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Learning to Ski Old School

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hey Everyone,

 

I'm looking to ski cross country in the style and spirit as close to old style wooden ski gear as possible, but with newer bindings and such. I really want to improve my skills even further using skinny ski gear. This may sound nuts but I learned the telemark, step, snowplow, and stem turns on my Rossignol X-Tour Escape NIS skis. I had the aid of some really good videos and books like Steve Barnett's Cross Country Downhill book. I use the Rottefella T4 NIS binding and Alpina T20 Plus boots. We have had some deeper powder this winter here in Minnesota, and I was looking to get some skis that are a little wider for more flotation, but I want to stay as light and lean as possible. I've seen some Asnes Tur-Langrenn skis on Ebay and various other wooden touring skis, but I can't find the shovel, waist, and tail dimensions anywhere. Does anyone know what might be typical dimensions in millimeters for some of these older style touring skis? My Rossignol X-Tour skis are 51/47/49. Also, I'm looking to improve my skills on firm and icy days. Are there any special techniques that help besides just getting a ski with metal on the edge?

 

Thanks in advance :)

post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffga View Post
 

Hey Everyone,

 

I'm looking to ski cross country in the style and spirit as close to old style wooden ski gear as possible, but with newer bindings and such. I really want to improve my skills even further using skinny ski gear. This may sound nuts but I learned the telemark, step, snowplow, and stem turns on my Rossignol X-Tour Escape NIS skis. I had the aid of some really good videos and books like Steve Barnett's Cross Country Downhill book. I use the Rottefella T4 NIS binding and Alpina T20 Plus boots. We have had some deeper powder this winter here in Minnesota, and I was looking to get some skis that are a little wider for more flotation, but I want to stay as light and lean as possible. I've seen some Asnes Tur-Langrenn skis on Ebay and various other wooden touring skis, but I can't find the shovel, waist, and tail dimensions anywhere. Does anyone know what might be typical dimensions in millimeters for some of these older style touring skis? My Rossignol X-Tour skis are 51/47/49. Also, I'm looking to improve my skills on firm and icy days. Are there any special techniques that help besides just getting a ski with metal on the edge?

 

Thanks in advance :)


Look at the pictures.  The length is usually given, the vertical and horizontal scale in the picture is likely the same.  Print the picture and measure.  Scale factors are as follows:

measured length in photo print cm / actual ski length in cm (if measured as chord length tip to tail)  = 1 = actual ski width in mm/ measured ski length.  Find the ratio of actual/measured and then multiply it by what you measure.

 

Sharpening the edges helps, but it also wears out your edges.

Like winter driving, don't ask more than the edge can deliver if you don't want to slip, but if you have to, you can still control a drift.

post #3 of 25

Everything in this space is a trade-off.  Believe me, I've been looking hard at this (I also live in MN, btw).  You want light weight for decent cross-country performance, but the boots and bindings should support you in the downhill turns.  I would caution you about safety in doing this--a fall could be very costly to your lower legs on your setup.  Think about that carefully.  There are better skis out there for this purpose--like the Rossignol BC 65 and up.  They get fatter as they go, but they are more appropriate skis for downhill work, with a trade-off in mobility as you get up closer to full-on Telemark gear.  You should also look at tele bindings and stiffer 75mm boots because they will save your ass from getting hurt on the downhills.  I hear on this forum there are stiffer boots for NNN BC, but I haven't come across any yet.   Without DIN release, you have to gain every advantage you can.  

 

As far as old wood skis go, they're your legs. I was nearly maimed on a pair of those as a kid and I am fortunate to still be walking and enjoying ski sports without compromises.  My young ligaments and tendons healed up 100%.  I would not touch anything XC that is 20 years old or older for that reason and only back 10 years for downhill gear. The NNN tech and 75mm tech hasn't changed that much, but old hardware is unpredictable--thin metal gets brittle with age.  Forget the really old crap, it was dangerous and not well engineered and belongs hanging on a wall in a ski lodge and nothing else.  I'm not saying don't do tele turns, I'm just saying, avoid old tech because a lot of people got messed up by it because it had far less margin for error.  

