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Skiing Steep Hard Pack - Page 2

post #31 of 57

whtmt

Tibetan Tree Frog: A couple of thoughts come to mind. First and foremost is stance. A functionally open stance that is. The steeper the terrain and the harder the surface, then you need a solid stance under you that will allow you to gain a high edge angle with delicate finesse, not an abrupt harsh movement. The more open your stance, the more hip angulation you can obtain. If you slip you will still have a base of support to work against without falling.

The second thing that comes to mind is that pressure management is very important. As the skis move through the turn you will build strong forces in both skis toward the middle and through the bottom of the turn. If you notice that the outside ski begins to chatter somewhat, then you have held onto the turn too long and with too high an edge angle. What you should do is to begin releasing into the next turn sooner, avoiding the chatter and to go with the flow from the previous turn. Speed will be decreased by skiing further around the corner until speed is dumped and you can release into the new turn with a smooth fluid motion, which should not have been changed from what you're accustomed to on shallower pitched slopes.

Third is that tense muscles equal fear, which equals stiff legs and abrupt movements. This type of skiing spells disaster on frozen steeps. Try to force yourself to keep breathing rhymically and don't stop. Try to make yourself relax your joints, so that you're smooth in edge release and re-engagement, not stiff and harsh. You will find that you can ski longer and with less fatique then if you're stiff and winded. Good luck with it all.

whtmt & Mankenzie 911
post #32 of 57
I had similar issue with speed control and a friend of mine who is a great skiier gave me a very simple piece of advice. Keep your body facing directly down the fall line. It is that simple. Commit your body downhill and then focus on keeping your upper body pointed directly down the fall line. Magical things will soon happen with your legs. This simple piece of advice transformed my skiing.

Doing this seems to naturally result in good edging and as a result good speed control. It took a leap of faith to actually do this the first couple of times but it worked wonders. Almost immediately I was skiing steep runs with confidence, runs that had previously had me sweating bullets.

I would love for someone knowledgeable to comment on this because I haven't read much about it and seems like an incredibly simple and effective method for mastering steep groomed runs.
post #33 of 57
TTF,

What I think about when skiing steep, firm slopes, is making sure that the skis are moving as much forward (as opposed to sideways) as humanly possible at the turn transition. Then, make sure that I release with the (at the time) downhill leg to let my CM move across the skis, but also making sure that you don't move to laterally. If you move to laterally, you'll be forced to displace the tails of the skis to keep your balance. Also, if you move up and over by pressuring the new turning ski (uphill ski at the time), as opposed to releasing from the old turning ski (downhill ski), you will be too light on your feet at the start of the turn, which means you won't be able to pressure the skis at the top of the turn, and all of the force will build up at the bottom, forcing the skis to skid sideways as opposed to being able to move forward. This would get you into a cycle of skidded, braking turns, in which case your CM will be traving much more down the hill as opposed to being able to move across it.
post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clayton
I had similar issue with speed control and a friend of mine who is a great skiier gave me a very simple piece of advice. Keep your body facing directly down the fall line. It is that simple. Commit your body downhill and then focus on keeping your upper body pointed directly down the fall line. Magical things will soon happen with your legs. This simple piece of advice transformed my skiing.

Doing this seems to naturally result in good edging and as a result good speed control. It took a leap of faith to actually do this the first couple of times but it worked wonders. Almost immediately I was skiing steep runs with confidence, runs that had previously had me sweating bullets.

I would love for someone knowledgeable to comment on this because I haven't read much about it and seems like an incredibly simple and effective method for mastering steep groomed runs.
I am not an instructor so I am sure they can comment better then me.

Personally I ski with my shoulders facing downhill on a steep slope when skiing at a slow or moderate speed and linking short to medium turns.

When you are carving a higher speed turn on a steep slope you can't really do this easily and you could possibly fall forward from catching an edge because your legs can't handle that much pressure all at once.

