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Carve? is it the ultimate goal?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
This week a student in a private lesson came to me and stated "I'm having problems with my turns. I can only carve sometimes and sometimes I go back into a snowplow" and "I'm having some fear/control problems"

I took this skier out for a warm up run. No instructions, Let's just go warm up and I'll take a look.

Advanced wedge christies most of the time and a few open parallel turns. maybe one scarved turn and that got going too fast so a quick braking wedge ended that turn. Relatively good fore/aft balance, maybe a little aft.
Got hung up in a locked edge sometimes so couldn't get the skis matched.

On the next ride up I asked, Who said you need to learn to carve? (just curious) and the response was "my last instructor" and something about carving is the next step for this student so they had tried to work on getting the skis locked on the edges.. :

I decided to start with the total opposite which turned out to be the correct option.

I started with trying to teach this student to make very skidded wide swath turns but very round and "C" Shaped. We practiced side slipping, drifting, learning to feather the edges. This whole process helped bring back a great deal of speed control and comfort. It also began the process of learning to be on matching edges instead of opposing edges. Navigating icey patches and powder together became an after thought instead of a fear generating skid. The skis began to match earlier and earlier in the turn without even trying.

For most of the rest of the lesson we re-inforced the feeling of great control and smooth comfortable turns in all kinds of terrain. I had this student follow me as I made long sweeping turns, boxy square-ish turns, short turns, all mixed together. This made the student adjust their edges ever so slightly to keep and maintain the shapes of turns I did and still carry speed around the turn. Then I made the student take a run while I followed. The task was to make all the same size and shape turns all the way down regardless of the terrain slope and rolls of the hill. Lo and behold there were skidded turns, almost carved turns, higher edge angles, flatter edge angles, etc..

At the wrap up, I asked "Did we carve any turns?" the response, was "sort of and sometimes" I then commented on how well they managed the speed and control. How there were a few oop's what seemed to cause them. I gave them some suggestions for exercises but reminded them not to always ski exercises but go out and play too (too boring otherwise) and then explained their learning about all the various edge angles they could use, one extreme of the spectrum is the full carve, the other edge of the spectrum is the flat ski. Learn to use them all and the carve will come.

Carving may be great fun but so can the rest of the spectrum.

One Very happy and much more comfortable recreational skier!
post #2 of 30
thats exactly what i need help on dchan
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
I'm working on my skiing notes from the week including drawing some images. I'll try to post the images sometime tomorrow to explain the exercises we did.

DC
post #4 of 30
This is a great question for all of us, no matter what level.

I have skied with examiners any chance I could get the last 2 years to try to figure out their take on this issue, including the former PSIA-E demo team coach. Although these guys and gals can ski great RR tracks, they seldom do. What I have observed skiing with these high level skiers is that they edge VERY early and then "throw away" (skid a little) the bottom of the turn if they want to, and they usually do. I think this is because although skiing RR tracks is great fun, the best part is that as you get good at it you learn to edge when you want, anywhere in the turn, in a progressively smooth manner.

The better you get at it the more you will love to "rip" on rails , but even more important, the better you get at it, the better your overall skiing and versatility become.
post #5 of 30
Trying to ski pure carves all the time means you're basically letting the ski determine your path.

Sounds like your client got a great lesson, dchan.
post #6 of 30
I think the ease of carving together with its use for speed in course has created a strong bias in the minds of many skiers (including instructors) towards carving. However, this is very limiting, as we've seen in a number of threads here.

dchan, I applaud your approach! What a great way of stepping the student through their learning and away from a bias that was placed there by another! Discovery leads to learning.

Frankly, I think that most of us could learn from doing what you did. Good on ya!
post #7 of 30
Wedge start, some sort of upper body rotation. No one has brought up the tipping of the ski by rotation of legs. Did anyone tell the student to move foward into the trun or were the movments to block and brace against gravity? What about a fucntional stace, I dought it! We see lots of skiers that want to carve that are so lacking the proper turning movents. I think carving can be overrated and should be achived after a good solid bass of skills are achieved so it is very easy to change. Way to many bankers to try to hold edge angles. Lots of hard abrupt egding also.
post #8 of 30
I think that carving is the ultimate goal for skiing, but not the only goal. Many skiers as dchan pointed out, may not be ready for the carving experience yet. If an instructor is going to teach carving, it should be taught properly. If the student isn't ready yet, why should you try to teach them to do it?

