Author Topic: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers  (Read 1805 times)

Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« on: October 12, 2012, 08:35:16 am »
If you will all bear with my inclination for long-winded exposition, I am going to start this thread with an anecdote.

Two years ago, I was skiing a beautiful day at venerable Cannon Mountain ski area in NH (when it has snow, which is admittedly rare, it is one of the most magical places for an expert to ski on the planet).  The legendary 'Kinsman's Glades' is often purported to be the most challenging tree run at Cannon, however, I disagree.  While kinsman's is quite challenging, and incredibly long, and thoroughly exciting to ski, it is not the 'hardest glade' to ski.  Cannon has several other of these shorter, scrub pine glades that are so tight, it is hard for a 6 foot man to stand upright while skiing them, let along extend your arm safely for a pole plant (yes we are talking about patented 'Bushwacka' territory here). 

I was skiing one such glade with a buddy of mine and his wife, doing my best to pick and navigate my way through this fairly vexing arboreal labyrinth.   As I neared the end, I was suddenly passed (as if I were standing still) by a dozen young guys (mid 20's), who came flying through the trees, quickly navigating the tight spaces and gullies and then all hitting (some with some real style and flair, others not so much), in succession, a narrow jump near the exit that dropped them onto a groomed trail.  In a blink of an eye they were gone.

 I remember remarking to my friend that though they were fast, they lacked real skiing 'technique.'  He laughed and said, "Well, they sure skied it better than us and they seemed to enjoying it as well".  Which was a notable contrast, as I couldn't wait to extricate myself from that terminable nest and made a point of not skiing it (or any glade like it) again for the remainder of the day.

Those young skiers, like so many young skiers, skied with a fairly familiar style:  That of the park rat who has finally grown up and is taking his hard won sense of balance and fun to the off-piste.  Perhaps more than old patrollers who ski with wide-rotary movements, these skiers are the most maligned by established purveyors of proper ski technique (and here I mean PSIA as well as others who see themselves this way).  But their style of skiing has some incredible advantages and reflects a pursuit of some very specific, and in my estimation, very worthy skiing goals.   


So let me start with just one video here (more will follow):   Again, staying with my theme of everyday, real life skiers I have selected a video from 2008 that was filmed at my Home mountain, Berkshire East in Massachusetts (which is another reason it is selected, I just like showing all the great off-piste, on the map skiing opportunities this little ski area serves up!  Everything skied in this video is a marked and patrolled ski run). 

It is from a powder day in December, 2008, about a foot of snow fell on otherwise bare trails.   The two young guys in this video, are an excellent, and I think for most, a very recognizable embodiment of the free-skiing jibber style.   They aren't pros or even anywhere near the highest level of this sort of skiing (JP Auclair they Ain't), yet, they get the zeitgeist of style.  Young guys, who love skiing and really get the adventure and fun possible on any mountain on any slope.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6UDzUAxMFE&feature=related

I'd watch the whole 4 minutes as the skiing and terrain gets better as it rolls along


So what is the style:

As can be seen, much of it is derived from park skiing: 1. taking fairly direct lines to find that interesting feature or roll that you can do something fun off of.  2.  Skiing a fairly erect, narrow stanced, mostly stacked body position (same way these guy approach table tops, etc)--which translates nicely into straighter lines through the moguls.  They keep a very direct, eyes forward approach...always scouting for an upcoming opportunity to play...when they see it, they go straight for it! 3.  A pronounced poppy, bounciness to their skiing...always on their toes ready to spring off or over anything that strikes their fancy.

But beyond specific goal oriented style choice, I really appreciate their wider-embodiment of skiing:  These guys, due to their youth, their lack of orthodoxy have no pre-conceived biases against any movements on skis: 

If they feel like twisting they twist, jumping they jump, bouncing along, they bounce. When in chunky snow (they are on mid 80mm waisted non-rockered twin tips) they ride 'ski-wheelies.'  All moves, all ways of using a ski on are the table.  Which is not surprising, since park skiing shows us skis can be 'buttered', twisted, flicked on a rail, etc.  I love how much they make out of these short trails, and I believe their style, it's corresponding techniques, and their general playful approach to skiing is what makes that possible. 

