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Beginner MA

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I skied for the first time this past winter and I'm really hooked. I did 5 days of group lessons (the standard 3 day first timer series and two additional days) and the video was taken at the end of the day after my last lesson. I was on the Northstar trail on Peak 8 at Breckenridge.


I'm actually a little embarrassed by my videos. I'm kind of afraid of the heights and speed so I looked a bit tense and timid. But I really want improve, so I would appreciate any feedback.


My thoughts watching the videos:

- My body seems to be leaning too much uphill

- There were some wedging at the beginning of a turn

- Overall, the turns were not very smooth. It appeared like I was constantly trying to slow down after each turn.



post #2 of 16
After only 5 days on snow you are doing great! I think your body lean is fine, don't worry about it at this stage, pay a bit more attention to not sit back. Wedging is fine, you'll stop doing it as you progress.

You do look very tense, holding upper body and arm to the exact same position, try relax a bit next time, as long as your arms aren't flailing around. Another common beginner problem is start a turn by move upper body to face that direction first, next time try start by twist your ski first.
post #3 of 16

I think those are nice turns for a beginner.  You have a nice round turn shape and are getting good speed control.  Your speed is fairly consistent, not a lot of slowing down and speeding up.  You do lean into the hill and you are showing TBR, total body rotation.  Don't worry about the wedge.  It's not that big and I think it will go away if you work on some other things.


If you were my student I would be trying to get you to keep your upper body facing down the hill more.  Separating the upper and lower body will allow you to move into the new turn more effectively and will help to reduce the uphill lean.  With your upper body facing downhill, you can steer your feet and your lower body through the turn arc.  When you release into the next turn, you move your CM in the direction your upper body is facing...  Downhill.  Think about rolling both ankles to change edges as you move your CM across the skis into the next turn.  Sometimes it helps to focus on flattening the new inside (downhill) ski.  


If you can do this, I think the wedge will go away on it's own.  I wouldn't focus on the wedge.  IMO the wedge is a symptom, when you fix the cause it will go away.  Work on one thing at a time and don't forget to keep sight of the positive things going on with your skiing and the fun you are having. 


BTW...  I am an old Philly Guy myself even though I live in WY now.  I miss cheese steaks and soft shelled crabs!

post #4 of 16

One simple thing that helped me separate my upper from lower body was to simply look down the hill.  See how your head looks immediately in front of your skis?  Try looking farther down the hill, straight down the fall line.  That way, you can see where you want to go, not where you already are.  By looking forward, your legs and lower body will slowly start to move independently of your torso and head.  

post #5 of 16

Good for you as a beginner!  That snow looks heavy and lumpy.  You are maintaining a

constant turn size, making nice round turns, and clearly having a glorious run.  Congrats!


First thing to work on this season is your stance.  


I've posted a screen shot I've taken from your first video.  Look at the angle between your

shins and your skis.  It's pretty much 90 degrees, a right angle.  Work on closing that

angle down some as you ski; this will get your knees over your boot toes, and move your

entire body more forward.  It's the muscles controlling ankle bending that does this.  Close

your ankle down some.


Once you are more forward due to keeping your ankle more closed, you won't need to maintain

that stiff crouch. Stand up straighter; point your chest out rather than down; you can do this

once the ankle is bending forward more. And as ADKS says, looking out ahead instead of down

in front of your skis will be possible once you are not crouched down in a sitting position. 

Spend time working on staying balanced and feeling comfortable with your new stance.  

Several good things will follow for a more upright, forward stance.  1 - Your quads won't be

so taxed from doing a continuous squat all day.  That's always good.  2 - Once you discover 

how powerful a move it is to close your ankles inside those stiff boots, you'll be able to

maintain your balance with a more limber, upright body.  A non-rigid stance on snow is good;

it not only feels better, but it readies you for more versatile management of the forces of 

your turns - something you'll be working on soon.     


post #6 of 16

Second thing to work on is how you start your turns.


Here's a left turn in three screen shots from your first video.  See how your head is pointing way over in one direction, then it vaults over your skis and points in the other direction?  With your head in the lead, your entire upper body is tilted in one direction, then it tilts in the other direction.  In addition to tilting one way then the other like a metronome, your body is also twisting in the direction of the new turn at the same time.  



