Help me correct A-Frame

Discussion in 'Ski School' started by Wendy, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. Wendy

    Wendy Trying not to face plant Skier

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    First thing: it’s probably NOT due to a boot alignment issue, as I’ve had that examined by several good professionals. I am willing to have someone else take another look if somebody can give me specific advice regarding that issue.

    Second thing: It drives me nuts. I can’t feel it, but I look awful in video.

    I don’t have much video to share, @Large Squirrel may. I have one from Alta on my iPad, but I can’t seem to be able to post it here. Until I figure that out....

    The problem is with my left leg, which also has some muscle imbalance that I’ve worked to correct, apparently without success. The old “use your hand to push your knee out” drill has never worked.

    Then I came upon this:


    I’m definitely the image on the left, ha. I’ll try this next season, but....

    1) What works best to correct this?
    2)What can I do now, in the summer, that might help?
     
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  2. Magi

    Magi Instructor Instructor

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    Is there an outcome you want besides "looking better in video"?
     
  3. LiquidFeet

    LiquidFeet Out on the slopes Instructor

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    What people need to know is whether your skis are flat when your knees are knocking. That goes for when you are standing tall and when you are flexed low. It can be different when under load out on the snow and in the shop with no momentum at play. Video will tell.

    If skis are flat when you go knock-kneed in a straight run, and if your knee falls inside when you do a straight run on one ski, and if you go knock-kneed when turning but the edges match, then it's an alignment issue for sure.

    If the edges don't match it can be either a technique/habit issue or an alignment issue.

    One thing you can do now that might give an indication of the answer is to put your boots on in the house, stand in front of a full-length mirror that shows your feet, and stand on one foot. Where's your knee? Then flex low. Does your knee move inwards? Can you stop it from moving inwards? Can you keep that knee over your foot?

    If one or both knees moves inward and you can't stop that movement, there is an alignment issue. It may be fixable inside the boot if you have forefoot varus. (Look it up, if curious.) It may be fixable outside under the boot if you don't and the issue is up at the hip. Both are things you can mess with this summer, again if you can't get your knees to track straight.

    So my suggestion (I am not a bootfitter) is to try the mirror thing and report back. Highly recommended bootfitters have missed some issues in my anatomy despite all the measuring in the shop that they did. I worked my way through both of these issues last spring and was able to eliminate the knock-knee thing on both legs with inside and outside boot work.

    There may be a technique thing at play along with an alignment issue, as well. It's complicated. Best of luck getting this sorted out.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  4. Magi

    Magi Instructor Instructor

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    From my observations skiing together for a few days at the Gathering this past year, Wendy is correct that her alignment isn't the issue.

    She can stand straight with flat skis, and also *can* straight run the same way.
     
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  5. Jilly

    Jilly Lead Cougar Skier

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    When you get on snow, look to see if the inside ski is edging or just going along for the ride. If that is the case, you just have to get both skis on the same edge plane. That takes practice....I know.

    The picture above is not that problem, but it is one that many skiers have.
     


  6. T-Square

    T-Square Terry Moderator Instructor

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    Here’s a summer exercise for you, side stepping. In skiing you want a active inside half to lead the way into the turn. That is what TDK’s exercise is all about, getting the new inside ski/foot/leg to lead the rest of the body into the turn via the kinetic chain.

    Sidestepping can help with this. Stand in a relaxed stance, step your left foot directly to the left then step your right foot next to it, lather, rinse repeat. Then do it to the right. It sounds stupidly simple and it is, but what it does is get your body use to leading with the side you are going towards. This is a bit different than when you walk.

    Here is another on snow exercise similar to TDK’s, however, this is a static exercise and his is dynamic. Stand in an athletic stance on a dead flat area on your skis. Put your ski pole firmly in the snow right next to and touching the outside of your right boot. Then put the shaft of the pole against the outside of you right knee. Then roll onto the outside edge of the right ski while pushing your right knee hard against the pole. Bend the pole a bit against the knee. Be aware of the feelings you get in the muscles you are using to do this. Repeat on the left side. This is just done to get the feeling of activating the leg to the inside

    Now, on a gradual slope, use the action of rolling onto the new inside ski you just practiced to initiate your turns; right leg to go right, left leg to go left. Then take this initiating action into your regular skiing. Let you new inside half lead you into the new turn.

