues and becomes the new turn counter action as the edges engage for the new turn.

However, there is a problem with this in dynamic turns. If the upper body is actively countering as the skis are flattening, and through flat, then the skis are susceptible to twisting through the basic physics of “action-counteraction.” There is not enough edge to provide a platform of resistance for the movements.

Instead, the old turn counter action must be held strongly all the way onto the new edges. Only when the new edges are firmly engaged can the unwinding happen. If the tipping actions of the new turn -- independently of the upper body -- are not enough, then the new countering actions will result in a “heel push” engagement at the beginning of the turn -- the mechanics of a classic pivot slip.

This whole process takes a well developed ability in lower upper body work. The torso must hold the old turn counter, but the hips must relax the counter enough to facilitate flexing and tipping. If the hips remain in the old turn counter too strongly then it is hard to flex the new inside leg, tip toward the new LTE, and move the hips across the skis ahead of the movements of the new stance leg.

So, here is the short of it all. The feet must immediately develop the biggest angles they can while the torso holds the old turn counter. Once the edges are firmly engaged, the body can unwind and counter act for the new turn.

Of course, anything that blocks flexing and tipping, such as extending the new stance leg too early, will inevitably destroy any chance one has of making all this work.

There isn’t anything inconsistent with the standard description that we often use, but it does turn out to be a bit more complicated.
I hope you find this useful.
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby jclayton » Wed Nov 25, 2009 2:25 am

All I can say is WOW !

Nice succinct explanation of what we see all the time in WC skiers .

Especially important the similarity/difference with the "standard " explanation , in reality the " modification" is an extension ( sic ) of the original , important at ,least for me , for my continual understanding .

Who says PMTS is limited ? those of a limited understanding of skiing !
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby patprof » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:35 am

Great post Jay :D
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby geoffda » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:19 am

SkierSynergy wrote:1. Any movement of the upper body (either rotation or counter action) before you are solidly on new edges (edged enough to resist the effects of any upper body movement) will result in skidding of some type.

Instead, the old turn counter action must be held strongly all the way onto the new edges. Only when the new edges are firmly engaged can the unwinding happen. If the tipping actions of the new turn -- independently of the upper body -- are not enough, then the new countering actions will result in a “heel push” engagement at the beginning of the turn -- the mechanics of a classic pivot slip.


I'm not sure I'm buying this. The "any movement of the upper body" was the basis for the old "counter rotation" theory which turns out to be incorrect because it doesn't take the friction of a weighted ski into account.

If you consider what holding onto counter means, it actually converts to anticipation as soon as you release. That is, you are now in a rotated position, facing into the new turn with opposing torsional tension on your torso and femurs. However, as long as the ski remains weighted, their will be no unwind because the torsional forces aren't sufficient to overcome the friction of the weighted ski.

A similar thing can be said about actually rotating or CAing. Provided you do it progressively, it does not have to be a sufficient force to cause your skis to turn. The problem that I have with the late CA theory is that the rotated position enhances the femoral rotation that you get when you tip. So if you wait to CA until engagement, you are already going to be skidding. Moreover, if you have delayed up until that point, in all likelihood, the intensity of the movement you would need to use *will* be sufficent to cause your skis to turn.

IMO, the original advice is most correct. Progressively start relaxing the CA at release, be neutral when your skis are flat, and apply early CA in conjunction with tipping.
Last edited by geoffda on Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby milesb » Wed Nov 25, 2009 8:57 am

Jay is referring to dynamic, especially short turns. Remember, every PMTS movement is proportional to tipping- if you are tipping/flexing/CB aggressively, the CA needs to be aggressive also. If you try to do that much left CA to right CA in that short of a time, it's going to affect the flattened skis. The proof is in the skiing- try it out for yourself in short turns, it makes a difference.
Also, it is only anticipation if you develop and hold that tension. PMTS does not require anticipation, think about the 2 foot release.
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby Bolter » Wed Nov 25, 2009 9:24 am

If you consider what holding onto counter means, it actually converts to anticipation as soon as you release. That is, you are now in a rotated position, facing into the new turn with torsional tension on your torso. However, as long as the ski remains weighted, the torso will not unwind because the torsional forces aren't sufficient to overcome the friction of the weighted ski.


geoffda,

In the bold font above do you mean . . . the skis will not unwind.
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby jbotti » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:42 am

I have always found that the best way to learn is to disagree and do the opposite of what the teacher says!!

But who am I to tell Geoffda how to learn!!
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby h.harb » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:00 pm

This is great discussion, Jay and I had a long discussion during the Tech Camp about holding counter verses coming neutral or square, with ski flattening.

Subsequently, Diana and I have discussed this at length, to investigate all permutations of this understanding.

We see this situation as a “Chicken or the Egg” predicament, but it applies more to high energy arcs with ski bend.

