Originally Posted by jmrobins3
Thanks for the thoughtful response! I'm definitely realizing that I can't hockey stop in 3-D snow and am having a hard time compensating for that feeling of security and easy ability. I would say that linked hockey-slides could be an accurate description of most of my skiing once I feel like I am going down something with speed. I see the difference between that and consistent linked turns, so I think I have a basic understanding of the difference, but am not completely sure. What kind of new turn should I be going for and how can I accomplish it?
I don't know what your instructor is working on in your lessons, but I suspect he/she is working on basics, i.e. fundamentals of turning, and doing that on slow low-pitch terrain. That's good! People need to learn new stuff while going SLOW. Once they can feel the new movement patterns and do them reliably on stupid-slow terrain, they can move up to slightly higher speeds and slightly steeper terrain. Holding onto those new movement patterns instead of reverting to old habits will only happen when people inch up slowly into speed and steeps. Otherwise, the need to suppress fear will occupy too much of the brain and old habits will resurface. Your instructor is right to avoid taking you into crud to learn to ski crud; it isn't going to work.
What has your instructor been working on with you?
We've covered a lot of ground this season, as I basically started skiing with an idea of being committed at the beginning of January. Most recently, angulation in turns (described as leaning your hip into the hill during turns because racers do it) and upper/lower body separation while keeping the eyes and chest pointed at some object downhill. Before that was pole touching at the correct point in the turn. If there is something I'm interested in learning or trying to work on, lessons are definitely open for my suggestions and I have them on Thursdays, so if I could bring something that would be great!
If you start your turns the way you start a hockey stop, you pivot your skis around pretty fast. You may also finish your turns the way you finish a hockey stop, bracing against the skis as they slide down the groomer snow taking you in a diagonal direction downhill. This is a "pivot-and-brace" turn. It is very common. Replace it. Your instructor is working with you to help you do this.
1. "Separation" (a.k.a. "Counter")
Most people who pivot-and-brace, and that's a lot of people, turn their whole bodies to the left as they turn their skis to the left, then turn their whole bodies to the right for the right turn. You say your instructor has been working on getting upper/lower body separation. That's essential; work on getting your legs to turn without turning your upper body. That's an essential part of the new way of turning.
For a left pivot-and-brace turn, people turn the skis pretty fast to the left, then they slide to the left while "applying pressure" to the skis by leaning back. Repeat to the right. I'm in suppositional mode here as I haven't seen you ski, only heard your description of a few things, but I suspect you do this bracing. If you are bracing, you need to be replace that with angulation, not because racers do it, but because it helps you direct the pressures to the outside ski without bracing. It helps you get your inside ski light, and sets you up to start the new turn without the fast pivot. Your instructor is working on the angulation with you. That's real important. To do that properly, you need upper/lower body separation. Keep at this until it's happening naturally.
3. "Release" (and "Initiation")
The next thing you need to do is release the old turn without the quick pivot. Pivot-and-brace depends on a very fast start to the new turn. There are several variations to getting that quick pivot to work. None is better than another. It doesn't matter which way you are pivoting (if I'm predicting your turns correctly). Replace the pivot with a release. Your instructor may have started you on this, or not. Ask. Releasing the new inside ski (the one you are braced against) is the key to doing this smoothly. There are many ways to teach release. Pole plants are a timing aid for doing the release. Your instructor may have been working on teaching you to release by focusing on the pole plants. Instructors can also focus on the release by having you do stuff with your new inside leg, knee, ankle, thigh, or even your arms. There are many ways to teach release, and each instructor has a bunch of ways to do this.
Well, here's the big deal. Your body needs to move down the hill with the release; this is counter-intuitive and something also to work on. It is coupled with getting out of the back seat; or getting forward, or moving diagonally forward "into the new turn." There are many ways to teach this. Stay with your instructor until you get this one. It's very important.
5. "Round turns" with a top, middle, and finish
Pivot-and-brace turns have little to no top, and little to no middle; they are all finish. They usually take the skier down the mountain in a Z-shaped line rather than a sinuous S-shaped line. You need to replace the Z with an S. You need to be making C-shaped turns, a.k.a. round turns, with slow beginnings starting with a release and not a pivot. After that release and slow start you need to spend some time in each turn pointing those skis straight down the hill. This is going to seem insane if you go try it on your favorite steeps right now because other things are not yet in place. You need to practice this whole package on easy terrain when it's boring until you can do it all in your sleep, then slowly take it up the hill. Having separation, angulation, and releasing already in your tool box will make this slow start followed by a downward zip feel much better than if you were to go try it on your favorite fast run today. You'll be able to commit to the turn.
6. When this package of movement patterns is yours and you can use all these together, you'll be ready to increase your skills in many different ways. You'll be ready for short radius turns on steeps, for carving, for dynamic turns, for pivot slips and bumps and even crud. It's worth the pain of working at a slow rate on lower mountain terrain.
7. So what are these turns called? "Good turns."
Edited by LiquidFeet - 2/23/14 at 12:43pm