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Expert Skiing and Falling

post #1 of 282
Thread Starter 

I was just wondering how often do you who classify yourselves as advanced/expert skiers take a fall?  I thought that level skier never fell because they were so good.  But then I thought about big wave surfers who push the limits and of course fall when an unexpected wave break changes....and wondered if the same were true with advanced/expert skiers?  I know to get to that level, you have to learn and push yourself.  But once there, have you mastered most terrain to the point that you rarely ever fall?  Or do you occasionally encounter unexpected conditions or obstacles that cause you to fall like other non-advanced skiers often do?  And if so, is it only when you are pushing yourself to higher challenges?

post #2 of 282
I've seen pros fall, and hard. People who become experts tend to push their limits.
post #3 of 282

Racers crash on a regular basis.  If you're not skiing out of the course on occasion you're not pushing it hard enough to get on the podium.


Freestylers in the terrain park aren't afraid to bite it as they work on their moves.


OTOH, some expert terrain is in the no fall zone (i.e. where a fall can get you killed) and the experts never fall there.


It depends on how far you are willing to push yourself.  I'm not an expert, but I ski within my abilities and only bite it on very rare occasions.  I don't like to fall, so I don't.  Other more adventurous folks may find the rewards of tougher terrain ae worth the risks of falling.  YMMV.

post #4 of 282

The not falling thing tends to actually be more associated with higher levels of fear, which can be a factor of many things e.g. age, previous history, etc.

post #5 of 282

I saw a quote the other day....  "Experts have failed more than most have tried".


Others have used the term "expert" to describe my skiing...  And yet I know I have days where I wonder why I even bother trying to ski because seemingly nothing goes right.

post #6 of 282

I don't know any good skiers who claim they never fall. It's not exactly a badge of honor and would just mean you never push your ability or the type of terrain you ski. It's bragging rights to an intermediate to claim they never fall however....but it means nothing.


Besides, it would be a jinx to make such a statement.


Remember where Judge Smails ball went right after he said "I Never Slice"??    

post #7 of 282

I fall alot and am the type of skier who thinks he sucks but is probably considered an expert in the court of public opinion. (Being spanked by sub-40pt skiers in college really put everything into perspective for me) 


This season I have a sore shoulder from eating it hard skiing pow on the side of the trail and hitting enormous ice rocks just under the fresh and my right fibula area is really sore from basically hockey stopping a tree. (Not to mention a ski was snapped in the process) Sadly this is generally the story for me every season but now that I'm in my mid-30s I need to be more sensible. 


If you ski aggressively in technical areas sadly you are going to eat it pretty bad every now and then... 

post #8 of 282

This comment is focusing on free skiing and not racing.


Most expert skiers will be able to get feedback on mistakes in their skiing without having to resort to falling.  I will go many days without falling yet there is hardly a run where i don't think something like "i'm too far back coming off that last bump"  or "i'm not initiating my turn soon enough" etc.. I then take note of it and correct it.  I find that i'm falling mostly because i'm tired or i'm not focused on the task at hand.

post #9 of 282

Skiing has so much going on simultaneously, awareness is paramount on the line with everything else fading in priority.


Holding your line you note obstacles and adust the line on the fly accordingly.


Nobody is perfect and we all have stories of our own personal snow snakes.


Confessional; I did take a great head first dive down a nice steep smooth drain a good long way last month.  The tip hooked when I got a bit too reckless with it in the chop and went over the bars.  That was the best fall I've had in years.  All the way down I reached up to hold the ski I ejected from until the stop.

post #10 of 282
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Walt View Post

Racers crash on a regular basis.  If you're not skiing out of the course on occasion you're not pushing it hard enough to get on the podium.


Freestylers in the terrain park aren't afraid to bite it as they work on their moves.

