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Two ways of ripping

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

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.


Edited by nolo - 3/19/11 at 10:18am
post #2 of 39

Skiers who rip are fluent in both carving and smearing, either on the WC or IFSA.

 

In fact, the ability to control the skis edges to achieve a desired outcome might be the definition of 'expert'.

post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 

This is really good, Whiteroom--I'm going to quote it big and in color:

 

The ability to control the skis edges to achieve a desired outcome might be the definition of 'expert'.

post #4 of 39

Being controlled / dictated by gates, where to turn seems to produce better results....... IMO..

Smearing leaves you choice at least most of the times, gates not at all....

 

Most of the WC guys could smear pretty well/ A. Svindall vid/,but opposite guys wouldn't do well in gates, period....... If so give me example.....

post #5 of 39

Reaching a skill level that can utilize both ends of the spectrum makes skiing exciting and rewarding.

post #6 of 39


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

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 Champions). 

 

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.


Both groups you have identified are still in the early stages of learning to ski.

The more experienced group like to leave two lines in that (seemingly impossible) line.

 

Same skills, different position of the bar in each domain depending on how much experience one has in that domain.

 

post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post

Skiers who rip are fluent in both carving and smearing, either on the WC or IFSA.

 

In fact, the ability to control the skis edges to achieve a desired outcome might be the definition of 'expert'.


Given the number of former racers at the top of IFSA, this seems pretty clear. 

 

There are other specialized circles of skiing:  bumpers, people with solely a park focus (and within that group several smaller subsets that require different equipment and techniques), and people into things like funcarving/extreme carving, and even stupid pet tricks.

 

Of all those groups, only the funcarvers really care that much about whether they left two lines in groomed snow. 

 

In terms of technical skills, bumpers have far better absorption than racers, with most big mountain skiers probably somewhere between the two for some types of absorption, and far better than the others for others.  Air and body awareness goes from the park crew to racers in descending order of people for whom it's relevant.  I'm bypassing the the funcarvers entirely on both these fronts. 

 

 

 

post #8 of 39
I see the "turn" as a tool to be infinitely maniplated along a continuum from fully engaged carve to fully released smear, all designed, when combined with turn shape, to release the maximum amount of adrenalin in the quickest and most sustained manner. Unendurable pleasure indefinitely prolonged.
post #9 of 39

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Both groups you have identified are still in the early stages of learning to ski.

The more experienced group like to leave two lines in that (seemingly impossible) line.

Good on ya'!

post #10 of 39

I think that most of us tend to be better at one vs. the other of the angles that Nolo mentions, and therefore we feel more confident talking about that aspect. This tends to come about because of circumstances, and only rarely because of "religious" reasons. As in all areas of life, the religious zealots are always the first, last, and loudest shouters, but they don't represent the sweet juicy meat of civilization valued by the majority of thoughtful and compassionate folks. Just because I start talking about some topic from the perspective of carving technique, please don't without evidence make the mistake of jumping to the conclusion that I think that aspect is more important; it's just the one that I think I understand. If I have anything to contribute, it's more likely to be in that area. But I'm better at it more or less by happenstance. I have a full-time 8 - 6 job, family, working spouse, etc., so my skiing tends to happen in pre-defined timeslots, mostly at smaller hills, mostly scheduled long in advance, often at night, and 95% of the time on the east coast. It's obvious, given those constraints, why I've ended up better at the carving end of the spectrum. HOWEVER, I LOVE to ski soft snow and natural terrain. (Who wouldn't?) And I have been making a successful effort over the past few years to seize opportunities to improve my skills in that area. (Helps to have a kid that's now older and more self-sufficient, which opens up the schedule to more spontaneity.) As a couple of others have already said, in different words, core skills at one end of the spectrum can help you at the other, as long as you understand that certain peripheral things have to be adjusted and you are willing to adjust them. I'll bet many others are in more or less equivalent boats.

post #11 of 39
Thread Starter 

That makes perfect sense, qcanoe. What we know is going to influence how we talk about skiing. 

 

Do you think the best skiers are those that specialize, those that generalize, or is it a dumb question? Eventually all racers leave the circuit, but what about those who go on to become great competitive freeskiers? I'm not aware of any competitive freeskiers who have become World Cup racers, but it could happen. Bode sort of comes to mind. 

 

Ideally, should we all have two pairs of skis, one for carving and one for smearing? 

post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

 

Ideally, should we all have two pairs of skis, one for carving and one for smearing? 

It depends if YOU want to do both.  For me the answer is yes, & a few other pairs in between.  I am on the side that says core skills (carving) allow the most versatility, no matter which boards you are on. 

 

I like it all, & I am sure if my body was younger I would be all over hucking those big gap jumps in the park, but my doc says I need to lay off that stuff.  I have been backing off the race stuff recently as well.  My biggest joy now is just ripping the whole mountain no matter the conditions or pitch.

