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Fear of Speed - Page 2

post #31 of 46
Hi Spaceace414--just a couple thoughts. . .

First of all, you say, "I notice myself 'putting on the brakes' when I get going too fast. . . ." Well, yeah! What sane person wouldn't?

And then your legs get exhausted. Yes again! There is nothing unusual about your skiing whatsoever--it is the same for everyone, or at least, everyone with a normal survival instinct. There is nothing necessarily wrong with your technique. And you are quite normal!

"Too fast" is a state of mind, and many things can affect it besides just speed. "Too fast" for one skier may be excruciatingly slow for another. But when we reach that threshhold where it feels "too fast," we all become defensive--you, me, and Bode Miller. Indeed, I would define "too fast" as that state of mind in which we come defensive.

When we become defensive, we instinctively want to grip the planet and slow down. We want to prevent our skis from gliding as easily. We want to hit the brakes. And so we do--by twisting our skis into a skid.

Sometimes it's necessary--the sensible thing to do. But generally, hitting the brakes only makes the sensation of "too fast" get worse. Ironically, hitting the brakes becomes increasingly dangerous the faster you go. When your skis are gliding straight down the hill, there's not much that can go wrong. Unless you hit the brakes!

In any case, it's a simple fact of life--when you go "too fast," you want to slow down. The solution is not to try to do something different when you're going too fast--it is to avoid going too fast in the first place! Most people know that better turns are faster (they win races), and everyone knows that starting a good turn--turning your skis down the hill--will make you go faster, not slower (unless you have the brakes on). So you have to want to go faster all the time--not slower--if you want to make better, more efficient, more gliding, less tiring turns.

I don't know about you, but the only time I want to go faster is when I'm going "too slow." "Too slow," like "too fast," is also not a speed but a state of mind. It may even be quite fast (think Bode Miller--he usually wants to go faster, even at 85 mph). But it is the absolute pre-requisite of all great offensive (carved, or at least not intentionally skidded) turns. You have to want to go faster all the time.

And that means something that may seem to contradict all that is wise and common sense and "conventional wisdom." It means that, if you think of turning for speed control (as most skiers do), you must think again. Good turns do not control speed--and better turns are even faster. Bode's best turns are hardly made for speed control. Yours shouldn't be either!

Turns control direction--they give you control of where you're going, control of your line. And the right line will control your speed for you. I do not turn to control speed. I turn so I don't have to control speed!

And that is what Faisasy is talking about when he refers to "the slow line fast." Great skiing is skiing a slow enough line as fast as you can (when you can--and braking when you have to). (Faisasy, by the way--you do not need to ski--and I don't think you really meant--"the slowest line possible." It merely needs to be "slow enough." Slow enough that, no matter how fast you ski it--that is, how little you brake, and how well you turn--you can't go "too fast.") Again, "slow enough" is an individual thing--slow enough for one skier may be way too fast for another.

The fastest possible line is straight down the hill. The slowest possible line is straight uphill. A "slow enough" line simply uses gravity to control speed--completing turns uphill if necessary, taking advantage of terrain features like the sides of gullies, gentle rises, moguls, and so on. If I want to go faster, I go downhill (as fast as I can). If I want to go slower, I go uphill (as fast as I can). And, only if I really must, I hit the brakes.

So--think of a turn as a way to "go where you want to go"--as it generally is in a car, a bicycle, and most other situations. Turn to "go that way," rather than to "stop going this way," or to slow down. Don't wait until you need to control speed to make a turn. The thought that triggers the great turns of all great skiers is "I'm going too slow--want more speed"--which you will get the moment you release your edges and guide your skis down the hill into the new turn.

So try skiing a slower line. It will revolutionize your skiing. Ski it as fast as you can. Your legs will thank you!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #32 of 46
PS--Skiing "the slow line fast" has been much discussed over the years at EpicSki. If we've piqued your interest, do a search for "slow line fast" in the archives. You'll find plenty to read!

Best regards,
post #33 of 46
Originally Posted by Yuki View Post
"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.

I've been skiing for 4 years. One of those "years" was a winter I skied only one time.
post #34 of 46
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.
Irregardless of posture or stance position over our skis, burning out the legs quickly usually equates to being static and rigid. I would promote more movement in the ankles, knees, and hips first and then let the tactics develope as the movements and technique improve.

Something to try on your own would be to ski a third of a nice easy green run with your hands on your knee caps. Keep them there constantly, paying attention to how it feels in the boots and how the skis are behaving on the snow.

