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Bad first day

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hello group,
It's so nice to find such a good source of ski discussion!
Someone recommended, in another discussion, that one post their ski 'background' so here goes:
1.I am 56, about 5'11", and weigh around 185 lbs. I skied for about 12 years from the early 70's until it just got too expensive as a family activity, we took up Nordic for a few years, and then just stopped for awhile. Fortunately, both my kids continued to ski, and I finally got the courage to 'rejoin' the fold 4 years ago with my son's encouragement. I rented that first year, and then bought skis and boots for the following year. I have Elan Reactor PSX 170's, Salomon 800 series bindings and Salomon Rear Entry boots. I paid about $260 for the Skis/bindings at Sports Authority, and got the boots for $60 at an end of year, older model sale at a local shop.
I do a lot of walking/light hiking with my dogs, ride my bike when weather permits. Haven't done 'regular' aerobics or weight work in a couple of years.
Ski about 3-5 days per year, would like to increase.

2. Ability: I consider myself a fairly strong intermediate, originally schooled in New England, I have not found a slope I could not enjoy in Eastern Pennsylvania. Like long sweeping turns, no moguls, love banked hairpin turns, no fear of ice, heavy stuff bothers me. Don't like narrow trails.

3. Problem: We went out yesterday for the first time this year. I found my legs burning by 11 a.m., much earlier than normal. I wore thinner socks than normal because the weather was mild. We went in for lunch at that time, and when we came back out I was good for about 3-4 runs, struggling to get down the mt. on the last one. My right thigh was MUCH more sore than the left, my right shin and a number of other areas were 'abraded' by the socks, I'm sure due to boot fit. I also found my calv : es getting sore very quickly and again much worse on the right.

I have never had such a bad first day. I feel I have technigue problem, a conditioning problem and an equipment problem, and would love some advice. I think it's time for new equipment.
Should I crosspost to the other specific forums here, or will the message 'get around'?
Thanks a million, in advance!
post #2 of 18
Chasboy, the rear entry boots are difficult to progress in ability beyond where you are. Going to a good boot fitter and spending the bucks for boots that really fit, foot beds and alignment will give you the comfort and ability to really connect with the skis. Those boots are a big detriment for progress at your age and ability. Start there. Expect alignment and foot beds to run about 40 to 50% additional on top of the price of the boots.

Good boot fitters are few and far between. You have one good one in NYC and a few in Vermont. Expect to spend two or three hours getting boots.

One a scale of one to 10, 10 being highest in importance for skiing I put poles at 1, skis at 3 and boots at 10.

After boots attend the Epicski academy, stick with this site and also talk to Oboe, member number 45.

[ January 03, 2004, 05:53 AM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Pierre, I left out important faults of mine I do know about, 'heel pushing/sitting back and wobbly fronts. I do find when I get out over the fronts I have more control, but it's a challenge to remember to do. Do I need a ski with a stiff tail or soft because of that? Of course, I need to stop doing it all the time, but I revert back to my old single speed bicycle days when we would jam the rear brake and hang out the tail on the fresh gravel on the road!
post #4 of 18
Welcome chasboy.

Pierre is right, start with new boots. Try on different makes to find a boot that fits. You want a snug comfortable fit, not overly tight or loose, snug. You may have to compromise some in the fit but go to the tight side. The shop will be able to make modifications to the inner booty or shell to make it fit. The shop that you purchased from should do this free of charge. Your boot my fit well in the shop but you might experience 'hot spots' once you are out on the slopes, time to go back to the shop and tell the tech exactly how it feels. A good shop will guarantee the fit including replacing the boot if need be. Do not use this as an excuse to hurry the process. Spend time in your boots at the shop before you buy. Talk to the tech and involve them in your decision. Again, take your time, try on a lot of different boots, tune into how your feet feel. Most people buy boots that are too large. If your boot is too large, you will move around a lot in your boot when you are skiing cause a vague unresponsive ski. If your feet are moving inside the boots, your boots aren't transmitting the movements to your skis. You are using a lot of effort to get a little result.

