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A day's difference, and how to carve and ski with everyone else?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

 

The last two seasons have been a revelation for me. I started skiing fairly late in my life (maybe 13 years old?), went infrequently (2-3 days every 2-3 years), and only ever took group lessons. One ski day in my late 20s I was so banged up from the effort of skiing that I just gave up trying. As I fell forward in sheer exhaustion, I serendipitously discovered the virtues of keeping pressure of my shins. Since that day I have been able to "noodle" down the slope in true 80s fashion, skis so close that they knock each other and my boots. I thought that was cool. I thought I had it all figured out.

Fat chance.

Last year, I finally asked for the services of a private instructor, whose first words upon seeing me ski was: "OMG you gotta go back to the pizza wedge!" I never learned what to do with these new-fangled shaped skis, see. Chastened, I purchased and read (twice) Ron LeMaster's "Ultimate Skiing" and went skiing at Wachusetts almost every weekend during that year’s long winter. I spent all my time on green and blue slopes (yes, even at Wachusetts). By the end of the season, I thought I was maybe "letting my skis turn themselves," keeping my skis far enough apart so that I felt like I was "riding a horse," and initiating my turns by "turning towards my pinky toe." I even thought I was starting to understand LeMaster's physics-oriented approach to skiing.

Yeah right.

On Sunday while everyone else was carousing over Super Bowl XLVI, I hunkered down at Gunstock to try out my newest training acquisition: Klaus Mair's "Sofa Ski School" DVD. Actually, I probably needn't have purchased the DVD at all: his YouTube video was sufficient for this carving newbie. His "hands-on-knee" lesson miraculously put it all together. Everything I had learned before suddenly made sense!

I finally understood what it really felt like to counter, to pressure my ski tips, to ski the sidecut, and to widen the stance to allow steeper angles for the outside ski for a sharper turn. To initiate a turn, I moved my body downhill and my skis turned simultaneously, and a split second later the carve turned me back the other way. In other words, I let my skis ski themselves. I linked one C turn with the next with utter ease and on command -- even on boilerplate -- leaving pencil-thin tracks that (mostly) betrayed no skidding.  Where once I blanched at the steeps, or started skidding on hard snow, I now leaned even further forward over my outside ski until its tip engaged the snow and I went on my way. Where once I was afraid of speed, I gained so much with such iron stability that I screamed out loud with glee as I flew by, the wind whistling in my ears.

Most amazingly, skiing now takes apparently no physical effort whatsoever. No matter how fast or hard I turn, or how long the run is, I finish exhilarated and wanting more. Thigh burn? What thigh burn!

But ... now I don't know how to ski with everyone else! I want to carve, but speed picks up so quickly I can only spend a split second in carving bliss before I have to think about how not to run into everyone. I've tried “releasing” my edges by flattening my skis for a controlled skid, I've tried stopping and letting everyone pass out of sight before starting down, I've even tried giving up and just threading through and flying past everyone in F-U maneuvers, which I despise (plus it’s way dangerous).

How do you carvers enjoy skiing with everyone else who don’t know how to ski -- I mean, “carve?!”

More importantly, is it still enjoyable? I was so focused on learning how to carve it never occurred to me what the consequences might be for my skiing pleasure.

Edited by Albireo - 2/6/12 at 2:38pm
post #2 of 28

I only ski with people who carve...your mileage may vary...

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiRacer55 View Post

I only ski with people who carve...your mileage may vary...


Doh, I guess that's what I was afraid of.

 

I did enjoy myself immensely after everyone had gone home to watch the game, leaving large swaths of runs empty for me to practice in and enjoy. Oh, and the one time there was another carver on the same slope (I'm part of the community now, wooo!) we had a moment of synchronized skiing that was pretty swell.

post #4 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Albireo View Post

 

The last two seasons have been a revelation for me. I started skiing fairly late in my life (maybe 13 years old?), went infrequently (2-3 days every 2-3 years), and only ever took group lessons. One ski day in my late 20s I was so banged up from the effort of skiing that I just gave up trying. As I fell forward in sheer exhaustion, I serendipitously discovered the virtues of keeping pressure of my shins. Since that day I have been able to "noodle" down the slope in true 80s fashion, skis so close that they knock each other and my boots. I thought that was cool. I thought I had it all figured out.

Fat chance.

Last year, I finally asked for the services of a private instructor, whose first words upon seeing me ski was: "OMG you gotta go back to the pizza wedge!" I never learned what to do with these new-fangled shaped skis, see. Chastened, I purchased and read (twice) Ron LeMaster's "Ultimate Skiing" and went skiing at Wachusetts almost every weekend during that year’s long winter. I spent all my time on green and blue slopes (yes, even at Wachusetts). By the end of the season, I thought I was maybe "letting my skis turn themselves," keeping my skis far enough apart so that I felt like I was "riding a horse," and initiating my turns by "turning towards my pinky toe." I even thought I was starting to understand LeMaster's physics-oriented approach to skiing.

Yeah right.

On Sunday while everyone else was carousing over Super Bowl XLVI, I hunkered down at Gunstock to try out my newest training acquisition: Klaus Mair's "Sofa Ski School" DVD. Actually, I probably needn't have purchased the DVD at all: his YouTube video was sufficient for this carving newbie. His "hands-on-knee" lesson miraculously put it all together. Everything I had learned before suddenly made sense!

