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MA request: Skiing steep terrain

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I'd like to get some feedback from the experts about how I'm skiing steep terrain. I am a 33yr old male, sixth season skiing, but the first three season were less than 5 days each. The video was taken a couple of days after finishing a ski week at Taos (highly recommend it!), which has changed the way I ski. During the week we worked on a lot of things but for me it was mostly about speed control and how to be ready for my next turn on steep terrain.

On to the video (I hope the quality is good enough for analysis). It was shot on a fairly steep (35 to 45 degrees, I think) but wide open trail. For reference, here is a picture of how it looks from the top. In the video I skied towards the center-left of the image:
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My objective was to ski the run non-stop while keeping my speed in check. The snow was a bit chalky but felt good overall, even though we hadn't had any significant snowfall in about 2 weeks. I can see a few things I'm doing wrong, like a lazy uphill arm, pole plant sometimes too far forward, and my upper body not facing the fall line at times (or most of the time). I also noticed that I was throwing a lot of snow around on my efforts to keep my speed in control (digging the tails too much?).

I appreciate all the feedback I can get.

Simon
post #2 of 24
Dude,

For skiing in the middle of an earthquake that was an outstanding run! It looks like you accomplished your objective without disregard for life or limb. So it seems a little harsh to start talking about what you were doing wrong. What you were doing was effective. On a slope that steep effective takes priority over efficient. After that we can talk about more effective or more efficient, but we don't need to talk about right or wrong. More or less in either category just become different options to choose from.

For example, in a couple of spots you can be seen "shopping for a turn". That's not efficient because you lose your continuity of motion into the new turn. It's hard to start a new turn from a static position. But shopping is effective when you finish the last turn out of balance.

We see a lot of snow spray at the bottom of your turns. This is because you straight line from the finish of your old turns into the entry of your new turns and have no where else to control speed but in the bottoms. If you focus on finishing your turns more across the hill, you'll get more speed control from turn shape, need to spray less snow and spread the snow you do spray more evenly through the turn.

Although you don't necessarily want to look down the hill all the time, you don't want to be looking at your ski tips all the time either. If, while you're finishing your turns more across the hill, you let your ski tips turn more than your upper body, you will automatically change the focus from your tips to more down the hill. This will help you round out the top part of your turns more.

Mind you, these changes are not easy to make and they're even harder on steeper slopes. We learn new movements on easy terrain and then pray like hell that the old movements don't come back when we get stressed. This is why we don't worry so much about little details like right or wrong. Savor the moment, you've earned it!
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
Although you don't necessarily want to look down the hill all the time, you don't want to be looking at your ski tips all the time either. If, while you're finishing your turns more across the hill, you let your ski tips turn more than your upper body, you will automatically change the focus from your tips to more down the hill. This will help you round out the top part of your turns more.
Thanks for the feedback TheRusty. The quote above is something that I have a bit of a hard time with. Even though I got better at it during the past week, I still have trouble letting my skis go uphill at the end of the turn while keeping my upper body more on a fall line position. I think this problem is both mental (I want to look where my skis are going), and physical (I need a bit more flexibility). Any exercise or drill you'd recommend to address the flexibility part?
post #4 of 24
you get me out there not only can I keep a steady hand I can also get you to ski better.

Ill ma after watching it a couple more times
post #5 of 24
Those are real steeps, and you look comfortable and in control. Sweet. The snow looks fun, wish I was there with you. therusty's advice is right on, so please feel free to ignore me and work on his items. In fact, all I have to add is an expansion on one of his points.

Let's look at the initiation of your turn in order to improve speed control through the top half of the turn rather than just at the bottom. Your move to initiate turns on this steep pitch is a 'pop' up (and by up I mean the direction the trees are growing out of the slope) in the air to get your skis light, followed by very nice progressive steering of your skis in to and through the fall line. The skis aren't able to engage the snow again until you are through the fall line.

When you pop up like that you're actually moving back up the slope instead of in to the direction of the new turn. Your center of mass stays behind the skis, in the old turn, and on the old edges. You are a passenger until the skis have come all the way around back under you again at the bottom of the turn where you can be on the new edges.

