Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

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Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby zeus » Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:24 pm

I want to start with a short background about myself. I started skiing as an adult late last season. I got 7 days last year and 7 days this year before today. I have been teaching myself using Lito's videos last year and PMTS this year. I have worked through book 1 all the way to the pole use chapter when I encountered the crummy day today. I call it crummy because it was a bit of a confidence destroyer. I've been progressing very well over the past 7 days, having had to make only minimal changes to my pre-existing technique, and getting quicker and more comfortable with steep slopes. Today, it was back to square one.

So, it rained a decent amount in Vermont yesterday, and temperature remained warm through this morning. I decided to go to Sugarbush, and they did not do much grooming (if any) on most trails. And the snow was soft yet dense and heavy. The kind of snow that would lead to forming mini moguls on the blues and proper moguls on steep blacks by afternoon. Anyway, my difficulties started right away.

Even on wide trails, I had a hard time finding my rhythm. I had to tip my free foot to various angles to get turns of varying radiuses as I didn't want the skis ploughing straight into the little walls of snow. But the bigger problem was that I felt like I had to do an excessive amount of counteracting and counterbalancing movements to stay in balance as I went over the various undulations in the snow. It did not seem like graceful or efficient skiing to me (Sorry, I don't have a video of my skiing as I went there alone). It took a lot of physical effort. And when I went over larger mounds, especially at speed, I could actually find myself pressuring the tail at landing rather than staying in neutral balance. In fact, I actually fell backwards and uphill onto a mound on snow because of this on a steep blue run near the top (Birch Run).

My main goal so far whenever I have hit the slopes have been to try to get a feel for the snow rather than rigidly sticking with techniques, especially as someone who did not start skiing as a child. I have been using one footed release and the phantom move everywhere, including today. But, as I continued to have a lot of difficulty getting the skis where I wanted it to go and also in getting efficient speed control, I started experimenting a bit. But, nothing I tried seemed to do it. Except of course rotating the feet and skidding into each turn! But once I started doing this randomly, I decided to call it a day since I didn't want to develop any bad habits, and the slush was starting to become ice with dropping temperatures. Another issue I noticed was when I would flex the free foot leg and pulled it closer to the stance foot as I was tipping the free foot, the tail would sometimes snag in a small mound of snow and throw me off balance.

So here's my question in prep for when I encounter this again: what is going on here? Is the fore-aft balance issues just a difficulty with knowing how to stay in balance under uneven surface, and something that I will automatically develop the more I ski, or are there other technical errors here? For instance, should I be doing two footed releases instead of one footed release? Should I not have all my weight on one leg? Should I not keep the stance foot in a mostly extended and contracted position in order to let a soft, flexed knee absorb some of the energy from the surface and not get thrown off balance so much? Finally, what do I do about the tail catching snow lumps?
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby jbotti » Sat Dec 29, 2018 3:13 pm

You are asking questions about your skiing that no one can answer without seeing video. I suggest that you have some video taken and post it in the MA section.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby zeus » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:01 pm

jbotti wrote:You are asking questions about your skiing that no one can answer without seeing video. I suggest that you have some video taken and post it in the MA section.


Okay, but considering the day is done and I don't have a video for the reasons mentioned, would an answer in general terms be possible? Are there specific techniques that a PMTS skier would use in variable/lumpy terrain when balanced on one foot with a leg that's extended and contracted/rigid and using one footed release? Or is there a video similar to this one that shows how to adjust for the bumpiness of the terrain when using PMTS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDKdkCJbia4
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby Max_501 » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:30 pm

We don't change technique as the conditions and terrain change. Sounds to me like you are moving too quickly through book 1. As jbotti already stated you need video to get answer on what is happening. And feelings are basically useless at this stage in the game.

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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby zeus » Sat Dec 29, 2018 5:27 pm

I just read the book 1 chapter after the pole use one, which is on bump skiing, and all of my questions were answered. I was indeed using wrong technique. Or at least, not using these technique modifications in bumpy terrain:

“Slide down by pulling your feet back under your body. Never push your feet forward, as this lowers the hips and makes you sit back!”
“Start flexing before you hit the lip of the bump for smooth transitions. Make a quick flexing movement to stay light over the next bump lip. If you are light at the lip there is no impact; no impact means you stay on the snow.”
“Relax both legs to avoid being thrown back on your heels when the skis hit the hollow of the bump.”
“Keep the free foot tucked under the hips. Use strong hip flexor contraction to bring the leg up.”

I should have just read the chapter instead of spending time writing the OP that did not lead to any answers here.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby Max_501 » Sat Dec 29, 2018 5:34 pm

I doubt that you are ready for the bump chapter after 14 self taught ski days. The information there is for skiing real bumps after one has mastered the phantom move. There are countless threads on this forum about sticking to green terrain until you have mastered the PMTS fundamentals.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby noobSkier » Sat Dec 29, 2018 7:44 pm

Zeus,

When I started PMTS I thought it could be implemented in a matter of weeks...2 years down the road (although my skiing has improved) I'm still doing the most basic exercises and I've never been a weak athlete by any means. Point being, even though the information is correct it takes hundreds of ski days to transform your skiing. Its deceptive because masters like HH make it look so easy, but in reality its no less difficult and takes no less time than mastering a musical instrument.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby h.harb » Sat Dec 29, 2018 8:41 pm

