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EVOLUTION: For beginners and lower intermediates especially 45+ late starters

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

beginners: if you have the patience(10mins) and inclination, below is a link to a self-cut video of me, being trained - relative novice, started skiing, feb08, just before i turned 46; work very hard at it, read, think, absorb, a real passion - thanks to my boy.


i have Rick's two basic dvd's; study them often, tons of exercises, long way to before i master those but working on it.


anyway, this is me under the tutelage of klaus mair, at lech-zurs, austria; klaus ran me ragged over the course of 4 days - the other  two days, he focused on my boy who is "poetry in motion' (thats a dad talking, you folks understand, his dance in the snow is here : http://www.epicski.com/forum/thread/72589/arlberg-lech-zurs-st-anton-stuben/60#post_1095701 ).


anyway, this is a rather steep big mountain ski experience/boot-camp for yours truly..lost 5 lbs in 7 days of skiing! lets put it this way, those red runs off the steinmahder lift and trittkopff lifts, are n.american black diamonds - no kidding, and the one black diamond, begins with a 35-40+degree pitch into space! it was steep, son carved like a dolphin, dad side-slipped making a few turns, carefully down it..




note, this is own editing, first 50 secs tell you how destroyed i was on day one, listen careful around 43 sec marker 1 then next 5 mins is focus on gravity, and complete fundamentals, and from 5min50sec marker..putting into practice lessons learnt, and learnt how to come down 30+deg inclines slowly! note, no pole plants is deliberate.


blood, toil, tears and sweat, was skiing with shredded rotator cuff, and bicep tendon hanging near elbow, now just had surgery, in sling, typing leftie ! all this to ensure son's vacation not interrupted, he taught dad skiing is good for the soul and he just turned 6! dad was not about to let him down..


best all, this web forum epic is a delight and an education everyday.


post #2 of 14

Is that your boy that follows you a bit here and there ?  When he wants to turn he starts his turns with his feet.  Smart lad, he is.  It was cool watching you begin to do the same as your instructor coaches your timing with some   extension and flexion


Thanks for sharing. Isn't learning fun to the point ,sometimes, of exhaustion from exhiliration  ?

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Pure exhiliaration, though late afternoons, the run into oberlech filled with corn moguls filled me with deadly fatigue..turned legs to jelly..


for kicks, 3 short clips (1min or so)

of DAY 1 at lech-zurs..and i thought i had improved!

corn powder, steeper hills gave me a rude awakening..you can even hear my buddy Klaus, laughing!


wipeout#1: movie history...leaning right into hill with chin-music finale!=1min26sec


wipeout #2:klaus spoke too soon, legs went everywhere but where intended!=1min16sec


wipeout#3: too much speed ..geronimo..note klaus chuckle at the end!=20secs



anyway here is my boy..left Dad in the dust..posted this elsewhere too, but enjoy..its 9 mins..but if you have kids, you will feel a father's gratitude towards his son=9mins


post #4 of 14



Realy cool vids.  Putting terrain ahead of technique leads to defensive position on skis and defensive movements.  Spending time skiing easy runs builds the confidence and skills that allow you to move up to harder terrain and ski it more proficiently.  I tell my students that they will improve their skiing by skiing where it is easier and then take it up to harder terrain as their skills and confidence build.



post #5 of 14

Ron, I agree fully.  Lower the terrain, up the task, and people learn.  Once they learn the new task, then take it to harder terrain.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Ron White: My first ski teacher and then director of the ski school was an old polish team member.  At that time the stem Christie was very much alive.  He believed in final forms in skiing.  That every part of the progression had to be mastered correctly to the letter.  The snowplow turn had to be done perfectly before the stem Christie could be introduced and so on.  I can remember teaching a parallel lesson and "Stan" would ski by toward the end of the lesson and give the class a quick stem Christie lesson.


