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Where you go and why!

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

dan jump.jpg

Skiing isn’t all about technique.  Yes we have to think about our body position and our angles as well as pressuring the skis and when to start the next turn, but too much of this will cause you to get stalled in the wrong details.

Once you start at a level where your attitude is determining where you want to ski, then its time to stop focusing on technique and start focusing on where you go and why.  Once you start thinking more about your route down the mountain and why this is the best path, then your skiing starts to really improve because you get to apply your technique with purpose.

 

To discover where you go and why, break your favorite run down into sections, find the best snow and the smoothest line in each section and ski that section at a moderate speed.  Start to memorize each section of the trail and its features and ski these sections repeatedly.

 

As you feel more and more comfortable with each section increase your speed and keep the focus on the terrain, as your grow more and more comfortable with the terrain, start to anticipate in your mind what is coming next and position yourself to enter each section so you know what to expect around every corner, roll and bump.

 

This will be the fastest way to improve your overall skill, as you become more comfortable with the terrain, your technique that you already possess will start to kick in and you’ll be amazed at how much confidence you will gain and how you will grow in trust in your ability when you think about where to go and why. 

 

for more go to skiclinics.com or facebook - skiclinics.com  See you on the slopes,  Dan Egan

post #2 of 22

Sounds like a great approach and I'll definitely give that a try next time out.

post #3 of 22

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dan Egan View Post


As you feel more and more comfortable with each section increase your speed and keep the focus on the terrain, as your grow more and more comfortable with the terrain, start to anticipate in your mind what is coming next and position yourself to enter each section so you know what to expect around every corner, roll and bump.

 

This will be the fastest way to improve your overall skill, as you become more comfortable with the terrain, your technique that you already possess will start to kick in and you’ll be amazed at how much confidence you will gain and how you will grow in trust in your ability when you think about where to go and why. 

 

for more go to skiclinics.com or facebook - skiclinics.com  See you on the slopes,  Dan Egan


Correction: The fastest method includes 

employing the above WHILE fruitlessly trying to keep up with Dan .....just sayin'. Pure skiing and pure fun! icon14.gif

post #4 of 22
Quote:
its time to stop focusing on technique and start focusing on where you go and why. Once you start thinking more about your route down the mountain and why this is the best path, then your skiing starts to really improve because you get to apply your technique with purpose.

Great stuff, Dan. And great to hear from you! Hope you are well and having a fine season.

And if I may suggest, this point of giving purpose to your technique, and thinking about where you want to GO, is almost an exact mirror of many of the recent technically-focused threads here. It also expresses a primary theme of Weems's Sports Diamond--the polarity of "Power" and "Purpose." Intent dictates technique, I often say. Too many skiers focus on technique as an end in itself, seeming to forget that it is merely the means to accomplishing a purpose. And when that purpose becomes offensive--to GO where you want to GO--skiing becomes a powerful form of self-expression, rather than a robotic and pointless technique--a dance with the mountain, rather than just getting down it. Give your movements a reason to live!

Skiers who obsess over technique tend to become stale and static. They often find themselves needing their instructor's affirmation of whether they're doing it "right" or not--simply because they have no real purpose by which to measure it. Without a clear sense of purpose, skiers' techniques tend to become a hodge-podge of mismatched and often conflicting movements. (I just wrote almost exactly those same words in another technique thread.) Once the purpose becomes clear, movements usually change dramatically. Movements that don't work become extinguished. Movements that do work get stronger. Often the most effective way to create global changes in technique is to focus not at all on the how, but on the why, where, and when. Where, exactly, do I want my skis to go? How do I want them to move through the snow? Once these outcomes crystallize in your mind, there are only a few movements that will accomplish them, so the technique must take care of itself. Once you have a clear purpose, with practice, you will get better at accomplishing that purpose, even if you don't think at all about your "technique." Without a clear purpose, practice improves our skiing about as much as it improves our signatures. (I don't know about yours, but my signature gets worse the more I "practice" it!)

Post more, Dan!

Best regards.
Bob
post #5 of 22

Tactic over technique. Not how you ski but where you ski and why. 

post #6 of 22

Love it, Dan! It aligns with Weems' admonition to ski at least one top-to-bottom run every day to really get a sense of the mountain. As I have grown in familiarity with my home mountain, I find that I also love to play with various terrain features, finding joy in absorbing a roll one time while launching off it another. Arc this time, pivot slip that time. Play!

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Tactic over technique. Not how you ski but where you ski and why.

But I wouldn't put it quite that way, Phil. It's not that tactics are more important than technique, it's that great skiing requires embracing both, completely and totally, and that each reinforces, drives, and validates the other. You will need technique to accomplish your tactics, and the right tactics will bring out the best technique. They are both important, but neither is worth a lick without the other.

I have seen shifts of intent (tactics, purpose) invoke astonishing, global, revolutionary changes in technique, instantaneously and completely. I have also seen new technical ability--newly learned movement patterns--open up tactical options that had not been even conceivable before.

