Author Topic: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts  (Read 1336 times)

Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« on: September 23, 2012, 09:59:20 am »

I had a long and great conversation with a buddy (about modern ski technique, internet arguments, varying styles and ways to ski, etc).  He had a few thoughts that really got me thinking 1. Skiing isn't natural...there is no 'natural way to ski' it is arcane to essential animal ways of moving and technique and styles generally evolve around the evolution and changes in the tools we use to pursue his unnatural (yet wonderful) mode of travel.  Most of us will eventually gravitate towards a style of skiing that we find most aesthetically pleasing--and will ape the techniques that best evoke that style....and the equpment we're on will have a lot of input over the years about that as well.

Now, I'm not going to say that I don't think one style is better than another, because if that were true, I wouldn't pursue the sort of skiing that I do (I clearly have a preference and it is based on what I think is better).   BUT, I get that there are lots of way to get down the mountain, and that experthood can be defined in lots of ways.  I have biases towards one type of physiological move vs. another in skiing, but they are just that-biases.

So, with that in mind, I plucked a few basic videos of one type/ style of skiing--the one I encounter the most (and often have to argue against), I don't ski this way, and I don't really like this style, yet, many people I consider to be very strong skiers (all conditions, all terrain skiing reasonably fast and in the line of their choosing) use this style as their goto approach to skiing.

It is:  Wide, squatty stance, heavy edges driven by femoral rotation, very square upper body (rarely deviating from facing the fall line) and a preference for short turns over long or medium.

This style of skiing is popular with (in my experience) older Patrollers who are good skiers (and are the subjects of videos 2 through 4 below), PSIA guys who really cut their teeth in the mid to late 1990's, and Athletic individuals who came to skiing later in life.   This is the style that is often pushed on me (and all others) where I patrol-though,  I have summarily rejected it for myself.  Except for the subject in the first video, I have skied with everyone featured in the other videos, they ski fast, strong, expert lines, in all condition:  From Mad River Glen trees to eastern boiler plate and big mountain steeps.  While I don't like the sensations this style of skiing delivers (!), I cannot say that this style of skiing holds them back, in fact, I would say it helps aging skiers handle some pretty tricky terrain with aplomb. 

Oh, everyone in the videos #2-4 are over age 60, and one is 70 (featured in the grey coat i the Mt Snow video).

Video 1# Some older guy skiing Jupiter Bowl trees at PC-good steep, powdery terrain-love his cornice jumping sequence, this is a textbook example of this style of skiing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a80cHllLsus

Video #2 This is a fellow Patroller Following My Patrol director (age 70) through some moguls on Mt. Snow...again, pretty much a textbook example of this style of skiing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPGu2FkLOKM

Video 3:  It takes about a minute and 20 second for other skiers to show up in this video, but this is a great video of 'real world every day skiers' skiing a modest powder day at my mountain.  Again, the age of everyone in the video (except the teenage leaper-who is the son of a patroller and a fun kid who skis well) is 60+-Tony O is almost 70.  Later in the video is some good tree skiing videos that are worth watching.   Again, this is a great example of everyday, regular skiers who use this sort of style.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nejHGy2EdGU&feature=plcp 1

Video 4:  A short Video of an older ski patroller on hard pack skiing with this style.  He is probably it's biggest proponent on my patrol.  I have seen him ski the same turns, at the same speed in icy moguls, trees, and crud.  Again, while it is not my cup of tea, I can't deny it's efficacy as a useful approach to skiing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djBDTBsOjnw&feature=context-cha

As I said, I am not arguing or even interested in promoting this or any style of skiing, but rather in looking at how people who pursue one style develop a specific technique for that style.  I chose these videos not because these are the best pros (no  Egan brothers here, although they are the top dogs of this style)--but because these are solid real world resort skiers (most of who I know) who use their techniques in lots of different situations.

I'll probably post up a few of these real world montages for other styles as well as the season evolves.

Puzzle over that.