Then ski a third of the run staying as tall as you can. Really tall, keeping your arms down to your side or maybe hugging yourself. Again pay attention ot how your body is moving to start the turn and what you are feeling inside the boots and how the skis are working on the snow.

Now stop and just focus on your breathing. Breath slow, deep and steady. Now still stopped, get down in the hands on the knees position and then as you breath in slowly, rise up slowly to the tall long position. Time this movement with your inhale. Once you at you tallest start exhaling as you reverse your movement down into your low position. Again, time this flexing down to the hands on the knees with your exhale. Now start skiing in the hands on the knees position, and slowly inhale as you start the turn timing the movement with your inhale so that you get longest when you are in the falline. Then you reverse the movements, exhaling as you get shorter. This is of course, an exagerated range of motion, but humor yourself and finish the run working this whole range of motion in both directions in every turn, letting your deep deliberate breathing drive the tempo of the movements. Even later on, keep exagerating the range of motion, as it will allow you to work a more normal range of motion more comfortably.

Then go back up and ski an entire run doing the same thing, and my guess is that you will be more relaxed and find your legs in much better shape. You may also find that your turns round out and your speed becomes more consistent and less of an issue. From here you can try keeping your arms and hands in their normal position out in front and wider than your shoulders as you continue to move through this range of motion as you breath. Again, let your breathing drive the pace of the movements. Don't rush getting taller or shorter, keep the movement going as you breath. If you get off the tempo, stop again and work through the static exercise again.

More movement, less effort. Now your other skills will blend in better, you will have the ability to change turn shape better, and absorb the variations in the surface better all the while staying more relaxed. Have fun, and I hope this helps. It is one you can do on your own. I'd take a lesson too.
post #35 of 46
Thread Starter 
I am certainly going to take a lesson when I get there...just a few weeks away. I am going to look into these exercises that Lisamarie was talking about to help with my legs...plus you have all given me some good things to study.

Bob, I had already done some research on the "slow line fast". Lots of info out there. I will certainly bring this up to my instructor...hopefully it will be an instructor from Epicski if I can get it worked out. I am talking with a couple right now...just depends on schedules etc..
post #36 of 46
Spaceace414, what you need to understand is that there are quite a few forces at work here and those forces will continue to be at work till the day you die.

Just as soon as you iron out a few of the technique issues via some lessons, you will discover some equipment issues like how the ski and boot centers are matched or footbed issues .... the list is endless and each time you improve you will open another "Pandoras box" ...

Just take some lessons and enjoy the ride ....

And .... the quest for financial ruin on your way to that "perfect tern" ...
post #37 of 46
Spaceace414: Your problem seems very familiar. As I think another poster pointed out, a likely cause of burning quads is being in the back seat. I've experienced the same thing. On easy terrain it is very easy to stand stacked or balanced, and when it gets harder I changed my stance to more of a crouch, my hips moved back and most of my weight was being supported by my quads.

One thing I have discovered to remind me of what it feels like to have your weight forward is to skate. It is probably impossible to skate in the back seat. I found that out after coming to a flat area one day and the burn just magically started going away as I had to skate.
post #38 of 46
Wow - you guys give some good advice! I have the same issue - glad to have some tips for things to try. Thanks!! This ski forum is definetly a good resource!!
post #39 of 46
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by purduegrad03 View Post
Wow - you guys give some good advice! I have the same issue - glad to have some tips for things to try. Thanks!! This ski forum is definetly a good resource!!
You got that right!
post #40 of 46
A couple of new points and some reiteration---

a) Check your fore & aft angle of your legs when you're in your boots and on your skis. Try this at home in front of a mirror. The extra height of the heel binding vs. the toe binding, plus the ramp angle of the footboard inside the boot, plus the forward lean of the boot cuff may put you too far forward. If you can remove any spoilers or other gizmos screwed to your boot to get you more upright, try that. That'll put you more upright to relieve some of your fatigue and likely allow you to ski better.

b) Always, ALWAYS, ski with your balance on the balls of your feet, mainly the ball of the outside foot and light or greater contact of your shin against the front of the boot cuff. If your feet get out in front, give them a strong pull back under your hips. To keep good fore/aft balance, strongly pull your uphill foot back all the time in every turn.

c) Develop a 100% reliable short turn on comfortable terrain. As said above, learn to use your edges to make the turn, not just skidding on the bases. Use lots (LOTS) of counterbalance where your shoulders tilt down the hill and your hips are uphill for balance. Keep your outside ski pole back, never forward of the fall line. The paradox is that you must ski very aggressively to have the control to ski as slowly as you wish.

d) Control your speed by making tighter turns and finishing the turns more uphill, not alternating side skids on rigid legs.

