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Frustrated looking ahead in moguls.

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I took a mogul lesson this morning & instructor says to work on on "keeping my eyes up - looking ahead - and picking a line".  I also tend to look down on the groomers/steeps, but did find I could ski ok on those when I'd look ahead.

 

So I spent the afternoon practicing on all kinds of bumps: planning 2-3 turns ahead, determining where I'd land & then executing the plan while keeping my eyes focused on the landing bump.

 

It was a disaster. I couldn't turn where I thought I was going to & rarely if ever landed where I'd planned & fell a lot. I actually just stayed down & cried for awhile at one point. It seems that I CAN'T TURN IF I'M NOT LOOKING AT MY SKIS... at least in the moguls.

 

Anyone here who's been able to "unlearn" looking down? What worked for you?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 27

Sounds like your instructor over estimated your bump experience.  You shouldn't be eying lines three turns ahead until you are pretty solid skiing them slower one at a time.. not actually stopping but not blazing through them fast enough to skip over the troughs either. 

 

That said, looking down is something that needs addressing everywhere on the mountain.  Most beginners are taught not to look at their skis because for some reason looking down can cause the tips to cross more often.  I recommend trying to ski some gates or just GS around the lift tower poles. Ski on trails with lots of obstacles and crowds where you'll have to keep looking up to avoid hitting something or someone.

post #3 of 27
I'm of the 'look at everything and nothing' school... Everything but your skis though. IMH experience, people who have trouble with looking at their feet in bumps aren't 'feeling' things with their feet. You 'feel' pressure, you don't look at it. smile.gif
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp View Post

I'm of the 'look at everything and nothing' school... Everything but your skis though. IMH experience, people who have trouble with looking at their feet in bumps aren't 'feeling' things with their feet. You 'feel' pressure, you don't look at it. smile.gif

 

Thank you, this rings true.  I am pretty comfortable skiing blue/black & black mogul runs without much falling, though not as brilliantly as I'd like, especially in less optimal conditions - hence the class. 

 

I found keeping my focus ahead difficult and when I was able to do it, I became off balance, strayed from the plan and/or fell.

 

Ideas/tips/exercises for improving this "feeling" in my feet welcomed :rolleyes 

post #5 of 27
Simple.. Find a relatively flat spot, no people, some very small bumps, close your eyes and traverse over them. You get to look before you leap. Simple, short, a little unnerving, but effective in making you feel instead of see what's under you. Keep your head level and your center of mass over
your feet.

Any drill can be done with focus on sensation and feel though. It only has to be conveyed as the focus by your coach.
post #6 of 27
Quote:

Originally Posted by lilly View Post
....

It seems that I CAN'T TURN IF I'M NOT LOOKING AT MY SKIS... at least in the moguls.

Anyone here who's been able to "unlearn" looking down? What worked for you?

 

Thanks!

 
I've found that when a skier habitually looks down at the snow in front of their skis in such a way that the skis are visible in their peripheral vision, something inside the mind gets shut off.  What's not working is the part of the brain that feels what the feet (and the skis as extensions of the feet) and legs are doing.  When that skier starts looking farther down the hill so that the skis are no longer visible, a new brain channel miraculously opens up that allows them to feel the feet and legs moving and to feel the pressures coming up at the skis along their whole length as if the skis had nerves in them.
 
To test if this works for you, try locking your eyes on a tree down the hill and then ski to it.  Do this on an easy trail.  Do not allow your eyes to leave the tree.  If your eyes keep going down to the snow, stop and regroup.  Start again, with eyes locked on the tree, and count out loud your turns.  Sometimes counting helps one stay on task.  The point will no be to find out how many turns it takes, but to get yourself able to keep your eyes on something down the hill while making competent turns.  This should start the process of being able to feel what your feet and legs and skis are doing.  
 
When you can feel the skis as an extension of your feet, and feel what your feet and legs in action, you'll be able to control them so much better than now.  It just takes dogged determination for some folks to unlock those eyes from the snow right in front of them.  I had to go through this a few years ago.  I used to call looking downhill at something "skiing by braille."  Now finally, it's just skiing.  
 
Once you can do this, you can work on seeing the next bump ahead and turning on the one under your feet using your sense of touch instead of your eyes.  Later, you'll learn to look two or more bumps ahead, or see a line and follow it.  
Be dogged in your training!  It's worth the effort.  
post #7 of 27

As others have noted, looking ahead is not going to do much until you can execute a turn without looking at the bump you're going over. Skiers with this problem commonly have issues with their weight not being centered and/or not having enough flex/extend/tipping movements to get the skis to turn fast enough. Once you have a basic ability to get your skis to turn fast enough on autopilot, then my recommendation is to tackle your vision problem from 2 different angles.