I finally understood what it really felt like to counter, to pressure my ski tips, to ski the sidecut, and to widen the stance to allow steeper angles for the outside ski for a sharper turn. To initiate a turn, I moved my body downhill and my skis turned simultaneously, and a split second later the carve turned me back the other way. In other words, I let my skis ski themselves. I linked one C turn with the next with utter ease and on command -- even on boilerplate -- leaving pencil-thin tracks that (mostly) betrayed no skidding.  Where once I blanched at the steeps, or started skidding on hard snow, I now leaned even further forward over my outside ski until its tip engaged the snow and I went on my way. Where once I was afraid of speed, I gained so much with such iron stability that I screamed out loud with glee as I flew by, the wind whistling in my ears.

Most amazingly, skiing now takes apparently no physical effort whatsoever. No matter how fast or hard I turn, or how long the run is, I finish exhilarated and wanting more. Thigh burn? What thigh burn!

But ... now I don't know how to ski with everyone else! I want to carve, but speed picks up so quickly I can only spend a split second in carving bliss before I have to think about how not to run into everyone. I've tried “releasing” my edges by flattening my skis for a controlled skid, I've tried stopping and letting everyone pass out of sight before starting down, I've even tried giving up and just threading through and flying past everyone in F-U maneuvers, which I despise (plus it’s way dangerous).

How do you carvers enjoy skiing with everyone else who don’t know how to ski -- I mean, “carve?!”

More importantly, is it still enjoyable? I was so focused on learning how to carve it never occurred to me what the consequences might be for my skiing pleasure.


 

well now time to get branch out and learn how to ski anytime, any place at any speed.

 

 

 


Edited by Josh Matta - 2/6/12 at 5:21pm
post #5 of 28

It's time to hunker down and learn to carve ski short radius turns.

See how many turns you can make along a certain distance.

To what extent can you carve these turns?  To what extent

do you need to rotate them without railing them?  Can you learn

to do this?

 

There are definitely times and places where you need to slow

down and NOT carve.  You gotta figure out how to do this thing.

 

What skis are you on?  What's their turn radius?  

 

Alternative:  learn to snowboard.  Work on figuring out how to

manage the snow board while accompanying your slower friends.

That should slow you down.

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

It's time to hunker down and learn to carve ski short radius turns.

See how many turns you can make along a certain distance.

To what extent can you carve these turns?  To what extent

do you need to rotate them without railing them?  Can you learn

to do this?

 

 
Thanks for the suggestion, and I will try it! I know I have only just learned all this yesterday (literally), although I subsequently spent the day learning to tighten the arc further by increasing the angle and focusing on using the energy stored to help propel me into the next turn more quickly. I am convinced that I have learned to initiate turns very quickly -- "instantly" to my mind, in fact -- as long as my body is in the right place in relation to my skis. A video will be the litmus test.
 
How tight can a turn radius be? I haven't taken a lesson since learning to carve so I haven't even had an instructor demonstrate short radius turns to me. I have successfully followed instructor tracks down the slope, but I don't think they were making short radius turns.
 
Particularly on the steeper grades with harder snow I also had to fight the fear that something was going to go drastically wrong, which fortunately never came to pass except when I chickened out and leaned back or into the hill.

 

 

Quote:

There are definitely times and places where you need to slow

down and NOT carve.  You gotta figure out how to do this thing.

 

I understand. At the moment I'm just carving into a controlled skid on every turn, or as I mentioned before waiting until the run is clear. But skidding just feels so ... wrong. Plus now that I can feel the edges of the ski, I feel so horrible for wearing them down.

 

 

Quote:
What skis are you on?  What's their turn radius?  

 

 

Honestly, until yesterday I could confidently say that it didn't matter what ski I was on: I wasn't carving on them anyway. It was only when I got on a pair of demo Nordica FireArrow Pro 80 a couple weeks back at Wachusetts that I had the first sense that I was riding the sidecut rather than turning the ski. But it was the Head STX and i.Titan that I demoed at Gunstock that proved to me I was doing it right, as I was suddenly impervious (relative to before) to hard snow, changing terrain, and absurd speeds. I still can't believe how carving allows you to make turns with such confidence, regardless of surface.

 

My apologies, I don't know the turn radii of the three skis I demoed above (how does one find out?). The STX was 170 cm and the Titan was 163 cm (too short I think for me, as I am 5'11" and 185 lbs full loaded).

 

 

Quote:

Alternative:  learn to snowboard.  Work on figuring out how to

manage the snow board while accompanying your slower friends.

That should slow you down.

 

This is actually a superb idea, and one that would make one of the friends I ski with extremely happy (as he snowboards but has been learning to ski as his wife prefers it).

 

Thanks for your help!

 

 

post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Matta View Post


 

well no time to get branch out and learn how to ski anytime, any place at any speed.

 

 

 


Yep. To the OP, if you want to rip it up in the AM when the hill is quite, the do so! Take a slow run with your friends every so often, and then full time after a late lunch. Skied hard all day yesterday until 2:30, then jumped on a level 1 clinic to see the clinician teach. You can always slow down an refine. It'll make you a much better skier IF you use the time and terrain wisely.

 

post #8 of 28

Now that you can ski effortlessly, put some effort back in.

