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BRITNEY SHAVED HEAD--Skiing the Right Line

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Just a little bit of marketing in the thread title to make sure people would read and respond. Hopefully the mods will appreciate the tongue-in-cheekness and not delete.

Anyway, took a lesson the other day and realized what my biggest (among many, I'm sure) problem is. Skied great all morning during the lesson. Instructor took me down groomed blacks all over the hill. I followed his tracks and skied with confidence, speed, and what felt like really good technique. Dropped my left hand a few times, but other than that, spot on skiing all morning and I felt great.

Then, in the afternoon, decided to hit the same runs by myself, and it was a very different experience, and that's when I realized my biggest limitation has nothing to do with my angulation, or my hand position, or my body lean, it's between my ears. I am constantly worried about the line that I am skiing, but when I skied behind the instructor, I didn't even think about it--I just followed his line.

So, there are two alternative questions: 1) how do I pick the right line, or 2) (what I suspect is the answer I'll get) should I even worry about picking the right line? Thanks.

By the way, what's up with Britney?
post #2 of 27
This thread had so much potential when I clicked on the link....
post #3 of 27
Well I'm no instructor, but maybe it would help if you tell us what exactly it is you are worried about when you are trying to pick the right line or maybe to put it better, what makes a line good vs. bad for you. Maybe you are really worried about turn shape or size? I could see having this problem maybe at the top of some bumps but never on a groomer unless it is covered with ice or obstacles - it sounds like you're skiing very confidently in your lesson on black terrain, it's hard to imagine what would be stopping you when you are on your own. Part of the reason I love skiing so much is that I can ski whatever I want, however I want to ski it. Unless you are bashing gates there are no hard rules as to what the "right" line to ski is, no restrictions (excluding BC avy safety stuff) - it's whatever you would like to ski or whatever you are comfortable on! My non-expert advice would be to point em and smile all the way down cause skiing is fun no matter what your skiing
Also - I'm guessing that instructors here have seen this before so maybe they could offer some better advice.
post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sphinx15 View Post
Well I'm no instructor, but maybe it would help if you tell us what exactly it is you are worried about when you are trying to pick the right line or maybe to put it better, what makes a line good vs. bad for you.
That's just the point--I'm not really sure what I'm worried about--and "worry" may be too strong a word. I just know that there is always a pervasive niggle in the back of my mind (starts on the lift actually) about picking the right line--left side? right side? below the tree? above the tree? sun? shade? It keeps going in my head until I've reached the bottom.
post #5 of 27
A bad line has a tree in it.
A good line makes you smile.
post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcskier View Post
That's just the point--I'm not really sure what I'm worried about--and "worry" may be too strong a word. I just know that there is always a pervasive niggle in the back of my mind (starts on the lift actually) about picking the right line--left side? right side? below the tree? above the tree? sun? shade? It keeps going in my head until I've reached the bottom.
I think this is a sign you think too much..kind of like that Britney title on this thread :. Ski more!

Actually I think Bonni may have had the right idea; the good line is the one that doesn't hurt you, and makes you smile the most.
post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post
the good line is the one that doesn't hurt you, and makes you smile the most.
Unfortunately, only determinable in retrospect.
post #8 of 27
Maybe you are placing too much emphasis on "scouting" the line. I have often realized (in hindsight) that I could have picked a better line, but it's not a big deal -- I adjust on the next run. Often times you don't really find all the hazards on the hill unless you have done it the hard way and skied it. A visual line is just a starting point. I say relax. Take your best guess and then go with the flow. It's rare to find and ski the perfect line every single time. For all you know someone will cut you off, or maybe you encounter ice, or blow a turn, and suddenly the planned line down the hill changes. You can adapt to that.

Maybe we can get at the root cause by asking "so what, what's the problem if it is the wrong line?"
post #9 of 27
As an instructor, I experienced the other end of this phenomena early on in my teaching career. It's exasperating when you find out that you are not making permanent changes in your students. As much as being a good leader in the follow the leader exercise is part art and part magic, I've since learned that it's necessary to stop and explain some of the terrain reading and route selection secrets that make those beautiful runs happen. Unfortunately, step 1 we have to strip away all of the complexities of line selection first or else all that thinking spoils everything.

A large part of "route selection" is simply finishing your turns. Some of it is managing double fall lines to increase or decrease the pitch of the slope. Some of it is managing turn size to adapt to changes in pitch. Some of it may be going straight over slick spots and turning in the soft snow. There are also tricks like initiating a turn on a little high spot on the trail to aid weight shift.

Another subtle part of route management is speed control. Many intermediate skiers control their speed in the bottom half of the turn. It's much easier for them to not brake in the bottom of the turn, but control speed in the top half of the next turn by finishing their old turn more up the hill if they have a reference point moving in front of them (i.e. their instructors). Take away that reference point and the skidding in the bottom half of the turn automagically returns. Without carrying any speed out of the old turn, they can't finish it nicely. That screws up the start to the next turn and the cycle continues.

