or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Beginner Zone › Terrain reading for Anxious Wimps!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Terrain reading for Anxious Wimps!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
This is me:
It's my first "real" season skiing somewhat regularly (Mom, at 43, with a set of runner's knees. I'm clearly mentally challenged) and I've done well. I started out here in Virginia and have conquered the local greens- in fact I really enjoy them. I have started to parallel with consistency, have gotten the whole "turn up the hill" thing to help control speed. I have no problems stopping (not "hockey" yet. Next winter!) am balanced and very stable. I've had lessons both here and during an awesome vacay in Steamboat (love love!). I am told by my instructors that I'm far FAR more skilled than I think (one said "you crack me up! you have no idea how good you are. you could ski the blacks with your kids! - and since I like the little bumps my 2nd instructor said I could be called Terrain Park Mom). I do have a decent and healthy fear of heights that I am slowly getting over and I *think* I could take on a few of my local blues (let's call em turquoise) with just some refresher next season. I would like to improve my skills and step it up just a notch.

Here's my major problem- I've read everyone's wonderful (and comforting) advice re: fear of heights and unknowns- but when I dissected my issue I realized mine is more lack of confidence reading terrain. Is there a pitch guide, or sage advice in regard to heck- idk what you'd call it- reading a grade maybe? For instance I skied a short nice blue at Da Boat that I'd never have tackled alone- but I had no problems following my instructor and once I saw what he did, I did it too. I fell once before then (instructor: " you didn't fall. You sat down" - well enough to tear up my PCL, tyvm!) in the most ridiculous place totally out of anxiety just looking at a steep drop (okay, it's called "Dead Man's (Something)- that I only had to go around- not down. I got up, took my skis off, walked maybe ten feet down so I couldn't see the pitch, and kept on (also the impetus to go buy some awesome boots and choose better skis). Ugh! Gave myself a stern talking to about being irrational. Two days later with another instructor after skiing the same area with only the slightest notice I was where I'd freaked out prior, I realized its not so much a fear of the grade as it is my lack of confidence in knowing HOW to attack it. I know I can turn, I know I can stop, I know how much speed I am comfortable with and how to control that, too.. I seem to have a particular aversion to double fall lines and places with multiple angles. Visually I handle tree-lined groomers 100x better than what most people seem to like- big wide open tree-less paths or bowls. I think its because I see the trees or fences and can quickly figure out time/speed/turn required. Put me in a bowl or on double falls- I see all that space and angles and think "oh sh*t! Now what do we do?!" Then I freeze and it all goes to hell in a pole basket. It's not just bowls- any thing that's not a nice, straight, direct path and I'm all flustered. Is there a rule of thumb?
Edited by PermaBunny - 4/17/13 at 6:42pm
post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PermaBunny View Post

This is me:
It's my first "real" season skiing somewhat regularly (Mom, at 43, with a set of runner's knees. I'm clearly mentally challenged) and I've done well. I started out here in Virginia . . .

Welcome to EpicSki!  Where in Virginia?  Wintergreen or Massanutten?  I'm an older mom of a tween daughter and we call Massanutten our home mountain.  We make the drive on weekends from NC.

 

In terms of reading the pitch, or potential snow, for what you're about to ski, there is probably no "rule of thumb."  More mileage on various trails helps.  But from a confidence standpoint, the ideal is to ski with someone who is a better skier (and patient) the first time on any trail.

 

There is a book by a long time ski instructor that you may find useful.  She specializes in helping people overcome their fears when skiing.  It's called "A Conversation with Fear" although the original title was "In the Yikes! Zone - A Conversation with Fear."

 

http://www.amazon.com/A-Conversation-Fear-Mermer-Blakeslee/dp/1617562726/ref=pd_sim_b_1

post #3 of 12

I used to do the exact same thing. As recently as this season. It just takes miles on skis! Also, frequent self-affirmation: RELAX RELAX RELAX (I'm not kidding--I tell myself this if I get on something that scares me a bit.) Also, don't tackle something if you don't feel ready. Seriously. And keep taking lessons because yes, following an instructor blindly can be a beautiful thing!

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Massanutten (I lovingly refer to as Mass O'Nutten). For me the fear is banished with action. My 2nd 'Boat instructor was particularly awesome because he'd tell me what we were going to do beforehand "at this hairpin we'll start on the outside and make a nice wide sweep so we can see what's around the corner". Lightbulb! Okay, now I know how to handle this- this time and other times.

I know a lot of skiing seems to come down to common sense but my usual abundance of that goes frustratingly out the window for some reason when I've got skis on!
post #5 of 12

Hi Perma. I enjoyed and identified with your post.