It doesn't surprise me much that PSIA D-teamers aren't laying out RR tracks. The classic PSIA turn seems to have the bottom skidded out of it. They seem to ski and teach a turn that nearly all skiers can use in their skiing simply by copying if they have to. The majority of skiers that you see on the hill are not ready to lay out pure arcs, and are better served by perfecting a scarved turn - especially at lower levels where speed control and confidence are important.

Later

GREG
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
This week a student in a private lesson came to me and stated "I'm having problems with my turns. I can only carve sometimes and sometimes I go back into a snowplow" and "I'm having some fear/control problems"

I took this skier out for a warm up run. No instructions, Let's just go warm up and I'll take a look.

Advanced wedge christies most of the time and a few open parallel turns. maybe one scarved turn and that got going too fast so a quick braking wedge ended that turn. Relatively good fore/aft balance, maybe a little aft.
Got hung up in a locked edge sometimes so couldn't get the skis matched.

On the next ride up I asked, Who said you need to learn to carve? (just curious) and the response was "my last instructor" and something about carving is the next step for this student so they had tried to work on getting the skis locked on the edges.. :

I decided to start with the total opposite which turned out to be the correct option.

I started with trying to teach this student to make very skidded wide swath turns but very round and "C" Shaped. We practiced side slipping, drifting, learning to feather the edges. This whole process helped bring back a great deal of speed control and comfort. It also began the process of learning to be on matching edges instead of opposing edges. Navigating icey patches and powder together became an after thought instead of a fear generating skid. The skis began to match earlier and earlier in the turn without even trying.

For most of the rest of the lesson we re-inforced the feeling of great control and smooth comfortable turns in all kinds of terrain. I had this student follow me as I made long sweeping turns, boxy square-ish turns, short turns, all mixed together. This made the student adjust their edges ever so slightly to keep and maintain the shapes of turns I did and still carry speed around the turn. Then I made the student take a run while I followed. The task was to make all the same size and shape turns all the way down regardless of the terrain slope and rolls of the hill. Lo and behold there were skidded turns, almost carved turns, higher edge angles, flatter edge angles, etc..

At the wrap up, I asked "Did we carve any turns?" the response, was "sort of and sometimes" I then commented on how well they managed the speed and control. How there were a few oop's what seemed to cause them. I gave them some suggestions for exercises but reminded them not to always ski exercises but go out and play too (too boring otherwise) and then explained their learning about all the various edge angles they could use, one extreme of the spectrum is the full carve, the other edge of the spectrum is the flat ski. Learn to use them all and the carve will come.

Carving may be great fun but so can the rest of the spectrum.

One Very happy and much more comfortable recreational skier!

dchan: You nailed it. Great lesson, progression and tasks. A skier needs all the tools and slipping, skidding are some of the most important. If they can skid the turn they can get down alomost anything. Love the playing with the turn shapes, mix it up . Excellent play!
post #10 of 30
I don't find myself disagreeing with Greg very often, but here I might. I do not see carving as the ultimate goal. Rather, I see effective carving as a single goal within the context of the broad set of skills and capbilities that constitute effective skiing. The ultimate goal is effective skiing in all conditions and terrain. Sometimes, that's pure carves, but sometimes, it's not (Corbet's or Great Scott?), deep pow, Mary Jane bumps, etc.

So, no, carving isn't the ultimate goal. But, it's a good goal for some elements of high-level skiing.
post #11 of 30
My ultimate goal is being in balance while skiing, and linking rythmic turns consistantly. The terrain and snow conditions sort of determine whether these turns will be carved or pivoted or skidded or smeared or hopped.

I think that carving is something I'm probably not very good at (I'm not sure if I every truely carve turns), I rarely ski groomed slopes, except for the bowl runout, and I usually use turning to scrub off speed there.
post #12 of 30
ssh, you have to remember that my goals are mainly racing oriented, so my point of view on this one is a little skewed.
post #13 of 30
For that intent, then, (mostly) carving is the ultimate goal, I agree.

Funny, isn't it, how intent makes a huge difference? Seems I've read that somewhere before...
post #14 of 30
If the goal is efficient skiing, then I think carving is the ultimate goal yes. Skidded turns of any sort are going to be less efficient skiing.

That said, it is simply unwise or impossible to carve every turn a skier makes. I think the real point of the argument is that as a skier gets better they are carving as much as possible and skidding only what they need too. Carving best utilizes a modern ski so it is the goal of modern skiing.

This, of course, assums the intent of efficient technique and not just scarving for fun which we probably all do from time to time.

