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practice drills

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi Ya'll,

So this is my second post, and I started skiing again regularly after a few years.  I'd consider myself an expert skier, definitely lacking in my repertoire, and of course I have tons of room for improvement.  I've skied a lot since I was 4..and haven't taken any lessons for a very long time, but I've been given tips by good skiers along the way.  I've always just gone skiing.  I'm 32 now and started skiing regularly again after a few years not skiing.  I'm taking it a little more serious now, or at least approaching it differently, because I want to get better at skiing.


I watch all the videos I can, and I've been reading a bunch.  When I go skiing now I spend a good amount of time practicing what I watched in the videos.  I've been doing (i'm naming these based on the videos I watched):



falling leaf; I don't think I'm getting much from this, since it seems trivial, they say it helps with fore and aft balance


pivot slips; rotating your legs and slipping, same as my thoughts on the falling leaf, it seems like you'd do these at a different point in skiing progression


picking up the outside ski; skiing on one ski.  I suppose this is good practice


picking up the inside ski and turning the outside ski under it.  it's interesting to me because I've been watching Herb systems, and this guy seems to have put a lot of work into ski training, and when showing "the bullet proof short turn" he's basically doing short turns always doing something in transition like carving the turn, where you could also rotate your legs while facing downhill (I think he even said not to do this).  so in my opinion his absolute statement is wrong, because the terrain is variable, so if you were in glades,or varying terrain, it may come in handy to do short turns however you see fit


some kind of hop turn drill, where you pole plan and do 180 hops back and forth standing still, and then do it going down slowly.  I like this drill because I know it's good for what and how I like to ski.  nice workout to.


180 hop during a turn into switch.  I've only tried a few times, but it's not as pretty as the guy in the video, so I'm gonna practice this one


skiing switch.  I went from volkl 215 straight skis, to volkl prestos, to volkl six stars (183). I really like the six stars, but kinda have a fondess to the prestos ;o.  it took me a little bit to get used to skiing switch since the sidecut is so big, so I'm just going to keep practicing it, to get it smoother.  I guess it doesn't matter which way you look over your shoulder and you keep alternating which shoulder you look downhill over?


pivot turns. I've always just skied, and never knew anything about the technical methods behind it.  On slalom turns I'd do turns I always felt were cool and they felt so smooth, a real nice feeling.  I then found out these were pivot turns.  I didn't find to much information about these either, some of it was confusing to me, like use the tail or tips.  So I decided to try one on icy conditions, going pretty darn fast, in a GS turn.  It definitely wasn't a natural movement, and I probably did it wrong, and I don't even know how you're supposed to do them in GS turns on icy conditions, probably with chunks of snow as well.  I doubt I did it right, but maybe I did and just caught on edge.  I was forcing it to try and do the stuff I read online.  Well it's a nice reality check to be upside down watching trees whiz by.  Definitely should of started slow when something feels awkward, was a pretty big mistake.  Luck was on my side thankfully.


I like mostly doing GS turns, and I'm watching racer videos since I figured it might help.  I think I'm doing okay, like my outside leg is extended when I'm going fast, inside ski is doing most of the work, as far as I can tell my body looks the same.  Like a C shape, not twisted, all in one line.  As far as I can tell, maybe I have some inaccuracy, but I feel pretty good, and this is the skiing I've always done, so i believe I'm just doing it right naturally and almost don't even want to overthink it.  But I would like to know what's going on.  I'm not sure I could just get a lesson, and get an accurate assesment, like maybe a race coach is needed or I would have to get lucky.


jumps.  I'm not really into jumps, or tricks, although it'd be nice to feel like I have all the tools to get the bottom of a downhill course fairly quickly, it's just not something I'm going to pursue due to the risk.


Trying to keep my skis in good shape, definitely important, which I never did much.  I'd like to instruct somewhere hopefully..  There's some questions in there if you read all that ;p, and I'm basically looking to get better, going 15-20 times a year.  Like I don't mind practicing or even doing leg workouts.  Mostly I'm interested in skiing and getting better at it.  Thanks for any suggestions.

post #2 of 7

Wow L2S!


I read all that and found one question mark attached to a statement. If we turn that into a question, then the answer is "It depends".



1) Get video and post a link here on Epic

2) Attend an instructor training clinic at a resort near you

3) Identify what skill areas you want to change and focus on drills that most effectively work those skills under the conditions that are the best match for your needs and the conditions du jour.


Here on Epic, you will probably receive many different opinions about your skiing for free. With any luck you will either be able to find a consensus opinion or at least one that resonates with your own thinking.


An instructor training clinic (ITC) is essentially where you pay a resort to teach you how to teach skiing and then they decide if they want to offer you a teaching job (i.e. paying to take a job interview). Hey, it is a strange business. You'll learn more about what teaching is like and you'll get evaluated by the top members of the ski school staff. That looks to be killing two birds with one stone. It looks like you are ready to start exploring the "why" part of how skiing works. An ITC is the best bang for the buck for this even if you're not quite ready to start teaching.