I'm far from an expert skier, and no adventurer, so I get those cringy feelings at the top of a steep pitch, too. I think you'll feel better about things once you get a good solid hockey stop -- to both sides -- in your tool box. It's good to know you can brake quickly in a limited space, either to a complete stop or just keep your speed under control.

I cheat a bit. My son is an advanced snowboarder, so I let him go first on unfamiliar, challenging slopes.

I am making progress, to the point that I actually like that little thrill you get when you release your edges and start to drop down the steep bits.

Keep having fun!

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PermaBunny View Post

Massanutten (I lovingly refer to as Mass O'Nutten). For me the fear is banished with action. My 2nd 'Boat instructor was particularly awesome because he'd tell me what we were going to do beforehand "at this hairpin we'll start on the outside and make a nice wide sweep so we can see what's around the corner". Lightbulb! Okay, now I know how to handle this- this time and other times.

I know a lot of skiing seems to come down to common sense but my usual abundance of that goes frustratingly out the window for some reason when I've got skis on!

Common sense caution is a good thing!  With a bit more experience, I'm sure you'll get more adventurous.

 

As someone else said, getting a solid hockey stop is very useful.  That's helps provide confidence that you can stop any time.

 

If you were skiing Mnut on weekends, I was probably on the mountain somewhere.  My daughter and I were there every weekend in Jan and Pres Day weekend.  Even got a bonus weekend in early March.  We got a NC friend and her young kids started on skis.  The ski school is awesome.

 

Turns out that Lift 6 has as much vertical by itself than most places in PA.  Mnut has great progression for learning.

post #7 of 12

A good trick to use at the top of a steep pitch, is just to wait for someone else to go down it first. Seeing another skier on the terrain gives you a perspective as to how steep, or fast, it really is. Just like a cold swimming pool, it's often not as bad as you think once you jump in.

post #8 of 12

Welcome to EpicSki!  Always nice to see a new convert who's excited about the sport.

 

The underconfidence thing is remarkably common with women.  Conversely, guys tend to have the opposite problem and generally ask for lessons that are WAY over their head in terms of actual skill.

 

Ms. Blakeslee's book (referenced above) is excellent if you want to read/think about anxiety issues.  Of course, if the thought of thinking about anxiety is making you nervous, maybe this isn't the best approach.  smile.gif

 

Quote:
I realized its not so much a fear of the grade as it is my lack of confidence in knowing HOW to attack it. I know I can turn, I know I can stop, I know how much speed I am comfortable with and how to control that, too.. I seem to have a particular aversion to double fall lines and places with multiple angles. Visually I handle tree-lined groomers 100x better than what most people seem to like- big wide open tree-less paths or bowls. I think its because I see the trees or fences and can quickly figure out time/speed/turn required. Put me in a bowl or on double falls- I see all that space and angles and think "oh sh*t! Now what do we do?!" Then I freeze and it all goes to hell in a pole basket. It's not just bowls- any thing that's not a nice, straight, direct path and I'm all flustered. Is there a rule of thumb?

 

If you can physically make turns and control your speed, you can get down it.  And if you can sideslip you can inch down just about anything that way if you come across some unexpectedly tricky section.

 

Sometimes it helps to just focus on where you want to go -- maybe 2 or 3 turns ahead.  It doesn't matter if you can see the next 1000' feet of vertical, you have to ski it one turn at a time.  Look at a point where you want to go and just focus on moving in that direction, not about all the possible other ways you could be going.  Trying to relax is also good, although that is sometimes easier said than done in real time.

 

The mental processing side of it should catch up with more experience.  (Just wait until you try moguls.  Your issues with double fall lines may seem quaint by comparison.  wink.gif)

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PermaBunny View Post
1.  ....I skied a short nice blue at Da Boat that I'd never have tackled alone- but I had no problems following my instructor and once I saw what he did, I did it too. ....
2.  ....My 2nd 'Boat instructor was particularly awesome because he'd tell me what we were going to do beforehand "at this hairpin we'll start on the outside and make a nice wide sweep so we can see what's around the corner". Lightbulb! Okay, now I know how to handle this....
3.  ....I am told by my instructors that I'm far FAR more skilled than I think (one said "you crack me up! you have no idea how good you are. you could ski the blacks with your kids!....
4.  ....Visually I handle tree-lined groomers 100x better than what most people seem to like- big wide open tree-less paths or bowls. I think its because I see the trees or fences and can quickly figure out time/speed/turn required. Put me in a bowl or on double falls- I see all that space and angles and think "oh sh*t! Now what do we do?!" Then I freeze and it all goes to hell in a pole basket.....

 

 

PBunny, I think the key to success is in the quotes above.  

 

1.  You have no trouble following an instructor on terrain that would normally cause you to freeze up.  In this case, you don't have to decide where to turn.  You just need to make the turns where your instructor makes them.   You ski this terrain just fine with the skills you have. 