I think the difference between how many European schools teach and the American schools teach is the focus of learning and mastering solid fundamentals in the European systems.  The American culture wants to shortcut the fundamentals and move on to harder terrain without having the skills and technique to ski it in control or safely.  That is one reason the direct parallel is so popular.  If people want to ski parallel, then why teach them the wedge or wedge Christie? With the amount of groomed runs in many American ski areas, many skiers can progress to black runs quite quickly and get down them satisfactory.  Put the same skier on a black un-groomed run, they quickly find out that they are an advanced beginner, with few fundamental skills, on terrain were they don't belong.

RonW: i read this on another post of yours. precisely what i experienced in lech-zurs. since my introduction to skiing last feb08, i ski mostly at catamount(your home mountain wyndham, is real close as per your profile), got great instruction from my friend chuck the "snowhawk", and i thought i had genuinely improved this march.


until i arrived at lech-zurs and ran into huge issues on the red runs, some of them were way steeper than anything at catamount and as steep as some of the blacks at sunshine village alberta. in addition, confirming your point underlined above, the moguls and corn powder in the afternoon were almost impossibly hard on day one and two for this ski-student, and klaus really ran me ragged! the spring conditions initially made mincemeat of my skiing confidence.


hence the relentless focus on controlled descents, slow turns, just slowing movements down to highlight flaws and allow corrections to technique. the up-and forward to let my skiis turn via gravity hence slowly but surely erasing/diminishing my stem step on right turns, weaker side.


i had new boots (previous boots a size too big as per some boot guy at surefoot, and got new nordica sportsmachine, snug fit, 55% off), i do believe my canting really needs fixing, am horribly bow-legged and a few of the falls, not on film, the big ones on days 1 and 2 were on relatively flat terrain, and Klaus observed i was on my outside edges when i caught an edge and achieved lift-off like an errant missile. you can see it in later parts of training video..i often felt my rented atomic skis were generating velocities beyond my experiential range.


in the event as an instructor, you feel like checking how and why i believed i had improved...until i hit lech-zurs and had to re-load the learning process..am a better skiier now, i know that primarily because of

(a) learning how to wedge, didnt know how until lech zurs, the "conscious" wedge christie.

(b) letting gravity bring my sks around when transitioning between turns

(c) built confidence on how to slide down on flattened skis relatively under control on genuine steeps; got rid of a lot of those butterflies


videos inserted for reference only..am an eager student whose boy has gone turbo on him! evolution is clear below and then huge regression a month later at lech-zurs till solid improvements into end of 7 day period.


here is a short clip 1min 45sec; of us at Sunshine Village, Alberta; after 2 mths of skiing(ie around 10 times on skis) end




and here is march 09 (5 mins, scroll to last 60 secs) where i felt i had really improved till  the story in 1st post above hitting lech-zurs and i learnt exactly what you meant in above quoted para..and you have seen my experience laid bare above in that 1st post..


paraphrasing robert frost:

"woods are lovely, dark and deep; but my son's trail is steep, so miles to ski before i sleep"




Edited by dustyfog - 5/13/2009 at 03:41 am GMT
post #7 of 14



You have some good things going on in your skiing in the second vid.  Since you are in my neck of the woods,  maybe we could hook-up at WM next season.  There are some really talented boot fitters around there that can dial in your boots.  My students really like my approach to ski instruction.  I think you can make progress in your skiing without putting you through the wringer.  WM is also a great place for kids to ski b/c it is so family oriented and most every trail ends at the base area, it is easy for the parent to keep track of them.



post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

perfect, wm, is 47 miles from our house in redhook.

please note that i did NOT like the view of the ski school at wm, i.e. about kids, 7 yr min age limit, u have seen my boy ski, he has handled big mountains on his edges, and is going to go for race training, wm, folks told me he was too young, i thought that was a touch dogmatic. respected their view but that was the first and last time i went there. at catamount, my son has been treated like family since the day he got there, and literally adopted by many of the young instructors, and they nurtured his natural love for the sport. for that I remain truly grateful to them. so you can see why wm never made it on my list of recommended places to go, notwithstanding, its really not much bigger than the cat and far more crowded.