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hey thanks for the replies. I tried to measure the proportions from some old photos online, and it came out to about 60mm shovel and 50mm waist for those Tur-Langrenns. If that is close, it sounds about like the narrowest of the backcountry touring skis of today. About the injuries though, I've actually been better I feel like on lighter gear rather than heavier gear. The only times I've really been hurt skiing was when I was trying to jump in alpine gear and I missed the landing and one of the skis didn't release. Those boots and everything was just so heavy it twisted my knee really bad. I've been okay so far with cross country gear because I go slower and the gear is so lightweight if I fall it doesn't twist me as much. Cross country gear also allows me to ski in powder which is probably the biggest thing. Before cross country, I was always going to resorts which are just ice sheets in the mid-west most of the time. Flatcountry, you mentioned the Rossignol BC 65. I have been looking at a similar ski called the Rossignol EVO OT. It's like the BC 65, but only partial edges, lighter weight, and has a NIS version that REI sells. Anyone try this ski to see if it is decent? It is a lot bigger than my X-Tours though. The X-Tour is only a little bigger than a track ski. It took me a long time to learn to telemark in them. Plenty of falling. :)

post #5 of 25

For fun you may want to view Otto Lang's Basic Principles of Skiing (1941) in the DVD Classic Ski Films http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Ski-Films-None/dp/B002MD3UNM  (there are 2 releases of this, 2005, 2009).

 

Another gold film is The White Ecstasy (1931) available from the New England Ski Museum http://www.newenglandskimuseum.com/white-ecstasy-dvd/, some other fun films on there as well, including NIls Larson's Skiing in the Shadow of Genghis Khan.

post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

I'll try to check those films out. I've seen some old military black and white training videos that were on youtube. That is honestly where I found some good information on stem turns and open turns. I'm curious what is the narrowest and lightest gear people here ski for powder? I'm thinking say 6-24 inches of it. Basically I've got a 51mm shovel on my skis and even though they are traditional length, I am just sinking to the very bottom of the snow.

post #7 of 25

check out http://www.outtheremonthly.com/backcountry-ski-basics-learn-from-expert-nils-larsen/; Nils is a good instructor; I took a couple of clinics with him; also took a week long avalanche course with him and Buff Buffery.  Nils made the best telemark video I've seen--Beyond the Groomed (and another one Big Mountain/Little Skier or something or other)--but I don't know if they are still for sale or if they made the switch from VHS to DVD.  Beyond the groomed shows elegant tele skiing and shows Steve Barnett and another NW legend skiing on XC skis downhill.

 

One of the favorite powder skis of the leather boot tele crowd was the a Kneissel/Karhu ski that was 90-70-80--for a long time the classic AT dimensions; now everyone skis at least a 90 waist and usually 100+ waist for powder.  The favorite tele boot for this ski was the Merrell Supercomp (leather boot with a plastic cuff added).  The leather Asolo Extreme and Extreme Plus were popular.  I have a friend who still skis the old Karhu XCD and the BD Synchro (cap version of the Valmonte, which I used to ski) in powder but he has run out of boots; won't switch to plastic, can't find the Asolo Extremes.

 

 

My last tele setup before I switched to AT was the blue and gray T-2 w/o power strap and the Volkl Snowwolf (76 mm waist), with 3-pin bindings. That t-2 was sweet--relatively stiff laterally, soft flexing forward at the bellows.

post #8 of 25

I have a copy of the Hannes Schnieder Ski Technique by Benni Rybizka, but it doesn't leave my house. You could look around for some old ski mountaineering manuals as well.

