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Put all your weight on your downhill ski

 Poster: A snowHead
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How much weight should you have on your downhill/outside/turning ski? (on piste)
I always used to be taught to get all my weight on my downhill ski but things have changed with new skis and techniques. Early weight transfer, turning ski, guiding/pressuring your inside ski etc. But how much weight and in which part of the turn?
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depends on who you ask. Some still say it should all be there, some say it should be 50/50. I try to get it somewhere around 75/25 to 60/40, and try to keep it constant throughout the turn.
It is a good exercise to work on turning entirely on either the outside ski or the inside one, as it helps greatly with balance and edge control
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As Fox says, the essence of good technique is maintaining balance and steering control of both skis, so the old-fashioned maxim of "weight on the lower ski" is pretty irrelevant - even in a traverse. Certainly some bias of weight to the lower ski will result from a good traverse position and balance.

As far as turning is concerned, I personally like applying turning pressure to the outside ski early in the turn, but there's no reason why a pair of skis can't be turned with the steering and carving executed by the inside ski. Skating is fun too - and very useful as an exercise for improving balance - by lifting the inside ski, switching its direction and applying turning pressure to it.

There isn't really any 'right way' or 'wrong way' to ski anymore. Have fun and experiment.
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If you don't put any weight on the uphill (inside) ski, what's going to turn it? Either you lift it and turn it with your leg or you skid it round with your foot. If you want to carve a turn with both skis, you must have some weight on both, surely.
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richmond, yes, but my name's not Shirley...
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slikedges, richmond, Yes you do need some on the inside ski. Not much tho' - just enough to let the edge grip (on piste, hard snow). Two things to think about then, a) feeling pressure on the little toe edge of the inside ski and b) pressing on the outside ski really early - well before the fall line.

Hope that helps. And doing turns on the inside ski (intentionally or not) does help ! Looks good too. Another good drill is to do 3 turns on one ski, and then 3 on the other....
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Is this different in powder? I've been taught to distribute my weight equally in the soft stuff, and it seems to work.

Have I been misled?
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I should have added, one of the advantages of getting close to 50/50 when on piste is that it makes the transition to off piste a lot easier, where you need to be 50/50 to be effective.
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Jonny Jones, you posted just as I typed it!
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It varies, dependent on the conditions, steepness of slope, what sort of turns you are making etc. I would say anywhere between 90/10 to 50/50 with all being 'correct' if used appropriately.

Jonny Jones, you are right. You can get away with weight unevenly distributed in shallow powder but if you do it in the deep stuff you'll be eating snow!
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Wear The Fox Hat, as someone who's been to Big Sky, you should know that you don't need to go off-piste to find powder. You can find decent stashes on the pistes for days after a snowfall there.

That's my kind of resort snowHead
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I'm not sure it's possible to keep the weight 50/50 in a turn if you're carrying any speed at all, the forces involved will tend to put more weight onto the outside ski whether you want to or not.

I think this is one part of the physics of turning on skis that the newer methods, and equipment, embrace. Nature does it for you, so you don't have to try to do it as much.
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marc gledhill, if you analyse the forces, I think you'll find that you can distribute your weight however you want if you lean far enough. Of course, if you're like me, you've lost your nerve and panicked long before you're leaning as much as you should be.
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If you're doing very extreme carved turns with your hip pretty near the snow then you're going to have quite a bit of weight on your inside ski.
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My weight distribution tends to be Face 30%, @r$e 42%, back 26%, then 1% on each ski. Laughing
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beanie1, and Jonny Jones, I'm with you. If there is an element of foot-steering in the turn, then there will be a tendency for the weight to be thrown to the outside. In a purely carved turn, the "reaction" perpendicular to the edged skis will provide the centripetal force to entirely negate this effect. It is really up to the skier how his weight is distributed between the skis to provide this force. I too have noticed a tendency for my outside ski to wobble and/or drift if I exaggerate, getting my hip close to the piste. I generally aim for about 60/40, maybe 70/30 on a steeper slope. Of course, what I actually achieve is anyone's guess!

Kramer, Laughing
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Jonny Jones, beanie1, I'm not saying there's no weight on it, just that the forces will tend to put the majority of the weight onto your outside, the faster you are going the more that weight will be, likewise the more weight will be on the inside.

But unless you contrive to keep the majority of weight on the inside ski the outside will always have more on it in a turn.
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Well I was delighted to hear from someone who should know, that my old on piste technique of varying between 100%-95% on the downhill ski still applies on carvers, especially on ice/steeps.
Yes, if you aren't skiing hard, technically, or in tough snow, 50-50, 90-10, 10-90, they all work. But...

