Remaining vids (in this doc) offline until July 15, 2013.
1) What is hands-free carving?
It is pole-free skiing -- in particular carving -- but hands are not flailing around. Hands can be placed anywhere on the body and kept there. Also, a person is not locked into keeping their hands out in front of them while skiing. They can be behind the back, in front, dropped by the waist or both behind and in front. They are also free to move and partake in an activity like eating a cookie, holding a shovel or moving a polecam.
3) What is the difference between carving and heartcarving?
Heartcarving frees up the hands by placing a mental focus on the heart when initially starting and practicing this style. With a focus on the heart (either a direct conscious focus or a background focus) the mind should also affected by being freed and cleared - it is in this state you should experience soul especially since the body is neither overly active nor overly passive and one is also using directed will. It should ennervate different pathways in the body like a soft-style martial art or Yoga. In this way it benefits the hands, the heart and the mind and ultimately the skier. It should lead to euphoric highs and not adrenaline-rushes. It may be an alternative to listening to music when skiing. As such, it is possible to enjoy low-grade groomers. This is not to say one cannot go and ski more aggressively on more difficult and technical terrain. However ideally, the more difficult terrain should happen less agressively in a more relaxed, stronger and clearer state. It can also mean much faster skiing on the easier terrain: the skier is more conscious - higher speed doesn't necessarily mean higher risk.
4) What is Heartcarving 1.0?
Hands-free carving with a direct or background focus on the heart and also the ability to hold a polecam and move it around the body steadily and accurately. See below:
So once the hands are freed, they can then be used to hold the polecam, smoke, stretch, eat, drink, snow touch, place on the body, do freezes or whatever else. Theoretically it would be possible to use ski poles again.
5) What is Heartcarving 2.0
HC 1.0 (pole-free, carving, heart-based, hands-free, polecam-able) + ability to mix in skid turns at different points in the turn. See below.
HC 2.0 (pole-free, carving, heart-based, hands-free, polecam-able, skid turn integration) + more aerial moves. Thus focussing on the heart in the air as with the pitch-yaw-roll of an aircraft whilst having the heart flow through the air in a liberated and unforced fashion. This is a new and somewhat unexplored area for me. Some freestyle aerial vids were recorded in March '13 and can be found in Freestyle Pics.
I am post Heartcarving 2.0. I am looking at bringing in more gravity consciousness to make off-piste more fun. This would be Heartcarving 4.0 and is inspired by Craig Kelly and Candide Thovex. I will probably not put a great amount of time into Heartcarving 3.0 and aerial moves - I like airs a lot but I don't like how it can knock me around on landing. Perhaps with pow things will change.
8) How were the new skis designed?
(click to enlarge)
By me in Jerusalem, Israel using the Snocad application whilst responding to questions by the ski-builder -- Idris Skis. I went through 7 iterations and settled on the 6th one. It is the culmination of years of trying different skis and also thinking, reading and learning about skis and ski designs - but not formally.
9) What exercises do you suggest?
I'd checkout the founder movement which is a simple set of 3 postures aiming to straighten out the back and open the chest.
10) What is unique about the ski?
The shape in and of itself is unique with the huge tips and comparably thin waist, especially as combined with the full rocker and reverse camber. I've only seen the fattest powder skis with such massive front tips and then they have a straight sidecut. Also, racing and piste skis are not rockered or only have some slight early rise as part of their traditional camber. However, the waist forward of the midline (7cm) is totally unique as far as I can tell and is the key to unlocking its potential by enabling a balanced fore/aft position of one's spine so as to pressure into the entire edge length in high speed arcs to avoid chatter and obtain staggeringly solid grip (even and especially in long radius turns.) The heart when leaning forward is over the waist, and it feels like one is falling forward into the run - like on a segway - and that falling is converted into edge grip and speed. I couldn't be happier with them - except maybe some simple branding graphics (many people ask about them) and rounding the ends (as others have suggested) for safety reasons (although personally I don't find any great need for either.)
11) Has this ski helped you in any special way?
