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How to "Ski Softer"?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Is there any specific advice for me to "Ski Softer"? Can one also Ski Softer with power? And just to make myself clear, by Ski Softer I mean using the subtle moves, not the explosive moves that I normally associate with an athletic endeavor. Thanks.
post #2 of 20
Subtle movements are the key to skiing with speed and power. Abrupt or sudden movements almost always disrupt the flow of the center of mass down the mountain, and result in skidding and/or chatter.
Try doing side slips with progressive edge engagement and release from the ankles to learn to get off and on your edges. Do railroad track turns on green terrain to learn to initiate turns without twisting your skis. Do outrigger turns to learn the feeling of a ski carving on a high edge.
Find a coach to help you with all that.

John
post #3 of 20
Great Q!
I think of skiing softer as skiing with minimal conflict for whatever line I choose to take. Obviously choosing a fast/direct line and doing braking turns creates conflict.
Choosing a slow line and gliding/flowing on it minimizes conflict.

John's advise will help you get some of the subtle skills you will need. Another key skill to focus on is pressure control.

Many of us grew up in skiing always trying to "create" pressure on, usually, the outside ski. Modern ski technology provides us the opportunity to set up our turns and "allow" the bending/arcing of the skis to "create and bring the pressure to us". High-level skiers seldom pressure their skis; they simply set up and dynamically manage their body/equipment interaction with the energy of their environment.

In learning to ski softer, or with less conflict, one needs to learn to "release"” the flow of their center (CM) toward the inside of the next turn as early and smoothly as possible, while still maintaining the line they desire to ski. Most skiers "park", bracing against the outside ski too long thru the arc and re-direct the flow of their center away from the next turn. Alternatively, they jam an edge set and stop the flow altogether. They then compensate by doing some radical move in an inefficient attempt to suddenly change the direction of their center flow (now blocked or headed for the woods) and get it across the edge change and into the next turn (this move is known as the “huckover”).

The earlier release of the center starts “before” the release of the edges by softening the legs as you enter the transition from turn to turn. There is a “window of opportunity” as you turn further out of the falline for this potential energy of your center to be released toward the next turn. Park-n-ride, brake/block, or brace too long and the opportunity to release and "flow" is gone, requiring each new turn to be started from scratch. This could be called skiing harder in several ways!

Learning to manage pressure in this process of balancing around the flow of your center in a continuous sinuous snake over the terrain with your skis dancing out and around from arc to arc is one of the more rewarding learning processes in skiing. Whether you call it finesse, touch, or feel does not matter, pressure control, or more accurately, pressure management is the sensitivity skill that catalyzes with the mechanics of edging and rotary to elevate one’s skiing to the level of an art form.
[img]smile.gif[/img]

[ March 06, 2003, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #4 of 20
This is an important topic, and something I dedicate much focus on in my coaching. John and Arc make good observations. I'll see what I can add.

Key to skiing softer on groomed slopes is the ability to carve a turn. Any displacement of the tail creates turbulance. If smooth carves are employed then we are able to ski at very high speeds and still feel very stable and secure. Lose the tail at those high speeds and all of a sudden things immediately get pretty exciting. The speed that felt deceptively slow while we were riding a clean edge suddenly because very apparent.

Paramount to creating and maintaining a cleanly carved turn is ability to progressively develop edge angle and the resulting pressure. As John has touched on, sudden movements or changes create forces that exceed our skis and bodies capacity to handle effeciently and we are left with an example of "hard skiing". Skis slide and chatter, tails displace, balance is challenged.

One of the best ways I found to introduce the concept of progressive edge angle development was the following series of exercises:

First I define edge angles to my class as something that can be put on a scale, zero representing a flat ski, and ten being the ski on its highest possible edge. I will start by having the class do a few rail turns on a very moderate slope at a ONE degree of edge. This will entail standing very tall, CM over skis and hips very square to skis. I always start by employing knee angulaton exclusively, and pressuring only the outside ski. It just simplifys the drill and allows the skier to place all his focus on the task.