I'm referring to recreational skiers and not freestylers in the terrain park.

post #11 of 282
Stuff happens..... If I wanted to I could ski all day on and off piste and not fall (im far from expert in my mind) - might not be as fun, though.
post #12 of 282

Sound like a troll but surfing is much harder than skiing, at most levels. Much easier to wipe out surfing, not really comparable. In saying that the consequences are potentially much higher with badly 'losing it' skiing especially with the speed, steepness and gnarlyness. Lots of places you can't afford to fail and fall. Many more skiers would die each year than surfers I would imagine. 

post #13 of 282

If you're not falling, you're not pushing your limits.  Which is fine if that's your choice - but the best skiers wipe out all the time because they're always pushing their limits and skiing tough lines.

post #14 of 282
28 days this year. 1 crash. Does that make me an expert, probably not. I ski with in my abilities.
post #15 of 282

I don't consider myself an expert, but I hardly ever fall on groomed terrain -- maybe once every few years. When I fall, it's typically in the bumps, or occasionally in ungroomed snow on steeper New England trails/trees. While I ski aggressively and continue to work to improve my skills, I probably stay a bit more within my abilities than I did 20 years ago.

post #16 of 282

Like Slider said, it's all about skiing within your abilities. Falling is a choice to pretty much anyone above an intermediate level. An intermediate could ski on flat bunny slopes all day and never fall, but most choose to test the boundaries of their ability a bit, and therefore they'll fall.


The difference for experts is that the point at which they're pushing their skill level to where a fall becomes likely (based on selection of terrain, conditions, aggressiveness, tactics, etc.) is at a much higher level, and it's line that experts don't always feel the need to approach or cross in order to improve or have fun. 

post #17 of 282

Maybe not ever quite an expert, I used to fall a lot until I hit about 50.  Each year afterward I fell less and less.  Fear, and realizing that I couldn't make a "save"

post #18 of 282
Thread Starter 

Great answers.  Thanks all.


I'm a little concerned about how I'll be mentally getting back on the slopes in March after my injury.  Being an intermediate and 53 years old, I really wanted to push myself this season.  But the fractured humerus derailed that.  Although the collision had nothing to do with my skiing as the other person ran into me, the fall and it's consequences are definitely remembered.  However, right now, sitting in my office, I'm chomping at the bit to get back on the slopes.


Do you get to an age/ability where you just decide that you have fun at the level you are and don't take the chances that it would require to improve one's ability?   In other words, how do you know where your personal risk/reward line is?  I'm thinking that's a personal decision that each of us have to make.

post #19 of 282
My.02. Everyone is different with risk . I don't like taking risks so I train till I feel confident in what I'm doing. Improvement at higher levels is very subtle. Your tweaking small movements and for me it's more mental than physical. Most of my refinement comes from drills on easy slopes. Then you take that to the big boy hill.
post #20 of 282

I'm no expert.. but can manage pretty tracks in the snow and ski as good or better than most people I know.. and I bit it on saturday on a green because I over-edged without enough speed to support it.. Ended up sitting on the tails of my skis still going down the hill. and had to hoist myself back up.. legs are still aching from that failure..pride got in the way and rather than just bail and lay on the snow.. i saved it.. and now am paying the consequences.. week before on good snow lost it in a deep carve when i hit some ice or booted out or something.. that didn't hurt..


moral.. only attempt to make a save when your life depends on it.. otherwise it seems the older you get the more the save puts you in the position to really wreck your season.. just fall.. accept the bruise and go on.. it's much worse to save and tear a muscle than to potentially ruin the rest of your season.


That said my dad who is 78 had an ankle-biter nearly take him out, and given the choice to run a 30lb kid over or go off trail into really thick trees, he chose the trees. luckily he didn't hit anything or ruin his day or season.


Skiing is a risk filled sport.  I'm proficient enough to get down just about anything where I ski, still almost had a kid take my knee out from behind while I was skiing slow with my daughter.


