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Carving turns on steep slopes

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'm struggling with some of my skiing technique, and hope that you can provide some advice to help me out.


I carve nice turns on most blue runs - I'm able to ski the fall line and carve turns without sliding from top to bottom. However, on steep blue runs or blacks (groomed slopes), I don't know how to control my speed. As I carve turns, I quickly get to as fast as I'm comfortable, then I have to start sliding in order to control my turns.

Rather than carving turns, I usually turn - slide - turn - slide most the way down the slope, which is neither graceful nor the "correct" way of skiing.

 

How do you control your speed without having to resort to sliding? How can I ensure that I carve turns (only) even on the steepest groomed slope?

post #2 of 24

Try continuing to carve back uphill somewhat til your speed is where you want it and then turn again.

post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Skier View Post

... How can I ensure that I carve turns (only) even on the steepest groomed slope?

For an open slope, basically no one solely carves, with overlapping cuts, turns on the steepest groomed slopes, assuming that this steepness is sustained.  Most of the "black slope carving" people are talking about is in fact on what would be a mellow blue run at most areas.  If you are truly able to carve an entire round C shaped rut on a mellow blue, with an overlapping cut at transition, you are in fact doing better than the vast majority of skiers. 

 

Carving back uphill is for sure one of the main ways to control speed.  Another is being on your shovel right after transition.  Assuming your skis and technique can take a lot of shovel pressure, this by itself will also slow you down quite a bit. 

post #4 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Skier View Post

Rather than carving turns, I usually turn - slide - turn - slide most the way down the slope, which is neither graceful nor the "correct" way of skiing.

 

 

Your avatar tells me you are in Montana so you know what steep is. If a run is actually a run and can be groomed it is probably wide enough and not really really steep so if you wnat to carve then turn completion is your best bet. However you need to be comfortable with the speed and confident you can maintain your carve down and through the carve. If you chicken out due to the speed you will be in trouble.

For myself  true steep is never on a groomed run and seldom wide enough to complete a carved turn so I'm pivoting and edging with maybe sliding to loose altitude faster. On true steeps it's not about pretty carves it's about speed control and your technique sounds totally appropriate to me for that setting.

post #5 of 24
You might find this article of value, Montana Skier:

http://www.epicski.com/a/short-radius-turns-by-bob-barnes

Nice animation of short radius turns on one of the Headwaters chutes at Moonlight Basin.

Good luck.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgeib View Post


You might find this article of value, Montana Skier:
http://www.epicski.com/a/short-radius-turns-by-bob-barnes
Nice animation of short radius turns on one of the Headwaters chutes at Moonlight Basin.
Good luck.

Beautiful - He is GOOD!!

post #7 of 24

Well Montana you have a great question,

 

Carving a perfect rail is fun and rewarding, the clean tracks are not the ends but a visual mark of the movement you make with your legs/skis.

 

Carving with a bit of a drift out of that rail will spill momentum. you can do this and look elegant and smooth.

 

For years I thought a pure carve was the bees knees, and skidding was failure.  But after learning how the top of the turn where the tips are working can drift offering a control before you even have them on the tails(skidding).

 

A controlled drift in the steeps from 12 o'clock to 9 or 3 will allow you to release the tails (before they have a chance to skid) into the next turn.

 

Yes you can make that pure carve down steep stuff, but 70 mph is required if you must have that pure carve.  For mortals, or those with better sense, a bit of drifting will not spoil the movement your legs/skis do on your way down at less than skydiving speeds.

post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Montana Skier View Post

... How can I ensure that I carve turns (only) even on the steepest groomed slope?

For an open slope, basically no one solely carves, with overlapping cuts, turns on the steepest groomed slopes, assuming that this steepness is sustained.  Most of the "black slope carving" people are talking about is in fact on what would be a mellow blue run at most areas.  If you are truly able to carve an entire round C shaped rut on a mellow blue, with an overlapping cut at transition, you are in fact doing better than the vast majority of skiers. 

