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Stopping the Stem

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
What are some good drills to get out of the stem? My wife is a decent skier but on steeper slopes she does the stem whereby picking up the ski. Also very prevelant in moguls. She carves pretty well on easy groomers. When she needs to make quick fast turns the stem appears. What are good drills for this? I thought maybe practicing a traverse on the uphill ski might be a good one. If you stem, this drill is almost impossible to do at first and feels very weird. What about one footed skiing the whole run? Thanks.
post #2 of 18
Some ideas ....

For releasing edges-- Side slips, side slips into pivot slips, patience turns, falling leaf, windmills, etc.

I found that one-footed skiing drills-- carving traverse with various weights distributions 50/50%, 75/25%, 99/1%, only left-foot for a run, only right-foot for a run, whitepass turns, etc. -- then going back to regular skiing really helps in engaging edges simulateiously. For two-footed carving, these are great.

For bumps, first lose the stem in short-radius outside the bumps and then just think about keeping your skis on the snow in the bumps.
post #3 of 18
And who could forget our old friend... the garland. If the patience turn isn't working, start with the initiation of the patience turn (the drift) and cut it short with the turn finish. Get this working without any wedge and let the garland develop deeper before pulling out. Also and perhaps in tandem with the garland, start in the fall line on gentle terrain and finish the turn from there. Then more garlands. Then, maybe, the patience turn will happen when the drift gets to the fall line.
post #4 of 18
might want to take a look at her balance when the stem appears, she might also be doing it because the edge feels "stuck" or unable to roll into the next turn, meaning that she might be a bit aft in her balance (this could be caused by a mental trigger of fear as well).
post #5 of 18
Core ideas: Commit to the turn by moving laterally over the skiis. Turn the skis when they flatten. Reach with the legs.

This can be hampered alot by too stiff boots, or boots with too much forward lean. Boot issues are easy to fix -- any good bootfitter can help here.

OTOH, fear may stop her from committing into the turn, and so it keeps her inside ski locked on it's inside edge, bracing against the hill. Since it has not been released, it can't turn, so she needs to lift it to turn it.

As far as one footed skiing drills go, IMO, they won't help her all that much, expecially if the emphasis is on holding an edge. If the emphasis is on balance and commiting the body into the turn, that may be different.

Skiis first need to be flattened (thus releasing both edges) during transition.

I suggest drills in which being in balance while slipping and "feeling out of balance" are best. I agree with learn2turn here: Pivot slips, patience turns and all else. Turns that "stop at neutral" and slip before initiation are good too. Get lots of flexion and extension in her movements.

Having done that, completing the transition is key.

Turns that take her to neutral (with skis flat) by extending the uphill leg are great -- that'll address her fear factor head on, since it will move her body downhill of the skiis.
But only after comfortable pivot slips and patience turns.

Reaching farther downhill with a pole plant may help too.

Remember: Commit to the turn by moving laterally over the skiis. Turn the skis when they flatten. Reach with the legs.

Hope that helps. Cheers!
post #6 of 18
Two things will make a wedge or stem disappear. One is to "ski the slow line fast" or (as a movement pattern slow down the top half of the turn so it is slower than the bottom half). The second combined with the first is forward, not lateral movement at turn initiation. Moving the hips up over the feet by flexing the ankles and opening the knees.

Now all of that sounds fine but here is what I find with women who tend to stem. They are to far forward in their boots due to the fact that their calf muscles extend down into the boot tops and their heels are to skinny to hold the heel down when this happens. This creates the imbalanced feeling and is the cause of fear. I do not find women to be more fearful than men when they feel balanced.

I usually toss in a heel lift and put the power strap on the inside of the shell front and lightly buckle the top buckle. This usually improves the situation greatly and allows them to get the hips up over the feet. Many women pronate and have trouble holding an edge with the outside ski. When this happens they will benefit from footbeds and proper alignment as well as heel lifts.

