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Speed, fear and balance

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am afraid of speed. I generally try to ski slower. I have tried ski fast to get used to it. That does not work. I have tried using turn shape to control speed but it breaks down on steeper trails. I recently made an improvement on my balance.  Speed becomes much less a problem for me now and I actually enjoy it more than expected.  When I am balanced, the skis hold edges better, skid less and don’t chatter.  What I was afraid of is the imbalance feeling, not the speed itself.  Is it a good advice if I tell my friend balance improvement will eliminate fear of speed?

post #2 of 17

Actually it is control that helps eliminate fear when skiing.  Balance is just a major constituent of control.  The ability to pick a line that gives you the amount of speed you are comfortable with is another constituent.  Being able to control your edges is a third.  There are many more.  These include the tactics for skiing on different pitches and in different conditions.  As you progress as a skier you learn about control.  This leads to more confidence.  With confidence in your control you will ski faster, on steeper terrain, and in different conditions.

 

Welcome to the world of skiing.  This is where you learn control just to be able to give up some of it so you can have fun.

 

Here's a great thread on picking line.  Line controls speed.  Be sure to read post 19.

post #3 of 17

The advice that" balance improvements will eliminate fear of speed" is common and in a way correct. Although as T-Square pointed out it isn't a direct connection. Balancing on a moving ski is an outcome and what we do to produce a more balanced stance is use body movements to control how the skis slide across the snow. How well we execute the movements dictates how well we acheive the intended outcome.

 

The most often overlooked part of skiing are the mental decisions we make. If we approach a run with a defensive "braking" focus our movements are going to be exactly that. The same can be said for a focus on accelerating all the time. Somewhere in between these two options is where most of us ski. This mental focus can be seen clearly in the tactical and technical choices a skier is using. As you gain experience it is likely your mental focus will shift away from braking but there will always be a point that your speed makes you a little fearful

A good baseline model is the slow line fast concept so many here have written about. Race coaches call it a round high line. Regardless of what it's called, it involves choosing a line that allows you to accelerate through part of the turn but also imposes a speed limit because we are not skiing straight down the hill all the time.

post #4 of 17

After having some boot changes I realized how much they can affect your balance and ability to relax on your skis, both going straight and turning.  A good custom footbed combined with a boot set up with the right forward lean for your style and body type can do wonders for making you feel more comfortable and in control at speed.

post #5 of 17

Hellside,

It sounds like you are fairly conservative by nature. I am wondering what you consider fast, and steeper. Never the less, here's a couple ideas that may help you make better tactical choices on steeper terrain.

  • A steeper slope actually pulls the skis into the turn sooner and you will accelerate faster than on a less steep slope. Especially if you abbreviate your turn finishes. As the speed builds it is very natural to think about starting the next turn as soon as possible. However, if you never complete a turn, all that happens is you keep accelerating. The reasoning behind rushing into the new turn usually includes wanting to get the skis back across the hill sooner. What gets ignored is the fact that when you start the new turn too soon, the skis never turn far enough across the hill to produce any speed control.
  • As you explore new terrain think about skiing the flatter parts the first few times you ski that run. Give yourself time to get comfortable in this new environment before trying to ski the steeper parts of that run. Eventually you will feel comfortable on all the little sections of that run and if you complete your turns the speed will never get out of hand.

 


Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/7/2009 at 08:42 pm
post #6 of 17

I use to ski at moderate speeds until a break through a couple of years ago and now I find that I have to forcefully remind myself to slow down and enjoy the scenary every once in awhile.

 

I think all speeds of skiing require a certain skillset and being able to control yourself at any speed is a discipline.  For example, have you ever noticed some of the best and fastest skiers have no control in the lift line?  Some people get used to one speed only and have trouble changing gears.

 

Anyway, for me the break through was going from linked turns, to turning, to carving.

 

Speed is also somewhat a function of familiarity with the terrain.  The better you get to know a trail the faster you should be able to go as you should be familiar with where you might need to turn, crouch, merge, etc.

 

So maybe skiing the same terrain over and over again (starting with Green) and getting up to higher speeds will allow you to eventually work up to skiing higher speeds on Blues and Blacks?

 

Just my two cents.  Good luck.

