Upside Down - a defining moment?

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Upside Down - a defining moment?

Postby John Mason » Thu Oct 19, 2006 8:08 pm

I am going out west 2 weeks to ski with friends that are, in some cases, stuck intermediates. I got to pondering what to play around with and started looking back at my own experiences coming up. I then realized that when I first did/felt/experienced the upside down point of a turn was a real defining moment in my skiing.

For me the first time I did it was the last 1/2 hour of a ski lesson with Harald I had been sharing with a client. The client got pooped and skied off leaving the last 1/2 hour for me with Harald. Then we worked on patience in the transition. What HH had me do was railroad turns, very gradually expanding their speed and inclination to real turns in a continuous and gradual way with the instructions 'stay right in my tracks'. At some point after many failed attempts, by staying in the tracks and letting my body come over the skis (this was pretty gentle terrain - easy blue btw - not much flexing needed) I actually didn't 'help' the skis any but was upside down. My body was on the downhill side of the skis while the skis were going completly straight as they had not yet hooked up for the next turn. But then they did hook up, catch me from falling and away we went.

My skiing was really never the same since. Once I had felt that, my skiing changed to a sensation of flying. Efficiency in transitions became a reality. I had something new to aspire to every time I ski. If I hadn't felt it though I wouldn't know what to aspire to.

I have been thinking, obviously, this trusting the skis to turn and catch you is a bit of a catch 22 thing. A lot of things have to come together all at once or you can't do the transition this way.

I thought of the 2 footed release I've taught to beginners which really link J turns and the transition is as simple as relax - let the skis flatten, the old turn stops, the tips seek the fall line, then phantom move and turn the bottom 1/2 of the turn.

Then you can go from this and move the turn higher by working on traverses off the uphill little toe edge, balance on that ski and phantom move from that top into a full carve turn from the top down.

But at some point you go from that to 'floating' over your skis while the skis go straight at transition and they catch you on the other side - you go upside down.

For me that's when skiing became truely fun. It's not that it wasn't fun before, but I went from being a slug to a bird.

Can anyone else share their experiences of how they acquired this Upside down part of skiing into their own and what drills and prerequisites people can use with intermediates to get them there?

Thanks to all ahead of time.
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Postby midwif » Thu Oct 19, 2006 8:44 pm

John, this is a great post. I am stuck at that point you mention of doing the little toe edge traverse, but not able to feel the next step of the 'float'.
It would be really helpful to hear others step-thru to the next level. I keep thinking that if I can just 'feel' it once, I will then be able to recreate it again. My head gets in the way.
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yes it's a catch 22

Postby John Mason » Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:25 pm

The problem with the uphill LTE drill related to being upside down, is there is no transition in that drill. However it's a great drill for bringing the phantom move up to the start of the turn rather than the end as the beginner version of the 2 footed release does. But you have to get that skill down first. This drill also teaches patience to let the turn develop off the traverse after going straight on that little toe edge. That patience and not trying to 'cheat' the ski into the new turn at transition is one of the hardest skills. This drill is great for developing that.

I think that's why for me, doing the countered and counter balance railroad turns back and forth faster and faster while staying in HH's tracks was how I got my first upside down turn. I'm not sure if I didn't have his tracks to stay in how I would have found the right balance of speed, arc, transition, etc to get into that 'dangerous' moment of being upside down. But once you've done it the first time and know what it feels like it's actually not that hard to do. Thus my post. What ways can someone not following in an expert's tracks get to this turn on their own?
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Postby Max_501 » Thu Oct 19, 2006 10:36 pm

midwif wrote:I am stuck at that point you mention of doing the little toe edge traverse, but not able to feel the next step of the 'float'.
It would be really helpful to hear others step-thru to the next level. I keep thinking that if I can just 'feel' it once, I will then be able to recreate it again. My head gets in the way.


Getting upside down requires patience, early counter, and early counter balance. If you are going slow you'll need alot of counter balance.

In the carving section of Video 2 (about 37 mins into it) there is a section that shows Harald doing slow carved turns that rely on the sidecut of the ski. Notice how much counter balance he uses in these turns. He goes flat and then counter balances such that his upper body is leaning UP the hill as he tips to the LTE. Harald had me do these on a gentle slope at slow speeds and it was very difficult until I employed ALOT of counter balance.

Another drill Harald had me do (and we also did it at race camp) was traversing across the hill and then jumping up, changing edges, and then landing so that you are upside down. No redirection of the skis allowed while in the air. To do this you must have enough counter balance to be in balance when you land.

Basically you need to be in balance to be upside down and it takes alot of counter balance at slow speeds to be balanced!