 

Thanks,

JF
 

 

post #13 of 39

Combine carving/smearing and certain skis can do both easily. IMO carving is a higher skill than smearing.

post #14 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post

IMO carving is a higher skill than smearing.



IMO smearing w/o backseating is the more useful skill.

post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abox View Post





IMO smearing w/o backseating is the more useful skill.


 

Smearing has more practicality but tail gunning doesn't work well with any type of turn.

post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
...

 

Do you think the best skiers are those that specialize, those that generalize, or is it a dumb question? Eventually all racers leave the circuit, but what about those who go on to become great competitive freeskiers? I'm not aware of any competitive freeskiers who have become World Cup racers, but it could happen. Bode sort of comes to mind. 

 

Ideally, should we all have two pairs of skis, one for carving and one for smearing? 


I will go out on a limb here, and say that while I believe the top ranks of big mountain freeskiers will in 5 years or so have many more people who have never raced, following snowboarding's lead (most younger freeriders have never raced, or at least haven't raced alpine), you will never see an adult, elite IFSA competitor, who does not have a racing background, convert to racing and do well as an adult.  The racing skills are too specific and the competition is at too high a level.  I don't think it means racers are the "best" skiers, it just means it's a fairly specific discipline.  I don't think an adult IFSA competitor without a bumping background would be able to compete at a high level as a bumper, either. 

 

To me, the skiers and riders I most admire are those who can do everything kinda sorta well, including rails.  For people who don't need to prove themselves for external reasons, though, they should do what they enjoy.

 

As for skis, I'm not really sure what a smearing ski would be.  For instance, race GS skis are designed to be fairly easy to skid these days.  An uber carver ski would have about 2 cm of camber, an abrupt transition zone, no taper, 2 or three layers of titanal, and be really fun but exhausting on blue groomers and not really anything you'd want to take into a racecourse.  Depending on where someone lives and their likes/dislikes and vocational needs, one pair of frontside carvers may or may not be a good thing to have in their quiver.  A reverse/reverse ski like the original Spatulas would obviously be a smearing ski in firm snow, but in 3d snow they're not, necessarily. 

 

People should have the tools on their feet that suit what they want.

post #17 of 39

eh speak for yourself Nolo I would rather be good at everything  than make my self fall into either camp.

post #18 of 39

 

I am going to call "flawed" on this one. This is almost sort of a replay of the "nobody but racers wants to carve anymore" thread. Which was based on the incorrect notion that people who choose to ski on modern skis are somehow opposed to carving. Likewise this thread seems premised on the notion of "either, or".

 

The folks whose skiing I admire most have mastery of many aspects of their skis. They have command of their edges, bases, tips, tails... skiing forward...and backward...soft snow or hard... They can carve, smear, butter, power slide, etc., etc. 

 

The notion of "either, or" on a skier by skier basis is rather stilted and  artificial IMO. And while many skis have a technique bias, there is now a decent crop of skis that support a variety of turning techniques rather well across a range of conditions.

 

This recurring theme makes me wonder if perhaps the race (and maybe instructional) communities are feeling a bit out of sorts as there is now a range of widely accepted gear and technique evolving quickly outside their "space"? Is this perhaps why this theme of pushing things into camps keeps popping up?

 

post #19 of 39
Thread Starter 

I don't want to push anyone into separate camps, I thought I was noticing something that was already present. 

post #20 of 39

I'd agree that this division exists, people tend to pick one aspect or discipline and identify with it. This is pretty natural, not everyone has the time, athleticism, or inclination to get into freeskiing, whereas everyone can ski on a groomer, which is maybe on this forum, with it's more recreational and older crowd, there are more people identifying with racing/carving. Different demographics would have different views, on newschoolers the other day there was a thread about 'the best all around skier'. I suggested Jon Olsson, as he has had success in almost every aspect of skiing, including getting onto the world cup, a few responses suggested that racing wasn't even really skiing, and shouldn't be under consideration. A similar, but opposite, response on here is to bag on the skills of freeskiers, without the understanding of what it takes to compete in those disciplines.