So...now you're more upright in your boots, never sitting back, never leaning your shoulders toward the hill, never allowing your outside ski pole to get forward past the fall line (never allowing your shoulders to twist toward the hill), making turns on your ski edges, and being most efficient with what your body has to offer.

post #41 of 46
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
b) Always, ALWAYS, ski with your balance on the balls of your feet, mainly the ball of the outside foot and light or greater contact of your shin against the front of the boot cuff. If your feet get out in front, give them a strong pull back under your hips. To keep good fore/aft balance, strongly pull your uphill foot back all the time in every turn.
You will find that there are many many people that will disagree with this advice.

As a "home base" position, the balance point ought to be roughly mid-foot, not fore-foot or heel. This balance point will vary depending on your intent, but in general it will move from ball to mid to heel and repeat.

If any of those three positions is preferable, it is to balance over the middle of the foot, just ahead of the front of the ankle, roughly equal pressure on the bottoms of the feet. From this position, your feet will work properly, and your balance adjustments will be made easier.

Balancing on the balls and shell of the boot is not recommended -- it is biomechanically unsound.
post #42 of 46
One major reason we lose controll of our speed is that we are going too faast. This might sound stupid but as we pick up exessive speed we tend to fall in the back seat. Once we do that at least 2 bad things happen: we gain even more speed and we block all stearing and braking movement possibilities. So the moral of this story is to keep your speed down in the first place. How do we do that? Yes, by regaining controll over our speed after each turn. We take it one turn at the time.
post #43 of 46

Without reading all of the posts, you need to stay balanced over your skis by bending more from the ankles and know just bending your knees. This will allign your torso over your feet and allieviate the quad burn. Shaped skis tend to move forward, out from under us, when we try to scrub speed by pushing them sideways, leaving us in the back seat (streight ankles, bent knees, quads burning). Control your speed by making half circle shaped turns so that you decelerate as you ski out of the fall line. From there, you will have to make a little stronger move over your skis (and into the new direction) to change edges into the next turn.

I suggest you take a lesson to help you make the stance and turn shape correction more quickly.

post #44 of 46
Thread Starter 


Okay...just got back from my Utah ski trip.

I took a private lesson from "Barbara" at Park City...and what a difference an hour makes! She concentrated on my balance and my transition from turn to turn. She had me "round" my shoulders a bit more and move my hands forward. She also worked on my body alignment when in the turn...basically having me lean my upper body away from the hill more...thus creating a better edge with my skis.

After my lesson, I was able to ski MUCH longer without stopping...my legs were not nearly as sore as before, and I was going MUCH MUCH faster than I ever have before...and felt IN CONTROL. The best $120 I have ever spent.
post #45 of 46

I had a lesson last year in Vermont. One of my main issues seemed to be that I was letting my hands drop and that partly put me in the back seat. I think that we tend not to pay much attention to the hand position/poles on easier terrain and thus my sloppy hand position.

I am glad your lesson worked so well. I have also had tired legs--mostly due to back seat skiing. When I improved my hand position, I got much less tired and it actually felt like floating!!

Thanks everyone here for the great advice!
post #46 of 46



Obviously some very good comments for your question. Let me add one more.

First, when you take that lesson make sure you tell your instructor your goals for the lesson.

Second, try the following (add to the back seat comments etc.). Finish your turns whether they are short, med. or long it doesn't matter finish them. Not necessarily up the hill. If you are patient and let your ski's turn and then let them arc to a smooth conclusion you will eliminate the "jambed" turns so indicative of a person/skier who picks up speed with every turn and then reaches the WARP speed he is unconfortable with and then he jambs the brakes "quads" to slow down of stop.

On an easy intermediate groomed slope make 6 med radius turns and make them in an arc not a zig and then zag. Work to make your 3rd and 6th turn the same speed as your lst turn.

Third, pick a comfortable run with a long runout and go for speed, even do some tucking if conditions allow. This should be done obviously with others in mind for safety and you can move this tuck up the hill to get more comfortable with speed. As previously stated the Skis matter too.

Summary. I certainly agree with the prior posts from some very excellent instructors and skiers. Back seat will burn your quads, balance etc. but try finishing your turns to enjoy the mountain. Change your turns to the terrain and the speed you want to go. Sometimes you see pretty good skiers that only make one turn everywhere, they look good but aren't really skiing the mountain. Ski the mountain, flow with the terrain don't fight it.

Have a great time in Utah!!
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