Originally Posted by CerebralVortex
I'll try to be a bit less rude this time around, but basically the only way to learn how to deal with low visibility is to learn how to ski with your head up rather than scanning the snow right in front of your skis.
A lot of people ski with their heads down and rely on their upper peripheral vision to see the other people/objects around them. But in bad visibility, you can't see the snow in front of you, and the people/objects around you aren't distinct enough for you to see with your peripheral vision until they're quite close. So if you ski with your head down, then you still won't see the bumps and stuff that you're skiing over and all of the people/objects around you will seem to come out of nowhere. And that can be terrifying.
It makes sense that the racers around you were ok with bad visibility, because they learn to ski looking ahead at the next gate rather than at the snow right in front of them. In the fog that you were in, the next "gate" they were looking for was the next person that they had to avoid. And because they had their heads up, they could see the next "gate" well enough in advance for them to ski at normal speeds.
The best way to practice this when the visibility is good is to try keeping your eyes on objects that are way out in front of you. For example, if you're on a fairly straight slope heading towards the lodge, a lift station, or something similar, then try to keep that object in your vision all the way down. This forces you to keep your head up, and that pushes you to learn how to ski without scanning every bit of snow right in front of you.
The only way to learn how to deal with it, and that includes avoiding motion sickness, is to learn to ski with your head up.
Haha just go and say it CV..."It's not that you can't ski Fog, it's that you can't ski and Fog just shows it!"
Excellent points you make. I think you're really on to something.
I think the issue is that people's minds start blocking their brains from processing. We get so freaked out over not seeing that it overwhelms the brains processing -or shuts it down, of balance, reaction, sensing what's happening and making the body functional. Because all that's shut down, we regress into bad technique or get freaked out over a slight ground perturbation. If it gets real bad, the mind can go into a doom spiral and you can barely function.
There's no question that most of us tend to zone out on the ground 10 feet or so ahead of us. This is not good for our bodies ability to function optimally.
When you do look well ahead, particularly if you're going a bit fast, you process so much more information at very rapid speed. So you see what's coming up, then when you're actually on it your body deals with it and you're looking way down for the next stuff. You ski much better. Same with tree skiing. Zone out or look at every tree and you'll probably hit one or if not you'll go slow or performance is way down from just picking a path, skiing it, and you barely see the tree as you go by it cause your looking to the next turn path.
There's definitely a connection here. I guess the leap though is this is still using your visual sense and letting the body deal with the immediate. So you have to go from that to no visual.
It's interesting, on that same trip to Les Deux Alpes, one of the coaches was Italian and a former downhiller. His friend was a coach of one of the top Italian women speed skiers at the time. Can't remember the name but not Deborah Campiogni. Anyway, he said he used to have her run training courses after he took her goggles and scratched them up with sandpaper to make it tough to see! Downhillers are definitely out there...