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Commiting to the fall line

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I guess this more a comment than a question. I have always struggled with steep slopes. The fear factor is #1 and then that leads to the revert to side skid/panic technique. Obviously I am an intermediate skier.


I downloaded a ski instruction video called Ski School Again. Its a british video filmed at Lake Louise and Ihave found it very, very helpful. There is a lot of good stuff in there but there was one thing that kinda stuck with me and when I put it into practice it changed how I ski a lot!


And that is commiting to the fall line. Leaning down the moutain not back against it. It is counter inutitive to non experts but when I finally just said the heck with it and tried it, it works! Now when I get into what I conside "steep" (still not double diamond) if I keep my upper body facing downhill and actually over the skis leaning down hill, I am able to carve turns where as befrore I'd lkean back and skid. And the more you do it the more easier it becomes!


Now I just ski right over the edge of the steep parts staright, not stopping and gawking or skidding sideways like the gang stopped around me., and then lean downthe hil and carve a turn and whammo, the skis hook up around I go, then the next one.


Probably to you guys this is a duh thing but it was a real eye opener for me.



post #2 of 9

I agree, it is an eye opener.  Knowing how much of a breakthrough it was for me many years ago, it is one of the top things I recommend to people who are challenged by steeps.  Basically, keep your body projected down the fall line, eyes looking downhill, and keep your upper body positioned out over the outside ski when settling into a turn.  Then reach down the fall line with a pole plant to initiate the next turn, unweight, and settle into the next turn.


The other breakthrough is to charge into steeps rather than being tentative.  If you're tentative, every turn is like a first turn, and we all know how clumsy that first turn can be while you're trying to build speed and articulate your body and skis.  Being timid on steeps means you will probably be struggling with a series of first turns all the way down.  So by charging in, you get that awkward first turn out of the way at the top, and can focus on clean turns the rest of the way down.

post #3 of 9

You've discovered the skier's paradox.  One has to be very aggressive in their movements to have the control to ski in control and as slowly as they wish.



I keep my upper body facing downhill

It is even more powerful to face the hips & torso toward the outside of the turn very early in the turn.  The book tells us to "ski into counter."  This means that our body is facing the same direction as the skis in the turn transition and the skis turn under the body.  Of course when we're making very quick, tight turns, there isn't time and we end up facing only downhill, but when there's time, face the hips and torso to the outside, especially above the fall line.


For the "strong inside half" you want your inside hip/shoulder/arm/hand/pole high and forward, and the outside hip/shoulder/arm/hand/pole low and back, way low and not forward of your feet.


On the steep stuff it is very important to get the front half, inside edge, of the outside ski engaged in the snow well before the fall line to pull you around the arc.  Beginning a turn properly is the only way to have the time to end a turn properly.

post #4 of 9

I can never relate to someone that can't commit, but I did used to skate(inline) vert with my hands in my pockets. That is commiting to the fall line, just leaning forward down a 90* slope. I have tried to help a couple people, but all I can think of to say is "just lean forward".

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

I went and looked up counter and I do that. Part of the deal is they tell you is to keep the upper body facing down the fall line while the skis turn underneath. But you do get the upper body trying to point in the same direction of the skis, across the fall line, naturally. So you have counter rotate your upper body to keep facing down the fall line as much as possible, and doing so create the body position that SSG is describing.


I think!

Edited by theconz - 2/23/2009 at 03:11 pm
post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by theconz View Post


they tell you is to keep the upper body facing down the fall line while the skis turn underneath. But you do get the upper body trying to point in the same direction of the skis, across the fall line, naturally. So you have counter rotate your upper body to keep facing down the fall line as much as possible

It is even more powerful to let the hips & upper body face the outside of the turn as early as possible after the turn transition...well before the skis reach the fall line if time permits.  Being countered brings the stronger front abdominal muscles into line instead of the weaker oblique abs.  It also takes up rotation in the femur so the ski tail has more grip on the snow.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

SSG, any videos you know of that demonstrate this? I would really love to see this in action to get a mental picture of what you are describing.


I went and found Bob Barnes original Pivot Slips thread and that was a big help. Kinda what we are talking about only in slow motion.


One thing though I thought the hips and femur were turning together. In other words I thought the hips were part of the lower body pivot. You are describing the hips as turning with the upper body. I am sure you are describing excellent technique I am just a little confused without seeing it.



post #8 of 9

As an intermediate (moving to advanced) skier, I can relate to theconz's breakthrough. An instructor at Steamboat stopped me at the top of a steep ridge on a black at a point when I was still struggling with blues. He asked if I was afraid of falling and I said no, not at slower speeds. He then had me move the front of my skies out and beyond a small drop off and had me lean forward to the point where my cuffs were preventing me from going head over heals. He said that when I was ready, drop over the edge and attempt to make one turn. I did so, knowing for certain that a fall was imminent. What followed took me totally by surprise. Everything seemed to slow down. I made a controlled turn and then proceeded to link 4 more turns together. Something that up to that point I was unable to accomplish even on blue runs.


Occasionally, when I find myself a bit out of control and my quads tiring unusually early in a run, I take stock of my position on my skies. The problem always relates to back seat skiing. As soon as I adjust and move forward, albiet balanced based on everchanging conditions, my comfort  returns along with my rhythem and speed. And I find it much easier to face down hill when forward on my skis.





post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

blan, I know exactly what you mean about quads getting tired early on as a sign I am out of balance and hence working too hard. I do the same thing when I feel that. I assess where my COM is, relax, and get forward and centered trying to flex at the ankles, and it immediately relieves a lot of that stress on the quads....and make everything else flow as well.


Now being an intermediate skier I do that a lot but hopefully it will become second nature. I am at the airport on my way to SLC so this trip will be a good learning experience. Learning how to get up from a fall experience as well!!! But thats how you learn.

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