Yes. I do not get knee whip anymore. This was the result of having the upper body facing at a substantially different angle than the ski direction. If I did really quick and sharp short radius turns, say in slalom or moguls, or I aimed to catapult over from one edge to the other in longer radius turns, it happened most easily. I found the best way to avoid this was to lean back, but this sacrificed feel and maneuverability (I am leaning back a little in the Heartcarving 1.0 video.) Now I do not have to lean back to get that same protection from such a knee injury (a tendon strain.) This is because I can roll the upper body (heart) from one side to the other whilst leaning forward -- so it's a combination of the heartcarving style, coupled with the new skis that prevents knee whip.
12) How are the skis in powder?
Superb. My first reaction was that these skis are as good in powder as they are on piste. I never feared having the tip bury down and myself flying forward, in fact the tips can completely submerge in soft snow without this happening. See below:
What's even more amazing is that I did not even have to change my ski style when hitting the pow. I could bank my turns like on the piste and everything felt great. The skis work well for shorter-radius pow carves. The real question is can these skis handle a steep and deep Valdez descent: I suspect yes, but how well I don't know.
13) What's the best way to get into Heartcarving?
Drop the poles and at the top of an easy run breathe into your heart. After a few turns down and after some travelling the terrain, remember to breathe into the heart again to center the mind. As one becomes more accustomed to one's equipment and skiing various terrain at various speeds (and then to breathe into the heart at various points,) this heart breathing can become more frequent or even automatic. The key with Heartcarving 4.0 is to take this calm and centered state both mentally and physically, and then to start playing with gravity and feeling and anticipating the terrain.
14) The skis look like they twitch around on straights. Is that a problem?
Good question. Yes, if you completely relax your legs and are skiing very fast you could get a speed wobble, catch an edge under your toes and wipeout (although this never happened to me.) It could've if I was tired and in a hurry to get to the bottom. The key here is to put one's hands behind one's back (or shift the bindings back.) Hands behind the back works very well at stopping speed wobbles when going in a fast straight line and is simple to do. See below:
If the hands are not behind the back, then the legs need to be held tense and one needs to concentrate quite hard on the terrain ahead and the feedback coming through the feet. Hands behind back is also useful when at slower speeds when one cannot readliy drop into and hold a carve, so hands behind the back in this case allows for the riding of the tails until enough velocity is reached to have them freed up.
15) What can't these skis do and what can they do?
Medium to long radius turns on hard snow they will chatter, particularly on steep runs. However, I enjoy doing short radius turns right across these steep runs, even on hard snow -- although it takes effort and technique to execute. With HC 2.0 I can carve and slide steep, fairly hard groomers. I've found the skis can shift from a carve to a controlled full-edge slide if the g's are too high to hold the carve, or if one's weight is dropped down during a turn (so long as the snow is soft enough in both instances). I feel the heartcarvers hold a carve better than a slalom ski, and slide (and transition into the slide) better than a slalom ski. However, if you want to avoid wearing down the edges, you have to stick to the short carves across the run and look for the softer snow to make the turn - but sometimes the slide is unavoidable: but if the snow is not soft enough the ski will chatter instead, which is unpleasant.
16) How are the skis in moguls?
Very good to excellent although the gratification is not instant like with powder: there is a solid learning curve. The skis being full rocker will swivel very well, but if you fall backseat, you can easily lose control. Also, the skis have big upturned tips so you won't stab a mogul which is very comforting to know. The trick is to swivel and slide the tops of moguls and carve the backs (and not fall backseat.) Unlike conventional mogul technique, you cannot sit back, keep the hands forward and spray out the tails. There is a lot of interesting and worthwhile potential in skiing moguls with these skis. See below:
Yes. They attract so much attention it's almost embarrassing. Even people walking passed them briefly in a walkway will stop, stare, smile and make a positive remark (or a combination of these.) People take photos, ask questions, smile and laugh.
18) What do you like most about these skis?
I like that no terrain is off-limits to these skis. In the past I've had to avoid powder and be careful in moguls. I've also had to jump-turn in crud. These skis are like a high performance off-road 4x4 yet can also become a track racecar. The best part: I can retain my heartcarving style throughout with little or no changes: just observe or develop new patterns of heart movement if necessary.
