As you all may remember, I have posted on here about my frustration with my new Atomic Access rockered skis. They chattered on hard pack, and I didn't feel quite comfortable on them. I wondered if I bought the wrong skis. Here's the threads I started if you're curious:
So I no longer think I bought the wrong skis. I went up to Mt. Hood Saturday and something clicked. It was a warm day, and the snow was spring-like. A couple of things helped this happen:
1) I took a lesson last time I went up, which was on another powder day. I had signed up for a group lesson, but ended up with a private lesson for the group lesson price. Awesome! The instructor totally pushed me, which is what I want in an instructor. He took me on blacks, and I was able to make it down them without falling--I surprised myself. Some of the most helpful tips he gave me involved
--Telling me to lift up my toes while I'm skiing in order to engage my ankles. I didn't notice a huge difference from this, but the effect it had became obvious on steep black diamonds--my skis felt more maneuverable. I still find it hard to maintain my ankles in that flexed position, but I'll keep working on it. Any tips?
--Emphasizing pole plants or touches. This was hard for me last time because I was using aluminum poles, and I would get lazy with them. The instructor emphasized reaching/leaning for a pole plant to initiate a turn. This was especially helpful to me on steep terrain, when I get a bit nervous about turning and end up traversing across the mountain a lot. Reaching out for a pole plant initiated the turn, and boom--I was turning. I think that will help me get better on steeper terrain.
--I had forgotten about the idea of counter--or I had never been taught it. Keeping my hips facing the fall line really does help, and once I got the hang of it made skiing feel much more smooth.
2) At that lesson, the instructor let me hold his graphite poles when I mentioned that my poles were heavy. The difference in weight was surprising. I decided to return my aluminum poles and got a pair of Carbon Fiber Leki poles, specifically these:
I noticed these new poles made a surprising difference in my skiing. For one, they have this "trigger" grip which you slide over your gloves and clicks into the pole, so that the pole is connected to your glove. You can let go of the pole and it will still be right where it should be. The poles swung easily, and that made skiing flow a lot smoother. I'm not sure of their weight--does anyone know of a website that lists the weight of poles? Regardless of their weight, the "trigger" grip that keeps them in place meant that the poles felt less fatiguing, since they were just hanging off my gloves. One technical question:
I started to get in this pumping rhythm with my poles, where the hand that had planted ended up behind me, and I brought it forward at the next pole plant. I was basically always bringing one hand or the other forward. Is this ok, or should I try to keep both of my hands in front of me at all times?
All of this resulted in a lot of fun on Saturday. I skied for longer before my legs started to get sore. I also noticed that I was making less zig zag turns to cut speed. When I did make those style of turns, I noticed how quickly they fatigued me. I was making more slow, flowing turns, and carrying more speed, which was a lot of fun and slightly scary.
The skis still chatter a little when going straight and fast, but I think the benefits of rocker (less catchiness, for one) is more than worth it.
Anyway, a lot of words to say that I had a blast and can't get skiing out of my mind now. I was beginning to get frustrated with my skiing ability, and was wondering if my skiing ability was going to keep moving forward. It has, and I'm hooked!