all that aside, your posts and your counsel all over this forum as well as your gracious invite i believe requires me to feel honored by the invite. therefore this coming season, we i trust will ski together and perhaps you can help take my skiing to the next level. am old but dedicated as noted, i was skiing with torn rotator cuff and bicep tendon sitting down on my elbow when the lech-zurs trip occurred. just had surgery exactly 10 days ago, very painful recovery, no jokes, the pain is debilitating and persistent.


one observation, i do believe my skiing in the lech-zurs video in the first post after the 5'30" marker is where i finally begin to get it so to speak..and i actually now reviewing the mar09 clip realize, it looks good but flaw ridden, and relatively mild pitch of slopes probably helped notwithstanding familiarity with terrain. Any comment - welcome your thoughts.


before i forget, who are the great bootfitters, any further guidance on that would be much appreciated, for example, are the folks at potter brothers, top of the class, or somewhere else. and if you did have the patience to kindly view my lech-zurs ski video, is it not clear that i really need a proper cant adjustment, what do you think? i think my boots need to push my lower legs inward, since my natural bow-legged stance makes me stand on the outside edges of my feet as the default stane. am really looking for help on this.


note the lech zurs video, 1st post, "dax's dad ski training" last 5 mins is me finally growing up as a skiier..

Edited by dustyfog - 5/14/2009 at 06:08 am GMT

Edited by dustyfog - 5/14/2009 at 06:15 am GMT

Edited by dustyfog - 5/14/2009 at 07:10 am GMT

Edited by dustyfog - 5/14/2009 at 07:13 am GMT
post #9 of 14

I only watched the first video.  There are some things that I like about your skiing.  They are that you keep your hands out in front, there is not a lot of "flail" or unnecessary upper body movement.  You make a pretty decent open parallel turn most of the time with an occasional wedge initiation.  You also ski pretty rhythmically, ie you are skiing the mountain...  The mountain isn't skiing you.  Very nice for such a new skier with some injury issues.  My best and most basic recommendation for you is to RELAX.  You seem very stiff and a bit robotic.  It seems like it could be fear related.  I actually liked your turns a little better than your sons, but he is relaxed and therefor is smoother.  I would do some exploration with your range of motion.  An exaggerated flexion extension to get the turns started for example.  I also wonder if starting to use the poles a little wouldn't help to pull your cm across the skis and help you get some more oomph into the turn.  A small wrist flick in the direction of the apex of the intended turn is what I am suggesting here.  This should be synced with the beginning of your extension at the top of your turn.  As you extend try to move laterally across the skis towards the apex of the next turn.  Across and forward, not just up.  In the same direction as your pole flick.  If you can get comfortable moving the body across the center of the skis, turning becomes easier as the slope gets steeper.  It's about commitment and confidence.  I also think that you could stand a bit taller overall.  You seem a little squatty which tends to put people a little back, this is often compensated for by bending at the waist.  It's not that bad in your case, but think about getting taller or lenghting the legs by straitening the knees.  This should "push" the hips forward.  I like the mantra "who's your fall line...  Who's your fall line...   I might finish a lesson with you with some introduction to the long leg short leg concept.  This is more obvious as the slopes become steeper.  Think about standing on a fairly steep slope with your skis perpendicular to the fall line so you are standing still.  Look down...  Your uphill leg will be shorter than your downhill leg.  The difference will probably be in the knee joint.  Think about straitening the uphill leg and pulling in the downhill leg.  If your skis stay on the snow, you will  move your CM across the skis and your edges will release.  You will probably start sidesliping.  If you were moving forward you would turn.  In a turn we would inside and outside leg not downhill and uphill.  I hope these offerings aren't too basic for you.  I think skiing is simple and most people try to over complicate it.  I like your attitude, now relax a bit bit more and keep having fun.  You are on the right track with the idea of letting gravity pull the skis into the turn.  You will feel it more as you relax and move a bit more dynamically.  Don't forget to breathe and unclench your toes inside your boots.

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

Teton..junkie : Many thanks for your studied and measured observations. First of all, please, I appreciate the observations, its not too basic for me, the Robert Frost paraphrase captures my view of my level and where I plan to get to. After all, have to keep up with my boy.