In order to engage those edges early you need to lead in to the new turn with your center of mass ahead of the skis. The goal will be to progressively extend at a 45 degree angle forward and down the hill, moving your center of mass inside the new turn before the skis get to the fall line. Now you can engage the new inside edges before the fall line.

A movement like this is a little bit scary at first, especially on steep terrain. It's best to begin on medium blue terrain and really exaggerate the slow and progressive movement at a 45 degree angle down the hill in to the new turn. Try counting to yourself "one ... two ... three" as you extend in to the new turn. This is not an extension up like the trees grow, but an extension forward along the path of the skis, and eventually inside the path of the skis and in to the new turn. At three you should see your hips over (or inside) the toe piece of the binding of your new inside ski. Your weight is moving from 50/50 over both skis towards being more balanced over the outside ski as you reach the middle of your turn, and your hips are now inside the new turn before the fall line.

As you get comfortable with feeling pressure against the skis before the fall line on easier terrain, increase the tempo slowly as you increase the pitch of the hill. You can't count to three on a 45 degree slope, or you will be going mach 10 with your hair on fire before you get to the fall line, but you can still move in to the new turn progressively... perhaps only counting a slow "one" while moving forward and down the hill, over the toe piece of the inside ski binding.

-Adam
post #6 of 24
simon, not bad skiing. I like the fact that you tried to ski all the way down without stopping. I could in fact see that you had a hard time getting a proper rhythm going in the upper part but that you caught a nice beat after passing the cameraman.

A couple of pointers. First, you are not using the terrain the way you should. On steep runs like this with bad snow you need to play it safe and unweight properly at turn initiation. Do that by using the bumps that are all over and in a fearly nice pattern and also by using ski rebound. Dont be affraid to jump if you have to. How do you do that? That brings me to the second pointer I have for you. You need to flex and extend more with your legs. Try to absorb the upward motion with your legs once you have sufficient unweighing for intended turn. If you look at the clip, do you ever see yourself flexing your knees to about 90deg? Not really. More like 180deg . You are very stiff. Work more with your legs. This will make you comfortable passing the fall line and you dont have to rush past it like you are doing now. That will make your turns rounder. Third pointer, allways pass the cameraman on his ski tip side .
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks Adam and tdk6. Lots of things to think about, I have to make a list so I can work on that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
Third pointer, allways pass the cameraman on his ski tip side .
I'm sure I can correct this for the next time!
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by simonbda View Post
Thanks Adam and tdk6. Lots of things to think about, I have to make a list so I can work on that.
Trust me, flex and extend, work with your leggs and efficient use of terrain.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by simonbda View Post
Thanks for the feedback TheRusty. The quote above is something that I have a bit of a hard time with. Even though I got better at it during the past week, I still have trouble letting my skis go uphill at the end of the turn while keeping my upper body more on a fall line position. I think this problem is both mental (I want to look where my skis are going), and physical (I need a bit more flexibility). Any exercise or drill you'd recommend to address the flexibility part?
Rusty gave you great advice, I want to expand on something in this quote. You need to separate your lower body- hips on down from your upper body. The lower part can still keep turning uphill while the upper part is getting ready for the next turn. You have already bought the turn that you are in just finish it off some more working those tips uphill a bit, you look to the next turn with your upper body( head, shoulders,hands). You buy that turn when you release your edges, by looking further ahead you are moving in the direction of the turn.

One thing that might help you in the upper part of the turn is to have your shoulders with slope, looking at the video and ,you did make mention of this with the lazy uphill hand,your shoulders are always tipped into the hill, this is forcing you to bring your entire body over your skis to release and start the next turn. This could be where you are getting the pop up in your turns. If you can keep your uphill hand higher than your downhill hand this will help level you out to be with slope. You won't need as big of an up move to start, most of your upper body will already be moving in the direction of the new turn.
post #10 of 24
siman,

What you do really well is recenter between turns. Your lunging into the turns moves you too far inside the turns and you correct that by extending your outside leg downward to create a platform. Work on changing your timing in the turns so you extend your new outside leg at the top of the turn and flex your ankles progressively as you guide your skis through the turn.

