Are you centered?

JimG.

New member
Do you keep your body centered while skiing? You know, all your body parts within a zone from the toe to heel piece of your binding.

How are you centered? Are you bent up like a pretzel trying to keep all those body parts in that zone, or are you relaxed and standing tall?

Seems like basic stuff...but it's tough to teach someone to STAY centered. Students get caught up in the toe-heel piece zone and forget they can move laterally using their hips, so they aren't fluid and get thrown off center easily. Yeah, you see it alot...an intermediate preparing to push off in fine athletic form only to be a mass of arms and legs searching for a clue 3 turns later.

Any ideas about how to improve at staying centered?
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
You had better be centered in powder or you will crash.

On the afternoon Lookout runs at Northstar Brad was making the point you mention about standing tall most of the time while carving the chowder. You would sink a bit when driving the edges into the new turn, but he reminded us to come back up right away.

There is no question that this is sound advice. There is an instinctive tendency to crouch when trying to hold one's balance. And carving chowder tends to be a bouncy ride. This also goes back to Marc's point about bending at the waist when fatigued, also one of my vices.

In general I know what to do in this situation, but I think your conditioning and quad strength have to be very good to execute. If it's late in the day and you're having trouble skiing the prevailing conditions with proper technique, it makes sense to back off and find some terrain/conditions that you can ski properly with less exertion. Needless to say, in the conditions of last weekend at Tahoe, few of us would have the self-discipline to do that. :wink:
 

Ryan

New member
Tony Crocker":3s1q46ts said:
In general I know what to do in this situation, but I think your conditioning and quad strength have to be very good to execute. If it's late in the day and you're having trouble skiing the prevailing conditions with proper technique, it makes sense to back off and find some terrain/conditions that you can ski properly with less exertion. Needless to say, in the conditions of last weekend at Tahoe, few of us would have the self-discipline to do that. :wink:


It's funny you should phrase it this way because I just sat in on a clinic last weekend addressing this very thing. If you feel like you need a ton of quad power to make it through a heavy snow day try this: Move your pelvis forward. It will get your shins in better contact with your boots and line up your weight much more over the balls of your feet and not as much on the heels. If you do this you can use your own body weight for turn initiation (shaped ski's required) and need amazingly little leg strengh to force things around. Think about making your movements from this position soft and gentle and let the skis do the work. You'll go blasting through anything from power to crud with very little effort or strain.
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
With fat skis and untracked snow the effort required is not that much. My impression in the chopped up stuff is that it is the shock-absorber effect (somewhat like moguls) that burns the quads. The crouching/bend-at-the-waist/get-too-far-in-the-backseat problem can be the cause but at this point I think it's more of an effect of only being able to take a limited amount of shock-absorber skiing with the correct posture.

But I really like the tip of stand tall (which tends to pull the pelvis forward as you recommend) and I will likely be more conscious of that after last weekend.
 

Chromer

New member
Put somewhat more succinctly, though definitely more crudely:

You can squat to pee, but you need to stand up to ski.

and

F***, don't s***.
 

Cannonball

New member
I reccomend spending a day or two on teles. Don't bother trying to learn telemark turns. Just ski as you always would. The free heel will immediatly expose any off-center tendencies.
 

JimG.

New member
Chromer":leqw1xhw said:
You can squat to pee, but you need to stand up to ski.

and

F***, don't s***.

I'm learning to wait until Chromer gives feedback :lol: . That's it in a nutshell. You know, it goes all the way back to my original topic of kids...all I do when they are really young is ask them to stand up.

It's important to differentiate between standing bolt upright with stiff knees and standing up in an athletic stance with flexed knees and ankles, just like it's important to mention and demo the difference between bending knees and ankles and bowing. Flexed knees and ankles with your butt sticking out (s***) just makes you tired, so keep that pelvis forward (f***).

Shuffling feet back and forth while turning helps, as does showing students how to hop off the snow keeping the tips and tails of their skis an equal distance off the snow. Then get them to hop like that while turning.

This is a skill that requires mental focus and awareness of body position and it's something I work at daily. Physical fitness and a strong core area (I do at least 500 crunches a day) are important. When I'm right and my hips feel like they are leading every turn, skiing is such a dream!
 

