Any suggestion? Thanks in advance.
a good example video of skiing the slow line fast.
i m trying to learn bit by bit. short turn is the next i m trying to accomplish while 'skiing the slow line fast' is what i m seeing is probably is very relevent. So, for sure, I m looking for something to mimic. A vid worth a million words for me.
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A good request, Carver_hk!
But I'll suggest that any video of very good skiers, or even well-trained beginner or intermediate skiers, is likely to show "skiing the slow line fast." World Cup race footage is the best example, almost always.
"Skiing the slow line fast" is an abbreviation of the statement I often make about good skiing habits, and it may well mislead you. The full statement suggests that good skiing habits involve "skiing a slow enough line as fast as you can--when you can (and braking when you have to)." Key differences include the words "enough," "as fast as you can," and "when you can." With those additions, it becomes clear that "skiing the slow line fast" implies neither skiing a particularly slow line (just "slow enough") nor skiing particulary fast (just "as fast as you can" on that line).
It's all about skiing offensively (which is not the same as "aggressively") instead of defensively--controlling speed with tactics (line) instead of technique (braking). It's about the intent to glide with skis going the direction they're pointed, not to brake with skis scrubbing off speed through intentional skidding. It's about turns meant entirely to control direction, vs. turns meant to scrub off speed. It's about turning not to control speed (which describes probably 99% of recreational skiers)--it's about turning to eliminate the need to control speed!
The brilliant French ski technician and author Georges Joubert spoke of "glissement," a word that has no exact English equivalent but suggests "gliding." I wrote in my Complete Encyclopedia of Skiing 3rd Edition (1999, page 129):
"Skiing the slow line fast" is about glissement. It's about how all truly great skiers think--an intent which distinguishes from them from most other skiers, but one that all skiers can learn to adopt. And it's an intent that dictates the habitual techniques, and the tactics, of good skiing.
There are two ways to control speed on skis. I call them "direction" and "friction." (which may not be 100% accurate, technically, but they rhyme, and they make the point, so I'm using them!). "Direction" is easy: going downhill speeds you up: going uphill slows you down. "Friction" means "increasing the resistance to sliding" and generally suggests braking by intentionally skidding, but also includes falling down, running into things, and, well, every other way of slowing down besides direction.
"Skiing the slow line fast" means controlling speed with direction (line, tactics) as a habit, friction only as needed. Great skiers simply don't need to brake very often, because of their tactics--the ("slow enough") lines they choose.
So how can I say that World Cup racers exemplify the "slow line fast"? Aren't they trying to ski as fast a line as possible, as fast as possible? Well, yes, if they want to win--within the restriction that they must make the gates. Unlike recreational skiers, racers don't choose their course down the hill--course setters do. A well-set course generally describes "a slow enough line," at least for the best racers, allowing them to focus on skiing it "as fast as they can." But even racers need to brake at times--whenever the line is "too fast" to ski without braking.
The turning techniques most of us strive to perfect are offensive--gliding, carving, with precise control of line. Needless to say, better turns are faster on any given line than lesser turns (that's why they win races). Carved turns are faster than skidded turns. Turns that begin by releasing the edges and turning the skis down the hill are faster than turns that begin by setting the edges and pushing the tails uphill into a skid. Good technique is offensive (not defensive)--good turns are made to "go that way," not to "stop going this way." So the absolute pre-requisite to all great turns is the intent to gain speed.
Most recreational skiers--including most instructors--describe turns as the way to slow down. Most skiers don't even get the urge to turn until the voice in their heads says "that's fast enough--now turn!" You're going to gain speed when you start a new, good, turn down the hill--so you have to want that!
So the "slow line fast" is simply the suggestion that, if you want to make the best turns you can, you must ski a line that keeps your speed under control for you--so you don't need to brake. You must be looking for more speed, better glide, "glissement," all the time! There's nothing wrong with braking, really, except that it is incompatible with the movements of great turns. Turning means holding the line and carving; braking means skidding, which means sacrificing some control of line. Turning and braking simply live on opposite ends of the technique spectrum (and on opposite ends of the intent/tactics spectrum as well).