Getting upside down requires excellent upper and lower body coordination. See page 110 of Expert Skier 2 for exercises.
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Postby Sidecut » Fri Oct 20, 2006 5:15 am

That was a really good description John.

I think before that point the single most important concept for terminal intermediates to undestand is how you control your speed. They need to be told and accept that when the skis start heading downhill there will be acceleration and they have to go with it and enjoy it and not throw the skis sideways to brake. Use the shape of the turn to control the speed. If they can accept that cocnept and ontegrate it then they can take it to the next level and experience being upside down.
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Postby milesb » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:51 am

Oddly, the best upsidedownage I had last year was in steep chopped up crud. Perhaps it was because the snow gave resistance to any premature turning. I felt like I was skiing just like Harald in this short turn video. (sure i was :roll: )
http://www.web.pdx.edu/~petersj/Skills/ ... rtTurn.mpg
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Postby patprof » Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:01 am

John, I got to "upside down" by another path. One day I was skiing by myself and decided to really work on the counter-balancing and counter-acting movements. Really exaggerating both movements and feeling the crunch on one side and stretch on the other that Harald describes. I also continued to work on focusing more on flexing my free leg (as I was tipping the free foot) rather than just extendind the stance leg. When I released, all that stored energy literally propelled me into the next turn. I was totally "upside down" and had never managed such a "high c" turn before.
You are right-what a feeling! I am now addicted to these "high c carved turns.
I am going to work this year on experiencing the same turns on steeper and steeper slopes.
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Postby dewdman42 » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:00 am

Perhaps a classic situation of "which comes first, the chicken or the egg?".

I know for me what brings on the most dramatic upside down skiing is a dramatic release of the old stance leg. When I do that and simultaneously stand on the new stance ski, my CM flies across into the inside of the new turn and I'm upside down baby. The counter and counter-balancing movements in my opinion do not coax upside-down-ed-ness out of skiers, but they are essential if you want to end up balanced on the stance ski and getting optimal edging. In other words, if you don't pay attention to the counter, you may fall down. But for me..the way to get upside down is to (A) make sure the end of your last turn your skiis are not washing out and your stance leg is held extended a bit longer than perhaps you were before and (B) a bit of a dramatic relaxation of that old stance leg. Trust me, if you do that you will be upside down. Its only a question of whether you will follow that up with a smooth arc or a face plant in the snow.

I think there are a lot of things that have to be working right for upside-down skiing to work correctly..which is possibly why Harald works so much on things like counter, counter balance and other fundamentals as he brings skiers up to that goal of upside down skiing.

In answer to John's original question, I think there is no short-cutting past those fundamental skills first of all. However, if you're with a skier who has all of those things pretty well implemented, understands them and is performing them reasonably well, yet still can't seem to "fall" into the new turn..then yes..I think its a leap of faith they need to make. If they go for a more dramatic release of the old stance leg, they are going to fall into the new turn very dramatically and be upside down.

As Harald has pointed out many times they have to be careful not to panic and push the new stance foot out as they fall into it. They have to be comfortable with the idea of falling inside and also the skiis are going to accelerate down the fall line. They have to have complete confidence that they are going to continue arcing around, maintaining their balance and finishing the turn.

I know what you mean though John..there is an "A-ha" moment where it all clicks together...and I think its kind of like there are a lot of disjointed concepts that suddenly become tied together into a cohesive whole that makes sense. I'm not sure there is a very easy way to explain this.
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Postby Harald » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:31 am

Learning the upside down transition is not just an exercise for advanced skiers, it's also an exercise that is missing in many a ski racer?s technique. My friend Crawford who has been a US ski team coach for the last 20 years, has an early print out version of my new book that we printed for a test. He began using the techniques from the book for his race program in Crested Butte.

He calls me frequently and we talk about the process and the changes his racers and coaches are going through while learning PMTS. He began with the dry land upside down transition or high C transition which involves an angled platform. The platform is simply a piece of 3/4 inch ply wood, built so it can be raised on one side to create an angle. As the skiers become more proficient with counter balancing and edge changes on the carpeted platform, we increase angles with the carpeted board, the angle is increased to simulate a ski slope.

Crawford found this very interesting and it made some of his skiers realize that the movements (in transition) they were using on snow, did not include this counter balancing transition. We see this often in skiers on the slopes, that they transition by pushing offand away so that the center of mass leans toward the downhill side, which is an impossible way to ski if you want to engage the edges and get a high C upside down position.