Try to push get those skis further out from under you and maybe add in muscle strength to get the same carve without depending on the speed and slope to provide all the grip.  

 

Or hit up some bumps/mini-mogul sections if they are options on your run, rather then zooming down the mountain.

You can also always throw in some drills.  There are plenty of exercises that will easily expose weaknesses for you to work on.

post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raytseng View Post

Now that you can ski effortlessly, put some effort back in.

Try to push get those skis further out from under you and maybe add in muscle strength to get the same carve without depending on the speed and slope to provide all the grip. 


Ironically, I do find it easier to carve on green slopes, if only because I'm still intimidated by the speeds achievable when carving on blue runs, never mind blacks. However I thought I was doing something wrong: I felt I was having "manage" the carving on gentle inclines in order to reproduce the same feeling as on the steeper grades. From your comment, I'm guessing this is normal when carving on greens?

 

I know even without videoing myself that I don't carve as beautifully or as rapidly on the flats as others, so it's definitely something I can work on. BTW is that rapid rhythm transferable to steeper hills?

 

Quote:

Or hit up some bumps/mini-mogul sections if they are options on your run, rather then zooming down the mountain.

You can also always throw in some drills.  There are plenty of exercises that will easily expose weaknesses for you to work on.

 

Thanks for the suggestions. I am indeed making a list of drills to try. It's pretty long, as I'm only a beginner!

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post

Work on carving off piste on low angle slopes that keeps it interesting.

 

I was hoping to do some of this, but off-piste has been bare ground this season frown.gif. Maybe I can find some gentle glades somewhere with enough cover not to ruin demo skis ....

post #11 of 28

Carving is easier to do on a gentle slope:  you don't have to tip your feet very far to get onto the new edges to start turning the other way, you don't get going that fast because the slope isn't that great, etc.

 

It is possible to leave pencil-thin tracks on steep(er) slopes, but the difficulty of doing so increases as the slope of the snow increases.  On a steep slope, you need to tip a long ways just to get your feet flat on the ground -- and you need to keep going even further to get your new edges to engage.

 

The higher up on edge you tip your skis, the shorter the turn they'll carve.  The limit as to how far you can tip them is pretty much determined by your balance skills; the limit of the turn radius that results in is defined by the dimensions of your skis.  That said, the shortest turn that you can carve is still much much bigger than the shortest turn that's necessary to enjoy anything other than a wide open uncrowded groomer.  Carving turns through glades is a good way to hit a tree.

 

Don't get me wrong; I think carving is awesome fun.  That sensation of "not really doing much" and turning anyway is intoxicating.  But real all-mountain skiing comes when you can make just about any turn shape imaginable -- and you're not carving them, but you're not really exerting yourself either.  I stop skiing most days not because my quads are fried but because the lifts are closing, and I hardly ever pure carve a turn.

post #12 of 28

Pick more slow lines during your carve.  (Go line is the fall line, slow line is 90 degrees to the fall line.)

 

I carve at a good clip back and forth across the hill.  I go side to side and sometimes glide uphill before dropping down the hill.  This bleeds of speed.  It allows me to feel the carve for a longer time.  (Ski the slow line fast!)

 

I'll do this behind one of my students while they practice.  That way I can see them from both sides as they work.  I can then zoom ahead, stop, and do some on the fly quick coaching.

 

Play with it.  Carving is a great feeling.

post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by KevinF View Post

 

The higher up on edge you tip your skis, the shorter the turn they'll carve.  The limit as to how far you can tip them is pretty much determined by your balance skills; the limit of the turn radius that results in is defined by the dimensions of your skis.  That said, the shortest turn that you can carve is still much much bigger than the shortest turn that's necessary to enjoy anything other than a wide open uncrowded groomer.  Carving turns through glades is a good way to hit a tree.

 

Assuming conditions are against "pleasure" carving -- say, glades or steeps as you mention -- would it be wrong to assume that carving plays no role in making turns? Or do most turns involve some aspect of carving? This would help me understand when to stop trying to force a carve into every situation I encounter, which I'm doing now out of the sheer enthusiasm.

post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post

Pick more slow lines during your carve.  (Go line is the fall line, slow line is 90 degrees to the fall line.)

 

I carve at a good clip back and forth across the hill.  I go side to side and sometimes glide uphill before dropping down the hill.  This bleeds of speed.  It allows me to feel the carve for a longer time.  (Ski the slow line fast!)

 

I'll do this behind one of my students while they practice.  That way I can see them from both sides as they work.  I can then zoom ahead, stop, and do some on the fly quick coaching.


Thanks, I will pay attention to the "slow lines." Quick question: can one carve tight turns where every turn ends slightly upward? I can "slow" myself down on any particular turn by delaying the start of the next turn, but it feels rather like the odd emergency maneuver rather than something I do on every turn, particularly as it greatly widens the width of my C curve.

 

Quote:
Play with it.  Carving is a great feeling.

 

It is indeed. I'm so glad I stuck with it until I got it!

 

 

post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post

 

I'll do this behind one of my students while they practice.  That way I can see them from both sides as they work.  I can then zoom ahead, stop, and do some on the fly quick coaching.

 

 


 

This is true.

post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Albireo View Post

Quote:

 

Assuming conditions are against "pleasure" carving -- say, glades or steeps as you mention -- would it be wrong to assume that carving plays no role in making turns? Or do most turns involve some aspect of carving? This would help me understand when to stop trying to force a carve into every situation I encounter, which I'm doing now out of the sheer enthusiasm.


