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Become a smoother, more stylish skier

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

My dad is a smooth skier. You watch him ski down the slopes and he mades beautiful s-turns top to bottom, all of the same size and shape. He's a groomer guy, so this only applies to nicely groomed runs, not moguls or deep powder. But he has a lot of elegance and style to how he skis.


I don't look like that. When I ski in deep powder and look at my turns, some are big and some are small and they aren't even. I don't think I look as stylish or smooth at skiing as I would like to.


I'm wondering how I can improve at this? What are the techniques that I can use while skiing everyday to become a smoother, more stylish skier?


Is this just hours on the slopes? Or is there something I should consciously be doing?

post #2 of 25

mod note: this was moved from the general skiing forum to the instruction forum

 

Crystal,

 

Hours on the slopes could make you a smooth skier. It's possible, but not probable without some help. It's easiest to ski smooth and consistent turns when the terrain and snow conditions are smooth and consistent. Even then your technique has to be consistent too. But as snow conditions change from day to day and as minor variations in terrain present themselves, you need to make small adjustments to your technique (e.g. skiing with your feet closer together in deeper powder, making wider turns on steeper terrain to maintain the same speed). If your not aware of the adjustments to make as conditions change, you are probably making small adjustments inadvertently even on consistent terrain.

 

You should try following your dad exactly in his tracks. Video could help us see what you are doing and give you some tips to get you on the road to smooth skiing. Lessons could help you get there even quicker. When I work with students with similar problems, it usually requires a combination of working with larger turns (with slow motion movements that improve balance against the outside ski and improve fore/aft balance average from rear to neutral) and smaller turns (to develop rhythm/continuous movements throughout each turn and from turn to turn). .Specific changes (e.g. keep your toes, knees and nose in vertical alignment, stand taller, move with the skis, look more down the hill while the skis turn underneath you, tip your feet onto edge more vary from student to student. Some people take longer than others. Some people have access to better instruction than others. You may only need one simple tip. You may need many tips and many hours of practice. Your mileage may vary. But it's good to start with a goal and then work to go get it.

post #3 of 25
Lessons & practice. Study ski lessons and drills on the Net. Drills can become boring but the pay off is huge.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks

 

I'm really looking for advice that I can implement with little to no extra expense.


Following my dad down the slopes is easy enough and doesn't cost much (lift tickets).

 

Lessons are out of budget for the 2015-2016 year. They're $100/hr at my home mountain which is obsence. If I do cheaper lessons I have to pay for lifts tickets since I'm not at my home mountain and that is out of budget.


So for now, I'm looking for advice that I can implement at little to no cost

post #5 of 25
Youtube has hundreds of instructional lessons. Want to be a good skier.You are going to have to make it happen.
post #6 of 25

You need to know what you want to do.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  If you post a video of your dad we might know what we're talking about (no guarantees), but without that, he might be making windshield wiper turns.  Just s-slides from one side to the other and back.  Smooth on groomers, no good off piste.  You do not want to learn that, if indeed that's what he's doing.

 

So, you need a skiing philosophy.  Some want to stand pretty much straight upright and turn their feet to steer.  All steering all the time.  Works on groomers, not so well on steep ice, not well at all off the groomers.  Some want to hop up to lighten their skis to make each turn.  Works pretty good, is kind'a slow, and hard work.  Some want to edge their skis to let the ski's sidecut and flex pattern turn them, then just relax their legs to let the skis flatten before edging on the other side.  Any of these works well for some folks.  You need to find your philosophy, then practice it perfectly.

post #7 of 25
When choosing a line, I visualize a point at the bottom, track a bee line and then do my best to keep the turns even and symmetrical on the plumb line.

Most folks tell me that I'm a kook. But this is what satisfies me. I can spot my tracks from the lift because they are the best looking ones.

I recommend learning the difference between crossover and crossunder techniques. Crossing under is smooth and stylish, also practice the transition,http://www.yourskicoach.com/YourSkiCoach/Cross_over_and_cross_through.html I learned that the turn is temporary but turning the other way is the essence of skiing.

There's several ways to change the direction smoothly, a couple are tipping the feet under the ankle allowing the ski to work, another is the inside foot focus. Relax your active leg, flex the knee slightly while subtle back stepping lifts the heel the pinky toe presses down. Suddenly the opposite leg is doing the work. Alternate this very slight move on the flats, you will find yourself feeling ready for a Warren Miller shoot.

This works on every slope so long as the feet are functionally close together.
Edited by Buttinski - 12/27/15 at 2:09pm
post #8 of 25
A couple thoughts to help save money and still improve:

1st, accept that you may be skiing better or worse than you think you are. It has been my experience that most folks aren't good at gauging their ability.

