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Fear of Speed

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
I am 38 years old and have been skiing for five years. I have been to Whistler twice, Colorado twice, and am going to Utah for the first time in three weeks. I am in pretty decent shape...but have a problem with my legs (particularly my quads) when going down runs. My legs will really burn and am I so tired...even after one run. It took me several trips to figure out what I think is wrong...I am scared of speed.

I notice myself "putting on the brakes" when I get going too fast...and when I do that several times down the run, I have exhausted my leg muscles. At least this is what I think is going on. I am going to take a private lesson while in Utah...but I wanted some feedback from you guys and girls.

What can I do to help with my fear of going fast? Once I go over a certain speed, I feel like I am losing control and try to slow down. I know that it's not really going to hurt if I fall...but I can't help it. I believe this is the last obstacle holding me back from being a really decent skiier.

I want to be able to zoom down the groomed blue runs carefree and enjoy them for what they are. I hold my own on the blacks...because I don't go very fast there anyway.
post #2 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceace414 View Post
I am 38 years old and have been skiing for five years. I have been to Whistler twice, Colorado twice, and am going to Utah for the first time in three weeks. I am in pretty decent shape...but have a problem with my legs (particularly my quads) when going down runs. My legs will really burn and am I so tired...even after one run. It took me several trips to figure out what I think is wrong...I am scared of speed.

I notice myself "putting on the brakes" when I get going too fast...and when I do that several times down the run, I have exhausted my leg muscles. At least this is what I think is going on. I am going to take a private lesson while in Utah...but I wanted some feedback from you guys and girls.

What can I do to help with my fear of going fast? Once I go over a certain speed, I feel like I am losing control and try to slow down. I know that it's not really going to hurt if I fall...but I can't help it. I believe this is the last obstacle holding me back from being a really decent skiier.

I want to be able to zoom down the groomed blue runs carefree and enjoy them for what they are. I hold my own on the blacks...because I don't go very fast there anyway.
I can sympathize with you.
I am 50 with about the same number of years on the slopes and had a similar problem until I learned proper speed control. I cleared this plateau when I learned how to make effiecient, short and quick turns to control speed. Stay off of your heels. Learned how to scrub speed with a combination of edge and slip in the steeps/bumps and smooth 'S' turns on the groomers.
You never mentioned the length of your skis so that may be a consideration. My 186cm skis are quite fast and a real handful on steeper terrain and force me to do more of a hop turn. My 170cm skis are much easier for quick turns and bumps.
Equipment helps but technique is everything.
post #3 of 46
When I started skiing, I also found myself getting really tired in the quads, especially when I was going fast. The reason was that I was too far in the backseat and skidding my turns. So at every turn, I was using my legs to brace against the snow. The faster I went, the more I had to brace and the more tired I got. Once I got into a more centered stance and started carving my turns, the tiredness went away.
post #4 of 46
Thread Starter 
Both of your responses fit me perfectly...I seem to scrub speed all the way down the hill.

My skis are of the shorter variety...can't remember the length exactly (sorry...been in storage for the last year).
post #5 of 46
After several days of skiing over several seasons with Bob Barnes, I've finally mentally come around to the "slow line fast" concept. I do not look to control my speed, I look to control my line. I want to ski as fast as I can, on a line that is as slow as possible. What is the slowest line possible? Straight up the hill! So on every turn, I try to round out my turns, going as fast as I can, up the hill.

Look for some of Bob's old posts on the "slow line fast" concept -- he explains it more elegantly than me, and there's a lot of in-depth discussions on it.
post #6 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by faisasy View Post
I look to control my line. I want to ski as fast as I can, on a line that is as slow as possible. What is the slowest line possible? Straight up the hill! So on every turn, I try to round out my turns, going as fast as I can, up the hill.

Look for some of Bob's old posts on the "slow line fast" concept -- he explains it more elegantly than me, and there's a lot of in-depth discussions on it.
pretty much where i was going to go, the notion of feeling that complete turn, that turn taking you back up the hill. playing with that, anyway, will get you more familiar with the subtleties of edge change in your (turn) transition phase.

it's intuitive to throw the force we can muster into speed control, especially when the discomfort zone is entered. truthfully, though, the smaller, more nuanced movements will have the better (and smoother) effect.

if you're lucky enough to have a hill with some shortish steeper shots and a friendly run-out, get over there and start fiddling around with short turns, getting your poles to be your friends, and finding out that when you're truly balanced, a sudden stop (if necessary) is not that hard to achieve.

something along these lines that's helped me is playing with getting off the old stance ski (more weighted ski) earlier in transition (or "higher in the C") and onto the new (uphill) ski.

anyway, to repeat, get to know the entire turn.

speaking from the POV of someone who's also trying to become more comfortable, too, with speed on steeps.

gittout da backseat.
post #7 of 46
Sound like you have two things going on one your skiing from the back seat. Your mucseling your turns, and not letting the skis do the work.
The 2nd thing is what faisasy said. I'm 55 and I do like steep challanging terrain. Yet I'm usally one of the last to the lift in any group of skiers.
post #8 of 46
I can relate to this issue, and the advice I can give you is unfortunately not the advice that I always follow. When you approach a steeper slope, you probably have a tendency to start your turn across the hill, as opposed to down the hill. Someone once told me that if you do that, every turn becomes your first turn.