    Another thing to play with is actively using your inside ski during the turn. Tip your inside ski more and less during a turn and see what happens. You’ll find that your inside ski helps shape the turn; more tip - tighter turn, less tip - wider turn.

    Above all have fun!
     
  7. Wilhelmson

    Wilhelmson Getting off the lift Skier

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    This past winter we did this drill keeping the inside heal and tail of ski off the snow, with only the tip of the inside ski touching the snow. I think the goal was to finish the turn with the outside ski and feel the transition to the inside ski. The instructor encouraged us to move the inside ski at different angles and notice the subltle differences. It was a usefull exercise which I continued throughout the season and seemed to help with some of the bad habits I picked up over the decades.
     
  8. Wendy

    Wendy Trying not to face plant Skier

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    Great question. It’s not really how I feel when I watch video of myself, but rather the frustrated feeling I get when a well-intentioned instructor gives me unsolicited feedback (not in a lesson or clinic), when I’m doing something like running gates. They always comment about the left knee as if I have no idea and I’m an idiot. I’m well aware of the issue and have tried multiple things to correct it. The last time one of these guys commented, it drove me to tears and I quit the Nastar course and skied away.

    So, I guess I also need a good comeback for some of these people, who don’t know me at all, whom I’m not taking a lesson from, and feel the need to comment on my A frame.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  9. Wendy

    Wendy Trying not to face plant Skier

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    Well, on one foot, in my ski boots, my left knee goes in.

    Both feet on the ground, knees are relatively straight and aligned with hips (using a laser).

    I worked with Jim Lindsay, a pedorthist and bootfitter at Aspen Highlands...he said my left arch collapses and made me a footbed to correct that. (The one foot test described above is with that footbed in my boot). He said that, otherwise, I didn’t have an alignment issue.

    My bootfitter here in PA says i don’t have an alignment issue, either, or, if I do, it’s very minimal. He’s not Masterfit trained, but has years of experience and always gives things to me straight without mincing words. :). He would never sell me anything that was wrong for me.

    But, here’s the rub:
    If I don’t have an alignment issue, and my footbeds corrected an internal issue, then what’s going on?
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
  10. Wendy

    Wendy Trying not to face plant Skier

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    Good suggestions, thanks. I do a LOT of sidestepping in our warmup exercises for my boxing and MMA classes. Some of it is also one footed side hops over a small obstacle with the other foot following.

    In front of a large mirror in my boxing gym, I’ve often gotten into a skiing stance, and put my feet on edges as if I’m turning and work to keep my knees straight. I can do this in shoes and in my ski boots, but not dynamically on the snow.
     
  11. Wendy

    Wendy Trying not to face plant Skier

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    I’ve done similar drills in my race clinic...putting the tip of the inside ski on the snow through the turn.
     
  12. Wendy

    Wendy Trying not to face plant Skier

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    But I can’t straight run on my left foot.....it goes into a turn as my foot is forced onto the inside edge....
     
  13. Wendy

    Wendy Trying not to face plant Skier

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    @Magi worked on this with me, and it does indeed help me shape my turns. Huge game changer. However, as of yet, it doesn’t improve my A frame.
     
  14. Uke

    Uke Who am I now Skier

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    Right tip right go right, left tip left go left. This is a concept that I, Bob Barnes and others hashed out in the early days of Epic. This particular wording was Bob's if I remember right. I came up with Ride Ski Guide Ski. Both were early steps to what I now call Active Inside Half. My guess, absent video, is that you have a lazy or dead inside half and are very focused on making the outside ski do what its 'supposed to do". Develop an active inside half and you will be able to allow the outside ski to do what its designed to do. T-square's and TDK's ideas are great first steps on the road to less A-frame/better skiing.

