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Left, left, left right left...

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I'm primarily a short-turn skier. When I was in better shape, single, didn't have kids, and was getting 40 days a year on snow, I was a pretty good zipper-line bump skier and bumps remain my passion today. However, now that I do more skiing with my wife and kids, I'm working expanding my range and working on my weakness...namely, long turns.

At 5'6", 180 lbs., I'm skiing on K2 Axis X in a 181. Last season, I noticed something very disturbing in my long turns on groomed runs. I can make what I'd call a "very good" carved turn to the left. I can ride the outside edge of my right ski throughout the entire length of the turn with no skidding. I can adjust the arc of the turn by varying how much tip vs. tail pressure I apply and can do all the things with my hands, hips, and shoulders that I shoud be doing.

However, I can't do that on a right-hand turn. I can't seem to carve the same arc with the same balance and strength as I do in the other direction. I've been skiing for over 20 years and never noticed this deficiency until last season. My guess is that, since I normally only make very short radius turns (regardless of terrain), it was never an issue because I never spent more than a second or two in the turn. Now that I'm forcing myself to make 5-10 second turns, I'm seeing the problem.

It's very strange. What I find myself wanting to do on a right hand turn is put my inside ski against my outside ski to support it and keep it from wandering. I ski in a narrow stance already but I find myself wanting to narrow it up even more to the right. To practice, I sometimes lift up my inside ski to ensure I'm riding that one edge. I can make a perfectly carved turn this way to the left, but not to the right. It feels loose and skittish; almost like my left boot is unbuckled (it's not [img]smile.gif[/img] ).

Any ideas? I'm actually thinking of taking a lesson to correct this. Would that help? I've never taken a lesson in my life.
post #2 of 7
First things first:

1. I assume that was a typo and you're not trying to ride the outside edge of your right ski in a left turn. If it was not a typo, then I think it would be a mistake to make your left turn the model for your right turn.

2. It sounds like your boots need some work.

3. After you get the boots lined up, I think taking a lesson would be a great investment in your [img]smile.gif[/img] .
post #3 of 7
Hi Kevin--a couple quick thoughts. Your problem could be technical, or it could relate to equipment/anatomy (or both).

First, if your right (inside) ski moves narrower, in toward your left ski in a right turn, you are not being active enough with that right leg. What does your right leg do when you're walking, taking a step on your left leg? It moves actively forward, or in the direction you're moving, right? It must do the same thing on skis. If you don't get--and keep--that inside ski out of the way of the outside ski, the only way you can turn the outside ski is to twist its tail out. And moving the inside ski into the turn, tipping it, steering its tip, and physically pulling the foot to the right (away from the other ski), initiates the essential movements of the rest of your body through the turn. It actually takes quite a lot of force to pull that whole ski and leg through a turn, and if it isn't coming from the snow (which would help if the inside ski were carving also), it MUST come from your muscles.

So try ACTIVELY pulling that inside ski away from the outside ski, moving it in the direction you're trying to go, from start of the turn to finish. This does NOT necessarily mean that you will widen your stance, surprisingly. As you pull the inside ski away, it enables the outside ski to carve cleanly, "chasing" the inside ski. If the gap starts to close, you need to be even more active!

Second, have your boot setup and alignment checked. Any time there is a distinct assymetry between left and right turns, it makes sense to suspect alignment.

In either case, a competent instructor should be able to identify the problem very quickly by watching you ski a little. I encourage you to take that lesson! Insist on a high-level certified instructor--tell the ski school desk you won't take the lesson otherwise. If it's a group lesson, find the "splitting supervisor" at the pre-lesson meeting place, tell him/her your particular problem, and repeat your request for high-level certified pro.

Better yet, join us in Utah for the first EpicSki Academy in January! The pros there are top-notch, and we will have an alignment specialist available throughout the camp, who will also deliver an evening presentation on equipment alignment and setup. The four-day program will cost about what you'd pay for a one-day private at Vail, and with your stated goals, you will get a TON out of it! When you're "forced" to ski with slower skiers (i.e. wife and kids) it's great to have something concrete to be working on in your own skiing. It will also help you help them!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 7
I will let the ski pros go into the ski specifics, but to add a sports medicne perspective to this, any injury you may have incured, even if it was in the past 20 years, will set up a system of movement compensations, causing one side to work harder than the other. There have also been some studies involving what happens to your transverse abdominals, your stabilizing muscles, after an injury. It has been speculated that the transverse on the side of the injury may will recieve less innervation, which will thus impede balance and overall skill. What is fascinating about all this, is the fact that you may not be feeling any of the results of a former injury. It will simply show up in your skill.

Aside from injury, there is another factor to be considered. What are your habitual movement habits on a day to day basis. Is your PC to one side of the desk? Do you spend a considerable amount of time on the phone? All these factors affect what we call habitual movement. Any "distortion" from "normal' will show be magnified in sport.

In addition to the boot alignment and superb ski instruction atvthe Academy, we will also be doing some postural analysis. This can help you determine which muscles are out of balance and alignment, and what can be done about it.
post #5 of 7
Actually, I've noticed this with many, many skiiers that I teach. They are all convinced they have a "weak" left leg (occasionally it's the other leg). I noticed it more with Americans, although aussies have it a bit too.

My take on it is, that people have a preferred leg, the one they naturally align themselves over. And it tends to be the right leg. So, when you have to make a turn to the right, which means the left leg is making it, the turn is weaker, softer, less reliable because, you are still trying to keep your alignment over the right leg. The full weight transfer isn't being made onto the left leg.

My fix is to identify it first, then do a bit of weight-transfer exercises with particular focus on the left leg. It seems to work, I haven't had any failures so-far. Once people are aware of it, and what causes it, they can apply their own fix when skiing and the turns to the right start to get weak.
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks all. There's obviously a lot more to this than I thought.

I'll start with a lesson (gulp...my first ever) and see if it's a technique problem. If it's not, I'll move on to alignment/body stuff.

Any recommendations for a good high-level instructor at either Sugarbowl or Alpine Meadows who works early season?

post #7 of 7
I used to have the same problem. It's alignment. Nothing else would work. I had lots of "good" instructors try all kinds of exercises but none worked.
Get your boots worked on by someone who has read and understands The Athletic Skier. Then if it doesn't fix itself(I'll bet it does) try the other stuff.
The "other" Bob Barnes wrote an article in TPS last winter about Daleboots alignment system. One of his observations was that, when the alignment was set the way they reccomended, problems seemed to correct themselves without coaching or instruction.
Your left ski is over edged(knee to the outside or over the center of the ski(lots of people will tell you it should be centered)(it shouldn't). When you try to control the ski it over turns and you have to constanly adjust or skid it to stay upright. The stance narrows because the ski turns more than the other(I'll bet if you do a straight run with loose, relaxed ankles your skis knock together or your stance becomes very narrow). With the knee aligned about 1 to 2 degrees inside, your joints and center of mass line up over the edge of the ski making it much easier to balance and control the carve.
Some boot fitters will tell you that the WC skiers don't do it that way(they're right)(that's why they look bowlegged and often follow their tips through the turn). It takes a lot of strenght to ski their way. We mere mortals have to use all the mechanical advantage we can. Try it. I'll bet it works. I've had success with my kids for years that way.

[ November 04, 2002, 05:59 PM: Message edited by: SLATZ ]
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