I still face down the hill but I am pointed more into my turn direction when skiing that fast.
post #35 of 57
Scalce,

That's absolutley the right thing to do. The smaller our turns the more we align down the hill, the bigger the turns, the more we align with the skis....

L
post #36 of 57
My 2 cents, take it for what it's worth.

I haven't really thought much about this before, but every post so far makes a lot of sense. I ski steeper terrain because I want to go faster. I also need to get going about 20 mph before I can flex both my skis. So I totally agree with speed control is easier when your going faster. It is easier, given that you skis are up to it, to keep going 40 mph than to keep going 20 mph.

From a purely emotional point of view, I learned early on it's a lot easier to ski steeps when you jump right in and stop fighting gravity. Above all don't get in the backseat! Keep your hands in front of you. Don't let your weight get on the back of your skis; either neutral or forward (I prefer forward to pressure my front edges to get the turn nicely started, and bring it back as the turn progresses). Trying to stop going down that hill is a way to get hurt imho (mind you so is skiing into that tree at the bottom of the shute because you couldn't make the turn). It's better to give your skis their head, and once your boogeying along make the turns that will keep you from pushing the envelope too far. Of course this requires that you are able to ski at higher speeds. I suggest you practice making fast turns on a blue run first. Get your speed up by shushing the first part of a safe hill and then make some turns. Bumps crud, boiler-plate corduroy are all very different at 40 mph than at 20. So, I am sure are your skis.


From an engineer's point of view. The more force you apply in a downward direction, the faster you will go. Carving strongly at the start of a turn would push you down hill, carving more strongly after you go through the fall line pushes you up the hill. The key is to be carving as strongly as possible after your skis go through the fall line. Pivoting into the down hill part of the turn and carving the second half of the turn also directs the greatest forces on your cm uphill.

Also from an engineer's point of view, the steeper the slope, the more gravity pulls you down the hill, and the less normal force you have available. You can not put as much pressure directing your edges into the hill because the normal component of the gravity force becomes less as the downhill component becomes greater...a double whammy. So, as has been said, you cannot carve as tight a turn on a steep slope as you can on a less steep slope. From Newtonian point of view, you can briefly apply force through body dynamics, an up and down motion with force applied to make the up motion during the bottom half of the turn, this up motion can be used as the unweighting to allow the first part of the pivoted turn. I haven't even tried this; "too fast" is an oxymoron to me, so I've never been concerned enough to try reducing my speed, but I've seen a few other people doing it. It is a pretty advanced skill if you ask me. I'll have to try it next time I'm out just for fun.
post #37 of 57
Thread Starter 
thanks for the great input.

I have heard this before about moving forward, not holding on to the turn too long and drivng the knees forwar. All of these help reduc skidding and chatt on steep ice, but don't help me control my speed. Perhaps I just need to get used to the speed on these icy steeps. I will try htese suggestions and get back, but it will be several days.
post #38 of 57
TTF, I'm not for great speed on a very steep hill. Just one turn cut short can get you out of control. I advocate the quick pivot into the fall line and gradual coming around after. How gradual is up to you. You gather speed going up to the fall line so get that over with quickly, and you lose speed as you come around from the fall line to across the hill. The grade of the slope does much of the edging for you in the second part of the turn.

Think of it this way from the very first turn. Drop in quickly and come around enough in your turn to come to a stop, only don't come to a complete stop but when you go slow enough start your other turn and think of coming around to a stop but don't etc...etc... never start your next turn until you are going a slow as you started the turn before...repeat...

Being of the old school, I prefer to think of skiing as myself, my body, me, being affected by gravity and the skis are pulled along because they are attached to my feet and I use them as a tool to deflect the path, the travel of my body, me, myself. Riding the skis which are affected by gravity and me,myself, my body trying to keep up with them has never worked.


