or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Technique adjustments on steeper terrain
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Technique adjustments on steeper terrain

post #1 of 123
Thread Starter 
So, you're out ripping off carved arcs on the groomers and then jump on the lift for the steeper terrain. As you head down that terrain, what adjustments (if any) do you make in your technique and tactics? Let's discuss either groomed or at least smooth (windpacked) conditions, not powder or bumps, and runs that are defined and thus less than 100m wide (tree-lined).
post #2 of 123
Basically, more of the same. More edge angle on the skis. Finish the turns more tightly. More body counter. More downhill-facing. More both-hands-in-view. More pulling the skis under you...stay on the balls of your feet with the front of the edges working in the snow, never back on the tails. You may feel like you're diving into space if you keep the skis under you (feels like behind you) where they need to be. The skis will be there to support you; dive away. No abrupt motions...that'll start the skis chattering sideways down the slope. Smooth, tight beginnings to turns. Control speed with your combination of finishing turns slightly uphill, tightness of turns, and as much skid as you choose.


Ken
post #3 of 123
Steve,

Quote:
Technique adjustments on steeper terrain
The list could go on forever----

Steeper=higher edge angle, so softening the edges a little sooner in turn completion.
Steeper=more speed (acceleration), or more speed control either by turn shape, and or skidding.
Steeper=the snow surface drops away more quickly, so the cm needs to follow the pitch of the hill.
Steeper=creating more angles in the body to adjust for the pitch of the hill.
Steeper= forces building up more quickly, so the need to move with the equipment.
Steeper=more change in the conditions during the course of the day.

To name a few.

RW
post #4 of 123
Good post Ron.
Steve, perhaps you should refine the question a bit because tactics are not really included.
Obviously, if you do exactly the same things both places the outcome will be different. More pitch = more speed. If that is not the intended outcome then your tactics need to change.
To use a mneumonic (Sorry Nolo) the D.I.R.T. is the key. Beyond that the movements are the same just adjusted for the terrain.
post #5 of 123
Thread Starter 
Well, JASP, in the text of the question I asked for adjustments in technique and tactics. How would you have me refine the question?

I understand that the skills are the same, but is the blend any different? Are the intentions different? What changes for you, if anything?
post #6 of 123

Timing, Intensity, Duration, Direction

Since the technique is the same regardless of the terrain, the real things you are adjusting are timing, intensity, duration, and the direction of the movements.

Try skiing this steep terrain as slowly as possible, then at moderate pace, then at a fast pace. See which of these variables you adjust as you ski it.

Bob
post #7 of 123
Thread Starter 
So, Bob, what do you adjust?
post #8 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
So, you're out ripping off carved arcs on the groomers and then jump on the lift for the steeper terrain. As you head down that terrain, what adjustments (if any) do you make in your technique and tactics? Let's discuss either groomed or at least smooth (windpacked) conditions, not powder or bumps, and runs that are defined and thus less than 100m wide (tree-lined).
How steep? 35 - 40 - 45+ Degrees?
post #9 of 123
One thing I adjust is how strong I keep my inside half. I find that firing up the hams, quads, and obliques of the inside half keeps me from collapsing against the increased forces.
post #10 of 123
How about if you approach this from the opposite direction. What do you do on a steep groomed slope that you don't do on a less steep groomed slope?

For me the magnitude of some of the movements changes, but I think (hope) they are still fundamentally the same. The one place I can really tell the difference is pushing off my inside ski in transition versus retracting the outside ski. Pushing off the inside ski makes me feel as though I am literally falling off the face of the mountain, where as retracting feels more connected.
post #11 of 123
Steve, It entirely depends on what outcome I want to acheive. Long radius turns at stupid speed, or something more pedestrian.
As you said flat and/or groomed steeps. I personally would go for the rippers because it is not very often we see conditions that would allow that kind of tactic or speed on that terrain. In fact, I did so during a PSIA clinic once. Big frown from the clinician because by the time I got around to the fourth turn I was heading into a band of shark tooth shaped rocks. But hey, they wanted to see flow and I was on a 206 with a derbyflex plate. It was a lot of fun until I saw the rocks coming up way too quickly.

If your tactic is to do smaller turns Ron covered most of it. Duration is shorter, Intensity is more dynamic, Rate is faster, and Timing is relatively the same (think sequence of movements). I try to make the middle third of the turn be the big change and the other two thirds stay pretty similar. Of course getting to neutral involves the slope angle so it does create the need for a larger return movement.
post #12 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl
How about if you approach this from the opposite direction. What do you do on a steep groomed slope that you don't do on a less steep groomed slope?
That's easy! I fall a lot farther
post #13 of 123
Well let's see.