Next comes a full run of linked ONE degree of edge turns. This is great for eliminating all the movement clutter and feeling the smoothness of a carved turn at speed, as low edge linked turns will result in speed.

Then we progressively add degree of edge to the drll. We'll do a turn that takes us up to a 3 degree of edge. We do this by starting the turn at one, going to two as we enter the fall line, then to three as we leave the falline. This plants the seed for progressively developing edge angles.

We keep going with the drills till we have gotten up to very high degrees of edge (7 or 8)and once profficient introduce the more efficient body possitions derived from using hip angulation and explain the progressive nature of counter associated with that. From there its onto more challenging slopes. You could do the series right starting with parallel shins, equal edge on each ski, and tiping if you like, as long as the emphasis in on progressive edge development. I have just had much success with the method I described. :
post #5 of 20
Fastman/others -

great site. have been reading for a while - this is my first post. I am (or seem to think I am) a 6 or a 7. On the topic of edging, I believe I lean into the turn as well as create an angle with my knees to get a good edge angle. However, sometimes I feel that I don't have enough pressure on the edge (I am talking about the outside ski). So I wanted to consciously create more of a "C" shape such that my upper body is over my outside ski more and can help me put more pressure on the edge.

Does this sound right or am I missing something? I was talking a group lesson some weeks ago and the instructor said to practice touching the outside pole to the ground while executing turn - I did feel that this "moved" my upper body over the outside ski leading to more pressure on the edge and better grip.

Is this the right way to go?
post #6 of 20
Welcome carver,

Yea, it is a great forum, lots of info and interaction here. I'll offer a quick responce to your question (as I don't want to clutter up this thread to much, we really should discuss on a
seperate thread.)

From what you describe and the feedback from your instructor I would say you are leaning in to much and need to level your shoulders. This will bring your weight back more towards your feet and make it easier to balance on the outside ski. Try while turning to drive the outside hand and shoulder down and forward, while maintaining the same amount of edge. This will level the shoulders and help you pressure the outside ski. Also make sure your carves are clean. When the skis break out of a carve the forces pushing you to the outside ski drop and you fall inside. Good luck with it, and again, welcome to the forum. :
post #7 of 20
What do you think of this one? ......

As practice, my level 2 ski director told me that one can run your DIN settings lower and lower to see how smooth you can ski without coming out of them. Seems like a scary way to test one's edging and pressure, but an interesting thought.

I don't think I'd be brace enough to do it, except maybe on an easy blue. I don't like the thought of walking back up hill to get my yardsale.

Someone posted her quite a while back about some older fella whom they knew had his DIN set to 4.5. He skied the pants off of everyone! On the other hand that may have been his normal setting.

Aw, what the hey! Let's throw away our poles, go back to leather boots and bear claw bindings, stretch pants, good old dependable solid wood skis... no metal edges, bamboo poles... oops... no poles, ok... maybe just one long one. Your wife returns to ski in the proper attire... a dress. No ski lift... walk up- cheaper, good exercise. Ah! The good old macho days! [img]smile.gif[/img]
............. Naaaaah!
post #8 of 20
Skiing softer to me is all about
1. stance
2. pressure control.
3. edging.

What happens when one is edging smoothly on a hard groomer and they transition onto a freshly groomed trail of about two inches of soft snow?

Why is the first skill adjustment made to maintain the smoothness?

jjyardog

I was skiing bumps last saturday on my new 170 SXII with the bindings set to the manufacturers recommendations (always on the lightish side) and I lost two skis. Once I made the "mental adjustment" that my stance was at fault and not the Din setting the skis stayed on for the rest of the day.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ March 07, 2003, 09:16 AM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #9 of 20
The difference between a scalpel and a machette. A mosquito on a pond or a bullmoose.