As for your skis, it sounds like you want to get a ski that will compensate for your stance. This may help in the short term; it is really not a solution and will hinder your improvement. You want to be in an athletic stance. Think that you're a ball player getting ready to field a hit ball. The ball has just left the bat, you have not yet made a move to the ball, and you are still assessing where to move. Picture a quarterback under center waiting to receive the snap but before he puts his hands under center, or a tennis player waiting for the serve. This is the stance you want: relatively upright, knees and ankles slightly flex, legs and feet open, balanced over your entire foot and ready to move in any direction. If someone were to give you a quick push, you would remain upright and balanced. Easier said then done, I know. A ski with a stiff tail will not help you achieve this balance.

Take a private lesson if you can afford it. Talk to your coach, be very forthright in stating your needs but be prepared to start slowly on easy terrain. Stay open minded toward your coach and trust their ability to assess your needs. If you don't understand why your coach wants you to do something, ask. Ask a lot of questions but listen and watch too. I know most people want to go right out to that terrain that gives them the challenge or trouble because the mastery of that terrain is the ultimate goal and the real thrill we are all seeking. The little flaws in your technique will show up on the easiest terrain and you will be able to practice your new moves on comfortable terrain then move back to your real challenge.

Keep reading here at Epic. Some of the best instructors in the country post here. As Pierre suggested, go to the EpicSki Academy if you can. You can find details in the EpicSki Planning forum. We just had a 2 day clinic at Stowe and no doubt we will be having another next season. Try to attend that.

Good luck, welcome back to the sport. I hope my rant helps.
post #5 of 18

I'm a little blunt and abrasive, so please read my post that way... [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

At your level of skiing activity/frequency/dedication, your first day is going to be difficult no matter what your equipment. You simply don't ski enough and aren't physically active enough to make the first day on skis an easy one. If you were an extremely seasoned and experienced skier, even still your legs would tire quickly UNLESS you did lots of dry land ski-specific training AND did cross-training during the WHOLE year.

I will echo the comments on boots. No other piece of equipment matters more. They are the only piece of equipment that connect intimately with your body. They are your fundamental connection to the snow. If they don't fit precisely AND comfortably, you will not progress easily or quickly or well.

I know many skiers who can make a pair of REALLY CRAPPY skis look good if they are able to use their own boots.

Most skiers on the hills these days use only about 25% of the technology built into their skis. They don't realize that they paid a lot of money for that technology, and they continue to misuse the skis.

Only focused instruction/practice can help you advance, but before you get into that regimen, get some boots that fit properly.

Good luck!
post #6 of 18
This is scary, I'm in complete agreement with Gonzostrike.

The 4 most important pieces of ski equipment, in order;

The skier

The boots

The skis

The poles

Put lots of effort into #1 and 2, and the others kinda fall into place.
post #7 of 18
Welcome chasboy!

I would also consider CONDITIONS to be a major factor also. I skied Okemo last year 2 days in a row, without any problems and having a blast.

I've got several days under my belt this season, and the ETU clinic, but I barely made it down some of the sloppy, sandy beach like snow conditions we had on New Years Day. It was WAY too much work to ski in that stuff.

Don't be so hard on yourself in that stuff. My guess is that you'll be ok once some Real Snow comes around. Patience and faith, patience and faith. :
post #8 of 18
I was reduced to skiing like a beginner at Okemo New Years Day too! Like Bonni I have skied OKEMO many times, all trails, and I was having difficulty with the conditions 1/1/04. Of course it didn't help matters any that I am just 3 weeks off of an injury to the knee, but even my good leg had trouble. I was actually looking for the ice patches to turn on because the other was so heavy and thick that it was near impossible to turn.

Have faith! This week is supposed to get colder which means that they will be able to make some snow and we should see the conditions improve. Hopefully, mother nature will cooperate too.

BTW, welcome Chasboy!

[ January 03, 2004, 01:45 PM: Message edited by: skierteach ]
post #9 of 18
Originally posted by Xdog:
This is scary, I'm in complete agreement with Gonzostrike.