If boots are not the problem I would use patience turns with and without a garland or the Phantom move depending on what other movement patterns were present.
post #7 of 18
There is the best advice on this in Witherall and Evrard's "The Athletic Skier," esp. the material on RR Turns.

Maybe your wife is a little panicky when the skis accelerate as she points down the fall line and she hurries her turns in self-defense. 1) Are her legs strong enough and is her alignment sound enough to handle parallel turns on slighlty steeper terrain? Maybe the physical and mechancial issues are too much for her at this point in her ski career, but both can be remedied with time. 2) Maybe have her point down the fall line and plan to do one turn that she will hold all the way across the hill until she stops. Then have her do another turning the opposite direction. Then, have her link two turns and plan to stop. No stemming for any of these turns. Build into longer sequences gradually. This is a bit scary, the longer sequences, because the new skis are faster and, with their tendency to carve, they accelerate even as you execute turns down the hill. 3) Have her get used to speed by starting very near the bottom of a steep and going straight down it to see what some speed is like.

Be patient. This is both a technical and psychological issue.
post #8 of 18
Outside ski stems occur because the skier fails to start the inside ski into the turn first or simultaneously with the outside ski. Usually there also is a component of wanting to hurry past the point the skis are aimed downhill. Two footed skiing on gentle terrain and the two-footed movements involved in pivot slips will help. However long the skier had been skiing is how long this practice has been part of his/her standard approach, so it will take some patience and plenty of time working on it to eliminate.
post #9 of 18
On gentle terrain try some hockey stops or 180 spin arounds by starting staight down the hill, very gentle terrain. When turning to the right watch which ski starts the turn, I'll bet she stems left creating a wedge then turns the right ski. Point this out and now try to get her to start the "turn" -180 spin or hockey stop with the new inside ski 1st ,right ski for right turn ,left ski for left turn. This really needs to be ingrained on even the easiest of terrain, or even getting off a chair lift down the loading ramp. Which ski moves into the new turn 1st. Keep working with it, then work it into skiing as in making turns down the slope, right ski right turn, left ski left turn, don't worry the new outside ski will come along for the ride.
post #10 of 18
Out of my experience the unintentional stem that occurs with people (male or female ) in the bumps or any ‘threatening’ terrain comes from ‘looking’ into the second half of the turn. (First half: into the fall line; second half: from fall line to finish.) (There are people who love to do deliberate stem turns!)

When we look and turn the head into the new direction we would love to point our skis to in the next split second (who the hell wants to point the skis into neutral down the fall line?) the shoulder drops slightly downhill. In that moment the hip moves back uphill, which causes the downhill ski do go back on edge (big toe side). The uphill ski (outside ski of the next turn) can release easily, but the inside ski is stuck on edge with no chance to let go. Until we are half way around the turn and we can (and have to) pick it up.

So, next time out on the slope watch if your wife peeks into the new turn and drops the inside shoulder. If that is the case she needs to understand that this movement is the cause of her inability to let the inside ski release at the same time as the outside ski.

All the other mentioned drills and tasks are great exercises to get her started to let both skis work together.

Little Bear
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by skimore-workless
What are some good drills to get out of the stem? My wife is a decent skier but on steeper slopes she does the stem whereby picking up the ski. Also very prevelant in moguls. She carves pretty well on easy groomers. When she needs to make quick fast turns the stem appears. What are good drills for this? I thought maybe practicing a traverse on the uphill ski might be a good one. If you stem, this drill is almost impossible to do at first and feels very weird. What about one footed skiing the whole run? Thanks.
A good functional stance is very important. So too is comfort level. For learning, I always take into account and look for defensive movements in skiers. Terrain for comfortable learning is key.

I like a simple RR track progression and I think she might enjoy this. Start on easy green trails and find some really friendly terrain where she can make RR tracks going straight down the fall line without picking up much speed.

