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Control and stance width

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I skied 30 years ago, very briefly at age 8 (Level 1 wedge and such), and then went snowboarding for years.  Haven't been on the mountain at all in about 10 years.  I spent the last three days trying to figure out this skiing thing.

 

6'6" 240, Maestrale with Dynafits mounted on Armada 192 TSTs and in Tahoe.  1 days in slush/ice, 1 day when it dumped and 1 day post-dump.  =)

 

I'm about level 4.  I can link parallel turns at shoulder-width, no issues on the greens but still timid on the blues - not because of the steepness but the angled bumps.  I find that I tend to heavily weight my downhill ski (estimating 80-95%) on my turns, mostly just using the uphill ski as a guide when turning hard.

 

The people I see who're smooth seem to keep their skis together more;  obviously it's years of practice compared to my couple of days but it's something I'm working on.  It was fun to watch the patrol and good skiers and try to figure out their form while letting my legs cool off.

 

1)  While I researched my gear, not many places demo/rent with Dynafit setups, and my desire for something "all mountain" led me to the well-used TSTs.  However, I'm wondering if they're harder to learn on due to width/length.  Thoughts?

 

2)  My quads are killing me.  More so before I figured out that I needed to be learning further forward into the boot tongue, which really changed things for me.  Should it be more of a "lean forward" or "squat/sit a little and lean forward?"  It took me two days to figure this out and my quads were pretty shot from trying to muscle those big skis around.  Lean, or squat?

 

3)  Even while trying to force my legs together in order to make my two skis act as one, it's really really hard to get them to stay that way; invariably one will get a little squirrel-y at the ends, rotating around my ankle.  More practice/ankle control, or normal?

 

4)  Do skis have a "maximum speed?"  On the blue runs where I can just open it up and lean into the boots "trusting the gear" its a blast, but it does seem to cap out.  I'm wondering if my hesitation on some parts is the feeling of loss of control trying to go across the hill too much and I just need to go down the hill instead of back and forth across it so much.   The bumps on the hill seem so much harder when traversing compared to just going down them.  Going across I tend to weight-the-rear and I have to really force myself to stay forwards in the boots.  I went down far more times going "across the hill" than I did "down the hill."

 

5)  When weighting my skis, should I be heavily biased on the downhill ski, or more evenly balanced?  Sometimes I feel like I have 100% of my weight on the downhill side and my uphill side is just kind of floating.  This kills my quads. (Might just be sorely out of shape. :)  Should I weight more evenly, or is this normal?

 

All in all I went down about 6-8 times in three days which isn't so bad, with 3 of those because I had my boots in walk-mode and that's really really hard for me to ski with.  =)

 

I need some lessons, I know, but that's next trip and I'm curious about the above before life gets me distracted and I forget about them. 

 

Thanks in advance!

 

-mox 

 

post #2 of 5

Shaped skis, even the long radius shaped skis need to be told which way to turn, even if the turn is almost no turn.  Otherwise they will wobble to and fro.

 

Skis do have a speed limit.  Whether or not you reached yours I cannot say.

 

The harder your turn the more the load will be on the outside ski.  That's ok, unless you are in deep snow and that ski sinks while the other doesn't.  If that happens, you have to load you skis more evenly.

 

Quads may be killing you just because they are not used to skiing, however, you should be skiing with the ankle joint closed, so your weight is more forward and you are not overworking those legs.

 

Don't worry about how far your legs are apart.  They will seek the best position naturally.   There are advantages in having legs close together and shoulder width apart that vary with conditions.

post #3 of 5

Welcome to the world of cross-snowsport winter fun! Here are some thoughts from a ski instructor-turned-snowboarder:

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by moxford View Post

 

1)  While I researched my gear, not many places demo/rent with Dynafit setups, and my desire for something "all mountain" led me to the well-used TSTs.  However, I'm wondering if they're harder to learn on due to width/length.  Thoughts?

 

This is probably not an ideal ski for you to learn on. It will be fairly hard to tip this ski on edge, and I'd rather you have a more responsive ski as well. I would start you on something around 80mm in the waist since you're skiing out west, with a more moderate flex. More important than skis though are your boots. We'll come back to that. 

 

Quote:

2)  My quads are killing me.  More so before I figured out that I needed to be learning further forward into the boot tongue, which really changed things for me.  Should it be more of a "lean forward" or "squat/sit a little and lean forward?"  It took me two days to figure this out and my quads were pretty shot from trying to muscle those big skis around.  Lean, or squat?

