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Trying to break the rotation habit

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hellow everyone. I have been skiing 30 years (with a recent 6 year lapse due to where I used to live) and now have upgraded to new shaped skiis. All my years of skiing were centered around body rotation skiing, preferring the steeps with quickturn radius and hop. Now I'm trying very hard to come up to speed on carving technique with the new shaped skiis (and loving it by the way). But as I practice to perfect my carving technique for quick short carving, I'm finding myself getting thrown in the back seat and reverting time and time again back to rotation instead of angulation. My GS carving on intermediate runs seems to be just fine. It's when I want to carve up the steeps, and get back to my joy of quick turns that gets me in trouble. Any veterans have some suggestions as to what they did to overcome long instilled rotation and perfect angulation? I ride Atomic Beta Ride 11.20's 170cm and Atomic Beta Race 9.20 190cm, and 5'8" and 180lbs.

post #2 of 17
Go back to the very easy runs even green beginner runs and work on railroad tracks and edging with no rotary at all. just edge and pressure. Let the ski turn on it's own. Do this over and over and over until you don't have to think about it. The muscle memory standard I've been told is about 1000 repetitions. don't over do the practice, go have fun too. Doing these movements at slow speeds really expose your errors so they will feel awkward at first. Then as you move up to steeper and steeper slopes work on the same thing. nice arcs in the snow, patient turns "1-2-3 finish" Maybe let the skis skid as you get steeper at first. this will scrub off all that excess speed. Make sure you complete your turns (almost to a stop if you want to really get the feel) Again, practice at this level until it's "too easy" then move steeper still. play with a little rotary or steering with the feet only. etc..

other exercises, falling leaf, side slipping(concentrate on slipping using the feet/ankles for control, not the whole leg)
This works on fore/aft balance, and edge control.

ski straight on easy stuff and swivel the feet to 90 degreese and try to slide as long as possible in a side slip, keeping the body facing down hill. then straight, down hill and swivel feet to the other side. (it's harder than it sounds) This also works on fore/aft balance and edge control but it also adds feet rotation without the upper body so it works on separating the upper and lower body.

leapers, or hopping while skiing..

do a straight line on easy stuff and hop with both feet. then do the same while turning. 1000 steps as well... straight and turning.. These exercises will among other things put you centered (fore/aft) on your skis. you can't hop if sitting in the back seat or leaning forward. 1000 steps will do some of the same and also work on lateral balance, lighten the feet, etc..1000 steps will also help you separate upper and lower body movements and make it very hard to rush a turn.

Think that's all I got for now.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 06, 2002 08:03 AM: Message edited 2 times, by dchan ]</font>
post #3 of 17
Do everything dchan describes FOR PRACTICE, but you can still ski some on your favorite steeps, just forget about adding anything new while doing so. But be aware that when you go back to practicing you'll have to overcome some of the "old" stuff you had fun with.

Be real patient about your practice sessions, real deliberate. When you get tired/bored, stop practice and just go ski without thinking about the practice. But be determined to return to practicing.

I'd begin and end EACH day with several practice runs.
post #4 of 17
Thanks for the reminder and Highlight. I put in there somewhere "don't over do the practice" but I should have emphasized it more. It's all about having fun. Go ski!
post #5 of 17
Two things that I keep in mind for steeps are:
- for the skis to work on the steep the tips need to be loaded/weigthed;
- to make quick turns you need to minimize "number of body parts" that need to be turned.

