Skiing and the Art of Carving, the Film
Ellen Post Foster
Skier- Jay Evans
Twin Set Is a Good Fit for Skiers and Teachers
BY DAVID MANNETTER
Since its publication in 1979, World Cup Ski Technique by James Majors and Olle Larsson has been the book I turned to most often as a reference on the art of skiing, primarily because it is easy to understand and contains numerous images that reinforce important points. For the same reasons, another book has joined it on the shelf. The new volume is Skiing and the Art of Carving by PSIA member Ellen Post Foster.
Foster's background as a longtime instructor, former Demo Team member, and published author served her well in the development of this comprehensive, clearly written book. Adding value to the text, first published in 1996, is the fact that it is now packaged with an accompanying video. Produced by Foster and fellow World ski champion Alan Schönberger, the video illustrates and underscores key concepts-pure delight for visual learners such as myself. Readers will quickly appreciate the way in which Foster structures every chapter in the same way an instructor formats a good lesson: After a brief introduction of the subject matter, the reader is hooked into what's being presented and then provided with supporting, specific information on each topic. Each chapter concludes with suggestions for lesson plans, which enable just about anyone to plan and execute his or her own practice and improvement. One of the strongest aspects of the book is that Foster gives the reader a choice of several activities to explore and then provides a variety of possible "lessons" for each stage of skier development. While the series is not a replacement for professional instruction, it is certainly an excellent companion piece. The text presents clear descriptions of the basic skills required for all proficiency levels of skiing. While Foster dispenses useful information and activities for skiers who wish to develop skills on their own, at the same time, the text serves as a backdrop for the professional ski teacher, providing important touchstones on the areas generally covered in lessons.
One of the most useful aspects of the book is the way in which photos are used to illustrate exactly how to execute many different aspects of skiing. In addition, the companion video provides an excellent visual account of what is described in the text and thereby serves as a terrific reference tool.
Unlike some similarly packaged sets, Foster's video closely tracks the content and sequencing of the book. Both pieces (the book in particular) provide clear, concise information about how to develop the skiing skills required for both more conventional (longer, straighter-sided) skis and (slightly shorter) deep sidecut skis. Foster makes the essential point that although deep sidecut skis typically respond to more subtle physical input from the skier, the movements and skills required to ski are largely the same, regardless of whether the skier is on sidecuts or their more conventional counterparts.
The skill development exercises that are interwoven into each chapter are very creative and will be effective for the skills they are designed to teach and develop. Foster has a knack for driving to the heart of a skill or movement and can make even the most complex movements easy to understand.
One of the things that sets Skiing and the Art of Carving apart from other books on the subject is the inclusion of a chapter on "perceptual skills." The last section of the book discusses the role of the ephemeral yet vital elements of visual, tactile, and auditory perception in skiing. These types of perception and their incorporation into your skiing are subjects not easily taught, but Foster masterfully captures the essence and benefits of well-developed perception on the slopes. Many skiing professionals fail to recognize the importance of helping their students explore the mountain at whatever level of competence they possess. The professional jargon for this concept is "lateral learning," and refers to applying on tricky snow surfaces the skills and movements on perfectly groomed terrain. That being the case, I was particularly heartened by Foster's encouragement to explore a variety of terrain and snow conditions at every level of development or skill acquisition. Developing this high regard for adventure and curiosity is what creates lifelong skiers. These individuals not only love the sport and the mountain environment, but they continue to celebrate their ability to enjoy the possibilities that skiing offers.
This set is most certainly appropriate for professional skiers who are themselves "students of the game." It provides many options and thoughtful possibilities for teaching students as well as those for continued personal and professional development. Instructors who read Foster's book and watch the accompanying video may gain some new ideas and, perhaps more important, a sense of new possibilities for both teaching and learning.
David Mannetter is a three-term member of the PSIA Demo Team, head staff trainer at California's Mammoth Mountain Ski School, and a senior examiner for PSIA-W.
Skier- Jereme Nobis
Skiing and the Art of Carving
Book and Film Review; by Ron Kipp
Director of Athlete Preparation, U.S. Ski Team
Skiing and the Art of Carving, the Film
by: Ellen Post Foster
cinematography by: Alan Schönberger
published by: The Turning Point Ski Foundation, 1998
Based on the book "Skiing and the Art of Carving", the video version reinforces the concepts that are set forth in the book. This 60-minute film is written, produced, and directed by Ellen Post Foster and Alan Schönberger. Schönberger again is behind the camera this time as the cinematographer and editor for the film. The music is by composer Phil Marshall of Endless Summer fame, featuring Super Tramp's lead guitarist, Carl Verheyen.
Like the book, the film is meticulously divided up. This time into 24 sections. Each section contributes to a sequential teaching progression or can be viewed as a stand-alone piece covering one topic. Like a good teacher, the film does not just tell the viewer what to do, but includes explanations as to why certain exercises would be beneficial to the skier. The viewer that does not always relate to the declarative will benefit from the kinesthetic references of what to feel, or look for in the turns.