    Wish TDK were here I would like to know what finally brought him around to working on his inside half, I seem to remember myself and others giving him advice to be more active with his inside foot and leg for about a dozen years and him telling us that it was ineffective.

    uke
     
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  15. Magi

    Magi Instructor Instructor

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    Give them the same question I gave you. :)

    "What would 'changing my relative leg position' do for me given this terrain and my intent, and why would that be good?"

    There's a clue in this about the underlying opportunity for improvement in your fundamentals. The question to ask would be "why can't I do it on snow?".

    The relative angle between your shins isn't an inherent problem. The ability to carve a turn at a given radius might be an opportunity to develop your skill set - and that *may* require greater tipping of the inside leg.

    So again - how can you rephrase what you're looking to change in terms of outcome? What do you want to be able to do besides "look different than I do now"?




    On a general philosophical note: "I wish my inside ski was tipped more" invites the response "Tip your inside ski more".

    "I'm trying to tip my inside ski more but I can't" - leads to questions of:
    • Where *can* you do it? (Statically: barefoot, in shoes, in boots, on skis not moving; on skis moving)?
    • Are you aligned? (If you can't do it statically in ski boots but you can in shoes or barefoot - this might be the problem).
    • Can your muscles move your leg to the position you want statically?
    • If you can do it while not moving, but can't while moving, what's the mental/skill block?
      • Are you afraid of something happening?
      • Can you balance over just your outside ski?
      • Can you balance over just your inside ski?
      • Are you comfortable with totally flat skis (and the accompanying "squirrely" sensation that creates")?
     
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  16. Doug Briggs

    Doug Briggs Making fresh tracks Pugski Ski Tester Industry Insider

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    I'd suggest one leg drills. Take a ski off (or lift if off the snow) requiring you to make left and right turns with one ski only. Do it on your right ski first so you have a baseline. Then do it with your left. It won't be the same but you'll certainly feel difference. I suspect that your left leg, with its muscle imbalance, just isn't strong enough to engage the little toe edge. You will really need to work hard to make the turn to the left on your left leg as smooth and strong as your right turn on your right ski. I do this drill every early season whenever I'm on flats or just feeling bored. When you are only on one ski the deficiency of your little toe turns will become quite obvious to you and you'll also know when you are making progress.

    If, as you say, there is a muscle imbalance you will have to work very hard to gain symmetry between left and right. Strength exercises to overcome the imbalance will help as well.

    In reading @Magi 's comment 'The relative angle between your shins isn't an inherent problem. ', I agree. The problem with an a-frame isn't that your ski isn't tracking or performing (especially while racing where you typically want to be outside leg dominant) but that it prevents you from building angles that you want. The inside leg, when not tipped into the turn, begins to take more pressure than desired and in doing so removes pressure from the outside ski and thus weakens the turn. In other words, your inside leg, when a-framing, supports your body more than you want and prevents you from balancing on the inside edge of the outside ski.
     
  17. Karl B

    Karl B USSA L100 Skier

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    Try initiating your turns with the inside knee. The outside knee will follow. Many times you will commit to the outside and never engage the inside edge of the inside ski causing an A-frame stance.
     
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  18. Doug Briggs

    Doug Briggs Making fresh tracks Pugski Ski Tester Industry Insider

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    :thumb: @Karl B , I agree wholeheartedly regarding the solution and the reasoning behind your suggestion.
     
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  19. Monster

    Monster Monstrous for some time now. . . Skier

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  20. 4ster

    4ster Sucking a little less each day Instructor

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    Begin each turn/transition with a focus on tipping the new inside foot/leg & then holding it back throughout. Start with railroad track turns on easy green terrain & eventually assimilate it into your regular turns. One footed Garlands are also a good drill for eliminating A-frame & developing strong inside leg steering.
    173B98E4-E9CE-4E78-A979-C72FFBEAA09C.jpeg

    EDIT: Looks like this solution has already been addressed in the above posts. So consider this post an affirmation :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2018
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