This isn’t meant to contradict anyone’s values about either using the gearing approach, of upper and lower body relationships or of what holding the counter longer in some situations might imply. It is not intended to imply that the gears might be striping, by moving one body part, the (lower body) relative to the upper body, (fixed) which would be holding the counter. We still want to make movements as continuous as much as possible, to avoid exaggerated anticipation, hip thrusts, and pivot.


This upper to lower body relationship, ideally described, would be as written in the Essentials book. This is described as relating counter acting degrees of movement to the changes in tipping ski angles.

What we are discussing here is: does this rule change with and for different skier needs and with different slope/arc conditions. And how much does it change?

The intent of all PMTS movements is to include and create complete versatility. If one learns to ski with the “Essentails” book description of countered relationships, upper to lower body; they then would also have the versatility to modify the timing for different situations in skiing as needed.

This is the beauty of PMTS and the Essentials book. It gives skiers the ideal or middle ground of skiing movement, so that total versatility can be applied in any degree of movement or relationship.

Skiers should be able to evolve naturally without restrictions from dead-end movements built in, dead-end movements always hold skiers from developing. PMTS movements speed natural development and versatility.

This topic offers many directions and offshoots to the simple idea of holding the counter while flexing or tipping the skis off the edges to release.

I’ll post video and photos of different skiers showing how this works, soon.
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby ibMED » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:11 pm

Jay,
Thanks for putting the video up on your website. For a few minutes, it was just like being on the slope with Harald. Harald's instruction did a great job of explaining the complex movement(s), including the pole planting positions. Really pulls it all together in a resource we can revisit. Counteracting is the essential HH advised me to get better at following a video MA last spring.

For the record, I liked your old saying "providing comprehensive services to girl friends of skiers". Much more sexy!
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby SkierSynergy » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:26 pm

The advanced understanding of counter acting might not be so different than a more advanced understanding of counter balancing. Let's see if that can at least give us an accurate image of what the more advanced understanding of counter action look like.

One useful description that we have of counter balancing is:

1. End of turn. Old edges at their highest tipping angle. Counter balance for the old turn.

2. Middle of transition. Flat skis. No counter balance.

3. New turn edges. New turn counter balancing movements increase as the edge angles increase.

At the camps we often use the image of the body being two enmeshed gears – one flat against the front of the knees, one flat against the chest. As the lower body gears move one direction for tipping the upper body moves in the opposite direction for balance. When the lower body is flat, the upper body is straight. The counter balance is proportional to the tipping and in concert with the tipping movements. This is a great image for most of us that have trouble with leaning. This is also a very good model on very moderate terrain and very moderate turns where straight gravity is the main actor. But on steeper terrain and more dynamic turns, the gear for the lower body has to be moved ahead a few notches. When the skis are rolling through flat the upper body is already counter balancing for the new turn. This puts the emphasis on the tipping as the primary movement and counter balance as a secondary movement and it suggests that the movements of the feet should be ahead of the movements of the body. This is not such a big leap to make in our understanding of counter balance and doesn’t seem inconsistent with the concepts of the basic description.

Use the above analogy to get a handle on what is being suggested with counter acting.
A gear for the lower body tipping flat against the front of the knees. A gear for the counter acting around the waist. Calibrate it for the basic description. Now, move the gears a couple of notches so that the feet are moving into the new turn ahead of the upper body's counter acting movements. Tipping is first and more primary. Counter acting is secondary. As you roll through flat you are still in a counter acted position.

As the turns become more dynamic the tipping action of the feet have to become increasingly ahead of and independent of the upper body through the transition. To follow the analogy, it's as if there are a few notches missing for the lower body gear at every transition.

1. End of turn. Old edges at their highest tipping angle. Counter action and balance for the old turn.

2.Transition. Skis flip to new edges. no movement in torso. though there may be a relaxation of countering effort -- especially in the hips

3. New turn edges. unwinding of old counter actiuon and develoopping of new counter action against the solid base of the new edges.

********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************
geoffda wrote:The problem that I have with the late CA theory is that the rotated position enhances the femoral rotation that you get when you tip.


If I understand your worry correctly, there is something important to discuss here. You are questioning whether there can be the increased independence of the legs.
Will holding a counter acted position with the torso (though this is different than counter acting) tend to either twist the inside ski into the turn; twist the outside ski into the turn; or roll the stance ski onto it’s BTE ahead of the LTE of the inside ski? good question.

Also, we all know that counter balancing movements can be attempted with the arms, the shoulders, the torso, and the hips. In teaching, we usually try to get them all working as a unit. However, they are somewhat independent and have differential effects. Is the same true in counter acting?
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Anticipation

Postby SkierSynergy » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:28 pm

geoffda wrote:If you consider what holding onto counter means, it actually converts to anticipation as soon as you release. That is, you are now in a rotated position, facing into the new turn with torsional tension on your torso. However, as long as the ski remains weighted, the torso will not unwind because the torsional forces aren't sufficient to overcome the friction of the weighted ski.

