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I think I figured carving out for the first time this weekend...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Sorry about the double post, as I posted this update in the ski gear section to one of my threads about skis, but figured it would get buried in there.  I'm interested to hear feedback on my experience below:

Like everywhere else, the conditions here in New England have been kind of funky.  That hasn't stopped me from getting out though.  Saturday was my sixth time out skiing this season.  Admittedly, the first two times I had my kids out, and those don't count as far as working on my own skiing since I was dealing with them the whole time.


Saturday afternoon, I figured carving out for the first time.  At least, I think I did.  Before Saturday, I was really battling with my form this season.  It was like my body couldn't pick up or remember where I left off at the end of last season, and the end of last season was going fairly well. I should also mention that last year was my first year back in about 6 years, and my first year skiing shape skis. In my first few outings this year, I was horsing my skis around, forgot where their sweet spot was, and it was generally ugly. I felt disconnected at best. Early Saturday, I found my skis' sweet spot for longer flowing GS-type turns by sort of letting them do their thing and then making only minor inputs.  That felt great and made me feel a lot better about how things were going.  There was light at the end of the tunnel.

After lunch, I went back out and stumbled onto shorter carved turns completely by accident.  It was getting a little sloppy out (not to mention icy), and I was on a steeper inter run that was arguably a black, but this mountain is pretty mellow in their trail designations.  I was really working on trying to control my speed and I guess that set the stage for the carve.  I was concentrating more than I had been- and I guess loading the ski up and keeping pressure on it throughout the whole turn.  Instead of all hell breaking loose halfway through the turn and the tails breaking loose and skidding, I managed to hold the ski into it.  The result was a perfect "C" shape to the right that set me up to pull off a consecutive perfect "C" to the left.  I managed to keep linking those for about a hundred yards until I had to stop and rest. My legs were completely on fire, but I sat there thinking, "Holy s***- I don't think I've ever been that in control down a narrower steep in my life".  I was able to duplicate the same thing again after I rested for a minute or so.  

Today, my inner thighs and hip flexors are absolutely on fire, and I skied two days ago.  I haven't been sore after any of the other times I've gone this season, so something is definitely different.  

I don't have a video to dissect, but does this sound like I'm on the right track?

Thanks in advance,

Jay

post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfraga View Post

Sorry about the double post, as I posted this update in the ski gear section to one of my threads about skis, but figured it would get buried in there.  I'm interested to hear feedback on my experience below:

Like everywhere else, the conditions here in New England have been kind of funky.  That hasn't stopped me from getting out though.  Saturday was my sixth time out skiing this season.  Admittedly, the first two times I had my kids out, and those don't count as far as working on my own skiing since I was dealing with them the whole time.


Saturday afternoon, I figured carving out for the first time.  At least, I think I did.  Before Saturday, I was really battling with my form this season.  It was like my body couldn't pick up or remember where I left off at the end of last season, and the end of last season was going fairly well. I should also mention that last year was my first year back in about 6 years, and my first year skiing shape skis. In my first few outings this year, I was horsing my skis around, forgot where their sweet spot was, and it was generally ugly. I felt disconnected at best. Early Saturday, I found my skis' sweet spot for longer flowing GS-type turns by sort of letting them do their thing and then making only minor inputs.  That felt great and made me feel a lot better about how things were going.  There was light at the end of the tunnel.

After lunch, I went back out and stumbled onto shorter carved turns completely by accident.  It was getting a little sloppy out (not to mention icy), and I was on a steeper inter run that was arguably a black, but this mountain is pretty mellow in their trail designations.  I was really working on trying to control my speed and I guess that set the stage for the carve.  I was concentrating more than I had been- and I guess loading the ski up and keeping pressure on it throughout the whole turn.  Instead of all hell breaking loose halfway through the turn and the tails breaking loose and skidding, I managed to hold the ski into it.  The result was a perfect "C" shape to the right that set me up to pull off a consecutive perfect "C" to the left.  I managed to keep linking those for about a hundred yards until I had to stop and rest. My legs were completely on fire, but I sat there thinking, "Holy s***- I don't think I've ever been that in control down a narrower steep in my life".  I was able to duplicate the same thing again after I rested for a minute or so.  

Today, my inner thighs and hip flexors are absolutely on fire, and I skied two days ago.  I haven't been sore after any of the other times I've gone this season, so something is definitely different.  

I don't have a video to dissect, but does this sound like I'm on the right track?