[ March 07, 2003, 09:18 AM: Message edited by: Lucky ]
post #10 of 20
Fast man said, "Key to skiing softer on groomed slopes is the ability to carve a turn."

On the question of skiing softer, may we look at another way?

Snow-ski sensitivity is essential to skiing softer based on conditions, terrain and turning goals. Learning to accurately 'brush' a ski on the snow surface, shaping the turn primarily through steering, is a sign of a skier with a soft touch.

A clean carve, beginning to end, leaves the same width track in the snow through the entire arc. Can you, on green terrain, brush the tail through the entire arc, and leave the same width track, beginning to end, but instead of a pencil-line carve, it is 3" or 6" or 8" wide - but the same width track through the WHOLE turn?

How about a straight running wedge - controlled and smooth on a green run. Look up and check the tracks the tails leave. Are they straight and matching? Exactly? Good! Or does the track of one or both skis wiggle ever so slighty - to do it well takes excellent feel.

Or how about the classic uphill turn? Can you intitiate a turn from a straight run and continue the turn on an identical arc 'til the ski has gradually slowed to a stop as it turns up the hill? Look at the turn track - Flat spots? Over steering? Over edging? Is the track width identical beginning to end? Don't cheat when looking. Got it? Then you've got an excellent soft touch.

Try skiing blindfolded w/ a guide. Feel becomes everything. Your other senses become more acute. You start hearing what your skis are doing. Listen close. Eliminate the dissonance.

Side slip races on the flats - how far and fast can you glide the skiis sideways? (Watch out for catching the downhill edge!)

There are more. To me "skiing softer" is about gliding the ski on the snow surface. Some people got it. It's beautiful to see, even nicer to feel. A wonderful goal and important skill for all who aspire to high level skiing. Others call it "Touch." Good touch encompasses carves as well as a ski slipping freely on the snow. A gliding ski on the snow does not mean it's skidding. To do it well is art. It is skiing.
post #11 of 20
I like Why's referance to what I call "brushed carves", represented by an equal width track produced by progressivly adjusting the E/P/R blend throughout the turn to get a consistant ourcome, even as the turn dynamics are changing. Learning to do them consistantly builds skills that are useful over the full spectrum of skiing. This requires a high level of of perceptual awareness of cause and effect, representing keen foot sensivity to ski feedback. I used some early a.m. virgin coodroury to compare tracks while exploring these turn shaping concepts with my team "Back to the Feet to Ski Into the Future" at the Brighton EA-I with enlightening results.

In some of my classic referance books by Georges Joubert from the '60's and '70's, he discusses pursuit of the skill of "Glissmont". He refered to J.K.Killy's gliding ability in Downhill at 60-80 mph as his having glissmont. (promounced, I think, as "gleese-maw")

My application translation is along the lines of having "smart feet" that can sense edging/pressure relationships kind of like Goldilocks; "not too big, not to small, but just right".
[img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

[ March 07, 2003, 01:17 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #12 of 20
[quote]Originally posted by Whygimf:
[QB]Fast man said, "Key to skiing softer on groomed slopes is the ability to carve a turn."

On the question of skiing softer, may we look at another way?

Snow-ski sensitivity is essential to skiing softer based on conditions, terrain and turning goals. Learning to accurately 'brush' a ski on the snow surface, shaping the turn primarily through steering, is a sign of a skier with a soft touch.

==========

FASTMAN REPLY:

Whygimf, I think what you say here has much merit.

A refined ability to steer our skis is a very important skill to possess. Skiing in this manner allows us to produce the turn shapes we desire while standing more erectly over our skis then we do when carving. Carving requires extreme body positions to create the edge angles needed for short radius turns that steering on a flatter ski does not.

It also is a very relaxing way to ski, as the centrifugal forces generated that we must resist are greatly reduced.

It is a nice form of speed control for times when you would just like to relax and "smell the roses" so to speak.