So if you have a little hesitation when confronting our friend - fallline, the skis would not turn quite as fast, you spend a bit too much time with skis pointing downhill, pick up even more speed, get even more defensive and it gets worse from there. Keeping vision up and looking all the way down the hill will help you get into more aggressive stance and out of the back seat. It always amazes me how tightly all elements are coupled together and how one little fix can improve 10 other things down the line. When your body is in the right place and you are applying pressure to the tips nice and early you won't have any problems controlling the speed and staying over the skis since they will be travelling accross the hill rather than shooting forward from underneath you.
To address the second point, for the quick turns to work on the steeps your body needs to be facing downhill with your elbows in front of your body. If you drop a hand and rotate the body, you are going to get pulled sideways and you will that much more work to do to make next turn.
And last but not least cross over/knee roll movement needs to be faster and with a bit more commitment than that of GS turn. The way Eski puts it: "Slow movements produce fast skiing, to slow down you would have to speed up the movement."

post #6 of 17
Mikey- Dchan gave you some great activities to work with. Here are just a few other suggestions.

find terrain that starts flat and increases pitch. (many times this is where everyone stops) Ski into the terrain by taking your clean tipping movements from the flat into the pitch.

Ski with your Arms over your head. As far as you can reach above your head and do short radius turns. This stretches your torso and makes it difficult to rotate. You can also ski with your arms crossed and hands on your shoulders. Once again this holds the upperbody from twisting.

Learn your range of motion of your ankles. At turn intiation play with pulling the foot back.

Work on leg steering. Use a track in the snow and from a small wedge point the tips from one side to the other. You can hold your poles in a (A) on your hips to help show you if you are twisting the upper body they should stay right on the line while the ski tips go from one side to the other.

Make turns from a tuck position. Keeps the focus on the legs and is hard to twist the upperbody.

Go back and do turns really twisting the upperbody. Helps allow your body to feel the difference and make the right choice.

Get a video of yourself and compare to some better skiers to observe the differences.

Take a lesson, and ski. Good luck

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 06, 2002 11:38 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Todo ]</font>
post #7 of 17
Hi Mikey--welcome to EpicSki, and to the world of today's great new equipment! (I must warn you, though, that your chosen screen name may cause you some slight problems with a few of the Bears who have a notorious "Mikey" in their past. What do you think Wigs, Todd, Ott? It CAN'T be!)

Anyway, to your question--it is a very good one, and a very common problem. You've gotten some great advice above. I'll just add a couple things to consider. First, you must be clear that "angulation" is not a substitute for "rotation." Rotation, which refers to twisting the skis into a skid using the upper body, was indeed a common, much-practiced method for initiating a turn not too many years ago. It is still an effective way to get the skis skidding. There are several alternatives to "rotation" that can accomplish the same thing, but "angulation" is not among them.

"Angulation" refers to movements of the feet, knees, hips, and spine that control edge angle, and has always been important in skiing.

The only reason you would "rotate" in the past was to get the skis skidding. That is still the case! The difference is that it is easier than it used to be to get the skis turning without twisting them into a skid. But chances are pretty good that you, or something deep inside you, still associate that skidding sensation and sound with "turning." Make the movements of a perfect modern carved turn, and that "little voice" will think something is missing--so you will resort to the movements you are used to to bring back that old familiar sensation.

I don't know, of course, if this is your problem. But believe me, it is far more common than many people realize. Carved turns feel very different than intentionally skidded turns. And they accomplish very different things. Most importantly, carved-type turns are OFFENSIVE--they allow you to control your line, to go where you want to go. Skidded-type turns, which you are presumably used to, are DEFENSIVE--they act as brakes, controlling speed directly, but like a car skidding off the road, they entail some sacrifice of line/directional control.

So it may well not be the MOVEMENTS of carved-type turns that you are struggling with. It may be the outcomes of those movements. You will have change your definition of "control" somewhat, allowing yourself to glide faster while taking comfort in the increased control of your line. And you will have to USE that new-found directional control to make sure you ski a line that eliminates the NEED for speed control! Carved turns do not control speed well by themselves, so you must ski a slower line than you did in the past if you want to ski the same speed (slower line = more complete turns, perhaps even finishing uphill). If you start a new turn needing or intending to REDUCE your speed, you are highly likely to twist your skis into a braking skid, whether you want to or not!