I will  have more to say about this, and more videos (of higher end, and some 'name' skiers) to post in this thread.  But I wanted to get this started, started with a video of real world, recognizable skiing. 

I should add, these guys still ski B' East regularly, and are now in their late 20's and have joined in with a larger, slightly older crew of similar skiers we all call 'The Twin Tip Warriors' who usually show up on powder days and rip and style the lift line all day long.


Share on Facebook Share on Twitter


HighAngles

  • 1 Year Member
  • 200 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 208
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2012, 11:34:04 am »
Yep - backseat, locked leg, twist-n-pivot, and up-move dependent.  It's definitely a "style".  ;)

If these guys ever found the front of their skis they wouldn't know what to do with 'em.

Yes I'm being harsh, but this is a classic example of the "dumbing down" of ski technique; hatched by the terrain parks and rockered wide boards.  Of course they're having fun, but most of their skiing is all on the verge of just "hanging on" and surviving.  I aspire to more from my skiing.

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2012, 11:42:38 am »
... but this is a classic example of the "dumbing down" of ski technique; hatched by the terrain parks and rockered wide boards. 
Or is this a realization/manifestation of a desire of ski resorts for years; making the sport of skiing more popular and available to the average public and increasing ski days per year.
I aspire to more from my skiing.
DITTO! In my case the emphasis is definitely on the aspire.
The thing that did bother me (and it's prevalent) was Liam's description of their exit from the trees onto a groomed slope with no consideration or awareness of who might be coming down that groomed slope.  It's become very dangerous to ski the edges of many trails.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 11:48:54 am by jim-ratliff »
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2012, 01:45:59 pm »
Yep - backseat, locked leg, twist-n-pivot, and up-move dependent.  It's definitely a "style".  ;)

If these guys ever found the front of their skis they wouldn't know what to do with 'em.

Yes I'm being harsh, but this is a classic example of the "dumbing down" of ski technique; hatched by the terrain parks and rockered wide boards.  Of course they're having fun, but most of their skiing is all on the verge of just "hanging on" and surviving.  I aspire to more from my skiing.


I couldn't disagree more that they are skiing on the 'verge' of hanging on...they are relaxed, skiing pretty easy and making quite a bit out of the terrain at hand (though one skier is quite a bit stronger than the other), not something you can do when you are just 'hanging on'. I should add, there is ZERO base under that snow...it's not as easy to ski as it looks. They also aren't on particularly wide (or rockered) boards.

I suspect you aspire for something different from your skiing;'more' is harder to quantify, if quantifying is even an end game here. 

And as for 'dumbing down' technique, I suspect these guys, and many like them are unaware of technique smartened up or otherwise.  They are not the product of lessons or specific orthodoxies in ski skill acquisition.  They're just skiers, and neither they, nor anyone else, hold them up as a well-defined pedagogical model.

With that said, it's even more impressive so many ski with this style (at various levels above and below what these two skiers are capable of), and my guess is that that style has evolved pretty organically and is not a product of a teaching system (at least none I'm aware of).  So, why do they arrive at this style, what does it do for them?  Why do they keep coming back to the hill, out of the park and into the trees?  What is in their minds eye when they picture themselves skiing?

And Jim touches on something I grapple with...while so many of us are 'aspiring'  to something (myself included) in skiing, these guys are already enjoying just being, and that is, engaging in very high level play.

bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2012, 02:32:57 pm »
Liam we have to ski together this year so that I can show you someone these guys ages, that can actually ski and doesnt just lap groomers on SL carvers.

I will also say ALOT of people on this forum and pretty much all forums are more talk. Very few people again could even ski what these guys are skiing.

jbotti

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 400 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 961
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2012, 02:54:10 pm »
I am not sure what is the point of posting this sking that we all agree is not anyone's model. Being athletic on skis with an ability to recover from all sorts of less than desirable positions is not availabe to every skier. Essentially when we see people skiing challenging terrain and or crazy lines with "less that model technique" we are either watching great natural athletes or someone that has been on snow since a child and has countless hours of snow time (albeit with poor technique). If we take someone that was a casual skier in childhood (maybe once or twice a year for a few days) and is now in his 30's wanting to get back into skiing (pretty common) unless they have amazing natural athletic skills or have a lot of time to spend on snow, they are not going to end up skiing some crazy lines with some great recoveries, and likley if they attempt it bad things can and will happen. 