....Ott
post #39 of 57
Ott,

As always, thanks for the thoughtful post. I think many folks resort to the "I'll just ski the steeps really fast" approach because they can't initiate the turn properly on steep slopes at slow speeds. Flaws in our skiing on easy blue and green terrain are magnified when the pitch turns upward. It isn't an easy thing to do, and is a great thing to work on.

With that being said, it can be really fun to bomb down a steep empty run ;-)

L
post #40 of 57

whtmt

Clayton: In reference to your question about why facing down the fall line worked so well for you and opened up some good ski mechancics, here's an explanation for some of it.

First, when you're chest, shoulders, and hips are facing your ski tips (ie-square to your skis), then you loose mechanical advantage to edge your skis. This occurs because you can't bend your joints at the knee sideways to get enough "knee angulation" to hold on steep slopes, due to the strong centrifigal forces causing your skis to slide out from under you. The edge angle you're able to develop is less than the edge angle you need for the terrain, slope angle, and hard surface. To get the mechanical advantage you need you must continue to face your upper body down the slope, or fall line, so that your inside arm, shoulder, hip, and inside knee / ski, continue to lead the turn. This develops a strong inside half, which is needed to gain the mechanical advantage of "hip angulation". Hip angulation allows you to not only bend your knee somewhat sideways, but it allows you to tip your skis to a higher ege angle, which inturn provides the ability to hold on the hard, steep surface throughout the turn and it allows you to be in a ready position for the next turn's initiation.

Second, a strong inside half assists in turning the skis into the fall line at the next turn, due to the twisting of the muscles in the torso and quadriceps, which develops torsional strength in those areas, which is synonymous with the stretching of a strong rubber band and upon the release of the edge grip provides an automatic twisting action of the skis back to where the torso is facing. So when you released your skis in this position, your skis automatically seeked the fall line and all you had to do was to continue steering them around the corner without moving your upper body, to get ready for the next turn.

Third, here's an exercise to try with a friend. First, place your skis in a traverse position across the fall line and stand there statically with your shoulders, chest, and hips square to your skis. Now, without changing your upper body position take your ski poles and put them together holding them with your outside hand out to your side, so your partner, with his/her skis facing across the slope in the same direction as your own and downhill from you, can now reach up and with both hands grab onto your poles. Now you need to try to tip your skis on an edge angle high enough to keep from slipping downhill.

Now do the exercise with your torso facing down the fall line with your inside arm, shoulder, hip, and knee leading the outside arm, shoulder, hip, and knee. Try to tip your skis on a higher edge angle to hold your partner below you when he/she pulls on your poles. You should find that you are in a much stronger position to hold your partner without losing the edge grip. The reason this works is that you have used the mechanical advantage you developed with "hip angulation" as opposed to just knee angulation. Anatomically you have placed your hip in a position that allows it to not let the femurs rotate to the outside of the turn and thereby provides the mechanical advantage. Try it and have fun on the steeps.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
post #41 of 57
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whtmt
Clayton: In reference to your question about why facing down the fall line worked so well for you and opened up some good ski mechancics, here's an explanation for some of it.

First, when you're chest, shoulders, and hips are facing your ski tips (ie-square to your skis), then you loose mechanical advantage to edge your skis. This occurs because you can't bend your joints at the knee sideways to get enough "knee angulation" to hold on steep slopes, due to the strong centrifigal forces causing your skis to slide out from under you. The edge angle you're able to develop is less than the edge angle you need for the terrain, slope angle, and hard surface. To get the mechanical advantage you need you must continue to face your upper body down the slope, or fall line, so that your inside arm, shoulder, hip, and inside knee / ski, continue to lead the turn. This develops a strong inside half, which is needed to gain the mechanical advantage of "hip angulation". Hip angulation allows you to not only bend your knee somewhat sideways, but it allows you to tip your skis to a higher ege angle, which inturn provides the ability to hold on the hard, steep surface throughout the turn and it allows you to be in a ready position for the next turn's initiation.
WHMT, appreciat the thoughts, but I think being square to your skis allows greater knee angulation, being counterd, faced down the hill, makes it more difficult to create angles at the knees. I belive facing down hill helps when making short turns, which is usually the case on steeps, because it helps with the sterring of your skis and certainly a strong inside half assists in this sterring.
post #42 of 57