As you've discovered, just randomly attempting drills has some safety concerns. In general, it's not a very effective means to improve one's skiing. If you must, one general truism is that if a drill is hard to do, it generally means that it has identified a weakness, but if a drill is easy to do then you are either doing it wrong or you have mastered the intended skill application. Another general truism is that even when a drill is easy to do, there is always room to get better at that drill. In order for drills to get the best results they need to be tailored both to the individual needs of the student and the conditions du jour, and the individual needs to get external feedback. An experienced instructor can have hundreds of different drills and unlimited number of variations.



With regards to the specific drills you mention:

Falling leaf is an easy drill that works on edge control as well as fore/aft pressure management. Do it in softer snow for more of a challenge or add a "lane change" where you mimic more than one falling leaf.


Pivot slips are controversial to some. They are great at developing the skill of letting the legs turn underneath the body. They are easy to do incorrectly.


There are lots of variations of one ski drills. These are also easy to do incorrectly. Personally I've found that White Pass turns (initiating turns while only the new inside ski is on the snow) are a great tool for perfecting one's technique, but not so good at developing new skills.


Before "smoking" much Herb, I discovered that lifting and tipping the new inside ski worked wonders for turn initiation mechanics for a lot of people. After "smoking" much Herb, I discovered that arguing about right or wrong with certain individuals just messed up my vibe. Herb is a controversial topic on Epic. That's as much of a hint as I can make on this topic.


Hop turns are great on a cold day and very steep runs.


Skiing switch is very useful for teaching beginners. Sometimes you can even look between your legs to see where you are going.


One mark of an expert skier is to be able to make a variety of turn shapes and sizes in all conditions on all slopes. Why prefer one over another?


It cracks me up when I teach terrain park lessons with parents attending to monitor their kids. When we get to jumping, I always tell the (cough) "more experienced" members of the class that they don't need to actually do the jump and they usually respond "don't worry I won't". But inevitably after I explain how to make the jump as big or as small you want and demonstrate a real small one, they all do it and usually bigger than I did. This would be a hint.




Without seeing video I must state a caveat that more drills is not likely to do you much good. You might find that some of these drills are at least fun:

Railroad Tracks - arc to arc carved turns leaving totally pencil thin tracks in the snow - no skidding and no foot steering

Lane Changes - make 4 or 5 perfectly symmetrical turns within 1-2 groomer wide track(s), then seamlessly link one large turn into another "lane" and 4-5 more perfectly symmetrical in the lane turns. Note: the transition has to be a turn not a traverse.

Shuffle Turns - make parallel turns while rapidly shuffling your feet throughout the entire turn

Bamboo Turns - Ditch your poles and carry a bamboo stick across your shoulders keeping the boo parallel to the snow surface at all times (note - safety issue for shoulder health is required and carry boo on the lifts is dangerous).

Tracer Turns - Ski with your weight 99% on one foot all the time. The other foot should still be on the snow.

post #3 of 7

   @The Rusty


  Who's Herb? Was he slow? How many seconds did u usually smoke him by?


   @like2ski123  Have you thought about joining a local masters race league? Great coaching is often available...




post #4 of 7

I Hear Old Herb's not here man.

post #5 of 7

    Oh? Must've moved on yonder-ways....



post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

thanks for the excellent information and advice.  I'll post some video of long, medium and short turns.  I've got to cut my poles down an inch or two.  I got them to long, but they were 10 bucks so I'm not complaining.  I've been going by myself, so I'll have to wait until one of my friend's go to take video.


I'm not against some exercise like the falling leaf.  That's one of the things I remember from lessons (although not in reverse), like 20 years ago, and I always just slide around for fun, or to watch my friends and take it easy.   I think it's a good skill to learn, but there doesn't seem much to it.


I think I like hop turns so much, because you take what you can get around here, and icy bumps and steep trails is fun challenging terrain.



Lane Changes - make 4 or 5 perfectly symmetrical turns within 1-2 groomer wide track(s), then seamlessly link one large turn into another "lane" and 4-5 more perfectly symmetrical in the lane turns. Note: the transition has to be a turn not a traverse.



This seems like ideal practice, and maybe a good idea to do a couple runs like this.


"One mark of an expert skier is to be able to make a variety of turn shapes and sizes in all conditions on all slopes. Why prefer one over another?"


Speed can be fun, and there's usually just icy groomed trails.  I would definitely like to get better on different terrain, it's just not there as often.  I was going to go up to madriverlgen for the weekend, but of course it's always raining.


"@like2ski123  Have you thought about joining a local masters race league? Great coaching is often available..."


I'd like to , but I probably wouldn't care so much about the times, just getting to the bottom safely : ).

post #7 of 7

You'd be surprised how many beginners can't do a side slip, not to mention falling leaf. If you're going to Mad River, get a lesson with Terry Barbour even if it is raining. There is no doubt about the accuracy of his assessments. He is one of the best instructors in the country (a former member of the PSIA demo team).

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