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Just a question from a novice

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well, since everyone is here and pretty intense, can I sneak in a question?

So, I’ve been on skis for a total of about 15 days in this year (my first). I see a lot of emphasis on what you do to carve a turn, but I’m really interested in what the FEEL of initiating a turn is, to an expert skier. You all know what the feel of good skiing is, and many of you teach others. But it’s hard when teaching to get at this “feel”, so maybe you could give it a try here.

To start this off, I’ll describe what my “feel” is, and then try out a couple of other descriptions that might guide me next year in trying to improve. See which one, or which parts, match what you think is your reality.
Take a moderate blue run (to me = cliff; to you = lift line). You’ve just finished a right turn, and you’re crossing the fall line and traversing (I know, you never do this, but I need to slow down a little).

The feel of my turns, at least before my last 3 days, which helped a lot: "OMG TREES! Gotta turn or die. Unweight, throw the skis around, push on the tails, skid around the turn, pressure the new stance ski on its edge, carve for about 6 inches. Slow down, relax, breath, thank the powers that be that I’m still alive, traverse. OMG TREES! Repeat."

Things I might try next year, all starting well before the “OMG TRESS point”:

(1) Tilt the right knee in and edge the right ski. Shift the pressure gently and gradually, like kneading dough with the feet, or like a cat kneading a pillow. Let the skis turn and go along for the ride. Don’t steer at all. This feeling starts in the lower legs and feet.

(2) Tilt the left ski to the little toe and point the left knee down the hill. Let the body start to fall, which edges the right ski. Pressure the right ski by extending the right leg. Let the skis turn and go along for the ride. I gather I’ll be sorry I said that because I know who’s “move” that is these days. This feel uses the left ankle and knee to “fool” the body into falling down the hill and edging the right ski.

(3) Drive the right knee forward and down the hill, kind of into the back of the left knee, pressure the front half of the right ski, ride the turn around. This feel starts in the right knee, mostly, and has the additional feel of pressuring the front end of the right ski, and driving the right knee into the turn.

(4) Pretend you’re a running back making a cut. Push down hard on the edge of the right ski while lifting up on the heel of the left ski. Almost step into the turn, but don’t actually do it. Turn like you would when running, but without lifting the feet. I say this one because I’ve seen a lot of pictures where the left ski (in my example) diverges down the hill from the right ski at the start of the turn.

(5) Let the whole body start to fall down the hill while extending the right leg to pressure the right ski. Pressure it enough so the skis come around fast enough to prevent you from actually falling. This feel starts in the upper body, or at least in the hip area (as they say in televised baseball games when somebody scratches his crotch on camera).

(6) Unweight everything, let both skis cross under the body and then extend the right leg to pressure that ski, and try to keep the upper body from leaning while from the hips down it is leaning. Ride the turn around. This feel starts with a pseudo-jump and lateral movement of the skis relative to the upper body.

I think seeing how different people here describe this process might be illuminating in light of the current discussion about methods. I wonder to what extent Bob Barnes, Wacko, and Gravity might even converge in their descriptions more than we think.

Anything in here that describes what you feel when skiing? Thanks.
PS. The feel of the end result I think I have experienced. Judging from my tracks and instructor’s comments, I was able to carve a few nice turns on nice, gentle slopes. When skidding, I felt like I was pushing the skis down onto the ground. When carving, the feeling was that I was pushing with my legs because the ground was actively pushing back up at me, somewhat more on the tails of my skis, causing acceleration and smooth gliding. I felt like, if I relaxed my legs I might actually get pushed off the snow entirely. I really felt like my skis were deriving active energy and acceleration from the ground as opposed to the ground just being there to be skied through.
post #2 of 20
Determining how you are pressuring your skis by sensing the pressure on your feet ("feel") is one of the most important skiing skills you should develop. Your feet will then serve as a free, built-in ski coach, instantly sending you messages "how am I doing?" It will help you develop a centered stance and adjust inside-outside ski pressure to accomodate different snow conditions.

These "feelings" are hard to describe, but you are correct that a pure carved turn feels different that a skid. Which will help you learn both. Developing "smart feet" is not a substitute for instruction, but a complement to it.
post #3 of 20
For me, I like to focus on the end of the turn. If the skis are bent and moving forward, and you are dynamically balanced ( ie; the skis are going to be slowing down as they come across the fall line, so your balance must anticipate this...), the turn initiation will practically happen by itself. Let your inertia flow into the apex of the next turn. On a groomed blue slope, this would be a simple relaxation of your left leg. On something a little more intense, it would involve a more active tipping with the left leg. So: actively end the turn, passively start the next turn. It will happen unless you fight it.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by milesb (edited May 15, 2001).]</FONT>
post #4 of 20
Scientist Bill you could be on the right track. The only time you can actually see how you are skiing [i.e. your form] is if the sun is at your back. Oh, I guess you could pay some crazies to carry a very large mirror next to you while you are skiing, but.... I don't think so.

So sense of feel is what you are after. This is what I, and others have called "Zen" skiing and I think is one of the keys to consistent repeatable turns.