I find I spend a bit more time choosing my lines and evaluating the risk more than when I was a kid (aka under 30)..  When I can reasonably be assured that I can let the skis run.. then I do.. when the risk is there for failure.. I slow down and try to be more technical.. When the conditions allow me to step outside of the box and try new stuff.. I do.. but you won't find me trying to run the zipper line on volkswagon bug sized moguls are that are scraped off and 100% ice just because they are there.  It may improve my skiing if I survive, but it might be the end of my season and I'd rather be skiing than sitting on the sidelines watching my kids ride the lift.

post #21 of 282
I thought about falling earlier today, then proceeded to save about 3 falls and wiped out trying to push towards a chair lift entrance. I'm 40 and started at 36, I'll never be great, so unless I have something to prove, I try to err on the side of caution.
post #22 of 282

It's funny, every season I kind of need that first fall to get it out of my system and start pushing things a bit more.  It's a reminder that most of the time you wipe out you'll be just fine.


Took me 10 days this season until I really fell, which is way too long.  Kind of forced the issue by skiing switch, which is not exactly my specialty.

post #23 of 282

Feels like about 3/4 of my falls result from me trying to avoid a rock or rough patch that I didn't see until the very last second. I hate damaging my skis. I get totally thrown out of the flow, off my line, distracted, etc. Usually I can recover, but sometimes not so much.

post #24 of 282

The best answer to this is:


If you don't fall occasionally you ain't trying to improve by pushing the limit just a little.


Most better skiers don't fall hard, just embarrassingly as they just make it look like a nothing fall.   Competitive skiers are another matter.

post #25 of 282
Originally Posted by oldschoolskier View Post

Most better skiers don't fall hard, just embarrassingly as they just make it look like a nothing fall.


Umm... I really disagree with that.  Not many low-level skiers will ever experience the sort of high speed crash on steep terrain that leads to a tomahawk.

post #26 of 282

If you're a patroller some places you'd better not fall in uniform unless you want to buy beers for the whole crew.


Up to a certain level you fall because you aren't completely in control of your skiing, but beyond that I'm not sure falling and ability have much to do with each other--someone can be an expert while staying within themselves and never falling while another might be pushing limits and fall a fair bit. At the expert level that usually means hucking although once in a while the unexpected happens--CR Johnson got tripped by a rock in Lightowers for example. To use an example from another sport--the expert climbers who just did the Dawn Wall fell a number of times. Alex Honnold and Ueli Steck, not so much.

post #27 of 282
I'm not an expert by any means.

But I work on and learn skills on easier slopes, then take them to harder stuff after I have them down. Reducing my falls seems to be a byproduct of learning like this.

For instance, I'm working on some carving stuff right now on the green slopes because the slow speed really magnifies my faults. But it also lets me have a huge window for recovery if I mess up, so I don't fall much while doing it. I still might fall while pressure testing it in harder conditions but not nearly as much as when I was a beginner.

Mostly, I fall now doing things like turning around in the lift line while not paying attention.
post #28 of 282

Hey I didn't say fall a lot just enough to ruin a season of not falling;).  And yes hush beer is usually required if someone you know see you make the mistake :beercheer:.


High speed crashes :nono: I'm to old as I don't bounce like I used too.

post #29 of 282

I'm not an expert but I would consider myself advanced and I fall quite a bit but it's usually one of two things.


1. I am screwing around not really paying attention and catch an edge. This usually somewhere like a lift line or where I am stopped and I'm trying to do something silly


2. I'm working on a skill I am not good at like skiing switch or trying to learn to huck or pushing my speed through moguls.


That said I still take the occasional tumble due to a snow snake that attacked me...


I don't think there is any one who never falls   

post #30 of 282
Originally Posted by JayT View Post


Umm... I really disagree with that.  Not many low-level skiers will ever experience the sort of high speed crash on steep terrain that leads to a tomahawk.


Yeah, but advanced skiers are more adept at protecting themselves, which probably leads to bruising and sore muscles rather than serious injuries.


I find it ironic I am posting in this thread after this last Friday night. http://www.epicski.com/t/128588/2014-15-colorado-weather-discussion/1200#post_1828032  Nothing says expert like blowing up on a local hill and getting tobogganed out...


I take a fall about every 3 days. About 3/4s of my ski day is off piste.  I fall maybe once a season on the groom, usually by not paying attention and doing something stupid. 

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