RW
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron White View Post
siman,

What you do really well is recenter between turns. Your lunging into the turns moves you too far inside the turns and you correct that by extending your outside leg downward to create a platform. Work on changing your timing in the turns so you extend your new outside leg at the top of the turn and flex your ankles progressively as you guide your skis through the turn.

RW
Does the lunging into the turn mean that I'm rushing my turns? I was told I do it, and I'm trying to be a bit more patient and to let my skis progressively get into the fall line.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Does the lunging into the turn mean that I'm rushing my turns? I was told I do it, and I'm trying to be a bit more patient and to let my skis progressively get into the fall line.
Yes.

RW
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
you get me out there
You've got a free place to stay in the burque in any case.

Simon, thanks for posting this vid. I was fortunate enough to watch you ski some steeps last year and it is really fun for me to see how quickly your skiing is progressing. Can't wait to see you out there. I think you've received some really good pointers here but my favorite is the reminder to loosen up a bit from tdk6. The cameras never help with that, but I think you'll find all the other advice easier to implement if you let your body work for you a bit less rigidly.
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Are you back in NM Garrett? Looking forward to skiing with you again. This time I may be able to go with you to those scary places on the ridge that you like
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by simonbda View Post
Any exercise or drill you'd recommend to address the flexibility part?
In the gym, use a medicine ball. Start light (e.g. 4-6 lbs) and work your way up (e.g. 10-20 lbs). Hold the ball to your stomach and rotate your upper body as far as it can comfortably go without moving the ball off your stomach. Try it rotating the hips and the shoulders together, then try it without rotating the hips (leaving the butt cheeks in place). The former will feel better and work better for skiing, but in skiing the difference is that the legs turn underneath the hips vs the hips turning over the legs in this drill. Start with 10 reps for each side from the center to the side, pause, and back to center, then work your way up to 20 reps.

Caveat Emptor - I am not a fitness expert. I did not sleep in a Holiday Inn Express workout room. Stop if there's any pain. You can seriously injure yourself doing this exercise (e.g. dropping the bakk on your toes, d'oh!). Consult your doctor before beginning any fitness program. Blah blah blah.
post #16 of 24
Try to eliminate your up-unweight move, (ie, pop extension). You will find more grace, control, edge engagement, rounder turns and smoother speed control, including on steep terrain like this by using a down-unweight, (ie, flex to release)........and earlier edge engagement. You can work on that technique on the groomers and bring it back to the steeps.

Otherwise, looks like you're managing your existing technique on steep terrain well enough. Love that dry snow. I need to get to Taos one of these days.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by borntoski683 View Post
Try to eliminate your up-unweight move, (ie, pop extension). You will find more grace, control, edge engagement, rounder turns and smoother speed control, including on steep terrain like this by using a down-unweight, (ie, flex to release)........and earlier edge engagement. You can work on that technique on the groomers and bring it back to the steeps.
I see there are two main themes in all the comments: Upper/lower body separation and leg extension/flexing. The first I have no trouble visualizing, as I've been told that many times and I know how it should look when I'm doing it right.

The leg flexing gives me a bit more trouble. Should my hips come down closer to the ground? (and therefore my legs would be flexing more). I guess I'm having trouble visualizing how to correct this problem. EDIT: Just added the picture for visualization purposes. Butt should be closer to the 90 degree line?


P.S.: That pole plant hurts my eyes when I see it
post #18 of 24
The further your legs get out from underneath the body, the lower your hips will get to the ground. But you will also need more force to stay in balance. That means you'll need faster speeds and/or shorter turning radii. Tip your skis onto higher edge angles and you'll start going there.
post #19 of 24
Hi Simonbda,

Nice work on this run... keep pushing the envelope.

If you place your outside (downhill) foot where it can support your COM, you will have a much easier time trusting it and therefore balancing against it. Push your outside foot ahead throughout the turn (ie: kicking the ball, telemark turns etc). This more balanced and mobile stance will make it easier to turn with the lower body. Turning with the lower body creates "counter rotation" which will make it easier to reach down the hill for your next pole plant and allow your skis to steer back underneath you.
post #20 of 24
PS... avoiding the pop with retraction in the turn transitions is also good advice for the steeps.
post #21 of 24
simonbda,

What you have going on now is an up-unweight move at transition, which you are doing to swing your tails from one side to the other. This shows as a "pop" in between each turn where you sorta "jump". Watch your head pop at the top of every turn.