Liam

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter


jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2012, 03:10:53 pm »
Liam: I think that is a very well written and thought provoking post. Well done, IMHO.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 03:06:31 pm by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

jbotti

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 400 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 961
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2012, 06:47:54 pm »
Maybe its good to visit the land of rotation every now and then (as long as its on video) ;). Pivot and twist and power your way down the hill. Some of us probably don't think of this as "solid skiing" but everyone can choose their own model as to what they aspire towards in skiing (and anything else they pursue).

Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2012, 08:38:49 pm »
Thanks, Jim.

Yeah Jbotti, I guess that's about right.  And of course, for those who place how closely one's skiing reflects the style of skiing they prefer as the highest criteria, I wouldn't expect them to consider this 'solid skiing' either (unless, this is their preferred style!).  But, most of  the folks in this video aren't pursuing any model at all (I can't speak for the guy in PC as I don't know him), not consciously anyway.  They are trying to ski varied terrain, and maintain decent speed, with control, and in the line of their choosing.   They were taught this method (or they developed on their own over the years) and for their purposes it works well.

Also part of that style is the technique of staying forward and never getting aft on your skis (come hell or high water).  People who ski this way hate being aft the way harald hates rotary--that heavy pressuring of the forward boot cuffs is very fundamental to this style of skiing.   I'll say a few things about what this technique demands, what it delivers or not) in a future post.  But for now, I'm just looking at what it is, how it's used and the form and the function it follows.

I will add one more thing now.   I can say for this for that style of skiing, is that it is fairly easy to learn and put into practice.  The woman in Video#3 (Kathy)-who shows up around minute 5:30 in video and is seen skiing the powder/ crud trail into the tree run for the next minute is a good example.  She is actually younger than 60 (she is in her early 50's, mea culpa).  She came on patrol about 10 years ago and she COULD NOT SKI, I mean, like a true never ever.  Her kids were getting into racing so she wanted to be productive while being at the mountain all day and she joined patrol.

It took her about two seasons to get up to the level in the video---she was already pretty fit (she was, and is still a very competitive runner) and determined and had the time.  But that style of skiing got her skiing trees, bumps, crud, ice etc with speed control (and the ability to ski pretty quickly) and balance in a relatively short time. 

Again, though it isn't a style I pursue, it works well for Kathy and it has enabled her to be a very productive patroller and to enjoy the mountain to the fullest any day of the season.  She can ski the whole mountain.  So can everyone else in the videos.  There are a number of people who come on Patrol with no, or very primitive skiing skills (but they have heaps of other valuable skills).  Most end up competently working the mountain employing this style of skiing, and most acquire that ability in a season or two.

I am getting some videos for my next installment, but I'm going to let these videos stand alone for a bit.   

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 08:10:10 am »
video 4, just looking at the feet, doesn't look to me like the model you are describing, but does look a lot like my Patrol friend's skiing from 10 years ago. (and what I would now consider Killy-influenced style). Then he began to "adapt" his style based on current trends, feet much wider apart.  His style now looks far less "elegant" to me, but he still skis anywhere with complete aplomb and control.

I agree that, while skiing isn't "natural", after you've been on the snow as much as these guys it does become second nature.  But I would think that their "style" is the culmination of lots of subtle and not so subtle influences over the years.

I like the topic.


« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 03:14:36 pm by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

midwif

  • Global Moderator
  • 1000 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 1389
  • Location: New York City
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 09:35:39 am »
Liam
A really great post and eloquent way of stating the "ski wars".
Your comment about admiring the way someone looks when skiing and wanting to ski "like that" really
hit a chord in me.

I did not learn to ski til my late thirties and was taught the typical entry level skills ie, wedge etc.
I took lessons most seasons, in an effort to get out of the intermediate zone, but was feeling really stymied.

At my first camp with HH, I remember looking up the hill and watching all the coaches come down the hill.
They all looked so smooth and fluid. Powerful and in command of the snow.
In particular, watching Diana, I thought " I want to ski like that ".

