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Well Rounded Skier

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hey guys!

 

So I picked skiing back up last year having not been active in the sport for around 15 years (learned as a kid then rediscovered skiing during a year abroad in the French Alps).  I made a lot of progress last season and got pretty good at carving my way down the mountain.  The problem is this: I don't feel complete as a skier.  When I see a wide-open, rather steep, slope I get excited because this is the area that I thrive in.  I love to cut my way down the mountain.  However, I don't think that I'm the best at making simple turns (steering, not carving).  How can I learn to steer the proper way?  I can see the benefits of steering versus carving, as carving I can only truly do at high speeds, some slopes require slow turns not fast ones, etc. and think that steering will help me a lot when I eventually make my way into the backcountry.  I have looked into the "Your Ski Coach" DVD series which I think I might get when I have some extra money, but do you guys have any other suggestions?  Lessons?  Practice (obviously)?  Any help would be much appreciated!

 

In addition to my personal questions, how did you guys become a complete skier?  How would you define a complete skier?

post #2 of 18

My list on how to get better (in order) based on my own experience.

 

#1 Ski with people better than you as much as possible.  Even if I am solo on a mountain I look for shredders and follow them.  They know the stashes and they ski fast and hard.  I keep up (usually) and, often times, make some new friends.  These are the people that can help you so, the way I look at, I needed to make effort and this was very important when I moved from the east to the west when I was younger.

 

#2  Put yourself into situations that you KNOW you CAN do but maybe not as aesthetically pleasing as you would like.  Each time you complete a difficult section it builds the confidence to start to "ski" those sections rather than "survive" them.  (Please do this in bounds as side or backcountry is not the place for experimentation.)

 

#3  Dedicate a large portion of this season to learning to really ski bumps.  Bumps force the skier to relax and look ahead.  What this is doing is making your body learn to confidently follow the line that your mind is drawing and make split section adjustments when required.  Try to find seeded bumps rather than garbage built up by a bunch of sliders.

 

#4  Don't be afraid to fall.  If you don't fall you could not possibly have been pushing it enough to get better.  (Do you know how many times in my life I have eaten shit right under a crowded lift or in from of all the boys?)

 

 

 

 

 

post #3 of 18

I have been more focused on improving my carving in recent years, but think that pivot slips might be a good drill for you http://www.epicski.com/t/79108/pivot-slip.- I feel they helped my edge control and ability to make quick, speed control turns and worked on them some in the unlimited adult lesson program at Keystone the last few years.

 

I have never done pivots slips with leapers or backslids, but they looks like they would raise the bar

 

 

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dennyn23 View Post

Hey guys!

 

So I picked skiing back up last year having not been active in the sport for around 15 years (learned as a kid then rediscovered skiing during a year abroad in the French Alps).  I made a lot of progress last season and got pretty good at carving my way down the mountain.  The problem is this: I don't feel complete as a skier.  When I see a wide-open, rather steep, slope I get excited because this is the area that I thrive in.  I love to cut my way down the mountain.  However, I don't think that I'm the best at making simple turns (steering, not carving).  How can I learn to steer the proper way?  I can see the benefits of steering versus carving, as carving I can only truly do at high speeds, some slopes require slow turns not fast ones, etc. and think that steering will help me a lot when I eventually make my way into the backcountry.  I have looked into the "Your Ski Coach" DVD series which I think I might get when I have some extra money, but do you guys have any other suggestions?  Lessons?  Practice (obviously)?  Any help would be much appreciated!

 

In addition to my personal questions, how did you guys become a complete skier?  How would you define a complete skier?