You need to be a great skier and have some type of athletic edge and be up for a challenge. Turns are banked and having the head placed on an angle can be disconcerting at first. Also, there is a lag between wanting to turn and actually turning as the chest needs time to move over to the opposite side of the skis due to gravity, push/pull action or momentum difference between feet and heart as legs are relaxed to effect a turn (this in turn depends on the nuance of technique chosen, which in turn depends on style, terrain and planned route); and then there is another lag before one's route accelerates oneself in the opposite direction of the previous turn. It's better to think and plan a route down a run while skiing (about 10m ahead,) thinking about where people are (and where they are going) and where the snow is best (to avoid ski chatter when on very hard snow) rather than thinking in a series of "oh, I'd better (or have to) turn now" thoughts with more conventional skis. So it takes getting used to. But the upside in my view are better sensations, less injuries, less falls, more control, highers speeds and basically more fun.
Speed comes in terms of skiing at terminal velocity (through less sliding) and then being able to channel that speed into an an accurate route down the run. That's why the skis are called speedboards. Speed I find actually makes a route safer, because at higher speeds, other people appear slower and it's easier to move around them: just like riding a bike down a street at higher speeds: it's more mentally taxing to dodge x number of people at slower speeds because one has to be more concerned with their trajectory (ie more time is spent riding any given distance.) Also, a carve's trajectory can be manipulated in realtime within a turn by changing the position and orientation of the heart: this is what makes the style fun. Thus a planned route is not absolute. Other disconcerting aspects (at first) are not holding poles, thinking and breathing through the heart and not having the tails of the skis easily slide out to control speed: the spray is possible but it comes more from the center of the ski (at slower speeds.) Also, the tails are more inclined to lock into a carve when pressure is applied, hence snowplow is more difficult. Also the spray itself is less effective at slower speeds due to the reverse camber placing less edge on the snow surface when compared to a flat or negatively cambered ski. However, at higher speed the spray is much more effective because the entire edge is engaged with less effort (due to the reverse camber) and is coupled with the forward ski waist displacement (creating better fore/aft body positioning.)
Ultimately, one can move effectively into heartcarving by starting on easy runs with few people and then gradually increasing run difficulty and complexity as knowledge, experience and familiarization builds. It is and should be intense through an interesting combination of oneself becoming more confined yet more free. I believe it is also a safer way of skiing due to an increase in relaxation and focus (after practice) and in my last ski trip I only had one fall in just under 3 weeks and that was on the second day when I was still getting used to the polecam (and skis) and was distracted by it and caught an edge.
20) Aren't they just snowblades?
No. Skiboards (the original Salomon snowblades were 90cm long) can be up to 110cm and longboard skiboards can be up to about 135cm. The key here is that the super-tight radius and deep reverse camber empower the still reasonably short length (155cm) to have staggering amounts of grip. The forward waist empowers the ski even more by providing a more balanced fore/aft position that weights the entire length of the sidecut. Thus, every centimeter counts for more than expected. It is possible to shred ice, as in slide on it with the full-length of the sidecut, and hitting ice while banked over in a carve entails allowing the heart to drop down into the ski until stability is reached again, but with a wider turning circle than that when the ice was initially hit. It is much harder to charge on skiboards than the HCs.
21) Is there anything special about you and your skiing?
I don't get injuries or fall over unless I knowingly overstep my own or the ski's limits given any terrain and my trajectory on it, which I don't do (and don't want to do) for that reason.
22) If I started on these skis, how long would it take to get going?
I am not entirely sure, perhaps 2 weeks before these skis can be really enjoyed as knowledge and experience on them builds up to the heartcarving threshold, which can ultimately take up to 3 weeks before all situations and terrains are mapped out in the mind and heart, although most of the progress is made after the first few days. It's a bit like getting a new car.
23) When did you start on this?
In 2002 I dropped the poles and changed my paradigm of skiing to a heart-based one. I designed the skis in mid-late 2012 after being dissatisfied with my skiboards I had purchased for that year.