 

2.  If an instructor tells you where the turns are going to be ahead of time, you can do that.  I am wondering if after describing where the turns were going to be, the instructor let you lead.  Can you lead in this type of situation?  In either case you are still relying on your instructor to decide where to make the turns, but again you have the skills to make the turns just fine.

 

3.  Your instructors tell you that you have the skills to ski much more challenging terrain than you think.  Trust them!

 

4.  Here's the clincher.  You can ski tree-lined runs just fine all by yourself, but freeze up in open areas.  With trees along the side of the trail, you have the ability to ski blue terrain at your skill level without the aid of an instructor.  You make your own decisions of where to turn just fine as long as there are trees or fences along the sides.  Here's what I think is happening.

 

When you stand at the top of a big wide open blue slope and view Canada way off at the horizon, that view can be rather intimidating.  It can feel like you are standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, about to fall a very, very long way down.  Now imagine that exact same pitch; narrow the width of the trail, put trees all along both sides, then wind that trail left and right, and all of a sudden Canada drops out of sight.  All you can see down the hill is trees, nice, close, trees, with the trail turning off to the right out of sight.  The intimidation factor of a long Grand Canyon-style drop with nothing to catch you is gone.  Having a different response to a wide open slope and a narrow winding trail, both of which have the same pitch, is quite common.

 

The solution?  Keep skiing those narrow winding trails.  Plan your route from where you are standing until the trail turns out of sight.  Find a tree along the right and plan on skiing to it, then a tree along the left which you will ski over to, and so on until the trail turns out of sight.  Review those planned turns, then follow your plan and make each turn at the spot you chose.  When you get to the point along the trail where your plan runs out, make another plan to get you to the next turn in the trail.  Follow your plan, and keep doing this until you conquer that winding trail.  Then do it again on a slightly wider, or slightly steeper tree-lined trail.  This can be fun.  Your goal:  make your own plans, and follow them.  Recognize that you are being your own instructor.  

 

Time doing this on your own on different width trails will build confidence that your skills are a strong as your instructors are telling you.  That knowledge and the memory of leading yourself down a variety of trails will give you a way to get onto the more open slopes.  

 

Once you feel confident enough to tackle them, use the same planning process on the wider slopes .  Stand at the top and DO NOT LOOK AT CANADA!  Look across the trail and find a spot where you will make your first turn, then a second spot where you will make your second turn, then a third spot where you will stop.  Then follow that plan.  You know the rest.  You are your own instructor.  Lead yourself down, a little bit at a time.  What a wonderful feeling that's going to be!

    


Edited by LiquidFeet - 4/18/13 at 3:39pm
post #10 of 12

all of the above post can be summed up in one sentence.

 

"Whether you think you can or think you can not you are right"

 

so some key points .

 

You said you fell down your instructor said you sat down. If you can sit down you can always remain standing. Unless you falling already never ever succomb to giving up and sitting down.

 

The best advice I can is turn off your brain and just trust yourself. I know your a mom and fear what happens to you because of your kids. Fearful skiing leads to injuries and I highly doubt you skiing truly exposed slope that could kill you in a fall. (at which point then fear and understanding it are great but guess what you still turn off your fear and just do.) The majority of falls are minor, and their frequency goes down when you start thinking you can.

 

Personally though i would stop thinking about where you can/where you want turn and learn to turn anywhere/anytime.anywhere and trust you can, also become acceptiing of Chaos and learning that moving though it is the best course of action instead of "giving up"


Edited by Josh Matta - 4/18/13 at 4:58pm
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PermaBunny View Post

I have started to parallel with consistency, have gotten the whole "turn up the hill" thing to help control speed. I have no problems stopping (not "hockey" yet. Next winter!) am balanced and very stable.

 

Two things here:

  • Hockey stops are cool, they can be fun, and -- most importantly -- they have rather limited application as soon as you get off of a perfectly groomed slope.  Having your skis go sideways over "variable" terrain (i.e., random lumps of snow interspersed with icy patches, etc) can be the last thing you want to have happen.
  • Turning up the hill -- which you indicate you already do -- can do more then "control your speed".  If you allow yourself to keep going uphill, then you will stop.  Guaranteed.  Turning uphill to stop always works, regardless of snow conditions.

 

That's not to say that hockey stops shouldn't be learned; having an "emergency brake" can be a good thing.  It's just that hockey stops are never my "first choice" of how to stop or slow down.  Turning uphill is invariably my preferred method of controlling speed and / or stopping as necessary.

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Matta View Post

all of the above post can be summed up in one sentence.

 

"Whether you think you can or think you can not your right"

 

 

This.  icon14.gif

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Beginner Zone
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Beginner Zone › Terrain reading for Anxious Wimps!