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - title page.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - contents.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - foreward.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - walking.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - snowplow.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - cover.jpg

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 

I've actually tried the Karhu Guides before but they felt way too heavy for use in just touring around Minnesota. My friend from Colorado had some with Voile telemark bindings. It's really flat here mostly in Minnesota and kick and glide is 90% of what I do. Although, the kick and glide is totally 100% off trail. When I find a good hill, I may spend an hour lapping it since they are rare. :)  If I look on the Rossignol website I can see some skis from 60-68mm shovel being rated as 50% and 75% powder use respectively. I'm just not sure how narrow I can get away with and not sink completely to the bottom in fresh snow. I would hate to get some new skis only to find that they are still too skinny. Likewise, I would hate to get new skis and find that they are like bricks on my feet. I am hopefully looking to keep using my same boots. I've tried some NNN-BC boots before, but it seems easier for me to telemark turn on softer boots in terms of forefoot flex. It's harder to keep the ball of my foot on my rear ski weighted when the boot sole is really stiff. The whole shoe wants to flip up instead of flex forward. Maybe I am doing it wrong. :P

post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MastersRacer View Post
 

I have a copy of the Hannes Schnieder Ski Technique by Benni Rybizka, but it doesn't leave my house. You could look around for some old ski mountaineering manuals as well.

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - title page.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - contents.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - foreward.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - walking.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - snowplow.jpg

 

The Hannes Schneider Ski Technique - cover.jpg

Hannes Schneider is the star of the movie White Ecstasy (along with Leni Reifenstahl) and Otto Lang was an instructor in Schneider's ski school in Arlberg.

post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffga View Post
 

I've actually tried the Karhu Guides before but they felt way too heavy for use in just touring around Minnesota. My friend from Colorado had some with Voile telemark bindings. It's really flat here mostly in Minnesota and kick and glide is 90% of what I do. Although, the kick and glide is totally 100% off trail. When I find a good hill, I may spend an hour lapping it since they are rare. :)  If I look on the Rossignol website I can see some skis from 60-68mm shovel being rated as 50% and 75% powder use respectively. I'm just not sure how narrow I can get away with and not sink completely to the bottom in fresh snow. I would hate to get some new skis only to find that they are still too skinny. Likewise, I would hate to get new skis and find that they are like bricks on my feet. I am hopefully looking to keep using my same boots. I've tried some NNN-BC boots before, but it seems easier for me to telemark turn on softer boots in terms of forefoot flex. It's harder to keep the ball of my foot on my rear ski weighted when the boot sole is really stiff. The whole shoe wants to flip up instead of flex forward. Maybe I am doing it wrong. :P

I use the Guides with Dynafit Radical Speed AT bindings for nordic ski patrol ;-)  Take a look at the Madshus Voss (I had a pair of those and used them with NNN and NNN-BC bindings and my wife still skis them with 3 pins and Merrell Ultra leather boots) or Glittertind for lightweight skis with metal edges.  The Glitterind was a favorite of Steve Barnett.  I use the Epoch with 3 pins and a Rossi BC 6.  If you are nimble you can do well with soft boots.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

I have seen people talk about the Voss and Glittertind. I see the Voss has partial steel edges which would be good for ice I suppose. I'm not going out looking for ice, but if it's there I'm not sure how to ski it on my current skis. I have encountered it before on some narrow hiking trails and I was in a full snowplow and I couldn't stop. I slowed down to a really slow slide, but the skis would not fully stop on it and I wasn't sure if I was just doing something wrong or if it's just that p-tex won't dig into ice. Then again, I hear of people saying it's possible to ski hard pack and ice on wooden and edgeless skis. So I keep thinking that there must be a way. :D Right now, I'm thinking the Madshus Voss, Glittertind, Rossignol EVO OT, or EVO Tour might be good choices. I've got all NIS gear though, and it looks like the EVO ones are NIS compatible. Not sure if anyone has ever tried them. My skis right now are traditional length, and I'm hesitant about the shorter skis because I've heard that certain models can be really stiff and the weight ranges are bigger than trad skis.

post #13 of 25

After 3 weeks rehabbing my hip to lower leg, I got in a backcountry ski day with my friend Gary, an old-school telemark skier on 200+ cm Black Diamond Synchro Xs (72 mm tip, 54 mm waist, and 63 mm tail), leather boots, and 3-pin bindings.  Even tho Gary (and me) are way way over the hill, he still makes some nice tele turns even in 8 inches of very wet snow: 

 

post #14 of 25

When it comes to XCD, there's no snow like hero snow.  After we took my pulk on it's maiden voyage today , I made some nice step,skate, christie, tele turns in low angle corn topping a firm crust today.

