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Switch Skiing Discussion

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I had the opportunity to attend the PSIA Western Division Freeride Accred at Northstar this past winter and wanted to open up for discussion something the other candidates and I enjoyed disagreeing about for two days.

What are your thoughts on effective switch skiing technique?

Follow up question...

How do we best remedy common problems with switch skiing?

During our event we touched on fore/aft balance, hand position, hip rotation, upper body rotation and the importance of lead change in switch skiing.

Give it a think.

Cheers!
post #2 of 22
Watch Idea.

Watch kids in park.

All done.

post #3 of 22
Extreme ramp angles on most bindings can be problematic for this. Thoughts? Pressure control movements are important and its a little weird looking over the outside shoulder but, it works best that way.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski_nerd13 View Post

How do we best remedy common problems with switch skiing?
Unfortunately with the current state of surgery, transplanting your eyes to the rear of your head is just too risky. The best solution is to ski frontwards .
post #5 of 22
I think it's a great new venue here. Very much worth exploring.
I always wished to ski switch but I don't have the right skis and maybe I have not enough understanding of how it should be done.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post
I think it's a great new venue here. Very much worth exploring.
I always wished to ski switch but I don't have the right skis and maybe I have not enough understanding of how it should be done.
Most skis have a tail that will allow skiing in reverse, maybe not switch takeoffs in the pipe, but enough.

The switch progression follows the forwards progression pretty well. Start with facing uphill in a "V" making it smaller to go and bigger to stop while looking over a shoulder. Two things...Be careful to still keep weight equal under both feet and turn head and shoulders...not hips so you won't turn.

Then shift weight to outside foot, turn both legs to the desired direction and look over outside shoulder to complete a turn to a stop (not wedge to a stop.) *repeat for other direction and then link together!*

Parallel is a little more tricky but I've found that encouraging a move with the shoulders up and back/downhill really helps to release the new inside ski from its edge and initiate the turn in parallel. Kind of a freaky move to get used to but it really helps.

Don't listen to all these people saying to ski forwards, go ahead and switch it up. It is not just for teenagers!

-nerd
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdxammo View Post
Extreme ramp angles on most bindings can be problematic for this. Thoughts? Pressure control movements are important and its a little weird looking over the outside shoulder but, it works best that way.
Definately agree on looking over the outside shoulder. I have had a few arguments over it but I find it keeps the shoulders tipping the same way as the hill, thereby assisting lateral balance. Inclination vs. Angulation...really.

Pressure control is important but tricky. Joints are facing a different way as well as the body being twisted from looking over a shoulder. I agree, I feel there needs to be pressure control....still skiing over undulating terrain with a need to manage forces, right? I think it needs to be budgeted more than going forwards in order to stay reasonably balanced.

As far as ramp angle.....I'm not sure if that would be a hitch in the getalong but I would probabaly need to see/feel it to say for certain. Guess it would depend on how much angle we are talking as well as that skiers ability to effectively flex their joints.

Now that I think about it most park skiers tend to mount bindings as flat to the ski as possible, so you may have something there.

The biggest argument I've been in about switch was regarding overflexing at the hip. Sort of looks like the skier is reaching for the ground. I regard that issue the same way I would if any client of mine was leaning back while going forwards.....stand up tall right? I've met some folks who didn't think it was a problem, thoughts?

-nerd
post #8 of 22
Thanks, I forgot to say that I am used to ski backwards in a wedge ( V ) (teach/cajole/keep an eye on kids/SO...) it's the parallel skiing which troubles me, as long as my only pair of ski is a GS, at least.
What follows is semi-serious :
I tried to put the skis on switched by 180 degrees (boot heel into toe piece and boot toe into heel piece of bindings) so to ski looking uphill but the bindings did not agree with my attempt.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski_nerd13 View Post

The biggest argument I've been in about switch was regarding overflexing at the hip. Sort of looks like the skier is reaching for the ground. I regard that issue the same way I would if any client of mine was leaning back while going forwards.....stand up tall right? I've met some folks who didn't think it was a problem, thoughts?