But the bottom line for some people is that they simply need more help with someone else doing the line selection work for a while until they've locked in the movements that make those nice turns happen. After enough practice, the body movements are memorized and the line selection tactics have been unconsciously absorbed by osmosis.
post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
But the bottom line for some people is that they simply need more help with someone else doing the line selection work for a while until they've locked in the movements that make those nice turns happen. After enough practice, the body movements are memorized and the line selection tactics have been unconsciously absorbed by osmosis.
For me personally alot of line selection is trail and error. More mileage has helped but its still a work in progress. One thing that has helped me alot is skiing with people who ski better than I am and trying to follow their lines.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
Another subtle part of route management is speed control. Many intermediate skiers control their speed in the bottom half of the turn. It's much easier for them to not brake in the bottom of the turn, but control speed in the top half of the next turn by finishing their old turn more up the hill if they have a reference point moving in front of them (i.e. their instructors). Take away that reference point and the skidding in the bottom half of the turn automagically returns. Without carrying any speed out of the old turn, they can't finish it nicely. That screws up the start to the next turn and the cycle continues.
THAT'S IT! Wow, I hadn't thought of it that precisely, but that is EXACTLY what was happening. What were precise, controlled, almost effortless turns in the first part of the day became feathered, more abrupt (and less controlled) turns in the afternoon. Also, I felt like I had to scrub a lot more speed in the afternoon, whereas in the morning, with only the instructors line and speed to follow, I just kept my hips over my feet and didn't even think about the speed.

Holy cow, you must be a really good instructor to have been able to experience and articulate this phenomenon.

So, now what do I do?
post #12 of 27
Yes I agree with this - very insightful Rusty! As an example, the first time I like to ski a new difficult trail with someone who knows the place for this reason. It does work to get you through and increase confidence. I think as he suggests more practice helps with this so you choose your line and finish the turns on your own.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcskier View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Another subtle part of route management is speed control. Many intermediate skiers control their speed in the bottom half of the turn. It's much easier for them to not brake in the bottom of the turn, but control speed in the top half of the next turn by finishing their old turn more up the hill if they have a reference point moving in front of them (i.e. their instructors). Take away that reference point and the skidding in the bottom half of the turn automagically returns. Without carrying any speed out of the old turn, they can't finish it nicely. That screws up the start to the next turn and the cycle continues.

THAT'S IT! Wow...that is EXACTLY what was happening.

So, now what do I do?
Read the next paragraph in Rusty's post (after the one you quoted.)

Back off the blacks when on your own and work those movements and timing on easier terrain, then bring them to the more difficult terrain gradually as you gain more experience and confidence with them.
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcskier View Post
So, now what do I do?
I'm sorry. Union rules limit me to performing only one miracle per day, otherwise I must relinquish my blind squirrel title.
post #15 of 27
luckily, I work for a non-union shop.

Without having you ski, or a better description of your (on your own) skiing, this is just a "stab in the dark." Are you finishing your turns when skiing on your own. That is, are your turns going at all across the hill (in a continuous curve) without a braking movement at the end of the turn? I'm guessing (and it's a complete guess) that you are not doing that.

One thing to keep in mind is that instructors intentionally pick a line when "playing follow-the-leader" that relies on turn shape and terrain features to control the speed they want to go. Our hope is usually that the student will pick up that habit from repetition.
post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
I'm sorry. Union rules limit me to performing only one miracle per day, otherwise I must relinquish my blind squirrel title.
Please?
post #17 of 27
Seriously, I don't know what more I could do over the Internet that would be helpful.

Not so seriously, I could show you more in person, but then I'd have to .....

recruit you to become an instructor.
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
But the bottom line for some people is that they simply need more help with someone else doing the line selection work for a while until they've locked in the movements that make those nice turns happen. After enough practice, the body movements are memorized and the line selection tactics have been unconsciously absorbed by osmosis.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcskier View Post
whereas in the morning, with only the instructors line and speed to follow, I just kept my hips over my feet and didn't even think about the speed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
Take your best guess and then go with the flow.
Didn't click for me either until I learned to feel where my center wanted to go.
post #19 of 27
Do you do it on greens? Maybe it's just because you are not used to the terrain, that you worry about it. I've also noticed that runs can evolve from nice easy soft runs with a few soft bumps in the morning to sloped skating rinks with monster moguls by late afternoon.
post #20 of 27

off color remark warning

Just to finish this out - on the Britney thing funniest comment I heard was

"Well at least the drapes match the carpet now"
post #21 of 27
I expect that following the instructor, you were making nice rounded turns and finishing the turns (steering uphill before starting the new turn). Relying on balance and steering, rather than braking movements.

I'm guessing you were on Erikas/Willys/Silver King?
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcskier View Post
...but when I skied behind the instructor, I didn't even think about it--I just followed his line...

He was trying to show you a better line. Maybe you should have thought about it, instead of following without thinking. Take another lesson and this time pay attention.
post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
I expect that following the instructor, you were making nice rounded turns and finishing the turns (steering uphill before starting the new turn). Relying on balance and steering, rather than braking movements...
What I was trying to say.
post #24 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
I'm guessing you were on Erikas/Willys/Silver King?
Nope--Reward, Square Deal, Stein's Way.
post #25 of 27
Ski where the snow is.
And Brittney is still a babe.
post #26 of 27
Ah, you were at DV, not PCMR.
post #27 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ant View Post
Ah, you were at DV, not PCMR.
Yep.
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