or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Humbled on the steeps

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Several knowledgeable skiers have observed that I "work too hard" on very steep terrain.

In soft snow I'm always trying to bring the skis across the fall line at a full traverse, even when I could just ski down the fall line.

On firm snow I find myself riding the edge of the downhill ski and using just the section of the ski under the bindings. On moderately steep terrain I am able to use the tips and tails fully and can I tighten a carved turn easily (and without skidding). I also can use both skis as needed as I change direction.

Why am I not skiing as well on very steep terrain?

I don't have a video, I've added pics of some easier tree skiing below.


P.S. I'm not too keen on the PMTS-purity & semantics.
post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 
Another set;
post #3 of 10
Michael, its very difficult to access anything from still photos. My suspicion is that you are not getting far enough forward to initiate the turn without upper body rotation.

What do you consider steep?
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
I can ski Regulator Johnson at Snowbird in both its groomed and natural state well. The steeper runs like Great Scott are more of a problem.

post #5 of 10
Can't tell from the upper photo sequence, but the lower pix show what looks like rotation with the shoulders as part of your turning input. You definitely lose sight of the inside hand. Also looks in both sets of photos like your COM is back enough that you couldn't use your ski tips to help initiate turns. The stance and rotation could make handling steeper terrain quite difficult.
post #6 of 10
Michael, when you are moving from one turn into the next (considering a turn to be what starts and ends at an edge change), what movements do you make and in what order? What is it that you think is moving your skis into the new turn? How do you think you move differently when the terrain gets steep?

I have some ideas, but it will help me to know more about what you feel.

Oh, and here's a weird question: What do your turns on steep terrain sound like? How do they differ from the sound that your turns on less steep terrain make?
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
I’ll describe what I feel is happening when I ski;

First, I don’t think about technique at all. I’m looking at the slope ahead and planning my line. I’m trusting my gear to carve rail-road tracks and I’m planning a line that keeps speed in control by making full “C” turns. On steeper runs I’m often skiing shoulder to shoulder to perform a “C” shaped turn every 25 yards or so.

If the run is groomed, I’m skiing at Gold level Nastar speeds. I’m staying on the balls of my feet and against the tongue to pressure the tips at the start of the turn. My weight is equal on both skis at the beginning of the turn. I imagine an arc when starting a turn. I will roll my knees into the arc and the skis will roll on edge and reverse camber. Once an arc is established, I move my weight between the balls of my feet and my heel. I’m still forward on the tongue of the boot and never am on the spoiler if conditions are firm and smooth. I move 75% of the lateral forces to the outside ski which tightens the arc. I can usually reach down and touch the ground at this point. I try to use the rebound of the ski to bring the ski under me at the end of the turn. I often make a short traverse before starting the next turn, but things are happening quickly due to the speed.

If moguls are present I use the bumps to time my transitions. I will carve a turn in-between the moguls and change edges on the back side of a mogul.

If the snow is soft I was focused on preventing tip dive until I started using a Spatula or Watea 101, both of which support a more forward body position. I am now letting the tips lead the turn but will stay centered and tend to push down during the midpoint of the turn. This is seen in the second shot of both sequences.

I do notice that the when the conditions are very steep & deep that I am dragging the inside pole tip in the snow, almost like using a white cane to feel the slope.

[ IMG ][ /IMG ]
post #8 of 10
Your newest photo looks to me as though you're in the back seat and A-framing. Your outside (right) knee is flexed almost as much as the inside one, and the inside one looks like it's trying to contact the other rather than get away from it. Additionally, you're flexed at the waist so that it looks like that's how you're contacting your boot cuffs with your shins. I'd like to see the right knee bent less and your torso a bit more upright. The femur of your most pressured leg should point at the toes of that foot. That can't happen when you flex and roll your knees into turns. You want to stand a bit more tall at the knee and let your hips slide into the turn to establish your edging and use slight knee movements to fine tune your edging.
post #9 of 10
Berretscv, thanks for your descriptions. Kneale it looks like he is coming up on a bump which might explain the "in the back seat look". Photos are hard to judge by.

You do not need to be in the back seat to get this A frame position. All you need to do is simply rotate the upper body including the hips into the turn. Sort of squaring the upper body to the skis but still countered with the feet. The femurs roll in the hip sockets and the knees roll into the turn and edge the skis. You can copy this movement pattern in street shoes while standing in an athletic stance. The slight upper body rotation into the turn produces a lot of steering force at the feet and the A frame look. This upper body rotation is more like rotation from a countered position back to square with the upper body over the skis while keeping appropriate counter at the feet.

The described rotated movement pattern works fine for high angle carving given an athletic skier on groomers as long as they keep their inside foot back. The problem is that carving breaks down on steeps and non groomed terrain because this rotated position is not a powerful position from which to control dynamic balance.

If you look at this last photo and raise the inside hip up (get the inside femur more vertical) and forward while keeping the inside foot back under the body, the A frame would disappear and he would be in a very powerful position from which to balance dynamically. Elimination of the rotation and replacement with moving the inside hip up and forward would correct much of his problem in crud and steeps.

Javelin turns with the inside hip raised is a good start. I would then progress to just raising the hip while maintaining 50-50 weight on the skis and squaring up the ski tips prior to turn initiation are exercises that would help. Note that an intentional raising of the hip to start the turn is an exercise and once learned translates more into keeping the hips level and the inside hip strong and forward all the time rather than an intentional raise of the inside hip. Be careful not to raise the inside hip by transferring most of the weight onto the new inside ski. This is movement in the wrong direction, the skis will edge higher and not release. Maintaining 50-50 will mean that you have to move into the turn, the skis will flatten and will release.

Replacing rotation with these movement patterns is easier said Thai done so go to very easy terrain to start.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
I’ve been in Lake Tahoe for The Gathering and will travel to ‘Vegas on Business this morning.

The gathering at Kirkwood was perfect and I joined Eric “Eski” and Wade “Holiday” as they held a clinic for those who wanted pointers.

It’s the first time in thirty years that I’ve listened to an instructor. It was very beneficial. Wade pointed out that my feet were doing the right things but my upper body and shoulders and arms were not supporting the effort.

Essentially, I am facing & tilting uphill at the end of the turn which causes a reluctant turn initiation sequence (my words, not Wades). Wade asked me to be strong on the weak side and keep my nose, shoulders, hands and poles oriented downhill. It was suggested that I allow the tip of my outside pole trace the snow below my feet. This would tilt my upper body downhill. This really helped cure my tendency to tilt uphill and made turn initiation much easier.

Immediately I was improving the transition between turns. We skied several of the double black diamond chutes between “The Wall” and “Zachary”. The suggestions paid off very well.

Yesterday I skied Mt Rose and focused on positioning my upper body correctly. The quality of the skiing improved substantially. Turns were easy, quick and with less effort.

My thanks to Wade "Holiday"for his suggestions and personal attention. Also thanks to Eric "Eski" and the gang who made the day at Kirkwood one of the all-time best.


New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching