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Ankle Flex Confusion


(@adrian_hamilton)
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In recent times I’ve become increasingly confused about the role of my ankle during a turn. I don’t want at any stage to crunch the front of my boot. I have been working for a while on engaging the shovel at the start of my turns using the met heads as a class 2 lever. Together these 2 factors seem to have made me try and keep my ankle in a fairly rigid position through the turn with constant contact on the tongue of the boot and the boot tight enough around the lower leg to also have contact with my calf( not easy with my skinny calves)

This approach, however, almost negates the need for flex in the boot which must be wrong, otherwise why would we deliberate over a 120, 130 etc., flex. I feel the ankle must have a bigger role in suspension than I am currently aiming for. Can anyone shed light?

 


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(@skinerd)
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Glad you asked… This may be the most controversial topic in ski technique.

I don’t think the role of ankle flex is black and white. It’s tied to ski pressure in the fore/aft and vertical planes… but when, where and the intensity is highly dependant on the intent and the situation. Not to mention where all your other body parts are in space and time.

I’ve always found rules like “keeping constant contact with the front of the boot” far too rigid for all mountain skiing.

To have a proper conversation we need to get specific.


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 kuba
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I remember this session when we spoke about class 2 lever @adrian_hamilton -  one would normally use it when transiting from one turn to another, which is the same time when she/he uses ankles to tip skis; and that is mutually exclusive I think? You can't have a stiff ankle to do class 2 lever and tip your ski at the same time 🤔 

Posted by: @skinerd

“keeping constant contact with the front of the boot” far too rigid for all mountain skiing

Yeah, ankles seem to be a too precise tool for powder and off-piste. I think it does make sense to talk about it in context of long/medium turns (short turns seem to me to be too quick to do anything with the ankle, but this might be due to my lack of experience).


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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Posted by: @kuba

I remember this session when we spoke about class 2 lever @adrian_hamilton -  one would normally use it when transiting from one turn to another, which is the same time when she/he uses ankles to tip skis; and that is mutually exclusive I think? You can't have a stiff ankle to do class 2 lever and tip your ski at the same time 🤔 

I may be misunderstanding this but I don't think it's necessarily mutually exclusive @kuba. But I know what you mean that maybe the effectiveness is affected. .

I think some of my adherence to the constant contact notion comes from me trying to correct my tendency to over flex the outside ankle. To a great extent I have cured the problem but I feel like I'm left with being too rigid.

Just yesterday I softened my boots. Lange says that removing the top bolt takes them down by 6%. They're a 130 flex, so I guess that becomes closer to 120, not that these measurements are standardised of course. It will be interesting to see if this makes me feel a bit less rigid around the ankle. I might also experiment with the bottom bolt, 12% and both, 20%, depending on what I find.

Posted by: @skinerd

To have a proper conversation we need to get specific.

What I'm doing at the moment is exclusively on groomed terrain indoors. I am trying to solidify my feet and ankles to optimise the transfer of energy from other movements further up the chain. I don't want my feet to be sloppy and have a less direct effect on the skis. I have this approach to performance turns, shorts, IP alike. While the solidifying of my feet and ankles is really to make lateral movements more direct, it must impact on fore aft and vertical movements as well.

One of the aspects of my skiing that I always see when I watch video of myself is that I look quite stiff. This goes back long before I started thinking about my feet and ankles. It's slightly surprising because I don't move robotically generally. I've always been light on my feet and bouncy. Even at 64 I would describe myself as agile and free moving. My rigidity on skis definitely impacts on freedom to move further inside my turns.

I see @kuba who skis indoors in Manchester with us and he is really loose with his movements and Tim who Skinerd knows and has his Level 3 skiing and he is so flowing. I commented to him the other day how impressive it is to see how he shapes his turns.

Obviously this doesn't all come from the ankle but I wonder if I have been crawling down a rabbit hole and need to come out of it.


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 kuba
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I need to draw that because I'm lacking proper vocabulary:) What I meant was the the class lever 2 requires one to make the ankle stiff in this plane:

WhatsApp Image 2021 08 14 at 12.37.48

Whilst tipping needs movement in this plane:

WhatsApp Image 2021 08 14 at 12.37.54

Maybe "mutually exclusive" is too strong, but I think the first one affects the other.

I definitely would not say you're stiff, I think both Cath and you ski gracefully. Bear in mind that when we look at ourself in a vid we always are critical.


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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Posted by: @kuba
WhatsApp Image 2021 08 14 at 12.37.48

Whilst tipping needs movement in this plane:

WhatsApp Image 2021 08 14 at 12.37.54

I see what you mean but I find the lateral movement is fine with tightening the feet and ankles. It's the fore/ aft that I think is suffering.