The 4 most important pieces of ski equipment, in order;

The skier

The boots

The skis

The poles

Put lots of effort into #1 and 2, and the others kinda fall into place.
: I don't know about that. You'd rank poles above bindings?
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, I think my initial impression of this site is right on! Thank you all for your kind advice!
To echo some of what I read, I can now understand why my present condition and my boots were so much at fault! My brother is a lifelong body builder and fitness director. I forwarded him my initial post to the group and he recommended an exercise program as well as explaining what my muscles were telling me.
It seems that some of the 'abrading' of my legs were due to excess movement between the boots and my body.
Of course, I am looking to blame the skis as well, a common occurance, and I have a few more questions because of that.
1. How 'much' boot should I buy? I spent some time in the mountain ski shop at Camelback while my son continued to ski, and a couple of helpful young men helped me try on a couple of boots that I could feel right away were great improvements. They were a Nordica and Tecnica model that they had for sale for about $160-I didn't note the models. (They had a list price of about $250 or so) Should I move up to a 'better' boot? What makes a boot "better" than a lower priced one for someone in my range? [img]smile.gif[/img] I <can> afford to spend more than an entry level amount, and I do like good equipment.
2. Does it make sense to buy at a mountain shop? This one does have a demo program. I also didn't think their prices were out of line for what I tried.
3. Should I try to make my present skis work with new boots? I would guess that I have not really tapped into my ski's capabilities. Is there an advantage to buy an entire 'package' that includes skis-boots-bindings-poles, or is that pretty much a myth. (Looking around the shop, I saw discounts on binding/ski combos, but no boots, which has seemed to be the rule for as long as I have been skiing.)
4. As I mentioned in my first post, my ski/binding combo totalled out, on sale, for about $260 at Sports Authority. Does that indicate that the ski's are really not worth the time once I have new boots?
5. SOCKS: do my shins burn because of boot movement or the fact that the thin socks I wore had less padding than normal?
Thanks again for now!!
post #11 of 18
Originally posted by chasboy:
1. How 'much' boot should I buy? I spent some time in the mountain ski shop at Camelback while my son continued to ski, and a couple of helpful young men helped me try on a couple of boots that I could feel right away were great improvements. They were a Nordica and Tecnica model that they had for sale for about $160-I didn't note the models. (They had a list price of about $250 or so) Should I move up to a 'better' boot? What makes a boot "better" than a lower priced one for someone in my range? [img]smile.gif[/img] I <can> afford to spend more than an entry level amount, and I do like good equipment.
I think you are probably going to want to spend more money than that. A more expensive boot is going to be made with a better more even flexing plastic, and will also have more adjustments such as cuff angle that will not be found on the cheaper ones. Check the equipment forum for a list of recommended boot fitters. Find one that really knows what he is doing. When I lived in NC, I flew up to VT, so I could see gmolfoot at Stratton.
post #12 of 18
Please reconsider spending ANY money until you ski on real snow! The Eastern stuff we have lately is going to toss you around like a sock in a dryer, wrenching on your boots which in turn will tell you every place where that boot is even slightly loose.

Seems like you haven't had much of a problem until you skied on the shite we have now. Again, CONDITIONS make a world of difference, and I urge you to wait till you ski on some decent snow.
post #13 of 18
The boots may be part of the problem, but they are his boots. Has any one ever explained to the skier the proper stance and balance to allow proper bio - machanics to take place. Being this skier began in the seventies I would imagine a strong rotary push off as being the culprit for the muscle fatigue. I agree that the boots are old but this is the equipment the skier owns. I see this as a problem in our industry, blame equipment and not go to the root of the problem. Again if the skier had been show the proper fundamentals he would be enjoying skiing today with out the burning legs.
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Larry, I appreciate your analysis, and when I get in trouble, my reliable old Stem Christie gets me out of a bad situation. I have been struggling to develop the subtle movements that seem to be part of moving up in skill, and I'm pretty successful on the smooth and wide. I do think my fatigue was a huge factor, and I also think my boots are not up to snuff. I have very little heel hold, the instep cable is tightened to max (and doesn't cut off my circulation), tightening the shaft buckle only results in more shin pain, and increasing the flex setting makes things worse, with my feet continuing to wobble, with the skis basically setting thier own course.
When I came back to skiing, I rented a set of Rossi parabolics and whatever rental boots, (not rear entry) and recovered my ski legs in about 4 runs, in addition to being able to feel the difference in the new ski design compared to my old Olin Mark 1M's.
Anyway, I would love to know more about technique that you allude to in your post.
post #15 of 18

Last week I tried an experiment. I took my custom footbeds out of my boots and skied them bare bones for a day and a half in all sorts of conditions, on different skis, etc.

