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The Uh Oh Syndrome

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
So after I go ahead and book my frequent flyer tickets for Fernie, I read the detailed description. YIKES!

I may be asking for some empathy, here, because most of you are way far away from feeling this, and some of you I have the suspicion were born natural dare devils.

What do you do {or what would you tell a student to do} when they get to a point on a trail where for some reason, or another, the thought of making that first turn down the fall line causes sheer panic?

If I were to step outside myself in that sort of situation, I would see someone who looks like a deer in the headlights. I also am aware that I do things that I would tell my own students not to do, shoulders tight, not breathing etc.
Thoughts? Thanks!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #2 of 48
Don't let all the bravado fool you. Most great skiers dropping a steep, narrow chute, down stem, pre-turn, up stem or check the first one.
post #3 of 48
Well, first survival has to register, in that you're already committed to the trail and how else are you supposed to get down? (This happened to me once; wrong turn, ended up I HAD to do a short double black to meet back with my now ex. This was at Snow Summit in CA. Then there was that adventure at Les Deux Alpes..grrr.)

If you know you are probably in over your head, think basic stuff, not refined technique, like leaning forward, traversing the trail. I have all sorts of ugly survival tools as well, but I hesitate to disclose these to people who'd never be caught dead with someone doing them. But anyway: I have done all of the following: slid back and forth sideways (lean forward, lean back, skis don't quite scrape down, it's more like arcs; I'm sure you have better balance than I do to be able to do this -- of course, your friends won't wanna know you); and on ridiculously hard stuff, when I had trouble turning in the old days of not enough forward lean, I could ski sideways off the trail, fall, turn around and do it again. I should patent all of these and call it my own system, the Ut Oh No, _____ survival guide to arriving intact at the bottom of a bad trail.

Of course, I didn't use any of these at Les Deux Alpes, just stayed off anything that seemed too challenging. Since I couldn't speak French worth a darn and had no one to help me, the idea of a hospital did not strike me as a good move. So I lived to weasel out of yet another difficult trail, hook or crook, and make excuses about it. Yea rah, eh?


Dante non ha mai immaginato questo cerchio dell'inferno!
post #4 of 48
what Robin says.
I sure do that. all of the above.

but then again I'm just a experts here.

and by the way Lisamarie, I still get the hesitation and second thoughts. "do I really want to do this?" or "what the heck am I doing up here?"<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by dchan (edited August 07, 2001).]</FONT>
post #5 of 48
One of my favorites for folks who've found themselves in too steep a situation is to reduce the turn-line (as opposed to fall-line) steepness by making a bunch of small turns at an angle across the steepness rather than directly down it. For example, get to the skier's right edge of the slope and make longer left turns than right turns so that you go downhill some and across the slope to the skier's left side. One really big right turn at the left edge and you're making larger rights, smaller lefts.
post #6 of 48
The one thing that comes to the mind of most skiers in a situation, is fear. And the longer you stand there, the worse it gets. Get in that first turn as soon as you can get an idea of what you are in for. Then get out over the downhill ski. Whatever you do, don't lean into the hill.

Remember, gravity is your friend. Make it work for you. Keep all of your weight on the big toe edge of your downhill ski. Try to cue yourself to make the next turn as quickly as possible as this will help to keep the fear-factor at a minimum. You will be too busy to be scared.

Be braver than your body.... Luck has nothing to do with it. You have the skills; the ground is just tilted a little more.

RH<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Rick H (edited August 07, 2001).]</FONT>
post #7 of 48
expect and accept the feeling of free fall, grow to love it....

imagine what a spectacular crash it is going to be, guess how many limbs will be broken and hope the patroller coming to collect you in the toboggan is hot. Im beeing silly but I guess im just saying think about anything but the fear....

I falter when i get to caught up in technique, as well. I cant think too hard or suddenly I get two left skis....(!)(?)
post #8 of 48
Those who excel - don't think about it, they do it.
post #9 of 48
Thread Starter 
But YOU of all people know that I certainly DO NOT excel.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #10 of 48
Get over it, LM! With that kind of attitude you wont ever make the freaking turn!
post #11 of 48

You should read the book "Inner Skiing" by Tim Gallway and ?. He goes into fear a lot. Some of what they talk about is dissecting how you feel and being very specific with it.