-nerd
Thats how you get "forward " going back. of course it can be overdone though. You need pressure into the back of the boot to get tail pressure.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pdxammo View Post
Thats how you get "forward " going back. of course it can be overdone though. You need pressure into the back of the boot to get tail pressure.
I feel the same way about "forward" while going backwards, just trying to get perpendicular to the snow surface whether forwards or backwards.

Pressuring the back of the boots is tricky though because then the joints cannot bend effectively to absorb terrain. I like the feeling of pressuring the "new tip" (tail of the ski really) as it helps to initiate the turn but I think that can still happen in a centered stance without stressing back of the boot pressure.

I've thought that most of the resistance to moving backwards into the new turn is based on lack of trust in the tail/fear, input?

-nerd
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobody View Post
Thanks, I forgot to say that I am used to ski backwards in a wedge ( V ) (teach/cajole/keep an eye on kids/SO...) it's the parallel skiing which troubles me, as long as my only pair of ski is a GS, at least.
What follows is semi-serious :
I tried to put the skis on switched by 180 degrees (boot heel into toe piece and boot toe into heel piece of bindings) so to ski looking uphill but the bindings did not agree with my attempt.
Parallel is definately the crux of switch! When I am skiing backwards parallel it feels much the same as forwards......OK not totally, but similar feeling in the edging movements of my feet. Have to, Have to, Have to release the new inside ski from its edge during initiation or you will end up in a perennial switch wedge christie.

I've only been able to step into one pair of Salomon bindings as you described and it was an experience! It's fun as well to click into alpine bindings with snowboard boots on, it actually stays in for a bit!

Definately too much time spent at lineup waiting for lessons!
post #12 of 22
GS skis (and other speed even skis) are the ones that typically have no tail turn-up. Not recommended to try switch on them, I think!
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ski_nerd13 View Post

As far as ramp angle.....I'm not sure if that would be a hitch in the getalong but I would probabaly need to see/feel it to say for certain. Guess it would depend on how much angle we are talking as well as that skiers ability to effectively flex their joints.

Now that I think about it most park skiers tend to mount bindings as flat to the ski as possible, so you may have something there.
-nerd
I think I can attest to the ramp angle issue. While most people talking about ramp angle are referring to either the Delta of the boot, the binding, or the combination of both, I think I'm one of the few people left on the planet that still has a functioning set of Salomon Ramp Plates (I raced freestyle when I was younger...before anyone ever uttered the word "freeriding!").

I'm not sure what my delta is between my boots and the plates. After effectively destroying an older pair of Public Enemies to the point where they went noodle on me, I threw the ramp plates and an old pair of Salomon bindings on them. Voila - free bump skis!

Having skied those skis with Look turntables center-mounted flat and now with the Salomons and plates mounted back, I'd say the biggest effect the ramp angle has on switch skiing is on your ability to engage the "tip" (i.e., the tail, but you're backwards, so it's the tip). Between the ramp of the boots and the plates, my weight is naturally on my toes. Skiing forwards, that's great. Backwards, not so much.

It's not that difficult to overcome, of course, but I'm very comfortable skiing and carving switch turns. I wouldn't recommend the setup for someone that's new to the switch concept.
post #14 of 22
Some videos from Youtube for you guys to pick apart

1 - Switch skiing advice from Chris Turpin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoMXu-vHmY0

2 - Fast forward a bunch. This instructor makes it look very easy and formulaic without poles.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsbFv...eature=related

3 - This guy makes it look exciting and much more dynamic. It looks like he is leaning up hill instead of towards the tails, but it seems to work for him. Sometimes he alternates shoulders, and sometimes not
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kD4wV...eature=related

4 - Sounds like Chris Turpin's instructions, but with more talking
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5TBu...eature=related

5 - This is what happens when you try to teach switch skiing without a staggered stance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJ12s...eature=related

6 - Looking over the opposite shoulder of most of the demos above. I used to do this, and occasionally revert back to this technique when I get scared.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvv6VRKCbJA

7 - Puddle skim! Looks like the water split his wedge apart
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plTID...eature=related

8 - A lesson with Kristi Leskinen. She picks one shoulder and always looks over it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0v552h07vw

9 - This reminds me of Kristi's video. Charles is always looking over the same shoulder between jumps (but I think he switches shoulders based on which way he is going to spin next), so he alters his stance from the hips and below to turn.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDymnZ6NRrs

When I was learning, I found balances drills involving hopping/jumping were very helpful. Pivoting drills... not so much. Edging seems to take more patience than skiing forwards. Skiing steep runs on slushy days increased my confidence enough to try them out when the snow got harder.

