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Recovering from loss of control?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I had a scare today, which made me realize that there's a potentially dangerous situation that I don't know how to recover from.

I was skiing in PA down a black run (probably advanced blue in most places); the run begins as a blue, then becomes a black, with the major feature being a steep section that first goes a while to the left, then without straightening completely but still with a relatively gentle part drops to the right in such a way that you can't see the whole steep.

After making sure nobody was around, I carefully entered the steep; my intention was to do either "old-style" parallel turns, stem turns or start and stops depending on how the snow feels. Since it was late and this was PA, it was quite icy and I kept skidding, to the point where I was getting close to the middle. I was intending to cut to the left towards a gentler run, but already had too much momentum and was lower down than expected because of the skidding. At that point, however, I saw a bunch of boarders camping in different points on the part that heads to the right. I felt that I couldn't safely brake and be sure that I avoid them, so I headed between them, and hit terminal velocity.

At this point, I could go on schussing and try to slow on the flat (this was a relatively wide run), crash myself (I was already going fast), or try a turn which I'm not sure how to initiate at this speed. I mentally froze and went with option I, figuring that there is no obstacle in front although if I hit something or my bindings release, I'm doomed.

Obviously, I should not have gotten myself to this point, I realize that. But still, if you're in a situation of schussing or just having too much speed, what's the best thing to do? I'm not good at carving and have never managed to understand how one carves on an icy steep. Yet all the turn initiations that I'm familiar with that are not carving require some nongentle thing that would have topped me over.

Reflecting on my skiing experience, I realized that there's a speed which, if I hit, I don't know how to get out of. I try to avoid it, but if I do end up in those situations (usually due to ice or to trying to avoid people), what's the best thing to do?
post #2 of 14
hockey stop.

unweight both skis, pivot skis 90* to direction of travel, engage edges.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteroom View Post
hockey stop.

unweight both skis, pivot skis 90* to direction of travel, engage edges.
I'm not sure I'm in the appropriate level; is this like a jet turn ?
How do you unweight both skis? especially when going fast?
post #4 of 14
What WR is suggesting is that you get your skis pointing straight sideways to your direction of travel and dig your edges in to stop like a hockey player would on skates. If you are not comfortable with this move, you need to practice it. Doing it on a bumpy run at high speed could easily make you crash if you are not skilled.

Whether to tuck it out or not depends on what is below you, and what skis you have on. My brother who will likely never go skiing again, tried to tuck it out on some low-end Head skis. When he came to, ski patrol was confiscating his lift pass. His response was, "Take it; I don't want to play skiing any more." It sounds like you made the right choice.

To make a non-carved turn at speeds and radii beyond what your ski is designed for, you simply tip them using the same movements you would to carve. You should gradually explore higher speeds so you know what to expect and are able control yourself.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by uricmu View Post
How do you unweight both skis? especially when going fast?
Do you have a bathroom scale?

If so, stand on it and flex your knees and ankles into a skiing position. Then straighten both legs and stand upright, the 'weight' on the scale will appear to get heavier as your feet press against the scale as your legs extend, then it will get 'light' as you are fully extended at full height... thats unweighting.
post #6 of 14
Practice this on gentle terrain.

Straight down the hill and then "squat" down ..... then "jump" up ...

On the "up" motion twist the ankles around and when the skis are across the hill dig the edges in as you then again begin a down motion ... using the knees to flex (extend and contract).

You may end up adz over teacups a few times till you get it.

You shouldn't be on any "black ... or steep blue" terrain anywhere if you don't have this down.

You will have the same effect in PA .... as in MASS, VT, or CO ..... the gravity in Austria is indeed different and that, is another lesson.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
Whether to tuck it out or not depends on what is below you, and what skis you have on. My brother who will likely never go skiing again, tried to tuck it out on some low-end Head skis. When he came to, ski patrol was confiscating his lift pass. His response was, "Take it; I don't want to play skiing any more." It sounds like you made the right choice.
Not sure what you mean by tuck it out. To go on and hope for the best? That's the choice I made, knowing that I didn't have better skills than that.

