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This Deb Armstrong Video Transformed my Skiing!

Trailside Trixie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Dare I say this is why I'm not a fan of watching ski instruction via YouTube video. NOT knocking Deb Armstrong at all so it's not about that. There's just too much opportunity for confusion with watching videos. I'm a feeler and a doer, I get more out of instruction by experiencing it.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Several people have mentioned being uncertain what hips "open" means.
"Open" hips means the pelvis is facing the outside of the turn.
When I talk about it, I am speaking from someone whose background is kinesiology. So, an open joint is one that is not flexed. In this case, the hips are not flexed, the turn is not initiated from a flexed hip position, but from an unflexed position. Of course, the hips are always a bit flexed during a turn. Tom Gellie did a video of this while instructing someone about a year ago. Let me see if I can find it.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I can't find the Gellie video, but this video by Deb explains the defensive posture that comes with what I refer to as closed hips at around 40 seconds and how "opening" the hips (extending, standing up, whatever term works for you) can take you out of this defensive posture. I am doing great with this on sunny days, but still struggle mightily in flat light, which isn't helped by the fact that Snowbasin has few treed runs so low vis days are worse than what you might find elsewhere. I skied Targhee two weeks ago and did much better due to the trees.

 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Here's another really simple explanation of it. I'm not sure how much my being hypermobile ankles impacts this in me personally.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Dare I say this is why I'm not a fan of watching ski instruction via YouTube video. NOT knocking Deb Armstrong at all so it's not about that. There's just too much opportunity for confusion with watching videos. I'm a feeler and a doer, I get more out of instruction by experiencing it.
It breeds discussion and experimentation, which is what I like. I can watch a video myself and play around with it, I can discuss points of it here with others who watch, and I also regularly discuss with one of my instructors who also watches Deb and we play with and discuss points from her videos in lessons together.
 

Trailside Trixie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It breeds discussion and experimentation, which is what I like. I can watch a video myself and play around with it, I can discuss points of it here with others who watch, and I also regularly discuss with one of my instructors who also watches Deb and we play with and discuss points from her videos in lessons together.

I definitely don't have an issue with the breeding discussion component. Online it's just something that i don't find particularly useful because unless I'm feeling and doing it doesn't help me much. Everyone is different so I'm sure it works for some. I know a couple people who don't take lessons ever and just YouTube train themselves and that's what i particularly find problematic. I like the latter part of your comment where it works into discussion with a ski instructor for some in person application and discussion.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I should've added that when the hips question was brought up to Deb, she said she rarely tries to teach it now b/c of the complexity involved. She said she's found that it often can result in confusion -- as we are witnessing in this thread :smile: . Check this older video at around minute 2:40.
. This is exactly my tendency - I have too much forward bend at the waist and am sacrificing the usefulness of of the front and tips of my skis. As Deb put it, "that forward bend does nothing for you" in terms of fully engaging the front of the ski.
 

contesstant

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I should've added that when the hips question was brought up to Deb, she said she rarely tries to teach it now b/c of the complexity involved. She said she's found that it often can result in confusion -- as we are witnessing in this thread :smile: . Check this older video at around minute 2:40.
. This is exactly my tendency - I have too much forward bend at the waist and am sacrificing the usefulness of of the front and tips of my skis. As Deb put it, "that forward bend does nothing for you" in terms of fully engaging the front of the ski.
Yes, that is the sensation I get when I "unbend" (extend, open, whatever) the hips--the tips of the skis really engage! It is a VERY odd sensation and unsettling if I exaggerate it, so I play with it as much as I can and am now trying to find the happy medium. As I go down this rabbit hole, I am becoming aware that I still have some lateral alignment issues but am not sure if they are in my boots (my skis are flat when going straight) or my body. My hips are quite crooked as is evidenced on my bike saddle and my horse saddle and the wear marks being different beneath each seat bone. So, now I need to figure out how to address this. Meet with the boot fitter again? This sport is so challenging!
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Yes, that is the sensation I get when I "unbend" (extend, open, whatever) the hips--the tips of the skis really engage! It is a VERY odd sensation and unsettling if I exaggerate it, so I play with it as much as I can and am now trying to find the happy medium. As I go down this rabbit hole, I am becoming aware that I still have some lateral alignment issues but am not sure if they are in my boots (my skis are flat when going straight) or my body. My hips are quite crooked as is evidenced on my bike saddle and my horse saddle and the wear marks being different beneath each seat bone. So, now I need to figure out how to address this. Meet with the boot fitter again? This sport is so challenging!
How do you determine when it is just us and technique based issues to be worked through.. balance, how we align over the skis, needing more work on certain elements and getting comfortable with them etc... versus equipment or something "fixable" with alignment that should be adjusted? I struggle with this at times.. some days I can feel so "on" some days so "off" or some days I'm playing with all different types of different feelings over my skis throughout a turn and on different skis that provide different feedback where some is good and some is bad or some is just more difficult and I need to work through for a couple of days and get comfortable with etc.

