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Why do slalom skis feel unstable and riotously out of control on steep hills? - Page 2

post #31 of 40

SL skiers are precise, energetic and react readily to input. Just like the skis. They can also be skied at 45 mph no problemo on or off groomed runs. Have a tech check your alignment, inspect your gear and take a lesson.

post #32 of 40
Originally Posted by AlpineA View Post

Why do they feel out of control on steep hills, but fine on less-steep hills?



I'm going to take a potentially controversial crack at this one, because I think other people may have this question too. I do myself, sometimes. Disclaimer: I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination a professional instructor or coach, so take my comments for what they are: amateur observations based on my own continuing voyage along the arc of the carved turn. I know in advance that some people on the forum disagree with some of my points here (like the one in the first paragraph). I also know that some others agree. Another minor disclaimer is that I don't have a pair of slaloms at the moment, and am basing some of my comments on using 15m race-carvers ... but the principle still holds, I believe.


Because this thread is centered around slalom race skis, I assume we are talking about carving clean arcs on firm groomed terrain. Honestly very few people on the hill know how to do this with any kind of reliability or control or consistency. If there are no groups of racer kids on the hill, I'll often go an entire ski day without seeing more than two or three people who can do this well, even on blue runs. Taking in the broad picture of American skierdom, it is an advanced skill that relatively few people have acquired, no matter what certain young know-it-all instructors might tell you, and notwitstanding the fact that eleven-year-olds who have had a lot of race coaching can do it in their sleep. (You should watch them, by the way.)


With this perspective in mind, you need to set expectations about your own performance accordingly. Specifically, you should not expect to be able to carve clean arcs on black diamond groomed terrain unless and until you are very fit, very courageous (crazy?), and very very practiced at doing it perfectly on greens and blues. Personally, I don't even try to make full gliding turns on steep terrain anymore. Yes, I know that NCAA and pro slalom racers do it. Impressive. Good for them. I am simply not strong and talented and fearless enough to be able to handle the acceleration and g-forces that come with trying to carry out that feat. And I very, very rarely see anyone else doing it either. Note that I am pretty well conditioned for a 50 year old, do lots of bike riding (including the occasional MTB race, where I get respectable if not podium results) and hiking in the summer, go to the gym here and there, skate ski 15k twice a week when there is snow, and am not even a little bit overweight. I've been working on modern carving skills for 10 years, and I occasionally manage to squeak out a Nastar platinum in my beer league. I'm not trying to boast, at all; many others on this board have far more impressive skills and credentials and muscles than these. The point I'm trying to make is that you may be trying to advance too quickly to steep terrain, before you have really dialed in enough nuance of balance and technique on green and easy blue slopes. So go back there with a coach and work on it.


Meanwhile, when you are on steep terrain, the semi-carved ("scarved") or drifted turn is your friend. You can and should still use essentially the same postures and turn mechanics as in your clean arcs, but you're not trying to lock the edge in early and at high angles. Instead you're feathering the edge enough to allow a small amount of well-controlled skidding along the whole length of the ski as you go around the turn. I'll let someone who actually knows how to teach to point you to better information on that. But, whatever you do, don't beat yourself up because you're having trouble doing full-on race turns on steep terrain. Instead, congratulate yourself that you're working on the skill at all. smile.gif

post #33 of 40

 I have already made a comment in this thread and have now read all other responses especially from the OP. 


I am now convinced that the OP is looking for a simple solution that he can apply right now.  Unfortunately in skiing as well as other sports, coaching and lessons are neccessary in order to achieve competency, quick fixes usually don't exist, at least not at the level you are skiing at right now.


My best suggestion if you are serious about learning how to race carve is to take a lesson.  Better yet, look for a multi day race clinic in your area.  You will be very surprised how quickly you will advance when you are being coached.  As most here are aware, internet coaching usually does not work and will only serve to confuse you even more.


I am comfortable saying that I ski at a high level, a solid level 9.  But, I would not be there if I hadn't taken dozens of lessons while learning. I still try to take a high level lesson when I go to the big resorts out west every year.. Once I started to race only 6 years ago, I took a few race clinics to learn race technique which is quite different from free ski technique.  I even took a race cliinic at Mammoth last year.  In 3 weeks I am taking a 2 day steeps clinic at Whistler.  And this is after 40+ years of skiing averaging 20-25 days per year.


If you want to learn race technique badly enough and are willing to work for it, you will learn what you seek.


Good luck,


Rick G

post #34 of 40
That 11m cannot be a stiff race ski and at 190 lb you bend the snot out of it without even trying... On the steeps this is worse because you pick up some speed and balance is challenged and those blades react instantly.

A race ski wold be 12.5-13m radius and much stiffer. Try one of those. Until then, only if your control is very precise can you keep those blades in check...

Sorry, no easyy way out that i can see...
post #35 of 40

Which 11-m sl ski are you on - make and model and if known year?