The habits of great skiers--and all skiers on the road to greatness--are offensive. You can't be offensive if you're looking to control speed all the time--which is the inevitable result of skiing "too fast a line." Most recreational skiers do just that--they ski too fast a line, with the brakes on in every "turn."
Ironically, as Joubert suggested, you can't be offensive, either, if you're going a speed that feels "fast" to you. You have to want to go faster all the time, and once it feels "fast" to you, it's fast enough. Clearly, one skier's "fast enough" is downright slow to another, but at any level of skill and confidence, the real key to wanting to go faster all the time is...to go "too slow" all the time! The only time I want to go faster is when I'm going too slow--and I'll bet you're the same! Even downhill greats like Lindsey Vonn must be searching for more speed if they want to win the race. That wouldn't--and doesn't--happen when the line they're skiing is "too fast."
So, look at great skiers, everywhere. They're skiing the slow line fast--when they can (or else they're not really great!). Beware of highly aggressive advanced skiers hacking their way down the steepest, gnarliest runs--most are just "aggressively defensive," and their techniques, while not entirely ineffective at getting the job done, rarely demonstrate the movement patterns and habits of great skiing.
I have never liked the "slow line fast" phrase because it is so confusing. You had to write 2 pages to explain it. The concept is great and it is difficult to explain to people that have never experienced it. The phrase, just doesn't work for me, I never use it.
But I also haven't figured out a workable catch phrase for this concept either.
I like what you said about controlling your speed the whole time through line choice, instead of going fast-brake-fast-brake-fast-brake-fast. I would add that speed control can also be through feathering of the edges, but must be through the entire turn, not merely the last half of the turn. The real key here is to avoid the fast-brake-fast-brake-fast approach.
For the most part that means carving the complete turn top to bottom, which is a higher end skiing skill. Even L2 instructors are only required to carve the bottom half of the turn. If you cannot carve the top half of the turn, then you can't scarve it, feather the edges, brush the edges, whatever you want to call it, so that you basically will, like it or not, go fast in the top half and then brake in the bottom half.
You have to master the round turn shape, top to bottom, then you can control your speed by feathering your edges constantly or just allowing an imperfect carve to slow you down.
I think lower level skiers can to some degree utilize this concept by carving out the bottom half of their turn and just turning a little further across the fallline before starting their next turn. In this they avoid a hockey stop style skid to slow down.
They are still going to be fast-brake-fast-brake-fast, this way, but it will be smoother then the big skid and probably will be able to go a little faster while remaining in control, then they would by slamming on the brakes with aggressive skidding. They can also feather their edges as they carve out the bottom half and in all likelihood probably already are anyway.
Here's the interesting part though, when they can brush carve the top half of their turns, they will not need to turn so far across the fall line in the bottom half as I just described because they will be able to maintain their speed during the top half, requiring even LESS speed control in the lower half and thus will not have to take quite as long of a line in order to get away from the fall line and slow down.
I believe smooth speed control is best mastered from learning to initiate the edges at turn init, carving or scarving from top to bottom. And to me that is not the long, slow line. Projecting your body towards the apex and getting onto those edges early will seem to the skier like they are dive bombing to the fall line and using patience to let the skis arc around, yes the longer way, but from their mental frame of mind it will not seem like they are taking the slow way. It will seem like they are taking the fast way, but magically expecting it to slow them down...which it will if they brush their edges.
Anyway, I think this is all overlapping and agreeable conceptually, the main point I am making is that I don't like that catch phrase. I think its not immediately obvious what it means and in some cases it may be completely opposite of what the skier needs to mentally visualize.
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BTS--the problem is that it actually doesn't need any explaining at all. It's something everyone already knows. Everyone knows that going uphill will slow you down, but virtually no one (except the <1%) actually skis as if they knew it!