I like swellhunters list sounds good, take MEfree30 advice then work that into what I call how slow can you go parallel turns. Try to use as little edge or as flat a ski as you can while maintaining as slow a speed as possible while skis are parallel ( no stems) during your descent of  trail. Its like public speaking if you think you are talking too slow you are really going too fast slow it down even more. Start off with shallow slopes and work your way up to steeper  lines. Use groomer width paths as a boundary to stay in with your skis. Turn the legs from the femur bones and keep a quiet steady upper body as in pivot slips. As slope gets steeper turn the skis more up hill. You control the descent not your skis, work this stuff into bump runs then trees. There are plenty of other drills, tasks that will help you become a complete skier this is but one of many.

I'm still working on becoming a complete skier. My definition of complete skier:  skier can ski anything, anytime, under any conditions Good luck and have fun playing in the mountains

post #5 of 18

I think there is too much emphasis on carving particularly for skiers early in their careers.The sensation of a true carved turn is one the finest you will find but it's only a part of the picture. First of all very few skiers carve well. I spent a day skiing with a guy last season who told me he liked to carve and ski fast. I headed off on a fairly gentle pitch really only in warm up mode. When I stopped he was nowhere to be seen. He finally appeared neither carving nor skiing fast. His perception was way wide of the reality. I spent the next few hours working with him on some more foundation skills like just developing an athletic and balanced stance. His skiing improved noticeably.

 

To be a 'complete skier' you need a large pallet of skills. You need sound foundations in place. I would strongly recommend a few lessons however good you are. Skiing with skilled observers will direct your learning and if you give your instructor an honest appraisal of what you want to acheive, he or she will be able to point you in the right direction. You can spend a lot of wasted time otherwise. I would also strongly recommend the 'Your Ski Coach' DVDs. Just buy the first 2 and work on the skills and drills Rick suggests. You will find your skill level will improve beyond recognition. It will really help to focus your learning and Rick is great at responding to any questions you have.

 

If you really want to improve get a plan and some sound direction. Good luck!¬

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice guys!

 

Swellhunter: Yea, I generally do this.  I skied last year with 3 people who have been skiing their entire lives, so needless to say I was struggling at the beginning to keep up.  I did/do fall a lot, but like you said, every fall means I learn a bit more!  The one thing I haven't tried yet are bumps.  To be honest, I'm a little scared to really go at them.  Got any advice on how to conquer the bumps?

 

MeFree: Thanks for the drills!  I'd hear about these, but haven't tried them yet.  Do you dedicate a certain portion of your ski day to drills?  I've heard that that is the way to really improve your skiing.  I suppose this year, seeing as I'm on the east coast, I'll have a lot more time to do drills and technical stuff as the hills in my backyard aren't the biggest in the world.

 

Snowbowler: Thanks for the breakdown.  Its much needed!  I like the idea that I'm in control of the skis, not the other way around.  I definitely felt this way when I picked the sport up again, but I felt very confident on skis towards the end of last season.  So, are you a complete skier?  Haha

 

Adie: Yea, you can waste a lot of time, and a lot of money too.  That's the problem I face: finding a good instructor.  Im 21 and feel that I would only really listen to someone that is older than me.  I want a good quality instructor, not a part-time kid.  I guess that's why I was looking into the Your Ski Coach series.  It seems to me that it does exactly as you stated, focuses your learning.  Do you have any other dvds you can reccomned or is Ski Coach just that good?  I've heard great things about it...

post #7 of 18

There's plenty to be going on with in Your Ski Coach. I haven't really found anything better. You tube has lots of good stuff as well but there's also lots of rubbish so you need to be careful. Have a look for CSIA, PSIA ans NZSIA videos on there. I'd also recommed Section 8. There aren't many from them but Tobin who presents them is a really good skier and keeps the information simple.