For instance what number would you give your fear at that moment on a scale of 1-10 or 1-5. What's happening in your body? Are you stiff in the arms, are your legs frozen etc., etc.. The key is to actually say it. (In the example it's usually a conversation with an instructor) You say it and keep noticing what's going on.

I think this is to keep your mind occupied and give you the feeling you're doing something and you have some control. This small action can break the log jam of total fear paralysis.

However, this may work well with people who in general have no idea of what their body is doing. For you since you have so much physical knowledge of the body the above could get out of control. Here's a possibility:

lisamarie checking in on her body:

"hmmm...yes my transverse abdominals seem to be cross linked with my medial gluteals. It'll take a half hour of inverted poly motion with a nubbed roller to loosen that up - (And I'm Frozen on this hill!!) This is bad. If I don't get going soon that lactic acid is going to build up and start contracting my quads and I'll be stuck here. I really need heat that's the only thing that works...oh.. I should've brought the Tiger Balm. My hamstrings are tight- ..I stretched enough..- but now I'm in a 3rd level Chek restriction... wow...hmmm...this is bad..."

I think for the method to work you have to be sure not to make any conclusions about things. Such as "I feel __ so this is bad". You might also be better off checking general things like "where's the weight on my feet" or "what's my posture"

Also, If the trail is steep, don't stare down the center of the trail into the abyss- this is like looking down when climbing a high ladder. Instead, look to the side of the trail to where you will be turning. Pick a point and make a turn towards that point.

There are very few trails in the east that can't be sidestepped down or even walked down as a last resort. Usually you're safer with the skis on though.

but check the book out...
post #12 of 48
Thread Starter 
Wow! its amazing how many people tell me to read Inner Skiing. I have read the book. I stand there and go, "well let me see, is the a type 1 or a type 2 fear? HMMMMM!

One thing that does sometimes help is trying to pretend that an instructor {cyber or otherwise} who I have alot of respect for is there with me.

Its like the point in the story where the hero {or heroine} says "What would so and so do?"

I might just store this little charecature {sp?} you just did of me in my memory.
It might just humor me out of a bad situation!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #13 of 48
Allright here's something to try. Imagine you're like an astronaut. When something goes wrong they start running through check lists. (Having an explosion in your capsule in the middle of outer space like Apollo 13 must be a tad frightening) They need to see what's working and what's not. This helps them get a grip on the situation and develop a plan.

When you're in the deer mode you could run through the checklist you've previously developed and tried on easier terrain. (Just like the astronauts training on the ground)

This could include "Breathing?" "Eyes? What are they looking at?" etc...

Maybe figure out what you need to function for a turn on easier terrain and then write those things down. Practice using the list first. Then it'll be easier when you need it.
post #14 of 48
LM - you need to do less self-analysis and more skiing.
post #15 of 48
Yea Lisamarie, I think you should start skiing with the headphones on!

Visit me here &gt;&gt;&gt;SnoKarver
post #16 of 48

I know you're very fit, so why not make that first turn a "helicopter" or jump turn, maybe followed by a few more. The result, I think, would be that you don't gain much speed through the turn because you come round so quickly. After the first few turns, I'm sure that fear will have subsided.

Must get fitter... winter is coming.
post #17 of 48
Looking over to a slope makes the slope seem steeper than it may be. Assuming we are not talking steep chutes slide on to the slope facing the direction of your strongest turn. Now that you are standing on the slope you will get a better perspective of the slope and you will be facing the directions of your strongest turn. You are now set up for success.

Secondly take a comfortable angle instead of the fall line for your first turn to make the fall line less BUT do not think "defensive" but offensive. Many skiers make "defensive" turns from a traverse to start a run. That approach sets them up with negative (defensive) skiing as opposed to positive (offensive) skiing. You can always adjust your next turn to be more or less in the "fall" line you want to ski. If you are reasonably comfortable with a run make your first turn in the fall line and then adjust accordingly based on your comfort zone and the snow conditions etc. Another hint is to always start your run in the same manner. I click my poles behind me and I have a friend that always skates to his first turn. Similar to golf, always set up in the same manner to get consistant results.

