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Stance

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'd be interested to hear from advanced - expert skiers and their take on stance width....

The BASI way seems to teach an "athletic stance" with feet close to hip width apart as it is argued this is more stable. I note that many European ski schools seem to get their more advanced skiers to ski with their feet close together. I read an interesting article saying that stability of a wider stance is a bogus argument since the majority of the weight will be on one ski. Also feet further apart makes it difficult to run them flat through the transitions.

Practically skiing with legs further apart seems to become more difficult in choppier snow or bumps so is it better to develop technique with feet closer together?
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As with so many things in life, the answer to the question is, "It depends".

BASI doesn't encourage one particular stance width regardless of the conditions, terrain etc. You're exactly right that in some circumstances a narrower stance is beneficial. The key is to make the right tactical choice and to adapt stance accordingly.
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IME. When you start, BASI teach around hip width. This gives stability and allows freedom to lay over your skis, without the d/hill knee being obstructed by the uphill one.

As you get more advanced, it is better to have a bit more flexibility...and to a degree, personal preference also applies.

Narrower stance is:
- Better in moguls and off piste
- Quicker from edge to edge in short turns

Wider Stance is:
- Better for high speed , "Long Leg/Short Leg", Medium to Long Turns
- Gives greater stability, especially on chopped up pistes.
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When I was a beginner a couple years ago, my uncle who I was skiing with gave me a lot of stick for skiing with my legs apart, and told me that it was more correct to ski with them closer together.

This confused me because I had been watching a lot of instructional videos on YouTube, and the predominant advice was to ski with feet shoulder width apart. Also I had been watching a bit of Downhill racing, and they definitely favour shoulder width or more.

So I researched it further, and have skied a lot more since then. Now I can do both quite happily. As you say, narrower stances are preferred for bumps because the skis behave the same (like a monoski). Plus it does, admittedly, look classy.

But for charging pistes at maximum speed, you've gotta go with the downhillers, and go shoulder width.
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@MancSkier, what @Old Fartbag, says is correct.
The hip width stance goes together with the modern squarer stance ie not having one foot substantially in front of the other, and wider shapely skis.
A narrow stance is better in the bumps.
Too narrow a stance when turning and your boots will block each other. Everyone has a slightly different width that works for them, a good drill is to practice a few runs with an exaggerated wide stance then with a very narrow one and feel the effects. You can also ask someone to progressively push and pull you sideways while standing still with different stances to see the impact.
Seeing someone with a very narrow stance can look stylish but can also look very old fashioned.
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jbob wrote:
Seeing someone with a very narrow stance can look stylish but can also look very old fashioned.


Yeah, when I was first encouraged to ski with a narrower stance by my uncle, it annoyed me because I was pretty sure it wasn't really the modern way to ski... but I wasn't in a position to correct him.

It does seem to me, however, that it is still very much the way to ski for freeride/big mountain - which kinda defines (at least in my eyes) the pinnacle of looking good on skis.
For example (go to 2:20):
http://youtube.com/v/g0FMrjsYAzc (which wasn't cherry picked, it was just the first big mountain video in my Youtube reccomendations list).

I noticed myself semi-consciously adopting that narrower stance after watching a bunch of big mountain videos over the last couple of months (skiing in a fridge). It feels like it looks good Neh Neh
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@Surface2Air, a) it's not the kind of mountain he's on, it's the actual terrain that's important, and at 2.20 he's in fresh powder, which is why - see above - he has adopted a fairly narrow stance. And b) skiing effectively, according to the conditions underfoot, is a lot more important than looking good.
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@Hurtle (I'm not sure I've done this reply thing correctly... I've just put your name in bold manually but if there's a better way, someone please let me know)

It's quite hard to tell, because the ski's aren't in shot most of the time, but I'm pretty sure Candide is narrow stanced on pretty much all the terrain he covers in the One of Those Days series.