 

As for finding time for drills. Make sure you don't get fixated to the point where it becomes boring but you can set aside some time for drills most days, maybe early in the day as part of your warm up runs. Drills like Rick Schnelleman's are appropriate however good you are so you might convince your ski buddies to join in. Just a word of caution though, make sure the drills have a purpose and are not just done for the sake of it. I make myseld little credit sized laminated prompt cards that I keep in my pocket with a brief outline of the drill, its purpose and some coaching points. I then write up how they went and what I need to do to improve. I also asign a level for each skill drill based on the Canadian model - Initiation, Acquisition, Consolidation, Refinement, Creative Variation (Have alook on the CSIA website 'snowpro' if you want to know more)

 

I just realised reading this back that I sound like what we call in the UK an 'anorak!' Hope it helps anyway.

post #8 of 18

And ski in all weather. I mean ALL weather and ALL conditions. Ice, rain, crud, powder, everything. Good light, flat light, in a raging blizzard. When you can't see, you start to 'feel'. The broad palette comes from broad experience. Many skiers severely limit their days and experiences by just not getting out in less than their ideal weather and slope conditions. The off piste is heavy mank? Make sure you make some runs there, then go back to the groomers. Rock hard bumps? Yep. Go there for a couple of runs. Do top to bottom non-stops. If you're in the mountains, this will force yourself to be super efficient, relaxed, and breathing well, or you won't make it the whole way. There are no bad conditions just one's that you're less comfortable with. Dealing with them is how 'mastery' happens. Your mileage may vary, but mileage is what it's all about.

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dennyn23 View Post

Hey guys!

 

So I picked skiing back up last year having not been active in the sport for around 15 years (learned as a kid then rediscovered skiing during a year abroad in the French Alps).  I made a lot of progress last season and got pretty good at carving my way down the mountain.  The problem is this: I don't feel complete as a skier.  When I see a wide-open, rather steep, slope I get excited because this is the area that I thrive in.  I love to cut my way down the mountain.  However, I don't think that I'm the best at making simple turns (steering, not carving).  How can I learn to steer the proper way?  I can see the benefits of steering versus carving, as carving I can only truly do at high speeds, some slopes require slow turns not fast ones, etc. and think that steering will help me a lot when I eventually make my way into the backcountry.  I have looked into the "Your Ski Coach" DVD series which I think I might get when I have some extra money, but do you guys have any other suggestions?  Lessons?  Practice (obviously)?  Any help would be much appreciated!

 

In addition to my personal questions, how did you guys become a complete skier?  How would you define a complete skier?

 

      Lessons, coaching, try racing, powder, carving, groomers, moguls, cornice launching, steeps, trees, crud  YES.    All the foregoing are assets to your skiing.   But the one thing that will make you a complete skier is time on the snow, lots of time, lots of turns in all types of snow at all types of resorts and hills.  Ski with confidence will come with experience.  There is no quick fix to becoming a compete skier.  The real plus is how much, challenge and fun it will be getting all this experience.  ENJOY
 

 

post #10 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dennyn23 View Post

Thanks for the advice guys!

 

MeFree: Thanks for the drills!  I'd hear about these, but haven't tried them yet.  Do you dedicate a certain portion of your ski day to drills?  I've heard that that is the way to really improve your skiing.  I suppose this year, seeing as I'm on the east coast, I'll have a lot more time to do drills and technical stuff as the hills in my backyard aren't the biggest in the world.

 

 


Some instructors I have skied with say they like to start every day with certain drills or style of skiing to warm up and get them into the right positions/frame of mind for the day.  I tend not to be this regimented but having a fixed routine is probably a good way not to forget about certain things you want to incorporate.  

 

I agree that drills are a good way to keep less demanding and varied terrain interesting.  We have some good terrain in Colorado, but I try to take advantage of run-outs and lower angle stuff by working on specific things like rail road tracks, 1 legged skiing, etc.  I tend to work more on technique early in the season (when there is limited terrain) or in other situations when hitting more demanding terrain is not an option.  Instead of doing nothing while waiting on a slower skier, you can stop a bit sooner and do some pivot slips or another exercise/drill that will slow you down.

 

Rick's videos have a lot of interesting drills to keep things fun and improve your skiing.  As others have said, the more you mix it up, the more complete a skier you will become.  Racing/running gates is another good suggestion- turning where the gates are is different than turning when/where you want to.  If your local hill offers a reasonable Nastar season pass, you can track how your handicap improves as a good way to see how that part of your skiing is progressing.

