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Skiing speed while learning

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
An unrelated comment - I've just started season (my second one) with new own gear (after renting) and found out that gear makes HUGE difference. At my level, the biggest improvement came from boots - in new, carefully chosen boots I felt "connected" to my skis for the first time.

Ok, going back to my question. This is my second season of skiing, and I already can do most of technical elements, but not in all conditions and all speeds. Generally, I can ski any green slope, most blues and well-groomed blacks. I ski mostly on harder greens and easier blues to give myself a comfortable environment for perfecting technique.

One thing that I noticed is that I feel much more comfortable at slightly higher speeds, when higher forces let me load skies more and feel blance better. It is just much more difficult to cut a stable carved turn at a really low speed. However, at higher speeds I sometimes do not have 100% control over the situation. For example, yesterday I was skiing on a really crowded hill, and I had to fall intentionally 4 or 5 times when I was not 100% sure that I could make a proper turn to avoid hitting an unexpected obstacle (usually a fallen or sitting snowboarder). In all cases I probably could have made a correct turn, but I just did not want to take a chance...

So should I slow down to keep everything ALWAYS under control or is falling (actually something like extreme hockey breaking with sitting onto my butt at the end) normal for beginners?

Later I noticed that such falls are really bad for my gear - my pants had multiple cuts from ski edges, and my skis and boots had several very deep (over 1 mil.) scratches. Is there a way to reduce gear damage?

Thanks.
post #2 of 20
Just learn how to do that hockey stop in all conditions without falling.
post #3 of 20
Speed has a tendency to hide any shortcomings in your technique. Those who ski best are those who can ski well slowly.
post #4 of 20
^
Incredibly true.

I can't count the number of times I've watched J3s and J4s go by at speed, making the same mindless halfhearted GS turn again and again. My coaches used to give us hell for that.
post #5 of 20
mdb,
Generally when working on either new movements or refinment, go to easier terrain and/or slower speeds. The goal would be to allow yourself to be comfortable in a perceptual/awareness mode Vs. forced into a habitual mode. Use steeper terrain or higher energy (speed) to challenge your adaptability of skills you have already built a solid foundation for.
post #6 of 20
Speed helps. It works with momentum and fluidity.

Bumps especially. Once you let yourself go inthe bumps and are able to ski them (zipperline) with some speed, you will see your bump skiing move to the next level.
post #7 of 20
If you are having trouble at slower speeds, you might be having trouble with your balance. For instance if you are forcing faster turns at higher speeds, you aren't holding your balance over that stance ski for as long and may not be getting into a good balanced stance on the outside ski. By speeding up, you might be masking this problem by starting a new turn when your balance falls back to the inside ski.

At a slower speeds if you notice you are wobbling or falling back on that inside foot, correct the problem here and you will see your skiing get more solid as the speeds increase. Try working on this one footed balance by lifting one ski off the ground on easy green terrain and holding it as long as you can, move it around in the air a bit. Make patient, LONG, natural turns and while doing so lift your inside ski off the ground just the slightest bit to make sure you aren't standing on it. Don't force the turns to complete, just get your weight and balance on the new outside ski, slightly lift your inside ski off the snow and tilt it onto its little-toe edge and ride the ski as it makes a long smooth turn to completion. If this is very difficult for you to do, or if simply balancing on one foot is difficult to do, you should seriously look into getting your alignment checked.
post #8 of 20
I spent the better part of a day, on a green run that nobody was on, just turning around.
Ski backwards awhile (at a reasonable speed) and return.
Repeat.
Head straight down a fall line, & do an emerg. stop. Repeat.
The balance & confidence you gain by doing drills, even
if you sacrifice a day, can be rewardng.
post #9 of 20
Reading this post made me cringe. It sounds like a great way to pop an ACL.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
Reading this post made me cringe. It sounds like a great way to pop an ACL.
What? Skiing backwards and spinning around? Done properly, this is not a stressful thing for your ACL. Done improperly, sure could be.