Ryan

New member
JimG.":2kvg4929 said:
Shuffling feet back and forth while turning helps, as does showing students how to hop off the snow keeping the tips and tails of their skis an equal distance off the snow. Then get them to hop like that while turning.

These are a couple of great exercised that can be used for skiers of every level to get the hips FWD and the balance centered. I use them or a variation of them all the time and have had some great luck in my students.


Here is another great one for ADVANCED skiers. (I'll preface it that way)

It is a 2 part lesson

1 Tip drags
Medium radius turns on blue groomers. Pick up the inside ski for the entire length of each turn but leave the "pinky toe" edge of the tip of the ski in the snow to draw a little line with it. repeat for a run or two.

2 Javeline turns (this is the tricky part)
Medium radius turns on blue groomers. Pick up the inside ski flat this time and as you turn, cross it over the front of the outside ski in the air over it. As you finish a turn you straighten out the crossed over ski, step on it, and pick up your new inside ski to cross it over top.

Effect: It will ensure that you are FWD in your stance as this is not physically possible to do from the pack seat. More over; and especially with the Javeline it opens up your hips to downhill. The result of this is when you transition turns your edge will easily disengage from your old turn, releasing them downhill and enabling you to have a a clean and smooth turn initiation to your next turn with quicker edge engagement. It is also great for getting your mass projected downhill giving you more power over your skis. This is a great exercise for really dynamic powerful skiing.
 

BigSpencer

New member
...while centered....
Getting a little more equal distribution of weighting between outer & inner skis is really helping short radius action on steeper trails. Attaining an earlier edge with that inner ski is sure making life safer :lol:
 

JimG.

New member
BigSpencer":15wy2y41 said:
...while centered....
Getting a little more equal distribution of weighting between outer & inner skis is really helping short radius action on steeper trails. Attaining an earlier edge with that inner ski is sure making life safer :lol:

Very good point! People tend to think only of fore and aft when discussing being centered and rarely discuss being 2 footed on their skis. Ryan discussed javelin turns which help with this skill, as do white pass turns (initiating new turns on the new inside ski). Real important on steeper terrain and in tight trees.
 

Geoff

New member
You can find out immediately if you're fore/aft centered by skiing a few runs with your boots unbuckled.
 

lookn4powder

New member
BigSpencer said:
...while centered....
Getting a little more equal distribution of weighting between outer & inner skis is really helping short radius action on steeper trails. Attaining an earlier edge with that inner ski is sure making life safer :lol:

As I learned from an instructor at Alta last year, getting on the uphill outside ski on edge *really* early shuts down the tendancy to ski uncentered. This technique offers additional benefits including that it: 1) reduces leg fatigue at the end of the day, 2) allows better handling in inconsistent snow, and 3) nearly eliminates wear on knees in the bumps(!!)

The key is to actively step up onto the uphill inside edge as your skis pass through the fall line. In reality, you won't fully shift the weight until you are at the bottom of the turn, but the uphill outside ski edge begins bearing much of the weight very early. Just past the bottom of the turn, one should begin tilting the uphill ski so that inside edge engages. During this tilting process one should actively move (i.e., drop) the the old downhill knee down the hill in order to disengage the edge on the inside downhill edge. (Frankly, I've not found the need to aggressively execute this second idea. My knee seems to disengage naturally.)

This technique is easier to do (and to teach) than to describe, but it has worked for me in all snow conditions. I do bumps regularly and I've found that my knees thank me for changing to this technique.


Another technique for learning to ski centered is to ski giant slalom turns while simultaneously executing short-swing slalom turns. If you can maintain consistent velocity throughout each giant slalom cycle while keeping your slalom turns relatively symmetric, you are definitely skiing centered.

Both exercises are easier to perform while standing tall.

Cheers,
Jeff
 

BigSpencer

New member
look'n4powder,
Exactly right.....


("Are you centered?....")
Not until the temps start dipping @night and the resorts start making snow... 8)

*Hey, what great buys on the Web of 04/05 skis that I demoed back in Feb-Mar! (50%!!!) It sure makes a difference in the wallett, with gas prices the way they are.....


