Originally Posted by GraceKelly
I appreciate all the feedback and would like to add that I do not ski out of control and try to totally minimize any potential danger to myself or others. I also agree with taking a lesson, especially if I find that I'm unable to work out an issue on my own using the advice of others or skiing with someone who is an overall better skier. I took a lesson earlier in the season when I was having difficulty adjusting to my new skis. After that one hour with a great instructor, I was skiing like a champ!
Regardless, I'm just getting to the point where I'm wanting to transition to harder terrain and was hoping to pick up some helpful tips. I have found in the past, that if I could remember a few points and try to apply them that generally I would get a bit better.
For the most part, I'm comfortable on steeper terrain when conditions are ideal. It's more challenging. I was just unsure if I should approach it differently though when the conditions are not ideal. After reading the reply posts so far, it does give me a better idea of what I think I'm doing wrong...I'll lean into the hill when I'm not feeling confident (which causes me to skid) and I also think I'm not fully completing my turns (at least this is what comes to my mind when I try to visualize it). I'll only go completely forward when I'm just in an area that I can't grip an edge. I'll pick up speed (uncomfortably) until I can get back to my turns and slow myself down.
Also, please tell me if I'm getting this correct...providing technique is good, some of y'all are recommending quicker, shorter radius turns while maintaining a steady rhythm while remembering to fully complete the turn? (I think I'm stopping short on my turns when I get perpendicular to the mountain).
Also, sorry if some of this is confusing, I'm really not up to par on ski lexicon but try my best to explain myself.
Grace, that part in red up there tells the whole story. You are leaning into the hill. Your technical approach to skiing on everything needs to not include leaning into the hill, whether you're confident or not. So, how does one purge the leaning in, and what do you need to replace it with?
1. Let your skis turn more than your upper body. This is called "upper-body-lower-body-separation." The separation happens best at the hip socket, where the upper leg attaches to your hips. This skill is sometimes difficult to learn; it isn't intuitive for most. Some people can't feel it. There are drills that can help you monitor your separation so you can work on it on your own. To fix your turn mechanics, learn separation first. It's also called "skiing into counter," and you'll also hear the phrase "strong inside half." It doesn't matter what it's called. The thing that needs to go away is skiing with your upper body facing the same direction your skis are pointing. That's called "skiing square." Lose the square skiing. Skiing square encourages leaning in.
2. Once your skis and legs turn without your upper body turning the same amount along with them, you're ready to lean your upper body more downhill, instead of leaning it into the hill/uphill as your words above indicate you are doing. This is usually called "angulation." When you lean downhill over your outside ski (folding at the hips/waist), you help that dowhhill/outside ski to better carry you in the direction it's pointed. You end up taking "weight" off the uphill/inside ski, and that's good. Leaning into the hill/uphill puts too much weight on the inside/uphill ski, which you've figured out causes your skis to skid.
3. This package of things -- skiing square, and leaning into the hill, is a very common practice. It works just fine on hero snow. On anything else it pretty much fails. So to answer your question of whether you need a different technique on ice than on "good" snow, I'm going to say you need a different technique and it will work better on all conditions.
4. There's more! How do you start a turn? There's that top-of-turn-business that is really necessary on ice. It also improves your turns on that good snow we all enjoy. Right now, do you start a turn in a way that allows the skis to travel across the hill in one direction for a bit, THEN turn downhill, then turn in the other direction? If you do, you make round turns. I suspect that's not happening, however. Or do you rush the top of your turns so you get the skis to quickly turn from left to right, with no top and no downhill part to your turns? If you do this, you are making -shaped turns. Making round turns is real hard to do, by the way, especially on hard ice, but essential if you want those skis to grip once they are at the bottom of the turn. Round turns require a top, and some time spent with the skis facing downhill. Yes, even on ice. You can work on making round turns on easy terrain right now, with skis turning more than upper body and with you leaning a little out over your downhill ski. See how that feels, and work up to more difficult terrain as you get it working.
5. But back to your current turn mechanics. Do you usually start your turns by leaning sideways? Or do you maybe grind your downhill ski into the snow surface real hard, then turn yourself and your skis quickly around in the new direction? In either case, these strategies work just fine on "good" snow but fail in other conditions. There is a complex (at least I think it's complex) set of alternative approaches to starting a new turn. I'll not go into those here. If you think you're doing some of the things I've just mentioned to start your turns, and if you've been doing those things for a long time, then you have embedded muscle memory to overcome. So learning new ways of "initiating" a turn will involve overpowering the old habits, as well as figuring out how to do the new stuff. Two projects to keep you busy! (It's worth it.)
6. If you are as ambitious as you sound about becoming a strong all-mountain skier, you need a good coach to guide you in doing this whole thing. At least that's what I think, from my experience trying to become a strong all-mountain skier with a very very late start. I tried following crusty life-long skiers. They were not as good as I thought, nor as good as they thought. I bought books and tried to coach myself from what I read. Better, but not good enough as I misinterpreted much of what I read. Words fail to communicate as well as watching someone who knows what they are doing. Also, we don't often know what we are doing. We think we are doing something right but we are so wrong, and video proves it. So I became a ski instructor (!!!). (The job comes with training.) That's one option, and it was open to me. If you don't want to go that route, then consider hiring a trainer. Having a trusted coach, whether a friend or a paid instructor, is a good thing, not a bothersome one. Skiing the whole mountain well is not intuitive. Working on skiing steepish ice with grace and success, as an adult, not as a kid in an intensive race program, is a big deal. Having a trusted teacher/sensei/coach/mentor/trainer who can lead you up the skill ladder, watch you try new things and give you immediate feedback, and keep you company as you go through the process is a very good thing.
Edited by LiquidFeet - 2/9/15 at 4:06pm