I adjust timing for one. Because the skis accelerate fast, and I want a round turn, I use considerably more delibrate patience in the top third to the turn. That patience allows the turn to develop rather than force it. This means the edge change is later in the turn and I get a round turn instead of a comma shape turn. Less aggession for a lot more pazzaz.

I keep the center of mass more over the feet. Even though the CM is more over the feet there are considerable angles because of the slope.

I use a lot more progressive fore and aft movements to stay over the sweet spot due to slope and will finished turns across the fall line.

I have a more active one leg in flexion and one leg extending movements to direct the CM smoothly and accurately into the turn in order to control pressure.

I am still looking for the slow line fast and hate the brakes so I do accelerate through the fall line. Speed control is a matter of timing. The more time it takes to turn the skis into the fall line the lower the overall feet per second the speed is for the same size turn. Smooth acceleration through the fall line with well finished turns. To hell with the brakes, what a cool feeling.
post #14 of 123

technique and tactics

I feel unqualified compared tothe real experts on epic but thought you might be interestedin an advanced non-experts view of the question. First, I am way more aware of steepness and its relationship to speed (too much speed being unwanted). So my tactics will change, I will really \concentrate on controlling my speed, keeping my core in the direction I want to go, avoid trouble spots (ice, rocks, some close trees etc.) Look ahead where want to go and plan ahead. (I know this applies to groomers to but to a non-expert they are really important in the steeps).My focus will actually change and this will definely change my tactics. Yes I will sometimes change my technique and really finish my turns (controlling speed- versus really letting them go on a groomer). I will also really consider the snow conditions before tackling steep terrain - ice I do not like in the steeps. I will not ski really steep terrain in icy conditions. Headwall at Squar, Dropout at Mammoth are ruled out completely in icy conditions, obviously this doesn't apply to groomers, out west anyway. So tactics change on where I ski, when in the day and the above cited examples and Technique changes also as cited. Thanks for the question made me actually think and pointed outto myself some of my shortcomings and bad habits I get into when I just ski groomers. I get off piste alot b ut don't have a lot of really steep terrain at my ski area. Pete
post #15 of 123
So long as I'm not the only amature posting, here's what I do.

When I'm ripping down steep narrow groomed runs, I tend to get a little lower, maybe a little more forward, and concentrate a little more on the first 3/4 of the turn. I'm more looking ahead to the next three turns in my line. I don't do a lot of thinking about the turn; I just enjoy the rush and think about where I want to go and the sensation of my edges digging in and me pushing myself where I want to go. When I'm on blue terrain I can focus on my turn, finishing it, consciously playing with details, balance, weight distribution, parallel edges, maybe thinking about the next turn, but I haven't even decided where I'm going to turn after that. If it's really steep I'm trying hard not to do a summersault over the tips as I head down the fall line, so I may adjust my stance more to the rear than is ideal for turns (I prefer that to doing steeps slowly with a bunch of hop turns or bicycle turns; I detest wasting a perfectly good steep line by going slow. If I wanted to ski slowly I wouldn't be on the steep run).
post #16 of 123
Thread Starter 
Hmmm... I wonder how much we can describe in terminology that the average recreational skier can understand. Duration of what? Intensity of which? Timing how?

Can some of you compare the technique and tactics of a blue groomer to a double black at a western resort (pick your favorite)? In other words, I do this, that, and this other to direct myself down a blue, while I do that, this, and that other on a double-black.
post #17 of 123
Steve, isn't the real issue with steeps is that our technique shouldn't change, but our minds reaction tells us it should? the steeper the terrain, the harder it is to get effective edge engagement anywhere in the top half of the turn. This takes staying perpendicular to the skis, and this is where our body wants to force somerthing different to happen. It is easy to get huge edge angles in the bottom half of the turn on steeps, the hill creates this for us. But it is the movement to release these big edge angles and move the body perpendicular to the skis as they seek the falline on steep slopes for earlier edge engement that is so hard. Our natural instinct is to move into the hill and not away from the hill.

Another obvious change in intensity would be in rotary skill. The ability to complete our turns with lower body steering, skiing into counter, with effective upper and lower body seperation.