whtmt

Clayton: My second reply was to explain the reason that facing down the hill at all times is mechanically stronger then being square to the skis as far as edge engagement is concerned. I was also describing how a medium radius turn with a cross over whether on steeps or any other terrain requires a strong inside half to develop higher edge angles.

In reference to your short radius turn, the upper body is always facing down the fall line provided you're moving down the fall line. If you're skiing short radius turns then you can't use much hip angulation at all, due to the quickness of the turn to turn movements. I would agree that knee angulation is the only way to go in that instance, but that was not your original question. I was explaining how the mechanical advantage for edge engagement connected to the upper body facing down the hill and why it works. I think that was the second part of your original question unless I have misunderstood what you had asked someone to explain.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
post #43 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost
I haven't really thought much about this before, but every post so far makes a lot of sense. I ski steeper terrain because I want to go faster. I also need to get going about 20 mph before I can flex both my skis. So I totally agree with speed control is easier when your going faster. It is easier, given that you skis are up to it, to keep going 40 mph than to keep going 20 mph.


..."too fast" is an oxymoron to me, so I've never been concerned enough to try reducing my speed, but I've seen a few other people doing it. It is a pretty advanced skill if you ask me. I'll have to try it next time I'm out just for fun.
I think if you never try to control your speed, you've probabley never skied anything steep.

BK
post #44 of 57
You could very well be right; I've only skied in bounds, and only at Mount Tremblant, Jay Peak, Owl's Head, Calabogie in the East and Forbiden Plateau and Mount Washington on Vancouver Island. However I've been all over these mountains, and have found with the exception of skiing bumps, all that is required to control my speed is not to try to increase it as hard.
post #45 of 57
I'm sorry to up this quite old thread but I did not want create a new one. This thread has been helpful to me in general, I consider myself an aggressive intermediate and after reading some of the suggestions here I've abandoned my fear-driven skidded turns and I try to stay as close to the fall line as possible when I ski anything roughly 35 degrees. After pointing that out, I still have to say the techniques discussed here are easier said than done.

I see 3 main obstacles I have trouble overcoming :

1) I'm not very fast edge-to-edge in my linked carved turns. Therefore my speed builds up after a few turns, causing me to move away from the fall line into something like a skidded carve.

2) I do not attempt extreme edge angles because I do not trust my skis enough ( or myself ). My skis are Blizzard carbon-woodcore slalom carvers, and although I'm happy and haven't had any issues with them, the knowledge that they have no metal sheet feeds my fear of the skis slipping from under me in extreme conditions.

3) This is the worst of all, if I see uneven terrain or end-of-day chop ahead of me, I sometimes break out of rhythm and wait till I reach smoother terrain before I initiate the turn. At that instant my speed has built up to the point where I feel the need for applying some breaks and chatter follows. That totally feels and looks uncool.

How do I overcome these sort of problems ?
post #46 of 57
I've had a little practice at this lately. I have found that the regular movements for carving (arcing) a turn (mostly tipping) work quite well for doing speed control turns provided you overload the tips at initiation and keep the ski overloaded through the turn. The skis are skidding the entire turn at a high edge angle scraping off a lot of speed, but it's a nice round turn, not a fish-hook or adding a hockey stop to the end of each turn.

Also slalom skis or other short radius skis were not really made to go at high speeds. You can use them to make turns at high speed and they may well get you where you want to go, but it's kind of like using a hammer to drive in wood screws instead of a screw driver. The turn radius the ski wants to turn at and the angle to which the skis are tipped will not match up to balance the g-forces of the turn because you cannot dial up a large enough turn radius when you are inclined properly for those g-forces.