And have been pursuing it ever since. That is the style I aspire to . I may never get there, but the fun is in the journey.

And yes, I agree that there are plenty of "good skiers" who are way more proficient in more difficult terrain than I, whose style IS NOT what I aspire to. But hey, it's about having a good time and pursuing excellence in the genre of one's choice.

Glad we are able to have real conversation about different ski methodology without it exploding into the Hatfields/McCoys on this forum. ;D
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 10:03:26 am by jim-ratliff »
"Play it Sam"

Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2012, 11:00:46 am »
There is proper technique and everything else. Proper technique takes more time to master in skiing just as it does in any other sport. But once learned pays dividends for years to come. Style is added by the athlete on top of proper technique.

Hey Midwif,

What was that about this not turning into the Hatfields and the McCoys again?  :D

There is proper technique for each style.  Skiing comes from a combination of things .  You pursue the proper techniques that work for the style you wish to emulate. 

But don't worry, more styles and techniques to follow...one of them you're bound to like.

LivingProof

  • Global Moderator
  • 400 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 892
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2012, 12:21:59 pm »
While awaiting Liam's video of the Stein Erickson's legs-locked-together skiing look of elegance, the presented video's have been fun to watch.

 Certainly, that look can be seen on any given day, and, I've got friends who ski like that. They just want to power through it, have a good time and dare you to keep up.  Technique is eschewed, results matter. For some it's mogul's, others it trees, or speed, or how long they stay out on the slopes. Bushwacker's a little in that vein with his ski-off challenge to "Come to Stowe, ski with me and I'll kick your butt". I've never thought technique is important to him, unless it comes to passing a qualifying test. Honestly, they can be a lot of fun to ski with, and, make me bite my tongue on occasion. We are all different.

Stand on the first hole of a golf course or watch what's going on at tennis courts, and, it's very clear the need to just power though exists in those two sports.

So, Liam, good find on the videos, we need to find something to discuss as the countdown to the season begins. I was remembering that Liam got first runs last season with the Halloween storm that dumped in the Berkshires. I'll be in western Mass. this weekend, I should take a ride up there.

Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2012, 12:32:44 pm »
LP,

If you bike (mountain) let me know...Western, MA is a world class (and I mean that) mountain biking region.  I'd be happy to  show a visitor around (we have good rides for all levels all abilities, fast or slow I don't care-I'm a pretty enthusiastic guide to our area).


What Brings you out this way...Leaf Peeping??
Nice points in the above post as well.....and, I have a not-so-secret infatuation with Stein and his skiing.  I really love how he skis...and I do mimic that style somewhat (Hey, there are worse models!).

Liam

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2012, 01:03:08 pm »
There is proper technique and everything else. Proper technique takes more time to master in skiing just as it does in any other sport. But once learned pays dividends for years to come. Style is added by the athlete on top of proper technique.
Max: 
How do you identify or recognize "Proper Technique"?
If 10 winning basketball coaches from Division One schools all teach the same jump shooting technique, then I would say that's proper technique.
I know that John's race coach friend validated the basis of Harald's teaching.
And I believe that, for a long time, the skiing of Stein and Killy were the epitome of proper technique. But by a similar standard, doesn't that imply that Hermann Maier was the definition of proper technique (overall 4 times?), and I remember thinking he was a pretty ugly skier even before his bike accident? And Bode was overall champion twice, same as Jean-Claude Killy?  Does he exhibit or define proper technique?

I know that, for me, the attraction of PMTS wasn't that I was able to ascertain that it was "Proper Technique" but that the books and instructors taught a consistent and concise progression of moves (that are measurable). I had never seen (or received) any of that consistency from a PSIA resort lesson. To me, it's a consistent approach that yields results, but I'm not sure that makes it a "Proper" technique or even the best -- it's just the one that spoke to me.