I usually try to alternate shoulders. This makes it easier to keep pressure on the downhill ski which feels better to me. Staggering my stance but looking over the shoulder on the same side of the uphill ski moves the pressure towards the uphill ski unless you lean your torso to the side to compensate. I think...?
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

Switch movement analysis, yay!

I really dig that you compiled all these, thanks! I'm just going to comment on one of these right now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuazBotch View Post
Some videos from Youtube for you guys to pick apart

2 - Fast forward a bunch. This instructor makes it look very easy and formulaic without poles.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsbFv...eature=related
I see a few issues that I would like to see resolved...

1. Static Movement- There is very little dynamic movement relative to the terrian and speed to show effective use of the ski. The skier appears lazy (shocking for switch skiers I know!) and disinterested in what he/she is doing. The skis are washing out in asymmetrical turns (the skier completes turns to skier's left and does not complete turns to skier's right), there is no effective movement with any part of the body along the length of the ski into the direction of the new turn at turn initiation (appears mostly lateral and even back up the hill) and there is no assistance of whole-body rotation as the skier peeks over his/her outside shoulder to complete turns.

2. Ineffective Balance- Overflexing at the hip is drawing the skier into a classic "butt out" switch stance that is inhibiting effective edging. This leads the skier to sequentially release and engage his/her edges rather than the desired simultaneous edging movements in addition to a slight stem of the outside ski to initiate the new turn (easier to see after the skier passes the camera.) Hands on knees may be a factor.

3. Lazy inside ski- There is an obvious "A" frame at the fall line which is indicating that the inside ski is not finding an effective edge in order to keep the ski on the snow and working to keep the body in an effective alignment.

4. Inclination- Even though the skier is looking over his/her outside shoulder the upper body is inclining into the turn again presenting the skier as lazy and ineffective at using the ski for its intended purpose.

My analysis may come off as harsh for just switch skiing but I feel strongly that we need to raise the standard of what can be expected of effective switch technique. Backwards.....Forwards.....it's all skiing!

-nerd
post #16 of 22
Quazbotch, excellent post, and truly worthy of the Instruction and Coaching forums. The use of the staggered stance and looking over the outside shoulder allows for engagement of the ski edges in both directions. The demonstration by Kristi Leskinen, really shows the limitations of looking over one shoulder, with a carved turn in one direction and wedge skid in the other.

Very well done. I learned something. Thanks.
post #17 of 22
Thanks QuazBotch, I saved those video and try to memorize all before next winter, and of course I'll also need to lay my hands on some twin tips to practice, even old farts like me like to try new things from time to time...
BTW I showed the videos to friends who stopped skiing in the early '90 (pity for them) and they couldn't believe their eyes.
As Cirque says, I found Kirsti way of skiing with head always turned in one direction limiting, and her turns were showing it. I guess she meant to demonstrate something that way, sure to have a carved turn on one "side" and a "fast" wedge on the other is...strange.
post #18 of 22
I've got to jump in to this thread (even though I usually just lurk). There seems to be a ton of different techniques for skiing switch, and I'm not sure that any one of them is more or less valid than the others.

I took a park and pipe clinic this winter at Loon to get my Ed credits, and our coach (I can't remember his name) demonstrated two different approaches. The first approach was similar to the one Turpin described above. He actually compared it to going backwards on rollerblades. Basically there is a dramatic change in lead with every turn as you alternate shoulders. The other approach was to pick a shoulder and stick with it. When you do this, there isn't as much of a lead change (if any).

