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Recommend an improvement program for "typical" intermediate skiier? - Page 2

post #31 of 46
Best advice here:

get your boots fitted
get an instructor

OK- you may choose to ignore that advice, so what then?

check your boots out yourself- they should feel like a very firm handshake (think Boston Irish politician) all over the boot. You should be able to stand erect in the boot without leaning on the tongue or rear of the cuff. The cuff shaft should align with your leg when you stand in the boot without the liner. You can add a non-custom footbed, and tehre are many threads on the topic in the gear forum.

As far as improving your skiing itself without a coach, you have two problems: You don't know what to fix, and you don't know how to fix it. I will suggest some common issues, and self-feedback mechanisms:

You are out of balance to the rear. Symptoms: You have to move to start a new turn, your tips wander, you have control issues. Focus on keeping your knee extended, especially as force builds at the bottom of the turn. If you flex your knee more than your ankle, then you will be out of balance to the rear. You will also end up flexing at the waist. By keeping your knee extended on both legs, you will move into the next turn, and you will be forward. you will feel a tug in your abdominal muscles like you are doing a si up, and feel like you are pulling yourself forward. This will also get you into managing pressure.

You do not make round turns. Symptoms: You feel rushed, and your skis skid until the very bottom of the turn. One technique: Slow the turn down and round it out by doing the roundest skidded turns you can. look at your tracks in the snow, and you will be able to see how round they are. This will help you work on leg steering, a rotary skill.

You do not enter the new turn by releasing both edges. This is hard for you to see or feel without a video, but is very common, so you are probably doing it. Try patience turns, wher you start in a travers, and then stand erect to flatten both skis, and let gravity pull them toward the fall line. After the fall line, finish your turn, and repeat in the opposite direction. This works on edging. Also good for edging: Side slips, with and without forward motion, and falling leaf.

You do not flow well from one turn to the next. You feel a dead spot in every turn, and feel like you have issues getting into a turn. Try skating downhill on a gentle slope. The skating move is similar to the turn move. make sure to glide a long way on each ski, and try to place each ski down on its ouside edge very close to the other foot, only then rolling to the inside edge as you skate it out. Continue skating and make the skating strides longer and more like turns, progressively merging skating into turning.

Try to have fun while you are skiing, and alternate more difficult terrain with terrain you feel comfortable on. Try the drills first on terrain you are comfortable with after you have prepared yourself mentally by skiing more difficult terrain so that the terrain you drill on seems easy.

When none of this pans out, come see us at the ski school.
post #32 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post
... Ski a lot ... Ski a lot ... Did I say ski a lot? ...
SMJ makes a good point here. The stuff people have gone into details about regarding equipment, instruction, and fitness are all critically important. Never-the-less, frequency is also a huge help.

That's one reason I made the admittedly tongue-in-cheek comment about giving up skiing for fun and instructing. If you are instructing, you have to be at the mountain at least two or three days a week even if you only ski a few hours each time.

I really think it makes a difference when you ski at least a couple days a week if not three or four every week all season. Consider skiing for eight hours Sat and Sun one weekend out of every two or three weekends. Compare that to skiing two or three days a week every single week even if it is just a few hours a day. The hours may only ski slightly more in the later but I think that you will improve much more. You are fresher every time you ski; you're not skiing when overtired which tends to put inefficient survival moves into your muscle memory; and your muscle memory of correct moves from your last session won't fade as much before the next session.
post #33 of 46
that is what I did l2turn....

I skied every weekend... from teh time the resort opened with a puddle of man made snow... until it closed for the season....I was there... and every day I skied, wind,rain,hail,sleet,... my instructors were most adamant that i GO HOME as soon as i tired and my technique started to fail... so that each day I went with only good movements to recall...

I changed jobs more than once to allow me to have the time I wanted on the slopes... I worked my butt off in summer to make up for the time I had off in winter so I could ski... I moved house to be closer to the snow...

3 days a week EVERY week at least I skied
when they closed the lifts I hiked
post #34 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn View Post
SMJ makes a good point here. The stuff people have gone into details about regarding equipment, instruction, and fitness are all critically important. Never-the-less, frequency is also a huge help.

That's one reason I made the admittedly tongue-in-cheek comment about giving up skiing for fun and instructing. If you are instructing, you have to be at the mountain at least two or three days a week even if you only ski a few hours each time.

I really think it makes a difference when you ski at least a couple days a week if not three or four every week all season. Consider skiing for eight hours Sat and Sun one weekend out of every two or three weekends. Compare that to skiing two or three days a week every single week even if it is just a few hours a day. The hours may only ski slightly more in the later but I think that you will improve much more. You are fresher every time you ski; you're not skiing when overtired which tends to put inefficient survival moves into your muscle memory; and your muscle memory of correct moves from your last session won't fade as much before the next session.
Agree huge with SMJ on the miles.