As mentioned, there is a TON on the net on how to ski better, to include epic. Don't limit your self to just video.

Lots of folks have posted videos of themselves skiing and have asked for help to fix something. It may or may not apply to you but you can still learn from it and may have a priece of information that will help you.

Speaking of video, get a friend to video you (maybe your dad) and post it here. Self video doesn't work well. Try to get as much of you in the entire frame as you can. Needs to show several turns. This comes with a string heaping of caution. Many times when people see themselves on video the first time, they take up badminton. This relates back to my first comment about ability to gauge skill level and body awareness.

Ask your dad how he does it or how he learned.

If you want to be smooth, you have to think smooth thoughts. Get an image in your head to use as a guide.

Be careful that what you think is smooth is also good skiing. Sometimes they don't go together. I have a friend that is very smooth but still skis old school. Even dresses in the 70s style. He is smooth, but not correct for today's equipment and his technique is lacking. He has one turn and does that all day long but he's loving it. He's very happy.

Reading a book like The Talent Code can help too. It about coaching and teaching (anything) and applies to self coaching too.

Workout a lot. Even assuming you our in great shape, it helps if you have full range of motion and all this little support muscles strong too. Another book tha can help with this is Chris Fellow's Total Skiing.

Go through your gear and make sure it isn't holding you back. I understand that you might have a limited budget but it would be helpful to know that everything is working correctly and is right for you; especially the boots.

Have fun,

Ken
post #9 of 25
What Ken said is on the money. I still ski old school when I want too, to impress the fools that think it looks great (did it forever). It does and is. But it fails to take advantage of the new skis. Now, I ski new school lower body with what looks like an old school upper body (dam old habits die hard) on a regular basis but it works.

The only ski that really lets you go to do that and also encourages that to some degree are SL skis. It is easy to hold a steady rhythm. Advantage is it helps in your all around ability.

Worth a thought (and even consider used SL's to start).
post #10 of 25

All good advice.  My thought based on your post has to do with rhythm.  Whatever your technique is (carving, skidding, etc.) if you at the very least think of skiing with a rhythmic sense your turns will be more consistent in size and thus smoother than always varying the turn size.

 

Just a start, tactics not technique, but addresses one of your main questions.


But you know that.  

post #11 of 25

In the end, smoothness is all about the process of transitioning.  How we anticipate and take progressive action for the forces to come.

 

I don't know if you are old enough to drive but I often ask my students to consider the braking process in a car.  

Traveling down the road at 30 mph, you see a stop sign 100 yds ahead.  what do you do?

 

First you take you foot off the gas

next, you transfer your foot to the break pedal

next, you hold your foot lightly on the pedal and begin a progressive push to the floor until the car comes to a stop

 

So, you spend 70 percent of the process preparing to stop and 30 percent actually applying the pressure to stop.

If you reversed that ratio,  you would likely be putting your head through the windshield! 

 

Now, if you are doing 60 mph and a deer jumps out in front of you, does the process ratios change or only the time you have to complete the process?

 

A good drill to work on is the "Stay as tall as you can for as long as you can" drill.  Find a moderate groomer and begin the turning process trying to stay tall  until you feel that urge to "compress" and complete the turn.   Once you feel comfortable with the ratios of tall vs compressed  start adding velocity via steeper terrain and fit that process into a shorter cycle. 

post #12 of 25
+ ski as much as you can and train/exercise in between seasons.

A lot of disciplined ski moves require conditioned muscles and endurance. It's difficult when you don't workout or ski for 2/3 of the year and try to pick it back up in the beginning of a new season.
post #13 of 25
5 ps,
Planning: decide on a start, middle, and finishing place for each turn.

Preparation: set yourself up for success by thinking ahead.

Patience: haste makes our movenents look hasty. Give yourself the time to make the turn you are making.

Poise: ski with confidence not fear

Purpose: stay in the moment. Focus on executing the current turn but not on judging the last one. It is hard to do this but with practice your focus will get better.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

5 ps,
Planning: decide on a start, middle, and finishing place for each turn.

Preparation: set yourself up for success by thinking ahead.

Patience: haste makes our movenents look hasty. Give yourself the time to make the turn you are making.

Poise: ski with confidence not fear

Purpose: stay in the moment. Focus on executing the current turn but not on judging the last one. It is hard to do this but with practice your focus will get better.​

Here are some tips to help you with all 5 P's simultaneously.

