To extend or not to extend… that is the question:

To extend or not to extend… that is the question:

By Chino Martinez Ski Pro at Aspen Mt Ski School

To extend or not to extend… that is the question:

Up and down, down under, cross over,

retraction turn, bend you knees… etc etc etc.
what happened with this “old skool words”?

How come we could ski like this for years and years, but now we don’t do it anymore…
I know most of you are going to answer like a ski instructor or a coach:
-“the equipment has changed”!
-I understand that but the mountains and the snow DON’T. They didn’t change.

-So how come we don’t talk any more about extension, and flexion?
Has it become too complicated and confusing to teach our clients, student, and racers?

Ski Pro Chino Martinez. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Ski Pro Chino Martinez. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

This is simple physics: the mountains (as we skiing down) is falling down, dough!
So if you want to stay in touch with the snow you have to extend and flex? Otherwise you……..?- jump, yes!.
Ski-snow contact is coming from your extension and flexion: period.
As you start a new turn your legs are getting longer and as you finished the turn your legs are getting shorter!, How can we call this anything but flexion and extension?

Long legs at the turn initiation (pic. A) – To extend or not to extend… that is the question:

Slalom racer Frida Hansdotter at the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Slalom racer Frida Hansdotter at the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

 

Short legs at the end of the turn (pic. B) – To extend or not to extend… that is the question:

Short legs. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Short legs. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

-Yes, I know the extension is not more UP (see pic A), ok, but is somewhere… If he didn´t do something, he couldn´t keep his skis on their edges and in the snow!

Flexion begins as the terrain forces on the skis come back towards your body.
If you did not absorb with flexion you´d start flying in the air! (see pic B).
-Are we on the same page yet?…

So then we have what I call “Different planet”, not Disciplines:
Let me explain this:
– In new skoolers we call it: Racing, and into the racing we have SL; GS, SG and DH;
-then Free riders, then Big Mountain skiers, Slope stylers, and not many but good:
Bumps skiers.  Also what ski instructors call them: “Technical skiers”: those are not more than phenomenal groomers skiers with lots of technical knowledge and incredible athleticism, ex racers.
This category discover that the only way to make money in this industry and afford to leave in Aspen is teach skiing at a high level clientele, for the Aspen Ski School.

Anyways each of these categories are different planet: why?
-Because of speed management, different ideas of taking air, different interpretation of how to get from point A to point B.
These different interpretations lead to different techniques like a SL racer has totally different goals when it comes to turn initiation than bump skiers.

SL RACER – To extend or not to extend… that is the question:

Check this slalom racer turning. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Check this slalom racer turning. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

BUMP SKIER – To extend or not to extend… that is the question:

Photo: Olympic Winter Institute Australia. Bump skier. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Photo: Olympic Winter Institute Australia. Bump skier. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

So let´s go back to the beginning on how we could teach our clients/skiers how to do this?
Let´s divided into concepts:

Ski snow contact: if your intention is to control you speed and or ski with grace and good balance I recommended to keep your skis on the snow, “most of the time” then flexion and extension play a big roll, YES! You must extend and, YES! You must flex, how much, how smooth it varies as the terrain develops in any different snow conditions.

Extension down the mountain: if you think that you have skis under (attached) your boots, so your skis are a platform where you flex and extend from, right? So when your skis are in an angle you have this angle to extend from, for example at the beginning of the turn skis mostly are facing down the mountain, so if you extend there only would be one direction.

Because (at the end of the turn) the uphill or swing leg is flexed in relation to the support or stance leg, we have an opportunity to extend away from the inertia of center of gravity–which is being pulled down the hill and down towards the center of the earth. It is important to understand that this is a lateral extension that moves our hips and core towards the center of the next turn, without up motion.

Matching angles skis vs legs – To extend or not to extend… that is the question:              

Mikaela Schiffrin skiing down the mountain. Check her matching skis and legs angles. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Mikaela Schiffrin skiing down the mountain. Check her matching skis and legs angles. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

Extension down the mountain – To extend or not to extend… that is the question:

Extension down the mountain. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Extension down the mountain. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

 

Early on the outside ski: this won´t be an easy one… here we go:
On an article in the New York Times, they describe as: “No skier in the world carves turns the way Ted Ligety does. The American has practically invented a new way of skiing”.
And this is coming from an early engage of the uphill ski, or the outside ski in the turn.(this concept by itself can take hours and hours of ski instructors/coaches discussions)
Now if you do that, you better be ready for the next turn baby! You probably would come out if this turn SO fast, that if you didn´t work out as much as Ted, good luck!

-So is it possible to do this in slow motion, or at a slower speed?
-YES, let´s check what John Clendenin (2-times world champ and phenomenal bumps skier still today!) is saying about starting the turn with you weight on the uphill ski:- Released first the downhill ski to start the turn put you on the uphill, so he wants you to be on your little toe side on you uphill ski, NOT on your big toe! Wow this is very technical but yes try this…. And you probably will have the same result as Ted on the GS courses but at a slower speed, who wants to ski faster than Ligety? May be Bode Miller does.

Ligety starting tipping way early in the turn                

Ted Ligety skiing down the gates. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Ted Ligety skiing down the gates. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

 

John Clendenin Method on moguls

 

Clendenin method. www.clendeninmethod.com - To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
 John Clendenin, Clendenin method on moguls. www.clendeninmethod.com – To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

 

So last but not least, should we talk about the “TRANSITION”?
Well this should be a full chapter, may be a new book?

This is not an easy one, do you notice that not many ski gurus talk about transition, or how to do it?
Well is not easy, how to release, when, how much, how fast, intensity, which ski first, simultaneously, both? who knows?.

Reilly McGlashan at the transition of the turn

Reilly McGlashan at the transition of the turn. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Reilly McGlashan at the transition of the turn. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

 

Johnathan Ballou smooth transition-PSIA-Demonstrator and Examiner

Jonathan Ballou - Photo credit Frank Shine. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.
Jonathan Ballou – Photo credit Frank Shine. To extend or not to extend… that is the question.

The question is how this skier is going to go from these amazing angles thru the transition, to the entry of the new turn?

That is the question…

 

To be continued…

 

Aspen, April 2019
Chino Martinez
Ski pro

To book with Chino Martinez your next ski lesson or trip, contact him at www.whitetrips.com

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Il Cuore della Valdigne. Stay at the Heart of the Valdigne to ski in Courmayeur, La Thuile and Pila/Aosta.
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Something more to read in this blog

You can start thinking about your trip, by reading the articles on the Planning your Ski Trip tab.  Or how to pack for your family ski trip.  If taking your furry friend abroad to the continent, read about the new Pet Travel Scheme update from DEFRA. Self-drive skiers also need to plan for Brexit. Check out our tips for driving to the mountains.  If flying and renting a car in Europe, beware of the extra charges they will pass to you if you want winter tyres, snow chains or ski racks. If driving, check the winter tyres news for Europe and North America.

You can see how our last family ski holiday was not as expected, even though one plans it to be a success, but how we could do the most of it. If you want to get better before getting to your next ski holiday, here is a quick guide to indoor skiing and dry slopes in the UK. You can also read our week in the mountains during our summer holidays in Courmayeur.

Check also how we can envision ski resorts opening on the 2020-21 ski season. 

You might want to read our lasts must-read guides: to Vail , Chamonix and Summer in South-Tyrol. 

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