 

Carving back uphill is for sure one of the main ways to control speed.  Another is being on your shovel right after transition.icon14.gif  Assuming your skis and technique can take a lot of shovel pressure, this by itself will also slow you down quite a bit. 

post #9 of 24

There's a lot of good information up above that I agree with (perhaps not all, but most of it)

First of all if you are carving on steep runs, you will be going fast; carving is very efficient, and you will be converting a lot of potential  (elevation) energy into kinetic (speed) energy while losing very little of it.  In a very short time you will be going too fast to "carve" a turn anywhere near the side cut radius of your typical recreational ski.   The forces would be too great to hold that line and the ski would slip.  You will end up ripping (not cutting) turns that are wider than your skis can carve, even if you don't mind the speed.  I have the same problem on my SL skis.   Using a GS ski puts that limit a little further, but you will still bump into it.  The only skis that can effectively carve on steeps (if you have a clear path below), is a speed ski (like my old SG skis devil.gif).

 

So what to do? 

1) As mentioned above, if you have the room, turn uphill until you are going slow and then turn back downhill (not always an option).

2)  Get some DH or old SG skis (too stiff for powder, and high speed not always appropriate).

3) Ski with someone else and slam the brakes on every now and then and wait for them to catch up (spend a lot of time waiting)

4) As has been said above, learn how to smear turns, especially scrub speed with tips at the beginning of the turn instead of at the end with the tails (not as much fun rewarding as carving a pure turn, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do).

5) Combine all of the above (smoothly smear your turns, be heavy on the shovels, lite on the tails, scrub speed with tips at start of turn, turn more uphill, get stable long radius skis)

post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

There's a lot of good information up above that I agree with (perhaps not all, but most of it)

First of all if you are carving on steep runs, you will be going fast; carving is very efficient, and you will be converting a lot of potential  (elevation) energy into kinetic (speed) energy while losing very little of it.  In a very short time you will be going too fast to "carve" a turn anywhere near the side cut radius of your typical recreational ski.   The forces would be too great to hold that line and the ski would slip.  You will end up ripping (not cutting) turns that are wider than your skis can carve, even if you don't mind the speed.  I have the same problem on my SL skis.   Using a GS ski puts that limit a little further, but you will still bump into it.  The only skis that can effectively carve on steeps (if you have a clear path below), is a speed ski (like my old SG skis devil.gif).

 

So what to do? 

1) As mentioned above, if you have the room, turn uphill until you are going slow and then turn back downhill (not always an option).

2)  Get some DH or old SG skis (too stiff for powder, and high speed not always appropriate).

3) Ski with someone else and slam the brakes on every now and then and wait for them to catch up (spend a lot of time waiting)

4) As has been said above, learn how to smear turns, especially scrub speed with tips at the beginning of the turn instead of at the end with the tails (not as much fun rewarding as carving a pure turn, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do).

5) Combine all of the above (smoothly smear your turns, be heavy on the shovels, lite on the tails, scrub speed with tips at start of turn, turn more uphill, get stable long radius skis)

Uh--the only place for SG and DH skis is on a closed course IMO. But I don't think you're serious.

Personally on steep runs, even if the run is wide enough for big wide turns I have more fun trying to ski it in as straight a (body) path as possible--with speed scrubbing turns, as if it were a tight chute.  I think it's harder to do that well, at least for me, than big wide more carved turns. And as someone who doesn't ski fast, skiing a narrow path is necessary for survival where I ski (Squaw), where a lot of folks consider turning of any sort to be anachronistic. I do try my best to keep the skis turning, not skidding straight sideways. 

post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

Uh--the only place for SG and DH skis is on a closed course IMO.

 

 

Huh?

 

It's not the arrow, its the Indian.  

 

I ski on SG ski's from time to time, how else am I going to get to know the ski?  Course only is not enough.  I don't get stupid and go too fast just because I clicked into them.  Skiers ski too fast for their skill level, and without good sense, often, but I bet nearly zero percent are on SG or DH skis.

 

SG and DH ski's are a dream to ride, quiet and smoooooth,  everyone ought to try them at least once. 

post #12 of 24

My guess is that you are just riding the turn radius of the ski until you get going too fast for comfort.  Practice on a moderate slope, even a green one, and practice bending the skis into a tighter arc.  Practice at the slowest speed where you can still manage good linked parallel turns.  You will have to consciously think about bending the skis more than usual.  When you can comfortably and reliably make parallel turns of varying radii on that slope, go to a run with a steeper pitch, maybe an easy blue or just a slightly steeper green.  If you can still do it, move on a steeper slope until you have trouble doing it.  Then practice there until you're comfortable and always in control before moving on to yet a steeper run.  

