SKIER BALANCE: EDGE ANGLE


In his book, Ultimate Skiing, Ron LeMaster says  that once the forces of skiing are understood, everything else makes sense. I would qualify this statement and say that until the forces of skiing are understood, nothing makes sense and any assumptions are nothing less than wild guesses.

In his book, Le Master says 2 things that I believe  are fundamental to skiing:

1. Most of the expert skiers’ weight is balanced over the outside ski and,

2. The edge angle of the ski with the applied force must be 90 degrees or smaller.

In point 2, it is my position that the angle must be less than 90 degrees. Although he doesn’t appear to say so, I am assuming that LeMaster is referring to the edge angle of the outside ski of a turn.

On page 20 of his book, FIGURE 2.3, a and b show two different alignments of opposing forces, R and S. In Figure a the angle of the transverse aspect of the base of the ski with the snow reaction force S is 90 degrees. In Figure b the angle of the transverse aspect of the base of the ski with the snow reaction force S is greater than 90 degrees.  LeMaster doesn’t provide details on what force R represents. As explained my my last post, in order to assess balance in skiing as it pertains to a dynamically balance base of support one needs to know the relationship of Centre of Mass (CoM) and Centre of Pressure (CoP) with the Snow Reaction Force. One also needs to know where the ball of the foot and centre axis of the foot are positioned in relation to the inside edge of the outside ski.

While all of the above are relevant, the key issue, which neither LeMaster’s book or any other literature I have read on ski technique doesn’t touch on, is the nature of the forces associated with a dynamically balanced base of support that would act to cause the transverse aspect of the ski base to assume  an angle with the applied force that is less than 90 degrees. Here LeMaster provides all kinds of clues that he is standing on the answer, but not seeing it. For example, on page 44 (Janica Kostelic) he describes how one of Kostelic’s strengths was her ability to maintain contact with the snow through the transition (from one turn to another) with perfect flexion moves so she could get pressure on the edge early in the turn. He goes on to say that Kostelic also knew when and how to use her inside ski to advantage. LeMaster is so close, yet so far.

As I will explain in future posts, Kostelic and all the other great skiers including Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety, more than simply getting pressure on the new outside ski early in the turn, apply forces to the new outside ski (current inside ski) that sets up and over-centre mechanism that allows them to use external forces acting on them to drive 3-dimensional forces into the new turn. They set this mechanism up in the transition from the current outside ski to the new outside ski, before they apply steering forces to the ski .


References: Ultimate Skiing – Ron LeMaster

2 comments

  1. David, so enjoying reading your blog, this brings back so many fond memories of the hundreds of hours we spent fitting boots and talking in your basement, im convinced that i would never have been successful, making 3 interski teams without your help. thanks so much…Cam watson

    1. Thanks Cam. I have wanted to contribute to the great sport called skiing for many years. Now that I am retired (LOL) I have the time to devote to this cause. And today’s technology makes it possible to explain things on a whole new level with animations and graphics. Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated. I am going to add an index of my posts to the HOME drop down menu so it is easier to locate specific subject material.

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