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Different equipment - different technique

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Hi. Yet another basic question from the reigning newbie on the forum.

I just got my equipment and I am just itching to get out on the slopes. I did what many beginners do - I bought some pretty advanced equipment, maybe too advanced for a beginner: K2 Merlin 6 skis and Nordica Grand Prix boots. I got this equipment because I didn't want to purchase one set of equipment for my beginning phase and then have to go out and buy another set once I get better. Don't have the much cash to blow plus in the past, I have been able to pick up other sports very quickly (although this thinking might turn out to be my downfall if I never actually do "pick up" skiing and this equipment actually gets me hurt).

My question is this: what exactly are changes that occur in one's technique that coincide with the more "advanced" equipment?

I know that the more advanced equipment is much more stiff. (I've tried putting on those Grand Prixs and it is painful!) This would lead me to believe that you have to be more aggressive and decisive in your weight shift. Is that correct? It seems like a beginner would not be as forceful in pressuring the ski to make use of the camber whereas an experienced skier can bend his boots/skis and stay in balance.

Also as a result of the increased stiffness, it seems like the "advanced" equipment would be more quick and responsive, right? So a newbie can get on some soft flexing skis, flail about and not have bad things happen to him because the skis don't react immediately. But stiff skis will do everything that he inputs into the ski immediately which could be disastrous for a newbie with gross jerky movements.

Am I correct with my assumptions? Am I missing anything? I just want to know what to expect when I finally get to ski on my new goodies.

I know you're probably thinking "just get out and ski" but due to some circumstances (new baby - a boy btw) the earliest I can hit the slopes is mid-April. So I'm reduced to crouching in my living room and visualizing.
post #2 of 27
Ajax - do not listen to me: this was my first season too - but I thought about the same things...

One thing that I think was not mentioned in your post - is that expert equipment takes into account G-forces developed by experts to come up with required "stiffness". The problem for a beginner to ski in control at the speeds that will allow G-force to build to the working range of expert equipment.

I think expert can ski slower compensating with their pressure/edging and movement skills while beginner can have a trouble to bootstrap their skills with unweildy equipment.

I remember you've metioned that you're a big guy (200lbs?) - I believe greater static weight can help to work your expert equipment sufficiently even in your begining phase and "grow" into it.... (I've started on skis branded interm-expert and never had trouble with my 240lbs - although my boots are not extra stiff)

I'm sure real experts here will tell you more and correct me where I'm wrong - but, meanwhile, congrats with the son! - and good luck to catch some sleep - make sure he'll start skiing early with you!

Good luck!
post #3 of 27
Wow Ajax, you really did buy equipment that is advanced enough for racing and, to be honest with you, you will have to develop serious skills to truly enjoy what your setup can offer. If there is no way to return the equipment and get something more forgiving then make sure to take some lessons so that at least you get the benefit of understanding proper technique from the very beginning.

Now, to answer your question, in recreational skiing there are no significant changes in technique when using advanced equipment. However, the stiffer your skis/boots, the more "input" they will require to behave properly. In other words, you will have to be more aggressive in your skiing to actually enjoy all that they can offer. If you are not very aggressive and have poor form, the skis/boots will punish you (difficult to turn, hard to get them into a controlled skid and almost impossible in the bumps). An instructor can show you the right way, but then it will be up to you to master basic skills and avoid problems and injuries until your skills more closely match your equipment.

Congratulations on your new baby and good luck.
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by TomB (edited March 29, 2001).]</FONT>
post #4 of 27
Three things that will help. Wax the skis: they will be easier to turn. Check the bottoms to be sure they are not concave. If they are, have a shop do whateven they have to do so that they are flat. If the boots have a flex adjustment, set it to the softest possible.
post #5 of 27
Three things that will help. Wax the skis: they will be easier to turn. Check the bottoms to be sure they are not concave. If they are, have a shop do whateven they have to do so that they are flat. If the boots have a flex adjustment, set it to the softest possible.
post #6 of 27
Three things that will help. Wax the skis: they will be easier to turn. Check the bottoms to be sure they are not concave. If they are, have a shop do whateven they have to do so that they are flat. If the boots have a flex adjustment, set it to the softest possible.
post #7 of 27
Which GP boots did you get? Some have a small metal pece in the back that can be adjusted for a bit more flex. The equpment you have is made to be very responsive as said above
"every technical error will be telegraphed to the ski."
basically the ski will do what you do very quickly. As for most people looking to advance I would reccomend taking a lesson or two, if only for an hr, usually this will give you an idea of what you can work on and how to better controll the skis.

