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Active steering revelation, courtesy of B.Barnes

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've been lurking here for a while now, and wanted to share a revelatory experience that I had this morning. First, a little background.

I first started skiing last season in Colorado, just before Thanksgiving 2003. I took three 2-1/2-hour group lessons at Loveland, and fell in love with it. Then I skied almost every weekend I had available (totalled about 35-40 days for the season). I cut out the wedges and quickly moved from green to blue runs. Did blues all over Summit County -- Copper, A-Basin, Breckenridge, Keystone, Mary Jane -- no problem on any of the groomed blues. But then I realized (after spending much time on EpicSki) that while I was able to do the blues, I was not carving at all, but skidding 100% of my turns. After reading up more on EpicSki, I started concentrating on carving, completing the turns, etc., to the extent that by the end of the season, I was able to carve most of my turns, most of the time.

However, in addition to still some skidding on my left turns, one thing I could not do is make tight, short-radius turns. Another way to say it is that I could not really control my turns. While I was getting high edge angles and carving, I felt that my skis were dictating the turns. While I could vary the amount of edging and somewhat control my turn, I still didn't feel completely in control.

So when I turned up at Loveland this past Friday and met Bob Barnes, I was able to ask him about my turns, about how I could make tighter turns. After watching me ski, Bob saw two things: (1) I was getting in the backseat after my right turns, resulting in a skidded left turn and (2) that I lacked inside leg steering. After doing some runs keeping a focus on keeping the body over my feet, both he and Rusty Guy suggested that I do the "1000 steps" drill. Bob spent several runs doing "1000 steps", and eventually moving to "2000 steps" and "4000 steps" drills at the bottom of Home Run. Just making turns using the inside leg to steer, creating a "V" shape with my skis (tails close, tips apart). While I could do the drills, I couldn't translate it into my "real" skiing.

Well, I went to Loveland this morning, and after the first run, something just clicked. At the apex of the turn, I simply moved my inside leg up/into the mountain -- and suddenly I whipped around the turn. It finally felt like I was able to command my skis to go where I wanted them to. The more I moved my inside ski up/into the mountain, the tighter the turn. I was able to make tight, controlled turns the way I had never done by simple edging. Since I was trying to translate the "1000 steps" drill into my turns, I was creating a slight "V" shape at each turn as I moved my inside ski up (which BB assures me should go away as I get better!).

It felt like my outside leg was basically the "standing"/carving leg, while the inside leg was the steering one. It was a feeling of breakthrough -- I finally had something in my "arsenal" that I could use to conquer harder trails. I subsequently sought out the steeper parts of the only two open blue runs (Spillway and Richard's Run), and where previously my carving had given way to skidding, I was able to control my turns and carve across the slope using my inside leg steering.

One thing I did notice is that whenever I got lazy and did not keep my body over my feet (i.e. moved into the backseat), I was completely unable to do the inside leg steering -- I ended up with a skidded turn and attempting to do the inside-leg steering produced a wedge.

Just wanted to share my experience, and give kudos to B.Barnes for the breakthrough I feel I've achieved. I may not have gotten all the semantics and wording right in my description, but I can tell you, my skiing feels great, I feel like I am in 100% control of my turns, and cannot wait to tackle the harder terrain!

Btw, did anyone see the skier at Loveland today who was skiing on only one ski because he'd forgotten his other boot? Just like in "Better Off Dead"!
post #2 of 11
This kind of account is great for a number of reasons, but what I got out of it was how you received the instruction you got, and the effect it had on you. We can observe people learning, and hear their comments, but this kind of thought-out account is invaluable to me, at any rate.

I love 1000 steps, it does so many things. I've even used it on wobbly beginners with specific issues ...sometimes using shuffles instead of steps...one of my all-time favourite exercises.
post #3 of 11
Faisasy, congratulations. And you wrote about this so well I felt like I was getting to have a breakthrough too. Appreciate your taking the time to share this.

Have a great season - sounds like you're definitely on the right track(s).
post #4 of 11
Sounds great faisay! How lucky could you be to meet up with a trainer/examiner and a L3 together for a day? Keep up the good work, with Bob you're working with the best.
post #5 of 11
I must say, Faisasy, it was a pleasure meeting you and skiing with you! You are living proof of how accomplished a skier can become in a very short time!

You are the kind of "good student" that I referred to in my reply to the thread, What have you got to teach me? The kind who is both fun and gratifying to ski with, who asks good questions, but takes responsibility for his own learning, willing to try things without question, but unwilling to accept anything purely on faith! I like that, and I thank you for playing!

The concepts we played with are not easy, simple, or obvious. While they are not subtle movements, they can be quite difficult to see. Indeed, as I said, it is a tribute to your progress that you are working on some very dynamic, high-level things already, after only a season of skiing!

As is often the case, the real breakthrough does not come immediately when you start to play with a new move. You worked hard on Friday, and the results came on Sunday. Keep at it--as I often remind people, learning BEGINS when you've got it right!

Congratulations on your success at incorporating some profound changes in your skiing so quickly! I look forward to even more breakthroughs through the season.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #6 of 11

I feel obliged to make mention of two things.

First, you sir, are a very, very good skier. You have progressed very far, for having started skiing recently.

Second, I was a little hesitant to mention 1000 steps to you and Bob. It is a little bit akin to penicillin. It is a wonderful medicine, however, oft over prescribed.

It was a pleasure meeting you and skiing with you.
post #7 of 11
I've become familair with the "1000 steps" drill over the years, but what are the "2000" and "4000 steps" variations? Is it just an increase in how fast you're stepping from foot to foot?
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
In 2000 steps, you're taking twice as many steps to make the same movements; in 4000 steps, four times as many. The idea is to start with the large, discrete steps (1000 steps) and work up to smoothing the movement (4000, 8000 steps). "Proper" inside-leg steering is essentially an "infinite" step movement.
post #9 of 11
Applied calculus on skis! I couldn't have described it better, Faisasy!

Best regards,
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado
I couldn't have described it better, Faisasy!
I can't take the credit, Bob, since those were pretty much your words to me on Friday.

I should perhaps mention that your explanation of how we could go from 1000 to 2000 to 4000 to infinite steps = active steering, really made me link the drills to what I was trying to do on my runs. Just doing the 1000 steps had me thinking, "How can I translate this into real turns? These are big movements, and I cannot really do these on actual turns." But when you broke it down further, I was able to see and physically feel the difference, and a light went on, about how the 2000, 4000, infinite steps would lead me to active steering in my real turns.

So for me, just the 1000 steps wasn't enough -- it was the progression of 1000 -> 2000 -> 4000 -> infinite that made the breakthrough.
post #11 of 11
I missed this yesterday, but now I have to thank faisasy for these notes and BB for his V vs A description in the "1000 steps thread", because this is almost exactly my main goal for the upcoming ski year -- figuring out how to tighten the radius of a turn without skidding. You really explained the progression beautifully, faisasy, and I'm going crazy thinking it will be more than 1.5 months before I can try this out!
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