Good skiing and smooth turns. Let the "force" be in your mind and not your turns.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Floyd (edited August 08, 2001).]</FONT>
post #18 of 48
Hi LM. A couple of things come to mind. First of all, the fear is mental and can be overcome (duh, thanks a lot, right?)
Second, I am sure that one way or another, you can ski whatever you will encounter, and it may do you some good to focus on just skiing, instead of being focused on your little toe, or Worcester, MA, or whatever you think of when trying to ski "perfectly".

For overcoming fear, I read once that Horatio Nelson early in his career would be nearly paralyzed with fear before battle, but would simply act like he wasn't. That was what I would do while rock-climbing, just put it away and act like I'm not scared. Before you know it, you're not.

Anyway, I tried to think of the last time I did something really scary. It was when I went skydiving,, and I posted on a Mountain Bike forum about it, you can find that here:
The first step out the door was still kinda scary, but there was no question of whether or not it would happen.
post #19 of 48
The key to overcoming fear is to crash really hard and then realize it doesn't hurt that much, wait, learn to crash first. Learn how to self-arrest with a ski pole. Fernie can be as easy a hill as you want to make it, or it can be fun.
post #20 of 48
For me, when I'm in a dicey situation, I need to commit myself and ski it, quickly. The longer I stand there anticipating my demise, waiting and worrying, the more fear builds up, and the less aggressive I'll be. When I'm at the top of a steep chute, I like to commit quickly and get moving.

Screw waiting.
Be aggressive and take control.

Hop turns are good in steep, narrow terrain because they keep speed in check, allowing you to ski down anything, never truly in the fall line for more than a split second. Maybe they are not the best technique, but hop turns are a vital skill in your bag of tricks.
post #21 of 48
straightline it. what else?
post #22 of 48
I really enjoy making the transition from not-so-steep to very-steep with no stopping or hesitation - keeps you focused on the present. (For the same reason, I prefer playing 3rd base - no time to think, just react.)

Hey, I did skydiving for a couple of summers in the early '70's - 33 jumps @ OSPC in Orange, MA. Scary at 1st, but mostly a huge adrenalin rush! But talk about scary: A guy at work just showed me his underwater vacation video - scuba diving in the Galapagos with (many) sharks! Now that really IS wacko!
post #23 of 48

Look into Mermer Blakeslee's (sp?) women's "fear clinics". I think she's the one who does them. The instructors in the north east will know better. I don't know what mountain she's at, but she's PSIA d-team. She does a LOT of women-specific clinics, and I've heard nothing but great praise about her clinics. I believe they are open to the general public.
post #24 of 48
Huck your carcass over the hard parts. Don't forget the grab.
post #25 of 48
Thread Starter 
Just did a web search on Mermer Blakeslee. Ski instructor, PSIA examiner and mystery writer. Now I'm intrigued!
Can anyone tell me more?
Thank you for all replies so far!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #26 of 48
I haven't been skiing long but I did learn something while I was in the army.

When the defecation really hits the rotary oscillator, the pucker factor is 12 on a scale of 1-10 and you aren't sure if you're even going to get through this alive, you just do one thing:

You just do the NEXT thing.
Whatever the heck that next thing is, you do that.
Then, when it's done, you do the next thing.

Forget about how you look or what people think. Your only job is to get through it one thing at a time.
post #27 of 48
How wonderfully "ZEN" nakona! Nice to see you "all over" the forum.

Hey, what branch of the service were you in? Just curious.

Visit me here &gt;&gt;&gt;SnoKarver
post #28 of 48
The great irony of steeper terrain is that it is actually physically *easier* to ski if you relax. You can simply let yourself "fall into" the next turn and then the main muscle action comes from absorbing momentum in your legs. Now many people do jump or pedal turns on the steeps, which can be useful. The problem being that they generally also are using a lot of energy to push *up* into the air and then rotate their skis, on something really steep it takes a lot less energy to push *out*, you'll end up in the air anyways - with less effort.
post #29 of 48
Actually, I've noticed that, too, as has at least one instructor I have. I ski better on steeper trails (obviously this is relative; I will not be doing anything like in Owens' pics anytime soon). I lean forward more on them, so I turn better.


Dante non ha mai immaginato questo cerchio dell'inferno!
post #30 of 48
Also "Inner Skiing" just smacks too much of 70's pop-psychology to me now. I still think Denise McCullages "Centered Skiing" is a much more down to earth and practical (and fun) approach to the psychology of performance skiing than Gallaway and Kreigals book.
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