Steve
 

joegm

New member
I can?t believe I have been on this site for so long and not noticed this link? lots of spot on comments for sure:
When jimmy talks about lateral movement I can really relate? the lateral movement or weight shift , as I have an easier time thinking about it, was emphasized so much to us this year at blackcomb. Sometimes though I think intermediates confuse weight shifting with swinging their hips outside the box, as my buddy?s and I call it. I don?t think it?s just for moguls , but it is so necessary for real solid mogul technique as well as good steep technique. It?s something I lack consistently being able to execute quickly and sometimes tend to fake a turn by just rolling my knee instead of the actual shift laterally with the hip. Then I get back ever so slightly. It really bugs the crap out of me sometimes. We did so many drills this summer on weight shift by really stomping on that new inside edge during j turns that ryan talks about. Traverse, stomp, shift , knee roll?.i drive around in 90f thinking about that sequence. I think I do about 5 runs of tip drags to start the day every day in the winter then 3 or 4 runs of unbuckled boots, j turns like geoff talks about? ( unbuckled j turns through the late day mush at blackcomb.. talk about being exposed :shock: ) lookin 4 powder nails it about getting on the uphill ( soon to be downhill ) ski fast. That?s absolutely correct and critical.
Another bump specific drill we did a lot of was tip draggin down through a mogul line w/ a lot of reduced speed?it kind of incorporates everything above with getting on that new edge quickly and kind of being light ( not back) on the uphill ski throughout most of the turn radius. That ?s a concept that I am struggling to execute also on a consistent basis?
One final thing smart would make us do on really flat terrain that is really off the above ideas is squat down till your ass in sitting on your bindings try and make short to medium radius turns. This obviously takes the hips out of play and forces you to roll your knees. But this really does nothing for weight shifting , which like I said, became even more clear to me is one of the keys to taking things to the next level .
 

cj

New member
joegm":gq93r30w said:
I can?t believe I have been on this site for so long and not noticed this link? lots of spot on comments for sure:
When jimmy talks about lateral movement I can really relate? the lateral movement or weight shift , as I have an easier time thinking about it, was emphasized so much to us this year at blackcomb. Sometimes though I think intermediates confuse weight shifting with swinging their hips outside the box, as my buddy?s and I call it. I don?t think it?s just for moguls , but it is so necessary for real solid mogul technique as well as good steep technique. It?s something I lack consistently being able to execute quickly and sometimes tend to fake a turn by just rolling my knee instead of the actual shift laterally with the hip. Then I get back ever so slightly. It really bugs the crap out of me sometimes. We did so many drills this summer on weight shift by really stomping on that new inside edge during j turns that ryan talks about. Traverse, stomp, shift , knee roll?.i drive around in 90f thinking about that sequence. I think I do about 5 runs of tip drags to start the day every day in the winter then 3 or 4 runs of unbuckled boots, j turns like geoff talks about? ( unbuckled j turns through the late day mush at blackcomb.. talk about being exposed :shock: ) lookin 4 powder nails it about getting on the uphill ( soon to be downhill ) ski fast. That?s absolutely correct and critical.
Another bump specific drill we did a lot of was tip draggin down through a mogul line w/ a lot of reduced speed?it kind of incorporates everything above with getting on that new edge quickly and kind of being light ( not back) on the uphill ski throughout most of the turn radius. That ?s a concept that I am struggling to execute also on a consistent basis?
One final thing smart would make us do on really flat terrain that is really off the above ideas is squat down till your ass in sitting on your bindings try and make short to medium radius turns. This obviously takes the hips out of play and forces you to roll your knees. But this really does nothing for weight shifting , which like I said, became even more clear to me is one of the keys to taking things to the next level .

Ahh... the getting low drill. That one is hard and is great. I showed it to a buddy of mine that I ski bumps with and he was like "what the h*ll! Now he is all about that drill! Trying to get as low as you can and keeping shin pressure while using knee angle to turn and making pole plants while holding the poles half way down... sure, that easy (maybe for the coaches).