Good Luck
post #8 of 27
ajax said " I got this equipment because I didn't want to purchase one set of equipment for my beginning phase and then have to go out and buy another set once I get better."
There's a danger in this approach: that the gap between your skills and your equipment will be too wide for you to get better. I did have skis which made me so uncomforable that I couldn't advance my skiing till I gave them away (and got something more reasonable). YMMV, you'll see for yorself when you hit the snow.

Hey, crudmeister, I figure it's a nice way to get a "Supreme member" raiting !

Sergey ( 2pizza@usa.net )
post #9 of 27
What size are the skis?
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the congrats.

TomB - I bought the equipment used so unfortunately I can't return it. However, I can't believe how little I paid for such nice, barely used equipment.

Spyder - My GPs do not have any metal piece in the back. They're a couple of years old (99 I believe) and they may even be racing boots, which explains why they are so damn hard to get on. Again, I paid very little for them and they are in almost new condition.

milesb - the Merlins are 193s. I'm 6'3", ~205lbs, 33 yo, fairly athletic.
post #11 of 27
The equipment should be fine because you are a big burly manly man. However, since you spent so little, treat yourself to a good bootfitting and footbed. And maybe see if the boots can be softened. There are some good bootfitters in the Tahoe area. Or so I've heard. And think about getting some fat skis next year to complete your needs.
post #12 of 27
Nothing to add about the equipment but wanted to add my congrats on your new addition! How's your wife doing?

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
Lisamarie - she is doing great. It's been two weeks since the birth and she is now only 3lbs over her pre-pregnancy weight. She's dying to go running and, pretty soon, skiing.

I appreciate everyone's comments. Can anyone address specifically the changes in technique that they noticed as they progressed toward more advanced equipment or outgrew their "learning" equipment.

For example, I mentioned that I'm a snowboarder. I noticed that as I got better, my turns were made more edge to edge, angulating at the hip and pressuring the front of the board and then the tail at the end of turns, rather than twisting at the waist (which I did as a beginner and which, unfortunately, the vast majority of snowboarders still do). This change in my technique led me to realize that my soft comfortable bindings were slow-as-molasses in transferring my technique to the board.

I also noticed that at high speeds, I would actually have to put MORE lean into the turn (kind of counter-intuitive, isn't it) than I would a stiff board because the soft board would conform to the terrain (resulting in lots of chatter) rather than reacting to my technique. So on a stiff board, I had to quiet my technique/lean less while drastically increasing the downward/forward pressure to bend the board and take advantage of the camber. I wonder if it's the same for skis.
post #14 of 27
Congrats to you and your wife.
hope you are getting enough sleep
post #15 of 27

You said you were a beginner. Like a real beginner? If so, put your new skis in the closet and take a few lessons on shorter skis first. It really doesn't take long to move up in length, and you will be much more comfortable starting short and moving up. Get a good understanding of the mechanics and what it takes to make skis work correctly. You also have to get comfortable with speed which you will need to make your new skis perform.

I've seen folks come to class with new skis that they bought which were way to much ski for their ability. After explaining to them the problems they will encounter trying to ski on there new skis, and getting them on a shorter ski for a few days, they got back on their new skis and did just fine.