What I learned was invaluable, because now I have an inkling of how it is for people who are skiing a bare bones boot that hasn't been custom-fitted to their foot.

To wit, when I quit skiing on day 2, I experienced muscle spasms in my toes and bruising on my shins. Because there was so much extra space in the boot, I lost contact with the top of the boot when I was pressuring the outside ski, which made me need to flex the foot to re-establish contact with the upper shell, which interfered with the stretch reflex that established my connection to the ground, which made me lose my confidence and caused me to ski tentatively. I would tip my feet and the boots followed later. This made it hard to release and hold the edge.

I did the experiment because I have a strong foot (a high arch and a wide instep) and do not need footbeds for orthotic reasons. The experiment satisfied me that my footbeds are necessary for other reasons (to maintain contact of the foot with the boot top and bottom) and that the arch support doesn't impede loading of my foot, which was a hypothesis I also wanted to test.

By the way, I am in a great boot for me. So, even great boots need to be customized for YOU.
post #16 of 18
If I could be so bold as to ask about your basic stance that you use . My guess is a slightly crouched down at the waist with forward pressure on the tongues of the boots. Please correct me if I am wrong. Try a taller starting in your ankle and continuing up the leg. This should relieve some of the muscle tension and allow for use of the legs in your skiing as the joints will not be locked. I agree that new boots are a great thing if pain and the foot is moving side to side. You may also find that the new boots place you in the position I described above. In the end the ability to steer with your legs is paramount. I am sure you will get many other suggestions from the gallery at epic. I am purposely not going into detail as not wanting to confuse you on the journey to a new movement pattern. We all have a mainstay move that comes out when we feel needed to control speed or get out of trouble, but the path to change is building muscle memory

Best of luck and I hope things improve!!!!!
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 
Larry, I am not thin skinned, and your question about my stance is pretty much right on. We were taught to have sortof 'bicycle' or 'gorilla' stance. The boots I was in would not let me straighten up like others I have had so the fatigue got worse quickly, and yes, I am out of shape. :

I went out looking at boots today and got what I thought was an excellent deal at a local shop that has treated me and my son real well. They are last year's Dalbello Avanti V-10's. I spent about an hour in them alone, and found them to be a tremendous improvement over the torture chambers I used to think were comfortable. Now, of course, I have to try them out on the snow!
I took all that I read on the forum and in the Ski mag buyer's guide with me and applied this knowledge to questions and discussion with the salesman, who also sold my son his whole package. I tried boots from Tecnika, Lange and Nordica,(in addition to the lower end Nordica and Tecnica's at the mountain shop) but the Dalbello's have much less forefoot volume, holding me the most snug and comfortable at the same time. I also found that the longer I had them on, the more comfortable and stable my foot became, but they didn't loosen.
I have decided that what Gonzostrike mentioned was correct in stating that skiers on the hills these days use only about 25% of the technology built into their skis, so I need to work on that. I know my next time out will be accompanied by a lesson as well. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
Thanks again, this a great forum. Hope I can help someone else out sometime as much as I have been helped.
post #18 of 18
chas, I can't take credit for that way of phrasing the value of good ski instruction. my own coach first offered his services to me in a similar manner... asking if I wanted to learn how to get the other 35% (or maybe he said 85% ) out of my skis. he's been pestering me about my crazy body movements ever since. where did I develop those movements? skiing on the East Coast, self-taught. what a mess.

nolo, last Tuesday at Snowbowl was my first day out in my new AT gear, and it resulted in a similar loss of control... my boots weren't snug after a couple of runs, I ran out of adjustment, and started getting slop in my boots... I lost all feel for the snow and had to make exaggerated inward rolls of the ankles just to engage the edges. I stopped at a half-day before I ruined what already had been a pretty decent day.
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