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Balance - the missing Link


Bill22
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Is balance what separates a 28off skier form a 15off skier?

 

Or to ask it a different way. What is the most important skill needed to be consistent at 15off/22off?

 

 

When I think of a basic definition of balance in skiing it's, weight distribution front to back in the correct proportion. Obviously, different segments of a pass will require a different percentage of front foot pressure (% weight forward). Those of you who are advanced skiers, feel free to correct me if this basic idea of balance is flawed.

 

 

What’s the point of this post? Is lack of “skiing” balance my main issue with inconsistency? One day I can run 22off early & wide (34mph) and the next day I can’t run 15off (same; boat, driver, lake, water temp, ZO setting). Is balance in the course one of those things, “You just have it” or you don’t?

 

Maybe it’s not balance but, actually slow reaction time? Reaction time as in, not responding quickly at the transition from pre-turn into the turn. Example of slow reflexes; skier is too slow to shift a small percent of weight forward going into the turn. Then there is not enough of the ski in the water to get it to finish the turn with good cross course angle.

 

I am NOT trying to over complicate this! It’s just frustrating when something you think should be easy doesn’t work. If I was not born with the athletic talent to advance past my current level, it would help to know this so I don’t set expectations too high.

 

Just Go Ski!

 

Disclaimer: I have had coaching from four good coaches and it has made a huge difference. Before I got pro level coaching I unable to run 15off at 26mph.

 

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15 and 22 can be run with many, many, many things wrong including balance. -28 can be run with at least 3-5 egregious mistakes and with shoulders forward, butt back, and bent arms (as I've done a million times). What separates a 15/22 skier from a -28 skier is a consistent and repeatable gate. What separates a -28 skier from a -32 skier are fundamental body mechanics glossed over in running/learning the earlier lines.
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What @jhughes said, "What separates a -28 skier from a -32 skier are fundamental body mechanics glossed over in running/learning the earlier lines."

 

It all comes down to what you have trained your body to do. Some days you'll be able to get away with more mistakes and get through a pass, but you won't ever be super consistent until you've trained your body to get in the right positions automatically without having to think about it. There's a lot going on during a slalom pass and it all comes at you pretty quickly. There is no way you'll have to time to think about each move, position, or how those positions transition from one to the other. You have to put in the work and the time at training your body to "know" the proper position, and then when you get out of position your body will automatically react and try to regain that proper position. It's not that you are slow to react, or don't have balance. It's that your body isn't really sure exactly what to do unless it's getting specific instructions from your thoughts, and there's just no time for that.

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I'd go with wake crossings, but that's probably just the same thing as saying gates.

 

I spent years trying to figure out why I couldn't turn properly particularly having a offside at 1 and falling before 4 ball every pass. Turns out you can't turn if you don't have a good wake crossing. And a good wake crossing can be had by resisting the urge to pull and getting your body position restored. Coaching really helps you think you are having a super hero wake crossing and nope, just a bad turn and pulling really hard and coming off edge.

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There is some fantastic advice in here. Hope you follow the advice as those guys have been there and done that.

 

The one part of it that is bad advice: "Just go ski".

 

That's like saying "go play the guitar". If someone said that to you or I, it would be brutal. The learning curve would be very painful for a LONG time. I wouldn't know specifically what to do. Yes we know what music sounds like but could we "play" the music for 3 minutes and it sound worthwhile?

 

Sure to run the longest passes, "just go ski" works.

 

If you ever want to get better, you have to have specific clarity of EXACTLY what is right/wrong, where with a when you are supposed to be doing it.

 

Skiing is about 70% mental, 20% fitness and 10% equipment.

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I’d say proper stack which I guess is same as wake crossing, I believe how you exit the second wake is important but becomes crucial at 35 or shorter.

Personally I’m focused on carrying speed on my gate turn in which in the off season becomes more difficult to achieve if I’m not focused enough.

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One thing I would disagree with is that crossings are the same as gates. Gates are an animal all their own that take a lot of work to "get." I only know that, because I don't "get" it.....yet. The crossing position would be the same as your even to odd ball crossings. But pullout timing, glide, turn in timing, and making a good turn from a glide, are all critical pieces that differ from anywhere else in the course and it sets up the whole run.

 

One belief I have that I'll throw out there in terms of learning good position, is to work on position at a speed you can pretty comfortably run the pass. Harder passes are good to throw in and measure progress, get used to the speed/timing etc., but when you're scrambling to get to the next ball, you can't think about good form.

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Without ever having seen you ski, @Bill22, the symptoms you are reporting suggest to me that your missing link is actually core strength! It's amazing how much strength it requires to not move against all the crazy forces of slalom skiing, which then makes it possible to move dynamically in the ways that you want to.
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I'm with @Than_Bogan I think the people that do it and do it well have all the things mentioned as well as being strong people. They may not look like bodybuilders, but I would bet their strength to weight ratio is right up there. Great technique falls apart quickly without the strength and stamina to carry it though.
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I like what @scoke said. Just go play the guitar, but I would add to turn up the amp real loud! At least you won’t do that for very long.

 

Handle control plays a huge role in early advancement and once you get to 38 off, I think body position plays an even larger role.

 

If you have your handle on your hip through the Wales the body has to be in pretty solid shape unless you are a contortionist.

 

Understanding body position to get maximum width for really short line is a different level. Just my 2c.

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Reading this thread was part of the inspiration for the below video. I actually don't think it takes that much strength to maintain position if you are in the right position. Once your stack is broken or your weight distribution is uneven between your feet it takes a lot of strength to recover position.

 

https://www.ballofspray.com/forum#/discussion/20841/hortons-slalom-fundamentals-video-1

 

 

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Cool! My skiing is so bad it inspired Horton to make a video. :)

 

Seriously though, the best I have ever skied was after a friend told me to try shifting my front knee over my big toe. That resulted in me being wide and early for my hardest pass and I was able to repeat it three sets that day. The next time I skied it just didn't click or feel easy as before.

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To clarify, I'm not talking about what traditionally people call "strength." I am a scrawny dude who has to take plates off the bench press after the women get done with their sets. I'm talking about the ability to lock your core against various forces that want to fold or break you.

 

If you are short and/or stout, this may not be high on your list of things to worry about. Us beanpoles have plenty of advantages in slalom, but the one place where we have to do more is core strength. Those long levers are acting against less natural muscle mass -- a double whammy.

 

My fitness has varied quite a bit over various seasons, and one of the most noticeable aspects is that if I am dedicated to core stability work then suddenly I can achieve and hold advantageous positions. I can't tell that I'm working harder or doing anything special, but everything just works better.

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The muscle involved in skiing is somewhat specific. Muscle is developed by progressive overload. Anyone who has learned to ski (and do it well) has "taught" their ski specific muscle to develop over time. They may at this point be unaware of it because it's second nature but it's there. The people that say it ain't so have many years developing this mind muscle connection. This has nothing to do with bench press.
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