•meander back and forth across the trail, slowly rolling from RR track to RR track. (a great thought is to have her picture her skis "travelling through flatness" as she goes from one set of edges to the next. this will promote a smooth transition) use only enough edge as necessary. At these slow speeds, she should feel her boots tip and roll from side to side more than anything else. These are slow, gentle, rolling direction changes, and definitely not turns. Let the side cut and edge amount determine the path, not any turning of the feet).
•same terrain. both feet firmly on the ground. RR tracks again, only be more deliberate in the speed of the edge change. Really get those feet moving and skis carving (very shallow arcs) back and forth, back and forth.
•Dial up terrain slightly. Use your judgement. keep her in the comfort zone. Now, talk about leading the turn with her hips and staying up over her skis, "hiney over heels, hands in front of hips".
•Work on short radius RR track turns. dial up the movements and terrain slightly so that there is definite cross under where the hips guide the feet as they arc under her and out to each side and back. "hiney over heels, hands in front of hips". the hips should be moving forward and diagonally towards the direction of each new turn and in fact, along with looking where you want to go, help determine your path.
•Play with different turn shapes, speeds, foot widths, etc where both skiis are firmly engaged with the snow at all times.
•For a bit of drama, try these same exersizes with no edging! body dynamics will be different.....a balance of pure carve, and no edging will be great for any turn tighter than the natural working radius of the ski.
•In bumps, the right blend is necessary and may even change from turn to turn. short radius turns of both styles are great practice for the bumps. I like to have the skis seek out and stay on the snow as I meander through them like water down a streambed full of bolders.

sorry this is so long winded. I have had great success with these exercises and really hope they help....

good luck
post #12 of 18
Wow, lots of input variety already. I'll not make any assumptions on her stance or state of mind since your post didn't go there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skidmore_workless
What are some good drills to get out of the stem? ... -snip- ... but on steeper slopes she does the stem whereby picking up the ski. Also very prevelant in moguls... -snip- ...When she needs to make quick fast turns the stem appears.
Having seen this 'gotta get started quicker' move in my own students I'll go with Bicycle Turns and the "Pedal Backwards" thing as potential solution.

My own past students have used a step-stem to initiate turns more quickly whenever they deem the terrain to warrant it. Their current technique worked OK in mild circumstances but in more challenging situations, getting to that inside-edge of the outside-ski would take too long for them to wait.

Nice thing about Bicycle Turns is they work everywhere. Greens, Blues, bumps, steeps...

With early pressure extending that new outside-ski back, the Strong-Inside-Half is also created immediately. And it's not possible to pick up that ski any more.

Only downside is a high potential for an automatic outside-heel-shove as opposed to operating the whole ski. Such a move will re-create the stem but is easier to deal with.

.ma
post #13 of 18
I'm with Pierre..... she may be scared - but if you cannot stand properly it is pretty hard not to be....

Try being committed to a turn when you feel like you can barely stand well on a flat slope....

One of the biggest gains I made in my skiing came when my instructor had me "play" doing squats etc in the locker room - first without boots - then with boots no liner & with liner... he "adjusted" boot so I could stand properly .... it makes a huge difference
post #14 of 18
I had a *major* breakthrough in a lesson that pretty much ended my stemming. Basically, the instructor told me to flatten and then tip my (old) downhill ski to begin my new turn.

I had been focusing too much on getting my weight to the new outside ski to initiate the turn. If you do this, without releasing the edge of the old downhill ski, you're going to stem.
post #15 of 18
shoja sonja,
What do you mean by 'tip' the old downhill ski?
post #16 of 18
I mean after flattening the ski, tilt it towards the little toe edge.
post #17 of 18

right!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonja_sonja
I mean after flattening the ski, tilt it towards the little toe edge.
may I add, ....in the direction of the new turn.

By thinking about what is going on with the outside ski AS IT BECOMES the inside ski (keeping it under the body, or put another way-controlling tip lead, or put another way-feeling pressure on both boot cuffs throughout the turn by pulling that foot back slightly....) you create a new more efficient movement pattern! (more efficient because it is not getting in the way. the skier is now conciously guiding it through each turn)
post #18 of 18
We stand on our arches in a wedge. Another way of thinking about tipping is to roll the arch off the snow.
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