It depends on the situation.  Turning is a continuum from having your skis flat on the snow and just pivoting them back and forth (i.e., your skis will turn, you really won't) to full on pure-carves.  There are plenty of situations where I'm not about to "pure carve" but I can still feel the skis sidecut pulling me through the turn to some degree (i.e., somewhat carved, somewhat steered).  In bumps / glades, I tend to not want the skis sidecut to pull me through the turn.

 

I'm more concerned about where I'm going than how I'm getting there -- i.e., I have a spot picked out that I'm trying to get to (the gap between two trees, two bumps, around a race gate, etc.) and I see my line (path in the snow) that it takes to get me there and I just stay on the path.  If the turn winds up being highly carved, great.  If not, great.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Albireo View Post


Thanks, I will pay attention to the "slow lines." Quick question: can one carve tight turns where every turn ends slightly upward? I can "slow" myself down on any particular turn by delaying the start of the next turn, but it feels rather like the odd emergency maneuver rather than something I do on every turn, particularly as it greatly widens the width of my C curve.


Yes, you can keep turning until you're looking back uphill.  Using the mountain to slow you down (it's hard to ski uphill quickly !) is what the "slow line" is all about.

 

post #17 of 28
I'm also a big fan of the sofa ski stuff, but have not had a eureka moment like yourself. I have two fears: tipping my skis on edge and skiing without poles. Going to make more of an effort this wkend
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post

I'm also a big fan of the sofa ski stuff, but have not had a eureka moment like yourself. I have two fears: tipping my skis on edge and skiing without poles. Going to make more of an effort this wkend


Swisstrader, just keep your feet wide, hold your arms out for balance, and try these new things on the beginner slopes.  Take your time, feel what's happening with your feet and skis, and enjoy the results.  You'll be fine.  Try new stuff alone, not with impatient friends who want to go ski more challenging stuff.  

post #19 of 28

Keep practising.  Make smaller turns.  Keep decreasing the radius by increasing the tipping angle until the apex and work on different ways of releasing the pressure from that outside ski (smoothly suddenly,etc).  Eventually, if your skis have enough torsional rigidity (many do not), you will become so adept at controlling your turn radius while carving that weaving through crowds will be as safe as walking through the mall.  When you reach that point, you need to work on courtesy, which is easy to lose sight of; don't make other skier's uncomfortable by zooming too close to them.

post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post

I'm also a big fan of the sofa ski stuff, but have not had a eureka moment like yourself. I have two fears: tipping my skis on edge and skiing without poles. Going to make more of an effort this wkend


Yes, unfortunately training aids do have varying effectiveness. "Hands-on-knees" was probably effective mostly because I first went through a humiliating private lesson, the LeMaster book, and hours of disappointing failure on the slopes.

 

Moreover, while the Sofa Ski School exercises are probably more effective than most, they are not universally applicable in my experience. For example, my wife is in just her second year of skiing, but progressed rapidly enough I encouraged her to try the hands-on-knees approach to help with understanding balance, edging, feet independence, etc. No dice: we discovered she was unable to flex her knees deeply enough. She just ended up bending over at the waist without the concomitant flexing of her knees and so felt very uneasy as her hands approached her knees. We'll have the bootfitters take a look at her ability to flex her new boots next time (Ski Stop in Westwood, MA -- love them!), but even then I have my doubts: unlike me she is unable to squat with her heels down even in bare feet. Her ankles are just not as flexible as mine.

 

Just in case it helps: for me, putting hands on knees first taught me what my front-to-back balance should be on different inclines. Needless to say, it was a more forward than my usual position and it demonstrated rather vividly how I inched backwards onto my heels as the slope got steeper. By keeping the hands (or fingers) glued to the knees I was forced to face my fear of leaning forward while gaining speed. It so happens that the first time I pushed the knees inward I immediately was able to edge my skis and the sudden rush of confidence from the carve overcame the fear of falling/acceleration. I can well imagine that if your edges didn't engage it was probably a much scarier experience!

 

Also, don't forget to counter as demonstrated in the Youtube video. The movement is counterintuitive (you turn away from the direction of your turn back towards the fall line) and I tended to forget to do it unless I actively thought about it. It greatly increased my ability to angle the skis, put pressure on the ski tips, automatically helped to push my uphill foot forward, and created a more stable balanced "snowboard-like" position. It also taught me what it really feels like to disengage the upper body from the legs and hips.

 

Finally, you can try holding your poles in the middle (not the center, but where they balance) while you practice hands-on-knees. This allows you to keep them from dragging you down and backwards while still allowing you to hold onto them.

 

Dunno if any of that will help. I'll try to see what else works for me weekend after next when I go back to Wachusetts.


Edited by Albireo - 2/10/12 at 5:57am
post #21 of 28

I love seeing breakthroughs! I had a similar one back in 1988 (before shaped skis existed, so the right moves were somewhat more mysterious in those days).