Someone mentioned crouching down more, but this is a product of the mind thinking we need to do something different than we normaly do. Another instinctual reaction. We still need to be long in the middle of the turn to be efficient and effective, and have the ability to actually utilize our range of motion and change the D.I.R.T. of our movements. What do you change Steve? Later, RicB.
post #18 of 123
Simply stated, I turn up the rotary skills to assist in finishing the turn, and I address the Fear Factor by trading some pressure control for increased edging.
post #19 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
Hmmm... I wonder how much we can describe in terminology that the average recreational skier can understand. Duration of what? Intensity of which? Timing how?

Can some of you compare the technique and tactics of a blue groomer to a double black at a western resort (pick your favorite)? In other words, I do this, that, and this other to direct myself down a blue, while I do that, this, and that other on a double-black.
ssh, the only thing that I notice that I change is a reaching pole plant. Normally on groomers the baskets are pointing backwards even when driving the hands forward, switching edges, etc. When things get steep, the downhill pole swings forward from the wrist and reaches as far downhill as I dare as I switch edges and drop into the fall line. Everything else seems to take care of itself with respect to angles, counter, etc. It's the one thing I'm conscious of.
post #20 of 123
The only concious movement I make when the terrain gets steeper is that I make a concious effort to not get into the back seat. On flat terrain it is easy to move in and out of the back seat to manipulate your skis on the snow. On steep terrain these kinds of movements are not good. When I ski I am rarely in the back seat anyway, so I guess its not too much of an issue really. All of the stuff that was talked about above (Ron's list) just happens naturally accept keeping your CM following the hill and even that will happen naturally if you are truly making proper turns. I try to always use a clean carve without rotary, and adjust speed by off-setting my turns a lot - much like is done in a slalom course in the steep sections.
Later
GREG
post #21 of 123

...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
One thing I adjust is how strong I keep my inside half. I find that firing up the hams, quads, and obliques of the inside half keeps me from collapsing against the increased forces.
I hear ya' on that point nolo! Skiing a little stronger, while staying loose for more angulation and balance(boot with a much better fitting cuff/lean does wonders!
)
post #22 of 123

Steeper? Well...

As a non-religious intermediate midwest skier, when facing steeper terrain I:
1. pray at the top
2. make more of a compact turn sequence
3. traverse the hill longer (my tracks look more like a ribbon rather than a pretty "S." )
4. slip a little longer when freaked out
5. thank a greater power when I reach the bottom alive.

Probably doesn't help you, but you asked.
post #23 of 123
Ssh - I don't know if this helps but I can tell you what I do when I ski steeper stuff & the instructors are happy (versus when they do NOT like it) .... I know exactly what thoughts I use to get the first outcome - just I am not good at always using them (requires discipline I still lack)


1) Pick line
2) ensure pole is planted in suitable place to follow chosen line

That simple - if I think about trying to do x, y, z more I usually do not ski so well.... the better runs (or portions of) for me on steeper terrain are when I focus my conscious thoughts on WHERE I want to be & KEEPING the pole plants (upper body control) in a suitable location for the where I have chosen... Then my body tends to do the movements it has learnt on the less steep areas without me interfering with it so much....

I'm with Ric B - it is the MIND that causes most of the problem...

I can think of one particular section of a run - down a steeper pitch (not steep we don't really have so much in bounds steep stuff around).... I do NOT like seeing rocks in front of me etc etc etc... I skied the first half TERRIBLY.... I mean really horribly.... while using the focus the instructor gave me.... then I "gave up" and just headed for safety(bottom) ....

Instructor was really puzzled as to the TOTAL change in skiing - I had stopped looking at the rocks I needed to ski between & was simply looking for the bottom & making sure I planted on the line I wanted...
My MINDSET had changed completely & with it my skiing...

I really do not know that I need a different focus - the skiing is different - but same - as in the feedback from the skis still controls what you do - it is just much stronger feedback (or so it seems to me)
post #24 of 123
Funny, but I try my very best to change nothing in my technique. Ron's list does not reflect changes in technique in my opinion. Besides, I believe that the mark of an expert is the ability to retain technique and composure over any terrain. That is what I strive for.

However, due to my fear of heights I need to concentrate on 2 things in steeps: 1) keep leaning away from the terrain rather than into the terrain 2) don't visit the back seat
post #25 of 123
Yep Tom - that is why the pole/line thing works for me...gives me something to focus on to try to keep me out of backseat so much (pole plant focus seems to make me tend to get more forward at end/start)

Damn I wish I could fix my pole plant timing!!
post #26 of 123
An anecdote:
A number of years ago I was out with my kids and we had skied this chute a couple of times. Both times I felt like I should/could have skied the chute much better. On the third visit I told my kids to hold up and I jumped in, may three or four smooth, connected turns, and stopped at a spot I had selected to take pictures of my kids entering and coming down the chute. With purpose (and familiarity) I had finally skied the entry/crux of the chute the way I though I could.

