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Suggestions for improvement

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

So the attached video shows my son skiing a groomed blue run. He just turned 13 and he's been skiing for 4 years. He gets 10-15 days per year.

 

He loves skiing but only recently wanted to work on technique. I worked with him on starting to do pole plants and also had him do some javelin turns. Those seemed to help but I'm no instructor. He's at least starting to do partially parallel turns.

 

I know lessons would be great for him, but he has no interest in taking lessons and I'm not going to force him - skiing is about fun.

However, since he's expressed interest in working on improving, would any one be kind enough to make suggestions for things he can work on? Thanks!

 

If this is posted in the wrong place, let me know.

 

post #2 of 17

The hill is too steep for him.  He's making linked hockey stops, not good turns.  He's surviving, but has no chance of good skiing.  He shows great spirit, now he needs technique.

 

His feet should be walking width apart.  Not spread like that.

 

Both feet should be alongside each other, not one shoved way out in front.

 

His outside leg is straight and stiff.  There is nothing he can do with it except brace against it.

 

He's turning everything by swinging his shoulders around in the direction he wants to turn.  This is the opposite of a good turn technique.  His inside hand & shoulder are dropping down, and it should be moving the other way.  The outside hand & shoulder should be lower.

 

Take him to a run where he is in easy control.  Practice skiing with the feet.  Feet walking width apart, close to even side-by-side, balance on the balls of his feet.  (Good for him, he's not far back on his heels.)  Make easy turns by just turning his feet, NOT by swinging his upper body around.  Better yet, have him tip his inside ankle to lift the inside ski's inside edge off the snow.  Get him to turn his body in the opposite direction that his feet turn.  Hands should be in a natural balancing position and about level, maybe with the hand & shoulder on the inside of the turn a bit higher.  Have him lift just the tail of his inside ski an inch, no more, off the snow.  Let the shovel slide on the snow while the tail is lifted.  A good move is to bring his coat zipper tab over the label on his outside ski at the beginning of each turn and keep it there through the turn.  He won't get that far, but that's the feeling he needs.

 

Challenge him on either technique or terrain, never both at the same time.  Invent games to make the technique drills fun.  One is to carry a glove or hat between his boots without dropping with a reward to whoever, him or you, carries it the farthest.  Use your imagination.  Safety, fun, skills, in that order for kids (and for all of us).  Be sure his boots are a good fit.  They need to be as small as possible without discomfort, buckled as tightly as possible without discomfort.  New boots every year, of course...thank goodness for ski swaps.

post #3 of 17

Your son is skiing on a run that's too steep for his low skill level.  

 

Get him to watch instructional videos on youtube.  He needs to know what good skiing looks like.  And he needs to know that what he's doing is very much NOT good skiing.  Maybe that way he can get motivated to improve.  The longer he continues to ski this way, the harder it will be to change the embedded habits.

 

He's using upper body rotation to motor his turns.  He rotates his shoulder and torso to get his skis to turn.  He needs to lose that, and replace it with turning the skis with foot/leg action.  It ain't easy if he's been doing this 10-15 days per season for 4 years.  It's time for a change.

 

He's very much in the back seat, using linked leftie-rightie skidding/braking movements.  His skis stay downhill of him, scraping against the snow to slow him down.  It sort of works on this terrain, as long as no other skier cuts in front of him, and he doesn't hit a spot if ice or a lump of soft snow.  But on freshly fallen snow he won't be able to ski at all.  Same thing for spring skiing.  On ice he will be a runaway train.  On steeper terrain he'll be dangerous to self and others.

 

He may be very proud of his speed on this trail.  But he needs to know he could do so much better.  Has he seen this video?


Edited by LiquidFeet - 1/20/15 at 3:22pm
post #4 of 17

Here's an instructional video that can offer some tips if he doesn't want to take lessons.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U2Xm0niMJo

post #5 of 17

I think your son would benefit from knowing how skis work to carve a turn.

He doesn't need to turn his skis and set an edge; if he tips his skis they will turn by themselves and turn him.

post #6 of 17

With all due respect and sincerity, your son needs some lessons.   First, as suggested in an earlier reply this slope is way too difficult for him.  He is totally defensive. He has some obvious misconceptions of skiing that need to be corrected.

 

*First, he has no turn shape. Turn shape IS speed control. His skiing is not demonstrating any concept of any kind of turn shape. Good turn shape leads flow, carving,, ease of skiing and continued further development. 

