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Help wanted again!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
It is me, JohnSki, again. I have this student in the group I am teaching to who can make skidded parallel turns (pretty much parallel). On long-medium radius turns her turning of the upper body was something we manage to control somehow, but when we began working on short radius turns the problem is really crippling her skiing. What would be a good progression to help her eliminate or, at least, reduce the problem, so that she can make a functional short turn? Thx
post #2 of 11
Johnski, do you think this is a case of reliance on the inside(uphill) ski to support her weight while using the outside/downhill ski more as a stabilizing outrigger. Does she have an inordinate fear of loosing control or fear of heights/speed? This issue can lead to symptoms you described, poor upper/lower body separation, and inability to move CM into a turn.
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
No fear at all.. She is quite comfortable following me down the steepest terrain. However, I noticed that on steeper terrain she tends to lean back a little (which she does not on less steep terrain).
I noticed, however, that she has problem using the edges in the following sense:

- I am asking her to start on a traverse aiming down the slope a little, gain some speed and then try to step up the hill while moving on her skis till she
comes to a complete stop.

- She can perform the steps, but I noticed that many times she cannot really keep the edges in place and the ski she is balancing on tends to slide down while she is trying to push against it to step up the hill.

- Result is a skier moving almost horizontally across the slope despite performing nice steps in the way they should be done.

So, yes, I'd say she has a problem using her edges, more the inside edge, and she is not good enough a skier yet to trust her outside edges besides static positions or stepping uphill at very moderate speeds.

I cannot easily detect a problem with her stance on skis. One would expect that there is one as she cannot use the edges properly, but there is no very clear bow-legged position to suspect it is the very reason she has trouble using the inside edges. Plus, it is more common in women to be knock-need which should actually favor the use of inside edges.

Her arms are in a proper position, I'd say that she holds the poles a little bit too high at times.

She really must lose the rotation of the upper body and she will be a very nice skier. She understands the concept of shaping turns, she has already some independence of legs. It is just those turns made with upper body rotation that put her in strange positions and could create problems when she will head to the Rockies and ski on real mountains. She is really close to make her breakthrough on skis and I would like for her to do that very much.

I would really like to be able to eliminate that problem in her so she will be able to enjoy her trip to Aspen.
post #4 of 11

For this problem description, the first thing I'd do is to check to make sure that her skis were not too stiff. If she can't bend them, she's not going to be able to make (s)carved short radius turns. Assuming that's not a problem, I'd go with this kind of 3 step approach.

Step 1: Feel the power of the edge
Start you and your student standing side by side with your skis parallel across the fall line, you downhill from your student. Ditch your poles. Have your student take her poles off and grab both together on the grips while extending the tips towards you for you to grab. Instruct her to try to resist you pulling her downhill. You should be easily able to pull her to the point where she steps to retain her balance, so just slowly add pressure so that you can easily move her upper body downhill no matter how hard she resists. Have her step her skis into a wider stance and add counter then try it again. There should be a noticeable increase in force required to move her. Have her notice the difference in edge angles. Then switch places with her and have her try to pull you downhill. You should be able to achieve a high enough edge angle to pull her uphill. Usually my skis get to about 80 degrees to the snow surface or about double my students edge angle. This helps students feel the holding power of higher edge angles.

Step 2 - Learn to create higher edge through ankle and knee movement
From the static position standing across the hill, show her how ankle, knee and hop movements can create higher edge angles. Have her practice. Do a series of traverses with an uphill turn to a stop created only by rolling the skis onto the uphill edge (caution - watch out for traffic on the trail). Don't stop until she leaves carved tracks. Gradually increase the angle of the traverse until you run out of slope width. Do a series of slide slip exercises emphasizing speed changes, starting, stopping, switching directions. If I had extra time, I'd also do falling leaf and linked falling leaf to demonstrate "before" edging skills (i.e. flatter edges), but also to introduce edge control along the length of the ski. The main point of the sideslip exercise is to learn the move used to slow down the speed of the sideslip without stopping. In my one hour lessons I will just use the traverse exercise.

Step 3 - Learn to get the legs out from underneath the body
At some point, a short radius turn must switch to cross under versus cross over technique. We also need to get the skis to bend. I'd start with leapers with edge changes in mid air. Focus on landing tips first on the new edge and feeling the skis bend. Now do a series of funnel drills to start developing the cross under skills. First pass - hold both pole in the middle of the pole and "frame" an object down the fall line (i.e. keep the upper body facing down the fall line). Second pass - still holding the poles in the middle, over exaggerate flexion and extension. Third pass - use poles normally - focus on getting the feet out from underneath the body using extension to get the skis out and absorption of the rebound of the bending of the skis to get them underneath the body.

