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Help needed on Level II Issues

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I am a 7th-year Level I actively working toward taking the PSIA Level II Skiing exam next season. The good news is that my weakness is clear: multiple examiners, coaches, DCLs, etc, have told me that I lack transition smoothness. Simply put, I have too much rotation and too much "Z" at the top of my turns. Obviously, I understand this intellectually and biomechanically, and can, in fact, even execute pretty well when I really try. The bad news is that old-time, herky-jerky, edge set movements creep back into my skiing, especially under stress of steepness, bumps, or (I fear) the eagle eye of an examiner. I am making pretty good progress on releasing earlier, quieting my upper body, reducing counter, keeping my CM moving down the hill, etc, but need more work. Anybody out there have ideas and/or experience on getting this stuff dialed in? Thanks, all.
post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeB
I am a 7th-year Level I actively working toward taking the PSIA Level II Skiing exam next season. The good news is that my weakness is clear: multiple examiners, coaches, DCLs, etc, have told me that I lack transition smoothness. Simply put, I have too much rotation and too much "Z" at the top of my turns. Obviously, I understand this intellectually and biomechanically, and can, in fact, even execute pretty well when I really try. The bad news is that old-time, herky-jerky, edge set movements creep back into my skiing, especially under stress of steepness, bumps, or (I fear) the eagle eye of an examiner. I am making pretty good progress on releasing earlier, quieting my upper body, reducing counter, keeping my CM moving down the hill, etc, but need more work. Anybody out there have ideas and/or experience on getting this stuff dialed in? Thanks, all.
I am huge proponent of video. Then you can actually see what you are doing and go from there.
post #3 of 25
well, since Joe already knows what his issues are, video may not be the best thing, although it will at a minimum give you a visual representation of how you are skiing. What I would do is work some people (preferably highly respected instructors/trainers/Level III or above PSIA's) to match your actions and words. I'd be willing to bet that when you teach you are not teaching people to ski the same way you are. This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while and seems to be very common, but can be a very hard habit to break.

BTW, all of your practicve should also be done at an extremely slow pace. If you're doing it right, it'll work, if not, you'll know.
post #4 of 25
Try some pivot turns, and gradually work them into steeper terain. It's a great excercise for transition . Remember to keep pressure in the shin and follow our latest model. ( Ski in the future, not in the past)
post #5 of 25
I would try leapers. No rotary. Hop, tip to new edge and land. Then let the turn happen. Less pivot and more big toe to little toe roll.

Or try this mantra.

Tip. Touch. Turn. (thanks Ric)
Tip the skis first, then reach down the hill and touch, then let the turn happen. Too often we reach down the hill and touch before the skis start to tip. this throwing yourself down the hill for a pole touch will sometimes force the hips to move up the hill and get you locked in. then as the skis travel across the fall line, you have to pivot them to get them going in the right direction otherwise you fall over. by tipping first, then touching, you will be on a new edge sooner. the skis will start to hook up and you won't have to pivot them to bring them around so quickly.
post #6 of 25
By the way if you get a chance to look back at your tracks your leapers should follow the same direction. There should not be any "displacement" left or right (other than the width of your skis. Old edge to new edge) and there should be very little if any turn shape in your leap..
post #7 of 25
post #8 of 25
Joe,

Video will at least be interesting to serve as a starting point reference to compare future progress against. You may also find the root cause of your Z turns. Hint - start at the beginning of the turn and find which body part(s) move first. Although you already know what "your problem" is, since multiple examiners, et. al. have been unable to fix it, video MAY give you your breakthrough. Not likely, but worth the try anyway. If you do get yourself taped, consider posting a copy here for the vultures to pick over.

One interesting approach to teaching is that you can not teach by simply taking something (e.g. excess rotation) away. You need to replace it with something else. Do you know what you need to replace your rotation with?

Check out this thread about Z turning. There's good stuff in there.

From what you've described, it sounds like you need to "own" the movements on the groomers before trying to get them working in bumps and steeps. The good news is there are tons of exercises that can help. The bad news is that there are tons of exercises that can help. The really bad news is that you either have to pick through the list for yourself, or pick a coach to pick for you. The trick is finding time to do this stuff to dial it in. 5 day clinics like National Academy or Pro Jam can do wonders. Since you're in Mass., dedicating a weeknight for doing drills is another alternative. Don't overlook the opportunity for teaching to help your own skiing too. When doing wedge and christy demos, focus on the slight movement of the center of mass and rounding out the tops of your turns.

With regards to drills, here are 3 of my favorites for what you've described:
1) Bamboo turns - ditch the poles & carry bamboo across your shoulders; keep the boo level to the slope pitch at all times.
2) Ten toes (aka take some vertical with that turn) - focus on getting all ten toes pointed in the fall line during your turn; kill extra speed by finishing turns going uphill.
3) Snowblades - EXTREME edge angles please. If your tips wobble, go on a higher edge. Go fast. Dig trenches (i.e pure carves). Rip your turns so that you scare the tourists.