Since this is a sport that starts from the feet up, you need to tune into the soles of your feet, the edges of your feet, how your feet, ankles, interface with your boot, how your body position feels when you are in balance, all this you can do without having to be in motion and have someone help you.

So when you make a good turn, tune into those sensations, go over them in your mind and try to repeat them. Think about your feet, ankles, legs, what's happening with the upper body. However, I warn if you try to think of everything at the same time while actually sking, you will only create confusion in your mind. Take it a step at a time until it becomes part of you, and only then move on.

Next season, take a private from an instructor you respct and admire, but make sure he is willing and capable of communicating how things should feel as he makes those great turns.

In reading the rest of the post, much had to do with your ideas of specific techniques that you would consider practicing. As a scientist, you probably already understand that skiing is taking an idea or an image from your own mind and translating it into an appropriate physical action on the slope.

But trust me, for most of us, we do best learning one thing at a time, and then building from there, only moving on to the next thing when ready.

Having said all of the above, I'll now try to answer your first question, "what does it feel like to initiate a turn."

Ok, I am going to change that to "what is it going to feel like to you [Bill] to initiate a turn ?"

My answer is: that I don't know. Why? Its obvious, I'm not you.

So the next question is, "what do I need to do so I can feel for my self what it feels like to initiate a turn?"

I can offer this as example that you can do in your home, and perhaps others can offer something more.

With your ski boots on, or at least a well laced pair of athletic shoes.

1. Stand evenly and balanced on both feet, knees slightly flexed [ knees over the toe of the shoe or boot but no further,] with your legs somewhat close together, but not touching.

2.Now roll both feet at the same time, in the same direction on edge [ one foot will be on the big toe edge, the other the little toe edge.] Your feet should be tilting one direction, with your hips and kness moving in the opposite direction. This isn't very comfortable to hold for very long, but is doable.

3. Now try it from a standing balanced postion, in the other direction.
Note: if balance is a problem, stretch your arms out to the side.

4.Now it is time to go from side to side.
As you do so, you will see your knees moving from side to side and you will feel the exertion and release of tension in the opposite hip and side area of your torso, as you alternately move back and forth.
Concentrate on what the inside and outside edges of your feet are experiencing. Tune into what is happening with your torso, the stomach muscles, hips, and butt. Done in this manner , this will give you some idea of how to intiate a turn, stay with it, and move into a new turn, while at the same time completing the old turn. The turn length will be determined by how long your feet are held to one side.

Of course there is no way this can be a complete substitute for an actual on hill experience, but its a good start on "how it feels."

Good luck, trying this. Post back if you have any questions.....and may the force of "Zen" be with you....always.
post #5 of 20
Well, I'm anything but an expert, but this season I learned to at least feel the difference between a carve and a skid.
The only way I can describe it, is that a carve feels as if I'm getting a foot massage by the snow. Starting with the uphill edges of my feet, then feeling them flat on the snow, then on to the downhill edges. The trick for me has been to make sure this does not happen abruptly, to allow myself to ENJOY each part of the sequence.
A skid, and again I'm just speaking subjectively, simply feels as if I'm twisting my ankles, and using alot of muscle design as opposed to ski design.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #6 of 20
Sci bill,

For me, Carves at high speeds it feels like you are being compressed into the turns and almost like you are on a rollercoaster (rails) no side movement, just turning with compression.

the feel for the feet. Lets do a left turn first. stand on a fairly flat area preferably hard pack or almost ice, and stomp your right foot a few times. almost until you feel it tingle/sting on the bottom. In order to be able to stomp straight down to get the tingle you will have to balance. Forward/aft balance so your toe or heel doesnt hit first. If you get the tingle/sting that means you hit flat and are in the correct balance. Now stomp one last time and try to "capture that pressure" under your foot. Next start down a gentle slope and stomp, and initiate a left turn using what ever cues you are comfortable tip and turn, phantom edge, phantom foot... but try to maintain the feel of "captured pressure" from that stomp. Repeat on the left foot for a right turn concentrating on that "feel"

This was an exercise Lyle did with my family. For those of them that were "feel" type people, this made a big difference because once they knew what it should "feel" like they just did what it took to duplicate the feel and their body mechanics took over and put everything where it needed to be.
post #7 of 20
Lisamarie, a skidded turn can be as smooth and effortless as a carved turn. The trick is to keep your wight off the tails, relax the feet in the boots, only steer slightly, and let the skis drift slowly around. Remember how the falling leaf felt?
post #8 of 20
Interestingly enough, Harb allows for this kind of turn in his latest book. Uh, without the steering part.
post #9 of 20
I caught that too. except that skidding is not allowed either. that's "brushed carving"
and no steering
post #10 of 20

First off, if you're skiing terrain that's really scaring you back off a little and get the turns down on easier stuff. Otherwise you're practicing bad habits.

Start really simply here. Just get a feel for the ski on edge in the snow. On a very flat area (but with enough pitch to keep moving) go straight in a pretty wide stance. Now just roll one foot to the big toe side putting the ski on edge. Balance (put weight) on that foot,(you don't have to push) and just wait. Be patient! don't try to do anything, just see what happens. Use the other foot just to keep you upright and make sure it's flat on the snow.