But like most things in life that that provide benefits, they ussally are encombered with a negative side. Here are a few:

* Because the skis are at an angle relative to the direction of travel of the ski, turbulance is increased. On soft snow it is not very noticable, but on icy or irregular surfaces it can become quite apparent, and make a smooth execution of the technique much more challenging. In these conditions a clean edge can offer a better option for achieving a "soft feel."

* Because of the steering action in the foot, combined with the extra turbulence created as explained above, torsional forces applied to the binding increase. Carving theoretically eliminates those torsional forces.

* It does not afford the opportunity to introduce the power and dynamic skiing referred to in the question posed for this tread.

While every technique has it's advantages, there really is no right or wrong, as I believe whygimf implies. It's just a matter of the choises we make and the objectives we try to achieve through those choises.

The great thing about skiing is the soul nurturing joy of becoming one with the mountain. The form in which we express that joy is up to us. :
post #13 of 20
Quote:
It does not afford the opportunity to introduce the power and dynamic skiing referred to in the question posed for this thread.
Fastman:

Are you saying that "powerful dynamic" skiing can only be achieved by an emphasis on edging???

Have a look on any hill, What is the primary skill missing? It is pretty obvious that after so many recent years of over emphasis on edging skills and short carving "effortless" skis that the general public still has no idea about what it feels like to actually stand on and steer two skis. The terminal intermediate is on the increase. Have a look around it is total lockedanklesville out there. No feel at all and very little soft touch. Instead of locked ankles wedgeing we now have locked ankles parallel. Edging is only a small part of "softness" & finesse in skiing. I venture that the original poster is searching for a way to actually FEEL the whole spectrum of a ski turn with some "softness" AND "softness" starts with FEELING\UNDERSTANDING of the FEET not an emphasis on edge to edge turns.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #14 of 20
Being a rather soft skier myself, I have pondered this question for a couple of days before attempting to respond. I am not responding to others in the thread so much as to the original question. I conclude that softness is a function of having especially the outside leg long in the fall-line or apex of the turn. This enables the "stretch reflex" of DM fame which facilitates eccentric contraction of the soleus in response to +/=/- pressure inputs from the ground. DM called this connecting to the ground's reaction force. This matching of pressure between the soles of the feet and the ground is what yields the softness the questioner seeks.

Excessive forward ramp angle in the shaft or bootboard can impede eccentric contraction, and deny your attempts at achieving softness in your skiing. Too narrow a boot will constrain your ability to maximize the contact of your sole with the affirming pressure from the ground. Too many socks will muffle the messages.

This is my opinion after testing DM's ideas on the snow this season, gaining his MA input on my skiing via video file sharing and through teaching videos he has sent of WC racers, sharing my learning with 20 advanced students, and achieving noticeable results with them that have paid great dividends in their enjoyment of more and more difficult terrain and conditions.

[ March 08, 2003, 11:32 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by SnoWonder:
Is there any specific advice for me to "Ski Softer"? Can one also Ski Softer with power? And just to make myself clear, by Ski Softer I mean using the subtle moves, not the explosive moves that I normally associate with an athletic endeavor. Thanks.
Practice makes perfect so perfect this and you will be well on your way to “soft skiing”. Initiate your turns with a very slight edge angle, takes some patience, and then start building the edge angle to the apex of the turn. At the apex of the turn release the edge angle allowing a slight drift (don't make a side slip check) but still continuing around the turn and then re engage with a slight edge angle continuing to build the edge angle to the finish. Start with large turns As you get pretty decent lessen the size of the turn. When you get pretty good at smaller radius turns then practice starting with a large radius turn and make each subsequent turn smaller and smaller. As you get really good see how long you can make your outside leg along with at the same time how short you can make your inside leg while still releasing and re building the edge angle. (Long leg short leg as it is termed.) A challenge to say the least! This will help you develop subtle edging skills. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #16 of 20
[quote]Originally posted by man from oz:
[QB][quote] Are you saying that "powerful dynamic" skiing can only be achieved by an emphasis on edging???