Use skis that are suitable for the speeds your skiing. A longer heavier more stable ski with bigger turn radius will be a lot easier in cruddy conditions at speed. I realize that's a bit of pot calling the kettle black; I'm probably the most guilty in terms of pushing skis past their limits.
post #47 of 57
I cannot discuss the physics ( I did pass P 1&2 with As in College) but this I know. BIO: 600 foot hill in the East---I ski at night---the place is generally rock ice. I will do 40 runs in a 8 foot corridor all night.

High early edge into the fall line....from fall line to transition, get off the edges to prepare for next turn. Cross under move allows this to occur best. When done right---you can almost walk down the slope.

Problem: Committing to the early edge on a steep, icey slope.

Solution: Be crazy. Jump into the abyss.
post #48 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Also slalom skis or other short radius skis were not really made to go at high speeds. You can use them to make turns at high speed and they may well get you where you want to go, but it's kind of like using a hammer to drive in wood screws instead of a screw driver. The turn radius the ski wants to turn at and the angle to which the skis are tipped will not match up to balance the g-forces of the turn because you cannot dial up a large enough turn radius when you are inclined properly for those g-forces.
I think you have a point there. I was aware that slalom skis are no good at high speeds but I was only considering edge length and stability there.

Coming from a 190cm semi-parabolic ski where I always had to get to a somewhat high edge angle just to turn at my intended radius ( the reason I switched to a slalom carver ), I never really considered that on my new skis when I find myself at a high edge angle for balancing purposes in those steep runs I am actually forcing the skis to turn at a much tighter radius than I originally intended, maybe as low as 4m. That would significantly increase centripetal forces acting on the ski.

I just checked FIS rules and regulations, and apparently the maximum gradient allowed on an FIS slalom race course is 48%, correct me if I'm wrong but I think that equates to 21.6 degrees ! So maybe you are right, these planks are not designed for steeper terrain.
post #49 of 57
I won't go so far as saying they are not designed for steeper runs, but I do not believe they are designed to carve pure arcs at speeds over 30 mph. I'm not saying you won't be able to turn them at higher speeds, just they won't be carving a pure arc.

As to the steep runs, you have to remember that if you have a 30 degree slope, you already have the skis tipped to 30 degrees standing straight up when across the fall line, so you are likely dialing up a much tighter turn than the ski can deliver at speed.

FIS recently increased the minimum turn radius allowed in GS, apparently for safety reasons.
And from the common sense department, you don't see too many 13-m radius skis in speed events, do you?
post #50 of 57
What is steep? In steep hard snow I pivot around my pole plant. when I leave the turn to the next I spring out and around my pole plant to the next edge and so on untill the slop gets less steep so I can point em down the mountain and ski normaly. Youll find your inside edge is way uphill from your out side ski and the inside knee substantualy more bent than the out side leg. depending on steepness boot out can occure so be carfull. Last thing you want is to slide down a 70 or 90% grade! I usually stoke my self up for this get pumped and go!
post #51 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by I:)Skiing View Post
I cannot discuss the physics ( I did pass P 1&2 with As in College) but this I know. BIO: 600 foot hill in the East---I ski at night---the place is generally rock ice. I will do 40 runs in a 8 foot corridor all night.

High early edge into the fall line....from fall line to transition, get off the edges to prepare for next turn. Cross under move allows this to occur best. When done right---you can almost walk down the slope.

Problem: Committing to the early edge on a steep, icey slope.

Solution: Be crazy. Jump into the abyss.
By cross-under do you mean your feet cross under your center-of-mass during transition rather than angling your whole body ? And your upper body always faces downhill ?

If that is what you meant, I coincidentally happened to practice that this weekend for the first time ( on easier runs though ). It is really fun blasting down that way but it appears to me you really need a fine touch and a lot finesse to execute properly. I occasionaly found myself riding in the back seat because I couldn't always react fast enough against the g-forces during rapid edge transitions. I don't know what would happen if I did experience sharp rebound like that at a steeper run, so I haven't tried it there yet.