Do you get feedback that something is amiss with your setup versus your technique, or are you able to just feel that yourself? I think I usually err on the side of it being me and things I need to work through, and I sort of hate tinkering too much with equipment because it just turns into a seemingly never ending can of worms from previous iterations where I have obsessed over the equipment piece. So, curious how others think of this as well. I guess I also feel since I do so many clinics with high level instructors, that if something equipment wise is blatantly off I will hear about it. That is how last season it was relayed to me that I might want to check into cantology shims for my boots.. Which I already knew and had ignored, and has improved certain things for me this season after working through them.

This season I have been having so much fun exploring every lower joint and the hip topic in my ski lessons. So much to play with, so much to work out.. literally working on removing certain things that are soooooo ingrained in my skiing, which is at times frustrating and at other times so rewarding. What feels good also? Feeling success on certain terrain with working some of these things out and having patience with advancing that as I go each week to steeper and scarier terrain where those ingrained movements are hardest to control because they were formed from defensive skiing as a scared beginner adult. Mostly it's been really cool to start being able to feel so much and separate the feelings out and then be able to pinpoint and pick through different cues to find what makes a difference of not in those real time situations where I find myself able to try something different. All of which is to say.. there are so many go rounds on working things out from years ago that I have only just now been able to comprehend and feel. I'm sure there are infinite layers more to go that I cannot even imagine yet. I used to feel like skiing was such a linear progression.. but the more I do it the more I realize that there are so very many layers of the onion that I will probably never even get to unpeel never mind really fully grasp. It makes me feel that there is ever expanding possibilities on things to work on with technique and going back to improving all the time.. it's hard to know where a variable like equipment comes in at that point when there is so very much more to explore with technique as our capacity there expands.

How do we know when we are actually just trying to make up for a technique deficiency? I honestly have no idea, but would love to hear others' thoughts on it, especially instructors here and how they do or do not consider equipment issues with their higher level students that they might have skied with over a good deal of time. Can you pick these things out?
 
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liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@liquidfeet cab you explain facing the outside of the turn in this context? Is it the same as staying squared with the skis or is the pelvis continuously pointing downhill or in transition to do so?
The way "open hips" has been used in ski instruction (as I've encountered it) refers to having your belly button point towards the outside ski's tip (essentially the outside of the turn). That would be having the belly button point towards the left ski tip in a right turn. This is definitely not skiing "square" - in which case your belly button is facing the way both skis are pointed.

To complicate matters, when someone uses the term "open hips" they need to be precise about when in the turn they want to see the hips open. During transition before the turn starts? At the top of the turn? In the middle? At the bottom of the turn? It matters. Also, different turns require different things. Are we talking about short radius turns, or long ones? Bump skiing?


And ski instructors disagree with each other about this.

It also matters whether the skier being told to have open hips is supposed to actively rotate the pelvis into this position at some point, or allow the legs to rotate while the pelvis does not rotate which ends up with the same result, belly button pointing towards the outside of the turn. Instructors, when they want to see this (sometimes called "counter"), often disagree about active or passively getting there.

There are many parts of this hips business. So many joints are involved - the femur heads which are ball-and-socket joints, and the spine where it joins the pelvis. Movement in all planes of all the parts is possible, so too many words are needed to avoid confusion.

Yoga uses the term "open hips" the way I have come to know it. Here's a quote:
Although many poses in yoga stretch the hips, for our purposes, “hip opening” refers to lateral rotation (or “external rotation”) in the hip joint, which means your hips are opened away from the center of the body.... https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/anatomy-yoga-practice/too-much-hip-opening-yoga/#
 
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BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
How do you determine when it is just us and technique based issues to be worked through.. balance, how we align over the skis, needing more work on certain elements and getting comfortable with them etc... versus equipment or something "fixable" with alignment that should be adjusted?
I certainly have struggled w/it in the past, @MissySki. Luckily, I started working with a very good boot fitter a few years ago and I've developed an understanding of how I want my boots to feel. I have new boots this season and after 30+ days I started feeling a bit of play that I didn't like. It was markedly apparent last week in more demanding conditions than I'm used to.

A bootfitter in Steamboat put a shim in my right boot and it fixed the issue right away. In fact, he fixed it so well that I became aware of the same, lesser issue in my left boot. I got "shimmed" in that one too and the boots now are perfect. He said it is something to expect w/new boots after X number of days as the liners pack out a bit.

I've also demo'd a lot of skis and I more or less know what I want in a ski. As I've aged (creeping up on 65) I've gone to shorter lengths. I don't want to go fast, and I want something nimble. I'm sure my reaction time is not what it once was (gawd I hate to admit that!), and I find a shorter ski helps.