You can see in the bottom picture that your upper body is more turned than your skis.  The upper body's momentum yanks the skis around.  This is a very powerful way of turning; everyone should

know how to motor a turn using upper body rotation (in a refined form).  It works wonderfully if your skis are weighted in the tails and not in the tips.  Your crouch is keeping your weight on the tails of your skis, so this works for you.  But upper body rotation is quite limiting in numerous ways; put upper body rotation on the back burner and work on using another way of motorizing your turns this upcoming season. 

Once you figure out how to close those ankles inside those stiff boots and get yourself standing up straighter, you'll be weighting the fronts of your skis. Those shovels will be pressing down into the snow through entire turns, not sticking up in the air as you can see in the first shot above.  If you own your skis, you paid good money for the fronts of those skis; learn to use them this season!


With the shovels pressed down on the snow, you'll be able to bend the skis, edge them, and have them help get you turned around the corner with increasingly precise control, even on hard groomed snow.  Those skis are shaped to do this, but with upper body rotation precision turns are not going to be possible, and on hard snow this process doesn't work so well.  Work on utilizing

the skis fully with new turn mechanics. 


The first step for beginning to turn differently is what tetonpowderjunkie suggested in his post upthread.  Keep your hips, shoulders, and head facing more down the hill than your skis as you turn.  This accomplishes lots of good things, the first being it keeps the upper body from functioning as your steering wheel.


Good ways of starting a turn all involve leading the turn with leg and foot action. Tetonpowderjunkie mentions releasing the outside ski in his post above.  That's the key.  So take a lesson with an

instructor who will teach you to release your old outside ski to start your turns.  


Have a great time this season.  Your determination will get you skiing stronger fast.

Edited by LiquidFeet - 10/29/13 at 4:24am
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much guys. You feedback has been incredibly helpful. I'm looking forward to this ski season and continue to practice my turns.


My first trip is only a month away to Breck/Keystone.

post #8 of 16
Planning on any skiing in the east this year?
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Probably going to hit the Poconos a few times this year.


I've been kind of spoiled though. I've only skied twice once in Vail and Breckenridge this past winter. I loved it so much I got my Epic pass during my last trip. So it's probably cheaper to ski out west than in the NE.


Where do you ski?

post #10 of 16
In PA, usually only Elk - but more in NY and VT.

The Epic pass is a deal that is difficult to pass up.
post #11 of 16

Great skiing after only 5 days!  Try to not sit back so much, instead get your hips forward and get in more of a "ready"/ athletic position on top of your skis.  Get your hands AND ELBOWS out in front of your body as well.  All of this will allow you pressure the tips of your skis (this is essential, this is how you should be turning the skis) and be much more dynamic on the snow.  Also, keep your upper body calmer and don't rotate it so much.  Right now you're banking into your turns with your shoulders (dipping the shoulders into your turns) and you're rotating your upper body to start your turns.  Let your lower body turn the skis, keep the upper body calm and don't rotate it to start your turns.  Instead, start your turns by moving your center of mass, or your belly button, over your skis and down the fall line. This will allow your skis to consequently flatten and move onto their new edges.  Think of your body as a pendulum, with the upper part acting as a stabilizer and staying relatively calm and the lower part doing most of the work and being more active.   


Mentally, think about ATTACKING the slope, and make sure that YOU are SKIING THE HILL, and not the other way around.  Getting the hips forward and getting on top of your skis may seem odd at first and even counter-intuitive, but it is something that will allow for much better and more effective skiing, not to mention its a lot more fun.  When moving your center of mass/ belly button/ hips over your skis and down the hill, you should feel a little bit of a "falling" sensation.  Think about flowing down the hill, like a river.  There should be no stops and starts in your skiing, and you should always be either in the process of initiating, shaping, or finishing your turns.  


Again, that's some really good skiing after only 5 days!  There are a lot of good things in your skiing right now and the instructors at Breck and Vail did a great job with you.  There's a lot of things mentioned above for you to work on, and there's also some technical language that you may not fully understand, so if you would just like to keep it simple and focus on one thing, I would focus on getting your body in the right stance/ position (good skiing is pretty much impossible without good stance/ body positioning).  


Best of luck and more than anything, just keep skiing!

post #12 of 16

Hey Pillyguy03, looks like you have received lots of advice. IMO some good and some maybe not for you just yet. The major thing in common and I agree 100% is focus on the skill of Pivoting. It may help for me to explain it for you.