A similar thing can be said about actually rotating or CAing. Provided you do it progressively, it does not have to be a sufficient force to cause your skis to turn. The problem that I have with the late CA theory is that the rotated position enhances the femoral rotation that you get when you tip. So if you wait to CA until engagement, you are already going to be skidding. Moreover, if you have delayed up until that point, in all likelihood, the intensity of the movement you would need to use *will* be sufficent to cause your skis to turn.


The movements involved in “anticipation” are not a part of PMTS. Classic anticipation is a model of lower-upper body coordination for steering turns. This concept is from a steering model of skiing. TTS understand inclination and angulation (the dark side counter parts of counter balance) as an edging movements and the counter-anticipation-release as a redirection/streering cycle. In a steering model counter-anticipation eventually helps the skis to change direction. In classic anticipation, the torso does not unwind. The tension in the torso unwinds the lower body (skis) into the new turn. That is why PMTS does not use the term anticipation. This is not the function of counter action. The upper body unwinds to support tipping movement, and balance, as well as, resist the steering forces of the turn. Tipping is the only cause of the direction change. This is partly why PMTS uses different words for the movements. Therefore, when I use the word “unwind,” it is not the “unwind” involved in classic anticipation.
Last edited by SkierSynergy on Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Application

Postby SkierSynergy » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:35 pm

Maybe look at this in relation to this discussion.

Does he counter act for the new turn? What happens when the leg begins to extend? What is the resultant effect on the skis.

http://pmts.org/pmtsforum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2594
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Re: Anticipation

Postby geoffda » Wed Nov 25, 2009 12:49 pm

SkierSynergy wrote:The movements involved in “anticipation” are not a part of PMTS. Classic anticipation is a model of lower-upper body coordination for steering turns. This concept is from a steering model of skiing. TTS understand counter balance as an edging movement and counter action as a redirection/streering movement. In a steering model counteraction through anticipation helps the skis to change direction. In classic anticipation, the torso does not unwind. The tension in the torso unwinds the lower body (skis) into the new turn. That is why PMTS does not use the term anticipation. This is not the function of counter action. The upper body unwinds to support tipping movement, and balance, as well as, resist the steering forces of the turn. Tipping is the only cause of the direction change. This is partly why PMTS uses different words for the movements. Therefore, when I use the word “unwind,” it is not the “unwind” involved in classic anticipation.


Yes, that is precisely my point. If you hold onto CA as you start to release your edges, you have rotational forces aligned to cause your skis to pivot. Whether they actually do depends on how much friction you have counter-acting this tendency. But either way it is a problem. If your skis don't pivot when you hold your CA late, then that proves that it is possible to apply some level of upper body rotation without breaking your skis loose. If they do break loose and pivot, it demonstrates that you held onto your CA too long.

In very dynamic turns, the ski will be anywhere from partially unweighted to fully unweighted in transition. The latter may not be by choice, but it can and does happen when flexion isn't sufficient. In those situations, at least in my experience, if CA is not precisely coordinated with tipping, a pivot entry will be the result if the upper body is even slightly in a rotated position. IOW dynamic turns have far less margin for error, but I still believe that it is fundamentally possible to get early CA as described in Essentials without introducing unwanted rotary effects on the ski.

The source of my confusion is that it sounds like you are saying that in very dynamic turns you should delay releasing your CA and tip from what is now a rotated position. In my experience, that is a sure fire way to cause your skis to pivot due to the strong femoral rotation that this will cause. This seems to be true even if you just hold the CA through the release.

My guess is that there is just a disconnect between myself and the words being used; if there is any video available to demonstrate what you are trying to describe I imagine it would clear things up quickly.
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Re: Application

Postby geoffda » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:05 pm

SkierSynergy wrote:Maybe look at this in relation to this discussion.

Does he counter act for the new turn? What happens when the leg begins to extend? What is the resultant effect on the skis.

http://pmts.org/pmtsforum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2594


It looks to me like the skier is releasing CA as they release, but the timing is slightly late so they still have some residual CA when their skis are flat. However, the fact that they are releasing CA would mean that the torsional/femoral tension should be minimal. They get to neutral CA by the time they start tipping, so there would be some femoral rotation, but it is far less than if they were actually rotated. It does not appear that the rotational forces are sufficent to force a pivot. OTOH, they are most likely getting some help from the snow. Does this analysis seem correct? I looked at the first turn only.
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Re: Advanced Counter Acting: The Transition

Postby milesb » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:07 pm

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