 

 

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
That is a really good inspirational picture. I got some new wider skis to replace my X-Tours and ended up getting a pair of Fischer Country Crown skis. They are close to the Voss but with a negative pattern and no metal edges. I wanted to be able to keep my regular NNN boots for touring comfort and speed. Wow, all I have to say is great smooth skis! They are traditional length and really fast for back country skis. You and your friend Gary have some great skills. I have always found my skis hard to turn in really wet and heavy snow. Do you unweight and move closer to jump turns in heavier snow? I've found that if I just sink into a turn really hard I can get bogged down easily. If things are really wet and heavy I have mostly used step turns in the past.
post #16 of 25

Gary skis well because with 40+ years of experience on XC and tele, he knows exactly what needs to be done, how to do it with the least effort, and he is confident that it will work.  10+ years ago, before Gary turned 60 yr, he was one of the best XC Downhill skiers I've seen.  I've been fortunate to ski (been tolerated by) with some real experts: Nils Larson, Don Portman, Steve Barnett,  Leyton White (sp?), and a few of the other PSIA tele instructors in the PNW.  They are amazing to watch.  They make it look sooooo easy.  There is no excessive movement.  There is pure flow.  This comes from not just knowing what to do, and how to do it, but the real keys of (1) commitment (to the fall line, to the turn), (2) "muscle memory"--not having to think about what to do, especially not trying to put 15 things together in sequence while screaming downhill, (3) absolute confidence that the skis will turn as intended and the patience to wait for them to do so.  And, believe it or not, turning is easiest when you have some speed up, from the fall line, and when your body and mind are relaxed.  When I used to approach a steep drop off down a long, steep slope, I would get tense (and that would bring about negative toughts [fear] and then falling was inevitable).  To relax, I would sing to myself--a song that would match the rhythm that I would achieve in skiing the slope.  It was always the same song--like a mantra, that calms you.  Now that said, I am no where near the class of skier of Gary, Nils, Don, Steve, et al. or even my septuagenerian wife, who calmy and smoothy skied to get my ski stuck in a 40+ degree slope after I fell and rolled about 500 feet. LOL  Good Luck!  

post #17 of 25

The Salomon XADV 69 is an excellent all-around backcountry ski. You can kick-and-glide, skate, telemark, and carve parallel turns on it. I skied on my 69s today at the base of Mount McLoughlin. Conditions were good. I will be skiing McLoughlin several times in the coming 6 weeks.  

post #18 of 25

 

post #19 of 25

Thread drift, but I took my first trip to St Anton last year, and Der Weiss Rausch was playing in one of the bars at happy hour.

I had never heard of Hannes Schneider, but was immediately captivated. The movie was available on DVD at many of the gift shops, but I picked up a German Cuckoo for the wife instead.

 

Anyhoo, after I got home I ordered one of these posters, which is now framed and hanging in our living room:

The movie, made in 1931 I think, kind of blew my mind for the level of skiing, and cinematography given the ski and film equipment of the time. It was also very cool to see many familiar buildings that are still standing, and mostly in pristine condition. It saddened me to know that all the skiers in the film have passed from this world, but inspired me to know that their images still live on in film.

 

It was only after I returned home that I did some research into Schneider's colorful career, which just cemented my initial impression. This guy was a pioneer; from wikipedia: 

He was born in the town of Stuben am Arlberg in Austria as a son of a cheese maker. In 1907 he became a ski guide at the Hotel Post in St. Anton, Austria where he began work on what became known as the Arlberg technique. After serving as a ski instructor for the Austrian army during the First World War, he returned to the Hotel Post. In 1921 a film came out based on the Arlberg technique; he formed a semi-independent ski school where by 1924 he had formalized his method of instruction.

In the inter war period he also appeared in several of Dr. Arnold Fanck's ski filmsDer weiße Rausch, which helped make skiing popular, was filmed at the Arlberg in the winter of 1930/1931. He also co-published a book (with Fanck), named Die Wunder des Schneeschuhs which became translated to English as The Wonders of Skiing in 1931. Former students of Hannes Schneider include Otto Lang and Friedl Pfiefer.