The edged ski will carve a track. The radius will pretty much be the sidecut of the ski. Since this varies with models how quickly it turns depends on the ski.

Play with this, do it everytime your in a flat area going to the lift. Experiment!
I tell everyone to do this. I'm always amazed that people who've been skiing for years yet will say "I've never felt my edges before!"

Once you've done it on the flats, try it on a traverse across a slope with some pitch on it. Just roll the downhill ski onto the big toe edge, balance on that ski and let yourself go across the hill ( go slightly downhill so you move). The uphill ski is just to support you, it should be pretty flat. Be patient and wait for the turn.

post #11 of 20
Gorilla turns... only problem is wide stance?

just kidding. Great exercise and learning experience. feels real strange the first few times...
post #12 of 20
So when I'm playing like a Rally racer - breaking my tires loose on dirt roads for fun. I'm not actually "skidding" . . . I'm excuting "brushed carving"!! Cool!
post #13 of 20
Hey, Wink, it's "hasta" time already, eh? Anyway, you wrote, "2.Now roll both feet at the same time, in the same direction on edge [ one foot will be on the big toe edge, the other the little toe edge.] Your feet should be tilting one direction, with your hips and kness moving in the opposite direction. This isn't very comfortable to hold for very long, but is doable."

Why do your hips move in the opposite direction? If you tilt both feet onto corresponding edges (both left edges), your whole body from the ankles up should move in that direction. If it doesn't, you're rotating your torso to face the way you're tilting and bending at the waist.

I like thinking about tilting both feet without the rigid ski boots on so you can feel the small muscles around the top of the ankle moving. With the boots, we sometimes move the knees instead of using the feet. Try thinking about raising the right edges of both feet instead of pressing the left edges down.

If you do this stuff in a doorway, you can let your shoulders "catch" your torso and your hips reach actual skiing positioning well inside where your feet are. You also can avoid turning your torso because then your nose would do the catching.
post #14 of 20
just noticed this. No time but I'm posting so it goes to the top and doesn't get buried under the rubble. now.. 3am... sleep...sleep...
post #15 of 20
Miles, I know what you mean. But my skidded turns are never relaxed and effortless.
post #16 of 20
Yupper, the SKARVED turn is wonderful

Hey, despite my PMTS tendancies, I can still do pivot slips down the hill, no deflection, no turning.

Scarves are great for speed control. You can ski slow and easy down anything...

¯¯¯/__ SnoKarver snokarver@excite.com
post #17 of 20
Aw common on Kneale, if ths is trap, I am going to steal the bait... if you go for maximum tilt, then it's about balance... action... opposite reaction.. of course it translates differently on the slope... this is just some dryland stuff. Sci-Bill wanted to know how it felt... I don't want him hitting the floor in the prosess... Ok ...so its a possilbe preview to maybe understanding some hip angulation which I beleive has a lot to do with balance.

I see a lot of those serious "carvers" with extreme hip angulation.
post #18 of 20
Well, if you "practice" feeling the left edges of your feet and your hips have to move to the right to maintain balance, you're practicing an erroneous movement. That's why I suggested using the doorway to let your hips move left as you edge left.

Another way to feel turning the feet on corresponding edges without worrying about maintaining balance is to sit in a chair and roll your feet onto their edges. This approach has the added benefit of allowing you to reach down and feel the activities going on under the skin of your lower legs as you roll from one set of edges to the other. Of course, if you have an impeding abdominal feature like myself, you can only reach one leg at a time. <FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Kneale Brownson (edited May 17, 2001).]</FONT>
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks, everyone. I'll keep all these in mind. Some of the answers got at something I've always wondered about: why so many lessons seem to concentrate on getting students onto steeper and steeper slopes ("Ski a blue in three days or your money back" etc), when doing that and nothing else seems to be practicing alot of bad habits. My intuition has always said to do some combination of just having fun, looking at the scenery, trying new runs, with going back to gentle slopes and actually practicing.

But the best result of all of this thread would be if the new edition of Bob Barnes' book lists: "impeding abdominal feature".
post #20 of 20
Good point, SciBill. I have always held higher standards for myself, and I've been a bit conservative about "allowing"{and I use this word with self mockery} myself to "graduate" to higher levels as rapidly as most people.
Although I am sometimes admittedly jealous of people who have been skiing for less time, but can "do" more challenging trails, the "Green Monster" goes away when I watch them ski. Sadly, this accounts for some of the danger on the trails today. When skiing one of the more challenging blue trails, its a bit frightening to know that the person skiing behind you has only skied 3 times, and has a somewhat augmented view of their ability to stop or turn.
But ski schools have to make their money, and they must contend with the spouse or significant other syndrome, aka "One Skis, the Other One Dosen't".
So someone buys their S.O., a non skier, some ski lessons, and within a month, they want them to be close to their skiing level, even if they've skied all their life. Combine that with what Johnh. was saying about our need for instant gratfication, and well, you get the picture.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence

<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Lisamarie (edited May 18, 2001).]</FONT>
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