What is available to everyone who skis is technique that will take them all over the mountain and that will enable them to ski double black resort terrain well and with confidence. We can go a step further and look at any of the skiers that have been posted and say for sure than any off them could improve their skiing and their level of enjoyment of the sport by doing some basic fundamnetal work on technique.

So we all know that many people ski challenging terrain and lines with less than ideal technique. Does that make me want to watch it on Video. No. Does it make me want to justify my skiing and my self preservation instincts (as I know that I will never attempt many of the lines on the previous video, lines on ths one are not very challenging). No it does the opposite.

Whether we are playing guitar, cello, golf, tennis or skiing, solid fundamental technique is something to strive for and something that makes everyone better.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2012, 02:59:41 pm by jbotti »

ToddW

  • 4-6 Year Member
  • 200 Posts
  • ****
  • Posts: 320
  • Location: Westchester, NY
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2012, 02:59:42 pm »
Quote
and then all hitting (some with some real style and flair, others not so much), in succession, a narrow jump near the exit that dropped them onto a groomed trail.

It's not completely clear what these Cannon glade skiers were doing.  But if they took a blind jump (or even one with partial vision obscurement by trees) onto an open public groomer, then they belong in jail preferably after first being impaled on the ski poles of their would-be targets. 

Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2012, 03:00:55 pm »
Liam we have to ski together this year so that I can show you someone these guys ages, that can actually ski and doesnt just lap groomers on SL carvers.

I will also say ALOT of people on this forum and pretty much all forums are more talk. Very few people again could even ski what these guys are skiing.


Bush,  I know there are young guys who can do it all (and that you're one of them).  I have two pretty well-defined ski groups:  One  that includes a bunch of guys who are older than me (a function of Patrol and being a plugged in Dad about the community) and another group that is decidedly younger than me (a side-effect, carry-over of being a pretty ripping mountain biker who runs with a much young cycling crew).  And I've seen first hand how well each group can handle various types of snow and terrain--Which is why I have a great deal of interest, empathy and respect for the styles and techniques I have thus far outlined in these two threads.   

And-I am glad you have some appreciation for what these guys are skiing and their approach to terrain (in fact, I thought you might).

I do want to get up to Stowe at least once this season (And didn't ski north of Mt. Snow once last season in the east---which was lame of me)--I'd love to get the bushwacker view of Stowe (I'd probably bring some of my younger crew, as they rip and undoubtedly appreciate what you have to offer more than myself--they're all U of Vt grads, and still ski the ample back country between Smuggs and Stowe fairly often).

There is a knee-jerk reaction to too quickly dismiss the park guys in the off-piste (held by skiers of a certain age and inclination...I have been, and sometimes still am GUILTY of this as well).  But there is kernel of wisdom in their stylistic approach to skiing.  I'm looking to tease it out.

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2012, 03:28:11 pm »
Liam we have to ski together this year so that I can show you someone these guys ages, that can actually ski and doesnt just lap groomers on SL carvers.

I will also say A LOT of people on this forum and pretty much all forums are more talk. Very few people again could even ski what these guys are skiing.
Isn't that the whole point of what Liam is trying to say?
I enjoy the talk.
No one is going to be impressed by watching me ski.
And I LOVE EVERY DAY i spend on skis (even at my BW not impressed skill level).
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Re: Style and Technique Part Deux: Attack of the Jibbers
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2012, 03:37:33 pm »
We can go a step further and look at any of the skiers that have been posted and say for sure than any off them could improve their skiing and their level of enjoyment of the sport by doing some basic fundamental work on technique.
John, I wonder if that is true for them.

Quote from: jbotti

Whether we are playing guitar, cello, golf, tennis or skiing, solid fundamental technique is something to strive for and something that makes everyone better.
Midwif and I have often had this discussion. She comes from a "coached" background.  Her husband was a coach and I've seen her give swimming lessons to life guards who admired her style at the pool, and your statement is as true for her as it is for you. I think "striving for solid technique" may be much lower on the "what's important to me" scale for the people that we are talking about.
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

bushwacka

  • Instructor
  • 400 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 471

Bush,  I know there are young guys who can do it all (and that you're one of them).  I have two pretty well-defined ski groups:  One  that includes a bunch of guys who are older than me (a function of Patrol and being a plugged in Dad about the community) and another group that is decidedly younger than me (a side-effect, carry-over of being a pretty ripping mountain biker who runs with a much young cycling crew).  And I've seen first hand how well each group can handle various types of snow and terrain--Which is why I have a great deal of interest, empathy and respect for the styles and techniques I have thus far outlined in these two threads.   