Aside from the rest of the excellent advice that has been given to you on this thread, you might try playing around with different skis. For example, I ski at turtle speeds until I put on a pair of Burnin' Luvs. It's psychological, but it works. Some skis are just more stable at speed. Good Luck!
post #9 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie View Post
... When you approach a steeper slope, you probably have a tendency to start your turn across the hill, as opposed to down the hill. Someone once told me that if you do that, every turn becomes your first turn.
I think that would only be a a problem if you complete your turn across the hill such that your CM was up hill of your feet instead of over your feet with respect to the plane of the slope.

Consider standing with your skis across the hill, you CM is uphill of you boots. This is your first turn starting position. Now consider a dynamic situation when you are skiing. When your x-over/under, your CM should be directly over you boots with respect to the plane of the slope. (See BB exquisite diagrams of the path of the skis/CM down the hill). In this case, it's not like your first turn.

My $.02. Hard to describe. Pix would be better.
post #10 of 46
Thread Starter 
I tend to burn out my legs even when going down green runs...so I think I am skidding way too much. I have done a LOT of research on the "Ski the Slow Line Fast" theory. Lots of threads out there and I believe that I have a good handle on what's going on.

I have a lot of things to try when I go out west...wish me luck! I appreciate all of the input.

One more thing...can you guys recommend a good instructor that is at Deer Valley or Park City? I think we are going to use the Free Day of Skiing when you fly into SLC. I can use it at Deer Valley and that would be a great time to take a lesson.
post #11 of 46
Our own Randy Jenkins!
post #12 of 46
Randy is great a real low key guy that Knows his stuff. Another to think about is Gene Guitarie I always butcher the spelling of his name. Anyway gene is at Park City and is only one of a hand full of instructors voted twice into the top 100 in the nation. He is also a great guy. I have learned a lot from both these fine and talented teachers Oh I almost forgot our own Ant she also teaches at Park City
post #13 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceace414 View Post
I am 38 years old and have been skiing for five years. I have been to Whistler twice, Colorado twice, and am going to Utah for the first time in three weeks. I am in pretty decent shape...but have a problem with my legs (particularly my quads) when going down runs. My legs will really burn and am I so tired...even after one run. It took me several trips to figure out what I think is wrong...I am scared of speed.

I notice myself "putting on the brakes" when I get going too fast...and when I do that several times down the run, I have exhausted my leg muscles. At least this is what I think is going on. I am going to take a private lesson while in Utah...but I wanted some feedback from you guys and girls.
Standing up straight uses a lot less muscle than crouching down. You are probably bending down into a crouch to feel more control over your skis at speed. This may be putting your butt too far back and causes you to use your legs more. A well-stacked position with the outside leg nearly straight will be a lot easier to maintain. Use less muscle and more bone alignment.


I concur with the slow-line fast statements, but be careful not to turn up into someones path. It is also fairly hard to carve uphill on steep terrain, so you may still end up going faster than you feel comfy at.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceace414 View Post
What can I do to help with my fear of going fast? Once I go over a certain speed, I feel like I am losing control and try to slow down. I know that it's not really going to hurt if I fall...but I can't help it. I believe this is the last obstacle holding me back from being a really decent skiier.

I want to be able to zoom down the groomed blue runs carefree and enjoy them for what they are. I hold my own on the blacks...because I don't go very fast there anyway.
That fear may well be solid self-preservation. Many many skis I have tried, despite receiving great reviews for their stability at speed by the magazines, are completely unresponsive and dangerous at high speeds. If I want to ski a big mountain, making big swoopy turns, I will be beyond GS racing ski speeds. Don't try to ski a DH route on a recreational SL or GS ski. I know at least one skier who gave up the sport after he crashed because he lost control of his skis at speed, despite exhibiting very good ability to control his line through all kinds of terrain. He didn't have enough fear and didn't have enough ski either.
post #14 of 46
I don’t see the problem.

We all ski at the speed we’re comfortable with. Skiing faster than that occurs when we get more confident in our technique and control. Then the speed increase is a byproduct of that.