If you want more exercises (although you're likely to get way too many just from this thread), you can check out some of my clinic notes from the 2003 National Academy and the 2004 Snow Pro Jam. Here's my main clinic note page.


Have Fun!
post #9 of 25
Joe, try this excerise for smoother engagement of your ski.


Ken
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy
Joe, try this excerise for smoother engagement of your ski.


Ken

Ken,

Are you trying to get him to fail his exam? That's what will happen if he does that in his Level II....

L
post #11 of 25
L,

The Phantom Move will help one stop making Z turns. It appears to be that, as an exercise, it's not that much different than a javelin turn. Obviously one would not ski that way demonstraing a parallel turn in a PSIA exam.

However, I think it would be a cool teaching exercise in an exam. I skied yesterday with a guy who is on the PSIA-E examiner training squad (ETS) who had no knowledge of Harald Harb or the Phantom Move. I know most of our staff does not what the Phantom Move is. I know that after 3 years of trying, I still can't confidently say that I know what it is. Well, maybe after viewing this web exercise I can. But I'm still not sure about that "Super" Phatom Move....
post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
SnowEater, sorry to be dumb, but when you use the term "pivot-turn," are you referring to a flattening of the skis at the bottom of the old turn followed by a partial pivot slip over to the other set of edges? If so, in order to stop the slip, wouldn't that result in an old-fashioned edge set? Am I way off base here?

TheRusty, thanks for the endorsement of Pro-Jam. I have inked it into the September page of my 2005 calendar. I was 90% committed to doing it, and, based on what I have seen of your posts on this site, you have bumped that up to 98%. A couple of questions regarding your post: (1) When, referring to the value of doing wedge christies, you emphasize "slight" movement of my CM, do you mean to imply that my current overrotation may be associated with too sudden a lateral CM shift at the top of the turn? (2) is it the point of the "10 toes" exercise to get more comfortable with the fall line accel that is inevitable in a more measured transition, and thereby eliminate that little "Z" that creeps in for speed management in the first 1/3 of the turn? and (3) regarding the snowblades exercise, would I get more less the same value out of it if I used, say, 130 skis?

Also, thanks for the reference link into the Z turn thread. One recommendation there is to do some modest uphill christies. If I understand the purpose of this advice, it is to dump speed before transition in order to slow down the edge change process, thereby allowing a focus of attention on tipping and subtle CM change---am I right?

Ishull, with respect to Ken's advice on the PTSM maneuver of tipping the free ski, do you just mean that it would be a bad idea to let it show on the LII exam? If so, I agree; but would you disagree that, as a change mechanism for me to improve transition, it is nevertheless a good exercise? The reason I ask is that I think I have gotten some benefit out of it in recent skiing.

Dchan, thanks for the reminder to get my CM down the hill by reaching right after tipping. As for leapers, I may give it a try, but I may be more comfortable with working up to that exercise after dialing in some of the other stuff first.

Thanks, all, for the ideas. It's a big help. You guys are real pros.
post #13 of 25
JoeB, It sounds to me like you are rushing the initiation of the turn. I recommend you focus on cleanly releasing the outside ski and using gravity to assist initiation. An exercise called Patience Turns may be of help. Simply release the old turn and wait for gravity to pull your ski tips into the fall line, then engage edges and finish the turn.

I also liked the exercise someone here promoted called Box Turns.
Quote:
Z's are often the result of the skiers being uncomfortable with pointing their skis straight down the fall line. One nifty exercise is what we call "box turns". Seriously under-terrain them when you have them first try this, and then gradually move them to higher terrain.

Have them imagine the skiers are bumper cars and they are going down a corridor with high walls on both sides. Have them ski within the corridor with only one rule: when the bumper cars reach a side wall, they have to travel straight down along the wall for 2 ski lengths before they turn in. As soon as they turn in, they get ready to hit the other wall and travel down that other wall for another 2 ski lengths.

This imagery seems to have an instantenous effect in rounding out turns, and move their focus from the top and bottom of turns to the apex of the turns. Plus the imagery builds confidence that they won't reach scary warp speed by spending time in the fall line. It also has a tendency to do other good things: it tends to slow down the top 1/3 of the turns, and it also tends to shorten the bottom 1/3 of the turns - the end result is you change the shape from a "Z" into something quite the opposite.

When they are getting the hang of it, work on their entry and on their exit from the "along the wall" phase smoother.
post #14 of 25
Joe,

You're most welcome. If you're planning to go to Pro Jam, it is most critical to get your application in the mail on day 1 of the entry period. Although the event fills up fast, every application with a day 1 postmark has gotten in. Last year I heard that day 3 postmarks started on the wait list.

Quote:
(1) When, referring to the value of doing wedge christies, you emphasize "slight" movement of my CM, do you mean to imply that my current overrotation may be associated with too sudden a lateral CM shift at the top of the turn?
No implication. There's a cool point in a real slow speed wedge christy where you can feel the inside ski go flat as a result of the cm shift. At that point you can either turn the ski through rotation or edging. The point of this exercise is to be able to do and feel the difference. Z turners (not necessarily you) tend to overrotate and change edges abruptly. This exercise can let you practice smoother edge changes.