Thanks in advance,

Jay


"Carving" is one of those terms where pretty much nobody agrees upon the definition, but the bolded part pretty much describes for me what carving is about.  i.e., your skis feel like they can't possibly break loose and the next turn just "begins" without realizing that there was a beginning.

 

I guess the real test is to look back at your tracks.  Purists would say that there should be two razor-thin lines in the snow, but any turn that was more-or-less "carved" should leave a pretty distinct track in the snow.

 

post #3 of 16

Congrats on the breakthrough, Jay!

post #4 of 16
Congrats! Still waiting for my Eureka moment or that someone someday can put how to carve in much simpler terms than is very often seen or heard.

Mine is still very much a work in progress.
post #5 of 16

jfraga,

It sure sounds like you experienced a breakthrough.  Congratuations!

 

The sure way to know if you are carving or not is to look back at your tracks.  But here in New England it isn't always possible to do that.  If you're on soft snow that shows tracks next time you're out, find a trail that has few people on it and do a couple of these turns.  Stop, and side-step back up the trail a bit to see what your tracks look like.  If you were carving, there will be two pencil-thin lines parallel to each other snaking down the hill to where you stopped. 

 

Carving means your skis are both tipped up on edge, you are balanced on top of them nice and comfortably, and they are traveling straight ahead slicing through the snow in a pencil-thin track.  There is no skidding, no scraping against the snow.  Carving is FAST.  Way faster than making the usual skidded turn.  Racers carve.  If your hill has racer-types zooming down the trails, watch them.  They are carving.  Look at their tracks if you can; you'll see those two parallel pencil-thin tracks in the snow.

 

If you were doing turns that controlled your speed, did not skid uncontrollably out from under you, and gave you a feeling of being the boss over your skis, that's great!  But you may have been doing another type of turn that's not carved.  Perhaps you were doing "steered turns."  These turns involve the skis skidding around in a C-shaped turn in a skier-controlled manner.  This is the more typical turn used by recreational skiers, and it serves them well all over the mountain.


Congratulations on your progress.  Keep us informed!

post #6 of 16

First, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Whether you were technically carving, half carving or doing something that you just thought was carving, it's clear from your excitement that you experienced a new way to move on skis. This allowed you to negotiate more difficult terrain with more control, so you've made a big advance. Yay!
 

I hope a real instructor chimes in. In the meantime, I've been skiing 29 years (largely in New England) and can carve fairly clean arcs on anything that's reasonably carveable. A few observations:
 

Originally Posted by jfraga View Post

I was concentrating more than I had been- and I guess loading the ski up and keeping pressure on it throughout the whole turn.  Instead of all hell breaking loose halfway through the turn and the tails breaking loose and skidding, I managed to hold the ski into it.  

 

That's the idea, particularly the part about keeping constant pressure on the skis (especially the outside ski) throughout the whole turn. Play with that. You'll learn that the QUIETER you stay on your skis the more easily they'll carve. Except for skilled racers, carving is primarily something you LET happen, not something you MAKE happen. If you put a moving ski up on edge and weight it (ie, stand on it), it will carve. That's all you have to do. Trying to do more (until you're more skilled) is likely to interfere with the clean tracking of the ski along its edge.

 

Originally Posted by jfraga View Post

The result was a perfect "C" shape to the right that set me up to pull off a consecutive perfect "C" to the left. I managed to keep linking those for about a hundred yards...  

YES! YES!! YES!!!

 

You not only discovered carving, you discovered something equally if not more important: that one turn, properly executed with dynamic balance, AUTOMATICALLY leads to another turn in the opposite direction. In short-radius turns, your skis curve around and across the fall line while your upper body (hopefully) continues moving down the fall line. At the end of the turn, if you release the pressure on your edges your skis will NATURALLY and AUTOMATICALLY turn downhill into the next turn. The tension built up in your twisted body and the ski's own tendency to aim downhill guarantees this.

 

IOW, you don't have to do anything to start the next turn. Move correctly and it will start itself.  Keep your entire upper body loose and relaxed. You'll find that linking carved turns is EASIER than the galumphing traverse-twist-brake...traverse-twist-brake pattern of intermediate and beginning skiers. Watch any expert (an instructor, say) free skiing. You will never see them do that, they are always turning in smoothly linked arcs.

 

Originally Posted by jfraga View Post

...until I had to stop and rest. My legs were completely on fire, but I sat there thinking, "Holy s***- I don't think I've ever been that in control down a narrower steep in my life".  I was able to duplicate the same thing again after I rested for a minute or so.  

