Recently I posted an article under the above title, together with this very rough sketch
I've had a number of responses to it which suggest I didn't write it very well and have left the wrong impression is the minds of some folk. For a coach, that is anathema of course, so here goes with an attempt to clear it up.
The sketch shows the progress of a skier around an arc which has different radii at different points along it, and what I'm trying to do is to highlight the direction in which your torso will best be oriented, rather than the direction your skis will be taking.
I hope it's clear that along that (or any other) arc there is in reality an infinite number of “points”, not just the ones I picked out for illustrative purposes. For now, let's just consider those few identified points.
RADII AND TANGENTS
At each of the points I have drawn a dashed line. It's only dashed to differentiate it from the others.
The length of that line has no relevance to anything (other than my crude draughtsmanship). What matters about it, is its direction.
You will be able to see that each of those dashed lines is drawn (as nearly as a crude sketch could get it) at a tangent to the radius at that point. It is at 90º to that radius.
That dashed line indicates the direction in which you would travel if you suddenly became detached from your skis. You would not follow the curved arc your skis were following at that point. Where your skis went after such an event is anybody's guess and of no importance to anyone other than some poor unfortunate who happened to be in the way!
Good skiers will have their torsos oriented 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 that someone had glued an arrow smack in the centre of your chest, facing forward, that's where it would be pointing.
The optimal degree of difference between ski direction and body orientation can be seen to vary; on this sketch it's noticeable if you look at the point where the arc is “sharpest” - in this case just as the slope line is encountered skis and torso are aligned, but only momentarily. The amount of difference depends on multiple factors which I neither need nor want to go into at this juncture
This “outward” orientation is counter-intuitive which is why early beginners and other unskilful skiers have a strong tendency not to do it, and instead allow their torso at all times to be aligned with their ski tips: or even rotated into the arc. Again, for reasons I won't elaborate right now, this is very sub-optimal and should be avoided.
For this difference to be possible - having our legs, which are attached to the skis and therefore going in their direction, but having our torsos facing outward, we must allow our thighs to rotate in the hip socket. It's one of the key reasons for the absolute necessity of being flexed forward at the hip joint: if you stand upright it's impossible.
Lito Tejada Flores, head of the ski school at Vail used to call it being “anticipated”. What it gives you is enhanced stability and resilience to perturbations.
I hope this helps.
Bob Trueman. Int'l Development Coach.
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