Or are you talking about the concept of skiing faster because it makes the poster feel more controlled? Cause that one made me cringe too.
post #11 of 20
no....... the suddenly falling to avoid running into someone. I assume the skis are turned and the fall takes the com back below the knees.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
no....... the suddenly falling to avoid running into someone. I assume the skis are turned and the fall takes the com back below the knees.
Ah yes, that isn't going to be good, it's a dangerous habit to get into.
-Garrett
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdb
However, at higher speeds I sometimes do not have 100% control over the situation. For example, yesterday I was skiing on a really crowded hill, and I had to fall intentionally 4 or 5 times when I was not 100% sure that I could make a proper turn to avoid hitting an unexpected obstacle (usually a fallen or sitting snowboarder).
First I commend you for sacrificing yourself instead of the skiers or boarders in front of you. However, if you're "bailing" more than once a decade, you're skiing too fast for conditions (i.e. snow conditions, your ability, trail crowding, or any combination thereof) . My recommendation is that you strive to ski at a speed that allows you to always feel comfortable you can avoid obstacles (inanimate or not) without taking a dive. You can control your speed by varying your turn size and shape. Keep 'em "round".

My personal preference if you decide to work on "lift the inside ski" exercises is to lift the tail of the ski and leave the tip sliding on the snow. If the tips never leave the snow, you know you're forward in your stance. Too often people lift from the tip and get into the back seat.

...the heck with your equipment.. for your safety (and others), please don't ski in a way that requires you to take dives.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
I got the general idea - I guess I should slow down a bit.

The biggest problem with low speed is that I cannot arc a ski even when standing completely on one leg. I am just 138 lb now, and I need some outcentering force to help be bend my skis. Also, I do fall on my inside ski at very slow speeds sometimes, and I am working on that - making turns stadning on one ski does help a lot.

BTW, I did all exercises mentioneed above amost every day I was skiing. In fact, I do drill exercises for 6 hours every skiing day and then test my skills and just have fun for 1.5 hours, and then I spend 1-1.5 hours analysing my skiing at home, and I do some balance exrecises at home as well (e.g. stading on my head and/or arms, and standing one leg with eyes closed and glasses of water on my palms). It was a surprise to me to hear that I should "waste" a day by doing exercises - for me a wasted day is a day without any noticeable improvement in my skiing.

I do not see the hochkey braking with a sit-down at the end (because I brake at body angle lower than 30 degrees to the hill and cannot stand up after I stop) as a big sacrifice. I never even had a bruise after that - it just kills my pants and boots and I may look stupid sitting on my butt. Also popping an ACL is definitely not a possibility here - if a weight is evenly distributed between legs, I would need a negative accelleration of well over 6G to pop it, which is not nearly possible unless both of my skis hit something and stop still at the first moment of braking.

Still, I guess slowing down is the right thing to do here since I do not want to make this brake-and-fall thing into a subconscious habbit.

Thanks everybody.
post #15 of 20
Here's one way to tear an ACL:

PROFILE OF THE PHANTOM FOOT ACL

* Uphill arm back.

* Skier off-balance to the rear.

* Hips below the knees.

* Uphill ski unweighted.

* Weight on the inside edge of downhill ski tail.

* Upper body generally facing downhill ski.

According to the Vermont Safety people (http://www.vermontskisafety.com/faq_...iers_tips.html), if ALL of the above elements are present, and ACL injury is imminent. If you're doing hockey stops to butt checks, some of the above factors will be present every time (hips below the knees and weight on the inside edge of the downhill ski), and the rest are likely to occur depending on the situation. A hockey stop that ends with a fall is a really good way to put yourself at risk.

This is why the ACL comment was made.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Oh no, after several years of near-pro powerlifting experience I am not that dumb to bend my knees sharper than about 80-85 degrees under high load (about the position when hips become parallel to the floor during a properly done squat) and my body "knows" this angle really well after years of training - I usually com to complete stop before it. However, I do agree that if everything in the list is present, the injury is highly probable even for a well-trained athelete.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdb
The biggest problem with low speed is that I cannot arc a ski even when standing completely on one leg. I am just 138 lb now, and I need some outcentering force to help be bend my skis.
Don't really need to bend the ski if you're on "shaped skis". For proof...