The first video on this thread is the one at Lech-Zurs and that is the one that is most relevant, I presume that is the one you saw. The one from Mar09, "Dax's Dad skiing 1 year .." is from Catamount and it was presented as a frame of reference in the conversation where I thought I had become pretty good and then Ron White's comments hit home hard, on first day at Lech. There is absolutely not ONE, no kidding, nary a one slope which is comparable to the Blues at Catamount, forget the Greens, that is where they teach their toddlers.Actually, a few travel guides have noted the "sneaky" reclassification of the blacks into reds, many note the "blue run" into Lech - very wide but really, really steep in parts and most advise that intermediates are going to get a "fright" - I got used to it and can handle it fine but it is steep, and with moguls and sticky snow in the afternoons, even harder and dog-tiring. On a red run, where i fell, this time because other skiiers blew by me and I lost my concentration (i make no excuses as you can see from my follies laid bare above, but this time it was the others coming much too close), i was slip-sliding down calmly, i fell, and slid another 20 ft, and that was a low velocity fall, its steep at LZ! One travel blog stated it point-blank, LZ is not exactly a place where intermediates will feel comfortable. I would say, cant imagine a better place to ski on this planet(limited experience so hard to compare but the facilities are incredible and the slope-sk-terrain extent gigantic) , but wholeheartedly agree, not someplace for folks who are tentative and so on.


The other incredible thing was, almost everyone seemed to be a good skiier. I was quite proud of my son, that his skiing improved exponentially through the week, and by the end of it (if you have the patience, you are invited to watch the video "Dax skiing Lech, Zurs with Klaus..." - as the one who composed it, I of course think its a great piece of art! But thats your call naturally) my son was really firing up those carves and you are spot on, he is so relaxed and he is not a foolish risk-taker, he learnt his lesson from a fall in 07, at Catamount, he went airborne and landed on his head! good thing he had a helmet on and I caught it on film, i think that memory has been burnt into his brain! He definitely gave those Austrian and German kids a run for their skis, even the ski instructors (and Klaus would not bullsh*te me) were pretty amazed. I saw him in his group classes, by the third day, he was mr carve-meister..leaving many in his snowdust.


Now to the observations: One thing I have realized and you highlight Quote " As you extend try to move laterally across the skis towards the apex of the next turn.  Across and forward, not just up." I noticed watching my up-and-forward movement, that the "forward" bit is something I need to work on much more, i need to really combine the up-unweighghting with an exaggerated forward movement, and I like your idea of adding "across". i.e. lateral move as I move forward, to get the hip moving across. I watched Klaus video in conjunction again and the forward bit was the bit I need to get to. It was 6 days with Klaus and 2 of those he focused on my boy, but I know that he made me a much better skiier, and significantly more confident. He taught me one lesson, and forced me to slow down, after watching me the first day, by the afternoon he drily observed that "Rishin, you are skiing way too fast for your skill level" and then proceeded to slow me down. Learning one's limitations after all is really the first step to genuine improvement and finding the road to overcoming the same.


One question: when you say "exaggerated flexion extension" what are you referring to precisely, is it the shortening of downhill leg, lengthening of uphill leg achieved through ankle and knee flexing and extending?


On the mantra, you can hear him yelling 1-2-3, and I actually started counting 4-3-2-1 to give myself the room to be patient. I like "who's your falline" ... cracked me up..will adopt with due credit to its originator, i.e. you.


You noticed the stiffness! Tell me about it, I feel like I am dynamic but then I see that I am not. But seriously, the drag on my right foot when I turn right, i.e. its the new uphill leg, is a real pain, makes me very tentative, the moving up-and-forward went a long way to fixing that, but I do think, my new boots need some more precision alignment adjustment. Will try to hook up with Ron White's bootfitter pals in upstate NY who he recommends, the Surefoot folks got me a nice pair of boots (great price) and they fit better but the alignment issues mess with the mind! A friend of mine Adrian from Canada calls me "Roboto" !


