Several responses to a recent article under the same heading suggest I left the wrong impression on some readers. That’s anathema for a coach, so this is an attempt at clarification.

Source: Bob Trueman

The sketch is my attempt to explain the direction in which the skier’s torso is best oriented; not the direction your skis will be taking.

In reality, every arc comprises an infinite number of “points”, not just the ones I picked out for illustrative purposes.  For now, let’s consider those few identified points.

RADII AND TANGENTS

 At each of the points I have drawn a dashed line at a 90º angle to the radius. Focus on the direction of the line.

That dashed line indicates the direction in which your body would travel if you suddenly became detached from your skis.  (Where your skis went after such an event is anybody’s guess and of no importance to anyone other than the poor unfortunate who happened to be in the way!)

 Good skiers orient their torsos in the direction of the dashed line, with the axis across their shoulders and their hands at right angles to the dashed line. That is to say, facing slightly outward of the arc.  If you imagine an arrow glued smack in the centre of the skier’s chest, facing forward, it would point in the direction of the line.

 The optimal degree of difference between ski direction and body orientation will vary; on this sketch it’s noticeable if you look at the point where the arc is “sharpest” – in this case just momentarily as skis and torso encounter the slope line (aka fall line).

 This “outward” orientation is counter-intuitive, which is why unskilled skiers have a strong tendency not to do it, instead consistently aligning torso with ski tips or rotating into the arc; sub-optimal movements to be avoided.

 LEG ROTATION

A more effective and controlled technique is to utilize the hinge-like mechanism of our bodies. While legs travel in the direction of the skis and the torso faces outward in the direction of the dashed line, the thighs rotate in the hip sockets. Importantly, this is why skiers must be flexed forward at the hip joint. When standing upright on skis, effective and efficient turning are impossible.

 Lito Tejada Flores, celebrated ski instructor, author and filmmaker used to call it being “anticipated”.  What it gives you is enhanced stability and improved form.

 I hope this helps.

13 Comments

  1. Thomas Harvey says:

    Photos would make things more clear.

  2. Anticipation , leaning , actively facing downhill at the start of the turn. The torso always facing downhill is impossible with wide turns and is only possible with short turns. Otherwise you would look like Stein Erickson showing off. Ski instructors never explain the difference. In short turns the skis turning under the body sets up tension in the hips and waist to help swing the skis back for the start of the next turn. Speed dictates the technique and whether you make small carving turns or blasting down the mountain in the high speed slalom technique or how to wear out your knees. Ski the inside edge of your downhill edge and have fun. Lito Tejada Flores’ videos demonstrate better than my explanation.

  3. Hmmm. Why isn’t my torso always facing the fall line?

  4. Basically it looks to me that the torso is facing roughly downhill except for the transition. Don’t know if this is correct.

  5. Clear as mud. At point 5 for example my body would fall up the hill?

  6. Certainly clarifies the matter: kinda like putting cement in a blender to make a smoothie with substance. The words confuse and the shape of the turn diagrammed is weird, and I’m not sure exists. Your certainly no Olle Larsson or Ron LeMaster. Please give us a break and stop the pontifical drivel. This publication should hire someone qualified to write on the technical elements of skiing: to paraphrase Dylan, “It ain’t you babe”.

  7. Dashed line at 90 degrees to the radius? In your diagram, the dashed line IS the radius. The arrows are 90 degrees from the radius (i.e. dashed lines.) Please clarify.

  8. ??? What ??? I think you meant 3, 4 & 5 should be oriented more towards center of next upcoming turn (down hill), not toward center or uphill during control and finishing phases of current turn.

  9. Yikes. I’m a longtime, fairly advanced ski instructor at Breckenridge, and this article makes zero sense to me. Much of what is said (and shown) seems wrong, so I assume I’m just completely misunderstanding. I suspect that if I can’t figure out what is meant, I’m not alone in my confusion.

  10. Aren’t 4 & 5 actually 1 & 2 of the next turn? Therefore, shouldn’t the dashed lines point downhill?

  11. Dear All,
    You are all correct! This is not my greatest work.

    Nor is it enhanced by the greatest artistry either. Perhaps its greatest contribution will prove in the end to be that it got folks to thinkin’

    I offer my apologies for not having proved able to put my point across with the clarity and conciseness I would have preferred. My attempt to clarify has it seems done the opposite.

    The two key points that I was getting at (or attempting to) are –
    1) that “counter rotation” – twisting the body to face down the fall-line irrespective of where the skis are going, is inappropriate, because
    2) the rotation that needs to be either induced or allowed to happen, happens in the thigh/hip joint (the pelvis). Not at the waist.

    The key thing to notice is the direction in which I am travelling, irrespective of where my skis are pointing.

    The efficiency and effectiveness of my movements will be greatest when my pelvis faces the same direction as my instantaneous motion. That is the direction in which I am actually travelling (at that moment) and would continue so to travel if I were unfortunate enough to unexpectedly detach from my skis. Trying to adopt some ‘posture’ that faces it in any other direction is inappropriate.

    Only as I pass in a brief instant through the “fall line” will it face directly downhill. In my lousy drawing that’s at point 3 (roughly).

    Mr Burch – you are right, I should have re-read my piece more carefully.

    I am grateful to you all, thank you for your observations.

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