 

The first "angle" is to work on planning a 3 turn line, looking at the 3 turn line, then skiing one bump while looking at the line and stopping. Sneak peeks down if you have to, but work your way up to doing one turn without looking. It's ok to look down through your peripheral vision. Work your way up to doing one bump (without looking) and then stopping, to doing 2 bumps and sneaking peaks on the second bump and so on until you can get 3 bumps and stop. From there you start working on training your eyes to pick up the next "set" of bumps while you are in the middle of the first set.

 

The second "angle" is to  step down the side of a bump run looking for "traverse corridors". Every bump run has angled lines running across the run that are either high or low. Look for a low "valley" through the moguls that does not have much elevation change as you traverse across. It won't be a straight across traverse and most often you will need to make some little wiggles to stay in the line. But there will be a line that is very easy, very slow and very low impact. Train your eyes to see that line and develop the skill to wiggle your skis to stay in that line. When there is an occasional bump blocking out your line you either go low (if you are going too slow) or high (if you are going fast enough) around it to pick up the continuation of the valley on the other side. As you get better, you can ride the edges of the valley to grow your wiggles into real turns and add more up and down travels over bumps vs trying to keep the traverse as flat as possible. Using this "angle" it should be easier to see 3-5 bumps ahead because you are really looking for a valley instead of bumps. You'll also get better at seeing a set of bumps ending in a problem bump. This will give you time to make a plan for the problem bump  before you get there, then pick up the next set of bumps with your eyes as you get around the problem without looking at that problem bump.

post #8 of 27
Quote:
 
So I spent the afternoon practicing on all kinds of bumps: planning 2-3 turns ahead, determining where I'd land & then executing the plan while keeping my eyes focused on the landing bump.

Are you in the air? You use the word "landing." if so you should not be.
Some good suggestions here. Clearly this is an issue all over the mt. Try in the bumps just to see where tour turn will end up. Where's the exit of the current turn? Eventually you build on that.

Skiing easy trees, ie low pitch and decent spread, will help with this. Look at rhe path and see where your turn will end up. Then the next. Do not stare at the trees.
post #9 of 27

Lilly,

 

As others have said, you definitely should be able to make short turns on the groomed without looking down at your skis,  as you make thousands of short turns on the groomed, you will develop the feel for the short turn and confidence in it.

 

If you really want to become a better natural terrain skier, developing the skills to link 50 very quick short turns on the edge of the steepest groomed you can find.  This should be your #1 focus IMO.  Maybe devote 2, 3 or more runs/ day on just this drill. 

 

There is no magic bullet to improving your mogul skiing, it takes of a lot of work, but the dividends pay nicely.

 

Assuming your are skiing at a moderate speed, I don't see a problem focusing on the next turn as opposed to 2 or three turns or bumps below you as you instructor suggested.

 

When focusing on the next turn, you may see your ski tips at the bottom of your lens, but don't stare at them.  The terrain 2 or three bumps down will be visible, but you won't be focusing on them either.  A skier can confidently handle terrain only looking 1 turn ahead in natural terrain (the God Made Snow).

 

Hope this helps,

 

Nail

post #10 of 27
One of the best bump skiers I know (former successful extreme skiing competitor) says she looks for where she wants to begin her next turn and tries to put her feet on that spot. This is something you can start to do on shallow groomed terrain: Pick a spot and make your feet stop there. Pick another and stop, etc. Then pick and have your feet pass over the spots. Then be looking for a new spot as you pass over the last selection. Then start looking for gradually steeper terrain.
post #11 of 27

All good advice. I think it bears mentioning that at no point should where you're looking be static. While looking 3 bumps ahead is better than looking at your ski tips, keeping your eyes there doesn't do you a ton of good in the long run either. 

 

Rather than thinking of "looking" at 3 bumps ahead, think more about "scanning" 3 bumps ahead. I'm scanning up and down my line constantly as I ski. I'll also be scanning side to side to take in other lines, as staying in one line isn't always the best tactic in the bumps. So when I'm skiing a bump field, sometimes my eyes are looking at a bump 5 bumps away, other times its looking at the bump i'm about to encounter. But my eyes are never in one place for more than an instant. 