 

As for whether the skills required to compete in those disciplines are different, of course they are, but at their root they have the same skills of edge control, balance, timing etc. It's just not possible to leave 2 clean lines down the Bec des Rosses, so people on the FWT are going to have more finely honed rotational skills, as well as better air awareness, line choice in off piste terrain, and probably just flat out balls. The World Cup athletes are still at the pinnacle of the mainstream of the sport, so are probably better athletes due to the amount of time, support and money dedicated to making them that fraction faster, hence why they may be able to cross over into the FWT. I really doubt any of them (FWT or Worldcup) could cross into slopestyle/big air though, totally different skillsets, some in the FWT may have come from there, but it'd be so hard to go back. Jon Olsson is the only person that can make it happen, partially because he's a freak, but also because he is one of the biggest names in the sport, hence having the money to go train to get to that level,

 

Personally, given that I have the time to ski a lot (compared to the average skier, not to proper athletes), I have tried to get as good as I can at all areas of skiing, and have competed (albeit somewhat unsuccessfully), in all sorts of different aspects of the sport, and really respect anyone who can dedicate themselves to being good at any one part, let alone mutilple disciplines.

post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post

 

I am going to call "flawed" on this one. This is almost sort of a replay of the "nobody but racers wants to carve anymore" thread. Which was based on the incorrect notion that people who choose to ski on modern skis are somehow opposed to carving. Likewise this thread seems premised on the notion of "either, or".

 

The folks whose skiing I admire most have mastery of many aspects of their skis. They have command of their edges, bases, tips, tails... skiing forward...and backward...soft snow or hard... They can carve, smear, butter, power slide, etc., etc. 

 

The notion of "either, or" on a skier by skier basis is rather stilted and  artificial IMO. And while many skis have a technique bias, there is now a decent crop of skis that support a variety of turning techniques rather well across a range of conditions.

 

This recurring theme makes me wonder if perhaps the race (and maybe instructional) communities are feeling a bit out of sorts as there is now a range of widely accepted gear and technique evolving quickly outside their "space"? Is this perhaps why this theme of pushing things into camps keeps popping up?

 



Awesome post Spin, icon14.gificon14.gif

 

post #22 of 39

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.

post #23 of 39
Thread Starter 

I think I've evolved from being a racer chaser to wanting to ski less controlled and more spontaneously -- instead of memorizing a course, it's plotting a route. One is rote, the other is invention. I do think there's a difference and it's the difference between technical skiing and adaptive skiing (not the handicapped kind, but in the sense of adapting to a changing environment). I believe the two forms of skiing draw from the same technical wellspring, but ask for two quite different kinds of tactics. 

post #24 of 39


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post

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.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post

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."

 

Ken

 

 

 

post #25 of 39

I think that the wonderful thing about alpine skiing is that it is such a broad and varied sport that we truly have enough knowledge space to create a lifelong sport that never gets boring even for those who ski 100s of days each year for a lifetime. And if you do ever get bored with alpine, you can always switch to nordic.

post #26 of 39

Interesting thread nolo.

 

I am currently helping a company that wants to be the title sponsor for a skiing competition series here in Tahoe area where the winner will receive, among other things, a free Heli trip for two to Valdeez sp? AK.

 

I am charged with helping to create the criteria for what kind of competition we will have.  There will be three qualifiers at different resorts followed by a final to determine the winner.

 

My thinking is to make this competition more about technically good skiing in the steeps rather than the current trends in free skiing comps.   The criteria, for which I am open to everyone's thoughts, will be judged on speed, technically sound skiing, rythme, fluidity, line.  So functional air is fine and scored highly if the competitor can keep it within a good flow and rythme of his/her run, but will be scored down if it involves stopping and billy goating before the jump.  My goal is to attract instructor types and racers who have strong technical skills and can apply them in a ripping fashion.  I have been talking with Dan Egan who is sharing his thoughts and ideas.  Hopefully we can employ some celebrity judges such as Dan, Wayne Wong, Glenn Plake perhaps to give the whole thing some cred.

 

I remember watching an extreme tour comp at Snowbird years ago while we were doing an ESA camp there and was pretty amazed at the lack of technical skiing ability and that most competitors simply traversed from one drop or jump to another and actually skied quite poorly.  

 

reading this thread as it develops will be very helpful in shaping this competition perhaps?

post #27 of 39

Good luck Bud.  This sounds like a great competition that the skiing world could use right now.  I think this was the intention during the original big mountain freeski comps.  A little reverse engineering may be in order.  Ski the mountains natural terrain with rhythm & flow, not just searching for the biggest drops with fall & die consequences. 

 

I like it icon14.gif.

 

JF

post #28 of 39

That's basically the current IFSA criteria. 

 

 

post #29 of 39

To answer the question, there is a difference between carvers and smearers even at high levels. It simply takes different movements to tip to carve or pivot to skid. The good news for carvers is that you can always allow a carve to turn into a scarve and start skidding. The bad news for smearers is that it is darn difficult (impossible?) to turn a pivot and skid into a carve. smile.gif

post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post

Skiers who rip are fluent in both carving and smearing, either on the WC or IFSA.

 

In fact, the ability to control the skis edges to achieve a desired outcome might be the definition of 'expert'.

 

 

Yep!   Knowing how to do both won't get you there.  It's the subtleties inbetween that will make or break you. 

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