For example in this screenshot (https://imgur.com/a/M6p5a) from #2 you can just about see how he is doing a turn on a race piste, but still has his ultra narrow 'freerider' stance. So although the narrow stance might better suit the deep powder and straightlining of Big Mountain skiing, I don't think anyone would criticise Candide for having the wrong technique or looking too old school. Indeed, he is quite the opposite.
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@Surface2Air,
Quote:

(I'm not sure I've done this reply thing correctly... I've just put your name in bold manually but if there's a better way, someone please let me know)
You just click on it, and it appears in the reply box as if by magic. wink Far be it from me to criticise a skier like Candide but that brings me to the third factor, which is sort of connected to my second point - do what works best for you! But you may well find that a narrow stance is not effective at all times.
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@Hurtle, Oh yeah that is quite easy haha, thanks Smile


And yeah that (your third factor) is it really. When I first started skiing I thought about my leg width way too much because I was being given conflicting advice. Now that I've got a lot better, I find myself doing whatever works best without really thinking about it.
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@Surface2Air,
Quote:

I find myself doing whatever works best without really thinking about it.

Sounds ideal!
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I 'practice & preach' what would feel natural and comfortable if you were walking. For most, this is a hip width stance.

But more importantly and too often ignored, is the alignment of the knee in relation to the ski.

Too many skiers - of all ability levels - let the downhill knee drop inside the 'hip-ankle line' (Edited. Thanks rob@rar)

This, to my thinking, is a bad habit picked up during the incorrect practice of doing and teaching of the snow plough turn.

It's why I teach and continuously repeat 'keep your knees over your skis'.


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Tue 14-11-17 18:36; edited 3 times in total
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@Mike Pow, it may sound daft, but that's where being knock-kneed helps me. I often make a conscious effort not to let my knees drop inwards to save looking like a prat when I'm walking, let alone skiing! So thinking about that is almost second nature. Smile
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Hurtle wrote:
@Mike Pow, it may sound daft, but that's where being knock-kneed helps me. I often make a conscious effort not to let my knees drop inwards to save looking like a prat when I'm walking, let alone skiing! So thinking about that is almost second nature. Smile


Yep Smile
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@Hurtle, Lady F skied for years, with an A Frame, as that is her physiology. During a lesson with Simon McCombe (Val D'Isere), he suggested that the A frame was blocking the next turn and stopped the 2 skis working with symmetry...and suggested alignment.

A trip to Precision Ski resulted in her being properly aligned. The result was immediate. To start with, she was able to ski 2 footed for the first time and got run away with. Once she got used to the feeling, her skiing jumped up a level and became more effortless.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Mike Pow wrote:
I 'practice & preach' what would feel natural and comfortable if you were walking. For most, this is a hip width stance.
This is sound advice, hip width is a good starting point, for walking as it is for skiing.



Mike Pow wrote:
But more importantly and too often ignored, is the alignment of the knee in relation to the ski. Too many skiers - of all ability levels - let the the downhill knee drop inside the line of the ski.
All things in moderation I say. I don't think there is anything wrong with a little bit of movement where the knee comes inside the line of the ski by rotating the femur in the hip socket, as it allows you to get a fraction more edge angle without too much compromise in the strength of a stacked stance. Have a quick Google image search on "Lindsey Vonn skiing" to see that she frequently allows her knee to come inside the hip-ankle line by a small amount.



Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Tue 14-11-17 18:39; edited 1 time in total
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Yeah but Vonn skis like a big boy’s blouse.
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@under a new name, Laughing
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rob@rar wrote:
Mike Pow wrote:
I 'practice & preach' what would feel natural and comfortable if you were walking. For most, this is a hip width stance.
This is sound advice, hip width is a good starting point, for asking as it is for skiing.



Mike Pow wrote:
But more importantly and too often ignored, is the alignment of the knee in relation to the ski. Too many skiers - of all ability levels - let the the downhill knee drop inside the line of the ski.
All things in moderation I say. I don't think there is anything wrong with a little bit of movement where the knee comes inside the line of the ski by rotating the femur in the hip socket, as it allows you to get a fraction more edge angle without too much compromise in the strength of a stacked stance. Have a quick Google image search on "Lindsey Vonn skiing" to see that she frequently allows her knee to come inside the hip-ankle line by a small amount.



Like that 'knee inside the hip-ankle line'

Re: the Vonn pic, that's a very specific movement for a very specific outcome. Performed at high speed by a world-class athlete.

Looking at still images of world-class athletes can be a very dangerous thing for a recreational skier.

That's why we see so many squat skiers on the slopes. They've seen an image of a racer in full flow and equated vertical height on snow - top of the head to the snow surface - with level of expertise. Unfortunately they've totally ignored / been oblivious to the lateral 'height' of the skier.