 

I agree with the idea of taking it slow to get started. The biggest skill you're looking to gain is how to read the bumps. Bumps come in different shapes and sizes, and different bumps require different tactics. As you improve, you'll be able to glance at bumps, and mentally figure out the best way to ski them. 

post #12 of 27

I think there could be several issues. Some mechanical. Some psychological. Some neurological.   I think it is a combination. 

 

First, I'm sure you aren't looking at your hands and feet when you're driving a car. Why should skiing be any different, except that you've formed a habit and your visual and sensory responses are linked when you ski.  Because of this bumps create sensory overload for you.  Your brain goes on overdrive trying to absorb the visual information and like an overfilled coffee cup, the excess randomly spills over. In your case your mechanics suffer.  Berating yourself isn't helping. 

 

So first, you have to learn to ski confidently without looking at your skis and learn how skiing well FEELS, not looks like.  The only way to train a new skill is to do it on the easiest terrain, progressing to more difficult slopes as new habits take over. There are any number of ways to do this.  You can use the horizon method as LF suggested. Or silly as it sounds, you can tape some cardboard to the bottom of your goggles so you can't look down.  You can use any method that works for you AS LONG AS YOU TRAIN YOURSELF TO CEASE LOOKING AT YOUR SKIS. Any way you do it, you MUST break the habit of looking at your skis or feet. 

 

Next, you have to separate any visual difficulties with the mechanics of skiing bumps. You probably will have to drill your mechanics separately until you can have mastery on unchallenging terrain. Then you may want to start by skiing ONE bump (turn) at a time. But that one bump needs to be skied PERFECTLY. Then add a second bump. Possibly add a third. But by no means are you to add additional bumps until you can ski your "number" PERFECTLY.   Also, don't pick steep slopes where the bumps will come at you too fast until your mechanics are solid on the easier bumped up slopes.  The key is not to stray too far visually from where you are comfortable, but progressively be able to look farther and farther ahead.

 

Some folks have a very quick eye-brain response. I know that my eye-brain response is particularly slow.   Instead of beating yourself up because you can't do something well TODAY you simply have to overcome the difficulties. It may go slower than you would like and may not meet your immediate expectations. But you have to attack the issues systematically and may have to develop your own personal "work-arounds". Just put your ego in your back pocket, back up a few steps, GO SLOW and master each step. I think you will surprise yourself at how much progress you will make. 

 

Good luck. 

post #13 of 27

Wow great thread. This is exactly what Ive been working on the past couple years. I take a lot of lessons but they tend to be small midweek group lessons and I haven't found good bump instruction yet so most of what I have learned comes from books, epicski, and trial by fire in the bumps.

 

What I have been doing (from a non instructor point of view so take with grain of salt and please correct me if its a bad thing) is using a peripheral scanning process. First, get your general line at the top of the run by scanning the bumps. Then, as I start down, I try to keep my head very level and use my eyes to scan the bumps ahead of me and briefly scan the upcoming bump with my eyes, but not my head. I think of it as a grocery clerk scanning your groceries on a conveyer belt, gobbling them up one by one but looking ahead at the next item or two so as not to break the expensive bottle of scotch. This allows me to make quick corrections if you come to a bump with a steeper frontside/backside that you may not have seen a few moguls back or a rock in a rut or whatever it maybe that requires a subtle move or hop and then quickly scan up ahead again. So my eyes are constantly moving but my head isnt (or at least Im trying not to move my head). I don't look down at my skis because by then its too late,  but maybe just ahead of the tips.

 

Just my take, could be complete rubbish, but it sems to be helping me.

post #14 of 27

I was in a narrow tree run that was bumped to boot this past weekend.  I stopped to scan where I was going to go and I just said to myself, "ya right, there is no rhythm or complete path, just chaos".  So I did the next best thing and decided, "screw it, just go".  It worked.  My point is that as long as you can control speed, you can absorb, hop and go around most things.  The skiing fundamentals need to be there, but a lot of it also comes down to attitude and just relaxing the body.  Tension is bad in bumps.  I am by no means a great bump skier but I enjoy the challenges it presents.  I also learned another thing this weekend which helped me with speed control  and turning, keep those ski tips down.  Pete

post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

Wow great thread. This is exactly what Ive been working on the past couple years. I take a lot of lessons but they tend to be small midweek group lessons and I haven't found good bump instruction yet so most of what I have learned comes from books, epicski, and trial by fire in the bumps.