This isn't as easy as it sounds. I recently saw a post that said, " Wow, you dig in your skis, and make those holding turns". Sorry guys this is how most people look at us. Most everyday skiers think there are different ways to ski and what we do is a level they don't get. In the 70ies everyone strived to hold an edge and make turns. There is a different culture out there today. Most people who go down the mountain on wide skis skidding the whole way think that is all there is to it.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby ErikCO » Sat Dec 29, 2018 9:28 pm

2nd, 3rd, and 4th the comments that you are progressing way to fast. I am essentially self taught prior to last year (have been to 2 camps so far and have discovered a lot of things that I had overlooked in my own progression). Prior to discovering PMTS around 10 or 11 years ago, I would have been what pretty much any average skier would have called an "expert" (though I would have disagreed, and looking back at video now, Harold would have laughed at that designation), skiing all terrain including steeps, powder, crud, bumps, etc. The year I discovered PMTS, I was fortunate enough to have about 30 ski days. I spent almost all of them on green and easy blue groomers at low speeds doing drills over and over and over. Unfortunately, I did not use video very much, which certainly slowed my progress. It was probably 2 or 3 more years, each with a lot fewer ski days, more on the order of 6-8, before I started to feel I could really move off of groomed runs in good conditions without having my technique fall apart. While I suppose it is certainly possible that you have progressed enough in 14 days that you can be looking at doing PMTS well in crud/slush/powder, I expect that if you looked at video and had others who are good at MA look at video, you would find that you aren't doing what you think you are doing. My first video session with Diana was VERY humbling!

Do not worry, the movements/essentials work in all conditions, you can get speed control in those conditions, but it sounds like those conditions are significantly too advanced for your level of mastery of essential movements. There is not going to be a quick fix or tip. The closest you are likely to get is "Do all the essentials exactly like Harold and you will be fine!" :D Best advice is get some good video of you doing one foot releases and linked turns on an easy green slope. Then post it in the movement analysis forum and be ready for comments that, nicely, tell you that you aren't doing anything that you think you are. Come up with a plan of exercises that you need to work on, go back to the green run, practice them, get more video, rinse and repeat. Without video and looking at it honestly to identify flaws, you will not improve if you are going to be self taught. That said, if you do manage to ski 7-8 days per season, if you do get video, learn from the video, then go out and practice the areas video identifies as needing improvement, you can make amazing progress over the course of 2-3 years.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby noobSkier » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:23 am

Seems like good time to ask this. I know some PMTS is better than no PMTS, but can a student really expect to ever ski well in difficult conditions with less than 10 ski days/year?
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby Max_501 » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:32 am

noobSkier wrote:Seems like good time to ask this. I know some PMTS is better than no PMTS, but can a student really expect to ever ski well in difficult conditions with less than 10 ski days/year?


Assuming good alignment, then I'd say "yes" if the student sticks to the progression laid out in the books and uses video to confirm each step of the way without moving forward until they have mastered the previous step. But it will take a long time to be proficient in challenging 3D terrain at that rate.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby Ken » Sat Jan 05, 2019 12:37 pm

How quickly someone picks up technique depends on the individual. I ski with a woman who gets movements right the first time I show her. Me...it is still taking years. Innate athleticism and physical conditioning all matter. The woman I mention above is a yoga instructor.

About balancing--for me standing on the balls of my feet and allowing my knees to flex like shock absorbers while skiing over lumps lets me stay in balance. Anyone heavy on their heels is doomed.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby Max_501 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:26 pm

Ken wrote:About balancing--for me standing on the balls of my feet and allowing my knees to flex like shock absorbers while skiing over lumps lets me stay in balance. Anyone heavy on their heels is doomed.


That is the opposite of what PMTS teaches which is to stay neutral or let the skis slide forward just a hair right before the ski tip hits the bump. After the hit use a strong pullback so you are recentered at the top of the bump. Same is true for skiing wet heavy snow, crud, and larger bumps. If you hit a bump or any other resistance when you are on the balls of your feet there is a chance of doing a face plant.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby h.harb » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:44 pm

Ken, what you described is trying to stay in the same place, that never works. You have to move to stay in the same place. This involves working with the terrain, not fighting it. Just as in skiing bumps, the feet move forward into the trough, and the bump pushes your feet back under your body. This means moving the feet forward toward the bump and then pulling them back to get over the bump. This is constantly adjusting to terrain by moving the feet under you to the right place.
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Re: Help with fore-aft balance issue in uneven snow

Postby mardale » Tue Jan 08, 2019 8:30 pm

noobSkier wrote:Zeus,
When I started PMTS I thought it could be implemented in a matter of weeks...2 years down the road (although my skiing has improved) I'm still doing the most basic exercises and I've never been a weak athlete by any means. Point being, even though the information is correct it takes hundreds of ski days to transform your skiing. Its deceptive because masters like HH make it look so easy, but in reality its no less difficult and takes no less time than mastering a musical instrument.


I don't think it takes hundreds of days to transform your skiing. It can be done in maybe as little as 2 weeks of skiing, with a dedicated student and a good teacher and feedback. It would not be perfection, for sure, but it could be a significant and radical change. Some could meaningfully change in even 1 week.

The hardest part, I find, is the committed student part. I see many that think they are dedicated, convinced and committed, but are not willing to really put in the work that it takes and to [b]really[/b] make the changes that this kind of radical makeover takes.

@zeus - I think you got the right answers here, but maybe you were not ready to really hear them... since you started PMTS this year and it's early January... it may be that you skipped too quickly through book 1... but either way, your skiing will be really hard to meaningfully change in only a few days, on your own and no video and no qualified feedback...
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