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body position help

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have no problem with blue and easier black runs, but when I hit something steeper I struggle. Yesterday I skied Lower Cirque @ Snowbird 4 times. I either find my self in the back seat with my quads burning or leaning too far forward with my hurting by the end of the run. I know I need to get my hips forward and stand a little straighter but I just can't seem to figure that out when skiing something a little steeper. Are there any drills that I can do to work on it or do I just need to keep hitting the slopes until I finally remove my head from my butt?
post #2 of 15
bucki78,

There are many possible answers to your question, look at the other posts that will follow and try some different ideas that may help you find a functional stance.

You want to balance over the middle of the foot and over the middle of the ski. To do this, you need to flex your ankle joint so you have contact of your shin to the tongue of the boot. This you can do by not even standing on the skis. Try it siting first, with no weight on your feet. Once you get the feeling of flexing the ankle, stand up in your boots with your ankle flexed and contact to the tongue. Next, stand in the skis that way. It is different than pressing the knees forward to get that contact. Start skiing some easy terrain and focus on the ankle flex and also focus on when you straighten the ankles and what the result is.

Go to some more moderate slopes next and repeat the focus. You need to be able to ski the blues balanced before you can expect to be able to ski blacks balanced.

A drill (exercise) that will also help you find the middle of the foot and ski is on very easy terrain (green), step around turns (small steps). To be able to step from foot to foot, you need to be balanced. After some practice, repeat on a wide easy blue. This will help you zero in on a good balance zone.

Hope this helps.

RW
post #3 of 15
Bucki, on a steep, what's your body doing when you are carving across the hill after settling into a turn?
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
I left a word out in my first post. When I lean too far forward my back starts to hurt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
Bucki, on a steep, what's your body doing when you are carving across the hill after settling into a turn?
I am really not sure. Sometimes I feel like I am going to fall on my butt, other times I feel like I am going to go flying over the handle bars. I think that I overturn a lot because I am trying to keep my speed under control. On steeps, my skis almost always end up perpendicular to the fall line at the end of my turn. I would like to keep my skis pointed down the hill more but I have yet to figure out how to do that while controlling my speed.

I skied with a fellow Bear on Thurs and he was trying to help me get a little more forward from the hips and not the shoulders. I know that when I make a turn and it feels effortless then I am doing it correctly. When I am not, some muscle group in my body is burning and I feel like I am fighting my way down the mt.
post #5 of 15
Wouldn't hurt to take a quick lesson with an instructor -- it would help identify / analyze / correct what you're doing.

I wouldn't worry about your ski / fall line orientation too much, in fact if the terrain is very steep, I think it's fine to finish the turn with a good portion of motion going across the hill (= speed control). Especially since doing that traverse portion right -- such that you have nice smooth, round turns -- will force you to get your lateral body positioning in order (edges, knees, hips rolled into the hill, upper body out over the skis). I would actually say it's harder to make slow controlled turns like this. You can gradually shorten the turns as you get better, but to start, use as much hill as you need to keep speed in control and be deliberate about the lateral body positioning.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post
bucki78,

There are many possible answers to your question, look at the other posts that will follow and try some different ideas that may help you find a functional stance.

You want to balance over the middle of the foot and over the middle of the ski. To do this, you need to flex your ankle joint so you have contact of your shin to the tongue of the boot. This you can do by not even standing on the skis. Try it siting first, with no weight on your feet. Once you get the feeling of flexing the ankle, stand up in your boots with your ankle flexed and contact to the tongue. Next, stand in the skis that way. It is different than pressing the knees forward to get that contact. Start skiing some easy terrain and focus on the ankle flex and also focus on when you straighten the ankles and what the result is.

Go to some more moderate slopes next and repeat the focus. You need to be able to ski the blues balanced before you can expect to be able to ski blacks balanced.

A drill (exercise) that will also help you find the middle of the foot and ski is on very easy terrain (green), step around turns (small steps). To be able to step from foot to foot, you need to be balanced. After some practice, repeat on a wide easy blue. This will help you zero in on a good balance zone.

Hope this helps.

RW
I skied Solitude today and really concentrated on flexing my ankles to contact the front of the boot. My balance felt much better and I was using less energy to turn. I still found myself in the backseat or leaning too far forward at times but I guess old habits die hard.

I am not quite sure how to do the drill you are talking about. Are you talking about making turns with just one leg at a time?

Thanks for the advice!! I feel like I made significant improvement today.
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
Wouldn't hurt to take a quick lesson with an instructor -- it would help identify / analyze / correct what you're doing.

