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skiing like an exceptionally clumsy newborn foal immediately after skinning up?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

(I apologize if this is the wrong audience - my question is not about backcountry skiing, but it does have to do with skinning and will impact my backcountry plans.)

 

 

I'm not new to skiing, but new to skinning.  I have Fritschi Eagles on an old pair of Icy Nomads with Scarpa Domina boots.  I've skied this setup in-bounds before, and while I could feel a difference - more give - between this setup and my downhill gear, it skied just fine, even on groomers.

 

Yesterday morning, I skinned up peak 7 at Breck.  The route was groomed.  This was my first time skinning in-bounds; my second time skinning, ever.  It took me a long time, but I didn't feel particularly tired, out of breath, etc.  I figured I'd zip down to Independence Chair, then see if maybe they were loading the T-Bar yet.

 

As soon as I switched from walk mode to ski and tried to go anywhere, I was miserable.  My calves and thighs ached.  It felt like my boots were locking me into a ridiculously forward position, so that my thighs were working way too hard, while still allowing tons of forward give.  I couldn't get my skis on edge.  It took me forever to get down an easy blue groomer, feeling all the while like I couldn't control my skis, stopping every few turns.  Toward the end of the run, I switched to walk mode, and that helped a lot with the soreness, but I still felt incapable of controlling my skis.  I managed to get to the gondola and called it a day.  I've never been so relieved to get off of my skis.

 

When I think back to my only BC day last year, a guided beginner group at Hidden Valley, I also felt awkward on the downhill, but I was using different skis with the same bindings and boots, and I thought it had more to do with just being unused to natural snow that season, unfamiliar with the tree patterns, etc.

 

Again, though, I've skied this setup without skinning first, and while I could tell the difference between it and a dedicated downhill setup, it wasn't a disaster like this was.

 

So - the dreaded question - is this "normal," at least for some people?  Does it point to my muscles just not being accustomed to this particular exercise, or could there be an equipment issue at play?  My calves are pretty sore today; my thighs only moderately so, but then, I haven't been on skis.

 

I do plan to skin more regularly and see if it improves as I do it more, but this experience really freaked me out.  Any advice or reassurances would be welcome, as well as any (informed) suggestions to just suck it up and get past it.

 

Thanks for reading this far!

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by bounceswoosh View Post

 

 

So - the dreaded question - is this "normal," at least for some people?  Does it point to my muscles just not being accustomed to this particular exercise, or could there be an equipment issue at play?  My calves are pretty sore today; my thighs only moderately so, but then, I haven't been on skis.

 

 

 

The short answer is yes.

 

I think many of us find skinning to be pretty demanding. If you are not specifically "in shape" for using that set of muscles - yeah, just what you described. I find it beneficial to bring a decent amount of liquid and to take a break, hydrate and snack before the downhill. Whenever I rush it, I ski even more clumsily than I normally do...

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the feedback!  It felt really weird to be such a basket case on the snow.  I didn't really take much of a break, and I had maybe one sip of water the whole way up, and no food - so there's plenty I can adjust, in addition to getting more practice.

post #4 of 8
Hi Bounceswoosh,

It could be an equipment issue is contributing. What you describe could be a result of excessive forward lean. A search will yield much information on the topic. Seeing a good boot fitter with experience in fore/aft alignment would be the shortest path to a solution. Jeff Bergeron would be my recommendation if you frequent Breck. Take boots and skis as the delta angle of the binding can be a factor.

Some things you could try if you want to experiment on your own:
Do your boots offer different positions in ski mode? Mine have two and I must use the most upright for my alignment when in ski mode.

Remove any shims or spoilers behind your calf. Anything between your shell and liner that would allow your leg to be more upright when removed.

I am not familiar with your bindings, but you may try experimenting with a shim under the toe of your boot. However, know this can effect the binding release and that this is a temporary experiment only. Typically no more than 3mm for this experiment. I have installed a plate under my toe pieces on my bindings on my AT setup to get my angles where I need them.

I am sure others will have plenty of other suggestions as well.

Good luck,

Chris
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cgeib View Post

Hi Bounceswoosh,
It could be an equipment issue is contributing. What you describe could be a result of excessive forward lean. ...
Good luck,
Chris

 

Thank you, Chris.  I would also suspect the same - my alpine boot, the Dalbello Krypton, has been unshimmed etc to make it relatively upright - except that I have skied the AT setup in-bounds on a similar day, just without actually skinning first, and I didn't feel like this at all.  It's possible, though, that what was "just fine" for a forward lean when fresh became unbearable after an unaccustomed skin.  Er, an unaccustomed skin after two days of unaccustomed (lovely) skiing in soft snow, trees, etc.  Hrm.  Yeah, there were definitely freshness factors involved.

 

I have heard excellent things about Jeff Bergeron as well; Larry in Boulder sold and fit both my current sets of boots, so I'll likely hit him up first.  What Larry and his crew have done to make skiing not just not-painful, but comfortable, for me has been downright miraculous.

post #6 of 8

It could be a conditioning thing. The easiest way to find out is just keep going up and if it gets better then that was your problem. If the problem remain on subsequent tours or gets worse then its an equipment issue. 

post #7 of 8

Might I also suggest your skinning technique could be the culprit.  I know it sounds dumb since skinning is essentially just walking uphill so you'd think technique is common sense... but a lot of newbie skinners I've been around tend to lift the ski with each step rather than just stride and glide so you stay in constant contact with the snow.  If you're using an inefficient stride, could be your culprit.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tromano View Post

It could be a conditioning thing. The easiest way to find out is just keep going up and if it gets better then that was your problem. If the problem remain on subsequent tours or gets worse then its an equipment issue. 

 

For sure.  I will do this - and be sure to continue to do it on low-stakes terrain until/unless it gets better.  Thank you.  I also brought my Scarpas back to Boulder this weekend, so if I can kick the horrific head cold that is currently plaguing me, I'll head to Larry's and see if the forward lean can be adjusted.  The boots seem to only support one forward lean setting, not two.  At least I didn't see any spoilers in there (horrid things!).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tam View Post

Might I also suggest your skinning technique could be the culprit.  I know it sounds dumb since skinning is essentially just walking uphill so you'd think technique is common sense... but a lot of newbie skinners I've been around tend to lift the ski with each step rather than just stride and glide so you stay in constant contact with the snow.  If you're using an inefficient stride, could be your culprit.

 

Thanks, Tam - I am definitely a newb, and I took a backcountry class last season in which the instructor pointed out that I was doing exactly that.  I actually had a moment halfway up the peak where I suddenly felt that I was gliding, and remembered that advice, so I suspect that I was lifting more than gliding until that point.  It is cruel that after a childhood of having my father chastise me for dragging my feet when I walked, I now have to learn to do just that!

 

I also wasted a fair bit of energy on one little steep section - you can read about it on my blog http://www.bounceswoosh.org/?p=823 if you're interested. Basically, I wasn't paying attention and found myself halfway up a very short steeper section, having trouble going uphill and unsure of how to handle it.  If I had to guess, that one ten or fifteen minute interlude used up 80% of my energy, between physical effort and anxiety.

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