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Stick and Rudder - flying your skis in powder

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

In the Eastern Division, there used to be a card in the Creative Teaching Module for one of our exams where the student was an airline pilot. I always thought of this one as sort of a "gimme", so easy to teach. The fun thing though is that I really do think of the movements in skiing as being like those in flying a plane. It's pretty easy to see how edging/tipping = aileron/pushing the stick side to side, and how rotary/twisting of the feet is analogous to using the rudder. But the other control, pitch doesn't quite seem to match up with the skill of managing pressure in the fore/aft plane.

 

I will often use this analogy with a student, because I think it's pretty easy for everyone to see how an airplane turns first by rolling it's wings, not by pushing the tail out with rudder. I will ask my students to make sure that when they are "wings level", they resist the urge to throw the rudder over and point the skis down the hill. I even had that exam card come to life once with a husband and wife couple who work for an airline as 757 instructors. Totally fun lesson.

 

So anyway.... a few weeks ago, our mountain got several feet of snow. Now our mountain opens at 7:30 AM, and a powder day, there may just be a "soft opening" a bit before that. It only takes an hour or two to track out most of the mountain. My lesson that day started at 9AM. My client was a pretty good skier, and I've skied with him many times before in bumps, trees and what have you, but never in really deep snow where you could get a true 3D experience. So of course, we headed for the woods to find the goods, and they were good. Now we were skiing tight steep lines and I'm skiing it at a slow pace so I can keep my first-time powder skier in one piece. His question - how do you make such tight turns in the deep snow? I was on a stiff ski w a 40M turn radius, and I think it would be safe to say that the turns I was making had a radius somewhere less than 4M. How? Well, I think this is where that third control comes in, pulling back on the stick. After the wings have rolled into the turn/skis have begun edging, heel pressure, strong heel-pressure becomes a steering movement just like it does in an airplane. When that turn is over, the stick goes back to neutral, I roll into the next turn and then I pull back on the stick again to tighten the turn.

 

Without the question, I'm not sure that I had ever thought about how I do what I do in powder, just thought I'd share.

post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

In the Eastern Division, there used to be a card in the Creative Teaching Module for one of our exams where the student was an airline pilot. I always thought of this one as sort of a "gimme", so easy to teach. The fun thing though is that I really do think of the movements in skiing as being like those in flying a plane. It's pretty easy to see how edging/tipping = aileron/pushing the stick side to side, and how rotary/twisting of the feet is analogous to using the rudder. But the other control, pitch doesn't quite seem to match up with the skill of managing pressure in the fore/aft plane.

 

I will often use this analogy with a student, because I think it's pretty easy for everyone to see how an airplane turns first by rolling it's wings, not by pushing the tail out with rudder. I will ask my students to make sure that when they are "wings level", they resist the urge to throw the rudder over and point the skis down the hill. I even had that exam card come to life once with a husband and wife couple who work for an airline as 757 instructors. Totally fun lesson.

 

So anyway.... a few weeks ago, our mountain got several feet of snow. Now our mountain opens at 7:30 AM, and a powder day, there may just be a "soft opening" a bit before that. It only takes an hour or two to track out most of the mountain. My lesson that day started at 9AM. My client was a pretty good skier, and I've skied with him many times before in bumps, trees and what have you, but never in really deep snow where you could get a true 3D experience. So of course, we headed for the woods to find the goods, and they were good. Now we were skiing tight steep lines and I'm skiing it at a slow pace so I can keep my first-time powder skier in one piece. His question - how do you make such tight turns in the deep snow? I was on a stiff ski w a 40M turn radius, and I think it would be safe to say that the turns I was making had a radius somewhere less than 4M. How? Well, I think this is where that third control comes in, pulling back on the stick. After the wings have rolled into the turn/skis have begun edging, heel pressure, strong heel-pressure becomes a steering movement just like it does in an airplane. When that turn is over, the stick goes back to neutral, I roll into the next turn and then I pull back on the stick again to tighten the turn.

 

Without the question, I'm not sure that I had ever thought about how I do what I do in powder, just thought I'd share.


I have know I have done this for years and have gotten so much better at it.  never heard it explained like that. 

 

 

at 29 seconds i do a couple turns showing this movement very strongly. Short radius turns on a 192cm 40 meter sidecut ski. 

 

you could also think of flexing your ankles to bring the tips ups.

 

 

 

post #3 of 5

I've heard of a lot of ski terms in relation to swimming or surfing, even ballet, but this is the first time I've heard of it in terms of flying.  Something to think about, eh?

 

post #4 of 5

Tip 'em, and they will turn!

 

All "single track vehicles" turn when tipped.  Skate boards, Ice and roller skates, roller blades, scooters, bicycles, motor bikes, water skis, snow skis and boards, and yes, even airplanes.

 

Twisting without tipping results in a skid,   even on wings.  Imagine skidding in mid air. (no screeching tires!) 

 

Did you know that to turn to the right on a bicycle,  you actually need to STEER to the left!   Counter steer it is termed, it's true (pyhsics is like that ;)  The tires must be presented to the road surface in such a way as to "pull" it's self around through a turn.  (Visualize a rolling cone)  Left to it's own devices, a motor bike can travel considerable distances after the pilot has gotten off. Like a rolling penny ;-)

 

And it's not the side cut on our skis that does the turning,  it's the flexing and de-cambering.  The side cut is the power steering input. 

 

  Water skis, shaped like sno-carvers, would be over responsive!  The original "Spatula"?

 

Comparisons are useful!

 

cheers

post #5 of 5

The hard point to get across is that we're just using a touch on the heels, not sitting back on the heels all day.  We're still centered and balanced over the skis except when we have a specific reason to do something else.  A touch of weight on the front to start the turn is another enhancement, but just a touch.

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