And-I am glad you have some appreciation for what these guys are skiing and their approach to terrain (in fact, I thought you might).

I do want to get up to Stowe at least once this season (And didn't ski north of Mt. Snow once last season in the east---which was lame of me)--I'd love to get the bushwacker view of Stowe (I'd probably bring some of my younger crew, as they rip and undoubtedly appreciate what you have to offer more than myself--they're all U of Vt grads, and still ski the ample back country between Smuggs and Stowe fairly often).

There is a knee-jerk reaction to too quickly dismiss the park guys in the off-piste (held by skiers of a certain age and inclination...I have been, and sometimes still am GUILTY of this as well).  But there is kernel of wisdom in their stylistic approach to skiing.  I'm looking to tease it out.

the thing is being able to ski super thin, soft snow is hard. I have no idea how thin it is or how much their skis float so its hard to say how hard.

I am sure I can find stuff for them to "hippcup" on though, which could be a fun game to play at stowe.

There are some posters knocking this skiing, that I have seen ski much easier conditions with out as much flow as these hacks.


jim-ratliff

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 1000 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 2739
Bush:
Keep it about the topic and not personal.
A variety of opinions is encouraged, no matter how well or poorly I ski.
"If you're gonna play the game boy, ya gotta learn to play it right."

jbotti

  • 6+ Year Member
  • 400 Posts
  • ******
  • Posts: 961
Funny, the people that have ski technique defend it. The people with none or little laugh at it and talk about flow, lines and challenging terrain.

The non technique crowd say "what good is technique if you can't ski these rad lines"
The tecnique group says "what good is skiing those lines if you look like that"

My only point has always been the everyone will ski better with better technique. I view that as a given, almost tautological. Obviously some see it differently.

I view all of this (posting and reading forums) as something to pass the time when I am not skiing. At it's best one can even learn something or find a link to something that is great to watch. At it's worst it becomes a not so civil battle between ideologies and personal insecurities. This therad has headed in that direction.

I see no reason to defend my skiing. It is what it is with all of its good points and its flaws. I think we would all be better off and have more fun if everyone did the same. We all can't be the best skier in the world (and yes that is tautologically true!!).





Liam

  • Ski Shop/Ski Patrol
  • 200 Posts
  • **
  • Posts: 399
Ha, you know, the only place I have ever heard the term athletic applied pejoratively is on this and one other forum.  Who knew doing something Athletically was such a detriment?  Jbotti, I don't understand what has put you on the defensive here or why your are so nettled by these posts.  I haven't championed or criticized anyone's technique or style of skiing.   I am not holding up any model of skiing to defend and promote over all others.

In fact, I am trying to get passed the endless debates and desire to criticize that pervades all discussions of skiing on many forums (but exists almost nowhere else in the ski world).  And, I think, the majority of respondents here undertand that.  If you don't like the videos presented or the basic notions of the discussion, well, then why watch/ participate in this thread at all?  No one is forcing you.

Now, about this style of skiing, I had a few thoughts:

1. Some might say that, sure these guys are having fun, but it is in spite of their style of skiing.  I'd say, the sort of fun they quite specifically seek out is made possible here because of their style of skiing.  The way they approach skiing makes quite a few things possible. There is hacking your way through tougher than average terrain, and then there is the actual ability to PLAY within that terrain...these guys are an example (and by no means the most advance or capable example) of the latter.

2. Fun.  Ok, I'll confess, I probably have the same knee-jerk reaction many here do when someone says 'I don't need technique, what's important is that I am having fun.' or something to that effect-'It's all about how much fun your having'.   My initial response probably sound similar, I think, 'Man, skiing like that sure doesn't look fun to me'  or, if I am feeling more generous (and sanctimonious) I say ' Well, with some hard work, focused training you could really increase the amount of fun that is capable to you.'   And mostly, I think that claims of Fun are really an excuse to allow laziness in one's skiing development.