@kuba thanks but I feel stiff. I often find my shoulders hunched and try and relax them. I'm glad it maybe doesn't as noticeable it sometimes feels.

 

 


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(@skinerd)
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Are we talking strictly plantar flexion and dorsiflexion here?

As you know, I try to steer clear of absolutes, but most often I’ll try to feel more ball of the foot through plantar flexion whilst searching for pressure at iniation and dorsiflexion while releasing it through completion.

Strong and neutral through the control phase. But I reserve the right to break these rules at any time depending on how the forces are coming at me:)

Of course one leg is usually getting longer while the other is getting shorter, so the timing of this is independant between the two sides. One ankle is often flexing while the other is extending.


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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Posted by: @skinerd

As you know, I try to steer clear of absolutes, but most often I’ll try to feel more ball of the foot through plantar flexion whilst searching for pressure at iniation and dorsiflexion while releasing it through completion.

I have the same intention I think, which is to get the shovel shovel engaged at initiation and then move a bit to the tail as I want to stop the ski turning in the old turn, but I'm trying to do it by creating a bit of torque by slightly levering from the met heads and then levering to the back of the arch after the fall line. They're small movements that don't crunch the boots at all but are very powerful.

This is a concept that I got from Tom Gellie. The idea is to get very direct force. Hopefully I understand it properly and am communicating it adequately.


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(@skinerd)
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@adrian_hamilton Yes, sounds like the same idea.


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@adrian_hamilton - I agree with @kuba that stiffness is not what jumps out of your ski vids. 

In what situations are you trying to affect your fore/aft balance class 2 lever method?

In my case it's for applying torque to pivot the skis - such as shorts or IP. And while that does require us to hold the ankle fairly rigid at the time of the actual levering there's a lot of before and after time where the ankle is flexing/extending as we manage pressure.

In AP (pure carving) the aim is generally not to pivot the ski so not looking to generate torque. Priority is tipping. 

There's one other situation for class 2 - wedging into the face of the upcoming bump for more direct line moguls. However I'm still at initiation with that one. 🙄  


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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Posted by: @geepers

In my case it's for applying torque to pivot the skis - such as shorts or IP. And while that does require us to hold the ankle fairly rigid at the time of the actual levering there's a lot of before and after time where the ankle is flexing/extending as we manage pressure.

Yes likewise, most notably in IP and shorts. The torque isn't predominantly rotational, it's to create leverage to the shovel to provide grip and pull the skis into the turn. Of course in steered turns the skills are blended.

Do you feel that the ankle flexes at the actual ankle joint through the turn? I think this maybe where my rigidity is coming from as I'm trying to bypass these movements as much as possible, keeping the lower leg almost fixed in the sagital plane and providing suspension/ pressure control predominantly through the knees and hips.

I hear some expert skiers talking about using some forward pressure briefly in their high performance turns while others seem to advocate purely tipping which seems to me to engage the whole ski tip to tail, thus engaging the shovel. What do you think?


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(@geepers)
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@adrian_hamilton 

My understanding from TG is that, for shorts, the leveraging engages the tips whilst unloading the tails. The tails are then able to displace. (In TG's vid Mastering The Short Turn he shows that displacement of the tail holding the ski on the snow in his hands.) It's what Ron le Master in Ultimate Skiing refers to as oversteering. At the same time the skis are travelling predominantly forward through the snow so there's a sort of feeling of the tips leading the skis back underneath us.

Now I'm trying to remember on-snow stuff from a year ago so plenty of scope for error... The feeling was one of holding tension at the appropriate time in the ankle rather than frozen rigidity. Frontside heavy was lots of tension/resistance, the closest to rigid - TG's cue to lift those tails to the back of the head. Backside heavy was largely dorsiflexion - again TG's cue of toes to nose. (The latter I remember as the bigger effort and the 1st to be shortcut as the day went on. Been working the TAs in prep for next time on snow.) The ankle otherwise flexes as appropriate to deal with the terrain and pressure.

Just a thought... the indoor pitches may be smooth. Maybe try some uneven terrain where you'll naturally use knees/ankles whilst still holding tension as needed. Not so much bumps as dips, mounds and changes of pitch.

Re the forward pressure in AP... yes, there are some who advocate that. To the point of pushing hard on the front of the boot! The L4 I spent the most days with 2020 season recommended we maintain solid contact with the front of the boot but not to press on it. I find that puts me too forward later in the turn (or perhaps I'm too slow getting back) so I just try to stay in the middle of the ski throughout. Of course we are turning into and out of the fall line so just being in the middle requires a bit of adjustment.

Still a lot of things to consolidate/refine.


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