Once a skier gets into a habit it's very difficult to get them out of it, as I'm sure you're very well aware.

With modern ski shapes and the quality of piste grooming, a recreational skier can get way with letting the downhill knee drop inside the 'hip-ankle line'.

But once they transition to the bumps or unconsolidated snow it's game over.

Until they square up and get aligned.


Last edited by You need to Login to know who's really who. on Tue 14-11-17 18:38; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Pow wrote:
Like that 'knee inside the hip-ankle line'

Re: the Vonn pic, that's a very specific movement for a very specific outcome. Performed at high speed by a world-class athlete.

Looking at still images of world-class athletes can be a very dangerous thing for a recreational skier.

That's why we see so many squat skiers on the slopes. They've seen an image of a racer in full flow and equated vertical height on snow - top of the head to the snow surface - with level of expertise. Unfortunately they've totally ignored / been oblivious to the lateral 'height' of the skier.

Once a skier gets into a habit it's very difficult to get them out of it, as I'm sure you're very well aware.
Sure, I wouldn't teach it, and I agree that a badly taught snowplough can lead to excessive lateral movement of the outside knee which should be avoided. But I wouldn't be too concerned (and wouldn't try to "fix it") if a skier consciously or subconsciously found a little bit of extra edge angle when skiing on piste by doing what Vonn is doing in that photo. As with all these matters, we can allow some freedom around the "ideal" image to account for personal ski skills, providing it helps you ski effectively rather than hindering your progress and fun.
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rob@rar wrote:
Mike Pow wrote:
Like that 'knee inside the hip-ankle line'

Re: the Vonn pic, that's a very specific movement for a very specific outcome. Performed at high speed by a world-class athlete.

Looking at still images of world-class athletes can be a very dangerous thing for a recreational skier.

That's why we see so many squat skiers on the slopes. They've seen an image of a racer in full flow and equated vertical height on snow - top of the head to the snow surface - with level of expertise. Unfortunately they've totally ignored / been oblivious to the lateral 'height' of the skier.

Once a skier gets into a habit it's very difficult to get them out of it, as I'm sure you're very well aware.
Sure, I wouldn't teach it, and I agree that a badly taught snowplough can lead to excessive lateral movement of the outside knee which should be avoided. But I wouldn't be too concerned (and wouldn't try to "fix it") if a skier consciously or subconsciously found a little bit of extra edge angle when skiing on piste by doing what Vonn is doing in that photo. As with all these matters, we can allow some freedom around the "ideal" image to account for personal ski skills, providing it helps you ski effectively rather than hindering your progress and fun.


Agree on not teaching it.

Respectfully disagree on not fixing it.
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@Old Fartbag, I have been aligned too.
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Hurtle wrote:
@Old Fartbag, I have been aligned too.

Cool
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An additional issue with A framing is long term knee joint damage. To fix or not fix is one question, actually fixing it is another.
One thing I’ve changed my mind on a few times is one leg v two.
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@Hurtle, @Old Fartbag, what do you mean by getting aligned (i.e. by a visit to a shop)?
Are we talking boot canting/grinding or ramp angle...or something else?
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jbob wrote:

One thing I’ve changed my mind on a few times is one leg v two.


Sounds interesting... could you elaborate?
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I tend to believe that the most important thing about stance width is not to regard it as a static thing and to flex it according to conditions. I remember being somewhat peeved during a casual drop in coaching session at Hemel some years ago when the Instructor suggested I should look to widen my stance - I pointed out that I was skiing at pretty low speed on a slope with limited space and therefore there was no real need to open it up, my stance on a wider open run being somewhat wider and certainly wider than most Austrain instructors at the time were skiing with. I do think a wide stance doing slow speed pivots looks somewhat silly.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I tend to believe that the most important thing about stance width is not to regard it as a static thing and to flex it according to conditions.
This. The ability to adapt fundamentals like stance width depending on conditions and how you want to ski them is surely the sign of a good skier?
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Quote:

But I wouldn't be too concerned (and wouldn't try to "fix it") if a skier consciously or subconsciously found a little bit of extra edge angle when skiing on piste by doing what Vonn is doing in that photo.


As a non-instructor I see consciously using a bit of knee angulation as an effective tactic at times, as Rob says, to find a bit more edge angle at lower speeds. For example, I sometimes do it on cat tracks when I don't think there's really room to get my hip really low and go for big separation between upper and lower body. Alternative is really to pivot more which is fine but I often prefer to keep my edges gripping. What is the problem exactly?