 

And be sure to read/watch Bob's article, there is some great stuff in there.

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

There's a lot of good information up above that I agree with (perhaps not all, but most of it)

First of all if you are carving on steep runs, you will be going fast; carving is very efficient, and you will be converting a lot of potential  (elevation) energy into kinetic (speed) energy while losing very little of it.  In a very short time you will be going too fast to "carve" a turn anywhere near the side cut radius of your typical recreational ski.   The forces would be too great to hold that line and the ski would slip.  You will end up ripping (not cutting) turns that are wider than your skis can carve, even if you don't mind the speed.  I have the same problem on my SL skis.   Using a GS ski puts that limit a little further, but you will still bump into it.  The only skis that can effectively carve on steeps (if you have a clear path below), is a speed ski (like my old SG skis devil.gif).

 

So what to do? 

1) As mentioned above, if you have the room, turn uphill until you are going slow and then turn back downhill (not always an option).

2)  Get some DH or old SG skis (too stiff for powder, and high speed not always appropriate).

3) Ski with someone else and slam the brakes on every now and then and wait for them to catch up (spend a lot of time waiting)

4) As has been said above, learn how to smear turns, especially scrub speed with tips at the beginning of the turn instead of at the end with the tails (not as much fun rewarding as carving a pure turn, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do).

5) Combine all of the above (smoothly smear your turns, be heavy on the shovels, lite on the tails, scrub speed with tips at start of turn, turn more uphill, get stable long radius skis)

Uh--the only place for SG and DH skis is on a closed course IMO. But I don't think you're serious.

Personally on steep runs, even if the run is wide enough for big wide turns I have more fun trying to ski it in as straight a (body) path as possible--with speed scrubbing turns, as if it were a tight chute.  I think it's harder to do that well, at least for me, than big wide more carved turns. And as someone who doesn't ski fast, skiing a narrow path is necessary for survival where I ski (Squaw), where a lot of folks consider turning of any sort to be anachronistic. I do try my best to keep the skis turning, not skidding straight sideways. 


To be clear, no, I am not recommending he get DH or SG skis (although that would make carving turns on steep runs physically possible given the right conditions and skill); SG skis are not for everyone.

 

However I will agree to disagree with you about closed course only.  I spent a good 20 years free skiing mostly SG skis and skiing them the way they were meant to be skied.  I prefer to have my skis carving high speed high-g turns, not skidding and not skiing slowly.  I have always had the most fun trying to get the cleanest highest g-force turns while trying to go as fast as possible.  I agree that speed scrubbing turns are more challenging, especially in heavy uneven snow.  However, meeting that challenge doesn't give me the same satisfaction as nailing a high-speed transition or surviving a compression that would turn most skiers into a pretzel does.  Different strokes for different folks.

post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Different strokes for different folks.

 

And different venues... one could weekday ski many areas and cruise safely ripping on SG skis. Weekends? Not so much. Just too many people at most places with groomed runs, but one can slow any ski down easily enough to be 'appropriate' for the day.

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post


To be clear, no, I am not recommending he get DH or SG skis (although that would make carving turns on steep runs physically possible given the right conditions and skill); SG skis are not for everyone.

 

However I will agree to disagree with you about closed course only.  I spent a good 20 years free skiing mostly SG skis and skiing them the way they were meant to be skied.  I prefer to have my skis carving high speed high-g turns, not skidding and not skiing slowly.  I have always had the most fun trying to get the cleanest highest g-force turns while trying to go as fast as possible.  I agree that speed scrubbing turns are more challenging, especially in heavy uneven snow.  However, meeting that challenge doesn't give me the same satisfaction as nailing a high-speed transition or surviving a compression that would turn most skiers into a pretzel does.  Different strokes for different folks.