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 

T-Square, this is from a beginner's point of view. About the "slow line", I tried. It will work if I have the correct stance to keep a good balance. The problem is I don't have the correct balance to engage the ski edges properly. The result is skidding/sliding. I go to many lessons. None of the instructors point out CORRECT balance requirement. They will tell me to make C turn, or stay in the fall lines for how many seconds and let the ski turn for me. It is scary for beginner to stay in the fall line for a few seconds. I tried my best to do it and could not make a C. One day last week, I change how I ski based on a comment from an instructor on the chair lift and it just clicked, like a switch is turned on. The feel of speed is different and that changes my perception of speed.

 

mudfoot, I think what I feel is similar to what you described.

 

JASP, you are right. I am conservative and don't want to get hurt. There are many people depending on me being healthy. I have friends don't ski just for the same reason. My major breakthrough comes from where I put my CM during turn. I know how to fall into fall line to turn. That is the extend I did before. Now I fall into fall line during the turn as well. That changes everything. Does this make sense? When I ski, I always go from easy blue, blue to black. If something on blue does not work, I go back to easy blue.

post #8 of 17

Hillside, you are not unique at all.  The majority of skiers I teach have fear issues.  Some people believe these fears are something that must be pushed through,,, overcome,,, with courage or changes in perspectives.  These approaches seldom work.  Rather, by pushing beyond comfort thresholds, fears can be even more deeply imbedded, and the skier can be put in dangerous situations.

 

These fears are usually very rational and reasonable.  The skier intuitively knows they don't possess the skills to travel at these higher speeds safely, bleed them off quickly when necessary, or maneuver skilfully on a moments notice.  With those skills lacking, fear is an intelligent response.  

 

The answer to overcoming the fear is developing the skills that provide control.  With control skills, comfort zones expand, and higher speeds can be navigated in a relaxed manner.  You mentioned balance.  Right on! Good balance skills give us control of our skis.  Fear puts people in the back seat,,, it's a natural human reaction to move away from the danger.  That means sitting back.  In skiing sitting back puts us in more danger, so we need to first learn to manage our fore/aft balance well, then train ourselves to do the counter intuitive and move into the perceived danger.  With a few attempts at this we quickly discover how much more control we have of our skis be being forward on them, and the body/mind grasp onto it.  

 

Now, about line.  Yes, it's a speed control mechanism,,, but not the only one.  When carving on a pitch speed can only be controlled so much via line alone.  At some point, the comfort zone may be breached, and another method of keeping speed in the comfort zone must be employed.  Luckily, another even more effective tool exists;  Steering and skid angle.  The larger your skid angle, the more speed you can bleed, and the more comfortable and controlled you will become.  With good steering and skid angle skills you can ski any slope, with any turn shape, at any speed you desire.   When you acquire these skills you also gain the confidence that you can dump speed whenever you desire, which allows for greater comfort at speeds that before were perceived as intimidating.  I bring students through this process all the time, and it's a joy to see them skiing at speeds they never dared before, with smiles from ear to ear.  

 

www.YourSkiCoach.com 

post #9 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post

Actually it is control that helps eliminate fear when skiing.  Balance is just a major constituent of control.  The ability to pick a line that gives you the amount of speed you are comfortable with is another constituent.  Being able to control your edges is a third.  There are many more.

You're absolutely right about the control.  Control means that you can avoid an accident, either by stopping or changing direction.  Making an evasive maneuver is generally easiest from a balanced position. 

 

hellside - if you can make a hockey stop with confidence from a balanced position, you'll be in control anywhere on groomed terrain. 

post #10 of 17

Fear is absolutely normal. As you become better at skiing you will be able to ski faster. I fear many times when I ski. Puts me in the back seat and onto my inside ski. Mostly this happens offpist or at some fearsome passage in a speed skiing event. Generally speaking its better to have a lower fear treshold. You get many more kicks in life without having to risk your life. Famous ralley driver said that speed is something they get used to over time. After a short brake it takes some time to get back onto speed.

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post

The answer to overcoming the fear is developing the skills that provide control.  With control skills, comfort zones expand, and higher speeds can be navigated in a relaxed manner.

 

Rick, you express it much better.  I had a break through last week. I found the speed limit I had before just disappear. It is before and after, like something is switched on. It is not a gradual process. That is why I think imbalance is what I fear, not the speed.