A ski film is only as good as the skiers. The primary demonstrators are Jay Evans and Ellen Post Foster. The job of these PSIA National Demo Team current and retired members is making perfect demonstrations. There are no excess motions, no movements that do not contribute to the task at hand. These demos are far from the rigid instructor turns that some people may conjure up in their minds. One sequence shows Jay arcing turns through avalanche debris covered with crusty snow that would make any World Cup winner envious. Another scene has Ellen laying down perfect carves exactly in the tracks that have been previously laid down. Try that at home! The bottom line is good skiing and good images. For good measure there are sequences of Tommy Moe and Jeremy Nobis also sparking it up. And if the skiers were not perfect enough Schönberger finds snow that is untracked and cloudless blue skies at Vail, Snowbird, and Arapahoe Basin to use for the film's back drops.
All this good skiing is great, but its main contribution from these demonstrations is to paint the picture that the instructional dialog is presenting. The use of close-up and slow motion is used effectively to emphasize points made in the theoretical sections.
In conclusion, the film is an educational showpiece. It is not Warren Miller or Greg Stump rasta video with cliff jumpers and cool dudes. It can best be used by those cliff jumping cool dudes, coaches, instructors, or skiers wishing to better understand and improve carving skills.
Skiing and the Art of Carving, (the book)
by: Ellen Post Foster
photography by: Alan Schönberger
published by: The Turning Point Ski Foundation, 1996; second edition 1998
Skiing and the Art of Carving is a newly revised version of the successful original book by the same name. After the original book sold out, and the popularity of more extreme side-cut skis surfaced, the Author Ellen Post Foster a perfectionist by nature, felt the need to make minor alterations and to add an additional chapter which is entitled Deep Sidecut Carve.
The book is extensively laid out. The Table of Contents consumes 16 pages of the book's 272 pages. These 16 pages are further broken down into 10 chapters, a glossary, four appendices, and an index. Like the author, a former PSIA Demo Team member, the book's attention to detail is apparent throughout.
If a picture is worth 10,000 words then the 217 figures which are used to accentuate the text makes this single book equal to many volumes.
True to the author's background, the book starts with the basics. Ski instructor's will find the initial chapters dealing with basic ski movements very apparent. Some race coaches will choose to skip these chapters. The astute race coach that spends time with these chapters will be rewarded with new insight and tools in which to assist their athletes gain carving skills. As the book takes a natural progression into higher levels of skiing the underlying theme of carving is constantly referred to, hence the name of the book.
The book title also contains the word, or more correctly, the concept of "Art". Although there is no mention of brush strokes or pastels, art implies the depth of the skill of carving. Sure you can learn to carve in a day, but the true skill, or art of carving is constantly strived for and refined in this book. Georges Joubert, in his classic books of the 1970s constantly referred the virtuoso without useless gesticulations, Ellen refers to the skier achieving balance, timing, rhythm and fluid movements that conform to the mountain environment. The pictures she paints might have well be done with brush strokes of pastels.
Besides the pictures that Ellen paints with her words, Alan Schönberger, a former world champion in freestyle, uses the camera to capture the skiing demonstrations that accentuate Ellen's concise and precise explanations. The demonstrations are not just pretty pictures, although the book has its share, but are accurate to the point that the book could be well understood by just spending time perusing these demonstrations. The pictures and photomontages that made Major and Larsson's World Cup Ski Technique a classic in the 1980s, will also make this book a keeper. The best photos still need good subjects. The book uses PSIA demo team member Jay Evans and PSIA-NW technical team member Steve Olwin, along with Tony Russo from Vail and Ellen herself.
Carving is main topic of the book, but it could have just as well been balance. Each chapter starts out with a turn description then immediately proceeds to balance. Balanced stance, balance point, balance routine, and balancing exercises are all chapter subheading that reiterate the importance and actions of balance. According to Jarle Sandberg, at the developmental meeting after nationals last year, balance is what is missing from the young American racers. With the exercises and lesson plans this book does not belabor the need for balance but provides coaches with the "how" in which to achieve a more refined skier balance.
Should a race coach have this book on their book shelf? It is not necessary. But then again it is not necessary to have sharp edges on your skis either. If you believe that skiers ski better with sharp edges, then you may also understand how this book may help you gain the sharp edge in your coaching.
The Latest From Ellen Post Foster and Alan Schönberger
Skiing and the Art of Carving, the Film
By Ed Kane
PSIA Northwest Division
This latest product from Ellen and Alan is a continuation of the high quality products that they have produced through the Turning Point Ski Foundation. The Board of Directors voted recently to support this work with a grant and this support is recognized in the film credits. The video features the skiing of Ellen, Jay Evans and Tommy Moe among others and its content parallels the contents of the book published in 1996. Its intent, like the book, is to focus on an approach to skiing excellence that has been made possible through the availability of shaped skis and softer boots to compliment their capabilities.
Typical of the creative approach taken in all of their products, the film starts with a mood building scene of groomers on parade in the early morning. In the introductory footage there are some really well done shots of the above mentioned equipment at work. The camera angles and close-ups truly capture the essence of the movements necessary to perform carved turns on shaped skis. There are some interesting sequences contrasting skidding and carving that are outstandingly graphic. The remainder of the video reviews approaches for the various levels of learning, starting with wedge exercises that emphasize carving through appropriate edging and a balanced athletic stance. There is one sequence that compare wedge and parallel turns of the same radius demonstrating with remarkable clarity the similarity of movement and stance.