There are lots of different exercises to do. This thread should generate a ton of different ideas. What you do depends on how much time you have and what is clicking with your student. One exercise I use to stop upper body rotation is skiing with your hands clasped behind your back. BTW - the stepping exercise is going to naturally cause the downhill ski to slide out. If you want that to work, you need to work first on skating on flat ground to develop the roll to the inside edge that is necessary for the step to hold.

Good luck!
post #5 of 11
Can she traverse on her uphill ski?
post #6 of 11
Bet you a dollar she is a water skier----or was a Cheerleader ---or took a lot of dance lessons.

Sounds as if she is turning, starting with the upper body. You noted the problem is manageable in a med long -- long radius, but more evident in a short radius. So she can work the edge somewhat (which is more natural/possible) in a longer radius turn, therefore she needs less effort to get the turn "started" (that would be less rotation "upstairs").

Its a little hard to tell what level you are talking about---I'm assuming 5-6. Short Raduis (Int terrain ?) Is there a pole touch/plant there yet ?

My guess is she uses a rather serious upper body rotation to effect the turning of the skis. Go to exercises that teach steering, as in rotating the legs. Leaving a gross error like this one and moving on attempting to teach new skills will prove pointless. She needs to learn to steer "from the bottom up"
post #7 of 11
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie
My guess is she uses a rather serious upper body rotation to effect the turning of the skis. Go to exercises that teach steering, as in rotating the legs. Leaving a gross error like this one and moving on attempting to teach new skills will prove pointless. She needs to learn to steer "from the bottom up"
I'll second Uncle Louie.

Focus on releasing movements ot the old outside/new inside.

Short, medium, or long radius turns involve the same movements. The duration, timing, intensity, and extent merely vary.

Don't try to eliminate a negative movement. Create the correct movements and you'll never see the negative movements. The best example is over rotating the upper body. Telling someone to stop initiating or finishing a turn by rotating their shoulders is akin to telling a stutterer to qqqqqqqquit sttttuttering.

tip and turn the feet blending appropriate movements and the shoulders will never come into play.

P.S. Uncle Louie the boss "busted" a gut when she read about my typo.
post #8 of 11
RustyGuy----So you still have a job ! KOOL
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
She can traverse on the downhill ski, but she has problems standing on the uphill ski and ride it on a traverse. She has had 5 2 hour lessons only so far. I think that it takes longer than that to develop the muscles to stand on the uphill ski while traversing.

I doubt she ever was a cheerleader (I do not want to go on personal details, but she attends a very conservative Christian school).

We worked on the drill "feeling the power of the edge" and the entire class liked it very much. Then they could traverse and edge getting some reasonable "banana shaped" turns uphill. However, outside of the specific drill only 2 of them could blend it in their skiing with some consistency afterward.

I would say that when she does not perform a decent turn, she pretty much shows the following:

- arms too high, but forward
- slightly lean backward
- twist upper body to start a turn (the positions of poles tells the whole story there)
- exhibits a wedge and sometimes lift the inside ski to complete the turn.

Tipping? Something like PMTS?
post #10 of 11
Sounds like someone who pushes the tail of the outside ski to turn and has to rotate the body to make it work more quickly. She needs to learn to turn the inside ski and let the weight-shift to the outside ski occur as a result. On shallow terrain:

1. In a gliding wedge down the fall line, flatten one ski. I call this rolling the arch of that foot off the snow. You get a turn starting.

2. Make traverses in a wedge. Do them until she recognizes that to make a wedge traverse, she has to put more weight on the downhill ski.

3. During wedge traverses, gradually equalize the weight on the feet. The skis will seek the fall line. Add flattening of the old downhill, new inside, ski to the equalizing and you get turn finishes to a round turn entry.

4. Do the same traverses in an open parallel stance, with equal weighting, and gently flatten both skis. They begin to seek the fall line and you then can roll onto the new edges. A lot of these on easy terrain should prepare her for doing the same on increasingly steeper slopes.
post #11 of 11
Along with the other comments, you might want to check her alignment.

If we can assume that the alignment and boots are sufficient, you just need to keep pounding the edging drills, and reduce the steering. Maybe teach her railroad tracks on a beginner hill.

Other than that, try placing your finger between the inside cuff of the boot and her calf, on the uphill ski while standing still across a trail. Ask her to try to pinch your finger between the boot cuff and the side of her calf. Basically, she has to supinate the foot fairly hard to do this. Once she can do that, make her do it a bunch of times and hold it till it burns. Then, do the same thing while doing a carved traverse (you can remove your finger!). Turn around and do the same on the other side. If the boots are too sloppy on her, she may have to get the knee more involved (actively tipping the knee into the hill) until she can get the boots fixed.
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