Agree that if you can find an empty enough run you might be able to ski SG skis safely--although I would contend that at true SG speeds >60mph only a closed course is empty enough--and SG racers also have retention fences to protect them if they fall. I too would prefer to make high-speed, high G carved turns--if I could, but I can't. So more power to you. I have to get my thrills by skiing something steep enough to scare me a little and skiing it cleanly, at a speed I can handle. Different strokes indeed. 

post #16 of 24

My gig is 170cm SL @ 45mph. That's all I want most of the time.

post #17 of 24

The majority of lower advanced skiers really don't control their speed well in steeps.  Making rebounding short turns on steeps slopes is something I've always excelled at and enjoy.  I'm also an old bump skier and definitely not an instructor haha.     

 

You ought to go to http://www.youtube.com then search on "skiing short swing turns".   Will get many hits, some worth viewing and others not.  Some showing just skiing and some with technical advice.  Most of the advice tends to just add in a few tips without being thorough.  I'll try to explain some of it below though one would be better off getting tips from an accomplished instructor.   One needs to already have an advanced skiing form skill of a calm upper body facing down fall lines with excellent upper to lower body dynamic separation that allows the lower body to do all the turning as it turns against the mass of the upper body.

 

On this below clip pretty much looks like my own skiing.  On these short swing turns on a steep groomed face, watch the lead person.  Notice how he does not allow his turns to run around the full arc but rather as soon as the skis complete cutting across the width of his body, he initiates rebound up into the next turn.  Turns in a smooth easy fashion, quickly rotate around across the fall line before biting at the boot center of the skis instead of starting an even shovel to waist to tail carve.  Although one may think turning faster so requires more energy, actually he is relaxed in part of each turn, letting gravity and the rebounding flex of the skis do most of the work.  And synchonizes his turning to the flex of the skis like a large soft bouncing ball.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io0c2T4Fvek

 

Keeping balance from getting in the back seat is important.  Instead of standing tall, it helps when trying to find the best balance point to keep the upper torso and head arched forward a bit, arms and hands out front forward,  in order to have upper body mass that is lower and forward that can be used to get a firmer biting leverage below with one's edges directly in line with the upper body perpendicular back into a slope.

post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave_SSS View Post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io0c2T4Fvek

 

 

The video points out something else--learn the turn on a semisteep groomer where you could carve if you wanted to, before you try it on something seriously steep. 

One thing I was taught was that in finishing the turn let the uphill ski tip get well ahead of the downhill--which allows the pelvis to face more downhill and allows one to increase the edge angle without leaning uphill.  Also, plant your pole well downhill, rather than near the tip of the downhill ski--keeps the upper body square downhill and keeps you from leaning uphill.  Would the experts care to comment?

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgeib View Post


You might find this article of value, Montana Skier:
http://www.epicski.com/a/short-radius-turns-by-bob-barnes
Nice animation of short radius turns on one of the Headwaters chutes at Moonlight Basin.
Good luck.

 

As always - great skiing by BB.  What (if anything) would you suggest be changed if the steeps were icy? Do more or less of anything? 

post #20 of 24

......

post #21 of 24

BB is the one to MA that question, but I'll offer this:

 

If you are controlling speed as Bob is, with turn shape and not slipping, braking, the technique for turning is the same on ice, but the turn shape may be more across the fall line at the finish, that is to keep roughly the same speed as on packed powder.

 

Yes? No? my take on it. and I like to use turn shape to determine speed.

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

BB is the one to MA that question, but I'll offer this:

 

If you are controlling speed as Bob is, with turn shape and not slipping, braking, the technique for turning is the same on ice, but the turn shape may be more across the fall line at the finish, that is to keep roughly the same speed as on packed powder.

 

Yes? No? my take on it. and I like to use turn shape to determine speed.

Pressure+edging=turn shape?

post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post

Pressure+edging=turn shape?


yes, and more things I think.  intent, are you setting the edge to hold or release?  centrifugal force and g's, edge angle to match g's?  pressure, fore and aft through the turn? All this is determining turn shape and speed.


Edited by davluri - 12/17/12 at 11:30am
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by slider View Post

Pressure+edging=turn shape?


yes, and more things I think.  intent, are you setting the edge to hold or release?  centrifugal force and g's, edge angle to match g's?  pressure, fore and aft through the turn? All this is determining turn shape and speed.

 

1000

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