But people don’t ski faster because they worked on their fear.

So don’t sweat it. Keep skiing, keep learning control and with that comes confidence. Then the speed will naturally occur.

I am improving all the time, but I’m not about to ski at a speed that I’m afraid to reach. That’s crazy. When I’m ready for additional speed, it’ll happen.
post #15 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCJIM View Post
I don’t see the problem.

We all ski at the speed we’re comfortable with. Skiing faster than that occurs when we get more confident in our technique and control. Then the speed increase is a byproduct of that.

But people don’t ski faster because they worked on their fear.

So don’t sweat it. Keep skiing, keep learning control and with that comes confidence. Then the speed will naturally occur.

I am improving all the time, but I’m not about to ski at a speed that I’m afraid to reach. That’s crazy. When I’m ready for additional speed, it’ll happen.
It goes a little deeper than that. It's not like I am zooming down the hill at 40 or 50 mph...most people pass me on the slopes. I have a fear of the speed...maybe it's more "the feeling of going fast". I think I am going fast, but still get passed by everyone. But the big part is burning my legs out...I think once I learn to CONTROL my speed more efficiently, then I will become less afraid of going fast and will not try to scrub speed all the way down.

As I said, I burn my legs just going down a slow green run...once I learn proper technique, then the speed fear will subside.
post #16 of 46
What skis are you on?
post #17 of 46
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
What skis are you on?
I own a pair of Atomic C9 BetaCarves...

But I have rented the last couple of times out west...the Atomics do much better for me on groomed runs or icy runs here at our little man made hill.

Last year I rented some Volkl Karma's....they rocked. I did feel much more in control with those...but still had the leg/fear issues.
post #18 of 46
First of all, I think you do well to be afraid of speed on those skis. It would not be hard at all to exceed their speed limit on a long steep run. However, you should be able to control speed without burning up.

It's a chicken and egg thing. You are tense because you are afraid and using your muscles. Doing this tires you and it becomes harder for you to control your speed because you are tired. You go faster and become more tense. You need to relax, stand up straighter and use the long bones in your legs to resist forces. Tip your skis more to affect sharper turns while keeping your stance stacked over the outside ski so you don't work too hard. Continue your turns more up hill to slow down more instead of relying on braking. Braking requires more work as you flex to absorb terrain features while exerting a lot of force through your legs. A car will bottom out the front springs when braking over a bump.

I hope that helps.
post #19 of 46
Sounds like to me, if your afraid of speed, you're skiing the wrong terrain....
post #20 of 46
Thread Starter 
I think I may have misled you guys with talking about "fear of speed". My biggest concern is burning out my legs due to trying to slow down. It happens on green, blue, black runs....so I am skiing terrain that I can. It seems (from previous posts) that it is my technique holding me back.

So once I learn to not burn out the legs, I think will enjoy skiing MUCH more. Maybe the fear of speed is wrong as I am just not skiing correctly.
post #21 of 46
i have this cousin...
his conditioning is NOT the issue; he's in phenomenal shape, strength- and aerobic-wise.
he's never taken a lesson (and will never advance beyond terminal intermediate status until he does.)
he likes to make big turns on blue terrain but does it like a hockey player, then, when he's tired (takes about three runs, literally) he can't turn so he straightlines, slamming to a stop like he's found a crease and is waiting for the puck.
then he starts to drop hints that his legs sure are burning, just as i'm getting warmed up and loose. (grrr.)
he and i will be having a little pre-trip discussion this year.

your toes are well acquainted with your boot tops.
your heels do a lot of work.

your legs are tired because you're driving from the back; that means relentless tension, which means fatigue and the lovely lactic acid fire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceace414 View Post
I want to be able to zoom down the groomed blue runs carefree and enjoy them for what they are.
a lesson may be in order. you'll get there. props to you for looking to fix what oughtn't be too hard to get straightened out. you'll have a lot more fun.
post #22 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceace414 View Post
Once I go over a certain speed, I feel like I am losing control and try to slow down.
Yo Ace!

The back seat issue has already been mentioned. This specific complaint is most likely the result of a relatively flat ski. If you learn to use your edges more, you will feel more control at speed. This can go hand in hand with learning to move your body with the skis so that you don't end up with your weight behind your heels (that's what burns your quads). A lesson for this can be very demoralizing because you need to go to very easy terrain to learn the movements to make this work. Once you learn the movements, practice going fast ACROSS the slope. Between fixing the leg burn, getting more control from more edging and getting comfortable with lateral speed, you will easily get to the next level in your skiing.
post #23 of 46
Basically you are afraid of going fast because you are afraid of falling down while going fast. Most have this fear and to be honest it will probably always occupy your mind until you happen to fall down and wipe out while going fast and find out you didnt get killed or maimed. Thats the best way to put it.