Look at what fat skis have done for big mountain skiing. Freeriders today are carving the hell out of lines that used to be navigated by hop turns.
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by lwren
Wedge start, some sort of upper body rotation. No one has brought up the tipping of the ski by rotation of legs. Did anyone tell the student to move foward into the trun or were the movments to block and brace against gravity? What about a fucntional stace, I dought it! We see lots of skiers that want to carve that are so lacking the proper turning movents. I think carving can be overrated and should be achived after a good solid bass of skills are achieved so it is very easy to change. Way to many bankers to try to hold edge angles. Lots of hard abrupt egding also.
I do not disagree with your approach to the situation that Dchan found himself in however I have one caveat. Rotation of the legs to tip the skis instead of dosiflexion and tipping of the ankle produces the classic diverging tips in scarvy turns and back seat appearance with large tip lead when carving. Rotation of the legs to edge the skis moves the inside hip aft. Its an upper body initiated movement pattern.
post #16 of 30
onyxjl, do you differentiate between skidding and drifting?

In my study of this, I see a big difference between allowing the skis to drift (like a four-wheel drift in a car) and pushing them out (fishtail in a car?). I do not want to equate these two. Drifting is still effective skiing, although not as efficient as a pure carve.
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
Drifting is still effective skiing, although not as efficient as a pure carve.
I agree, but only if the drift is planned and intentional - similar to what is being discussed in the scarve/stivot thread.

Later

GREG
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier
I agree, but only if the drift is planned and intentional - similar to what is being discussed in the scarve/spivot thread.
Absolutely! Drifting that is a result of an inability to hold an edge is not effective. Thanks for the reminder.
post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
onyxjl, do you differentiate between skidding and drifting?
I can see the difference in what you are talking about, drifting being an intentional release of the edges and skidding being a forceful rotation of the tails probably without the release of the edges. Drifting is not likely a defensive braking movement where skidding certainly is.

Drifting, skidding, and braking movements all have their rightful places in a skiers toolbox. I think they are alternative options to be used when a carved turn (or your equipment) can not produce the desired results. The point being not that a skier carves every turn, but carves as much as possible and employs the other options with a specific intent to set up a carved turn.

You carve where you can and compromise where you can't.
post #20 of 30
Thread Starter 
Let's take a different look at this question.

Are we as instructors hindering or helping a student by trying to teach everyone to carve very early.

If the student or skier is struggling with stopping, speed control, turn shape, balance, fear, slight wedge christies, etc. Does trying to teach a carve help or hurt?
post #21 of 30
Dave,

I think the issue, which you correctly addressed in the lesson, is not an issue of carving for carving's sake. When we have a student that wants to learn to carve, we don't just try to teach tem to balance on their edges. What they need to learn is not "carving" but edging. By teaching what you did, you taught the student to use their edges. This not only will allow them to carve, but will make them a better all around skier.

I really like to explore the extremes of the skills and moves in skiing. I regularly do this with instructors in clinics. We would do skill based clinics quite a bit. Just because you have a clinic called edgeing, does NOT mean that you go out and edge the skis as much as possible. Similarly, in a pressure management clinc, we don't just try to pressure the skis as much as possible or rotate as much as possible ina clinic on rotation. What we do, is we teach them to use the skill. So when we tach edging, we teach how to get on and off the edges, how to feather them progressivley, how to do flat spins and drifting, etc.

So good on ya, mate! But use that as a lesson to yourself. Next time someone wants to learn better balance, get them as out of balance as possible and explore ways to get out of balance. When you have a student that is over rotating, make them rotate even more before you try to snuff out all hints of it, etc. Basically, teach all uses of a skill, not one way to use the skill.
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
Are we as instructors hindering or helping a student by trying to teach everyone to carve very early.

If the student or skier is struggling with stopping, speed control, turn shape, balance, fear, slight wedge christies, etc. Does trying to teach a carve help or hurt?
That one's much easier: It hurts.
post #23 of 30
Thread Starter 
Yup.
Fore aft balance? I sometimes have them lean way forward and have try turning, then sit on the backs of their skis and try. ski backwards, use only tip/tail pressure to try to do a 360.

I must have had good instructors and role models

Thanks for all the encouragement.
post #24 of 30
I like to think of "extremes" when I'm working on skills in isolation. Make turns completely on the inside ski, completely on the outside ski, and then migrate to a blend. Way forward, way back, migrate to a blend. No edges, extreme edges. In fact, I do this periodically in my own skiing to find where I am.
post #25 of 30
My goal is sharing my lifelong passion for the mountain experience with others! - sound familiar?


Also its the pursuit of happiness, and for each of us that will likely manifest itself in a different form.