 

Also glad to see a relatively inexperienced skier learn that effective movement patterns mean you can ski all day with zero quad burn. smile.gif  I ski bumps and trees all day with minimal quad burn, never enough to stop me. On groomers I could ski 24x7 with no more quad burn than I'd get walking them. The reason expert skiers make it look so easy is that it IS easy. The agonized quads of skidding intermediates are the result of inefficient movements, not poor conditioning. Any healthy person can learn to ski without quad burn, my 79 year old mother skis without that problem. The fact that you've crossed this barrier is an indicator that you're on the right path (and let's face it, skiing without pain is WAY more fun).

 

With regard to skiing steeps, glades, etc. where pure carving won't work, re-read LiquidFeet's first post. Excellent advice. You basically need to make the same moves you just learned but with some energy added back in. Exaggerate. Get the skis WAAAY out to the side and REALLY commit your body to the fall line. Steer your feet actively to guide the skis around the arc of the turn... not twisting hockey stops (which will burn your quads again), just actively steering the skis to shorten the arc.

 

This will shorten the radius of your turns and give you options to control your line. The easy, pain free way to control your speed is NOT to brake, it's to control your line. (aka, "Ski the slow line fast".) To answer one of your questions, yes, just staying in your turn until you're heading back uphill willl control your speed... you can't accelerate going uphill. There's no reason you can't do this and still move smoothly into the next turn. In fact, that's a good exercise to build skills and confidence. Do a series of those down a pitch that's just a LITTLE steeper than you'd be comfortable bombing 11s... carve uphill ALMOST to a stop, then release your edges, commit to the fall line and let your skis come around. You'll find that on a smooth slope you can initiate a turn effortlessly even with almost no forward motion. (Keep an eye out for uphill skiers, they may not be expecting this somewhat odd maneuver.)

 

Try to avoid uncomfortably steep terrain while learning new moves.The fear of excessive speed will lock you up and you'll fall back on familiar (but ineffective) habits. And avoid moguls until you have short radius turns somewhat nailed. Bumps will just screw you up if you don't have that skill.

 

Once you get the feel for linking, short-radius turns, you can ramp up the steepness, try some easy bumps, etc. Add challenges incrementally so you don't freak and undo your progress. My preferred morning warmup is to find a REALLY steep pitch and crank as many short radius turns as possible straight down the fall line in a tight (imaginary) corridor, ten feet wide at most. Gets the juices flowing and the rhythm too. After that I'm ready for pretty much anything.

 

Have fun. Congrats!

 

P.S. I didn't start skiing until I was 28, so I found your idea that starting at 13 was "late" pretty entertaining. wink.gif

post #22 of 28
Actually does help quite a bit especially in terms I can understand. I get a kick out of some of these threads where unless you're a certified instructor, there is just NO WAY you can understand the lingo, so thanks for that.

One question: I've watched the YouTube video and the one thing I cant quite grasp is the counter thing...how did you master that? I even try it on dry land and I screw it up?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Albireo View Post

Quote:


Yes, unfortunately training aids do have varying effectiveness. "Hands-on-knees" was probably effective mostly because I first went through a humiliating private lesson, the LeMaster book, and hours of disappointing failure on the slopes.

 

Moreover, while the Sofa Ski School exercises are probably more effective than most, they are not universally applicable in my experience. For example, my wife is in just her second year of skiing, but progressed rapidly enough I encouraged her to try the hands-on-knees approach to help with understanding balance, edging, feet independence, etc. No dice: we discovered she was unable to flex her knees deeply enough. She just ended up bending over at the waist without the concomitant flexing of her knees and so felt very uneasy as her hands approached her knees. We'll have the bootfitters take a look at her ability to flex her new boots next time (Ski Stop in Westwood, MA -- love them!), but even then I have my doubts: unlike me she is unable to squat with her heels down even in bare feet. Her ankles are just not as flexible as mine.

 

Just in case it helps: for me, putting hands on knees first taught me what my front-to-back balance should be on different inclines. Needless to say, it was a more forward than my usual position and it demonstrated rather vividly how I inched backwards onto my heels as the slope got steeper. By keeping the hands (or fingers) glued to the knees I was forced to face my fear of leaning forward while gaining speed. It so happens that the first time I pushed the knees inward I immediately was able to edge my skis and the sudden rush of confidence from the carve overcame the fear of falling/acceleration. I can well imagine that if your edges didn't engage it was probably a much scarier experience!

 

Also, don't forget to counter as demonstrated in the Youtube video. The movement is counterintuitive (you turn away from the direction of your turn back towards the fall line) and I tended to forget to do it unless I actively thought about it. It greatly increased my ability to angle the skis, put pressure on the ski tips, automatically helped to push my uphill foot forward, and created a more stable balanced "snowboard-like" position. It also taught me what it really feels like to disengage the upper body from the legs and hips.

 

Finally, you can try holding your poles in the middle (not the center, but where they balance) while you practice hands-on-knees. This allows you to keep them from dragging you down and backwards while still allowing you to hold onto them.

 

Dunno if any of that will help. I'll try to see what else works for me weekend after next when I go back to Wachusetts.

post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

Keep practising.  Make smaller turns.  Keep decreasing the radius by increasing the tipping angle until the apex and work on different ways of releasing the pressure from that outside ski (smoothly suddenly,etc).

 

This is definitely one of my next goals, to further increase the tipping angle. Frankly at this early stage I'm still learning to trust that increasing the tipping angle won't stop me cold in my tracks. The edge holds so frighteningly well I'm afraid if I angulate too much my skis will stop and my body will tumble right over, or that my legs will collapse from the pressure and I'll find myself sitting on my skis with a sore bum!