Today, my inner thighs and hip flexors are absolutely on fire, and I skied two days ago.  I haven't been sore after any of the other times I've gone this season, so something is definitely different.

.  

 

Okay, this is one area where you obviously need to be doing something different. Thigh burn is ubiquitous amongst intermediate skiers but expert skiers almost NEVER suffer thigh burn (unless they're running a World Cup downhill or something). I used to suffer exactly like you did but now, like any expert or near-expert, I can ski non-stop from first chair to last for days with no significant thigh burn. I certainly never stop to rest my thighs, not even out West on mountains that dwarf anything back East. Last weekend I skied World Cup at Okemo (2,000 vertical) non-stop, making short-radius turns all the way in an imaginary, 6 foot wide corridor along the left hand edge. It was such fun I jumped on the chair and did it again on the right hand edge. Hundreds and hundreds of non-stop short-radius turns and hardly a hint of thigh burn.

 

It's not because I'm some great athlete. I drive a desk and this keyboard for a living, lol. What's different is that I move differently than you on skis, more efficiently, so I use far less energy.

 

In particular, I suspect that the steepness/narrowness of that pitch were above your comfort zone. You feared the consequences of too much speed so you were BRAKING at the end of each turn. By braking I mean letting your skis slide sideways a bit to scrub off some speed, like a partial hockey stop. This forces your quads to absorb your whole body mass, at speed, a tremendous amount of work. Nobody's strong enough to ski that way for long without burning out.

 

The secret is to NOT BRAKE like that. So, you ask, how am I meant to avoid accelerating until I'm out of control and crash? Simple. Just stay in your carved turn longer. Don't do ANYTHING but stand on that edged ski. It will keep carving right around until you're literally skiing uphill. Guess what? It's really hard to get going too fast while skiing uphill!

 

The expert skier lets gravity and the pitch of the slope do his work for him. Play with this move. Make a game of it. Choose a steepish but wide, groomed slope that's not too crowded. Carve a turn around and just stay in it until you go uphill and stop. Do it again. Now do some the other way. (These are called "garlands" by the way.) You'll quickly learn that on most slopes you don't have to do ANY braking to control your speed. You're learning to trust your skis.

 

Now ski, nothing too death-defying please, completing each turn just enough so that you're confident about the speed, then flow into the next turn. Repeat and smile.

 

You'll soon be linking turns with more carve and less pain, guaranteed. Enjoy!

post #7 of 16
Man, some really great input here.

Not to hijack the thread, but I'm probably at one level below this, meaning still tyring to get my skis on edge and scared or perhaps unsure how to do so. Do you guys have any tips or drills for mimicking the feeling of getting your skis on edge?
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post

Man, some really great input here.
Not to hijack the thread, but I'm probably at one level below this, meaning still tyring to get my skis on edge and scared or perhaps unsure how to do so. Do you guys have any tips or drills for mimicking the feeling of getting your skis on edge?


Stand with your skis across the hill on a beginner nearly flat slope.  Tip both feet over to one side, bending the ankles sideways.  You can support yourself with your poles, but also try to do it without their help too.  You're just standing there with skis tipped up on edge, not going anywhere, getting a feel for bending the ankles sideways.  That's putting your skis on edge.  Tip them over to the other side, bending both ankles the other way.  The knees get involved too, but your body will figure that out.

 

Now stand on the same slope, but this time point the skis down the hill.  This should really be almost flat in pitch.  Push off with your poles and ski straight ahead.  In slow motion, tip both feet to one side, s.l.o.w.l.y. just as you did a moment ago when you were just practicing.  Keep the skis on edge and wait .... see what happens.  Then s.l.o.w.l.y tip them the other way.  Wait ... and let the skis do what they will.  The skis will gently turn when they are on edge, assuming you are on shaped skis (not old straight skis).

 

If you can keep this a slow motion process, and not jerk any body parts around, and keep yourself upright while doing it, you will carve your way down the bunny slope on edged skis, leaving pencil-thin tracks in the snow.  If you do anything else with those skis, or if you jerk your arms or your shoulders around or start flailing your upper body, you won't.  The pitch needs to be so flattish that you can concentrate on standing quietly just tipping the ankles/feet and doing nothing more ----- while not gaining too much speed.  

 

This drill is called "railroad tracks."  You may find it easy, or difficult, depending on how still you can remain while you gently edge the skis with your ankles.  Enjoy getting the feeling of edging!

If you try this on steeper terrain, you'll go lightning fast and be dangerous to yourself and others.  You need instruction to carve that terrain; take a lesson when you're ready.