 

Where in the French Alps were you?  I spend a year in Bourg St. Maurice in 07-08, but am closer to 40 than 20.  I didn't realize from your original post that it was your junior year abroad- sorta assumed you were older having had a 15 year layoff.  If you are only 21, you have a lot of good days ahead of you and the training and learning you do now will benefit you for many years to come.  Best of luck and enjoy!  

 

post #11 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dennyn23 View Post

Thanks for the advice guys!

 

Swellhunter: Yea, I generally do this.  I skied last year with 3 people who have been skiing their entire lives, so needless to say I was struggling at the beginning to keep up.  I did/do fall a lot, but like you said, every fall means I learn a bit more!  The one thing I haven't tried yet are bumps.  To be honest, I'm a little scared to really go at them.  Got any advice on how to conquer the bumps?

 

MeFree: Thanks for the drills!  I'd hear about these, but haven't tried them yet.  Do you dedicate a certain portion of your ski day to drills?  I've heard that that is the way to really improve your skiing.  I suppose this year, seeing as I'm on the east coast, I'll have a lot more time to do drills and technical stuff as the hills in my backyard aren't the biggest in the world.

 

Snowbowler: Thanks for the breakdown.  Its much needed!  I like the idea that I'm in control of the skis, not the other way around.  I definitely felt this way when I picked the sport up again, but I felt very confident on skis towards the end of last season.  So, are you a complete skier?  Haha

 

Adie: Yea, you can waste a lot of time, and a lot of money too.  That's the problem I face: finding a good instructor.  Im 21 and feel that I would only really listen to someone that is older than me.  I want a good quality instructor, not a part-time kid.  I guess that's why I was looking into the Your Ski Coach series.  It seems to me that it does exactly as you stated, focuses your learning.  Do you have any other dvds you can reccomned or is Ski Coach just that good?  I've heard great things about it...


You can have the best instructors in the world but they will NEVER equal # of days skiing - EVER.  All a ski instructor can do is fine tune technique - they are not miracle workers.  You have more control over your improvement than anyone.

 

As far as bumps go, it's not rocket science - start out nice and slow and then build up speed as you gain confidence.  Start with bumps on as little pitch as possible and then work your way up to more pitch. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #12 of 18

One method of becoming what you call a complete skier, is to become a ski instructor. That's how I did it. http://www.turnshape.com/2011/08/i-became-ski-instructor-so-i-could.html

 

They ski lots (even if it's slow a lot of the times), they do drills, they study, understand and teach technique. And you definitely don't have to be a complete skier to start out as an instructor. Don't know if there are opportunities near you but even part time instructing can help. 

 

My take on what is a complete skier is someone who can ski any terrain in any conditions with confidence and skill. They make it look almost effortless. 

 

Here's an article on how to start getting the feel for steering your skis. Hope it helps. 

 

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by swellhunter View Post

You can have the best instructors in the world but they will NEVER equal # of days skiing - EVER.  All a ski instructor can do is fine tune technique - they are not miracle workers.  You have more control over your improvement than anyone.

A good instructor will prevent you from developing bad habits, and spending many more days of skiing on unlearning them.  Very few people have the natural talent to do better on their own than with an instructor.  Of course, you'll want to spend the time to drill what the instructor taught you.

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigatoh View Post

One method of becoming what you call a complete skier, is to become a ski instructor. That's how I did it. http://www.turnshape.com/2011/08/i-became-ski-instructor-so-i-could.html

 

They ski lots (even if it's slow a lot of the times), they do drills, they study, understand and teach technique. And you definitely don't have to be a complete skier to start out as an instructor. Don't know if there are opportunities near you but even part time instructing can help. 

 

My take on what is a complete skier is someone who can ski any terrain in any conditions with confidence and skill. They make it look almost effortless. 