 

Although I am 100% certain I am carving, I don't seem to be able to reproduce that super-angulated "leaning on the snow" look that the expert carvers can do, even on green slopes. Is there something about using the pressure release to send the feet further out to the side before engaging the edge? How do you prevent the edges from digging in until they are "farther out" under you? Am I even understanding this correctly?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DouglySkiRight View Post

I love seeing breakthroughs! I had a similar one back in 1988 (before shaped skis existed, so the right moves were somewhat more mysterious in those days).

 

Also glad to see a relatively inexperienced skier learn that effective movement patterns mean you can ski all day with zero quad burn. smile.gif ... The fact that you've crossed this barrier is an indicator that you're on the right path (and let's face it, skiing without pain is WAY more fun).

 

Thanks, I'm so excited too! As for quad burn: there's actually some subtlety there. Prior to learning to carve I did lean forward enough to pivot my skis relatively easily, so that I could initiate skidded turns and hold them without much effort, at least on blue slopes. That is, it doesn't take much effort to hold a "single-point" hockey stop when your feet are tied together. I think this "safety net" turn was one reason it was so hard for me to learn to carve, because I was searching for a dramatically easier turn but not finding it (in fact, it seemed anything I tried was more effort than what I was doing before).

 

Now with carving I understand why experts can ski anything and still not expend much effort. My "feet-together" noodling was fairly effortless on intermediate slopes, but was more luck-of-the-draw with steeper grades and a complete failure in crud.

 

Quote:

With regard to skiing steeps, glades, etc. where pure carving won't work, re-read LiquidFeet's first post. Excellent advice. You basically need to make the same moves you just learned but with some energy added back in. Exaggerate. Get the skis WAAAY out to the side and REALLY commit your body to the fall line. Steer your feet actively to guide the skis around the arc of the turn... not twisting hockey stops (which will burn your quads again), just actively steering the skis to shorten the arc.

 

This will shorten the radius of your turns and give you options to control your line.

 

I definitely understand what you mean by commiting the body to the fall line -- especially when the snow is very hard -- but as I mention above I'm having trouble understanding how do get my skis further to one side. Do I simply flex more at the waist to fold my body over the skis (to maintain pressure over the outside ski) while simultaneously increasing the tipping angle? Because then it doesn't feel like the skis are "further" to one side but rather like I'm trying to hit the skis with my helmet smile.gif. I guess you could say the skis are farther from my butt if I flex more at the waist?

 

Also, are short-radius turns short because they only travel half a circle before the next turn begins (linked "C" carves) or are they short even if you travel the entire arc back up the mountain before falling into the next turn? My limited mental faculties are telling me the latter method increases the width of my carve by a third, which is rather less short to me, although I can well imagine that they slow me down.

 

Quote:
Try to avoid uncomfortably steep terrain while learning new moves.The fear of excessive speed will lock you up and you'll fall back on familiar (but ineffective) habits. And avoid moguls until you have short radius turns somewhat nailed. Bumps will just screw you up if you don't have that skill.

 

Once you get the feel for linking, short-radius turns, you can ramp up the steepness, try some easy bumps, etc. Add challenges incrementally so you don't freak and undo your progress. My preferred morning warmup is to find a REALLY steep pitch and crank as many short radius turns as possible straight down the fall line in a tight (imaginary) corridor, ten feet wide at most. Gets the juices flowing and the rhythm too. After that I'm ready for pretty much anything.

 

Have fun. Congrats!

 

All great recommendations, thank you very much!

 

Quote:
P.S. I didn't start skiing until I was 28, so I found your idea that starting at 13 was "late" pretty entertaining. wink.gif

 

Lol, I know, I know! After finally being able to go skiing nearly weekly last season, I realize now it was infrequency of skiing that dragged me down, not the fact that I was late to the game. Plus I'm not exactly the fastest learner at this port, clearly.

post #24 of 28

The OP now has  a familiar addiction: The technical love of a sport.  Just like golfer who figured out how a perfectly hit ball should feel and sound, he will keep trying to replicate that eureka moment  of a carved turn on a daily basis.  This means spending money on even more videos (like the US Ski Team's Alpine Ski Fundamentals), purchasing more books, becoming a historian about carving by reading Warren Witherell ("Put a skis on edge, pressure it correctly, and it will take you where you want to go."), seeking out instructors who actually raced at one time, reading Harold Harb's stuff (his feet are probably not as wide as yours in his books or videos), discussing the nuances about skis and how their tails can make it easier or harder to change the shape of a turn, getting in better shape (stronger and more flexible) to carve turns where it was too difficult to hold an edge before, figuring out that some skis and brands are really designed for those who can set an edge, etc.  Albireo has an addiction for which there is no cure.  Good for him. Perhaps one day we'll meet in rehab.

 

BTW, now that you experience the feeling of a carved turn it is time for a lesson from someone competent (who can carve turns) BEFORE you get into bad habits.  Your questions above have to do a lot with lateral and fore/aft movement that any competent instructor can help you with.