 

What I have been doing (from a non instructor point of view so take with grain of salt and please correct me if its a bad thing) is using a peripheral scanning process. First, get your general line at the top of the run by scanning the bumps. Then, as I start down, I try to keep my head very level and use my eyes to scan the bumps ahead of me and briefly scan the upcoming bump with my eyes, but not my head. I think of it as a grocery clerk scanning your groceries on a conveyer belt, gobbling them up one by one but looking ahead at the next item or two so as not to break the expensive bottle of scotch. This allows me to make quick corrections if you come to a bump with a steeper frontside/backside that you may not have seen a few moguls back or a rock in a rut or whatever it maybe that requires a subtle move or hop and then quickly scan up ahead again. So my eyes are constantly moving but my head isnt (or at least Im trying not to move my head). I don't look down at my skis because by then its too late,  but maybe just ahead of the tips.

 

Just my take, could be complete rubbish, but it sems to be helping me.

Not rubbish at all, this is exactly what I was talking about when I was saying I scan the bumps as I ski them. I look well down the hill to get a primary wide look at the bumps in front of me. That's where I get my overall plan for how I'm going to ski the next 50-100 feet of mountain. My next scan is probably 3-4 bumps ahead, to evaluate what those bumps look like. I generally categorize bumps in my head into "vanilla" and "funky". Vanilla bumps can be all sorts of different shapes and sizes, but they are all types of bumps that I've encountered many times before, and can ski without much thought. Funky bumps are ones that look odd, or have an unusual shape or feature to them, or bumps that I can't really get a good look at because of other things in the way. Those ones I'll bookmark in my head as being bumps I need to pay more attention to and plan for as I get closer. My final scan will be to check those funky bumps I saw uphill, to take a good look at them just as I get to them. In that way I can react to anything I see up close and personal before it gets me into trouble. Any given bump that I'm skiing has been scanned by me at least twice by the time my skis touch it. Very often 3 or 4 times. And it's all in the eyes. Your eyes can move in their sockets far faster than your head can move on its neck. And eye scanning isn't going to affect your balance like head scanning. 

post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone who's responded! Your insights, ideas and encouragement are much appreciated.
 
I don't usually "work" on my skiing, most of the time I just enjoy it. Today I'm heading out with a bit different attitude and and lots of new perspective - rather excited to try new things after yesterday's frustration. :)
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 

What a difference a day makes. I skied alone today in order to work on this. My initial focus was twofold:

  1. Make turns on groomers without looking at the snow in front of me.
  2. Notice/Feel my feet/skis/pressure.

 

Some observations: Looking down is really ingrained. Slowing down, counting turns, telling myself "I'm looking at X now" or "I'll point myself at that now" and even just "I'm not looking at my skis right now" all helped. I noticed I am starting to feel my skis, pressure, balance, and all sorts of interesting things about my skiing via my feet and legs. A few times, when I felt it was safe, I even turned with my eyes closed.

 

Eventually, I tried some moguls. One turn at a time, planning and then making the turn while looking at a tree off in the distance and focusing on "feeling" my skis make the turn. After awhile, I found myself landing as planned most of the time. Breaking this down to one turn at a time also helped with seeing different shapes, plans/pathways, etc. And while these were pretty mild bumps overall, there were still some challenging spots. Working one at a time and executing these turns while "feeling" instead of "looking" was a great confidence builder.

 

I think my biggest take-away may be to slow down, go back to the easy slopes and try things there first. My lesson yesterday was mainly on blues/blacks so that's where I assumed I should practice. Telling my friends that I was skiing alone today was a good idea too. 

 

Thanks again to everyone who responded with help, I expect I will be re-reading your advice and ideas many times! 

post #18 of 27

Awesome!!! Keep it up. When you say "landing" do you mean you are catching some air in the bumps?

post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

Awesome!!! Keep it up. When you say "landing" do you mean you are catching some air in the bumps?

Thank you. No - I just meant the end of my exercise... "stopping" or "finishing" are probably clearer.  :o

post #20 of 27
@lilly, I think it's lovely that you were able to switch from seeing/thinking to feeling with such great results, and so quickly! I'm not skiing bumps yet, but recently I had the same kind of experience from practicing directional sideslips and falling leaf & variations with all my conscious attention on the pressure and movement in my feet while deliberately unfocusing my eyes. Even though I still need to improve my drills, it immediately made a huge difference in how my freeskiing feels. With better body awareness (proprioception) and less mental static I often automatically correct my position and movement just by maintaining that connection to my feet.