The alternating shoulders approach creates symmetric turns, while if you pick one shoulder, you end up turning differently. It's kind of like when a telemarker drops to one knee and then links turns (effectively alternating traditional telemark turns with parallel turns).

I'm not convinced that either method is necessarily better overall, but I do think they each have advantages. If you're primarily skiing switch as part of a trick in the park (e.g. you're taking off or landing switch), making symmetric turns really isn't that important, since the only reason you are turning is for speed control. I suspect that may be Leskinen's style (she had a reputation for being a park rat, but she may have moved on since I checked last). However, the shoulder switch method seems like it might be more effective if you're actually trying to link turns for an extended distance.

That said, I've found that switch turns feel best if I'm not looking over my shoulder at all, but rather looking back up the mountain. This is somewhat problematic when skiing in crowded areas, but if it's nice and quiet, I'll ski mostly looking back up the hill with the occasional check over the shoulder.

As far as skis go, I think a lot of people put way too much emphasis on having twin tips. You can ski switch on pretty much any ski if you're on a moderately groomed surface. The only skis I've ever had trouble with are slalom skis. Since I'm not skiing at an "expert" level when I'm switch, I find that the extra "twitchiness" from slalom skis tends to result in me catching edges and going down hard. I'd really look for a forgiving ski rather than a twin tip if you're trying to ski switch.
post #19 of 22

I had to go and dig this old thread out to thank all Bears who posted here.

This thread has been the ground upon which I've decided to start skiing switch.

It all started with a new, shorter, pair of ski in November. These are All Mountain ski with a shy beginning of twin tip (semi-twin tip?) and a rounded up tail. Nothing extreme, but that has been enough to convince me try and play.

Of course my attempts have been quite hilarious.

I can ski switch, very briefly and on really flat terrain but I've done it.

One thing I've noticed is that I'm more comfortable looking over the same shoulder instead of swinging it ...

In my case, my left shoulder (as I'm more comfortable, when skiing one legged, skiing on my left leg - don't ask me to ski on my right one. BTW, I'm left-handed, totally: dominant eye, arm and leg, all left)

If I swing my head from one shoulder to the other, sooner or later I enter in a rotation...probably because the head swing causes the shoulders to move too much and consequently.

Another thing is that I tend to put more weight on my left leg, so sometimes the left ski describes an arc, while the right one limps behind. In the end my tips opens up and have one ski, as said the left, "turning", while the other is dragging, and form up an inverted wedge...

Possibly the two things are related, possibly not.

More work to do, but you guys, and the video posted here, made me decide to give it a go.

 

post #20 of 22

for one thing 'leaning back" ie forward for going switch goes along way in what you can do.

 

I know alot of instructor use switch to get people forward because the tendancy is to lean back up the hill great drill, but when actualyl skiing switch calf pressure is key.

post #21 of 22

Good links Quazbotch (everyone should check out his site www.gnarshmallow.com btw! ).

 

The Kristi one cracks me up, the first thing she says is essential to switch skiing is the exactly the opposite to what most people would teach. If you don't change shoulders, completing whichever turn has your head on the inside of the turn is nigh on impossible, fine on easy groomers, but on steeps or powder it's not going to cut it. That being said, when I take off switch I always look over my left shoulder, but that's probably most of the reason why I can't spin switch rightside very well.

 

For Nobody, I'd say keep on going with trying to look over both shoulders, sure you will have a blind spot for a second, but you'll find speed control much easier. For stance keep your upper body pretty upright, it's too easy to collapse over the tips of your skis when you are learning. Don't worry about which side is stronger etc, you can turn both ways forwards right?

 

Check out this edit from Turpin (the guy in the first of QBs links), some of the best switch skiing I've ever seenmedia.nscdn.com/uploads/member/videos/1231525946Turpin_w.mov

 


 

 

post #22 of 22

Teaching switch is one of the best ways to get your students out of the "back seat".  

 

Skiing backwards, hips have to be angled and pressure has to be on the front of the boots. 

 

I think that coaching switch is one of the strongest tools in getting skiers over and into the turn.

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