Ski-Tip Lead



Hope your filming is going ok.

I was wondering if you could 'deconfuse' me about something: the amount of lead and/or counter as a function of steepness of the slope and/or turn shape, speed.

We are preparing for the level I and are discussing things in group with our trainers.  This may seem advanced for level I but I am also preparing for level II.

Thanks much in advance


Hi Nat,

Just back from a week of filming, and then off again tomorrow, but wanted to get a quick reply out to you.  Hope it's in time for you to use in your training.

Counter has 3 primary functions.  First in importance is it's role in angulation.  Angulation is the tool we use to manage lateral balance.  The more we angulate, the more we move our balance point toward the outside ski.  Countering away from the turn allows us to use forward flexion at the waist to create our angulation.  We have much more range of motion forward at the waist/hips than we do laterally, thus more ability to move our balance point further outside.  This comes in handy when utilizing big edge angles, because generally the bigger the edge angle the more angulation is needed to maintain balance on the outside ski.  Think about it;  at lower edge angles we can get away with pure inclination,,, but can we at big edge angles?  No way.

The second usage of counter is to pronate the outside foot.  Pronation is a component of of gait mechanics, and counter along with fore balance is what makes it happen.  In skiing, a pronated outside foot is very beneficial, as it directs pressure to the inside edge of the ski and helps to keep it positively engaged through the turn.

The final use of counter is end of the turn anticipation.  Anticipation is where the body faces downhill right before release of the edges and the resulting finish of the turn.  When the body is in a state of anticipation, the skis tend to auto pivot down the falline to come into directional harmony with the body upon edge release.  When a pivot is desired, anticipation via counter is a useful tool.

Tip lead should be viewed as a byproduct of counter.  Create your counter to the degree needed in the hips, and tip lead will naturally occur in the amount required to allow you to assume that countered position.  Conversely, creating counter by leading with the inside foot results in too much tip lead for the amount of counter being used and often leaves the skier scissored, inside and aft.  You will hear the advice to "pull the inside foot back", but I see this as treating a symptom of the problem.  Create counter properly, and pulling the inside foot back is generally not needed.

Important point about creating counter:  Do it by driving the inside hip forward, not by dropping the outside hip back.  Imagine you're standing on the face of a clock, with your ski tips pointing a 12 o'clock.  If you're entering a right turn, drive your inside (right) hip toward 2 o'clock, and if your executing a left turn drive your inside (left) hip toward 10.  Don't drop the outside hip toward 8 and 4.  Doing so will put a skier back and inside, and make initiation of the turn much less powerful and dynamic.

Finally, as to how counter relates to speed, turn shape and pitch.  As I said before, counter is a component of angulation.  The more you need to angulate, the more you need to counter.  The higher your speed, the greater the forces produced by a particular turn shape, so the less you will need to angulate.

Turn shape gets a little trickier.  It depends on the sidecut of the ski.  A smaller radius ski (bigger sidecut) will be able to carve the same turn at a smaller edge angle than a larger radius ski.  Remember what I said before; at any particular speed, as edge angles grow so to does the call for angulation and counter.  So the for any particular turn shape, the larger the radius of your ski, the more counter/angulation will be required.

As far as the influence of pitch, there are a couple things to think about.  First, more pitch means more speed for any particular turn shape, and that influences counter and angulation as I've explained above.  The other thing you need to consider is how the influence of gravity changes as a skier goes around a turn.  At the beginning of the turn the skier is tipped downhill, away from his/her outside ski.  Gravity too is pushing the Center of Mass downhill, away from the outside ski.  To balance on the outside ski on a static edge angle strong angulation is required.  You will see inclination often used at the beginning of the turn, but keep in mind that at that point in the turn edge angle is low and rapidly being increased.  That edge development actually requires a temporary state of lateral imbalance to allow the CM to tip into the turn, so inclination works.  Later in the turn, when final edge angle has been established, and the creation of a state of dynamic balance is desired, you will see angulation spring to life.

Getting back to this changing gravity thing, at the end of the turn the body is tipping up the hill, and gravity is actually pushing your CM back towards your outside ski, so in that respect, angulation requirements drop.  But there's something else that happens at the end of the turn.  Because the slope is falling away, and because a turn generally is an edge angle increasing event,  turn shape and edge angle are generally at their highest in the bottom portion of the turn.  As I explained before, the higher the edge angle, the more angulation is required.  My feeling is that this edge angle call for more angulation in the bottom of the turn, and gravities opposite influence tend to cancel each other out.

Hope that helps.  It's a complicated formula when you mix all the influencing factors together.  I think if you keep in mind the main ideas of how speed, turn shape, edge angle and ski radius influence the need for angulation and counter you'll be fine in your training.

Good luck with the training.



Thank you SO much...NOW it makes complete sense! I can visualize exactly what you are describing in the turn. I can feel it. Since I am a visual person it's always more work for me to read but when reading your explanations it just clicked into place! 

I have to think a bit more about the edge angulation and the role of gravity but it sets me in the right direction.

Good luck with the rest of the filming - be safe