Powder, 60-40 most of the time though.

marc gledhill, I like your analysis and I wonder whether trying to maintain a 50-50 balance in a forceful turn doesn't have major, unforeseen and detrimental results.
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marc gledhill's point makes sense - on the really short special slalom skis some racers tend to weight both skis more equally, but in GS and up - at greater speed, with longer skis - you still have to put extra weight on the downhill ski for the sidecut to work really effectively, while putting weight on the inside ski too for it to help carve and work through the turn.

And all said, the skis work independently, the ratio can vary during the turn - and it depends on the pitch of the run, the sharpness of the turn, as well as the snow (slush is more two-footed, like powder).

I read the excellent US Nastar (Masters racing) forum regularly and can't resist quoting a whole post on this topic (in exchange for the recommendation to check it out!) This post does seem to sum it up pretty comprehensively.

Entire thread here: http://www.nastar.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=53

Quote:

My comments on weighting of inside ski vs. outside ski, and weighting skis generally:

1. According to Ron LeMaster in his on-line slide show presentation Alpine Technique, at the top World Cup level, modern technique involves "more pressure on inside ski" than old school technique, but he notes that while use of (weight on) the inside ski is "definitely increasing" it "varies" from World Cup skier to skier and also "varies with snow and pitch". LeMaster says there are five reasons to put some weight on the inside ski:

Provides support in the first half of the turn, before the outside ski hooks up fully.

It's the safety valve for overestimating grip (my translation: if your outside ski slips instead of bites, you can try to use the edge of the inside ski to stay up instead of sliding out into boot out city/race over)

Facilitates manipulation of outside ski (my translation: you can still adjust your line/increase steering angle for pivot entry turns typical of World Cup courses relatively late)

Assists fore-and-aft pressure control (e.g., better balance means more consistent ability to properly keep weight forward early in the turn to carve, with weight back late to release)"

Avoids "brutalizing softer snow" (over pressuring in softer snow conditions, leading to chatter/skid)

LeMaster notes that equipment- and technique-driven "better holding" of World Cup skiing today leads to more use of the inside ski. (E.g., because a skier can put more weight on the inside ski, retaining better balance, while still arcing and staying on the course, he or she doesn't have to put all the weight on the outside ski.)

LeMaster's whole talk is at:

http://www.ronlemaster.com/presentations/AlpineRacingTechnique-2003.pdf

2. Still, more weight is needed on the outside ski than the inside ski, because bending the shovel of that outside ski creates a tighter, more cleanly arced turn. The most common wieghting mistake I've seen corrected in a racing camp I attended (junior and masters skiers who were much better than me, and all equivalent of a below-10 NASTAR handicap) is not commiting _enough_ to the outside ski. As someone quoted above, IMHO the most detailed description of weighting is from Modern Technique about World Cup racing technique: "The top racers have on average 80:20 ratio of outside to inside ski pressure in Slalom and 70:30 in GS. This ratio is constantly changing throughout the turn. Normally the turn is started above the fall line with 90% of pressure on the outside ski. Upon entering the fall line inside ski is starting to carry more load while it is not only assisting in maintaining lateral balance but is actively contributing to carving. It is normal to see a ratio of 60:40 in the second part of a turn. It could even be 50:50 throughout the most of a turn, but only on the flat less turny sections of a course."

Modern technique is at:

http://www.youcanski.com/english/coaching/modern_technique.htm

Kirsten Clark agrees:

http://www.skimag.com/skimag/turning_points/article/0,12795,326206,00.html

3. Weight on the inside vs. outside ski varies not only by pitch (steeper pitch and sharper turns mean more weight on the outside ski) but also snow conditions. Slush and powder require a more two-footed technique.

4. As important as the weighting of outside vs. inside ski is when and how you pressure the edges in the turn. As Stu Campbell says, comparing Bode Miller's technique to the unwashed masses of recreational skierdom: "Most skiers tend to pressure an edge too late and too long through the turn. Do that and a shaped ski chatters and skids out. Pressure the ski early-before and right at the fall line-and your turn will be a clean one. " U.S. Ski Team slalom coach McNichol echoes this, explaining that a two-footed wide stance "[e]nables a skier to build pressure more efficiently throughout a turn and decrease it more easily through the transition."

Stu Campbell's comments are at:

http://www.skimag.com/skimag/feature/article/0,12795,327540,00.html

McNichol is at:

http://www.skiracing.com/features/news_displayFeatures.php/840/FEATURES/newsArticles/

5. Finally, you have to be forward (pressure on the front boot cuffs) at turn initiation, to bend the shovel of the ski enough to carve a tight turn, and your weight should be distributed evenly enough between the inside foot and outside foot to allow you to stay forward, in balance. In my experience, when I skied one-footed (all the weight on the outside ski, as I even lifted the inside ski in the middle of the turn) that made it very difficult to be far enough forward for ideal carving.

My 2 cents.

