Not sure what the original context was that the phrase was used to describe, but it's probably not what I would typically describe as line shopping. IMO, line shopping is a term used to describe a skier attempting to ski fall-line in moguls, who then either reaches a speed, or a terrain feature that's above their comfort or ability level. The shopping takes place when the skier then seeks another line more suited to their comfort or ability level.
There is nothing inherently "wrong" with changing lines mid-slope, especially these days when true zipper lines that don't close out in 6 or 8 turns are such a scarcity, and I would agree that an aspiring bump skier needs to start somewhere, usually by skiing shorter sections, and either stopping or changing lines for the above mentioned reasons. I think though that the ultimate goal should be for the skier to be able to determine their own line through whatever obstacles they may encounter. This doesn't mean taking every walled-out bump square on the chin; it means having the tools in your bag of tricks to incorporate the wall into your line without a major disruption in your rhythm or course. The "tool" can be something as simple as an extra big absorption/extension, or something more complicated like throwing in an extra back-side turn, and avoiding slamming into said wall at full speed, or at an angle that will cause a major disruption in rhythm or course.
I'm not an instructor, and realize that I probably don't possess the necessary skill-set to properly teach the above or below techniques. I have only my experience watching skiers better than myself, and being judged in amateur competition and understanding judging criteria. I also realize that not everyone aspires to ski moguls like they're competing, but for the sake of discussion, I'll post the turn criteria from the FIS handbook:
Turns (50% of the Score) Min. = 0.1 / Max. = 5.0
Turns, in terms of judging criteria, refers to a technical evaluation of how well a competitor turns through the moguls. They refer to rhythmic changes in direction of travel to either side of the fall line, utilizing an aggressive, controlled technique. The competitor shall be judged from crossing the start line until crossing the finish line.
Skiing in the fall line is considered the shortest way from the Start to the Finish. To avoid deductions for fall line deviations, the competitor must stay in the selected fall line out of the start gate. Competitors will receive score deductions for fall line deviations as noted in JH 6204.2 including drifting in Air maneuvers. Landing on the center of the mogul is a deviation from the fall line. FIS
A pure carved turn is one in which the tail of the ski follows precisely the track made by the ski tip. The upper ski is edged inward at the entrance to the turn, with the competitor’s weight placed well forward on that ski. This maneuver flexes the ski into a curve whose radius is determined by the angulation of the ski, by its side cut and by the size of the bending moment acting on the ski. The other ski needs to move in the same fashion to produce a similar curve with the weight on its outer edge. Reverse camber of the ski (flex) can also be increased by flexion of the edged ski tip into the face of the mogul or rut. As shown in the figure below, in a purely carved turn there is no skidding/lateral sliding, and the only snow resistance present is the very small gliding friction
between ski base, edge and snow. As a result of this minimal level of friction between ski and snow, the speed reduction of the competitor is optimized and fully under the control of the competitor.
Turn radius should reflect the deflection required in relation to the gradient of the slope. Excessive deflection across the hill impacting the face of a mogul is a form break as it results in excessive braking and poor ski line. Turn shape and deflection should vary according to the spacing between the moguls.
622.214.171.124 Body Position for Carved Turns
" A properly carved ski requires less effort to work, and gives higher levels of control and stability. " The turn is initiated with pressure as the knees and ankles/feet roll the skis onto edge and extension begins.
" At the middle of the turn (when the ski is edged and the tip is pointing down the fall-line) the ski tips contact the face of the mogul.
" Absorption is used to maintain balance and control pressure in the skis and should match the shape and size of mogul to optimize snow to ski contact.
" Rotations in the upper legs are minimal, feet remain under the body (shoulders and hips) in both fore-and-aft and lateral planes, and knees remain flexed.
" Legs should be together or in a consistent position throughout the run.
" Breaks in balance and separations in position are inefficient turns.
" Angulation of the lower leg controls the radius of the turn. Timing of the initiation dictates how deep the feet go into the rut.
" Movements should be symmetrical and equal side to side, specifically:
" Timing and placement of pole plants (double pole plant is a deduction)
" Arm movements (little movement is preferred but if there is movement it should be equal)
" Shape of turns: do the turns adjust to the gradient of the slope and the size and disposition of the moguls
" Position of the feet in relation to the body (do the feet move further outside the body’s midpoint on one turn)
I only mention the above as an explanation of my personal bias for what I find aesthetically pleasing to watch when it comes to mogul skiing. Your mileage may, and probably should vary, especially for those with no aspirations to compete.
FWIW, I would never advocate heading straight down the gut of whatever trail, directly into the biggest, nastiest rut-line. I usually prefer the shoulder "above 40" lines where I can still ski direct, and hopefully maintain my line, without the physical abuse of skiing the line that sees the most traffic. I'd like to think that after many years progression, I have pretty good vision and instinct to shop out a line suited to my ability in almost any terrain. To me that's line selection, not shopping. Shopping is making line changes mid-slope because the terrain exceeds the skiers ability, or even preference. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just not that pleasing to watch IMO, and maybe part of the reason zipper lines don't go as long as they used to.
I personally couldn't care less if someone happens to wander into a line I'm skiing. It's not a competition, and the trails I ski are typically not crowded enough for line-shoppers to even be an issue. If they are, and I'm half the skier that I claim to be, then it should be well within my ability to avoid a collision with the downhill skier, and if necessary, to stop, and re-start my line without having a hissy-fit. The only reason I even mention line shopping on epic is that I've seen some prime examples posted in some of the mogul technique threads here, and have observed the practice being encouraged. Whatever's clever I suppose, but IMO line shopping neither demonstrates technical proficiency, nor is it very pleasing to watch, not that anyone should or does care what I think about how they ski. I'm a nobody, and half the battle is knowing your role; internet wind-bag.
Oh yeah, I also like seeing good ski to snow contact, and see airing to the next bump as a bail-out. Some people can get away with it, and immediately resume their line. For others, it spells imminent loss of control leading to blow-out, bringing big points deductions from tools like me watching from the chair lift.
Edited by MT Skull - 5/13/14 at 7:46am