Edited by quant2325 - 2/10/12 at 8:41am
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by quant2325 View Post

The OP now has  a familiar addiction: The technical love of a sport.  Just like golfer who figured out how a perfectly hit ball should feel and sound, he will keep trying to replicate that eureka moment  of a carved turn on a daily basis.  This means spending money on even more videos (like the US Ski Team's Alpine Ski Fundamentals), purchasing more books, becoming a historian about carving by reading Warren Witherell, seeking out instructors who actually raced at one time, discussing the nuances about skis and how their tails can make it easier or harder to change the shape of a turn, getting in better shape (stronger and more flexible) to carve turns where it was too difficult to hold an edge before, figuring out that some skis and brands are really designed for those who can set an edge, etc.  Albireo has an addiction for which there is no cure.  Good for him. Perhaps one day we'll meet in rehab.

 

Lol, oh you have no idea the depths of my obsessions! My only salvation is that I already have enough hobbies as it is (mechanical watch repair is similarly technical endeavor of epic proportions). At least it will give me something to work on and think about while I ski with others.

post #26 of 28



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Albireo View Post

 

Although I am 100% certain I am carving, I don't seem to be able to reproduce that super-angulated "leaning on the snow" look that the expert carvers can do, even on green slopes. Is there something about using the pressure release to send the feet further out to the side before engaging the edge? How do you prevent the edges from digging in until they are "farther out" under you? Am I even understanding this correctly? 

 

High edge angles require speed or a steep slope.

 

"NO" to the question about delaying edge engagement. The best carvers (racers) engage their edges as early as possible, right at the top of the new turn. Of course there's always a non-edged phase as the skis transition from old edges through flat to new edges, but the best carvers move through that quickly and smoothly. If the skis start turning (twisting) without edge engagement it's much harder to get back onto a clean edge, you'll usually end up skidding the whole turn. OTOH, it's comparatively easier to ease off the edges partway through a turn if you need to (this is how to adjust your line to make a less sharp turn than the one you're in).

 

You need speed or steepness to do high edge angles on skis, but you can get a feel for the position from the safety of your office chair. Stand in a ski position (feet hip-width apart) with your calf muscles brushing the front of the seat. Flex down at the knees until you can support your weight with stiff arms on the arms of the chair. Now - without moving ANYTHING except your legs - slide your R foot straight out to the side, then slide your L foot out to match it, keeping them hip width apart. Your upper body down to your hips is vertical and your hips are still square to the chair.

 

Now do it again, sliding your feet another 12" out. (At some point you'll have to lower your body to keep your feet on the floor, but do so by just letting your arms flex. Do NOT twist or slide your hips. Just move your femurs in their sockets.) Do it a third time, butt now supported on the front of the seat with your feet REALLY out there.

 

Practice this on both sides. Each of these is a position you'd find yourself in exactly halfway through a carved turn, at the precise moment your skis are pointing straight down the fall line. Notice that your inside foot naturally takes the lead, without you pushing it forward. The more angulated you are, more flexed your inside leg and the farther ahead the inside foot will be. Don't think about your inside foot leading on the hill, it just happens. Trying to push it farther ahead is a technical complication that's unnecessary and sometimes counterproductive.

 

Originally Posted by Albireo View Post

My "feet-together" noodling was fairly effortless on intermediate slopes, but was more luck-of-the-draw with steeper grades and a complete failure in crud.


 

 

Yup. Any effort to twist or slide your skis sideways will be an instant disaster in crud... or deep powder... or tight bumps. The skis won't budge but you will, SPLAT! In any snow condition but a flat surface, the skis must primarily be moving forward along their axes or you're toast. The trick is to get them moving forward in curved arcs by using their natural sidecut and/or by bending them into decamber. That lets you control your direction, which in turn lets you decide how fast to go.

 

Check out this thread of a skilled, high level instructor handling heavy, wet crud with aplomb. Before looking at his body movements, carefully watch the path his skis follow:

http://www.epicski.com/t/110060/recent-vid-of-my-skiing

 

I definitely understand what you mean by commiting the body to the fall line -- especially when the snow is very hard -- but as I mention above I'm having trouble understanding how do get my skis further to one side. Do I simply flex more at the waist to fold my body over the skis (to maintain pressure over the outside ski) while simultaneously increasing the tipping angle? Because then it doesn't feel like the skis are "further" to one side but rather like I'm trying to hit the skis with my helmet smile.gif. I guess you could say the skis are farther from my butt if I flex more at the waist?

 

 

The reason commitment works when the snow is hard is that letting your body fall down the hill ahead of your skis puts them up on edge. Now they can hold and carve.

 

The steeper the slope and/or the higher the speed, the more you have to commit into each new turn. At the end of a turn your skis are on a high edge, so naturally it takes a big move to rotate them to flat and then onto the new edges. Yes, it feels like diving headfirst off a cliff... but it ALWAYS works. Trust your skis. Once you've done this once or twice it is SUCH a rush!

yahoo.gif

 

How to get high edge angles? See the office chair exercise above. It's about moving your legs in their femur sockets. 

 

You do NOT want to be flexing more at the waist to do this. That just sticks your butt out and puts you in the back seat. Except when absorbing a bump or other terrain "feature", try to keep your upper body relaxed, upright and roughly perpendicular to the angle of the slope. IOW, we stand upright relative to the slope, not to the pull of gravity. This keeps us centered over the middle of our skis, where we're able to weight, angle and even rotate them as necessary. Check out epic's upper body in the vid I linked above. The only time he bends at the waist is to absorb a bump. He achieves L or R edge angles by moving his legs... only.