You need to learn how to accomplish the same unweight by aggressive flexing instead of jumping.

Actually I would prefer to that you eventually learn to reduce the amount of unweighting and tail-swinging as well, but first things first. More on that later.

What I am suggesting is a complete reversal of what you are doing now and will take you some time to get the feel for it on easier runs. Imagine there is a virtual bump at every transition and you must flex to absorb it. But DO NOT follow up that flex with a pop. No POP. Eliminate the pop completely. The aggresive flexing needs to provide the unweighting you need for swinging your tails, if at all you choose to do so.

See if you can ski this run with your head appearing to remain quiet and no popping up and down of the head.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by borntoski683 View Post
What I am suggesting is a complete reversal of what you are doing now and will take you some time to get the feel for it on easier runs.
IMO its not really a complete reversal, its more of a timing issue. Different timing. Working more with the leggs. Flexing and extending. Retraction turns feeding on previous turn rebound is not really your best option in terrain like this because you are not linking rhythmical turns down the fall line. Insted use the terrain features like bumps and piles of snow to drive your turn initiations, transitions, float, edge change etc.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by simonbda View Post
I see there are two main themes in all the comments: Upper/lower body separation and leg extension/flexing. The first I have no trouble visualizing, as I've been told that many times and I know how it should look when I'm doing it right.

The leg flexing gives me a bit more trouble. Should my hips come down closer to the ground? (and therefore my legs would be flexing more). I guess I'm having trouble visualizing how to correct this problem. EDIT: Just added the picture for visualization purposes. Butt should be closer to the 90 degree line?


P.S.: That pole plant hurts my eyes when I see it
Yeah, I bet that pole plant hurts your eyes but dont take it so hard. Its possible to fix. Start by grabbing your pole and keeping your fist closed. Dont swing it forward towards the tips. Make it more to the side and in steep terrain also further back. That helps you drive your turns. Pro mogul skiers use their wrist but they also ski straight down the fall line so its a bit different. Now your pole plant is syncrocized to your up-unweighting move and weight transfer. Try to isolate your movements and then when you can perform them independently then you can bring them back together again.

90deg? hmmmmm why 90deg? Its a matter of flexing over the bumps and extending into the throughs. Your default posison should be so that you can both extend and flex. Thats why you cannot ski very extended.

PS, dont be affraid of getting some air.
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
Yeah, I bet that pole plant hurts your eyes but dont take it so hard. Its possible to fix. Start by grabbing your pole and keeping your fist closed. Dont swing it forward towards the tips. Make it more to the side and in steep terrain also further back. That helps you drive your turns. Pro mogul skiers use their wrist but they also ski straight down the fall line so its a bit different. Now your pole plant is syncrocized to your up-unweighting move and weight transfer. Try to isolate your movements and then when you can perform them independently then you can bring them back together again.
The whole pole plant issue is something I'm very aware of and try to correct as much as I can. But I guess sometimes bad habits come back during a run.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
90deg? hmmmmm why 90deg? Its a matter of flexing over the bumps and extending into the throughs. Your default posison should be so that you can both extend and flex. Thats why you cannot ski very extended.
The 90deg comment was meant for me to understand your previous post about me flexing my knees.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdk6 View Post
PS, dont be affraid of getting some air.
Believe me, I do love to get some air on the bumps!
For this run, I tried to stay on the snow as much as I could, as I notice how much easier it is to ski like that. I like to ski faster and have fun on the bumps but I've noticed that it's way more tiring that way. Skiing with more speed control allowed me to ski 1,600 vertical ft of bumps non-stop on the last run of the day (same day I shot the video, after skiing bumps all day and with a bit of hiking too) and that's something that made me really happy.

I'll try to shoot another video this weekend to see if I understood some of the advice on the thread. Thanks again!
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