The squatty part - yes, absolutely its defensive, it lessened a bunch in LZ I think.


And finally, I am reasonably certain, I was mentally less-aggressive at LZ since (a) I really could'nt believe how fast I was going before I knew it; (b) the injuries most likely had me more careful.


Once again, many thanks for the advice. It goes right into my ski-tips cheat sheet.


post #11 of 14

Hi Dusty,


A couple things to think about over the summer. 


- Stance.  As was mentioned, it's a bit squatty.  Review the athletic stance segment in either of my basic level DVDs. 


- Turn shape.  This is a biggy, and contributing to your stance issues.  You're carrying a good bit of speed, with your turns seldom more than 45 degrees.  The speed is contributing to your desire to squat. 


Begin by slowing things down.  Do that by making your turns between 60 and 90 degrees.  (refer to the BASIC EDGING DVD).  The higher the degree of turn, the slower your speed will be.  When you get your speed down your comfort level will elevate and you'll then be able to focus on getting into an efficient stance, as well as other important elements of your turn shape I'm going to address next.


Right now your turn shape is what some refer to as Z turns.  You're rushing the top of your turns.  Notice how quickly your skis get from the transition to past the falline.  Also notice how you're doing it.  You're using what we call a stem,,, especially in your right turns.  Watch closely how as you go to begin a right turn you move the tail of your left ski (new outside ski for the coming turn) up the hill before you move any weight to it, such that your ski is pointing down the hill (in the falline) before you stand on it.  


That's a default movement pattern that you want to shed ASAP.  Refer to the section in my BASIC EDGING DVD that deals with radius variance.  Specifically the "Start long, finish short" drill.  That drill encourages you to lengthen out the top of the turn, trying to stretch out the time period getting to the falline as much as possible.  Then once you reach the falline you sharpen your radius and finish your turn at 90.  Finishing at 90 dumps enough speed to make being patient through the long radius top of the next turn a less intimidating thing.  Plus, it provides a radius contrast sensation.  If you're not feeling the contrast you'll know that you need to be more patient and lenthen the top of your turns more.  It's a feed back sensation that lets you coach yourself.   


Once you get the top of your turns cleaned up in that drill you can move to dropping the short radius at the end of your turns and keeping them long radius all the way through.  Keep em at 90, and be sure to maintain the same patient top of the turn.  Your speed will pick up a tad.  Then go to 60's.  Your speed will pick up a bit more, continuing to advance your ability to begin your turns smoothly.  


Stay on easy terrain until you get this dialed in, and always try to maintain that strong athletic stance.  When you get feeling solid with it incorporate some of the fore/aft balance drills from the BASIC BALANCE DVD into your new and improved turns, and boost your skill and confidence even more. 


Watch the DVDs again and get the image, and the plan, embedded deeply.  Summers are a great time to employ the power of imagery learning.  When you get back on snow I'm sure Ron has seen these issues in your skiing as well, and will help you with them too.  He's a sharp dude. 


Note: Critique from Mar 09 video in post 6




Edited by Rick - 5/18/2009 at 03:06 am GMT

Edited by Rick - 5/18/2009 at 03:09 am GMT
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

Actually watched your video again just yesterday, will hone in on your suggested segments. Thx. Its all visual right now for this one-armed bandit

post #13 of 14

I agree about the terrain. You can try something from reds, but do it in the morning while conditions are near perfect.


One more thing... I hope you don't take your kid to slopes he can't handle... This year in Zillertal Mayrhofen I saw a kid going down the Harakiri . Felt, lost a ski... He couldn't stop until reached some fresh snow outside the track...

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

thanks. lech-zurs as a book and a few blogs put it is no place for a beginner; we loved it and are going back as soon as season returns and economics stabilize.


watch video #4 on post 3, that is my boy... dont think i have to concern myself with "where i take him?!" its higher odds that i would be concerned with "where he'll take me?!"

his skiing level is way beyond dad's. dad working hard to catch up though, anyway, fair point made for sure.

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