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Implications of being too aft


(@mattfromvan)
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I was the fly on the wall for a conversation with two instructors about the effect of leaning too far back. 

The first instructor suggested that the biggest issue was that a skier leaning too far back would find that their skis would hook up in the tails and begin to launch them faster and faster down the hill, and the skier would shortly find themselves in a poor position to manage the pressures acting on them from the hill.

Another instructor postulated that the biggest issue was that by leaning back, it makes it much harder to steer the skis, as the loss of ski contact would make it far more difficult to twist the ski in the snow.

I can see the arguments for both, but I'm curious what the braintrust here thinks is the most important reason to not lean back. In other words, if you had a 1 hour lesson to fix a student, would you focus on pressure control, or rotary skills?


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(@therealmrtall)
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I'd say they are both right. (See Jet Skis.) As for what the biggest issue is with leaning back, I'd say it ultimately comes down to balance. In a perfect world, we'd always be balanced in the middle of the outside ski. In a one-hour lesson, I think a focus on balance would be the way to go. The objective would be to help your client to balance on the middle of the outside ski. It's more of a fore/aft balance issue with Jet Skis. A few ideas are variations on the same drill: lifting the inside ski, tapping the inside ski, or stork turns.

That's my $0.02. Curious to hear what others think. 


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 kuba
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I also think both were right. It seems to me it's important to lean forward at the initial stages of learning to have better control and confidence. But note that compact transition imposes leaning back:

I think if you opt to have big edge angles you'll be on your backseat.


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(@adrian_hamilton)
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To my thinking there are a number of issues. Something that’s always been in my mind is that skiing is a balance sport but because we have these long skis we can cheat the balance aspect a bit and not fall over. We might not fall over but if we’re way out of balance we are not going to be very effective or efficient.

It was put to me very simply by a very highly respected coach that the front of the skis are the turny bits and the backs  are the straight bits. If we’re on the tails we’re not using the turny bits but still expecting to be turning. It becomes almost impossible to manage speed through turn shape. It may be ok hurtling down a nice easy green run but pretty scary on a double black.

Getting a turn started sitting on the backs of the skis for the most part requires some rotation and pushing the tails away as the tips aren’t going to hook up and pull us into the turn. This will present serious limitations to the skier.

One approach that can be quite effective is to play with extremes of fore and aft and discover what happens with an objective of making round arcs. Ski way back, get way forward stand in the middle, start aft move for etc. etc. 


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(@therealmrtall)
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I agree with @adrian_hamilton. Playing with the extreme fore and aft moves can help the realize what happens when one's way forward or back, and help find the middle ground. Those feelings or queues are important so you can develop a sense to correct yourself when you feel you're getting out of balance. We experimented with extremes with @SkiNerd in a couple of times on Section 8 camps. Getting way forward and back. Helpful reminders.

On a somewhat related note, we had a great powder day. The snow was getting a bit heavy and of course chopped up, with dips and bumps forming everywhere. Lots of little corrections to make here and there in order to maintain good balance. Makes for a lot of fun -- getting a bit wild but recovering.

 


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(@geepers)
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Seems to me both instructors are correct. If the center of pressure of the skier is towards the back of the ski the tails are likely to be engaged with the snow and the tips less engaged. Whilst it is still possible to control the direction taken by the skis less torque will be required for the skis to turn into the fall line - in fact with tails engaged and tips light that's where they'll tend to point - and more torque to point them out of the fall line which will likely require use of upper body.

Further we will have used up at least part of fore/aft zone of stability and be less able to withstand any disturbance to our balance from external forces (like a bump in the snow).

Posted by: @kuba

But note that compact transition imposes leaning back:

I think if you opt to have big edge angles you'll be on your backseat.

Yeah, I'm not so certain of this. In the compact transitions demo-ed by MH there is little (or even zero) ground reaction forces since the skis are only lightly resting on the snow. That's the whole purpose of releasing the skis by flexing both legs - the skier "floats" through the transition. The legs have to go somewhere so they fold to the front.

Also the skis and the upper body are on different paths through transition. The skis were on a wider path out to the side, come back under the body (at transition) and then continue out on a wider path to the other side. The upper body takes a shorter, more direct path down the fall line. While the skis may have been in front of the hips at transition the longer path they take will mean the skier's body will have caught up by the time the skis are engaging with the snow and producing a ground reaction force.

 


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(@skinerd)
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I agree with the comments above. There are a plethora of symptoms that manifest from pressure aft on the skis.

  • First and foremost, the tails tend to grip and the tips seek the fall line. They become difficult to direct and take off like a rocket. Loss of speed control is often the result.
  • Many people can still manage speed from the back seat, but to un-grip the tail, they need to flatten the ski and push the heels away. The result is often a windshield wiper, or comma shaped turn, half skidded and half straight.
  • The skis moving sideways in this fashion can lead to a number of other pressure control issues like chatter.
  • Or inside ski issues like scissors
  • Oh and your quads tend to get really tired

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(@skinerd)
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Posted by: @kuba

I also think both were right. It seems to me it's important to lean forward at the initial stages of learning to have better control and confidence. But note that compact transition imposes leaning back:

I think if you opt to have big edge angles you'll be on your backseat.

It can be useful to pressure a little aft as you complete a turn to stop the skis from turning, so they can be redirected the other way...

But for the most part, the aft looking position in these compact transitions doesn’t have a negative affect on the ski because there is no pressure on them (or direction change) at that point in time. In this case I don’t really consider the skier ‘back’ as it’s more about anticipating the forces that are about to come.

When the force does come it’s much more important to be stacked through the middle.


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