Perhaps above all, these things explain why others have recommended that you practice "carving" movements on very flat terrain at first. The best place to practice them is on a trail you might normally straight run, a trail where you have no need for speed control. When you move on to more challenging terrain, make sure you complete your turns FAR more than most people do--start the next turn only when you feel like your speed is TOO SLOW--not too fast or "fast enough." When you point those carving, gliding skis downhill, they will gain speed (obviously), so make sure you expect, accept, and WANT that!

Have fun, and keep us posted! We'll forgive the past transgressions of your fellow "Mikey"....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #8 of 17
Can't be the same guy! Welcome Mikey!
post #9 of 17
Hi again, Mikey. I'll add another technical note to the discussion. While I agree that it makes sense to practice "carving" movements on very gentle terrain at first, there are also drawbacks. Not all of the movements that work on flat terrain, or at least the timing and intensity of those movements, translate directly to the steeps! This may also explain your trouble.

You said that you are getting good at carving longer-radius turns on gentler runs, but that steeps and shorter turns are a problem. There are good reasons for this! Because of the forces involved, it is indeed possible and easy to link longer turns arc-to-arc just by rolling the skis from edge to edge when you have a fair amount of speed and it isn't too steep. But on the steeps, and with short-radius turns, you will have to be more patient when engaging the edges of the skis for a new turn, and you will have to employ some active rotary/steering movements.

"Carving" requires sustained pressure on the ski(s), which comes from resisting the forces that try to pull us out of turns. On steeps, without a lot of speed, the combined forces acting on us (gravity and the "g-forces" we feel as a result of the turn) pull us strongly downhill--INTO the turn at the start, and for some distance through the turn. There are no forces to resist early in the turn, so we can't just tip them to their new edges and expect them to carve a tight little turn. Tip them too much too soon, and you will have to twist them forcefully around to make the turn and to avoid falling to the inside. Voila!--Rotation!

In this case, rotation itself is not the mistake--it is a reasonable compensation for ANOTHER mistake. Rather than trying to tip the skis immediately to a new strong edge angle, you must begin the turn by RELEASING the edges, ALLOWING the skis to turn downhill, aided by the pull of gravity and active steering movements of your ski tips into the turn (using your feet and legs, not your arms, shoulders, torso, or hips). Re-engage the edges smoothly and progressively, resisting the forces that will combine to pull you out of the turn only when they occur--particularly the second half of the turn on very steep terrain.

To develop these active steering movements of the feet and legs--which unlike "angulation" ARE the substitute for upper body "rotation"--practice steering the tips of your skis into the turn on gentle terrain. Clearly, you can't turn the OUTSIDE tip into the turn without moving the inside tip out of its way. So practice turning the left tip to the left to go left, allowing the right tip to follow. "Left tip left to go left, right tip right to go right"--practice it over, and over, and over....

Do NOT push the tails the other way, twisting the skis into a skid. Try "uphill christies"--"J-shaped" turns from a straight run downhill, back uphill as far as you can go. Think "left tip left to go left." Go back to the point where the turn began and look closely at your tracks. Did the tails displace to the outside AT ALL (bad)? Or do you see a clean track inscribed in the snow that smoothly arcs into the turn? As you go through the turn, check the alignment of your upper body. If you turn your feet and legs (and ONLY your feet and legs), your left hand will lead your right hand slightly through a left turn. If your right (downhill) hand comes forward in a left turn, you have rotated your upper body. Try it again and practice until you consistently come through without rotation.

Then try tightening up the arc of those J-turns. You will have to be more active with the "left tip left to go left" thing--still not twisting the tails out. You may even find the tips diverging somewhat as you practice this move, but with mileage you will learn to be very active with that inside ski, while the outside ski chases it through the turn and remains parallel. The tracks will not be quite as clean as the longer arcs--there will be some skidding/brushing, but there still must be NO TAIL PUSHING.