Next year, when Bushwacka publishes his book, we may all change our mind on what "Proper Technique" is.  Picking on Bush a bit, but ideas are only the best until Apple introduces a replacement.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2012, 02:31:02 pm by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Gary

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2590
  • Location: Rochester, NY
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2012, 02:06:52 pm »
Hi gang....turned the heat on in the house yesterday...must mean it's time to check in with you all...

So here's my thought,

The benchmark or standard for all "proper" skiing is a moving target, or ever evolving series of movments. There are some techniques that work extremely efficient for some and not others. Finding what works for you, that which gives you the greatest results and greatest pleasure in my book is the bottom line. That doesn't mean that we give up trying to improve. It just means enjoy the ride along the way and if it moves your spirit to improve, watch a good instructor, see if they ski the way you want to....or not.
A classic example I can share is while skiing with Clendenin one day, he asked that I make a run with feet in a wider stance. I asked why he wanted to change my stance, (since mine is similar to his) he said he wanted to prove to some others that CSM can be skied from a wide stance. SO...the good friend that I am, started down the run with a 12" gap between my feet.
Well, the first thing I noticed was I was skiing on the outside edges of my skis so making turns was ridiculouly sloppy. My boots were set up to be flat on the ground in my "natural" stance, not one someone said is the way I had to ski. John laughed it off and let well enough alone.
My point is that there's not just one way of doing things. Some ways, if it's fits ones mechanical and physical make up, WILL work better for some and less for others. So many varialbles dictate how the individual pursues their skiing technique and evolution.
So for all of us that are fortunate to have found our comfort zone.....I hope that we can keep one simple thing in mind...

"Not everyone likes anchovies"!  ;D

Looking forward to another great year....best, G

ToddW

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 200 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 320
  • Location: Westchester, NY
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2012, 06:05:47 pm »
Hey Gary, welcome back!

This skiing is not my style.  I'm fixated on the notion of skiing as a balance sport and my ideal (if not my actual skiing) reflects that.  But I've never skied with a 150+ pound sled behind me, unlike the patrollers in those videos.  My notions of balance might not survive contact with a moving sled filled with human cargo.

ToddW

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 200 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 320
  • Location: Westchester, NY
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2012, 06:38:36 pm »
In particular, watching Diana, I thought " I want to ski like that ".

Hey Midwif, no fair!  You stole my dream!  I am in love with that wicked short carved turn she does.  Y'know the one that turns all the other PMTS coaches' heads.  I'll give you three pieces of bubble gum, two jawbreakers, and some marbles if you give me back my dream.


Glad we are able to have real conversation about different ski methodology without it exploding into the Hatfields/McCoys on this forum. ;D


Silver lining -- parts of the Hatfield and McCoy clans survived and their descendants get along, even having joint reunions. 

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2012, 07:29:47 am »
Silver lining -- parts of the Hatfield and McCoy clans survived and their descendants get along, even having joint reunions.
Yeah, those that didn't get "permanently banned" from life.  ;D
« Last Edit: September 25, 2012, 07:31:01 am by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

HighAngles

  • 1 Year Member
  • 200 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 208
Re: Styles and Technique-Just a look and some thoughts
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2012, 06:08:10 pm »
Really interesting topic and conversation.

I think the thoughts around "proper technique" should be centered around how can we best use our skiing movements to extract the maximum performance and efficiency from a ski design.  When we look at how a ski is designed to perform, to turn, then it would be hard to argue against PMTS since the very root of the system's movements were developed from a biomechanical perspective using world class racing technique to extract every last ounce of performance from a ski.  This is one of the main things that attracted me to PMTS.  The movements are incredibly efficient at using the tools; our skis.

Skis really aren't designed to respond well to lots of rotary and steering input.  IMHO, that's why I think you're seeing such a huge insurgence of rocker designs that permit easier rotary movements, but when they go too far in those designs the skis are no longer very versatile for the typical mountain conditions most skiers have to handle.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2012, 06:25:17 am by HighAngles »