IMHO, as beginners, they were just not comfortable with the speed need to make their high end skis work correctly. So chill a bit and learn mechanics and get comfortable with speed. Your new toys will still be there waiting. -----Wigs

P.S. Congrats dad!!!
post #16 of 27

I don't think that snowboard equipment changes as much as ski equipment as you get better. But it DOES depend on what king of riding you are doing. I went to a stiffer, narrower race board with stiffer boots and bindings. It makes the board react a LOT quicker, but if make a false move, this sort of set up will make you pay. As for my non-race board, I went to a bigger, slightly stiffer, and much fatter board for carving and powder. I'm not into spinning and tricks, so I didn't want to go short. I think you need to asses what you want to do on your board, and go toward something that will handle that the best.

There aren't a lot of technique changes that should occur. Basically, you should get more dynamic, in a generally lower stance (especially to heelside if you are on a FS board). If you were taught to turn using the old "rudder" and counter rotation technique, you should learn to start twisting (torquing) the board (not your body) to make edge changes and adjustments. I teach this at the beginnner level, but to my shock and horror (I almost had to write to the ski school director) I witnessed 2 beginner lessons at Squaw last week, where the instructor was teaching people to turn by "swinging the upper body one way, and moving the feet the other way" (those were his exact words). Using this wicked counter rotation to make a turn is counter productive and will need to be completely un-learned if the riders ever want to learn to set and edge and carve. I thought that method of teaching died 3-4 years ago!<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited March 29, 2001).]</FONT>
post #17 of 27
John, is the performance of top of the line snowboard equipment about the same as intermediate level skis equipment? And can you even buy snowboards with as much edgehold and stability at speed as top skis?
post #18 of 27

The top-end race boards are similar to top-end race skis. It's just that they are nearly impossible to find in stores. Especialy in typical "board shops" which cater to huckers and free riders. I have a Rossi Throttle Dualtec 166 GS board. It's almost to the point of being too stiff. It needs to travel over 20mph to get any significant bend to it, but it holds ice and speed as well as any carving ski on the market. This board is so stiff that I have been slightly out of balance (too far forward) coming out of a turn, and been launched into a complete forward flip on a few occasions. But I have yet to see a "freestyle" shaped board, that would use soft boots, have anywhere near that amount of grip and performance. They just aren't made for it.
post #19 of 27
It's a thing of beauty to see someone who knows how to handle those alpine racing boards really rip. At the canyons I was watching an older man (probably in his late 50s) on a racing board. He must have been doing about 30-35 MPH Carving tight gs turns tipped over on "heel side"(don't know if you can call it that because his boots are almost straight ahead) and he had more edge angle than I think most of us mortals would be able to put on our skis. Now that's boarding!
post #20 of 27
Thread Starter 

That's amazing that they're teaching counter-rotation at Squaw. That's exactly what I was taught NOT to do (at Bear and Kirkwood). Counter-rotation is the reason why most snowboarders scrape and slide down the mountain, wasting energy and snow, and generally looking like dorks.

I was taught to turn to bend my knees, lean into the turn, angle my upper body to get more edge (by bending at the waist for heelside, arching my back for toeside), turn my lead shoulder slightly into the turn (similar to what Lito calls "anticipation" in his book), pressure the front edge for the beginning of the turn/middle edge for the middle/tail edge for the end of the turn, rise up at the end of the turn and start the next turn with a knee bend, and so on....

Okay, how about skiing technique?
post #21 of 27

I actually haven't even taught the "lead with the shoulder" technique in 2 years. I teach that everything is done with the lower body. It works really well, and leads to a much quicker learning curve (not that snowboarding needs a quicker learning curve ).