FASTMAN:
Yes Oz, I sure am. Well, carving specifically. Refined edging skills are also crucial in producing quality steered turns. Only in executing carved turns are the substancial forces generated which I would associate a term such as power with. We are of couse speculating on what snowonder was refering to in his usage of the term, but I really see nothing in a steered turn that I would define as powerful. Smooth, balanced, precise, relaxed, effortless, pretty. Sure, absolutely. But powerful? I just don't see it. Steering produces so little in the way of centrifuglal forces how can power be a major element?

OZ:
Have a look on any hill, What is the primary skill missing? It is pretty obvious that after so many recent years of over emphasis on edging skills and short carving "effortless" skis that the general public still has no idea about what it feels like to actually stand on and steer two skis.

FASTMAN:
I very much agree Oz. I do look around, and virtually everyone on the slope is riding on a short shape ski but I don't see substancially more people carving quality turns than I did back in the days of the old straight skis. How can that be? These skis turn so easy, why aren't people using them to do what they are designed to do? Simple, these skis do not represent some majic carpet ride to advanced skiing. To carve a quality turn, no matter how short a radius a ski may allow, a skier still must have established the necessary balance, edging skills, and body positions that will allow for the incorpotation of carving skills. Perhaps the tendancy to jump the gun with these skis is, as you suggest, compromising basic skill aquisition. :
post #17 of 20
I guess I will finally respond to this thread. First off, I don’t associate smoothness and power with edging and G forces. I also believe that you can have smoothness and transmit power whether the tails of the skis are skidding or not if positive movements were used throughout the turn.

I am a finesse skier and feel a lot of power in my skiing. I am going to go with nolo on this one. Much of what David M said was very good material. As nolo says, matching pressure between the soles of the feet is my cue. There is such a thing as the “power position”. Nolo eluded to this with the long outside leg at the apex of the turn. The inside hip is forward and the inside ankle well flexed. In the power position the center of mass is always stacked up over the feet and you can feel the power all the way from your feet to your hands throughout the entire turn. The key is a smooth accurate transition through neutral. Surprisingly in the power position the G forces felt are lower than the forces felt when out of the power position. There is always muscle tension and imbalance when out of the power position.

I know that nolo feels this as I watched her ski. I could see the power position in her turns right away. I am mesmerized every time I see it because it is so rare even in top level instructors. I have done nothing but work on this very thing this year and I have made fantastic progress. As a result I want much softer boots for next year. I have been skiing with my boots largely unbuckled to get a more progressive feel. My learning style is thinker/feeler.
post #18 of 20
>...I do look around, and virtually everyone on the slope is
>riding on a short shape ski but I don't see substancially more
>people carving quality turns than I did back in the days of the
>old straight skis. How can that be? These skis turn so easy,
>why aren't people using them to do what they are designed to
>do?...

This side comment by FastMan appeared earlier in this thread. I don't want to derail the main points here, but I think the question he posed deserves serious consideration, so I started a new thread, Why don't more people carve on modern shaped skis.

Thoughts?

Tom / PM
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. This past weekend I tried to "Ski Softer." I've only started on the journey, but I feel it will be worthwhile. On Saturday, I skied 39,000 vertical feet of fast cruisers including 5 Super G training runs in the afternoon. It was partly because of the Super G clinic I was taking (and a race the next day) that I realized I needed to be smoother and softer in my moves. Skiing relaxed and softer I wasn't working as hard and felt great after the 39,00 feet. Rather than forcing my hips to get over my skis, it seemd to happen naturally by just rolling the ankles and letting the rest happen as it needed. It was a good feeling and a lot of fun.
post #20 of 20
I'm right there with Nolo and Pierre. To me skiing softly has less to do with our blending of skills and more to do with how we are using our bodies to achieve that blending. Being elastic does require that we move in ways that are natural to our bodies in or out of skis. I'm a work in progress here. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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