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Tips on building skills and confidence

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
First of all -- what a great site. Lots of good info.

I am 40 -- skied for several years as a teen in CO and the East coast then stopped until last year when my wife and I went to PC. Friends think I am a much better skier than I really am because I got pretty good at carving on groomed slopes (everything below the waist, totally parallel, instructor says solid turns...).

I'm heading back to PC Saturday for three days and I'd like to 'practice' for a week-long trip we're taking to Vail late Feb. I'm going to take another lesson (I'm a level 6) -- but, beyond that, what's the best way to advance to skiing blacks, powder, crud, etc.?

Truth is -- I HATE skiing in the tougher conditions right now because I feel so confident on the groomed stuff and I blow in the crud and steeper terrain.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Jim
post #2 of 13

Tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimmieD View Post
First of all -- what a great site. Lots of good info.

I am 40 -- skied for several years as a teen in CO and the East coast then stopped until last year when my wife and I went to PC. Friends think I am a much better skier than I really am because I got pretty good at carving on groomed slopes (everything below the waist, totally parallel, instructor says solid turns...).

I'm heading back to PC Saturday for three days and I'd like to 'practice' for a week-long trip we're taking to Vail late Feb. I'm going to take another lesson (I'm a level 6) -- but, beyond that, what's the best way to advance to skiing blacks, powder, crud, etc.?

Truth is -- I HATE skiing in the tougher conditions right now because I feel so confident on the groomed stuff and I blow in the crud and steeper terrain.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Jim
JimmieD. Big question. First, welcome to Epic. Using the KISS principle. There is obviously a lot of ingredients that will enable you to ski tougher runs/blacks etc. Lessons help, time on the snow is a must. To keep it simple, look down the hill where you are going not down at your skis or where you are. When looking ahead/down the run or hill-ski the terrain not just the turn you are in. Flow with the mountain .

There are a lot more of course but if you can integrate this into your skiing you can move to where you want.
post #3 of 13
Hi JimmieD. Surprisingly, the best way to learn to handle tougher terrain is to build your skills on lesser terrain.

Chances are you've allowed yourself to exist in relative comfort on the easier groomer runs with a limited skill base, and that lacking skill base comes back to bite you when pushed by tougher terrain.

You need to put yourself on a skill building program. Expand your balance comfort and performance zones. Learn a broader range of edging skills, from various forms of steering that will allow you to travel any slope, on any line, at any speed you desire,,, to high quality carving that lets you extract the highest level of performance out of the engineering built into your skis.

Accomplish those things on the groomers you now find comfortable, and you'll find your ventures into the tougher terrain will suddenly become much more enjoyable.
post #4 of 13
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=79348

Some guys over here in my thread have given some excellent tips which will help build confidence and concentration. Just ignore my posts and you'll be skiing with more confidence in no time! haha.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Hi JimmieD. Surprisingly, the best way to learn to handle tougher terrain is to build your skills on lesser terrain.

Chances are you've allowed yourself to exist in relative comfort on the easier groomer runs with a limited skill base, and that lacking skill base comes back to bite you when pushed by tougher terrain.

You need to put yourself on a skill building program. Expand your balance comfort and performance zones. Learn a broader range of edging skills, from various forms of steering that will allow you to travel any slope, on any line, at any speed you desire,,, to high quality carving that lets you extract the highest level of performance out of the engineering built into your skis.

Accomplish those things on the groomers you now find comfortable, and you'll find your ventures into the tougher terrain will suddenly become much more enjoyable.

I was hoping for an answer like that. I'm excited to get some runs in beginning Sunday. Going to Deer Valley -- I hear there's some good groomed terrain there...



Thanks again.

Jim
post #6 of 13

Skill Building

JimmyD-
Thanks for your question; I had my first experience with crud and it was eye-opening. Groomers are so much easier, aren't they? But limiting.
I've never been the quickest learner........but always persistent and determined and I love to ski. But skiing isn't always about flowing gracefully (or maybe people who actually know what they're doing can flow gracefully through crud). Nevertheless, it seems that there is no end to skill building.
Thank goodness for the people with the patience and understanding to help me learn more. I know I can always count on the mountain to teach me a thing or two about how much i do or don't know about skiing or the parallels between skiing and life.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski Spirit View Post
JimmyD-
Thanks for your question; I had my first experience with crud and it was eye-opening. Groomers are so much easier, aren't they? But limiting.
I've never been the quickest learner........but always persistent and determined and I love to ski. But skiing isn't always about flowing gracefully (or maybe people who actually know what they're doing can flow gracefully through crud). Nevertheless, it seems that there is no end to skill building.
Thank goodness for the people with the patience and understanding to help me learn more. I know I can always count on the mountain to teach me a thing or two about how much i do or don't know about skiing or the parallels between skiing and life.
I'm with you... persistence and patience are good things and I could use more of both. It's going to be fun to get a lesson that gets off the groomers into the tougher terrain. I really want to get to a point later this year or next where I can ski down a bowl in knee deep powder. With some work, I'm sure I'll get there.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski Spirit View Post
JimmyD-
Thanks for your question; I had my first experience with crud and it was eye-opening. Groomers are so much easier, aren't they? But limiting.
I've never been the quickest learner........but always persistent and determined and I love to ski. But skiing isn't always about flowing gracefully (or maybe people who actually know what they're doing can flow gracefully through crud). Nevertheless, it seems that there is no end to skill building.
Thank goodness for the people with the patience and understanding to help me learn more. I know I can always count on the mountain to teach me a thing or two about how much i do or don't know about skiing or the parallels between skiing and life.
The advice I was given about crud was to just blast though it and let the ski's do the work, and to trust my equipment. I have not experienced much crud yet, but any that I have hit, I don't worry about it and just cruze on through it and trust my equipment.
Seems to work so far. I know if you try and slow down or avoid crud, you can sometimes cause yourself more issues.
post #9 of 13

Hi Jimmie!