SFDean.
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On the physics side of things: When a car goes round a corner, the inside wheels are actually travelling around a shorter radius and therefore they turn in more than the outside wheels. Rudolph Ackerman figured this out and it is due to him that the inside wheel doesn't skid sideways when going round a corner. Now I was looking at the photos on modern technique (from above post) and I saw that in those photos, the inside ski seems to be angled more steeply. This maybe due to the exact same property - the inside ski is travelling round a smaller circle so must turn more sharply so you need a higher angle on it.

With a higher angle on the inside ski, it seems to me that it's harder to put as much weight on it - I would guess you have at least a little more ski in contact with the snow on the lower ski due to the lower angle so you would naturally put more weight on it. But at the same time, with the inside ski going round a shorter circle you need to put more pressure on it to ensure that it bends as necessary to describe the smaller inner circle. So maybe you actually need more weight on the inside ski? Maybe, perhaps? I dunno.
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matthew, that sounds right. Of course, one way to achieve a smaller radius turn with the inside ski than with the outside ski would be to put more weight on the inside ski than on the outside ski, which could be interesting.

I have been very definitely taught to weight both skis and keep them shoulder width or a bit lless apart, in complete contrast to what I was taught in the days before carvers. I'm not racing or slaloming or anything of that sort, just trying to ski pisted runs decently and doing a bit of gentle off piste stuff. I definitley get what I believe to be better results when I do weight both skis; this is particularly noticeable (and difficult to achieve, for me) in moguls.
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matthew wrote:
I saw that in those photos, the inside ski seems to be angled more steeply. This maybe due to the exact same property - the inside ski is travelling round a smaller circle so must turn more sharply so you need a higher angle on it.

I can't say I noticed a difference in the pictures. One maybe, but just as likely (I think) to be an illusion as a real indication. As for the Ackerman effect, I don't think it has a bearing on edge angle, not to a first approximation anyway. Since it is to do with tracking, if one were to take it into account, you would design skis to have a greater side cut on the outside (little toe) edge. Funnily enough, this has been mentioned in passing for slalom skis on another thread.

The degree of edge angle is to do with providing the centripetal force to pull you round the turn. My back of the envelope maths says that, if anything, the edge needs to be greater on the outside ski (the shorter radius of the inside ski being outweighed by the greater velocity required from the outside ski). Of course I made the usual crude assumptions, so it's only theory. I don't think the difference amounts to much anyway.

Mass has no bearing in this respect (usual caveat - first approximation!), i.e. a heavy skier needs the same edge as a light skier to get round the same turn in the same time. Therefore, weight distribution between skis doesn't matter either, from this point of view. I'd say the important thing is to pressurise both skis enough to flatten them (that is, the length of the edges) to the surface, so that they're both turned due to the side-cut and to get a recoil from both.
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The inside ski may well have a greater angle, simply because you have to get your inside leg out of the way to let the outside one get over, otherwise you end up A-framing.
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Wear The Fox Hat, Just got back from an APC1 course, they wanted us (and our performers) to edge each ski the same amount..... Puzzled
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ski, yeah, sounds good.
What I was saying above is that if your inside ski is at less of an angle than the outside, then you end up A framing, and you're caught if you need to get more angle.
One of the things I've been working on recently is using the inside ski as the steering ski, and the outside one as the power ski. So, as I'm going through the turn, the outside ski will stay at a steady angle and curve, while the inside one will be varied to change the turn shape. SSH may be able to explain this one better!
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ski,

Now I'm no expert, but I understand that edging each ski equally is v tricky unless your alignment is spot on. So now matter how hard you try it depends how you're built, how good your footbeds are etc. I've had trainers in the past who've nagged to the point of making me v depressed Sad about edging equally. But when I sat my BASI 3 the trainer said not to worry it's all down to how you are built - and this is particularly the case for women.
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beanie1 wrote:
I understand that edging each ski equally is v tricky unless your alignment is spot on.


And so, one important thing to do is get your alignment sorted! Get an alignment expert to ski with you, and get them to make the necessary changes to your boots and bindings.

beanie1 wrote:
So no matter how hard you try it depends how you're built, how good your footbeds are etc.


I agree, that if you just TRY to correct alignment issues with muscles, etc, you won't be as successful, but that's the reason why you should get your alignment checked.
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Wear The Fox Hat,