 

Just like when you snowboard, as you ski, you bend all your joints throughout each turn.

 

Avoid extreme leaning over the tongues as that puts you over the toepiece. Also definitely avoid squatting (as a go-to move anyway) as that puts you in the backseat. (think of how imbalanced snowboarders are when they're "on the toilet seat". Now turn them sideways and stick them on skis - they're still imbalanced but in a different direction.)

 

It's easier to release from a turn and start the next one if you lengthen all joints, and feel more pressure through the tongue of the boot. Then throughout the turn, you can gradually bend your joints to make it easier to continue steering. But you should always be seeking a centered stance. Typically if you feel your quads getting sure it means you're falling a bit back. As a starting point, try lining up your toes, knees, and nose. (Think: Tony knows). 

 

Quote:

3)  Even while trying to force my legs together in order to make my two skis act as one, it's really really hard to get them to stay that way; invariably one will get a little squirrel-y at the ends, rotating around my ankle.  More practice/ankle control, or normal?

 

I'm going to guess your boot isn't the right size because that's true for 99.9% of all beginners, and doubly so for snowboarders accustomed to comfy fluffy boots. Your boot should be so snug that when you turn your foot, there's instant response in the boot. No slop allowed. It should fit like a glove - you should feel the boot all around your foot, and you shouldn't be able to lift your heel off the bottom. When I buy boots, the fitter will go at least a full size smaller than my shoe size, then they modify the plastic in the boot to make it fit.

 

You're probably accustomed to a wide stance from snowboarding. Rather than think shoulder-width by default, a better place is closer to hip width. And that's just a starting point; narrow for agility (like in bumps), wide for stability (like on hardpack and racing). If I can put two fists between my legs on hardpack, I'm pretty comfortable. 

 

We can give some better assessment if you can put up some video footage. Otherwise we're just shooting in the dark... but I do believe your boots are too large :) 

 

Quote:
 4)  Do skis have a "maximum speed?"  On the blue runs where I can just open it up and lean into the boots "trusting the gear" its a blast, but it does seem to cap out.  I'm wondering if my hesitation on some parts is the feeling of loss of control trying to go across the hill too much and I just need to go down the hill instead of back and forth across it so much.   The bumps on the hill seem so much harder when traversing compared to just going down them.  Going across I tend to weight-the-rear and I have to really force myself to stay forwards in the boots.  I went down far more times going "across the hill" than I did "down the hill."

 

Just like snowboards, skis have a maximum speed before they get squirrely, but in your case it's the Indian, not the arrow ;) As you know from boarding, truly bumped terrain is more in the domain of the progressing intermediate rider. And you're right that it's more challenging to keep traversing bumps - you're skiing several times the number of bumps when you traverse! 

 

Quote:
5)  When weighting my skis, should I be heavily biased on the downhill ski, or more evenly balanced?  Sometimes I feel like I have 100% of my weight on the downhill side and my uphill side is just kind of floating.  This kills my quads. (Might just be sorely out of shape. :)  Should I weight more evenly, or is this normal? 

 

As your skis start pointing more down the hill, you want your weight progressively moving over the outside ski. And just like when snowboarding, both of your legs are gradually turning throughout the turn. The only time both feet are evenly weighted is that brief instant when you're between turns. Once you get in a rhythm, as you turn your feet, and your body moves down the hill, you won't have to force any weighting over any part of the ski. 

 

Re quads, see above. 

 

You're right on about a lesson being helpful and probably the fastest way to improve :)

 

Good luck! 

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

First up, thanks to both of you for the insights and for taking the time to respond!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post
 
Welcome to the world of cross-snowsport winter fun! Here are some thoughts from a ski instructor-turned-snowboarder:

 

Hah, I'll let it be known that the thought of "I wish I'd just stuck with snowboarding" did cross my mind a time or 5. =)

 

Quote:
 This is probably not an ideal ski for you to learn on. It will be fairly hard to tip this ski on edge, and I'd rather you have a more responsive ski as well. I would start you on something around 80mm in the waist since you're skiing out west, with a more moderate flex.

 

Hmm, okay.  I don't know that I'd survive the night if my wife saw me even looking at putting out more money into skiing right now.  Maybe I'll see what's around after she's not sitting next to me. 

 

Quote:
Avoid extreme leaning over the tongues as that puts you over the toepiece
...
and feel more pressure through the tongue of the boot.