If you think about it, we're very visual creatures, so the influx of visual information tends to drown out all other sensory input and makes it hard to be aware of our bodies. Add anxiety and the mental effort to do things "right," and I'm amazed we can ski at all until things become instinctual. Remove all the distractions and it's amazing to see what our bodies already know how to do!
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by litterbug View Post
... Remove all the distractions and it's amazing to see what our bodies already know how to do!

 

Yes! So true and the source of my frustration yesterday. I usually just ski and it's a blast. Thinking/planning/consciously trying to change completely threw me for a loop until I found ways to get my mind right. Love your signature. Thumbs Up

post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilly View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by litterbug View Post

... Remove all the distractions and it's amazing to see what our bodies already know how to do!

Yes! So true and the source of my frustration yesterday. I usually just ski and it's a blast. Thinking/planning/consciously trying to change completely threw me for a loop until I found ways to get my mind right. Love your signature. icon14.gif
I totally stole the concept from Inner Skiing. rolleyes.gif I tend to get discouraged and uptight and stiffen up if I spend too much time trying so hard. I got into skiing for the simple one-pointed hedonistic pleasure of moving on skis, but it's all too easy to forget all that because I'm so damned impatient!
post #23 of 27
Whoo hoo Lily!!!
Great to hear of your success!!!!!!
post #24 of 27

Good work Lilly!

 

Stay with the short turn groomer drill until you can "float" weightless through the top 1/3 of the turn, you will only be fully loaded right at the turn finish when you snap your pole plant.

 

You can never make your turns quick enough or round enough.

 

Nail

post #25 of 27

All good advise here, especially the short turns. Just a wild guess, one of the reasons you may have felt the need to focus visually on your skis as you ski the bumps, is you only feel safe skiing bumps a very specific way. Meaning, you feel the need to get your skis to land, or track, a certain way on each bump, so you focus, with your eyes, very hard on trying to make that so.

 

If this rings true, one thing to play with once you get your short turns nailed - Pick a line right down the fail line of a bump run, don't stray from it side to side, no shopping. Simply execute very short turns, one right after another with no sliding between. Just turn wherever you are on or between each bump. Sometimes you'll be turning on the front of the bump, sometimes the peak, or tops, sometimes the left shoulder, or the right shoulder, or the backside. Sometimes you'll be in the trough. Just turn, turn, turn. Flex and extend as needed, keeping your tips driving down on the snow surface. Be deliberate, spank or be spanked. This drill should make you more comfortable skiing anywhere on a bump and in a bump field, and mitigate your need to watch your skis make those turns.

 

If it doesn't ring true, it's still a good drill :)

post #26 of 27

Its true for me that I enjoy carving and the G forces that I rarely look to specific spots on the hill. I look to avoid people and the big blue patches of ice, but visual inputs have become 'impressionistic' - lack of high frequency detail. I spend more time feeling tactile inputs. But when I get on the bumps, this style doesn't work for me.

 

The up and down is distracting (surprise, your skis feel like they didn't go where you thought they were going!) and this also affects the grip my edges have on the snow. (surprise, you are slipping when you thought you'd be gripping !) The whole ski is not always in contact with the snow when coming around the mogul and the skis are pointed down the fall line. Add the New England hardpack and the fact that many times the moguls are skied off leaving variable icy patches, then ski grip is compromised and sudden unexpected slip occurs, adding to the surprise. If the moguls were bigger than 2 ski lengths, I could ski them naturally, but they never are. So picking a line requires much more visual analysis. Ironically, this is something I learned to let go as I progressed through carving, linking turns, staying forward, etc. When people start skiing, they are almost entirely visual.

 

The ONE time I enjoyed the bumps is when I got on a soft bump run in the spring after having a good amount of alcohol with lunch. Dulling the tactile inputs worked for me then and helped me 'go with the flow'. But that's something I will not do anymore. One good bump run is not worth having to find places to pee all afternoon. And with significantly slower reflexes I had to ski the groomers a lot slower. 

post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by litterbug View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilly View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by litterbug View Post

... Remove all the distractions and it's amazing to see what our bodies already know how to do!

Yes! So true and the source of my frustration yesterday. I usually just ski and it's a blast. Thinking/planning/consciously trying to change completely threw me for a loop until I found ways to get my mind right. Love your signature. icon14.gif
I totally stole the concept from Inner Skiing. rolleyes.gif I tend to get discouraged and uptight and stiffen up if I spend too much time trying so hard. I got into skiing for the simple one-pointed hedonistic pleasure of moving on skis, but it's all too easy to forget all that because I'm so damned impatient!

I think Weems's book would be helpful.
http://www.edgechange.com/
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