Find a slope with a pitch that you feel fairly comfortable on... a little challenging, but not one you fear. From a dead stop at the side of the trail, start off across the slope at a 45 degree angle. Just a slow traverse. Roll your knees into the hill slightly so the skis "lock" on the inside edges. Don't let the tail skid out. If you do it right, you'll see perfect railroad tracks across the hill. (If it's easier only lock the downhill ski at first.) Now, watch your skis make a major curve and start turning right back up the hill until you stop.

Get the hang of that and you're well on your way to strongly carved turns. Putting your skis on higher edge in the lower half of your turn will help round out your turns and keep you moving forward. From there it is just a matter of getting on high edge in the top part of the turn. (Easier said than done! )

Good luck!
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by medmarkco
Don't really need to bend the ski if you're on "shaped skis". For proof...
Since this is the forum of intensely technical commentary, I can't let this one slip by.

The whole point of shaped skis is to make it easier to bend the ski, even more so than one needed to bend a ski in the old days.

The manuever you describe is all about using body weight to bend the downhill ski into a beautiful arc that you will transcribe onto the mountain.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiingman
Since this is the forum of intensely technical commentary, I can't let this one slip by.

The whole point of shaped skis is to make it easier to bend the ski, even more so than one needed to bend a ski in the old days.

The manuever you describe is all about using body weight to bend the downhill ski into a beautiful arc that you will transcribe onto the mountain.
You're right.. my bad. I thought about that as I was hitting the send key. Should have put "bend" in quotation marks.

What I should have said is that one doesn't need the brute strength and finesse (oxymoron?) of Bode to pressure the ski into submission and get the arc you want. The weight of a small monkey will decamber a ski and get it to arc if on edge. Not really "advanced bending", but it is bending none the less.

That said, it is very common to find solidly intermediate skiers who have great difficulty scribing railroad tracks across the hill from a dead stop. If a person can't put a ski on high edge from a dead stop, it probably isn't happening in linked turns.

Putting a ski on high edge (shaped or not) has always been second nature to me, so I struggle a bit when trying to coax this out of people. I think I learned it as a kid (7-8) when the first thing I did was head to the steepest slopes I could find once I got my skis under me. I shouldn't have been there, but survival on Cats Meow and Avalanche at Loveland (mid 1960's) meant "setting a hard edge". I couldn't get my parents on these slopes with me, so I was truly on my own. I remember being scared to death, but loved the challenge. However, I don't recall "crashing out" a stop to slow down or avoid obstacles. (I did fall plenty of times though!) If someone can't get the "railroad traverse" down, side slip exercises with hard edge sets generally builds the movements needed.

I found it amazing when shaped skis first entered the rental fleet and we weren't focusing on edging- it was all about rotary then. Using a flat ski to turn used none of the advantages of the new design. I suggested that we try to focus more on edging (remember "berping"? ) with wedge turns than rotary and got the wrath of the Director for being a PSIA "renegade". On the hill it was great watching the smile come to people's face as they experienced the ski "turning for them"... Director be damned.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdb
It was a surprise to me to hear that I should "waste" a day by doing exercises - for me a wasted day is a day without any noticeable improvement in my skiing.
.
OK - words of wisdom from a skiing improvment junkie......

GIVE IT UP.....

If your ulitmate goal is to improve you skiing LONG TERM you must let go of "a wasted day is a day without any noticeable improvement in my skiing." this bit......

Sometimes to ultimately improve you need to go back a step or two.... besdies how do you tell what is "improvement"? (you did not mention lessons in the 6 hours of practice) a CHANGE to your skiing will always feel "BAD" because it is NEW/DIFFERENT to what your body understands...
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