 

It's great that you want to progress and there are already some excellent tips. I'm no ski teacher, but I have been taught by some great ones and here are a few thoughts and some suggestions for things to practise that have helped me. Of course, without seeing you ski I can't tell what applies to you, but the things I mention below are pretty general.

 

Difficult terrain

 

Modern trails are groomed like highways so it often comes as a shock to find yourself in uneven snow. The general truth is that if you have a good technique on the easy stuff it will work on what's difficult. But, on the other hand, the combination of groomed trail and modern equipment will let you get away with a lot. It's only when the going gets tough that you get found out.

 

One common problem is that skiing is a matter of what I call "reactive strength". It's not about consistently applying huge forces to the snow with your legs (unless you're a racer) so much as being prepared to absorb what is thrown at you quickly and smoothly. Just being strong in the legs doesn't suffice -- in fact, it can be a handicap if you're tense.

 

The best way to promote this is just by skiing uneven terrain. Find some uneven snow (mini-bumps or an up-and-down traverse) and simply ski it straight, concentrating on relaxing, breathing and absorbing. Unfortunately, this is one of the most difficult (and scary) things for adults to learn -- it's remarkable how quickly kids get the idea -- but it IS important.

 

Sideslipping

 

Sideslipping is one of the things we learn as a kind of safety net -- if all else fails, sideslip! -- so there's a tendency to think that, once we have the confidence to turn on steep slopes, we can leave sideslipping behind. But actually sideslipping is a great drill to practise: if you can do it well, it will benefit you in lots of other ways.

 

The first thing to note is that good sideslipping involves "releasing" (that is, flattening) the skis. That, believe me, can be scary -- no one wants to catch an outside edge and end up head first on the snow -- but, if you can overcome it, it will give you an experience of "flowing" that is incredibly liberating and leads to all kinds of other good stuff (the next stage is a drill called the "pivot slip", discussed in the technique thread -- if you can do that well, you don't need any advice from me!)

 

Apart from teaching you to release your ski, sideslipping also teaches you about weight distribution. In order to go straight down the hill rather than at an angle your weight must be in the middle of the ski, so, if you find yourself going forwards or backwards as you go down, you should adjust your balance. It should also teach you to lean your weight outwards, not in to the hll (another scary thing) to get a smooth flow.

 

You'd be surprised how many fast and confident skiers can't sideslip!

 

Upper and Lower Body

 

Another very common weakness of skiers who get by really well on the groomed trail but have difficulty when the terrain gets tougher is that they don't "separate" the upper and lower body. It's very difficult to describe this without getting in to a lot of technical language, but it's really easy to spot when you see a skier on the hill who has that separation: he/she just looks so much more relaxed, elegant and in control.

 

I was once given what I thought was an excellent drill to help this. Bend your arms at the elbows and, with the upper arms against your torso, point the forearms in front of you, with your palms open and facing one another and the thumbs pointing straight up in the air. Using the flat, upper part of your index fingers as a rest, put your ski poles across your hands. Now start skiing down the hill with the ski poles resting there, trying not to lose them as you turn. The idea is that, since you're not holding the poles, you have to keep your hands horizontal, which will (should!) force you to move upper and lower body independently.

 

Power Position

 

One of the things I notice about myself is that, in trying to relax as I ski, I'm sometimes too upright. Here's a great technique someone showed me to try to get me to correct that.

 

Stand static on the hill where it is reasonably steep with your skis on edge. Take your ski poles in each hand, holding them as if each were a sword you were going to poke. Have a friend stand a couple of feet below you with his/her body slightly in front of yours. Have them grab the basket ends of your poles and try to pull you downhill. Your job is to edge and pull back. You'll find that, as you pull back, your legs bend naturally, your hips turn and you apply force with your back by bending, not crouching. I call this a "power position". It's a great position to ski from and encourages naturally something that the pros call "angulation" of the hips, which is hard to describe in simple terms but is another GOOD THING.

 

P.S. As I said, I'm not a ski teacher (Rick, on the other hand, is -- and a terrific one) and I'm putting this stuff out as something that has worked for me in a similar situation. If it doesn't make sense to you, I'm sorry -- good luck in any case!

post #10 of 13

Skiing ungroomed snow is totally different than skiing hardpack.  I recommend you take every chance you get to see what it feels like.  If you can find snow the grooming machines have missed at trail intersections etcetera, ski it.  Also skiing bumps is a good way to stretch your abilities to react to terrain.

 

post #11 of 13

It is about balance and about riding the edges of the skis, not skidding the skis sideways.

 

For powder, you need to balance equally on both skis and balance just about in the middle of the skis...certainly not on the fronts and not on the backs.  You might need microadjustments from perfectly centered, but that's it.  You need to let the snow determine the tempo of your turns and not rush the initiation of the turn.  Smooth, round "C" turns are good, not rushed "Z" turns.  You need to learn what speed you'll ski in deep snow on a given pitch...slower than on packed snow...so you can adjust to that.

 

For crud where you're on a base you can put more weight on the outside ski, but not a whole lot more.

 

For both, you want to roll the skis up on edge and let them slice through the snow.  You need to angulate...hips to the inside of the turn and head & shoulders to the outside...to balance with the skis on edge. 

 

Powder and soft crud are lots of fun.  Find comfortable slopes and learn the balance you need to make them work for you. 

post #12 of 13

There are some very helpful tips.  Thanks for the pointers.  Appreciate them!!

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Came back to this in preparation for some more skiing.  Thanks again for the pointers.  Looking forward to some great skiing this winter! 
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