With speed and confidence the student can rapidly move toward parallel initiations of the turns and maintaining a matched relationship throughout. The portion on parallel exercises builds on the concept of tipping the ski on edge to get the desired result. The degree of edging determines the degree of carving and to some extent the radius of the turns. As an example the student is encouraged to vary the radius of the turn during the turn by varying the degree of edge so that portions of the radius are skidded and other portions are carved. Another exercise that was very graphically illustrated was linked carved turns in the fall line on a gentle slope by tipping the skis from edge to edge.
Dynamic parallel skiing is encouraged by becoming more playful on the mountain and by stressing early edge engagement at the beginning of the turn. Various playful exercises are shown that can be incorporated into recreational runs such as garlands between carved turns. It might be noted that throughout this film the authors stress safe skiing practices by, for instance, reminding the viewer to check uphill before doing garlands in the middle of a run. This portion also contains some excellent footage demonstrating the effect of early edging of the ability to carve a smooth continuous arc between turns.
The last segment explores directed free skiing. It contains sequences of short turns in the fall line that provide some excellent images of carving and skidding in turns of the same radius and speed. In addition there are some great shots of the differences in movements between medium and long radius turns. And, needless to say, there is some inspiring footage of off-piste skiing in various conditions. In my mind, the entire film was a super example of the elegance that can be achieved with today's equipment with a minimum or lack of extraneous movements to accomplish truly great results.
The footage compiled in this video can and should be used as an example of the goals of most students and, for that matter, the goals of most instructors. This video provides a dynamic visual compliment to the book and together they provide a resource package that should be on every instructor's bookshelf. This is especially true today, since more and more of our students are coming to ski school with shaped skis and are expecting the rapid progress toward skiing excellence, touted by the press.
Skier- Tommy Moe
New Video Teaches Ins and Outs of the Elusive Carve
By Keith Miller
The Vail Daily
Sunday, November 8, 1998
Arts & Entertainment
What a spiral is to football and a smooth, fluid swing is to golf, the carve is to skiing. It's a key part of the sport, and is what happens when everything comes together just right between mind, body and equipment.
Just like throwing the perfect pass or whacking a golf ball straight down the fairway, perfecting the carve takes practice. Until the advent of shaped skis just a few years ago, a pure carve was attainable by only top-end skiers. Since shaped ski technology has hit the slopes, almost anyone can experience the sensation of slicing through the snow with razor-like precision.
Although new technology does make carving easier, it does not make it automatic. Carving takes patience and practice and a knowledge of how equipment reacts to different movements and shifts of weight.
Two years ago, Ellen Post Foster released her award-winning book, "Skiing and the Art of Carving," which unlocked the key to the carve for ski enthusiasts everywhere. This year, Foster returns with a video based on the best-selling book.
Foster brings to the table eight years of experience as a member of the national Professional Ski Instructor's of America demonstration team and six years experience as a ski coach for the junior race program at Winter Park resort. She remains the only person-man or woman- to win all four freestyle titles (aerials, moguls, ballet and combined) in a single year on an international level.
All this experience transfers onto the screen, in her straight-forward and easy-to-understand instructional video.
"Being on the national demonstration team provided me with a lot of great groundwork, and working with the team members for the last couple of years has been helpful in developing the material," she said. "A lot of it is just organizing the material in a way that flows and makes sense and is not complicated."
The hour-long video takes the viewer through a number of skills and disciplines to get the general sensation of a carve, leading up to carving different radius turns and tackling a variety of terrain.
She said the best way to use the video is to watch it, take e the lessons learned up on the hill, then review the areas that need work.
Although helpful, Foster said it is not necessary to have the book in order to take away something useful from the video.
"They compliment each other, and there is material in the book that isn't covered in the video." she said. "People can use them separately , but for those who really like to study the information, the book adds tremendously to the package."
The movie utilizes straight-forward narratives and simple examples of techniques to help the viewer understand and follow along. The film features skiers who are experts in the field, including Olympic gold medallist Tommy Moe, National Demonstration Team member Jay Evans, and Foster.
Foster said anyone, from the beginner starting to parallel turn to the expert wanting to drive their carve to the next level, can find the video useful.
"Although there is information an entry-level skier can use, there's a lot of information for higher level skiers to learn how to carve accurately," Foster said. "It is in-depth, and there is a lot of material to learn from."
Accompanying the on-screen instruction is narrative provided by Vail's own Tony Mauro and music composed by Phil Marshall, writer of the music for "Endless Summer." Plucking the strings for the movie's music is Carl Verheyen, Super Tramp's lead guitarist.
The video "Skiing and the Art of Carving" was filmed and produced by Alan Schönberger of the Turning Point Ski Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education. A public screening of the film will be held 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18 in the Great Room at the Inn at Riverwalk. For more information on the book or the video check out the web site at www.tpsf.org.
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