I know - I have had my alignment checked and got good footbeds. But I, like many women am a bit bow-legged - there's only so much you can do with footbeds. It's not a major issue though as I'm not a serious racer (although take a look at some of the pros), and wouldn't be noticed by anyone I teach. You'd probably only notice on freeze frame video.
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beanie1, other than footbeds, what adjustments have been made?
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beanie1, though not a woman, I have a similar problem. The thing is, my usual stance is quite neutral, but I'm a bit bow-legged when legs are fully extended, i.e. in the fall line on a carved turn. Apparently it's to do with over-developed quads and glutes from cycling. So any boot/binding corrections would have to be adaptive - now that would be hi-tech! The other solution I've been offered is to be more religious about stretching the said muscles: from one week's experience it might be working!
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beanie1, Speaking as another who has had trainers who don't quite grasp the difference in female physiology in the past, this is quite a nice illustration of the "A frame - so what?" aspect of female skiing.
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Back to the question: I find that all your weight and pressure on the outside ski works all the time (except in bottomless powder, which we hardly ever have in Europe). Varying amount of weight on the inner ski works some of the time depending on the steepness of the slope etc. as already discussed. However it would be a really bad idea to try to ski 50/50 on a steep, icy, black piste - you'd just fall over up the hill and slide all the way to the bottom of the slope.

John Clark on Eurosport (and who are we to disagree with World Cup skier, Trainer and now comentator - to say nothing of BASI Trainer) suggests that in GS, SG and DH the inside ski is for "extra", so that if you lose the pressure on the outside ski you have another one to use - sounds about right to me.

Having said that, learning to ski well should definitely include being able to turn on either or both skis at will.

Re: A frame - here in Europe we've been punished for years for having one - definite fail on Grade 2 and Grade 1 if not Grade 3 (too long ago). To eliminate the A frame you need to relax your inside leg to allow your inside tibia to remain parallel with the outside one. The French are very keen on this.
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easiski,

I don't think Okanagan is justifying women having an A frame - just pointing out that women's physiology could appear to the untrained eye to be an 'A frame'. When I did my BASI 3 another girl in our group had been criticised by an earlier instructor for having an 'A frame'. The trainer swiftly set her straight and said it's just the way she is built - if she did ski with an A frame she wouldn't be leaving 2 clean tracks in the snow when she carves.

I find that thinking about my inside knee, almost leading with it, as I initiate the turn helps me keep both legs working equally throughout. Does tend to lead to a fairly even weight distribution - but that's how I like to ski when carving.
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beanie1, I didn't mean the point to be about women particularly - apparently it's not true that more women than men are knock kneed. BASI may have let her off with it in Grade 3 - it'll be interesting to know whether they do in Grade 2. I agree absolutely about the inside knee (same idea as me, so I would, wouldn't I?) however it is possible to do it without putting additional weight on it.
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easiski,

I agree with you - the A frame / weight on downhill ski are two totally different issues. I think you missed my point about the other girl though - she wasnt skiing with an A frame, or you're right she wouldn't have passed. She had just been led to believe she was as the way she was built made it appear so to a less experienced instructor.
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Wear The Fox Hat, laundryman, PG,

I just wanted to know which foot to stand on..... wink

Real thought-provoking replies on this topic. Personally, on piste, I feel my weight is 90/10 on the outside ski before the fall-line, then with progressively more through the fall line, but never less than 75/25 on the outside. Judging by what's been said here, I need a more even distribution through the turn.

It seems to me that if the inside ski describes a significantly smaller arc (say in a shorter turn), if it is to carve it must either be weighted more or be edged more (to put it in reverse camber) or as laundryman said have a deeper lateral (little toe edge) sidecut. The alternative would be that it is skidded more, which I suspect is true of me a lot of the time. Of course if doing an accelerating turn, using the inside to steer and pushing on the outside, I think I'm right in saying, like skating, it's the outside ski that would then have the tendency to skid. Certainly feels like that though I've never actually read that about it. On an extreme carve, as beanie1 says, I have found that on occasion I have inattentively ended up on my inside ski, with my outside ski inadvertently off the snow momentarily, without loss of balance, so I'd say there certainly is a tendency for the weight to go onto the inside from the extremely low hip position.
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On the Metron:b5s, I need about 90% on my outside ski. On the RX8s, it's more like 70%. This is for relatively high-speed turns. The b5s love to be pressured. The RX8s can respond better with a more balanced (laterally) stance than the b5s can.

So, it's not only technique, it's also equipment. In fact, Ron LeMaster recommends that technique is the last area to check, after equipment, tactics, and some other things that I can't remember off the top of my head...
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PG, top quote and top forum
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beanie1, Good point...but that's no reason not to try, surely ? Puzzled
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ski wrote:
Wear The Fox Hat, Just got back from an APC1 course, they wanted us (and our performers) to edge each ski the same amount..... Puzzled

So according to these shots
http://www.skimag.com/skimag/competition/article/0,12795,596405,00.html
http://www2.raisport.rai.it/news/sport/sci/200202/13/3c6a9d6205b31/BodeMillerAp.jpg
http://www.briko.com/jspbriko/newsdetail.jsp?news_id=20
Bode Miller would have been skiing incorrectly? IMHO, some coaches are over-zealous in their application of the "parallel shins" mantra, just as some ski instructors are too inflexible in their application of "50/50 weight distribution on modern skis".
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