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 Conventional Skiing Wisdoms (CSW's) 

by Bill Jones, Ski Instructor
Certified Professional Ski Instructor (Registration #110478), Level III
private ski lessons at Keystone, Breckenridge, Vail, Beaver Creek, other areas

CSW #31: "Put (or keep) the weight on the balls of the feet"

The balls of the feet are the broad pads near the toes, between the toes and the arches of the feet.

By tipping a bit more forward one can increase the pressure on the fronts of the skis, and if the skis are tipped a bit, and because most skis nowadays are a bit wider there than at the skis' widths, the tip area will "catch" the snow a bit and this will deflect the skis and you a bit more into a turn than if the weight were more evenly distributed along the lengths of the skis. But tipping forward will also change the arc of a turn a bit and might also cause the tails of the skis to skid out in the turn whereas they might not have done so otherwise. Once you have tipped forward, too, you have used that option so perhaps you should have kept if for another purpose if there was no good reason to use it. Thus it is often best to keep the weight centered over the whole foot so the ski makes the arc  it was designed to.

Too, if one is using more of a rotary force to change the skis direction going into a turn, turning the legs to turn the feet and therefore the skis into the turn, this is best done with the weight centered on the whole foot. Because the foot's bottom is arched, this may feel like weight is being supported by the arch so that there is as much weight on the ball of the foot as on the heel. Human anatomy is such that the two bones of the leg come down into the foot at the ankle joint and a line down the center of the lower leg comes down to the foot's bottom closer to the heel than to the ball of the foot. When we rotate a leg, however, the lower leg tips a bit with each direction change and the spot around which the foot rotates is about under the center of the arch. Thus if our weight is centered on our whole foot, the ski, too, will rotate around this point. If, however, our weight is on the heel of the foot, the ski will rotate around a farther-back point and thus the tails of the skis may catch a bit on the snow as they turn, there being a bit more weight back there. But if the weight is on the balls of the feet, the skis' pivot points will also not be centered at the same point our legs rotate around, giving the effect first described with the skis' tails skidding out.

In sum, unless there are other considerations, in most situations where rotary force is to be applied to the skis, have the weight centered on the whole foot so the ski will rotate around the same point as the foot rotates when turned by the leg.

A way to visualize the rotational point of your feet is to stand in snow in your ski boots. Put more weight on the ball of one feet and rotate your leg and see the mark left ((a fan that opens toward you). Then put more weight on the heel of that foot and rotate your leg and see the mark left (a fan that opens away from you). Finally, even the weight on the same foot and rotate the leg and you will see a mark that is like a tied bow, showing the foot is rotating equally around a pivot point.

There may be times when you will deliberately move pressure to the balls or heels of your feet. For instance, if in a turn and you want to decrease its radius, move forward to catch the tips. If if a turn and you want to go straighter, move pressure to your heels.

To be complete, thinking of putting the weight on the balls of the feet might be a useful word image as one moves into a new turn, for as the skis move more rapidly into the fall line, the skier tends to be left behind the skis. Thus by applying the word image at the turn start, the skier is more likely to stay centered on the whole foot as the turn develops, even though the weight does not actually get onto the balls of the feet.

main CSW contents
prior CSW #30: "The Skier's Responsibility Code will keep me safe"
next CSW #32: "Footbeds in my ski boots are not important and neither is boot alignment"

"SKIING IS A SLIDING SPORT"--a skiing web manual:     Skiing Web Manual Contents   Why Read This Skiing Web Manual That First Skiing Lesson  A Little Skiing History  Motion in Skiing  CONVENTIONAL SKIING WISDOMS  Skier Excuses   Fear in Skiing  Conditioning for Skiing   Equipment and Technique  Skiing Equipment  How Skis Work   How to Develop Balance on Skis  A Skiing Turn Simplified  The Final Skiing Skill: pressure management  Tactics for Terrains and Snow Textures and Racing  Skiing Tips and Tales--a potpourri  Exercises for Developing Skiing Skills   Children and Skiing  Gender & Skiing   Skiing Ethics and Survival  Glossary  Skiing Environment   Acknowledgements SkiMyBest Website Contents  
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