I am not reccomended going fast then wiping out on purpose. I am just saying you probably will never get over the fear until experience teaches you that it really is not the end of the world if you fall down going fast. Sure you can get injured, hit a tree, etc etc but really you will probably find it is nowhere near as bad as you thought once it happens.
post #24 of 46
Spaceace414: I so know all about this one.

My legs used to get so tired from fighting the forces of gravity. Thanks to reading here and input from fine folks at Epic I learned I was doing some things pretty wrong.

for the most part I learned here that one needs to line up their body to let their body (skeleton lined up properly) take the forces instead of the just the legs. Once I found this secret I began to hunt for it on a regular basis.

I'm still hunting for better but for the most part I don't get anywhere near as tired in my legs.

the two secrets were:

Not being so far back (ooo leg burner) when you go faster you lean back more (cause your brain thinks it's safer to lean uphill) but this worsens the problem. Instead think ATTACK !. lean down the hill, get the weight over the downhill ski.

Best exercise I found for this is when you make a left hand turn try to drag you ski pole downhill of your right hand ski. (hold the pole upside down, IE basket at the top). This forces you to get away from the uphill and you will feel the increased edge power and reduction of forces on just your legs.

The second was learning to carve the whole turn and not just dig the edges in to make you go where you want or short bursts of edge digging. Rather trying to get even edge engagement through the whole turn and using the end of the turn (how much you turn uphill) to control your speed.

exercise for this is make a turn and keep turning till you face uphill. You will feel your speed go away. when you ski you simply do this till you are at the speed you like then make another turn.

with those two things comes all sorts of challenges of moving hips properly, seperating your upper and lower body, proper weight transfer inbetween turns etc...

My advice, take a lesson and ask the instructor to teach you to carve, from there all the other peices will need to be worked on and you too will get the sickness that many of us have..... the strive to be perfect.

I enjoy skiing so much more now that I don't get as tired in the legs.
post #25 of 46
Thread Starter 
Wow...you guys have no idea how much I appreciate all of this input. I am going to print out all of these "lessons" and use them when I go next month. I will also try to take a lesson. I enjoy skiing too much...and I am so competitive...I want to do it right and enjoy it even more. This reminds me of golf..one thing builds upon another. So much to learn. I remember at Whistler five years ago when I made my first "real" turn...I thought WOW, I'm skiing! It all just "clicked" after that. But I now find I have a lot to learn...but am encouraged to see that I am not far away from doing it right.

If you are in Utah the first week of February, look for the guy on the slope with a handful of printed posts trying to do it "the right way".

Thanks guys. I have learned a lot today.
post #26 of 46
Is there any skiing in Kentucky or close to you. "Skiing for five years" and where ever you ski is not the issue; the main issue may be building "miles on the snow" ...

Utah, Colorado ..... the state ain't the important part, time on skis is.
post #27 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceace414 View Post
I will also try to take a lesson.
If you want to come to Alta, we can work on some of this stuff together...

L
post #28 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceace414 View Post
I think I may have misled you guys with talking about "fear of speed". My biggest concern is burning out my legs due to trying to slow down. It happens on green, blue, black runs....so I am skiing terrain that I can. It seems (from previous posts) that it is my technique holding me back.

So once I learn to not burn out the legs, I think will enjoy skiing MUCH more. Maybe the fear of speed is wrong as I am just not skiing correctly.
AHA! EUREKA! I can't believe I missed this one. Warning: This is one of those chicken or egg scenarios. If your legs start to burn as you slow down, you might be one of the millions of people who have limited eccentric strength. In inability to decelerate without pain is one of the symptoms. Weak eccentric strength may in turn affect your technique. If you don't have any knee injuries, consider a modified plyometric exercise program, which will emphasize the deceleration phase of a movement.
post #29 of 46
Thread Starter 
Lonnie...you have a PM.

LisaMarie...I do not have knee problems, but I did have back surgery three years ago on my L4/L5 for two herniated discs. I still have numbness occassionally in my leg because of the nerve (mostly scar tissue), but I am able to jog on the treadmill and do most normal exercises. Not sure if the "explosiveness" of the plyometric exercise would hurt me or not. Any thoughts? I may try some to see how it goes...
post #30 of 46
Perhaps you're trying to be too aggressive on the easier runs? This happens to me. I want to make short, aggresive turns but the easy(not steep) runs don't give me the speed needed to make them effortlessly. So I find myself having to muscle down and really push my skis through the turns. This, in turn, ends up burning out my legs.
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