Technique and tactics--Power and Purpose, along with the other two resources of Weems's "Sports Diamond™"--Touch, and Will--do not add up to a complete skier. They MULTIPLY! The skier who harnesses and embraces the totality is orders of magnitude above the skier who only focuses on one--both in ability and in the rewards he gets from the sport. Indeed, if we ignore any one or more of the corners, it can amount to a zero, and no matter how strong you may be at something else, it's worthless when multiplied by zero!

Technique without purpose is a useless waste--like a boat with no water. Purpose without technique is just wishful thinking!

Best regards,
Bob
post #8 of 22

Hey Dan, great post, and yes similar to the Sports Diamond.

 

Also similar to a Bruce Lee quote when asked what his goal as to his technique was and he said "to have no technique."

 

Or Charlie Parker who said "First master your instrument, master the music, then forget all that crap and just play."

post #9 of 22
Excellent, SMJ!

It is the difference between those who practice--or teach--a technique, and those who are skiers.

It is the distinction I have often described between exercises or drills and skiing. The only reason to practice an exercise is so you can stop practicing and ski (better). Every exercise has something wrong with it--otherwise it would be skiing!

Best regards,
Bob
post #10 of 22

On the flip-side, after doing the things mentioned for 15 years I've found that my slow demo skiing isn't so hot.  I'm trying to take a "step back" and it is damn near killing every aspect of my skiing. 

post #11 of 22

Jan 27, 2011

Hi Bears:

Really appreciate the deeper philosophical flair of this thread.  Reminds me of the famous quote from Kai Bird's "Color of Truth", "He was determined to become a good liberal, so of course he failed, all he became was  determined".   Change the "a good liberal" to "a good skier"biggrin.gif.  So for myself, I want to become good skier so that I can enjoy the sport of skiing more, enjoy the mountain more as well as more of the mountain.

 

Think snow,

 

CP

post #12 of 22

I am reminded of a clinic I took a number of years ago. The ski area (a large destination area in Colorado) had received about 10" of fresh the night before. We were using a popular groomed blue-black run, and the powder had gotten pushed up into piles of crud. (I'm using the term "crud" loosely here. It wasn't anything like the piles of wet cement we can get in the Pacific Northwest.)

 

Some participants in the clinic were having a lot of trouble with these piles even though they were supposed to be pretty decent skiers. Some devoted a lot of energy to avoiding them entirely. They did a lot of skidding on the hard snow between the piles and they weren't having much fun. The clinician attempted to provide some specific tips on dealing with the piles, but implementing the tips when you're mostly accustomed to hard snow at your home resort is apparently difficult because it didn't really go well for some of the participants.

 

My internal thought process was to simply go play with these skied-up piles of snow. Aim at them. Blow them up. Go through them or over them. No specific movements, except that the skis have to be moving in the direction they're pointed. No "perfect" turns. No mechanical "make this move, then make that move." Hit them. Play with them. Try them out. Fool around.

 

It worked for me, but I didn't feel I had any business attempting to provide advice to a highly credentialed clinician.

 

Nonetheless, I do a few drills every morning, except powder days. The drills get me over my feet, get my muscles firing, and let my subconscious know I can still ski. Then I'll crank up the volume and actually start to ski. Powder days, of course, tend to be dominated by freshie greed right from the first chair.

post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhcooley View Post

 

Nonetheless, I do a few drills every morning, except powder days. The drills get me over my feet, get my muscles firing, and let my subconscious know I can still ski. Then I'll crank up the volume and actually start to ski.


Would be interested to know what the drills are if you'd care to share.

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jc-ski View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by jhcooley View Post

 

Nonetheless, I do a few drills every morning, except powder days. The drills get me over my feet, get my muscles firing, and let my subconscious know I can still ski. Then I'll crank up the volume and actually start to ski.


Would be interested to know what the drills are if you'd care to share.


Sorry to take so long to respond to this. To respond well could be rather lengthy, and anything I say is likely to generate additional responses saying I'm doing it all wrong.

 

Nonetheless, here goes, and I'll keep it sort of short.

 

Assuming it's not a powder day and groomers are available, I often start with pivot slips. For those who detest pivot slips and will post suggestions that my skiing consists entirely of rotary moves, I'll elaborate a bit.

 

A correctly executed pivot slip requires a subtle blend of balance, rotary, edge control and pressure management. If any of the skills is deficient, the pivot slip gets more difficult (sometimes much more difficult) and can require a great deal of muscle. The skis must be kept parallel throughout, the movement from sideslip into rotation must be smooth and progressive with appropriate movement downhill of the COM and the ski tips, foot-to-foot pressure transfer must also be smooth and accurate so there is no hesitation in the pivot when the skis are pointed straight down the fall line, the pivot must be precisely controlled to stay in a corridor no more than 2 ski lengths in width and preferably narrower, the pivot must be accomplished by independent rotation of the feet and legs (the femur rotates in the hip socket) without upper body rotation, etc., etc. The idea that the pivot slip is accomplished primarily by muscling the skis through the pivot is incorrect. With an effective skill blend, it requires surprisingly little muscular twist, although it will require some.