 

* Second, he is totally outside ski dominant. His inside ski should be the active ski in guiding the skis into the proper turn shape (not to be confused with pressure distribution).  He is pushing his outside ski out and around to create some direction change and screwing up any flow that he might have otherwise have had. Additionally,when you use the outside ski in a pushing motion in this manner the center of mass (CoM) tends to get pushed uphill in the wrong direction. Again his inside ski is virtually inactive and he needs to be shown how to use it actively. This is very important. 

 

*Third- His center of mass, being moved and pushed back up the hill makes it virtually impossible for his feet and legs to functions properly for good skiing. He has no ability to release and engage edges efficiently or elegantly. He needs to learn how to allow his body toward the general direction of travel (down the hill). This will be learned in conjunctions with learning to use the inside ski to function properly. 

 

The good news is that he isn't a beginner so fear won't be a problem when you move him down to an easier slope for learning new stuff. The big question becomes how easily he can replace his current habitual movement patterns with new movement patterns that will allow his skiing to flow and will take him to greater and greater skiing achievements.  

 

I know I've made it sound bleak. It really isn't.  He just needs to back up a bit and learn to use the tools properly. It will pay off exponentially.  Good luck.

 

Edit: I know you said he is not interested in lessons. You've asked what he should work on and I gave you a roadmap.  Only you and he can decide if lessons of any kind are for him. Can he improve without lessons?  In my professional opinion with so many things to fix I think improvement on his own would be limited. 


Edited by vindibona1 - 1/20/15 at 8:15am
post #7 of 17

I don't know where you ski and you said he is not interested in lessons but there are some awesome children's instructors and lessons can be a lot of fun.  There are multi-week programs at a lot of ski schools where they have the same coach for the session. Give it a shot.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the detailed and candid responses.

 

I'll continue to push lessons but the instructors in Arizona are hit-or-miss and the last thing he wants to do on ski vacations (Alta, Telluride) is be "in school".

I've offered to take the lesson with him and would love to take lessons especially at a great school like at Alta. But, again, I see no reason to force him into it if he's dead set. He's capable enough to evade and/or stop for obstacles and almost never falls. If he wants to improve and ski more varied terrain, he will need to buck up and either take a lesson or commit to practice time.

 

If no lesson, I'll work with him on learning tipping/carving on easy terrain and finding the little toe edge to initiate turns - basically unlearning everything he was taught in early couple of lessons (the wedge/stem). I'll emphasize a QUIET upper body facing downhill, and a proper upright parallel stance.

 

I'll also have him watch videos of kids skiing well (there are plenty on this site) and compare to his video so he can see what good skiing looks like, and why it's important.

 

Any other suggestions or observations are greatly appreciated.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmcdtucson View Post
 

Thanks for all the detailed and candid responses.

 

I'll continue to push lessons but the instructors in Arizona are hit-or-miss and the last thing he wants to do on ski vacations (Alta, Telluride) is be "in school".

I've offered to take the lesson with him and would love to take lessons especially at a great school like at Alta. But, again, I see no reason to force him into it if he's dead set. He's capable enough to evade and/or stop for obstacles and almost never falls. If he wants to improve and ski more varied terrain, he will need to buck up and either take a lesson or commit to practice time.

 

If no lesson, I'll work with him on learning tipping/carving on easy terrain and finding the little toe edge to initiate turns - basically unlearning everything he was taught in early couple of lessons (the wedge/stem). I'll emphasize a QUIET upper body facing downhill, and a proper upright parallel stance.

 

I'll also have him watch videos of kids skiing well (there are plenty on this site) and compare to his video so he can see what good skiing looks like, and why it's important.

 

Any other suggestions or observations are greatly appreciated.

jmcd....

 

 

First work on speed control via turn shape.  This is the MOST important thing IMO.  Get him to make rounded COMPLETE turns (meaning turning far enough up the hill so that his momentum will begin to bleed off sufficiently without braking action). Learning to SHAPE the turn (all the way from start to finish) will lead to a path where you can introduce carving. Once the outside ski pushes outside of its shaped arc carving is no longer possible. Guiding the skis thru the turn shapes can often modify the other deficiencies I had mentioned in my first reply. Make sure you are working on easy enough terrain where he doesn't experience too fast an acceleration rate and then get defensive. 

 

Again, good luck. 

post #10 of 17

At 13, he may also not be very receptive to instruction from his dad.  Teens want to be part of the group.  And most ski schools (at least here in Colorado) will separate the teens from both younger kids and from adults.  It's about creating an environment where they can a) have fun and b) learn.