Is this a good method to control speed ? I found myself going faster that way.
post #52 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by whipper View Post
What is steep? In steep hard snow I pivot around my pole plant. when I leave the turn to the next I spring out and around my pole plant to the next edge and so on untill the slop gets less steep so I can point em down the mountain and ski normaly. Youll find your inside edge is way uphill from your out side ski and the inside knee substantualy more bent than the out side leg. depending on steepness boot out can occure so be carfull. Last thing you want is to slide down a 70 or 90% grade! I usually stoke my self up for this get pumped and go!
I never in my life experienced boot out without falling, it might be that I never actually skiied anything over a 70% grade ?!? My weight is 165 lbs, my DIN settings are 7; is that considered too low ?

As to pivoted turns, I picked up skiing 4 years ago after a long period of inactivity. Left to myself I ended up as a one trick "carving" pony, it somehow developed naturally. I really have no idea how to ski old school feet together pivoted turns, but I do plan learning someday, I realize its the only way to ski a steep narrow trail.
post #53 of 57
In pivoting I ment like a jump turn or what ever ya call it. You pole plant and use the pole as the pivot point to get around to your next turn. Its also a good way to check for the stability of the snow under foot. Requires more uper body strength. thats for real steep stuff. You kinda swing your way down around your poles lots of leg flex hopping turn to turn. Only the inside edge of the skis ever touches the snow or ice and your boots depending on steepness are close to the slope. Its not just for narrow shoots even real steep areas were your going to have to travers over and cant realy pick up to much speed before you exit. I used to practice this on little steep cliffs were the run or bottom was only 50ft away or so. That way if you slip or wipe out your not sliding down the mountain into a boulder field.:
post #54 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by whipper View Post
In pivoting I ment like a jump turn or what ever ya call it. You pole plant and use the pole as the pivot point to get around to your next turn. Its also a good way to check for the stability of the snow under foot. Requires more uper body strength. thats for real steep stuff. You kinda swing your way down around your poles lots of leg flex hopping turn to turn. Only the inside edge of the skis ever touches the snow or ice and your boots depending on steepness are close to the slope. Its not just for narrow shoots even real steep areas were your going to have to travers over and cant realy pick up to much speed before you exit. I used to practice this on little steep cliffs were the run or bottom was only 50ft away or so. That way if you slip or wipe out your not sliding down the mountain into a boulder field.:
Three things.

1). Doesn't really sound like a "hardpack" turn.

2). Sounds like an awfully lot of work. More work that I'm willing to bet many want to do on a regular basis.

3). How do you keep your skis from breaking free with all the energy you build while in the air when you reapply them to the snow?
post #55 of 57
1: steep 2:Yes 3} Sharp edges ooh that kinda a hard pack. No groomers getting near these slopes. I was just thinking 80+% grade hard wind packed snow or just not powder is hard pack. You have to be carfull of course because you die if loose an edge maybe. It totaly depends on the stability of the snow you have to test it.
post #56 of 57
Wakeup Call:
I was reading the posts above and thinking about my own technique on steep hardpack. Visualizing my best skiing, thinking about putting it into practice, remembering some good, tough runs I've had on one of the steeper, more technical chutes I tackle.

Then I remembered that someone died in a fall there just over a week ago. Wow. That really hits home. Stay safe, everyone.
post #57 of 57
sonny6 -
I didn't re-read this thread, so sorry if I am repeating. One key for hardpack verging on ice is that it is easier to maintain an edge than to establish one. Once you break loose and start skidding perpendicular to your edges, it is very difficult to get them to engage. If that happens, point 'em the direction you are going and then make the cleanest carve you are capable of. Complete your turn across or even up the hill as required to get to the speed you want.
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