I wouldn't worry about your ski / fall line orientation too much, in fact if the terrain is very steep, I think it's fine to finish the turn with a good portion of motion going across the hill (= speed control). Especially since doing that traverse portion right -- such that you have nice smooth, round turns -- will force you to get your lateral body positioning in order (edges, knees, hips rolled into the hill, upper body out over the skis). I would actually say it's harder to make slow controlled turns like this. You can gradually shorten the turns as you get better, but to start, use as much hill as you need to keep speed in control and be deliberate about the lateral body positioning.
Are you talking about turning with my lower body and keeping my shoulders facing down the fall line?
post #8 of 15
Yes, more or less, though it gets more into lateral balance (relative to the edges). But if you have that worked out, it almost forces you to get the fore/aft balance correct. An an example, in the final part of a turn where there is a component of motion across the fall line, I'd have edges, knees, hips rolled into the hill but my upper body out over the edges facing downhill, about to reach my pole out and downhill for the plant that I use to initiate the next turn.

Start linking those events into shorter and shorter turns, and you won't have much time to get in the backseat.

I'm not an instructor, but in my experience, the best way to get out of the backseat is to make sure you're doing the right thing with your upper body, poles, and arms. Working on it from an ankle/shins standpoint is more difficult (cart leading the horse).
post #9 of 15
Part of solving the puzzle of skiing steeps is understanding how our natural tendencies may conflict with optimal tactics and/or technique.

The instinct to lower our CM and/or "hug" the slope works against us.
Also as a slope gets steeper it automatically builds in edge angles from falline thru turn finish. When you combine these two we wind up both over-edged and with our body way uphill away from the next turn just when we are ready to try and start it.

A solution you can explore first on shorter steeps is to try to adjust to a taller stance thru the finish of your turns that can release your CM more easily to the next turn. This will also help you minimize over-edging and being dug-in too deep at the turn finish. Combined these will allow an easier transition and the chance to stand away from the slope (perpendicular to it) in the top of the turn as you move into the next turn. This requires extension (after edge change) by opening the knee joint (while maintaining ankle flex) so you can direct your CM downhill and stay centered on your skis.

Skiing the steeps with a more stacked skeleton should take some of the stress off your lower back and any other over-flexed joints.
post #10 of 15
Bucki78,

Quote:
I am not quite sure how to do the drill you are talking about. Are you talking about making turns with just one leg at a time?
The drill I am referring to is stepping from foot to foot as you make long turns, instead of sliding, you are stepping. A drill you did mention is lifting the inside ski off the snow as you turn, this is also a good drill for you.

I'm glad you are making progress.

RW
post #11 of 15
I am not an instructor but possibly have something worthwhile to add(then again, maybe I don't).

The natural tendency when approaching a pitch beyond ones normal comfort zone is to stiffen up and lean into the hill, away from the perceived danger of the fall line. Everything you are comfortable doing on the Blue run goes out the window. The result is you get locked into a tentative traverse until its time to turn, then all hell breaks loose and you end up looking like a bull on ice(at least I did). You want to get around as quickly as possible to get to the other set of edges where the safety is. Since the joints are stiff and locked, its hard to get the hips where they need to be and project yourself down the hill. You are hanging on for your well-being instead of skiing. If you would stop on the hill and freeze your stance, you would probably see you are clinging to your uphill edges, hips back, weight on tails, arms dropped back at side, and your entire body leaning into the hill.

IMO, the diference between skiing black runs and blue runs effectively is 90% confidence and 10% technique. Steeps are something to get slowly acclimated to and not just jump right in. As confidence builds, so does your ability to loosen up and get back your balance.

Years ago, I was encountering the same hurdle. I picked out some steeper sections without any crowds and concentrated on doing traverses until I was comfortable not leaning into the hill. I was still reluctant about turns and they were a mess, but after a while I was able to get back the feel for the proper allingment and balance I had on less steep pitches.

I then became very comfortable with having my weight over the center ofthe ski, hands forward, and able to retain this stance while releasing the edges and letting the skis come around.

This translated to dynamic turns relatively quickly once I realized the skis would come around juast as they do on the blue and green runs. I would just be going faster.

I realized that projecting myself down the hill using complete rounded turns without jamming or scrubbing, my skis WILL catch me like they do on the Blue and Green runs.

The key was taking it slow at first, taking my time and making smooth rounded turns -- jamming things on the steeps will get you in trouble pretty quickly.