Edited by LiquidFeet - 1/10/12 at 1:35pm
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Man, I really appreciate all of the input.  Reading this on my phone right now, but I'm going to check back in when I get home and try to digest all of this.  Thank you!!!

post #10 of 16

WOW! A non-technical description that I can actually digestsmile.gif

 

I know this sounds a bit lame or goofy, but I have tried something similar (in my living room..haha) and my biggest fear on the mountain is feeling as if I will fall over especially at higher speeds.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post


Stand with your skis across the hill on a beginner nearly flat slope.  Tip both feet over to one side, bending the ankles sideways.  You can support yourself with your poles, but also try to do it without their help too.  You're just standing there with skis tipped up on edge, not going anywhere, getting a feel for bending the ankles sideways.  That's putting your skis on edge.  Tip them over to the other side, bending both ankles the other way.  The knees get involved too, but your body will figure that out.

 

Now stand on the same slope, but this time point the skis down the hill.  This should really be almost flat in pitch.  Push off with your poles and ski straight ahead.  In slow motion, tip both feet to one side, s.l.o.w.l.y. just as you did a moment ago when you were just practicing.  Keep the skis on edge and wait .... see what happens.  Then s.l.o.w.l.y tip them the other way.  Wait ... and let the skis do what they will.  The skis will gently turn when they are on edge, assuming you are on shaped skis (not old straight skis).

 

If you can keep this a slow motion process, and not jerk any body parts around, and keep yourself upright while doing it, you will carve your way down the bunny slope on edged skis, leaving pencil-thin tracks in the snow.  If you do anything else with those skis, or if you jerk your arms or your shoulders around or start flailing your upper body, you won't.  The pitch needs to be so flattish that you can concentrate on standing quietly just tipping the ankles/feet and doing nothing more ----- while not gaining too much speed.  

 

This drill is called "railroad tracks."  You may find it easy, or difficult, depending on how still you can remain while you gently edge the skis with your ankles.  Enjoy getting the feeling of edging!

If you try this on steeper terrain, you'll go lightning fast and be dangerous to yourself and others.  You need instruction to carve that terrain; take a lesson when you're ready.



 

 

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post

WOW! A non-technical description that I can actually digestsmile.gif

 

I know this sounds a bit lame or goofy, but I have tried something similar (in my living room..haha) and my biggest fear on the mountain is feeling as if I will fall over especially at higher speeds.

 


You don't need any sort of large edge angles to get the feel of the railroad track drill, so you shouldn't have to worry about falling over.  i.e., if you think you're about to fall over, you're going for way too much.  You're just rolling your feet from side-to-side.  Feel free to stop periodically and take a look at your tracks; if they aren't razor thin, you aren't doing it right.  smile.gif

 

RR tracks is an addictive fun little drill; I find myself doing it all the time when I hit the runout of a trail.

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post

WOW! A non-technical description that I can actually digestsmile.gif

 

I know this sounds a bit lame or goofy, but I have tried something similar (in my living room..haha) and my biggest fear on the mountain is feeling as if I will fall over especially at higher speeds.



Don't do it at higher speeds.  You'll be a speeding bullet looking for a target.

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post





Don't do it at higher speeds.  You'll be a speeding bullet looking for a target.


I have a Skiers Edge machine and have tried to feel the feeling of skis on edge but can't quite feel it.
post #14 of 16

 

Quote:

The secret is to NOT BRAKE like that. So, you ask, how am I meant to avoid accelerating until I'm out of control and crash? Simple. Just stay in your carved turn longer. Don't do ANYTHING but stand on that edged ski. It will keep carving right around until you're literally skiing uphill. Guess what? It's really hard to get going too fast while skiing uphill!

 

 

 

I'm hoping to get to this point soon. It just doesn't feel right staying in the turn that far - very difficult to keep myself from reversing direction once I hit 90 degrees to the fall line. When I do stay in until I'm heading uphill the reverse feels like a pivot turn, not what I'm trying for.

 

Greens and blues are not an issue as I get to terminal velocity (for want of a better term) while still in good control. On the steeper stuff, after a few turns I'm going eleventy billion miles an hour and I have to bail or scrub speed by skidding.

 

post #15 of 16

Here you go, an explanation of what to do if carved turns are too fast for the terrain:

 

http://www.yourskicoach.com/YourSkiC...ered_Turn.html

post #16 of 16

>>> I know this sounds a bit lame or goofy, but I have tried something similar (in my living room..haha) and my biggest fear on the mountain is feeling as if I will fall over especially at higher speeds.
 