Finally, on steeper terrain (say, steepish blue), try linking these tight uphill christies together. Steer each one as far back up the hill as you can until you almost stall out, then release the edges, steer the tips downhill ("right tip right to go right," right?) and roll them into an uphill arc the other way.

So "active steering" is important, especially in tight turns on the steeps. It must come from the feet and legs, not the upper body. And the steering and edging activity must both originate from the inside ski, foot, and leg of the new turn, focusing on movements that steer the tips INto the turn, rather than pushing the tails OUT.

Try it--and report back!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
All you guys are the best! I'm definitely ingesting all this great information, and will be hitting the slopes this weekend. I will report back. I so much appreciate this.

Unless I have amnesia, I don't think I'm the same Mikey from the past. I was kind of surprised that I actually got the username...thought for sure somebody else would have had it.
post #11 of 17
Welcome back to our great sport. Based on your comment, that you have been away from skiing for the last 6 years, and now have come back while simultaneously changing your entire equipment pool to new shaped skis, the best thing to re-jump start your skill sets is to take a number of shaped ski clinics.

Most long time skiers, who leave the sport and then return after a lengthy hiatus, typically forget that they're actually beginners all over again.

During the period you mention ski technology and design has spanned light years. Five to six years ago world class racers were skiing on slalom skis in the 25-30 CM longer range and actually went slower.

So do yourself a favor and spend a fair amount of quality time on properly focused training with a good and highly certified instructor. The small amount of time you spend will help you leap frog back to the solid based skills and fun that you once had. If you don't do it this way, then you will be moving ineficiently and fighting the transition of the ski technique you once used, while trying to somehow learn contemporary technique.

While you're in this process, you will go much further faster, if you purchase a book by Ms.Ellen Post-Foster, entitled "The Art of Carving". Ms. Foster is a former PSIA National Demo team member. She presents a great book on how to re-learn how to ski the new shaped skis. The book is very user friendly and has many easily followed pictures and diagrams of to develop the appropriate contemporary movement patterns, to be effective on shaped skis.

Good luck and have fun.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 06, 2002 08:10 PM: Message edited 1 time, by whtmt ]</font>
post #12 of 17
>>>Unless I have amnesia, I don't think I'm the same Mikey from the past. I was kind of surprised that I actually got the username...thought for sure somebody else would have had it.<<<

The Mikey we are referring to was on Compuserve, not on the internet, so there is no conflict.

That Mikey was a teenager who said he was a better skier than any of us and when I finally picked up his challenge and was going to ski with him he said he couldn't get out of school for that.

He was a pain in the neck but it was hilarious nevertheless. One of those things where we were just going to ignore him but his messages and the chips on his shoulder were such that we just couldn't.

Oh the fond memories of yonder [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #13 of 17
Well Mickey lots of good advice here. Still confused, then because you haven't been skiing for some time, and the newness of the equipment, treat yourself to a private lesson.

Looking for a good book on instruction, why not link to amazon.com through left side of the epciski.com homepage by clicking on ski shop. Scroll to amazon.com and purchase Lito Tejada-Flores' book "Breakthroughon on the New Skis." It will cost you about $18.00 including the infamous S&H charges.
post #14 of 17
When carving short turns, it's really important to keep your hands way out in front and to not allow the inside ski to move too far forwards. If you have skidded your turns in the past, you probably are not used to the skis carrying much speed across the hill.
Look at these for hints as to how the racers deal with this.
post #15 of 17
andf when I saw the name, Mikey, I said to myself, " He's back ". But then again, he said that he's been skiing for 30 years. So that can't be the Mikey I know. [img]smile.gif[/img]

Welcome Mikey 2 [img]smile.gif[/img] There's some great advice here, and feel free to ask away.--------Wigs :
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. Again, I want to thank everyone. Your instruction pointers really made a difference. This weekend went so much better. I'm no carving expert yet, but that will come with time, some lessons, and patience. Awesome!

post #17 of 17
That's great Mikey,

Thanks for the update on your progress. Keep at it [img]smile.gif[/img]
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