In my new book, I spell out each step, and demonstrate how that high C, upside down position can be learned and practiced from a static or stationary position, indoors on dry land and then on snow. When you go through the steps to learn the movements systematically, with dryland exercises first, the benefits pay off on snow. Crawford is noticing huge changes when he practices with his athletes.

Now these are racers who can ski on any slope, at any speed. This is the message from PMTS, "skiers", if you practice the basics, in a systematic way, in a controlled manner and controlled environment, where you can feel the movements, then you have something to rely on or have the experience that you can relate to, when you get back on the slope.

Ski teaching has never been approached in this manner. Any other sport, figure skating, tennis, gymnastics, you name it, they practice the basic movements before they get on a bar or up in the air. They don?t automatically go right to the apparatus, do those flips and twists letting go of the bar and re-grapping.

Skiing seems to be one of the few sports where correct or perfect practice is not instituted or used. With PMTS you can develop the Essential Movements from a very basic easy to use controlled and environment, then when you get on snow and try them you create a controlled environment for yourself, specifically on an easy slope, with good grooming. Use the same movements that you practiced in dry land or on the dry surface or on a carpet with the inclined board, whatever your preference, relate those movements back to the on snow experience. You can also praice this on the Cavers.

It's working for the ski racers right out of my new book and we know it's working because we've used it at many of our camps before, for all levels of skiers. Now we have an entire race program using our system. PMTS right from the beginning and starting with dry land, all the way up to running the gates. You can only do this with PMTS, as there is no other teaching system that can use a dry land approach from the beginning, to duplicate World Cup techniques. The movements at the beginning or at the source of TTS are not the same as the movements that the World Cup skiers use. PMTS is the only system, that you can train beginning movements and have them pay off for your advanced and expert skiing movements, the every first time back on snow.
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Postby Harald » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:33 am

This is the transition, no steering, twisting or rotating. Only lateral tipping of the feet and ankles in the boots. My upper body is counter balancing to keep from falling over.
Image
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Postby Harald » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:36 am

Image

This amount of slope angle is already advanced. Begin with lower angles. Notice my feet from the previous example, rock to the new edges, they do not steer to the downhill side edges.

Try to cancel out any (if you have any) sensations of leg steering or foot turning, skiing is not about changing direction of the skis, everyone is already doing that incorrectly. Skiing is about tipping the skis on to their side walls, that's where the side cut lives, that's why shaped skis were developed. But to use shaped skis, you have to get the ski to the part that's shaped, by tipping them and balancing the body, as the tipping process is in action..
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Great shots

Postby John Mason » Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:09 pm

Once you have the static counter balance moves down, the specific part I'm wondering how to get people to is when you are actually upside down. Maybe I'm not using the term correctly. But in the static shots in your post just before this one, the third frame, where you are in the upside down phase, in the static setup you are not actually upside down in that you can hold this statically as much as you want and you won't fall down.

The real upside down part, that I like, is when doing this all dynamically and your body is actually downhill of the skis while the skis are just going straight and they have not yet come around to catch you, yet you know they will. If the skis do not come around, unlike the static balancing in your post above, you will fall down. This momentary phase of commitment to patience and trust that the turn will develop is that phase where a non-pmts skier will push, step off, twist or do any of those things Diana will see clearly on a V1 movement analysis session (even if we do it for 1/2 inch).

I think we are all talking about the same thing here.

That leads to a side clarification question. Can we be upside down in a static balancing sense or can true upside down only happen in the context of a real turn either on carvers or on skis?
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Now we are getting somewhere

Postby Harald » Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:07 pm

John, great that is a wonderful point you bring up, we may have come to the root of confusion and why there is some missing performance for you. The stationary static counter movements I am showing should happen before you feel the downward side movement to the skis, with the upper body. If you aren?t getting the actual static counter balance before the downward part, you are losing capability for angles that could later develop in the arc. You will lose a large part of the turn?s potential or at least a high level expert carving turn capability.

I demonstrate this in my new book with a comparison turn, one where I don?t counter balance early enough, where I go across downward without enough counter balance and the comparison to a turn, which has earlier or more counter balancing. If you are already counter balancing enough then you can play with a fine tuning, but if you are not generating big angles with high forces and ski bend, stick to more counterbalancing and practice it statically.

You can practice it statically or stationary on snow as well. I do this exercise all the time in camps. I have yet to fine one skier who has enough stationary counter balancing ability.
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Postby patprof » Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:59 pm

Great sequence photos Harald!
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Postby patprof » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:03 pm

In upper sequence, photo #2 notice how Harald is still balanced on th LTE (little toe edge) of the uphill foot while his downhill foot is already starting to tip (super phantom move).
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