I've been ok with that slope many times when it was in a better state; heck, I've seen people snowplowing it (which incidentally doesn't work). Still, I should probably improve my skiing on more gradual slopes The problem is that here in PA is that you don't have a good variety of slopes to practice on. It's either snoozers or uneven steeps. I would not have been there if it didn't have the runout at the end.
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by uricmu View Post
Not sure what you mean by tuck it out. To go on and hope for the best?
Exactly, "If in doubt, tuck it out." It means aim for the bottom in a tuck position without making any moves that might upset your equilibrium. Of course, if the bottom is too far away and your skis too unstable they could just rattle off your boots, or you could hit a bump and end up falling at a way higher speed. Sometimes it's the right choice, sometimes its a very wrong choice.
post #9 of 14
There are plenty of good slopes in PA to practice on. Uncle Yuki has spent too much (sadly of course), of his ski time in Pennsyltucky.



Problem with "tucking it our" since you can't do a hop turn or hockey stop is that it sounds like you may save a "sensitive receptor" but end up doing extensive damage to yourself as you become up close and familiar with Pennsylvania's other flora (oaks, pines or maples) ...

Do some time where you are in control .... sounds like it's time for a lesson!

What you are describing is not skiing in control.
post #10 of 14
If you should find that situation starting to develop again before you learn how to stop, turning uphill is surprisingly effective at dumping speed.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post
If you should find that situation starting to develop again before you learn how to stop, turning uphill is surprisingly effective at dumping speed.
It is rare that I find myself in situations where I can't either stop or turn uphill. Though admittedly I usually take my way slowly down steeps and run my share of turns. I often stop when I hear traffic above me to let faster skiers go through with less surprises. I ended up in this situation due to ice and people on the run. No excuse, but I hope not to find myself in it often.

going uphill means initiating the turn; above a certain speed, I'm not sure how to do that without crashing and burning, or flying towards the edges of the trail and any hard objects or drop there.... I thought about edging, but wasn't sure what the effect would be.

I have thought about the following practice: repeatedly go to a run that has a decent run-out at the end, stop at some point before the end of the steep, schuss down, and attempt to do either stops or direction changes to build up my resistance.

However, at high speeds and on icier conditions, I'm not sure how to inititate a turn.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuki View Post
Problem with "tucking it our" since you can't do a hop turn or hockey stop is that it sounds like you may save a "sensitive receptor" but end up doing extensive damage to yourself as you become up close and familiar with Pennsylvania's other flora (oaks, pines or maples) ...

Do some time where you are in control .... sounds like it's time for a lesson!

What you are describing is not skiing in control.
I realize that, hence the title of this thread...

I've actually taken my share of lessons by now (admittedly, group lessons), and they tend to be focused on turns, not as much on safety. I've also done this slope quite a few times before.

My problem is the panic and sense of lack of control that comes from icy hardpack... I made the choice I made after seeing the snowboarders parking below after the run curved right, and realizing that if I tried to crash myself or avoid them, I might not make it. I knew that there was nothing solid for a long long time after the flat since I've done this run before. My choices would have been different if there were any obstacles below.





In this situation, I should have in retrospect crashed myself as soon as I saw the bor
post #13 of 14
My 2 cents... I was in your similar situation a while back where I'm not sure if I can be in total control all the time no matter what. I actually crashed into my daughter once when she decided to suddenly swirl right across me and I can't slow down.

My lesson learnt... others can do it so do you. Its a matter of learning it AND THEN going down those runs. Many advice here about hockey stop, turning up hill, ... and yes, those are what I learn from lessons after my incident. And they do work.

Guess what I'm saying (sorry ranting ) is that you need to know the skills needed to accommodate the situation that you think you might get into for the run, then go for it. For your own good & others no matter who's right.

And hockey stop is, to me an intermediate, one of the best defense as it allows me to kill the speed very fast.
post #14 of 14
After reading the whole thread, I have one piece of advice, and that is to not get into situations where you become scared and out of control. This may sound like a reprimand from captain obvious, but I really mean that you should be proactive about your skiing. Think ahead and plan your skiing from the top of the trail rather than reacting as you go -- you have to realize that at your skill level, you are probably not capable of reacting properly. Don't, even for a second, let your speed get out of control. Don't get into situations that require immediate quick corrections. Don't enter into lines that require a make or break maneuver, or that have no alternate bailout if the planned line changes. These are all scenarios that define an expert skier, someone who is able to make on the fly changes in form, technique, line, etc. Someone that can be a reactive skier when they have to be (but they still generally ski proactively when they can). You'll get there eventually. For now, start thinking down the hill and stay out of trouble. Work on all the moves you need to handle obstacles and stay in control, but in situations where it's not dangerous to yourself or others.
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