Am I Real? The Whistler Notes
A style of snow skiing involving the relinquishment of poles with a focus on the heart.
Mt Buller, Australia, 2007
Heart Carving works by having the skier mentally focus on the heart whilst skiing since the heart represents a point corresponding closely to the upper body's center-of-mass. Then, by moving the heart over the top of the skis in a variety of ways, pressure is applied to changing parts of the ski thus changing the direction of the skier. Various patterns of movement can be applied to the heart to create a multitude of styles within the realm of Heart Carving. This entails employing the aforementioned 6 planes of movement that the heart may follow to create a carve, and also composites of these planes leading to almost infinite variation in style.
The hands are freed of poles, and, at first spread out to get a better feel for this new sensation as seen in the left photo. Then, after some time, they can be placed on top of the physical heart to shift awareness to it. Subsequently they are placed out in front where the hands would reside if poles were actually being held. Finally, from that point, one hand comes down and touches the snow for each turn completed and alternates in doing so, returning to the front as the ski edge changes.
The heart carving skier is not inclined to spray snow using skid pressure in order to gain friction for causing a directional change opposite to the direction of the spray as seen with more conventional skiing techniques. Instead, the mass of the body as pressed against skis of more pronounced ski sidecuts at varying angulations and orientations (as determined by the position and movement of the heart) is enough to cause turns ranging from long arc radii to short arc radii, to even changing radii within a turn by way of a carve style as opposed to a skid style.
In its most natural and basic form, on a wide, groomed and relatively low gradient run, the skier's heart and thus upper-body may barely move in relation to the centre of the ski boot. Here, changes in ski direction are caused by very slight changes in muscular relaxation at key points to create proportionally much larger changes in the relantionship between the body's center-of-mass in space and the resulting pressure applied to the ski's friction edge. As such, alternating edge ski turns may be created from minimal bodily effort. With regards to these natural heart carves, were it not for the moving relation between the heart-center in space and the snow surface, and the skier's body in relation to its position on the the entire ski run, the appearance of motionlessness would be apparent. In other words, for natural heart carves, the skier would appear motionless if the observing frame-of-reference isolated only the heart's position in space in relation to the ski and not the ground or run.
Part of the success of heart carving depends on the successful transfer of body weight to the ski through the ankles and feet during a turn. At lower speeds and turn pressures, the upper legs can be fairly relaxed and will naturally press forward against the front of the boot thereby enabling the transfer of centripetal force between the ski edge and body at progressively higher then lower contact force throughout the complete turn via the boot shell. This is because ankle flexion remains within a boot's forward leaning range and threshold. At higher speeds, turn pressures and with softer boots, keeping the upper-leg muscles more tense rather than relaxed keeps the heart and upper body at more precise and controllable lengths from the center of the ski and thus muscular effort in the legs is actively used to manage centripetal force. This is important for maintaining control and style but is more tiring. In this latter case especially where muscular effort is involved, flexing the ankles downward into the snow enables one to maintain a strong feeling and energy exchange underfoot via the boot's footbed.
Unlike more conventional skiing techniques, switching a ski's activated edge from left to right and then vice versa (and thus creating alternating right and left sideways movement across the ski run, "ski turns," as a result of the centripetal force stemming from and dependent on a ski's sidecut and flex) does not involve swinging the skis below oneself from one side of the body to the other (typically using a pole plant and leg action) but rather involves a gradual 'rolling' motion of the upper body from one side of the skis to the other to each time implement ski sidecut, apply pressure to a particular point on the sidecut and instigate ski flex all for creating an arc. This edge change effect is typically effortless and entails relaxing the legs and/or hips (depending on the stylistic nuance) which then has the effect of causing a lesser centripetal force applied to the upper body as opposed to the skis and feet (that continue in their given trajectory due to momentum), and as a result of this difference causes the upper body to move over to the opposite side of the ski's active edge (a motion which is usually reinforced by gravity from the slope of the hill, ie the heart moves from a higher to lower vertical point with reference to the slope) whereby tension in the legs and/or hips is then be re-applied to start and then maintain a new arc on the opposite side. In practice, combining this 'rolling' movement with the conventional 'swinging' can be advantageous.
The head angles itself to tilt in line with the chest during a carve unless it is instead counter-angled to stay upright. In the former instance, this can be an exhilarating (or perhaps disconcerting) aspect of heart-carving as the whole world seems to tilt, similar to how a bicycle rider's head may angle itself during a turn with the angled vision of landscape subsequently produced. The head can also be freed to reveal numerous viewing possibilities. During a peak heart carving experience, the mind and body become one and the terrain can appear to be moving toward oneself much like a car video game where the car appears stationary but the road moves by underneath.
diagram prior to 2007