Quote:
(2) is it the point of the "10 toes" exercise to get more comfortable with the fall line accel that is inevitable in a more measured transition, and thereby eliminate that little "Z" that creeps in for speed management in the first 1/3 of the turn?
10 toes can get you more comfortable, but for most people in PSIA clinics, they can already handle the speed. It's just that normally they "just" make their turns sharper. The 10 toes instruction is to "just" make your turns with more time in the fall line. When comfort is the issue, I'll usually do other exercises to build trust in the bottom of the turn first, before we turn on the gas in the middle of the turn. Otherwise, 10 toes is a wonderful "just do it" "minimal amount of talking and explaining" way to fix Z turns.

Quote:
(3) regarding the snowblades exercise, would I get more less the same value out of it if I used, say, 130 skis?
Less. One of the benefits of blades is that they are so different. Fore/aft balance issues are scary (i.e. there's a ton of feedback from the blades). Think of blades as 130 cm skis on steroids. That said, I love 130 cm skis too. If you've got access to 130 cm skis, try doing one foot short and foot long. Get used to it, then switch feet.

Quote:
modest uphill christies. If I understand the purpose of this advice, it is to dump speed before transition in order to slow down the edge change process, thereby allowing a focus of attention on tipping and subtle CM change---am I right?
From my point of view, yup - the key part being where the focus is. One of the biggest problems of intermediates, low advanced is not rounding out the top of the turn. Although you don't have to be turning uphill in the finish portion of the prior turn to round out the top of the next, it sure helps.
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Nolo; I had some intro to Patience turns at my last event (Level II practice exam couple weeks ago at Okemo) and I have got them on my practice list.

TheRusty, thanks for the feedback clarifiers. I will put all that stuff to work. Also, I appreciate the heads-up on prompt ProJam registration. Pretty clear evidence on the event's popularity.

Joe
post #16 of 25
TheRusty: A chick/egg query: Do you move the CM to start a wedge christy, or do you start the turn by flattening the new inside ski, resulting in the CM movement? If you think of the CM as starting the turn, how do you get it moving?
post #17 of 25

Was that 6 shots, or was it 7?

Kneale,

I like Terry Barbour's concept of harmony. The cm and edge control movements happen simultaneously. That said, nobody has ever accused me of skiing like a D Teamer. I learn through the brute force method. I'll try thinking of anything/everything when I'm working on stuff. When I get to the point where I can stop thinking and it just happens - then if I'm lucky Terry would be happy. Otherwise I start all over again.

For the exercise, I don't really care if you think about rolling the ankle, tipping the knee, relaxing the leg or moving the hips as long as you end up at a moment in time where the inside ski is perfectly flat. From there, make some turns where the matching occurs primarily from rotary and more importantly, make some turns where active edging of the inside ski is the primary force that guides both skis to matching. The point of the exercise is to get a feel for how movement of the COM can help engage the new inside edge

When I think about wedge christy demos, I think about turning both ski tips as the starting move. For this exercise, I think about moving the hips. If you ask me, I also feel the inside leg relax, but you have to ask me. When I first felt this, I felt like a punk that got lucky (with apologies to Clint)
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
One interesting approach to teaching is that you can not teach by simply taking something (e.g. excess rotation) away. You need to replace it with something else. Do you what you need to replace your rotation?
You have skiied with Terry , haven't you? I heard that this year. Just thinking of things that could help JoeB had me thinking of some of the things I have seen Terry do. One thing that I liked and I like to use is to divide a slope (or a part of a slope) in half and make turns all the way across it, the trick is to make sure that you do your edge change at the 50-yard line.

I also think pivot slips with the pivot done S - L - O - W would help.
post #19 of 25
Find someone that can help you with the box turns. This is a fantastic exercise to help you. I was trying to find a way to explain them and the visuals of a drawing or watching it would make it so much easier. Nolo found one good way to explain it.

DC
post #20 of 25
a bit offtopic but is there a difference between CSIA or PSIA? like if i ahve my level one and so does he but i have it in CSIA, will i get the job beause i have csia or will he because he has psia? so really, is one recognized as a highre level of achievement?
post #21 of 25
Epic,

We had Terry down to our resort for a private in house clinic a couple of times. I don't think he did the 50 yard thing for my group, but I did do that exercise in one of my snowboard clinics!
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks, epic and Nolo on the box turns idea. I taught last night and had a brief opportunity to do a few Patience Turns. I had a mini "aha" moment when, after allowing the skis to "drift" into the fall line and placing them over on the other edges, I found my skis (duh) turning on sidecut alone, with practically zero rotation. Of course, this was on a moderate blue slope.

Seems to me that it might be a good idea to merge the two exercises, no?

JoeB
post #23 of 25
the two exercises you are talking about would be great for you to combine.

Great to hear you are making progress.
post #24 of 25
Good on ya, JoeB.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Nolo, and Dchan: I'm on my way; thanks a bunch, guys.
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