Except when I watch guys like this ski.  Those who aspire towards a free-ski jibber model, really are maximizing fun and I am not sure that if they avidly pursued another style of skiing that they'd get more of the sort of enjoyment they seek out of skiing.  I patrolled with a young guy named Justin for a while, and he never just skied a groomed run, he'd pop off 360's, find every lump and bump to pop off of, could on a dime, while skiing fast on steepish groomed runs, launch a 180 and ski switch for long segments  (I have spent time trying to ski switch, it's not easy to do well, and it is fun).  And he skied dang fast.   He could carve, but he sure didn't seek that sensory experience out very often.   He was a good sled runner, too.  He really did maximize fun, and he had a clearly defined idea of what fun is:  The Ability to play on any terrain, in any condition.   

I also understand that many of us aren't really seeking high-level play as our goal.  In truth, I suspect many of us (myself included) really don't work at skiing because it's 'fun' in any nominal sense, but rather we strive to gain competency (and hopefully one day 'mastery') that allows us to ski with a style/ technique we find appealing.  The pursuit of this induces a certain elan when it has moments of success, and in the end, we seek to make our ski experience more fulfilling then fun

Neither goal is more noble, or more worthy than the other.  But depending on which you strive for, your skiing will reflect certain stylistic choices.

I am away for the weekend, but here are a few more videos

First Up:  A quick blurb from the Meatheads (hey, Bushwacka, do you ski with any of these guys??).  So let's say the guys in the first video really were great athletes, and they dedicated themselves full time to mastering that approach to skiing...this is how'd they look and how they would ski....I think you can all see why not having any biases against any movements are of value here.  And, as our dear Bushwacka often points out-this sort of east coast terrain is harder than what that guy in the New Zealand free ski video was skiing---but look how much more control and yes,...wait for it.... FLOW (!!!) these guys (and gal) have.  I love the Meathead films:

http://vimeo.com/17522041

...and Here's one  more of someone we all know, dare I say, he is the Godfather of this style in many ways.   And he really, really does love the playful aspect of skiing.  And he just recently narrowly escaped death when an avalanche crushed his tent while sleeping (a very tragic event I am sure most of you are aware of).  Yep, It's Mr. Plake.  I know it's become cache to slag on his skiing in some quarters, and I am sure we'll hear the dreaded 'Athletic' word used again to describe his style (God, Forbid, applying athleticism to skiing).  But here is a fairly recent video of Mr. Plake: Just skiing along.  I love the way he just slithers through the trees.   I really love the 'Austrian style skiing' segment (that ankle flicking is very hard, and those that can do it, really can ski anywhere!).  From after the 1 minutes mark :Look how much he gets out of skiing what is basically a green wrap-around cruiser.  And how much play time he puts into every moment...and the foot-ballet stuff is just wonderful, I wish I could do it.

http://vimeo.com/18538323

Again, much as I started saying in the beginning of this post, We all know about Glen Plake's very sincere, very powerful and very infectious love of skiing.  I say that infectious, three decade long enthusiasm is because of his style of skiing, and not in spite of it.




meput

  • 1 Year Member
  • 200 Posts
  • *
  • Posts: 205
Liam,

I thank you for the effort and thought that you are putting into the technique threads. I am enjoying the videos and your analysis.

Since returning to skiing 5 seasons ago, I have become a chairlift critic of skier?s technique. Like a beer connoisseur (I don?t care for wine), I know what I like and what I don?t like. Even though I would not aspire to either of the two techniques that you have presented thus far, I am enjoying your analysis of how and why these skiers may have adopted their technique.

Since this forum was established as an equipment forum, I have been thinking about ski characteristics that would support the technique styles that you have presented. I suspect jibbers are probably on similar skis as they were using in your video of ?08. Potentially early rise tip characteristics. I doubt that full rocker skis would work well when they venture back into the park. Your wide stance, upper body twisters probably benefit from the newer rocker skis, easier to twist the skis through the fall line.

Speaking of skis, I was in the shop at the base of Sugarloaf yesterday. I didn?t even look at the skis. Knowing what they have carried the last several seasons, I know that they would not be carrying any skis that I would want to ski on. Sad.

Liam, please continue with your postings and don?t let the Hatfields and McCoys get you down.