In 1939 he moved his operations to Cranmore Mountain Ski Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire. He had run into trouble with Nazi policies and even spent time in jail after the Anschluss. During the Second World War he helped train the 10th Mountain Division of the U. S. Army in which his son Herbert served.

The New England Ski Museum hosts the Hannes Schneider Meister Skiing Cup in his memory every march at Cranmore Mountain resort. During 2005 the New England Ski Museum features an exhibit on the life of Hannes Schneider and his impact on the sport of skiing.

 Before my trip to St Anton, my only real ski heroes were, in order of importance and influence; Wayne Wong, Glen Plake, and Mike Hattrup. Now Hannes Schneider has been added to that list.

 

Found Der Weisse Rauche on YouTube in multiple parts. Will try to imbed all. Enjoy!

 

 

And my own crappy little edit from St Anton:

 


Edited by MT Skull - 4/12/14 at 10:22pm
post #20 of 25

Great videos!! Amazing skills on that gear. My wife just gave me "Ski-ing Simplified" by H.T. "Sam Cliff.  Copyright 1937.

 

 

 

*

 

 20 years later, here I am

 

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MT Skull View Post
 

Before my trip to St Anton, my only real ski heroes were, in order of importance and influence; Wayne Wong, Glen Plake, and Mike Hattrup. Now Hannes Schneider has been added to that list.

 

Found Der Weisse Rauche on YouTube in multiple parts. Will try to imbed all. Enjoy!

 

Wow, thanks for embedding those youtube vids. I have seen bits of Der Weisse Rauche before, but never the whole thing, and in excellent quiality! Amazing!  Thumbs Up

 

Based on your comment above you should really check out Legend of Aahhh's if you haven't already. More info here if interested.

post #22 of 25

Improve your telemark turn on cross-country skis:

post #23 of 25

^^^ That is a great tele video. What isn't said but is nicely shown is that there is a very strong up move during transition in the parallel telemark turn; you can't transition by simply rolling edges because these skis have no sidecut and will simply track straight. The early turns they show using a snow plow are very useful in back country situations and where the snow is 3D. I use mostly lots of steps to turn when on XC skis and trails that are narrow (summer single track) and/or rough.

post #24 of 25

This video of skiing in the 1950's at the Edelweiss Ski Area near Tahoe has been posted before here on Epic, but if you jump to 14:13 you'll see a group of skiers taking off on a day tour...

 

 

I love the way they just head out - no skins, they just sidestep and herringbone when they have to. That hill they go up and ski down is Lover's Leap, which you see on the right heading up the hill a few miles past Strawberry on your way into South Lake Tahoe on Highway 50. Lover's Leap is seen clearly in the video at 18:01.

 

As noted in the other post linked to Edelweiss was right there along 50 where Camp Sacramento is now. Spider Sabich grew up in nearby Kyburz and learned to ski at Edelweiss. I wonder if he's one of the "Red Hornets" shown starting at 18:36?

 

 

Good collection of pix here...

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/58058190@N00/14735654809/in/photostream

 

Note the stone pillars in the 1958 picture using the link above are the same ones seen in the 1973 picture following (click right arrow once on the flickr web site), and indeed they are still there today. Just in case you were wondering exactly where this is/was.  ;-)

 

 

One more thing...

 

McConkey (the documentary) is on Netflix now...

 

http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/70274602?trkid=13752289

 

About an hour in it gets to McConkey's fascination with Rick Sylvester's classic James Bond ski chase with launch off cliff and parachute finish. Lots of footage of Shane and JT Holmes getting comfy with that particular "ski base" thing jumping off Lover's Leap near South Lake Tahoe in 2003. Definitely worth checking out.

 

And lastly, Snowshoe Thompson passed right through this same area as well delivering mail back in the mid-nineteenth century!

 

What an incredibly rich ski history!!


Edited by jc-ski - 12/4/14 at 12:27pm
post #25 of 25

Still looking?have a set of 1907 voss if you r still interested

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