Tom the best way to learn patience is simple but not easy. It starts with figuring out why you are being impatient in the first place. In short it means re-imagining who you are on skis. A couple thoughts about this may be a bit off base without knowing you but in general they should help. Perhaps the best thing is to ask a few questions about you and what you do for recreation off the snow, what you do for a living, how your family groomed you for adulthood, and even what your spouse brings to the table when it comes to your personal growth? I know all of this may sound invasive and a bit unwise over an open internet chat site. So with that in mind communicating over a more secure connection, or limiting the amount of details you share here is prudent. Where I am attempting to lead you is towards establishing a good feel for yourself prior to considering the idea of reinventing who you are and in turn how you express that on the hill. You might be thinking you really like who you are and that is great as long as you understand that our personality defines and often limits how we will ski, play golf, tennis, whatever. Skiing well indeed starts in our minds and who we are definitely influences how we ski.
So what drills would make sense? Again it depends on you but some ideas that come to mind include patience turns on intermediate terrain, painfully slow turns in the beginner corral, extremely quick short turns in that very same beginner corral, and some short straight running on the steepest slopes you regularly ski.
I will try to describe the benefits of each.
1. patience turns make us slow down our actions during the first third of the turn. In general this is where most skiers have trouble because they get it in their head that more dynamic skiing must include more muscling of the skis. Or they fear the idea of letting the skis run as the slopes get steeper, snow gets cruddier, trees get tighter. In short the skis only do what we tell them to do and that includes delays and hesitations in our movements, it should be no surprise that the skis act accordingly. Tactically speaking some delays are a natural part of skiing but if those delays are the byproduct of hesitation in our movements, or excessive haste during the first third of a turn, the result is the skis are no longer acting naturally and we must respond by forcing a result.
2. Extremely slow turns in the beginner corral are simply the most extreme version of patience turns, where the two drills differ is that the first third is the focus in the first drill and the entire turn is the focus in the second drill. Outcomes like stopping at the end of each turn, or an inability to maintain the exact same speed through all phases of these turns suggests the strong shaping phase is not occurring while in the fall line.
3. Quick short turns in the beginner corral work on well centered stances and good foot to foot timing. Asymmetries exist in everyone's skiing and by studying our ski tracks we can expose our unique level of left, or right handedness. For better short radius turns the initiation and finishing phases become part of the transition. Which means we work the ski strongly during one third (the middle third) of the turns. Eventually we can shift this one third to any part of the turn but the one third / two thirds ratio becomes a constant for most skiers. It is important to note that competitive skiing will force us to change this ratio a bit but by the time you get to that level of competition this habit will be old hat and the exact length of time spent working the ski strongly will be quite obvious.
4. The next drill is to do some J shaped arced turns on some pretty steep terrain. Ten feet in the fall line on shallow terrain usually doesn't scare anyone but ten feet in the fall line on terrain steeper than thirty degrees usually scares the heck out of most folks. The notion (fear) of not being able to avoid straight running to the bottom of the hill is something we need to overcome. Same goes for jumping downhill on steep slopes. Screw it up and sliding down the entire hill is a very common and IMO quite natural preconceived notion. The reality is most of us already spend ten feet in the fall line on less steep terrain, or we abbreviate our turns and do not let the skis turn across the fall line more than about 45 degrees at the finish of a turn. A couple of common reasons for this are we see racers release their turns this early but in reality they seek to hang onto their turns as long as they can in spite of their line being defined by the gate set. A great article comparing Bode to Thomas Vonn was published a while back and the conclusion the author reached was Bode finished his turns better (held onto it slightly longer) than Thomas and this rounder but faster line allowed Bode to carry more speed and momentum through the few gates they featured in the article. I realize this willingness to linger in the fall line and working the skis strongly late in the J turn seems counter to what I just mentioned about a strong shaping phase early in the previous drills but again the eventual goal is to be capable of moving the shaping phase of the turn as a tactical choice.
5. The final drill is hard to describe accurately but my description is that instead of hanging onto the J turn until we stop, we reach a point where our skis are perpendicular to the fall line but we haven't scrubbed off all of our forward momentum. What we do at that point is strongly pivot the skis into the fall line and skid across the hill in what I call a sideways (or across the hill) sideslip. As our momentum across the hill erodes, Gravity will pull us into the fall line and we finish the turn similar to the J turn but again not to a stop between turns. The key to success during this drill is you need some smooth advanced intermediate terrain to create the across the hill momentum needed to sideslip across the hill correctly. Establishing the edge platform while in the fall line is another key.
Get these five drills down and the confidence you gain should allow you to ski all but the most extreme terrain extremely well. If you find yourself struggling with any of them I can certainly help you, I can generally be found a Keystone but contacting me directly (PM) is usually the best way to arrange a workshop.
Ski well Tom,
Edited by justanotherskipro - 8/17/14 at 12:35pm