Heh. I used to practice edging and independent leg balance drills in front of the mirror while shaving. Pay attention, the consequences of a fall could be painful! eek.gif

 

RR Tracks is a great exercise. Try it on VERY easy terrain first, as LiquidFeet described. Once it feels comfortable it's okay to ratchet up the terrain slightly. Just don't overdue it and get going uncomfortably fast. You'll find it's EASIER to do this drill with a little speed, just like riding a bicycle.

 

Once you've mastered RR Tracks on bunny terrain and have some edging skills, a drill that will help your balance is Thousand Steps. Do RR Tracks type turns but standing up tall and relaxed, feet shoulder width apart or so. As you're turning, step back and forth between your feet, like you were walking around the curve. Try to step continuously while making round, easy, linked turns. Do this on VERY easy terrain at first, just enough pitch to keep moving. This drill will improve your balance and your ability to independently edge your skis. 

 

 

>>> It just doesn't feel right staying in the turn that far - very difficult to keep myself from reversing direction once I hit 90 degrees to the fall line. When I do stay in until I'm heading uphill the reverse feels like a pivot turn, not what I'm trying for.

 

I didn't mean to suggest that you would carry your turns that far when free skiing. But your body must learn that it COULD, if it had to, and that requires doing it a few times. Just play with it, it will make you more comfortable on the steeps.

 

That said, on groomed terrain one can complete a turn even to a stop and then move smoothly into the next turn with NO pivoting. Here's how:

  1. make sure your upper body and hands are relaxed and facing down the fall line;
  2. make sure you're centered on your skis, not in the back seat; and
  3. flatten your skis so they're no longer edged.

The instant you release your edges your skis will AUTOMATICALLY turn into the fall line by themselves. You don't have to apply ANY pivoting to make this happen.

 

Keep rolling your skis right past their flats and onto the new edges. PRESTO! You're carving a new turn. The earlier you edge the more carve and the less pivot.

 

To edge your skis early in a turn, your upper body MUST move downhill AHEAD of them. It feels like diving face-first straight downhill, mighty scary on steep terrain. But as long as your skis are sliding forward and edged you won't fall... you'll carve into the next turn. Skiing linked turns down steep terrain is a continuous freefall. The only reason your face doesn't smack into the slope is that this freefall is controlled by sliding, edged, carving skis.

 

 

>>> On the steeper stuff, after a few turns I'm going eleventy billion miles an hour and I have to bail or scrub speed by skidding.

 

Been there, done that. It's scary and exhausting.

 

The same skills that let you do a controlled garland and then let flattened/re-edged skis pivot into the new turn work here too. You just need to train your body to trust that it will work (and it ALWAYS does).

 

Ramp up the steepness in manageable steps. Garlands and a smooth turn transition on a blue are easy? Great. But don't go jumping onto a double black and expect them to work there. They won't. Your (very sensible) fear will cause your body to freeze up and refuse to cooperate. You'll just fall back on what feels safer, pivoting and braking.

 

Note: Get those skis REALLY up on edge. EXAGGERATE!  The steeper the pitch and/or the higher the speed, the more you have to ANGLE your edges to do a controlled carve.  

 

To link such turns smoothly your body (especially your torso and back muscles) must be completely relaxed. Muscle tension is the enemy of good skiing. Another reason not to practice new moves on terrain that puts you in survival mode.

 

>>> WOW! A non-technical description that I can actually digestsmile.gif

 

Indeed, a great post!. If you want more of the same in an organized plan to get you past the  intermediate stage, read a book by Lito Tejada-Flores, 'Breakthrough on Skis: How to Get Out of the Intermediate Rut'.

 

That book taught me how how to ski back in the 1980s. To this day it's the best ski instruction I've seen (for this level). It feels completely NON-technical yet the ideas are all technically sound. They're also easy to digest because Lito gives you just ONE thing to work on at a time.

 

He presents a simple, organized plan that teaches your body and head the key moves to controlled, relaxed, parallel carving. There are fewer of these key moves than you think, just three in fact. Once you've mastered these the mountain will start to be yours. Bumps? Powder? Ice? Steeps? The skills this book gives you will let you tackle them all with growing confidence and skill. When I stumbled across it I was a novice. Within two or three years I was able to ski any run on any mountain in New England with control and confidence.

 

It's still in print and the principles are still sound. He's also got a newer book out based on today's shorter, more shaped skis. There are also DVD's if you prefer visual learning to reading. Highly recommended. Google it or search on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

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