L2T comments were not tongue in cheek as far as I am concerned. I did exactly as he suggests many years ago. Took the ITC at local hill and signed on for ski school( I was unemployed at the time and substitute teaching) His advice is the absolute best approach to supercharge one's personal skiing. Also opened up the opportunity to study Centerline and ATS at the time and soon became able to attend PSIA clinics which introduced me to some of NE's skiing rock stars. The discovery of Lito's breakthrough on skis video came through a fellow instructor(still the best video instruction ever filmed albeit a bit dated www.breakthroughonskis.com ) - it just opened up all kinds of opportunities unavail to the skiing public. The exchange of information, sharing of tactics and techniques all things hard to find as a member of the skiing public. Epicski of course can bridge some of that gap for you, but nothing is quite like living on the inside. Mostly tho, teaching skiing afforded me miles and miles of skiing.......most of it free or cheap. Deals on high end gear too, I always had the best possible equipment fitted to me personally....man what a great ride.

Bmillar (not related to my friend Kevin Millar are you?) take a look at the videos in my signature....if you are a visual learner they will help you immensely. If not you will at least have a clear idea on what good skiing on 160 crossfires should look like.

If you are not in a position to do a high end camp like ESA....L2T's suggestion should be taken seriously. I endorse it, cause I did it.....my local hill is 5 minutes away....and I loved nearly every minute of my 8 yrs there....

I chimed in because I did not want learn2turn's post dismissed.....he provides the best possible advice...if you don't think you want to teach, at least consider taking the ITC at your local hill, it will open your eyes.
post #35 of 46
Thread Starter 
I want to let everyone know that I am reading all of your comments and advice with interest, and that I very much appreciate how helpful everyone on this forum is. Thank you. Your advice and information is excellent.

I have been reviewing the information posted, adding exercises, and am scheduling lessons at Alta. One thing I cannot probably do (at least this year) is ski as much as has been recommended. I am a business owner in the SE, and not near a ski area, so it takes a bit of planning to get onto the slopes. I will definitely get in at least 15-20 days.
Bruce
post #36 of 46
bmillar - one small step at a time... it took me a couple of years to remake my life to a ski friendly one
post #37 of 46
Bruce, as an intermediate skier I will tell you that getting my boots fitted and balanced (the latter by Bud, at last year's ESA) was hugely, utterly enormous. It improved my stance, it allowed me to do things that were so hard before with so much less effort.

I'll also say that lessons have changed my skiing. I was a never-ever at 36, I've only managed to clock 84 ski days total in the 5 years since, but I can ski with Mr delta without driving him crazy. I'm not a good skier (and I have other issues that you clearly do not), but for the amount of time I've skied, I'm a very good skier.
post #38 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn View Post
...

That's one reason I made the admittedly tongue-in-cheek comment about giving up skiing for fun and instructing. If you are instructing, you have to be at the mountain at least two or three days a week even if you only ski a few hours each time...
2nd'ed

In my younger days I skied 4 - 5 days a week, for 3 seasons, taking lessons a minimum of 2 days per week (sometimes even more). I am a much better skier now (even being middle aged instead of a kid) after teaching for a few years than I was then.
post #39 of 46
2 steps.

1. Get into fitted and aligned boots.
2. Learn to release the old turn and lead with the inside foot.

That's about a season's worth of effort there for most people.
post #40 of 46
I'm going to go against the grain here.

Bootfitters? Unless a professional instructor WHO HAS SEEN YOU SKI tells you to go to a bootfitter, or your feet are killing you, don't bother. You'll end up spending hundreds of dollars and see little to no results. (I see a lot of people spending fortunes on boots without really getting any results, but I'm also biased against bootfitters due to some bad experiences)

Lessons? Lessons are good but since you're travelling a lot, it will be hard to find a good instructor and stick with them. Instead try to find a "camp" to take. It really doesn't matter what the topic is (racing, extreme skiing, park, old people, men-only, women-only.... well maybe not), just find a camp that offers 3 -5 days of group instruction and take it. I think you'll find that a little bit of peer pressure combined with qualified instruction will work wonders for your skiing. Many camps also include equipment demos so you can explore other skis. Something like ESA, or the Mahre brothers training camps would be good choices. You could also check out Gordy Piefer's Straighline Adventures (talk to them first to make sure that they will have more of an intermediate group), or the steep camps at Jackson Hole.