I have a 13-m radius Fischer WC SC.  It is one step down from a race SL.  It's stable on steeps and at speed.  That 2 m could b the difference, or it could be your ski just isn't built for speed.   Technically, my ski isn't designed for turns at high speeds, either, but it will not fee unstable at speed.

post #36 of 40

I'm going with the OP having a basic alignment problem related to being bow legged (too much edge to quickly), and then plain old technique... just not getting early edge angles created and having to slam on the brakes at the finish. If you're (you, Mr. Op!) are doing any upper body rotating at all either to initial or incidentally at the finish, you're toast... boot ramp angle won't matter.. and about that ramp angle/forward lean, no, you don't need 20 degrees. Upright is fine, but you have to know how to ski with a very strong 'inside' and commensurately, ride a balanced outside ski with your shin at the cuff of the boot. This is a tall order for interwebz corrective measures without video.  (hint.... hint......  smile.gif )  In the meantime, look up any and all footage of Mikaela Shiffren doing her 17 year old crushing WC slalom thing this season, or even training vids over the past couple of seasons. There's no better example... maybe Georgio Rocca.. Look up video of him as well.

post #37 of 40

SL skis don't play well in straights or long transitions between turns.  They're only happy on their edges.

post #38 of 40
Originally Posted by AlpineA View Post


Like I said in opening post, for financial reasons I'm not going to be purchasing a replacement.


But for future reference, is there an easier ski for recreational slalom "racing." (and I put that term in quotations).??????



Maybe are any of the cheater slaloms metal-free?



Regarding the backseat comment, unfortunately on steep terrain the forward lean in my boots places me what feels like too far forward.

first of all - try a bit longer ski with a bit bigger radius next time - I'm 1,85 m and 75 kilos (sorry I'm from metric system realm) and feel quite comfortable on 1,72 Dynastars (R13). Tried Head 2014 WC i.SL RD Worldcup Rebels 165/R12 over last weekend and all I can say - despite they felt a bit too short - the more work you put in your technique in each turn, the better the ski behaves (even though I felt a bit unstable when didn't work the whole turn with proper diligence). Slalom skis ARE demanding and not what they call recreational. But once you've learned how to tame them, the fun is endless, no matter what colour run you're on. Here in Europe so-called downgraded race skis are very popular as they offer almost the same performance with more comfort, flex and forgiveness. Maybe try Dynastar Contact Groove, Head Supershape, Elan Waveflex 12 or 14 or likes. BTW, here's a good source I have been using for few past years to get good overview on different ski brands/types/models (not only SL). http://www.snowrental.net/ski-equipment/ski-equipment.html

and good luck on SL skissmile.gif

post #39 of 40

Interesting stuff, The idea that a slalom ski needs to be on edge and strongly engaged has limited usefulness outside a race course. Even within the confines of the gates the myth of always locking them on edge needs to be examined. Scarving and shaping a turn tighter than what the ski would normally scribe is normal. Carve when you can, skid when you need to, is advice common in the race circles. So is the always attack the tongue advice but excessive tip pressure washes the tails and makes the skis even more unstable. That is why I am going to suggests that learning to work the skis from a variety of stances and pressure points will open up more of the mountain to you. That doesn't mean the slaloms will ever act like a GS ski, just that loading the tip on a twitchy slalom ski exacerbates it's nervousness.


As far as steep slope performance I doubt the ski changes it's inherent characteristics. So that only leaves pilot issues that are always present but show up in our consciousness when we ski more challenging terrain. They exist in everyone's skiing BTW. To be fair though, another issue may be more problematic and I suspect more what you are experiencing. Seeking speed verse seeking braking. Steeps tend to bring out the later. Imagine the objective of making slow turns in a race course and this might make more sense. What would you do differently if being last across the finish line was the prime objective? Consider the idea that as slope angles increase Gravity has a larger vertical component and this allows Gravity to accelerate us a bit faster since the terrain offers less resistance. If the objective is to not allow that to occur, we would probably scrub speed with some additional skidding. Bode suggested a pivoted turn entry and delaying the strong edge engagement until just after the fall line. I tend to agree with him and would like to offer a drill or two that might help you develop both stronger edge purchase and better skidding skills.


The first is an across the hill sideslip on moderately steep blue terrain. Start from a straight run directly in the fall line and carve a J turn finish. As you release the skis strongly pivot them downhill (yes pivot them into the fall line) and let them skid (sideslip) across the hill. As the slipping continues you will feel the arc decay and your path will eventually return to the fall line. Engage the edges and carve another J turn. Make sure you hang onto the J turn until you are traveling perpendicular to the fall line. Repeat this until you feel comfortable with allowing Gravity to pull you into the fall line. Usually at least a few runs will be enough but one or two may not be.


The other drill is to do garlands and a fan progression on steep terrain. This allows you to experience a release and re-engagement of the edge platform without executing a complete turn. At least at first. Eventually finish turns the same way you would in the other drill. Engage at the fall line and guide the skis across the hill.


At some point the engagement is possible earlier but until you master the fall line engagement drill avoid trying to move that point up higher in the turns. The benefit here is the skis are not free to accelerate without resistance so they don't accelerate as quickly as they would in arc to arc turns. Thus making the rest of the turn a bit slower and easier to manage. If you struggle to engage the edges, flex more and caress the snow instead of trying to cleave it.

Finally it's worth mentioning that waiting until the skis are turning across the hill before establishing the edge platform requires a lot of leg power and strength. Squats in the gym will help you develop this strength but if you establish that edge when it is easier, you simply do not need Bode's strength to keep the ski on edge during the last third of the turns.


Hope that helps.


post #40 of 40

Good troll.  You got two pages out of that one.  I wanna see Rhalves charge the big AK lines on his SL skis.  ;)

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