In your planning it isn't a top to bottom plan as much as a short term plan. At first just planning one turn is enough. When you can do one turn exactly as you planned, think about doing two turns but avoid getting in such a hurry that you abbreviate the end of first turn. One of the biggest mistakes I see is releasing a turn 20-30 degrees too soon. It is in those last few degrees that most of your speed control occurs. This small change does three things, it uses line (your chosen path) to limit your downhill speed (spending slightly more time with the skis turned across the hill), it gives you time to make better choices about that next turn (it is amazing how a half second can feel like so much time), and it lets you approach the upcoming turn confidently rather than defensively. The final piece of this puzzle is to concentrate on executing the current turn and planning the upcoming turn. Forget about the last turn until you stop at the bottom. This will help you avoid listening too much to your internal narrator who undoubtedly be trying to talk to you the whole time. Above all have fun and enjoy skiing with your dad, I would be surprised if you aren't already picking up a lot of that smoothness because he is modeling it so well for you.

post #15 of 25

Lessons , practice , repeat ,

post #16 of 25

Definitely the mindset is key.  Go to the easy stuff, visualize a straight line then alternate sweeping turns.  Start slowly and just ease them around back and forth.  As you get better begin going to steeper runs keeping the rhythm and shape consistent.  If you cannot run an even zipperline on the groomers, you'll have a harder time in the bumps.

 

Turn shape is a subtle process to master.  You can have an early, on time, or late release (Exit line), or anywhere in between, same goes for initiation.  These six basic variables give you options for momentum control or preservation.  This British guy really changed how I look at turn shape.  His whole series has many tips that you should find helpful.

post #17 of 25

Not sure how much it will help with style (no points for that anyway!) but for smoothness look ahead and anticipate your line down the slope.

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystal Mtn View Post
 

My dad is a smooth skier. You watch him ski down the slopes and he mades beautiful s-turns top to bottom, all of the same size and shape. He's a groomer guy, so this only applies to nicely groomed runs, not moguls or deep powder. But he has a lot of elegance and style to how he skis.


I don't look like that. When I ski in deep powder and look at my turns, some are big and some are small and they aren't even. I don't think I look as stylish or smooth at skiing as I would like to.


I'm wondering how I can improve at this? What are the techniques that I can use while skiing everyday to become a smoother, more stylish skier?


Is this just hours on the slopes? Or is there something I should consciously be doing?


You've certainly gotten a bunch of different things to work on so far in this thread.  If you were to describe your skiing on groomers with a little more detail, that might help people focus their suggestions a little more tightly on ways to improve your specific issues in skiing.  Here are some questions you could answer to get that going.

 

1. How many years have you been skiing?  How many days per year do you get?  Have you had lessons at some point, or are you self-taught?

2. In your first post you describe the inconsistency of your powder turns.   What percent of your time do you spend on powder?   When not on powder, what terrain/conditions are you skiing?

3. Are you on rental gear, or do you own your own boots and skis?  If you own, are you on boots that were bought specifically for you and custom-fitted to your feet by a professional boot fitter?  If not, are you in boots that fit real well as far as you can tell, or in boots that "sorta fit" in an OK way?  (Yes, boot fit makes a big difference in how much control you have over your skis.)

4.  How do you start your turns?  Can you be specific about that?

5.  We know what you don't like about your turns.  But what about your current skiing are you most pleased with? 

post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 


You've certainly gotten a bunch of different things to work on so far in this thread.  If you were to describe your skiing on groomers with a little more detail, that might help people focus their suggestions a little more tightly on ways to improve your specific issues in skiing.  Here are some questions you could answer to get that going.

 

1. How many years have you been skiing?  How many days per year do you get?  Have you had lessons at some point, or are you self-taught?

2. In your first post you describe the inconsistency of your powder turns.   What percent of your time do you spend on powder?   When not on powder, what terrain/conditions are you skiing?

3. Are you on rental gear, or do you own your own boots and skis?  If you own, are you on boots that were bought specifically for you and custom-fitted to your feet by a professional boot fitter?  If not, are you in boots that fit real well as far as you can tell, or in boots that "sorta fit" in an OK way?  (Yes, boot fit makes a big difference in how much control you have over your skis.)

4.  How do you start your turns?  Can you be specific about that?

5.  We know what you don't like about your turns.  But what about your current skiing are you most pleased with? 

 

1. I skied from before I can remember until about the age 9 when I decided to stop skiing. I picked it up 4 years ago at age 32 and have skied the last 4 seasons. I typically get between 10 - 25 days of skiing in a year. I had ski lessons when I was little (and a lot of coaching from my dad) but have not had lessons as an adult.

 

2. I ski powder whenever there is a powder day. Percentage wise it is probably between 12 and 25%. The rest of the time it is nice groomers or ice groomers.

 

3. I own my own gear. I bought my own boots but they were not professional fitted for my by a boot fitter. I like how they fit.