Having the ability to turn the legs under the body is essential to good skiing. This is true at all levels. The lower body must lead the turning effort. It is the femur turning in the hip socket that allows this upper and lower body separation to happen. When the upper body leads or remains square with the skis this is know as rotation and generally causes the skier to be out of balance. This upper body rotation is what you are displaying and is very common at in levels. 


The fix- On easy terrain (green/beginner) begin to straight run in a small wedge\snowplow. Look ahead and focus on I stationary object down the slope. When you are ready and feel balanced in the center of you skis turn your feet only. Try to settle and balance on the down hill ski as it travels through the turn. Remain focused with the upper body facing down the slope. Try this one turn at a time. Then link the turns. Then try adding some rhythm and allow the skis to flow left, right, left, right, etc. etc...... while always remaining faced down the hill with your upper body.


An analogy- The tires of a car turn and then the head lights.


Remember the best way to get balanced on the downhill ski (which is what you are looking for) is to turn the skis under the body.


Hope is helps


post #13 of 16

Along with what everyone else said, I would offer that you practice more on easier terrain.  What you're on isn't horrible and the pitch is nice, but as LF said it is lumpy.  That could be a result of the weather that day as it looks like its snowing in the video.  That comes with skiing outside.  Mother Nature picks the weather; not you.  You dealt with it quite well.  However, in my opinion, this is causing you to not only look tense, but you also look like you are looking for a spot to turn.  For someone with 5 days under their belt, this is to be expected, and as others have stated, you're coming along nicely.  I think if you were on a groomed run, we might have slightly different comments.


I bring this up because you need to look down the hill to get the upper/lower separation everyone has mentioned, but that is going to be difficult, in choppy terrain when you are trying to pick out a path. I could be seeing something that isn't really the cause, but when I first started skiing, if that was the terrain I was on, that is what I would be doing; trying to avoid clumps and bumps


With regards to your stance, I have nothing different to offer but possibly a different way to say it.  Open your knee and open your hip.  This will get you taller and set you up to be in a better position when  you close your ankle.  Now you will be able to do the rotary movements described above.  You will end up somewhere close to the yellow and red lines I drew on LF's screen shot (don't be to critical of my lines.  They aren't perfect).  You need to be flexed and relaxed, but taller and more forward.  You can see how much of your weight is behind you and you should think about keeping it more forward.



A simple self demo you can do is next time you are on snow, find a flat spot.  If you can, stand on one ski.  Now lean back a little and try to turn the ski.  Do it again when you stand directly over your foot and again leaning forward.  You might have done this in your lessons (make a bow tie in the snow with your boot and then with your ski).  That is the position you want to be in for your rotary movements.


You can also while standing on a slope with your skis across the fall line, lift your down hill ski.  Now without using anything but your leg, twist your ski back and forth.  Doesn't have to be a lot.  Just so you can feel it.  You can do it in the air, and on slippery surfaces. 


You are off to a very good start.


Have fun,



post #14 of 16



Lots of good feedback here by others. Here is my take. Slightly different but hopefully you will get something out of it. You are looking good for a beginner but on the other hand you are making the most typical beginners misstake and that needs to be fixed. You are turning your upper body into the turn trying to get arround as quickly as possibly. You are leaning into the turn and twisting your upper body into the turn. Others have noted this also. Dont take it too personally, almost everyone has flaws in their skiing. Even advanced skiers sometime. My take on your skiing is that you are dooing it "all wrong". And I will prove it to you. Check this photo montage I made on the fly:


Here are the original frame captures by Liquid Feet (thank you very much):


Here I took the second frame and flipped it horisontally 18deg:

Everything looks much better but Im not really happy with it. Your leggs look a bit funky.


Lets see if we can fix it by flipping your lower body back to how it was:

There we go. Now your lower body is back where it was but your upper body is still flipped 180 deg. Talk about "upper-lower body separation" :D. BTW, you look like a ski instructor. Perfect!


Here is a direct comparisson:

Edited by tdk6 - 11/10/13 at 2:53am
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,


Thanks for all the great feedback. I just had three more days of skiing at Breck. I feel I have a lot more control with my turns and speed on blues now. I took my first black down American yesterday and my instructor took us down Shock today.


I've been working on my stance and upper and lower body separation with my instructor. Here's a video of me on a green run from today



post #16 of 16

Looking better dude.  Keep skiing as much as you can and ask your instructor to teach you how to use your poles.  Don't look where you are going, look where you are going next - you're feet will be fine and have potential.  Nice rhythm and flow. 

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