Skiing steeper pitches is mostly in the head and being comfortable with higher speeds IMO.

When I first started skiing, I thought I would never paralell ski and get out of a wedge. When I started paralell skiing I never thought I would be able to engage in dynamic carving techniques I always saw and admired. I also thought I would never be comfortable skiing the Black runs at places like Killington or Copper.

You slowly get acclimated to anything, given enough time and practice. Good lessons with good instructors are obviously a great benefit as well.

Also, you don't have to ski black runs or steep pitches to have fun -- things come in time.
post #12 of 15
I like what Mojo said. I say it in shorthand as, "ski with your parka zipper over your outside toe."

To get your weight properly forward to make the front half of your skis working for you (instead of the back half of the skis working against you), pull your feet behind you when the skis are light in the turn transition. Pull the inside foot strongly back all the way all the time through every turn--try to keep the toes of your boots even. These simple techniques work very well. You need the front half in the outside ski's inside edge engaged in the snow before you reach the fall line so the ski tip pulls you around the turn.

Don't think in terms of "facing down the hill." Instead, face toward the outside ski, and do it immediately after the turn transition.

You need your hips across the skis (angulation) with the hips on the inside of the turn and your head and shoulders out over the outside ski--or, better, the outside toe.

You need your hips and shoulders facing the outside ski (counter) from the beginning of the turn immediately after the turn transition all the way to the release that begins the next transition. You want your "strong inside half" represented by your inside hand/arm/shoulder high and forward. You want your outside hand/arm/shoulder low and back. Never bring your pole and arm forward of the fall line.

Something like Silvan Zurbriggen, but with your outside hand/arm/shoulder low & back, 'cuz you don't need to block a pole. He let his outside ski get ahead, and he'll have to recenter as soon as possible. Tip the whole picture to the right, and you'll see how he'd ski at slower speed and lower forces--with his bib number over his outside toe.



Try these techniques on moderate traverses and moderate pitch turns, then on steeper traverses and finally on steep pitch turns. As you learn to modulate these new movements and balances, you'll find them very powerful.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MojoMan View Post
The natural tendency when approaching a pitch beyond ones normal comfort zone is to stiffen up and lean into the hill, away from the perceived danger of the fall line. Everything you are comfortable doing on the Blue run goes out the window. The result is you get locked into a tentative traverse until its time to turn, then all hell breaks loose and you end up looking like a bull on ice(at least I did). You want to get around as quickly as possible to get to the other set of edges where the safety is. Since the joints are stiff and locked, its hard to get the hips where they need to be and project yourself down the hill. You are hanging on for your well-being instead of skiing. If you would stop on the hill and freeze your stance, you would probably see you are clinging to your uphill edges, hips back, weight on tails, arms dropped back at side, and your entire body leaning into the hill.
This perfectly describes how I skied a year or 2 ago. I used to feel like I was hanging on for dear life when I was working my way down the mt.

Now, I can easily get down most blacks without falling but it feels more like a controlled decent. I want to SKI the mountain. I feel like I hold onto the turn for too long and I don't transition well from one turn to the next. Now that I feel more balanced I think I am doing better at linking up turns on steeps but I know I still need more work. Good thing for me I will be back on the slopes on Thurs.
post #14 of 15
Hi Bucki78

I'm with Ron White, work on keeping your ankle flexed. When you say your back hurts after skiing steeps while leaning forward it sounds to me as if you are underflexing at the ankle, and overflexing at the knees and waist.

A key may be to think of it as "moving forward" rather then "bending forward". Get on the pitch you want to ski (or as close to that pitch as you can) and stand looking uphill as if you were going to herringbone up it. Feel how your body is balanced and upright. You can probably feel pressure on the whole ski without using your quad or lower back muscles to stand up. Now notice how much (or little) flex there is in the ankles, knees, and waist. That will be a pretty close approximation of how you should be standing skiing down that same pitch.
post #15 of 15
Did not read all the posts here but I think your problems have to do with how you ski. Its a technique thing. As you hit some steeper terrain you cannot cheat and therefore you get pains and you struggle. See a doctor... sorry a ski instructor. It can be something very simple, usually is because skiing is nothing too complicated. IMHO the biggest problem with people from the US is that have lots more gutts than the rest of the earth population and therefore skip lots of important basics. I have seen total beginners in Verbier ski the steepest and most difficult black mogul runs with no problems but looking like scare crows. If you ever wondered why North Americans are so good at downhill, now you know .
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