 

I may do 50 or more pivot slips before I start to engage the edges a bit more to create a basic parallel christie turn. This may be slow, short and very "slippy" at first - still largely a flat ski exercise with progressive variation of the skill blend. I will then work through a series of increasingly edged turns with complete finishes and accurate movement into each new turn for easy initiation even though my skis are once again perpendicular to the fall line at the end of the previous turn. The pivot diminishes. Assuming there is sufficient room, I will end up skiing purely arc-to-arc, leaving railroad tracks but finishing each turn completely for speed control - "skiing the slow line fast." Skis are now working from fully engaged to fully released, but being guided more-or-less straight when not engaged.

 

The arcs are lazy at first, although no real traverse is allowed - just patience and continual, progressive movements through the release and into the new edge engagement.

 

The next step is to get more dynamic and turn up the volume. Increase edge angles further and start to shorten the turn radius again. Start adding more flex and extension. Increase intensity. Allow some slip with the high edge angles, add some rotary, develop a dynamic short radius turn. Shorten it more. See how many turns you can make between where you are and some arbitrary point down the hill. Make true, dynamic, round, very "carvy," very short turns with high edge angles, but maintain speed control within the width of a single groomer pass without putting on the brakes at the end of each turn, which means you have to really finish the turns while moving into each new turn early. Windshield wiper "turns" don't count.

 

If you make the turns short enough and you do enough of them, your leg muscles will literally warm up - you'll feel it.

 

This is by no means a complete set of drills, and the racing community, in particular, can chime in with drills both more sophisticated and more difficult. I do this sequence, sometimes spread out over more than one run, because I have to be moving accurately and be balanced accurately in order to do the tasks to anything like the standard that I want. I almost always think they could be done better. I finish with my muscles warmed up and my sense of where I should be relative to my feet and skis renewed from yesterday or last week. The movements I am practicing will be the same movements I'll use in bumps, trees, crud and powder. And, it's fun to see how many high-energy, high quality short turns I can do in a particular distance.

 

I believe it's a much more effective warm-up than the fast cruising that most people seem to favor when they "warm-up." While crusing can be fun, the wind chill and low energy requirements of such a run will often leave me colder than when I started.

 

And powder days? Take no prisoners!!!

post #15 of 22

jhcooley, it's been a while since I've read one of your insightful posts, but once again you've contributed to my skiing... thank you! That's a great approach and I'm going to play with it when I'm next on-snow. Thanks!

post #16 of 22

Hey JH, thanks for following up and sharing that. I know a lot of people just like to get out and blast off right away, but I prefer to take a run or two and ease into the skiing, and your approach sounds like a really good one for helping to feel things and get them dialed in.

post #17 of 22

Yeah, well, the reason I have to do 50 pivot slips is it takes me a while to get them into some resemblance of what they really should be... redface.gif

 

This whole detour into drills is way off topic and I should have put it in a different thread. In fact, it almost runs directly counter to what Dan originally said.

 

I do the drills so that I am then free to apply the technique with purpose, so I can feel free to GO, so I can enjoy the rush and the challenge while eliminating the anxiety.

post #18 of 22

I do get Dan's post, especially when he says: Once you start at a level where your attitude is determining where you want to ski, then its time to stop focusing on technique and start focusing on where you go and why. However, I think this applies far better to solid skiers that are focused on technique and have become students of skiing. They need to switch focus (at least occasionally) as Dan suggests. It will certainly do them a world of good.

 

But the majority of skiers only focus on where to go and why. And their skiing never really improves, except to perfect the bad habits they invariably recruit when the terrain get more and more difficult. These skiers probably should not follow this advice (or at least not all the time). redface.gif

post #19 of 22

And that, TomB, is why the Sports Diamond is so important (for any reader who doesn't know what it is, see http://edgechange.com/).

post #20 of 22

if you watch a skier bomb down a crazy line and think

 

omg I want to ski like that, you are probably seeing fundamentals

 

if you watch a skier bomb down a crazy line and think

 

omg that guy has big balls, you are probably seeing tactics

 

if you watch a skier bomb down a crazy line and think

 

omg best skier i've ever seen, you are seeing an expert mix of fundamentals and tactics

post #21 of 22


Quote:

Originally Posted by jhcooley View Post

Yeah, well, the reason I have to do 50 pivot slips is it takes me a while to get them into some resemblance of what they really should be... redface.gif

 

This whole detour into drills is way off topic and I should have put it in a different thread. In fact, it almost runs directly counter to what Dan originally said.

 

I do the drills so that I am then free to apply the technique with purpose, so I can feel free to GO, so I can enjoy the rush and the challenge while eliminating the anxiety.


I couldn't agree more about the value of a daily warm-up routine.  Here's a few routines of various skills levels, for people to use.  

 

http://www.yourskicoach.com/YourSkiCoach/Daily_Warm_Up_Routine.html

post #22 of 22

It's too bad that so many folks assume Dan is suggesting they stop working on developing better skills. Purposeful skiing still requires good technique. Perhaps more than any other group Racers understand this relationship best. They train technique and tactics. To finish first they first need to finish. You can't do that by using either polar opposite alone.

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