The "slow line fast," or any other name you want to give it, is a true paradigm shift for most people. It's not a "tip," a drill, a new move, or a new tidbit of knowledge or understanding. It's not a new thought--it's a completely different way of thinking. It doesn't happen so much in your conscious mind, as deep down in your gut. It's ultimately simple, yet its impacts on a skier's technique are extraordinary. As Weems might say, it's a "blinding flash of the obvious."
I have seen the most profound, global changes in the way skiers ski once they "get it"--complete technical transformations that could never be accomplished by working directly on technique! And I'm convinced that not "getting it" is the primary cause of the notorious "intermediate plateau." Most skiers turn to control speed (if you don't believe me, ask them!). They rarely realize it, but that defensive thought dictates their technique, 100%. As they practice, they get better and better (of course) at controlling speed. First, they can brake down green runs, then blue runs, then double-black diamond runs and off-piste. They can become advanced, even "expert" at braking. But until they stop doing what they were doing, start thinking like true experts and undergo the paradigm shift to offensive skiing, they will never become "good."
One thing about paradigm shifts is that you don't usually realize you haven't made one--until you do!
The slow line fast was abandoned by the CSCF as a training concept, because it taught how to ski the slow line.
Inserting the word "enough", like "slow enough" is not enough to fix the concept and IMO dilutes the notion into one that means everything to everyone and is therefore meaningless.
What I prefer to think about is to keep the body moving, anticipating the path of the skis.
The student needs to learn what the skis are capable of doing and how to make the skis work along the path the student wants them to take. So couple the idea of the body moving in anticipation of the path of the skis with the idea that only a pressured and tipped ski will turn, and a very powerful concept, with many points of teaching interest is created:
Tipping angle, pressuring, momentum, fore/aft balance (pulling back or pushing forwards the feet) lateral balance and movement, pivoting, flexing, extending, rotation/counter rotation, all of which affect the path of the ski, the path of the skier and therefore, how the body is to move.
I prefer to teach someone how a movement affects their skis (a technique), and let them work out how to use that tactically. If need be, suggest a simple use, and have them suggest some more. Then find terrain that agrees with that tactic. "Lo and behold, it's right here! Let's try it!"
I do not wish to teach a tactic/outcome and have the student through trial and error, figure out from their limited movement pool either which technique to use to fulfil that tactic or produce that outcome.
IMO, a teacher has to say much more than "Go there".
USSA came out with a CD that went into great detail about slow line fast ideas. Basically they use it as a starting point for developing the ability to ski a lower more direct line. A skier who lacks the technical ability to execute the lower more direct line is better served to ski a high round line. This allows them to negotiate the race course and finish the race. As their fundamental technical skills improve, the lower more direct line becomes much more doable. As their skills continue to improve, so too does their belief in their ability to execute whatever tactical line choice they choose. Which IMO is when they transcend the mechanical "how to do it" and can focus instead on "where do I want to do it".
Taking this out of the race course, we commonly see this in the moguls, where a high round line allows skiers to negotiate the moguls successfully. As their fundamental skills improve the zipperline becomes more of a possibility, eventually leading to a WC mogul skiing style. The same can be said for skiing a groomer, or just about any other terrain for that matter. Round and high works just about everywhere except really narrow chutes and maybe in the trees. Which is why I subscribe to Bob's slow line idea for most of my students. When they get to the point of taking a lower more direct line and skiing it well, they already have the skills to do so.
The problems arise when the student's skills and mental image of their skiing are incongruent. Too much ego and their body can't cash the check their mind wrote. Too little ego and they shy away from tactics even though those tactics are well within their skill level. This to me is the most important job we have as a ski coach. Our job is to help those student make an honest assessment of their abilities as we simultaneously help them improve them. This means asking them to at times to stay in their comfort zone, while at other times we ask them to step outside of that zone. Slow line fast is a large part of that because it gives us a baseline, or foundation on which we can build.