Actually, skiing is very similar, in that everything that you would learn in beginner and intermediate lessons, translates into upper level skiing. The only difference is that things are more dynamic and precise. However, if the skier doesn't take lessons for a long period of time, they could pick up any number of bad habits that would need to be corrected to get better (usually balance or rotation problems). The equipment (beginner vs intermediate, vs advanced) has little bearing on the movement patterns, except this; Using older style "straight" skis, you would use more counter rotation, whereas if you are on skis with more sidecut, you follow the path of the ski, unless you want to make short *swing* skidded turns. A short *radius* turn on modern equipment is much more similar to long radius (GS) turns on older skis, since that was the only time they could carve, or come close to carving throughout a turn.

edit: One of the major premises behind PSIA's ATS (American Teaching System) is something called "lateral learning" or "teaching for transfer". The idea is that all of the basic skills and movement patterns are developed and reinforced from the very first lesson. That way, there is nothing to change or un-learn as you get better. And the whole progression of ability level is not dependent of whether you are on $10 rental equipment, or $1500 woth of expert level equipment (although those in Bogner one-piece suits may have to upgrade every year if they want to get better )<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited March 29, 2001).]</FONT>
post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 

I just remembered this true story....

On my second time ever skiing, I ran into a fellow snowboarder who was learning to ski. We compared notes and we found that we had some of the same experiences - we had an advantage over other first time skiers because we did not fear speed....we were used to going fast and steep and have had more than our share of spectacular wipeouts. We also found that we had the same difficulties - we were great with our left foot and horrible with our right.

Turning to the right, we could edge pretty aggressively with our inside edge and stay balanced. But turning left, we both had to concentrate on edging with our right inside edge instead of our left outside edge which just feels more natural for snowboarders since we tend to be dominant with one foot.

Then he mentioned that his snowboard stance was goofy, ie- he was talking about his BACK foot whereas I'm normal stance so I was talking about my LEAD foot. He said that he steers with the back of his board and his lead foot is passive. I, however, steer entirely with my lead foot and had to learn how to pressure the back of the board to keep from skidding at the end of turns.

I would say the majority of snowboarders, many of whom have never taken a lesson, are "back-foot steerers."
post #23 of 27

When I first started riding (1988), I had been so used to the feeling of being forward on skis, that I was soooo far forward on my board, that was actually pulling the back of the board clean off the snow. These days, it still feels odd to me to stand in the middle of the board, and even pressure the back of the board a bit. I feel like I'm 3 feet behind the action. But I definitely know when I'm in the right place, because the board gives some serious feedback when you do it right.

All-in-all, riding has taught me a lot about my skiing too. I was one of the first to realize that when purely carving, even in short radius turns, you need to follow the direction of the board or skis (feels like wicked over rotation). This allowed me to start making "reaching" turns before PSIA ever recognized that they existed or had a name for them. I like to think that my explanation of what I was doing, to D-Team members at the Masters Academy that December is what lead to "Reaching turns" showing up in the PSIA vernacular the following season. But I think that that would be giving myself a little too much credit. But don't we all like to do that once in a while?
post #24 of 27
I share the concern about the Nordica Granprix boots may be too stiff. The trend is to softer, easier to put and take off, user friendly boots.

Just in case no one else mentioned it,

Congrats on the newborn. They are cute now, so enjoy and takes lots of pics, video etc. One day, before you know it, they will be teenagers, and you will try to remember that once they were cute. Trust me on this one! BTW now is a good time to get the college fund going, even if it is only $50-100/month.
Keep it in your name so if they apply for financial aid, it is not one of their assets.
post #25 of 27
John, the instructor that showed me the reaching short turn a few years ago was also a snowboard teacher. There was a local on a carving snowboard that day, so we followed behind him to learn them. Great fun.
post #26 of 27
Really?! I find that interesting. I guess we have more credit to give to snowboarding than just more sidecut.

If you get to Keystone, go find Lowell Hart when he's on a race board (AASI Demo Team), and gape at the arcs that man can make! He's 6'4", thin, and the last time I rode with him ('96 or '97) he rode a 153cm race board at sickening speeds.
post #27 of 27
Hey ajax,
The MerlinVIs are skis you'll enjoy later...for now...shorter & softer ones will facilitate the learning_curve greatly. Your boots are your connection to the skis and their fit can help/hinder progress, so as mentioned....get some footbeds/orthotics to get the alignment *happenning*. If the boots prove to be a little stiff for you, You're not the only one!...we live and learn partially from our mistakes...be little or big_$$... Then get out on the mountain with an instructor often....then have fun..
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