 

So if I'm not squatting a little to cant my legs forward, and not leaning too much, what's the proper way to pressure the tongue?  (Obviously I'm not ski-jump-leaning but I'm curious if there's a another way I'm not seeing.)  When pointed straight down the hill I can relieve most of the pressure on my quads by leaning forward into the tongue.  It seems easier to turn by being more forwards as well; it feels more responsive and in-control.

 

Quote:
 I'm going to guess your boot isn't the right size because that's true for 99.9% of all beginners, and doubly so for snowboarders accustomed to comfy fluffy boots. Your boot should be so snug that when you turn your foot, there's instant response in the boot. No slop allowed. It should fit like a glove - you should feel the boot all around your foot, and you shouldn't be able to lift your heel off the bottom. When I buy boots, the fitter will go at least a full size smaller than my shoe size, then they modify the plastic in the boot to make it fit.

 

I took the advice of this site and went to a boot-fitter in a ski shop who took a lot of time and ended up putting me in these (28.0 Mondo with 314 BSL) which is smaller than I expected.  While up in Tahoe I needed something because my arch was killing me and a boot-fitter up there confirmed the boot I was in, then set me up with Superfeet which solved the issue.  It fits as you describe.  I did have the strap outside the shell for the first two days and then inside for the third so that might have something to do with it... not sure.  Looks like it's the Indian again and not the arrow, as you have said. Ironically I'm mostly Cherokee and I bowhunt (compound) so that term is surprisingly apropos.  =)

 

Thanks again for all the feedback!

post #5 of 5

Hi there,

 

I'm a bit worried about giving you info overload... some lessons would probably be best to give you one thing here and there to work on, rather than a giant data dump. If you post some video, it'll be easy to give you specific feedback.

 

Quote:
I don't know that I'd survive the night if my wife saw me even looking at putting out more money into skiing right now.  Maybe I'll see what's around after she's not sitting next to me.

 

Do what's best for your budget. You can probably work with your current skis. The benefit of starting with a narrower, softer ski is that it will be easier to turn and will help you learn on hardpack. You'll get more progress because it'll take less input from you to get a good outcome. And you can always use your fat skis later! The best case (and most expensive) scenario would be learning on a narrow ski and taking lessons. Most importantly though, it sounds like you already have your boots dialed in! That's fantastic. 

 

Quote:
 So if I'm not squatting a little to cant my legs forward, and not leaning too much, what's the proper way to pressure the tongue?  (Obviously I'm not ski-jump-leaning but I'm curious if there's a another way I'm not seeing.)  When pointed straight down the hill I can relieve most of the pressure on my quads by leaning forward into the tongue.  It seems easier to turn by being more forwards as well; it feels more responsive and in-control.

 

Ah ok, I wanted to dissuade you from leaning like a ski jumper :D Sounds like you do have the right idea already: To start a turn, you want to pressure the front corners of the tongue. If you stretch your joints as you start the turn, it'll make it easier to release the old turn and start the new one. So basically, you'll feel the same pressure in the cuff as when you're downhill, just sooner. You also want to start transferring your weight to the outside ski as you start your turn. Throughout the turn, more of your weight will move to the outside ski. 

 

Squats tend to put your weight in the backseat. Throughout the turn, rather than think squat, think of bending all your joints equally and gradually. Think toe lined up with knees, lined up with nose. (toe-knee-nose.) 

 

See how Tobin here bends all his joints throughout the turn (his advice is excellent as well): 

 

 

Quote:
 I did have the strap outside the shell for the first two days and then inside for the third so that might have something to do with it... not sure.  Looks like it's the Indian again and not the arrow, as you have said. Ironically I'm mostly Cherokee and I bowhunt (compound) so that term is surprisingly apropos.  =)

 

Do you mean to say you had the power strap under the tongue? Power strap goes outside. I'll assume you've got the buckles done up so the boot is snug in the cuff. You should be able to stick no more than a finger in there (preferably no finger). 

 

My boss loves the "Indian not the arrow" expression and he's Indian too (but from India!). It gets confusing. 

 

Anyway, to sum up between the last two posts: 

 

  • Snug up your stance a bit from what you're used to on a snowboard. If you're too wide, you're in the shape of a triangle. Triangles don't ski well. Hip width is a good starting point.
  • For easy beginner turning, lengthen all joints equally to start your turn. Bend all joints equally throughout the turn. Same as on a snowboard. 
  • Feel the corners of the tongue as you start your turns. 
  • Both feet are steering through the turns. Also same as high performance snowboarding. 
  • Balance on the outside ski. 
  • Lessons make a huge difference :)
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