edge retraction exercise

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edge retraction exercise

Postby ToddW » Wed Oct 19, 2016 2:00 pm

I’ve gotten a couple of PMs asking about the new “edge retraction” exercise. Back in March, Harald mentioned that there might be an upcoming video on this exercise. Consider these comments a teaser for that video from a student’s imperfect recollections half a year later.

h.harb wrote:We have 4 new downloadable videos coming up on our web site. One of the new videos I just got finished filming, will be up in May. It's a new approach to retraction. I call it, "edge retraction" exercise. I'm finding that skiers don't use the edge rebound energy, to retract, at the end of their tipping. Using this new exercise made a huge difference with TODD. (Note my latest Blog description of Todd's skiing changes.) it's mostly about developing CA, but the retracting movement was a big part of that stronger edge angle Todd achieved.

Although I didn't talk much about the exercise in the post, Todd responded really well to the exercise, his turns became quicker in transition and this ski tails didn't drop down, as far across the fall before he was able to release and retract. Of course, if you have the movements and still aren't executing to your desires use "target tipping"; (edge change without direction change). <snip snip>


For the last 3 years, my lessons have focused on making short turns (brushed and carved) using rebound energy. Last season Harald filled in some of the missing pieces in my short turns by creating a new exercise for me, which is basically about efficiently loading and then releasing a ski at the moment of maximum energy. The gotcha is that a lot of details of movement and timing must be right; if one of those is off, you’ll feel the loss of energy … and that’s frustrating.

The exercise is a variant on the garland. It is best done on slopes with some pitch, about the same pitch as you’d want for the power release exercises. If you’ve been to an A-Basin camp, High Noon or the first steeper pitch on Sundance would be a good place to try this for a first time. Unlike the power release drill, you’ll make several half turns across the width of the slope – this is for developing short turns after all.

Begin standing across the slope in a highly countered position on skier’s far left edge of slope. Your poles should assume the no-swing pole plant position (no cheating, downhill pole back behind the ski binding and uphill pole fully forward). Do a two-footed release into the fall line. In the fall line, you should be uncountered (square). Stay in the fall line a ski length or three to build up some momentum for the upcoming garland.

Turn right until you’re across the fall line. You’re simulating a short turn with energy, so movements will be aggressive. Tip aggressively to bend the ski. Simultaneously do massive CA with a no-swing pole plant. Begin early CA immediately. Once you’ve counteracted enough to lock the hips out of rotation, the CA and tipping become basically one unified movement and it becomes easy to tip to large angles. (Individuals vary, but I’m the opposite of a hip dumper and I’m fairly natural at tipping, so I have to think about the early CA first before thinking about the tipping since my body instinctively begins tipping.) If it doesn’t feel awkward and extreme, you’re not doing enough. You should feel pent-up energy in the ski, enough that you wonder just what will happen when you release it.

At the precise moment of maximum energy, retract deeply to get airborne and hold counter until you’re through neutral. Boots are kept close together – couple of fingerwidths air gap at most. The skis will then unwind to face downhill as you come into the fall line [but see Harald’s target tipping comment in the quote above.] Ensure that you’re uncountered (square) while still in the fall line and then repeat the garland until out of slope.

During your first couple of garlands, you may choose to hop up first and then immediately suck your legs up. If you do this, then try to drop the hop and just retract after doing a couple of garlands. The more rebound energy you develop, the easier it will be to just retract and get airborne.

When you come to a stop after the last garland, check your stopping pole position, torsos, hips, etc. Are you fully counteracted? Are your feet tight together both fore-aft and side-to-side? Are your poles in a sold no-swing pole plant position?

Now repeat to the other side.

The exercise teaches you to flex deeply while holding CA and timing it to occur before you run out of CA range of motion or start to lose energy in the ski.

Getting the timing right was very hard for me; I hold onto the turn too long. Holding onto the turn even a split second too long meant that I delayed some movements or spread them out over too long a time. That killed the turn’s energy. But speeding them up showed defects in my skiing. Either I’d lose the counter too soon, or my feet would spread apart, or the inside foot would drift forward, or I’d try to release early and still hold on too long trying to get all the pieces in order. But that's why Harald invented the exercise. One of the outcomes was that I developed a feel for what would happen if I loaded a ski and didn’t release perfectly. This makes me more willing to release at will even if things aren’t lined up perfectly.
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Re: edge retraction exercise

Postby skijim13 » Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:53 am

Thanks Todd, I can't wait to try this on the slopes. For now it is dry PMTS video. My back hip is not liking it, this is an indication I need to further increase my flexibility.
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Re: edge retraction exercise

Postby h.harb » Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:35 am

The balance between building strength, over doing it, and flexibility gets to be a real challenge above 65. I have never had back issues; however now if I run uphill for 25 minutes or do 2 sets of 40 squats, I can really get a stiff back. Once you build up to it, everything works fine; it's the getting started too fast that can ruin you for a long time. It's important to keep going all year long, never stop moving.
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Re: edge retraction exercise

Postby jbotti » Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:17 am

Todd, thanks for posting this. I actually consciously dial back the amount of rebound I get in tight carved arcs because I find it a lot harder to control. But this is a great exercise. For me this is a great tool to practice getting the pop and rebound necessary for good dolphin turns which is something I want to perfect. Clearly having the energy at our disposal is key and one can choose to dial it back or go for the full bore intense ride (assuming its early in the day and the legs will cooperate).
Balance: Essential in skiing and in life!
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Re: edge retraction exercise

Postby h.harb » Thu Oct 20, 2016 3:22 pm

OK, It's been a long time since I built a progression like this, not because I don't have them in my head, but because most of what is important I've already written, demonstrated, videoed or taught, in books etc.. And getting the skis off the snow without hopping or extending is not an easy progression to come up with. Notice how none of the national systems have anything like this in their teaching. (I know some PSIA guy will respond by talking you, "we do hop turns and hop check exercises??")

This is not like any of those PSIA things, but they won't see the difference, so you will hear it. Just like I hear, "we teach tipping", right haven't seen it yet?

You can learn true retraction with this exercise. It worked like a dream with Todd and others I've taught it to. It's not easy either, the groups I had in Europe and even some of our coaches have trouble with it. It includes everything, release flexing, CA, Pull back, and pole touch. So the timing of all these Essentials has to be spot on or it won't work, and that's not easy. In fact, Reilly was so miffed he couldn't get it, he want back to Italy the next day and practiced it all day. That's why I like his attitude he doesn't just push it off as some weird part of a system he didn't learn. He wants to know how everything works, rare.
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Re: edge retraction exercise

Postby sgarrozzo » Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:44 am

Hi Todd,
I would be really grateful to you if, when you come back skiing, you'll put your video on the web. So we can see the exercise done by a student. :D :D
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