FEATURE POST: BALANCE IN SKIING – ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACKWARD


I am in the process of writing the next post in the series of posts on THE MECHANICS OF BALANCE ON THE OUTSIDE SKI. The topic of the next post is IMPULSE FOREFOOT LOADING.

The challenge in writing on this critical aspect of skiing is that the positions on skier balance of the various authorities in skiing, that influence and shape the ski industry mental model, is that they appear to be based on trial by error, subjective-based conclusions and/or uninformed opinions that fail to comply with the text book gait lab postural descriptions and definitions of balance.

A Definition of Skier Balance Consistent with Gait Lab Postural Definitions of Balance.

Skier balance characterized by a source of reaction force under the entire portion of the ski or skis under the plantar foot or feet of a skier with greater potential than any opposing force applied by the skier and with no substantial forces, other than minor transient loads, applied by the  top of the shaft of the boot to any aspect of the leg of the skier during the load phase of a turn.

The opening paragraphs from BALANCE IN SKIING: ONE STEP FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACKWARD appear below.


What is balance in skiing?

It depends on who you ask. The only limitations seem to be the imagination of the various authorities in skiing.

Typical explanations of balance don’t differentiate between balance associated with staying upright by any and every means and the sophisticated, subconsciously mediated, processes of balance responsible for the maintenance of upright postures and locomotion.

The latter involves the management of forces in the feet or foot between the soles of the feet or foot and ground. The coordination and orchestration of these forces by the CNS, maintains the position of center of mass (COM) within the physiological limits of the base of the support in a state of dynamic equilibrium. In laboratory environments, where balance has been studied so throughly it can be analyzed and quantified, balance is expressed by the relationship of the center of pressure or COP (the point center of ground reaction force) with COM. The location and excursion of COP is indicative of the position of COM as expressed by the gravity line, G, or resultant force, R. No physical forces associated with balance activity are present in the sagittal (side-to-side) or coronal (front-to-back) planes. The balance process is mediated entirely by the central nervous system (CNS) at a subconscious level. Given the extreme sophistication of the hard-wired  mechanisms of balance we were born with, there is no valid reason why balance in skiing should be any different.

Without knowing where the forces in the feet should be and how and where they should move, we have no idea how to balance perfectly on our outside ski as those such as Marc Giardelli and other world class racers and elite skiers have alluded to for decades; let alone have any idea of what balancing on the outside ski should feel like.