NO-O-O . . . Pry your fingers away from that keyboard, Bob! No--don't do it. You don't have time . . . NO!
Oh well, looks like I can't help it. This has been a good discussion, for the most part, but I do have to jump in, if only to show that I'm still alive and well. I can't believe I haven't logged into EpicSki since January 17th! Well, here goes:
Much of what I'm about to say is merely a rehashing of discussions from past threads, includingSki the slow line fast!I'm new to this msg board..where is the original thread for skiing a slow line fast?Picking the line . . . so we can ski the slow line fast
andTo Ski Or Not To Ski The Slow Line Fast
(This is the thread in which Rusty's quote in blue type above appeared.)
Great poem, FastMan!
Skiing the "slow line fast" (when possible) is hardly a new idea. It has been perhaps the defining characteristic of expert skiing since the origins of the sport, and Georges Joubert, Warren Witherell, and many others have alluded to the notion long before it became a theme of my own teaching and skiing. I once thought that I'd coined the expression, but who really knows the true influences on our thinking? I submit that no one who has ever had contact with another human being has ever really had a completely original thought. All knowledge belongs to the collective wisdom of the human race.
That said, I think that anyone who embraces an idea, thinks about it, runs with it, explains it with new words or applies it in a new way, and adds a new twist to it, contributes something quite original and valuable. Thank you, Rusty! The curious person who pursues an idea with new questions, or from a new perspective, and the skeptic who tests the idea with honest debate, also deserve credit for original thinking! Thank you, Bud!
And I suspect that few others have emphasized the idea the way I have. Good skiing is skiing a slow enough line as fast as you can--when you can.
"Slow enough" is a state of mind, of course, and "as fast as you can" is a question of skill, athleticism, snow conditions, equipment, and other variables. Anyone who can control direction CAN ski "a slow enough line," if he chooses to. And an expert can ski ANY line faster than one with less skill.
I don't make turns to control speed. Not on foot, not in my car, not on a bicycle, and not on skis, either! (Do you?) Indeed, I make turns on skis so that I don't HAVE to control speed. While they may sound similar on the surface, turning to control speed, and turning to prevent the need to control speed, couldn't be more different in their effects on skiing movements.
I try to ski a line that is "slow enough" that I can go as fast as I'm capable of, maximizing my glide and minimizing braking, without going any faster than I want. I maintain that if you want to make your very best turns, you must try to go FASTER all the time (not slower). Even STOPPING can be be a matter of going as fast as possible ... UP HILL. For any given direction, you're either going "as fast as you can," or you're doing something to slow yourself down. If you're NOT going as fast as you can at some point, then what are you doing? I call it braking.
And if you don't ski "a slow enough line," then there are only two other possibilities: either you will go "too fast," or you will brake.
No, there's nothing wrong with braking, when you need to brake. Braking is a critically important skill in skiing, as in driving. It's an essential tool, but it's a bad habit! There are certainly many situations when you can't, or don't want to, make offensive turns, and where you must hit the brakes.
Unfortunately though, since most skiers think of their turns as a way to control (i.e. reduce) speed, and since they don't even think of MAKING a turn until that little voice says "that's fast enough--TURN," and since most ski instructors teach that turning is a way to slow down, and ski patrollers everywhere yell "slow down--make more turns," it's no wonder that most skiers are habitual "fast line slow" brakers. Few skiers habitually think of turns as offensive DIRECTION controllers, used to "go that way," rather than to "stop going this way." Since slippery skis feel immediately "out of control" to most beginners, and since the first sense of "control" most of us ever felt on skis came when we first learned to grip the planet again with a braking snowplow or hockey stop, it's no wonder most skiers associate braking with control, and "not braking" (i.e. gliding) with "out of control."
But experts don't. Experts love the sensation of gliding, and feel more "control" when their skis are skidding less. It's ironic, isn't it, that beginners (and most skiers) equate control with skidding, while experts often feel LESS control the more they're skidding. Why? Because to the expert, control means primarily control of LINE, and to most skiers, control means control of SPEED. If you can control line, AND if you ski "a slow enough line," then you will not need to control speed.
That is what skiing "the slow (enough) line fast" is about.
Good turns ARE "fast." They will help you win races. They will never result from practicing "turning to slow down."
When you think about it, it's pretty hard to argue with the notion of "skiing a slow (enough) line fast," despite the reality that very, very few skiers actually do it, at any level. There are only two ways to slow down, of course: "direction" (going uphill) and "friction" (braking, or otherwise increasing resistance to gliding [includes falling down and other such "creative" activities]). Good skiers (usually) try to minimize friction, which means "going as fast as you can," and which necessitates skiing "a slow enough line." The ONLY other options are braking, or going too fast--or both!
It's obvious, but it's oh-so-rare. Watch skiers on any hill in the country, if not the rest of the world. The vast majority (99%) begin turns only when they need to control (reduce) speed. And their turns invariably begin with some movement that CAUSES their skis to start skidding. Skis don't just skid all by themselves, and even beginners are capable of initiating turns without pushing their tails into skids--watch them walk around on the flats. But to most skiers, it isn't a "turn" if it doesn't involve at least some skidding, some of that familiar, comforting scraping sensation that they associate with "control." True gliding ("going as fast as you can") just doesn't feel "right" to most skiers, so they push and twist their skis into a skid intentionally, whether they realize it or not. And, of course, that intentional speed control skid is a skid OFF their line, a LOSS of control of direction, making skiing "a slow enough line" (or any precise line, for that matter) more difficult. It's a rare skier who doesn't habitually ski too fast a line, as evidenced by most skiers' unwaveringly skidded turn initiations. It's not a lack of skill. And it's not because the movements of good skiing are counter-intuitive. It's because the INTENT of good skiing--the intent to ski the slow line fast--the requisite desire to GAIN speed when you start a turn--is extremely uncommon!
I should mention that it is an oversimplification to say that "the slow (enough) line" means "completing turns." It CAN involve completing turns, and on a smooth "tilted parking lot" groomed run, it would require that. But in real skiing, it simply means skiing any line that controls your speed for you, whatever that may involve. Using little rises and hills, the sides of gullies, going up moguls--any of these could create a "slow enough line," and if the pitch is gentle enough, even going straight downhill could be "slow enough," for some people. The slow line simply means using the mountain to do your work. It means playing with gravity, rather than fighting against it.
And I must concur 100% with Rusty that the "slow line fast" may well involve wedges. Contrary to common belief, and contrary to the droning of the "direct parallel" adherents, a wedge is not always a defensive move. (Nor is "parallel" necessarily offensive.) It's a question of movements and of intent. If a turn occurs as a result of the intent to direct the tips of the skis INTO the turn, rather than the intent to twist one or both tails OUT, it is an offensive, direction-control turn. True contemporary wedge turns and wedge christies are simply a highly likely outcome of these offensive movements, at a low level of skill and speed. Even a highly skilled, habitually offensive, skier will tend to produce a small wedge at the beginning of turns at a low enough speed (slow enough line). This wedge is not intentional, and it's not used for braking. The intent, as for experts, is to "GO that way," rather than to "stop going this way." And a wedge often results. Efforts to avoid a wedge at these speeds almost invariably result in poor movements, including twisting the tails of the skis into braking skids.
While the wedge can be used for braking, naturally, contemporary wedge turns and wedge christies are purely offensive turns. They are progress milestones that lie squarely in the direct path to parallel skiing! Effective instructors develop the offensive movements and the "slow line fast" intent of great skiing from the beginning.
That should do it for now. I hope everyone is getting in at least a little skiing, along with your typing.
The snow in the Rockies is superb--come on out and play!