Originally Posted by nolo
It seems like the people who frequent this forum are carvers or smearers. By that I mean they tend to lean to one side or the other, their ski heroes are one or the other, etc. Maybe I'm wrong about you, but I'm generalizing here. I would define the two as follows. Carvers like to leave two lines in groomed snow. Smearers like to say, I skied that (seemingly impossible) line. There are people who achieve the highest levels of carving (we call them World Cup racers) and people who achieve the highest levels of smearing (we call them World Freeskiing competitors).
My question: is there any difference in the technical skills exhibited by skiers who rip at either side of the sport? Please explain your answer.
I think there are several differences beyond technical skills; gear, line, terrain, conditions and tactics. As far as technical skills, I know several skiers that can do both, though there are plenty more that are predominantly in one or the other.
I also think that the biggest difference is choice. Maybe even preference. "What do I want to ski?" "How do I want to ski?" The choice made be made out of ignorance (i.e. I don't know how to do that or I think I'm doing that [but they aren't]).
I have a friend that is an expert smearer. He can ski bumps and trees better than many skiers but put him in an easy (NASTAR) race course and he'll be lucky to get a bronze. His gear and his choices are also more in line with smearer. When he ventured into racing, everything was wrong for him; wrong gear, wrong style and he was at the bottom of the totem pole instead of the top. He enjoyed the adventure but at the first opportunity to go in the trees, he'll take it. I think to him, learning to race/carve was like taking a foreign language in HS for many of us. You just did it because you should (had to) even though you know you'll probably never use it. I know he is very happy with his choices.
Originally Posted by Lars
I think it's important to be a complete enough skier with a full bag of tricks that will allow you to do anything you want on any given day at the resort. In other words, depending on the conditions and your mood, you may want to start out shredding powder all morning till all the lines are skied out, then spend a couple hours skiing powder bumps till your feeling relaxed enough to spend the afternoon cranking our big carves on the groomers the rest of the day. If you're lucky enough to have another pair of skis in the truck to make your transition a little more enjoyable, great. Otherwise, you just go with what you brung. Which usually is my preferred powder bump ski to begin with. I'll sacrifice the carving end of the spectrum and lean towards a fattie combo bump ski cause that's the most fun for me. And it's all about fun in my book.
Couldn't agree more. I know gold/platinum racer that go in the trees as soon as there's an opportunity and love it and then when there's a race, they love that! I also have a friend that is a top notch racer that at the mention of tree skiing say "F*** that!" Part of that answer is based on being on 188 FIS race skis.
Two friends (one smearer/one racer); each at each end of the spectrum.
I'm more the carver end of the spectrum . Though I want to get better at the bumps and might venture in to tree skiing some day, I would prefer to spend a day on the groomers doing drills to make me a better carver than venture into the trees. I know that to be a better racer I need to be a better all around skier to include the bumps, but for now, my preference is groomers and working on two lines in the snow with no smearing.
It wasn't until this year that I realized that smearing could be just as technically challenging (and rewarding) as carving. I was forced to do it for an entire clinic. It was odd because one of my favorite drills is pivot slips and do them each day of skiing. My issue is that I work so hard at carving, I have to think about not trying to carve.
In my head comparing carving to smearing is like comparing cycling (on the road) to mountain biking. Some folks do both, some prefer one or the other and more than likely there gear supports their choices. Both have specific skills required to excel at them and they also have specific gear. If they just like goofing around on the mountain and some times they ride on the road, they might have an "All Terrain" bicycle which I'm sure in the cycling community meets the same scrutiny that HeluvaSkier gives "All Mountain" skis - "A common descriptive term for boots or skis that are designed to perform equally poorly under a variety of conditions and over many different types of terrain."
I don't think it's camps. I think its preferences and comfort zone or just plain old "Hey! I'm having fun! Leave me alone." "I'm happy here and that looks like too much work."