 

Your DVDs cover balance and edging, that make perfect sense to me. I think if one does not have correct balance, one cannot edge properly; the ski will skid or slide. The skier can't maintain the line chosen if that happen. This is my personal experience.

 

I do have a question about your DVDs. You have a lot of drills to practice. How do they work? I only want to do at most a handful of them.

 

 

post #12 of 17

Rick's right about scrubbing speed with a skidded turn. It is a second form of speed control. Although I would be quick to point out that how you perform the skidded turn can geatly affect the outcome. If you do a lot of speed checking (braking) late you will lose momentum and end up doing a series of near stops instead of linking turns. Try to spead things out over the entire turn more. Which is exactly what we do when carving. We work the ski through the entire turn. Yes, you can focus some of the work in one phase or another but not all the work should be done all at once. When we do that we lose the connectivity and fluidity that is the hallmark of good skiing.

 

Most people fear getting into something over your head. A very rational fear. Overcoming this fear involves gaining the appropriate skill level to be more confident in that situation. I see a lot of skiers freeze up when their confidence level drops. Time and experience help but not until you feel you have the skills to perform the same maneuvers you use elsewhere. Groove the moves and gain confidence...

 

post #13 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

I would be quick to point out that how you perform the skidded turn can geatly affect the outcome. If you do a lot of speed checking (braking) late you will lose momentum and end up doing a series of near stops instead of linking turns. Try to spead things out over the entire turn more. Which is exactly what we do when carving. We work the ski through the entire turn. Yes, you can focus some of the work in one phase or another but not all the work should be done all at once. When we do that we lose the connectivity and fluidity that is the hallmark of good skiing.

 


JASP,,,  
 

 

This is what good steering skills are all about.  When done right, it flows so smoothly, regardless of the skid angle.  You can vary the skid angle through the turn when you want,,, I actually teach students to do it, and it's a great teaching aid once they have it,,, but it shouldn't be the default. 

 

www.YourSkiCoach.com

post #14 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellside View Post

 

 

I do have a question about your DVDs. You have a lot of drills to practice. How do they work? I only want to do at most a handful of them.

 

 



 

Yes, they do consist of many drills and exercises, but they're set up as a progression that leads people gently into the acquisition of top level skills.  The system is time tested and proven, but you only get out of it what you put in.  Don't let anyone sell you bill of goods about a quick road to great skiing.  It doesn't exist.  If it did, where are all the expert skiers that have followed it? 

 

 

www.YourSkiCoach.com

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

We work the ski through the entire turn. Yes, you can focus some of the work in one phase or another but not all the work should be done all at once. When we do that we lose the connectivity and fluidity that is the hallmark of good skiing.

 

 

This is my goal. This is the first time I am aware of this concept. I'll learn to apply it. Thanks!

 

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post

 



 

Yes, they do consist of many drills and exercises, but they're set up as a progression that leads people gently into the acquisition of top level skills.  The system is time tested and proven, but you only get out of it what you put in.  Don't let anyone sell you bill of goods about a quick road to great skiing.  It doesn't exist.  If it did, where are all the expert skiers that have followed it? 

 

 

www.YourSkiCoach.com

 

I understand what you mean. My skiing days is still single digit. Sometimes, I feel the computer in my head is too slow so I am trying to simplify it.

 

post #17 of 17

Rick,

I would say as a developmental phase a steered and somewhat skidded turn is the basic parallel turn we reference as a baseline. So in that respect it is a default maneuver. As a skier develops the abiity to perform more advanced maneuvers they will replace the baseline skidded turn. Although as you pointed out the time and energy required to groove those new moves is beyond most skiers who ski infrequently. So in a real world setting we see a lot of steered and skidded turns because those skiers are content doing that style of turn. I see a lot of posts putting these skier down because they don't work on learning higher performance turns. As long as they ski in control and are satisfied with their technique I see no problems with them using a steered and skidded turn style.

 

My advice to the skiers who want to progress beyond that stage, is to train on rollerblades. While I understand the Harb Carvers are a closer simulation to skiing, I doubt many skiers will invest in such a specialized set of skates when rollerblades are so much cheaper and more available.

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