 

4. Can't describe very well.

 

5. Easiest way to describe it is this: In the morning the groomers are fresh. I ski with nice turns that I like. By the end of the day the groomers have been torn up and become moguls (little ones). I don't think I handle the skiing through the varied snow conditions (beginnings of moguls) very well. I see other people that ski down the torn up groomers like they did in the morning and would like to be able to handle a varied snow conditions in this way.

 

I want to be clear that I'm not talking bump skiing. These are just the beginnings of moguls at the end of the day.

post #20 of 25

@Crystal Mtn, thanks for those answers.  I'll offer some thoughts.  Hopefully others will chime in too.

 

1.  You've had enough experience to embed your current style deeply into muscle memory.  To learn to make smooth turns on all kinds of terrain, not just on early morning groomers but on cut-up crud and bumps and fresh powder, you'll probably need to change your current "style."   It's hard work to change deeply embedded habits, but a great enterprise to take on.  To make those changes stick, one needs to concentrate on making new movements happen, every turn, until those new movements get strongly enough embedded that they can happen unconsciously.  Determination and persistence is called for.  Working on one's skiing can be fun, and it's definitely worth it!

 

2.  I envy you that 12-25%.  But even those numbers leave 75-88% of your time dedicated to skiing groomers.  That's where you'll need to do your deliberate practice to learn and embed new habits, which will make skiing variable conditions fun.

 

3.  Let's assume your boots fit ok, giving you good control over those skis.  What skis are you on???

 

4.  How you start your turns is the key to success.  You need to know how you start them, what works, and what doesn't.  Many people who have been skiing without lessons for a decent amount of time don't know how they are making their turns happen, so you have lots of company there.  Start your turns well and the rest of the turn falls into shape more easily.  How to do that is a whole conversation in itself.

 

5.  If you handle morning groomers fine but not the afternoon cut-up stuff, and if baby bumps give you problems, you are probably making turns that rely on rotating the skis around manually using the muscle power of your legs.  Ot you might be braking at the end of the last turn and then rotating your whole body to drag the skis around, which may cause your skis to start the turn without being parallel; that's not good in any kind of grippy snow.  You may be cutting off the top of your turns with a quick pivot, which makes it hard for your skis to get a grip.  You may be leaning your whole body sideways or uphill to get your skis on edge, which lessens the ability of your outside ski to do its work.  You may be a little back seat, which keeps the front half of the ski from being able to shape your turn.  Some combination of those is quite possible.  I'm guessing here, of course.

 

This is a list of some of the most common issues of many skiers.  I'd suggest a lesson to sort out what's really going on.  Or have someone shoot video of you and post here, if you can handle anonymous people telling you what's wrong with your skiing as they give suggestions for improvement.  Doing that can be quite useful, but it can also be a painful enterprise.  Or go online and watch instructional videos; there are lots available for free. 

 

I'd choose a lesson, but then I'm an instructor so you could have predicted that answer.  Best of luck on getting that flow going!


Edited by LiquidFeet - 12/29/15 at 8:55pm
post #21 of 25
Crystal, movement wise errors are more obvious when challenged but are not absent on easier terrain.Just less obvious. I would ski with dad more and solicit his opinion about what you do differently than him. I bet he would love that and it would give you more insight into why he is smoother than you. From there you may consider a lesson so you can have a trained eye watch your development.
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 

OK, I made it up today for a few hours and paid close attention to how I thought my form and style is. And I decided it is poor. I have a lot to learn about good skiing form.

 

Problem 1: I turned wherever the heck I felt like it. Sometimes I made big turns followed by a bunch of small turns, other times I did a small turn followed by a big turn. I need to start creating a consistent manner on skiing from the top to the bottom of the slope.


Problem 2: Ski poles. I'm wild with them. Sometimes I stick them way out, sometimes close to my body. Sometimes I lean way far forward and sometimes I lean back. I don't use them in a manner that anybody would want to copy if they saw me.

 

Problem 3: Ski width. My ski width is all over the place. Sometimes widely spaced, sometimes narrow. Not consistent from turn to turn.

 

I think a better understanding of my problems will help me understand where I need to go. Now that I have some goals, it's time to make some turns practicing doing a better job!

post #23 of 25
Self criticism is the first step to improvement. Get a video of yourself. This will help you tremendously. You'll be sucking at a higher level in no time
post #24 of 25

I know I'm late to the party, but my advice is simple.  If you like the way your dad skis, FOLLOW HIM... a lot.   It's a lot like dance lessons. Just copy what he's doing. Once you have that down you can do your own variations on it. 

post #25 of 25
I'm not an instructor and strongly believe teaching oneself is possible as I work on it myself every time I'm out. However, nothing beats a good lesson with an instructor every now and then to ensure you are on the right track. A little money towards this will go a long way in terms of development it put you on a rapid path of improvement, once you are on it work on your own until you stall and repeat.
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