 

Originally Posted by Albireo View Post

Also, are short-radius turns short because they only travel half a circle before the next turn begins (linked "C" carves) or are they short even if you travel the entire arc back up the mountain before falling into the next turn? My limited mental faculties are telling me the latter method increases the width of my carve by a third, which is rather less short to me, although I can well imagine that they slow me down.

 

No, go gack to geometry. Short "radius" means just that. You can ski short or long radius turns in quarter circles, half circles or even full circles (if you go fast enough, lol). Imagine a series of linked turns down the fall line, each one shaped like the third letter of the alphabet. Short radius turns would look like linked "c's". Long radius turns would look like linked "C's". Same turn shape, same amount of turn completion, just different radii.

 

post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by swisstrader View Post

Actually does help quite a bit especially in terms I can understand. I get a kick out of some of these threads where unless you're a certified instructor, there is just NO WAY you can understand the lingo, so thanks for that.
One question: I've watched the YouTube video and the one thing I cant quite grasp is the counter thing...how did you master that? I even try it on dry land and I screw it up?


Oh gosh I'm not sure I have the authority to explain any of this, but I guess I can at least describe how I approach things and others can correct me as I go! You're talking about the "Watch Your Hips!" section that starts at 3:38 in the video right? Counter is when you turn your hips and upper body in the opposite direction as the legs and feet. So for example, at 3:38 he wants to turn left but first makes sure his hips are actually turned to the right so that in the turn his upper body is actually almost parallel to his skis. (Ignore the fact that his skis slips a bit to the right before he starts the turn; that's just a reaction to his over-dramatization of the hip countering move).

 

If he didn't rotate his hips in the opposite direction as the turn, his upper body would be facing the same direction his skis are traveling. This is the mistake I kept making when learning to carve (what cooks my goose is that my instructor bizarrely kept telling me to keep my body rigid, which didn't help at all). It limits the amount of angulation you can apply to the skis and keeps you from pointing your weight to the right place. Plus, it was the way I was skiing before anyway, and the desire to turn my feet by force and push out my heels from that position was really hard to ignore.

 

Instead, you actually want to turn your hips and upper body away from the turn, as if they wanted to continue in the same direction as before even though the skis are well into turning the other way. When you combine this with the overall leaning forward, the pressure appears to be directed beyond/outside the tips of the outside ski (at least, that's what it feels like to me. In fact it almost feels like I'm kowtowing toward a point a foot to the outside of the outside ski tip, so in the YouTube video a foot to the right of the tip of the right ski). Due to the biomechanics the countering also helps to tip the ski and engage the edge even further. Win-win.

 

The other way I think about it is that it looks a bit like he's on a snowboard with his left foot in front and his right on the back. I try to imagine a snowboarder (not goofy) bent in half making a carve to the left. I guess the success of this mental image depends on whether you watch snowboarders much though.

 

Again, my apologies if any of this is wrong, but it worked for me so maybe some of it can work for you!

post #28 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Albireo View Post

Quote:

 

Assuming conditions are against "pleasure" carving -- say, glades or steeps as you mention -- would it be wrong to assume that carving plays no role in making turns? Or do most turns involve some aspect of carving? This would help me understand when to stop trying to force a carve into every situation I encounter, which I'm doing now out of the sheer enthusiasm.


All turns involve some aspect of carving. Pure carving is one end of a spectrum. At the other end of the spectrum lies something that really isn't a turn at all - the pure pivot slip.

 

The fundamentals required to do a pivot slip are similar (some might say "exactly the same") as the fundamentals required to carve. The DIRT changes (Duration, Intensity, Rate, Timing).

 

For both, is necessary to be accurately balanced. Too far back or too far forward, too far to one side or the other, and neither the pivot slip nor the pure carve is possible, although clumsy approximations can be acheved. You mentioned that you've found that your body needs to be in the right position in order to start a new carved turn. This is true of any turn, as well as the pivot slip.

 

For both, it is necessary to move knees, hips, center of mass across the skis and down the hill in order to flatten the skis and release. Even though the pivot slip is a "pure" skid in some sense, a true pivot slip cannot be achieved through defensive moves. A positive, offensive move is required to initiate each pivot. It is the same positive move required to end one pure arc and begin a new one in the other direction.

 

For both, it is necessary to exercise accurate edge control, to release as required and to develop just the right amount of engagement to perform the desired task. Edging has a spectrum, too, and control of low edge angles is just as important as the ability to impose high edge angles.

 

For both, it is necessary to guide the skis to achieve the desired amount of rotary. For the pure carve, accurate, active guiding is especially required through the transition when the edges are not engaged in order to prevent the tips from drifting downhill before edge engagement. Guiding continues in the carve because, frankly, you haven't got both skis bent the same and they're following concentric arcs, rather than identical ones.

 

Mastery of the entire spectrum will give you turns of any radius you want without shoving your tails out. High-quality round short-radius turns at speed demand energy, power and high edge angles, among other things, but they're not accomplished via abrupt movements, twisting or shoving the skis, violent up unweighting or trying to tip the skis for the sake of tipping if lateral balance is not accurate. 

 

Short-radius turns do indeed involve some aspect of carving.
 

 

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