For example I enjoy teaching never-ever's but I prefer those ambitious chair riders who really want to get better or ski with less effort or more steeps etc...

My Wife who is happy with being level 1 PSIA certified thrills at teaching children level 1 and 2's and confided in me that she is not sure even how to teach adults any more, nor do I think she wants to but she is definately one of my hill's best children's instructors, and provides them a solid base to build upon. Her pursuit of happiness is a different path from my own and I am just happy its still on the same mountain!
post #26 of 30

PSIA perspective on "the Racer Syndrome"

So a question from the dark side;

What if I'm a racer? Or I want to be a racer? Is carving the holy grail? Do you think carving is the first skill that should be taught? Is skidding and steering a more advanced skill set in that system (developing a racer's skill set).

Do you view ski racing as a singular pursuit that limits the racer's approach to skiing?

I'm curious on the PSIA take on this

Rick, you can't answer (by the way, you need to get your MA credentials up, I'm all alone up there )
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Dranow
So a question from the dark side;

What if I'm a racer? Or I want to be a racer? Is carving the holy grail? Do you think carving is the first skill that should be taught? Is skidding and steering a more advanced skill set in that system (developing a racer's skill set).
Carving in the front seat would be the holy grail for a racer. I think the first skills that should be taught is efficient turn initiation movements that produce a turn along the line the racer intends, carved or scarved. Skidding and steering in my opinion can either be thought of as default skills if not intended or requiring high level blending skills when the intent is to adjust line with minimal loss of speed.
Quote:
Do you view ski racing as a singular pursuit that limits the racer's approach to skiing?
No, only the racer can limit their approach to skiing. The skills borne out in racing are applicable elsewhere.
Quote:
I'm curious on the PSIA take on this
What is PSIA? A collection of ski instructors under the banter of certification with any damn narrow view any particular instructor happens to want to voice. The PSIA tent is so big PMTS and Racing are totally inclusive. PSIA is any damn thing we want to blame on it or any damn thing we want to claim has already been done for years.
post #28 of 30
As an unbiased one who LOVES to carve , I'll offer that an "ultimate" goal might be having a movement toolbox full of a variety of on demand skill blends with which to do whatever you want, whenever you want, on a pair of skis (or even just one).

For me on a groomer, with enough room to control speed with line, would be to carve. And one might ask why control speed with scraping muscle sapping braking turns if you can easilly control your speed with line? Consider that for a lot of skiers the speed on that more carved line might be still create more fear than fun. Learning to do soft drifted turns somewhere between a tail out skid and a RR-carve could provide them the skill to experience what they most desire from skiing, control and efficiency without fear.

For me, in wide open crud I find the carving slice thru balistic stability both effective and efficient and fun (vs bounding and re-arranging the landscape with muscle).

But where pitch and/or snow conditions warrent a more tactical approach, I like to carve into and drift out of the falline to soften the finish and setup a more relaxed flex-thru transition (vs unweighting up and over leading to heavy deep down and in at finish)

Each should endevor to identify what they are motivated to do with their skiing and seek out the guidance that will best support a learning path to aquire the necessary skill set.

A good instuctor will not try to teach you "how to ski" but teach you how to "learn to ski" any way YOU want to.
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Dranow
So a question from the dark side;

What if I'm a racer? Or I want to be a racer? Is carving the holy grail? Do you think carving is the first skill that should be taught? Is skidding and steering a more advanced skill set in that system (developing a racer's skill set).

Do you view ski racing as a singular pursuit that limits the racer's approach to skiing?

I'm curious on the PSIA take on this

Rick, you can't answer (by the way, you need to get your MA credentials up, I'm all alone up there )
I think carving is the primary skill needed for racing (although PSIA does not define carving as a skill, they define edging as a skill)

I think that if racing becomes someone's singular pursuit, then it will limit their skiing in other areas. By definition, a singular pursuit would mean never learning to ski other conditions.

PSIA, as an organization has never experessed an opinion that I've seen. They ("PSIA" as an organization, would probably reflect the opinions of the demo team members - in this case, the alpine D-Team, past and present that are still active) do however look to WC racing for inspiration. I've spent time with Shawn Smith (prior D-Team) who is sort of the liason between PSIA and USSA. He spends a lot of time at racing events and analyzing WC racers and talking with WC coaches about issues that could be brought to the recreational side of skiing.
post #30 of 30
This is a golf analogy but the ultimate goal of skiing is to be hitting the "sweet spot" on a consistent basis. You just know the feeling when it's there..
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