The lesson:
Purpose and familliarity can both be critical to proficient steep skiing. Purpose is critical because without it (i.e. reactive skiing) things can get out of control quickly due to the magnitude of accelerations that occur in such terrain. Purpose is a (the?) way to stay in control of the situation. Purpose, however, can be very difficult to come by for those who are inexperienced. For example, visual perception can be a contributing (negative) factor as terrain often looks steeper and scarier than it actually is, making purpose hard to come by. However, making it down something a couple of times can provide valuable information to show that things are not as bad as they might look. As experience mounts, perceptions can be modified so that a skier can more accurately assess even novel situations, making it easier to develop purpose.
post #27 of 123
I guess I would echo much of what disski said about planning where I am going. On real steep stuff I try to plan where I want to be in the run. I guess that is a tactical change that I don't do on the lower angle stuff.
post #28 of 123
I've been thinking about my adjustments for steeps, and think that maybe you should start another thread on adjustment techniques for skiing faster.

I like my CM a little closer to the ground and my legs a little farther apart when I'm skiing steep terrain. Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'm quite comfortable on steeps, unless it's so near vertical that I risk tumbling forwards. The differences are not because it's steep, but because I'm going faster, which is usually a (desiered in my case) result of steeper terrain.

At faster speeds I may have to react faster and need a more forceful turn. I may not have the time to move my CM as far as it would have to if it was a lot higher. I also like to keep a little cushion of extension ability in reserve just in case it's needed.
post #29 of 123
Wouldn't you need to apply more rotary steering at the top of the turn than you would on a shallower slope? As we release from one edge to the other, we turn downhill and gain speed. On a gentle slope, that's OK: we don't mind a patient, gentle transition and redirection of the ski. On the steep, though, wouldn't we want to release and rotate our skis into the fall line more quickly than on a gentle slope, as a means of controlling our speed? When I'm skiing aggressively, I can feel the pop in the skis as I release the edges; the energy they've built up is released as my CM crosses the skis, and they energetically "cross under," for lack of a better term. I accentuate this with a leg retraction. As I make my "extended" pole plant - reaching farther downhill - and my skis cross under, should I be trying to redirect my skis downhill before engaging the new edge?
post #30 of 123
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colossus178
Wouldn't you need to apply more rotary steering at the top of the turn than you would on a shallower slope? As we release from one edge to the other, we turn downhill and gain speed. On a gentle slope, that's OK: we don't mind a patient, gentle transition and redirection of the ski. On the steep, though, wouldn't we want to release and rotate our skis into the fall line more quickly than on a gentle slope, as a means of controlling our speed? When I'm skiing aggressively, I can feel the pop in the skis as I release the edges; the energy they've built up is released as my CM crosses the skis, and they energetically "cross under," for lack of a better term. I accentuate this with a leg retraction. As I make my "extended" pole plant - reaching farther downhill - and my skis cross under, should I be trying to redirect my skis downhill before engaging the new edge?
This is the natural reaction of most skiers to steep terrain. The result is a comma shaped turn with heavy braking in the bottom third of the turn. You are giving away all your speed control in the first third by trying to get on the other edges quickly.

If you look at a wedge turn, the new inside ski is relaxed but still on an opposing edge. The new inside ski guides quite nicely into the new turn. By the same token on steep terrain, gravity far outweighs centrifugal force in the top third of the turn. The forces would have you relaxing the new inside ski and allowing both skis to turn down the hill still on their uphill edges just like the inside ski in a wedge turn. With just some forward extension and tipping of the downhill ski downhill, the skis will slowly turn down hill and roll progressively onto the new edges as the relationship between gravity and centrifugal force changes. With a patient deliberate top third done in this way the turn will take longer to complete for the same amount of distance. The overall feet per second has decreased and so has the need for heavy braking in the bottom third of the turn.

Rushing to get on a new set of edges at the top of the turn is rushing to get down the steep. You can kiss real speed control goodby. The choice is simple. You can use muscle power and heavy skidding to check speed or use the simple physics formula of time to ski a certain distance (average feet/second)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Technique adjustments on steeper terrain