Hi Grolby, I ski switch for fun and when I am teaching kids so I can watch them when they are coming down and to catch them if their skis run away with them, and it isn't THAT hard to learn but the biggest obstacle is the fear of moving backwards fast. This IS a legitimate fear that you shouldn't so much try and overcome by pushing it into the back of your mind, disregarding your safety, but simply by becoming good at skiing switch. First off, any ski will ride switch well on a corduroy run but if the going gets choppy you will want at least a semi twin tip. Most skis have at least a little of this going on. If the back comes up off the snow at least a LITTLE bit then you're good. Now I taught myself skiing switch, so some of my advice may not be the most helpful, but at the least I hope my own insights are usefulas a model for your own intuitive learning process. I'll break it up into three sections, the transition to switch, skiing switch, and then the transition from switch to regular. Throughout I am making the assumption you are AT LEAST a strong intermediate who is comfortable skiing parallel turns and can balance on their skis when the going gets a little rough. No offense intended if you can rip black damonds liek Glen Plake
Learning the transition into switch is a lot like a hockey stop carried all the way around with very little edging. You want as little edge as possible without a flat ski on the snow. A flat ski would obviously rotate the best but then you run the risk of catching that downhill edge like a beginning snowboarder when you are transitioning from front to back and falling over it onto your side, so a LITTLE edge is good. At the beginning, when you transition into switch you will want to be in a switch-wedge as you come out of the transition, but this isn't that inportant, just let it happen if it does, if it doesnt happen during the transition don't make it because you will try and get rid of it later anways.
While riding backwards switch it is tempting to make little snowplow turns to slow us down, but you have to remember when you were learning what a terrible job a wedge down the fall line of even a green run does to stop you so use your wedge to make turns. A lot of good skiers skiing switch try to make a lot of fast turns starting out like they are used to using (in the form of short swings or wedeln) while skiing frontwards but that is difficult to do even frontwards in a wedge so you will have to revert back to making wide turns across the hill. These are easy to do early on even in a wedge and the same principle will be applied when you learn to carve backwards so it's good practice. To be honest you can learn eventually to throw fast turns backwards but it looks ridiculous in my opinion
and you have to be really good at switch to do it. Carving is something that will be an intuitive thing you'll naturally begin to do on your own if you carve turns frontwards, but I do have one word of advice. Leg positioning while carving turns switch is a bit counter-intuitive. When skiing forwards, you lead with your inside/uphill leg forward of the pressured downhill/outside ski because putting it forward flexes your knee and unweights it. Since you are skiing backwards, you will do the same thing except backwards when carving switch. In this case the downhill/outside pressured ski will be leading, because as you bend your knee to unweight the inside/uphill ski, it will move in front of you which is UP the hill now, instead of down the hill in the leading position when you are facing forwards. It might help to stand up from your copmputer and try it as you read it if visualization of this concept is difficult. I say it is counter-intuiitive because it ALMOST feels wrong but it works.
The transition from switch feels trickier while being executed than the transition TO switch but is not technically more difficult, you just have to pay attention to what the inside ski is doing. In the switch-to-frontwards transition, you will basically lean back a bit to load up the tail, (for the same purpose as when you bend your knees to pressure the tips of your skis) and you're going to turn to one side, (you will intuitively turn to one side, like when you run at anm iced sidewalk to slide on it, you naturally put one foot forward always, in that same way you will have a good side you will want to turn to, likely but not always the shoulder you will look over) and pivot over it as if you are making a turn. However, since you are leaning back keeping pressure on the tail you are going to just pivot right around on it. The first 45 degrees of this transition can be scary but once you are at least facing across the hill then you will finish it off intuitively the same way you would when you are standing across the hill with freinds and you let yourself slide down into the fall line to begining a run. The same rule applies here as with the swith transition in reagards to edging, you want to use as little edge pressure as possible to make the transition smooth, while still using a little bit of edge to keep that downhill edge from biting in and flipping you over skis. Also, another issue is generally not a problem on the switch transition because you may naturaly as a part of good technique keep your weight on the downhill/outside ski, but when transitioning TO frontwards, the inside ski/uphill ski may want to get in the way so you may have to apply connsciouss thought to keep pressure off it, or at least using less pressure but edging it the same way as the downhill/outside ski.
A few last tips, never look up the hill when skiing switch. ever. When landing switch it is acceptable for an instant to orient one's self before landing, but when skiing switch, never. you want to pick a shoulder (again, you will have a shoulder you naturally want to look over) and this acceptable to use as long as you can turn your head around enough to see where you are turning to in the opposite direction (if that is confusing visualization I mean if you can turn your head enough to the right to see wher eyou are goin when your making a turn switch to the left). If your range of neck motion will not allow this then as you excute a left hand turn, look over your left shoulder and as you are about to turn to the right, turn your head to look over your right shoulder and begin your right turn. This is not preferable because when skiing down a long green run switch for practice, this can be a LOT of head turning. [img]smile.gif[/img] Practice on a green run first (obviously). Get comfortable going fast switch in a wedge before trying to make parallel carves because just like skiing frontwards, a ski carves better switch if you have a bit of speed to use to load up the ski. Don't worry about skiing parallel switch right away or even after a few weeks, people won't think less of you for stemming whilst skiing backwards. Don't be overly ambitious and try adn bust out some switch skiing in the middle of a blue or a black run to impress your buds if you are still not comfortable on a green run. Definatly DO have a blast learning something new that will add a bit more style to your bag of tricks.
I hope this helps, I apologize for the length but I have a proclivity for writing long posts when I write at all. Keep in mind I am not an instructor at skiing switch, these tips are my own experiences. Skiing backwards is something that you have to work out yourself and I explained what worked for me. Use it as a rough outline, but if you find something that works which disagrees with what I wrote, pick it apart and take what works and use it, don't abandon it because it disagrees with what I wrote. When skiing switch a lot of the components of good frontwards skiing are directly applicable, some are not. Find the ones that are and use them.[ February 02, 2004, 08:17 AM: Message edited by: Karsten Hain ]