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Carver, you have my basic edging DVD. Look at the drill where I'm demoing the 120 degree turn and you'll see "slow line fast" skiing. It's simply using line and turn shape to control speed, instead of skid angle or pivoting. Like BTS and BigE, I don't use the concept in my teaching, as you've seen in my DVD's,,, but the things I teach, and how I teach them, definitely take students to the same place.
Good thread. Bob, thanks for your explanation. I've read your postings twice now and will print them out. I first heard of both concepts (I know, really just two ways of saying the same thing) -- (1) ski slow line fast, and (2) use your turns to pick direction, not to brake -- here on Epic just a month or so ago. I've tried to incorporate them into my skiing and they have made a huge difference for me.
Skiing is a lot like biking, in that they both have "ah ha!" moments. In biking, it's when you realize to use centrifugal force rather than fight it. In skiing I think it's when you stop fighting gravity (defensive) and go with it (offensive). Probably an over-simplification in both cases, but my point is that in both cases you have to make what you called "the paradigm shift" -- that is, overcome your own defensive instincts -- before you can really do it well. Making that shift might be easier as a five-year-old (biking) then a mid-50s-year-old (skiing), but there is virtue, IMO, in training yourself to override decades of "defensive" wiring.
I like this too. Not sure that it's at odds with what Bob Barnes said though. One breakthrough for me was when I stopped thinking that I had to stop every couple turns, for whatever reason -- inventory body parts, express gratitude for making it that far, etc. -- and started seeing the whole slope as one connected flow. Also, I had to get past the idea of "those darn skis, there they go again".
One benefit for me of learning to ski at this age is that I'm very conscious of what I'm learning as I'm learning it. (By contrast, when an instructor gives my 8-year-old daughter a tip, she just does it. To the extent she's thinking while skiing it's probably about how she can persuade her old man that she needs another hot cocoa.)
My focus is different enough that I really don't find value in the "Slow line fast".
I understand completely what it's about, I just don't agree that the skier needs to be taught to ski the slow line -- they will ski the line they chose to ski.
As a drill for race training, it's a decent exercise to start on the high line and get lower, but that's again a different application that IMO, does not translate to general rec teaching. At least it not translate for me, since the goals in teaching rec skiing are not the same goals when teaching racing.
It's possible that I don't correctly understand what "slow line fast" means (wouldn't that be a kick, after I've publicly endorsed it!). I thought that "slow line" meant essentially that on my traverse, I should turn uphill (or less downhill) as much as I need to, in order to slow down, if I need to. Skiing that slow line "fast" meant, I thought, that when I pick a line I ski it while doing minimal braking with my skis. For me that has meant simply "easing up" on my skis a little on the traverse and trying not to scrape or skid.
1. Have I interpreted the phrase "slow line fast" correctly?
2. If so, am I doing it correctly?
3. Do you disagree with it as a skiing technique or disagree with using the words "slow line fast" as a way of explaining the technique?
Thanks. Hope this makes sense -- I don't have all the terminology down yet.
Pretty much right. The Slow line for a recreational skier is just that -- a slow way down the hill. It is not necessarity the SLOWEST way downhill, but it's well within your comfort zone, and won't push your technique to the breaking point. It is your intention to ski that line as fast as possible so minimal braking and maximum "positive" movements would be appropriate.
So, you tell me. If it's about skiing a line within your comfort zone to the best of your ability, why say anything more?
The introduction of the notion of 'line' to teach tactics may be effective, but iIt is not necessary to teach recreational skiers about line to teach technique. There are other ways that I find more suitable, like teaching/discovering the relationship between the paths of the body and the skis. To my view, that brings much more to the table than saying "Pick a slow way down and ski it with your best technique."
May I ask for more detail like how it is applied in skiing and why it help the recreational skier?
Line is an intent. How relevent is a technique without knowing where to apply it? Living room turns verses actual ski turns. The baseline ability to ski round complete turns is about line as well as technique. Maybe you could explain further what you've written. I'm not seeing it.