 

Here's an article on how to start getting the feel for steering your skis. Hope it helps. 

 


      Don't necessarily agree with this statement.  Probably depends on where you become a ski instructor.  In my experience there are places where ski instructors can; make almost perfect medium radius turns on groomers, can perform drills really well and can look really good at slow to medium speed doing the same turn on groomers.

 

This doesn't make you a good well rounded and versatile skier.  You even risk the chance of being labeled a Instructor Clone.  I am not condemning all instructors and/or ski schools just saying that the foregoing does happen, depends on the place, mentor, student etc.  NOTE, This statement is based on experience not just my unsolicited opinion.

 

Be well rounded in your skiing - Ski a Lot - Different places, snow, companions etc.

 

post #15 of 18

The one thing that you will get from an instructor that you will not get from a video is FEEDBACK. Some people can learn anything from watching a video. Are you that kind of person? Other people will watch a video and go out thinking that they are doing what the video showed them but in reality they are not. Try watching the video with a friend that is near the same level as you are and help each other. I will often pair students in my groups to work on this peer coaching. The exercise of trying to help someone else can also help you to think things through. This may have been what a previous poster was referring to when he mentioned becoming an instructor to improve his own skiing.

post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post


      Don't necessarily agree with this statement.  Probably depends on where you become a ski instructor.  In my experience there are places where ski instructors can; make almost perfect medium radius turns on groomers, can perform drills really well and can look really good at slow to medium speed doing the same turn on groomers.

 

This doesn't make you a good well rounded and versatile skier.  You even risk the chance of being labeled a Instructor Clone.  I am not condemning all instructors and/or ski schools just saying that the foregoing does happen, depends on the place, mentor, student etc.  NOTE, This statement is based on experience not just my unsolicited opinion.

 

Be well rounded in your skiing - Ski a Lot - Different places, snow, companions etc.

 

 

I agree that location may have an impact on where you instruct. In particular suitable terrain for developing skills and in house training regiments with good trainers are two important factors. 

 

However, drills, slow(er) turns on groomers are all part of the process of becoming a better skier. If my basic parallel wasn't great, it's unlikely my carved turns will be much better. If my short turns were pretty average on the groomed, they would definitely be very average in the crud or bumps. Instructors may sometimes come across as clones and I offer that they are trying to imitate efficient movements they have seen and been taught. It is only later that they will emulate those movements and develop their own style. And while most will spend a lot of time on these drills at the initial levels of ski instructing, every fully certified ski instructor of any system will definitely be able to ski all terrain and all conditions well enough.

 

I proposed one method of becoming a more well rounded skier that may not have been so obvious to many; becoming a ski instructor. It is definitely not the only way. Some will definitely not feel it is the way that suits them and their style but I highly doubt ski instructing will make you a worse skier. Skiing is a technical sport. That's why most of us read this forum, for tips and techniques. There is a level in skiing you will find difficult to surpass if you just bang away at it with mileage without qualified guidance. 

 

 

post #17 of 18

+1 on practicing pivot slips, with approximately 90 degree leaps.  For me personally, once I had the hang of that technique I found I could feel somewhat comfortable in most terrain because at the very least you have those movements to rely on.  I certainly don't consider myself a "complete" skier (I'd say that means you're a level 9 expert), but having something to fall back on with confidence is an important step.

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayT View Post

+1 on practicing pivot slips, with approximately 90 degree leaps.  For me personally, once I had the hang of that technique I found I could feel somewhat comfortable in most terrain because at the very least you have those movements to rely on.  I certainly don't consider myself a "complete" skier (I'd say that means you're a level 9 expert), but having something to fall back on with confidence is an important step.



Good point, I have found in any moving type of endeavor once you have found the brakes and know they work and how to apply them you can proceed to more difficult/terrifying? activities. Weather it is skiing, biking, motorcyle riding, horseback riding, hauling a load of firewood in a pickup down a mountain road etc.

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