Originally Posted by BinghamtonEd
I've been lucky enough to ski with some patroller/instructors who have all identified the same glaring problem with my skiing..that being that I ski flat, and skid through my turns instead of getting on edge and letting the ski make the turn. I'm attempting to undo the 20+ years of bad habits. I've been working on it for about a month now, and I'm at the point where I can make larger radius linked turns at moderate speed on most blues. This past weekend as I was skiing a run with one of them, he brought me to a part of the hill that has an easy blue with a nice fall line. He asked me to make a series of slow, short radius linked turns, and to keep it within a single cat track.
He got called off to help out with something, so the impromptu lesson got cut short. I'm looking to go back an practice this drill again this week before I see them again next weekend.
The main problems I'm looking for some tips on are :
- Since these are slow narrow turns, I'm finding that I'm a bit hesitant to make the transition as I get perpendicular to the fall line. Maybe it's just inexperience, but I feel like if I switch onto my downhill edges, I'm going to fall downhill before the skis come around.
- I have a Zoolander problem. If you've never seen the movie, he can only turn one way. When I'm moving faster and make larger turns, I feel much more comfortable getting on either edge. When I slow things down, I have a lot more confidence turning to the right than I do to the left.
If it matters...I am 6'1 235lb, using a 174cm K2 Escape 5500 (yes, old, I know, but has very little mileage).
In case you're wondering why I'm not just going to them...I don't see them that often, and its usually just a run or two, and I'd like to really work on things before I nag them again.
I started to reply last night and so many thoughts went thru my head that I wanted to sleep on it before replying. You post was very descriptive of the issue, but there are a number of potential issues that need to be unraveled making it impossible to provide more than suggestions as to the possible root cause or causes preventing you from improving as a skier. It is important to understand that sometimes what is on the surface looks like the main problem or issue, it is often the symptom, masking the root of the real problems. This is where real instructor experience comes into play. So as I cannot watch you ski I will try to list things for you to examine. I recommend you find a REALLY GOOD instructor who is both a good skier and good teacher.
* IMO you skis are a bit suspect. You are not a lightweight. Skis will lose life and the ability to hold over time. Try some demo skis and see if that helps anything.
* Boots and setup. Are you boots appropriately sized? Are your boots set up so your fore/aft stances so you are well balanced in an athletic stance with virtually no effort to be in that position. Have you had your boots checked for canting and alignment? The more advanced a skier becomes the more critical correct boot setup is as small movements need to translate into immediate responses. The "Zoolander" comment leads me to suggest you may want to check your boots out.
Having a preferential side doesn't necessarily literally mean strength. It often means something is out of whack and is usually related some way to your equipment setup.
Lots of things here. My guess is that there is more than one thing going on, so picking the most important things and how they are interconnected will need a set of GOOD eyes.
*"Skiing flat"- You said: " I ski flat, and skid through my turns." I cannot help but wonder what is keeping your from engaging more edge? It is conceptual? Is it mechanical? Is it equipment related?
As Liquid Feet said, you have to go back to easy blues or greens and work on fundamentals which will help you develop more refined skills and help diagnose issues (as the easy terrain slows things down and amplifies errors). I suggest the one thing you do as you begin is pay particular attention to your TURN SHAPE. You want to make sure your ski is going forward thru it's own track as it bends, creating the turn itself. This will help determine if the RATE of your movement patterns is correct or rushed. It can also flush out some other mechanical issues. If you can get a nice fluid shaped turn going then transitioning from steering/rotary to edging becomes simpler [as both steering and edging are "kissing cousins" with both executed with the femur moving within the hip socket and thus easily blended from one to the other].
*"Hesitance"- Is your "hesitation" out of fear, mechanics, or a vicious cycle? This can be difficult. Are the lacking mechanical skills because you are afraid, or are you afraid because you can't get the mechanics down? It could be a little (or a lot) of both.
I hope you can see at this point how these things are interconnected and any of these can upset the apple cart. Poor equipment= difficult execution= fear/hesitance... and/or compensation/bad mechanics= defensive sking > fear> poor execution/hesitance > corrective action> imprecise turns> more fear/hesitance... etc. IF hesitance is a product of low level fear, then we have to figure out how to replace the fear with confidence.
Once again, as LF said, get back to easier terrain. Assuming there are no equipment/setup issues... Here is my checklist for evaluation
: 1) Evaluate turn shape, correct as necessary. 2) Check for proper inside ski function/guidance. 3) Check to for proper tracking of the Center of Mass (CoM). As you are an advanced skier, I would be inclined to be watching #3 very carefully, assuming that we have a good concept of the path in which your skis should travel. Proper position of your CoM is the "secret sauce". It unlocks the feet and enables the proper SEQUENCE of movements (how things fire within the chain of the turn).
Here's the deal... If your body (CoM) is too far uphill of your skis at the end of the turn, you cannot release the old turn (and engage the new one) with foot movement first. You would have to bring your body are enough down the hill to release the old turn by flattening the skis. Because of the delay you will probably experience some spontaneous skidding. However, if your body is balanced properly increasing toward the outside ski as each turn progresses, then it will become a matter of rolling your feet and ankles to begin to flatten the skis. Doing that actively will also help maintain the proper CoM tracking into the next turn. I find that aggressively rolling my feet and ankles actually helps pull my body into the correct position for upcoming turns. This is the secret of the quick, short radius turn. Being in a position to release and engage turns with minimal movements. However, if at the end of the turn, your body is too far up the hill, you release will be slow as will be your initiation because you will have to take corrective action with your body to put it in a position to release/engage the edges. You become a "top-down" skier (meaning a body>feet>skis>snow sequence) rather than a "bottom up" skier (snow>skis>feet/ankles>[knees]>hips [with quiet upper body sequence]. In other words, your CoM must transition into the proper position as each turn develops to allow execution with a minimal amount of movement in as short a period of time (and distance traveled).
One last thing... Someone commented about "pole plant". It is important to understand that hands (poles) do one of two things: They either aid flow, or inhibit it. In short, aggressive turns the pole touch is almost essential. But it is important to understand that in skier development great caution must be taken to make certain all the other things I spoke of in the previous paragraph are addressed first. If you are that "top-down" skier that I mentioned above, it is important that it hands/poles are learned IN CONJUNCTION with the other skills so as not to inhibit the other skills that yet aren't quite developed. Addressing pole plant first in the corrections has the potential of exacerbating the issues, not correcting them. The firing sequence will not have changed and you will have just put a bandaid on the problems that will still remain... and add one more thing to the mix to fix.
My overall supposition (assuming no equipment issues) is that you have most the skills you need but your movement patterns probably to be "resequenced" to put you on the correct path to better skiing. Once you're on that path you will see how easy skiing becomes, and your confidence will grow by leaps and bounds.
In the meantime, if you want to do some reading, I would strongly recommend pickup up a couple books... I am a great fan of Warren Witherell.
A super oldie, with some nuggets that still apply today.
And someone else had mentioned...