Of course when I have room to go for it I'll aim to keep my outside leg as straight and powerful as possible.
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rungsp wrote:
@Hurtle, @Old Fartbag, what do you mean by getting aligned (i.e. by a visit to a shop)?
Are we talking boot canting/grinding or ramp angle...or something else?

In Lady F's case, it was simply allowing the skis to be flat on the snow, when in a skiing position and standing on a flat surface...ie. Correcting the A-Frame. This has stopped the "Knees together" skiing style.

The work was carried out in Precision Ski (Val D'Isere), by an Aussie (who called herself "Possum", much to my amusement)....this was a while ago, when they were recognized as a good choice to do the work. It was done "internally", rather than with boot sole grinding...and required a new footbed, with the arch built up.


Last edited by Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name: on Wed 15-11-17 14:25; edited 2 times in total
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Quote:

I tend to believe that the most important thing about stance width is not to regard it as a static thing and to flex it according to conditions.


Agree but can't we go further and say it even varies through a turn?
I mean when I am linking short carves, staying low at transition and crossing under then I think my stance narrows at transition.
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@rungsp, https://www.solutions4feet.com/skier-balance---alignment
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rob@rar wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
I tend to believe that the most important thing about stance width is not to regard it as a static thing and to flex it according to conditions.
This. The ability to adapt fundamentals like stance width depending on conditions and how you want to ski them is surely the sign of a good skier?


+1 to lateral widening and narrowing according to terrain and snow conditions.

Unfortunately too many recreational skiers widen and narrow the stance by letting the downhill ski lag behind the uphill ski.

'Park and ride' skiers even tuck the downhill knee in behind the uphill knee.

As mentioned previously, most can get away with this economically and ergonomically inefficient stance on piste, but once the snow gets cut up or the skier transitions to the bumps or powder it usually results in a whole load of effort to stay upright. And plenty of falling.

At least that's been my experience.
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Mike Pow wrote:


'Park and ride' skiers even tuck the downhill knee in behind the uphill knee.


Hah - saw this from a friend who'd taken a specific private lesson in carving from an ESF guy. I've no reason to suspect he was deliberately misrepresenting but obviously he might have misinterpreted. I tried it and while it was a quick fix to get higher outside edge angle can't say I was overly impressed.
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Mike Pow wrote:
'Park and ride' skiers even tuck the downhill knee in behind the uphill knee.
I was taught that many years ago in a ESF class. Even then, when I knew nothing about skiing, it didn't seem right to me. The kind of adjustment that I'm talking about is very moderate, just a tweaking of a stacked stance to tip the ski a fraction more, to tighten the arc or find a bit of extra grip on hard packed snow. For some people, often women skiers, their knees naturally fall inside the hip-ankle line by a small amount (the Q Angle). Trying to 'fix' their natural biomechanics to conform to a particular idea of a good stance seems counterproductive to me.
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Can you do “alignment” properly “internally”?
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under a new name wrote:
Can you do “alignment” properly “internally”?

I think it's probably a cheaper, less effective solution....but I'm not an expert.

In the case of herself, it made a big difference, but the downside is putting up with the increased arch in the molded footbed (which itself is probably less comfortable than what S4F would do, as laid out in Hurtles's link above).
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under a new name wrote:
Can you do “alignment” properly “internally”?

I do the alignment for my boots internally. I want to modify the biomechanics of my legs slightly, not just adapt the boot to match my default stance.
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rob@rar wrote:
Mike Pow wrote:
'Park and ride' skiers even tuck the downhill knee in behind the uphill knee.
I was taught that many years ago in a ESF class. Even then, when I knew nothing about skiing, it didn't seem right to me. The kind of adjustment that I'm talking about is very moderate, just a tweaking of a stacked stance to tip the ski a fraction more, to tighten the arc or find a bit of extra grip on hard packed snow. For some people, often women skiers, their knees naturally fall inside the hip-ankle line by a small amount (the Q Angle). Trying to 'fix' their natural biomechanics to conform to a particular idea of a good stance seems counterproductive to me.


Intersting article. Thanks.

Understand your viewpoint and you're correct in saying that an individual's natural biomechanics has be the starting point.

Often I find narrowing the stance helps with minimising the 'A-Frame'.
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