I also am working on being earlier on downhill ski, particullarly my left one, but it takes a lot of repetitiveness to break that old habit.

cj
 

HDHaller

New member
Cannonball and Geoff,

...about using teleskiing or unbuckled boots to work on being centered: I think these two methods are of only limited use. The most common centering problem, by far, is being in the back seat, leaning back into the hill, into the back of the boot. And one CAN lean into the back of a tele boot or an unbuckled alpine boot. Teleskiing and unbuckled alpine boots may keep you from getting too far forward, because, obviously, telebindings and unbuckled alpine boots will let you fall on your face if you get too far forward. But you can still hang in the back seat. So these two training methods do little for the most common centering problem. THoughts?
-HDH
 

Ryan

New member
I'm with HD on the thoughts here... I don't see using unbuckled boots as being a very good way to approach a back seat problem. If a person is too far forward it has a point but finding that student is long and far between. I have only seen a few and I think that there are better was to correct it that changing the equipment. What do you think that they are going to do as soon as the buckles go back on.
 

lookn4powder

New member
Ryan":fd5xvimq said:
I'm with HD on the thoughts here... I don't see using unbuckled boots as being a very good way to approach a back seat problem. If a person is too far forward it has a point but finding that student is long and far between. I have only seen a few and I think that there are better was to correct it that changing the equipment. What do you think that they are going to do as soon as the buckles go back on.

I agree with you that unbuckled boot drills cannot help cure the backseaters' centering problem. The best drill I've found for this is the drill where the skier must execute giant slalom turns while simultaneously executing many slalom turns per GS turn. One cannot sucessfully execute this drill uncentered. The problem is that this drill is suited only for fairly advanced skiers. In addition, the drill is safe to do only on fairly empty slopes.

For less advanced skiers, getting centered is perhaps accomplished by removing the technique errors that are pulling them into the backseat. Having just watched a video of a powder clinic where the students took many falls, I would say that the most common problem was dropping the uphill arm. Droppng this arm back--or not keeping the arm/shoulders agressively forward would pull each skier's body out of the fall line into the hill. Just before each guy fell, his body was firmly in the backseat even if his fall was initiated by catching a tip inducing a forward fall.

I am not suggesting that the dropped arm is the only problem that might drive a skier to be uncentered, but my "gold standard" drill is unlikely to help lower level students. Thus, my only thought is to remove each technical error that keeps one from being centered.

Finally, based on my last outing when I skied two boot-ski sets on boilerplate, I believe that some ski models reward centered technique more than others. For example, my Volkl G31's responded to centered methods better than my race level Fischer GS skis. So, some skis may help some people achieve centered technique more quickly than others. Just a thought.

Jeff
 

joegm

New member
I?m not gonna argue the merits of unbuckled boots being or not being an effective method of getting one?s self centered as a general rule for everyone?.but I will say this.. I begin every ski day with unbuckled boots AND no substantial power strap closure ( I use after market booster straps btw) for at least the first 60 minutes or 5 or 6 runs on flats. This probably contributes to my annual trashing and subsequent replacement of my boot buckles every year :cry: . I then take at least one run skiing ( still unbuckled ) what mike Atkinson who used to coach at SMS now momentum would call the ? reverse line ? in a bump run. ( pretty much skiing over the tops of the bump and staying completely away from the direct line. I would say 50% of the reason is that I do this is because it seems to in fact force me on the balls of my feet, and the way I think of it, I view that as being centered. Anything other than that in bumps, I view as deadly. Or in other words, when I am not on the balls of my feet , I feel I am not centered?so obviously I am a big advocate of unbuckled boots. The other 50% is that it just gives me a feeling of sinking into my boots and really settling in and feeling the ground ( ?feel the snow? , right boys) by flexing my ankles. It?s at the point now where I am almost afraid to start out not unbuckled because I feel like I can?t effectively bend my boots if I buckle up right away. But that?s me
Jeff- expand on the sl within the gs.. I?m not following
 

joegm

New member
is it more critical for bumpers to be on the balls of their feet more of the time than racers? and then, tying this to jeff's post, does being on bump skis with shovels under say 95cm and less side cut make unbuckled boots a relatively more effectivel drill than if one is on modern gs type skis ?
 
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