I'd love to get an alignment analysis, though. I've been told by instructors that I have good centering and athletic stance/balance, but I'm still interested in the intersection b/w my physical conformation and equipment fit and type.

I also need to drop this "post-COVID-return-to-long-commutes" weight. I was in great shape during lockdown and now I spend that extra workout time sitting on my keester in the car or on the Metro. Ugh. Once I get back to an acceptable weight I'll look into alignment analysis.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@MissySki Gear, versus technique, versus individual physiology?

I have no easy answer. Skis and poles are the easiest to ask about and assess. Boots are tough as we can't always see the inside of the boot, but questions and looking at boot type and flex can give clues.

This is especially true when the skis are doing odd things and the movement patterns look pretty consistently appropriate.

Injuries, or mobility limitations are a huge factor too.

Sometime a technique change is all that is needed but if the gear is not quite right it can make it hard to achieve.

I am careful with gear suggestions as personal preference and budget are very real considerations. I absolutely do make them when I can clearly spot an issue.

Just happened with an advanced student who came back to skiing in her 70s and was struggling with her brand new oversized super soft flexing boots that literally damaged her shins.

It is always a bit of a detective process to try to see what a limiting issue can be for any of us, myself included.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
....More from that yoga site I linked above. Here's an exercise to work on your pelvis' range of motion re: opening the hip. Note that the belly button (aka pelvis) faces a different direction than the foot supporting it. Pelvis faces out to the side. It is "rotated laterally." This is "hip opening" as I've heard it used in skiing.
HIp-Openers-Yoga-Stretch-Getty-Images.jpg
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It is always a bit of a detective process to try to see what a limiting issue can be for any of us, myself included.
Amen, sister.

When dealing with issues in my own skiing, I've always wished it was the gear because that's less emotionally taxing to deal with.

But I always fear thinking it's the gear is a defensive choice. Such an attitude, if inaccurate, will keep me from finding the issue in my skiing which is the real cause of whatever weakness I'm worrying about. Time for detective work - yep!

One just doesn't know. Trial and error has been my default go-to, as no more experienced skier or technician has ever been able to reliably tell me which one, gear or me, is at fault.
 

BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'd love to be able to blame my issues on the gear, but short of carrying a backpack loaded w/lead weights I don't think there's any equipment out there that would cause me to bend too much at the waist! Regrettably, none of my other issues are gear-induced either. Le sigh . . .
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
Amen, sister.

When dealing with issues in my own skiing, I've always wished it was the gear because that's less emotionally taxing to deal with.

But I always fear thinking it's the gear is a defensive choice. Such an attitude, if inaccurate, will keep me from finding the issue in my skiing which is the real cause of whatever weakness I'm worrying about. Time for detective work - yep!

One just doesn't know. Trial and error has been my default go-to, as no more experienced skier or technician has ever been able to reliably tell me which one, gear or me, is at fault.
Interesting, as I would personally at this point prefer to work on technique far more than deal with gear issues, for myself in general. I think I wore myself out on boot stuff years ago, as it was the most miserable experience ever to be in a constant trial and error state with them. Don't get me wrong, finding a great boot fitter made all the difference in my comfort and having alignment that wasn't completely out of whack. Am I in the number one perfect boot I could be in right now? I have no idea. Is there a perfect boot for me? I truly do not think so, but I do think I'm in one that comes really close to fitting as good as anything on the market will work for my wonky feet at this time. Just based on the past and where things are for me now. So I've taken a it's mostly "good enough" there approach outside of some small tweaks here and there recently to play with canting and deal with some heel issues I have from packed out liners with plans for an aftermarket liner as soon as I can get back to my bootfitter. Beyond that, the real changes in my skiing over the last few years that I've seen have come from mileage and lessons and working on stuff in crappy conditions that challenge me.. imo.

If I had to pick, I would much prefer to work on technique when issues arise than to start any cycle of gear trial and error again. I think I have ptsd from that phase of skiing I was in for years.. it was truly miserable and I started not liking skiing as much because of it.

If someone is far off, I get working on gear stuff. I was there and some of it had to be changed for the actual safety of my knees and damage I was doing to my feet. But at some point I think we get close enough and can then overcome the remaining little bits with technique as well.. or at least that's my preferred way of dealing with things nowadays.
 
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BlizzardBabe

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm with you, @MissySki. I LOVE working on technique and I'll take all the lessons I can reasonably afford. I love gear stuff too, but I'm one of the lucky ones - no difficult boot fit issues, just the occasional tweak. Gear is fun for me, not the draining experience it was for you. I'm glad you've settled on an acceptable solution. Nothing about skiing should ever be "miserable."
 

VickiK

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Going back to the Pilates neutral spine & imprinted spine concepts, it seems like the latter is the same as the 'push the bush' concept, i.e. a slight posterior pelvic tilt.

Edit: lots of great content in this thread, it'll take a while to get through & process it.
 

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