 

My advice?  Head to Aspen and sign him up for an adventure.

 

Mike

post #11 of 17

The desire to improve has to come from within...  no ski school has a magic wand which can immediately change a "defensive minded" skier into an "offensive minded" one.  Lessons taken without a willingness to "walk through the door" are wasted time, regardless of who the instructor is.

 

Unfortunately, your son has reached the stage of being pretty good at bad skiing -- from your own admission, he's able to avoid what needs to be avoided and he rarely falls, so it's going to take some focused practice to improve.  Finding a way to do some "controlled humility" (for lack of a better term) would seem to be the first step here; i.e., he needs to be introduced to what good skiing really is.  I don't know what your skiing level is or if you have friends that are legitimately pretty good...  Things to try that aren't resorting to controlled crash-and-burns could be stopping facing uphill, skiing really slowly in front of him (i.e., your son can't pass you), having your son stay exactly in your tracks, etc.  Going that route is dependent on your son accepting failure reasonably well though something that is by no means a universal trait.

 

Good luck.

post #12 of 17
All too common. There's no way you're going to convince him it's too steep if he believes he's making turns. This is the problem. He's not turning, just pointing skis left and right as he drifts down. Kids get good at this even making it down quite steep trails.

Honestly, while he believes the above, there's little hope he will have an impetus to change. I would suggest moguls but you can do the same thing there. Maybe Nastar cause he'll be horribly slow in a race course. Problem is some Nastars are practically tuckable the whole way. He'll still be slow.

If off piste in powder, get much fatter skis. He'll need 110mm to stand and pivot like that.
What does he say if you tell him he'a actually not making a turn?
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post
 

At 13, he may also not be very receptive to instruction from his dad.  Teens want to be part of the group.  And most ski schools (at least here in Colorado) will separate the teens from both younger kids and from adults.  It's about creating an environment where they can a) have fun and b) learn.

 

My advice?  Head to Aspen and sign him up for an adventure.

 

 

This is deceptively good advice. Fun and learning is important. But you know what? Kids are incredibly competitive and when their egos kick in they want to be better than the next kid. The ego can be exploited for motivation in the right environment while he is having fun. I agree with the concept of putting him in a teen ski adventure program if you can swing it. 

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vindibona1 View Post
 

This is deceptively good advice. Fun and learning is important. But you know what? Kids are incredibly competitive and when their egos kick in they want to be better than the next kid. The ego can be exploited for motivation in the right environment while he is having fun. I agree with the concept of putting him in a teen ski adventure program if you can swing it. 


Yes, it is. His motivation to improve is largely based on impressing his cousins and friends.

Hadn't really thought of the psychological angle so thanks.

 

His grandfather and I are both good skiers and he had requested how he could ski more like "dad and grandpa". Lots of good suggestions here, so I hope to report back on much improvement. Regardless we will have fun skiing.

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

Based on a suggestion above, I showed my sone some video of his skiing. After seeing that he decided he looked like a complete newb (his words) and asked to learn to ski better.

He was willing to put in some time working on learning to ski correctly during the last 6 or 7 days of the season. He's still not interested in lessons but he did work on the exercises I gave him.

 

This video isn't great, but if any one has nothing better to do, I'm open to suggestions for things to work on next season. Thanks.

 

You have to skip to 1:22, make sure youtube is giving you 1080p and make it full screen to really see him skiing. It's all from behind so not sure how helpful it is.

 

I was following in his tracks. They were nice railroad tracks with no skidding in the turns and he is much more upright, less throwing the upper body around, so there is some improvement at least.

 

 

 

post #16 of 17
Oeps. Four years of skiing, 10-15 days a year. Had he taken lessons, he would have been skiing a lot better. I surely hope that he is having fun now because if he doesn't take lessons all the fun will flow away when he notices that he is not making enough progress to handle the more interesting slopes.
My kids (now 12 and 16) both have had 14 days on skis and they really ski a lot better than your son thanks to the Swiss ski instructors. I had nothing to do with it, except that I told them that they had to take lessons. Skiing needs to be properly taught. It is a very technical and dangerous sport. Sorry for the bad news. There are a lot of sports that you can pick up easily with some talent. Skiing is not one of them.
post #17 of 17

The most fundamental thing you son needs to understand from the 2 videos is that in the first, everything he was doing was totally defensive in reaction to the inertial force pulling him down the hill.   Now, he has begun to learn to redirect that force into a circular path.   

 

If you take most :) of the advice given and apply it to this concept, he will do well. 

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