Finally, if you're currently living in the northern part of the East Coast, try to find some sort of program that will get you on skis on a weekly basis. Join a race league, or a weekly night skiing club, or something like that. If that's not available to you try to find some sort of fun fitness activity that has at least some similarity to skiing.

I guess what I saying is that you should go for a long stretch of instruction early in the season, rather than taking a bunch of 2 hour lessons over the entire season. Don't underestimate your abilities when picking a program (ie just because you've never seen a gate, don't be afraid to try a race camp), and go out there and have some fun.
post #41 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by delta888 View Post
Bruce, as an intermediate skier I will tell you that getting my boots fitted and balanced (the latter by Bud, at last year's ESA) was hugely, utterly enormous. It improved my stance, it allowed me to do things that were so hard before with so much less effort.
I had a similar experience last year. Frustrated at not being able to do things I felt I should be able to do, I went to Jeff Bergeron for help. Not only was I in the wrong boots for my unusually curved leg-bone structure, skiing in those boots was potentially harming my knees too. He recommended new boots which accommodate my stance. When I got them, he fitted them, and well, the change in my skiing was amazing. And my feet never hurt either.

Good luck, and may your next break-through be soon and exhilerating!
post #42 of 46
One of the best peices of advice I can give you is find a group of skiers that is better than you that will let you ski with them. Follow them when you can. When you can't, don't. Ski as much as you can. Do these things and you'll get better. My skills didn't improve that much until I had my first 100 day season.
post #43 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalSki View Post
I'm going to go against the grain here.

Bootfitters? Unless a professional instructor WHO HAS SEEN YOU SKI tells you to go to a bootfitter, or your feet are killing you, don't bother. You'll end up spending hundreds of dollars and see little to no results. (I see a lot of people spending fortunes on boots without really getting any results, but I'm also biased against bootfitters due to some bad experiences)
I would urge just the opposite. More than 90% of skiers who have not had their boots fitted would benefit greatly from good bootfitting. The bad news is some large proportion of people who have had their boots fitted by someone claiming to be a good bootfittter also could benefit from good bootfitting. I drive up to Vermont from Maryland to get my boots worked on at Green Mountain Orthotics Lab. I have had work done elsewhere and have not been happy at all with one shop, and have just not gotten it right with another. It is less expensive in teh end to take one trip to one of the top bootfitters in the country. I do not agree with posters in this forum who say there are many bootfitters who do good work. There are more than a handful, but not much more. SoCal's bad experience is not unusual, becasue somehow he did not choose a good boootfitter. There are posts with referrals to good bootfitters, including a sticky in the gear forum. Please consider some of them. Also, try calling your local ski schools and find out who does the boot work for the top instructors, the level 3's and examiners.
post #44 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoCalSki View Post
I'm going to go against the grain here.

Bootfitters? Unless a professional instructor WHO HAS SEEN YOU SKI tells you to go to a bootfitter, or your feet are killing you, don't bother. You'll end up spending hundreds of dollars and see little to no results. (I see a lot of people spending fortunes on boots without really getting any results, but I'm also biased against bootfitters due to some bad experiences)
OK, I'm an intermediate skier in the process of getting work done on new boots through a bootfitter so I can't speak with a lot of experience, but if you don't want to go through the hassle of having boots tweaked I'd think that you should at least make sure your boots aren't huge and, if so, get a pair at least 1 shell size down.

I've found out that my first pair of boots were 2 shell sizes too big...while I doubt I could just buy a new pair 2 sizes smaller and ski with them out of the box, I know that even going down one size felt much more secure. If I didn't want to go through the whole boot fitting process I would at least try to find some cheap boots in a smaller size than what I was first skiing with.

I don't see how anyone can make the right kind of progress with poorly fitting boots...
post #45 of 46
Two things have helped me more that anything else:
Strengthed your core muscles (back and stomach). Others have suggested this. I use an exercise ball.

Learn how to monitor your stance by feeling the pressure on the sole of your foot. Ski so that you are balanced over the center of your foot. 95 % (at least) of skiers ski unbalanced to the rear. Get the book "The Athletic Skier" by Witherell and Evrard (ISBN 1-55566-117-3). Read it, then read it again, and again. Balance is the fundemental skill of skiing, as the First Rule of Skiing is "don't fall".
post #46 of 46
I should maybe clarify a bit on my bootfitting opinion. Yes, it's important to have boots that are the right size. No, it's not important to add 1/4 a degree of canting for a typical intermediate. There are people who have strangely shaped feet and legs, who definitely will benefit from bootfitting, but if you're a "normal" person, skiing at an intermediate level, I don't beleive that a lot of custom work is neccessary.

I definitely agree that there are very few great bootfitters out there, and I'm not sure I've found one yet.
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