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Skier, Ski, & Mountain

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
In the "is skiing boring.." thread, Nolo said:
"My objective is to elicit a connection with the ground and my goal is to "ski as if barefoot." That's an analogy for how I want to feel the ground underfoot--as if there are no intervening layers between the soles of my feet and ground. I used to say get the ski to turn you; now I say get the ground to turn you."

I believe that this is a benchmark of sucess, for anyone who is learning this sport.

If I can put experts ski instructors into the mind of begining skiers, prehaps there can be some understanding about the road blocks to this process.

I recall, in my early days of learning to ski, that my relationship with my equipment was similar to someone who worked with moving vans. The skis and the boots were cumbersome objects that needed to be moved around the mountain. The force I exerted was similar to a professional mover moving a piano! My relationship with the mountain was adversarial. Deep innside, I probably believed that the mountain was "out to get me," and that the "game" of skiing involved not letting the mountain wipe you out.

The first step to change and improvment involved properly fitting boots. I felt as if the boot had created a synapse between my feet and the skis. The next step was excepting the mountains variable terraiin and conditions. Rather than fight them, I learned to respond and adjust to them.

This year, I have not skied on any terrain that has been completely groomed. Last night, I dreamed I was skiing on corduroy. It felt so predictable, that I thought a computer was programming my skis!

What techniques do you use to integrate ski, skier and mountain?
post #2 of 9

Have you ever felt like an external force is controlling the tips of your skis. When you reach that feeling you will be very close to what nolo is describing. You have to let the terrain dictate your line. You have to relax and remain in balance. You have to be fluid. You have to trust your skis and the fact that they will turn when put on edge. It is very hard to achieve and I bet that most skiers never ever get there.

I am starting to achieve that occasionally. For me it is always a combination of being relaxed, being mentally connected to what I am doing (I am talking about sensations, not just awareness of the action) and trusting my skis and my ability.

Sadly, perfectly groomed conditions make it hard to achieve such connection to the mountain. Especially for park-and-ride enthusiasts and stiff, rigid and tentative skiers. The best way to feel the mountain is to ski in crud, snow piles, powder, moderate bumps. Do it slowly and feel those skis snake around and over terrain features and you will start to make that connection.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have even found that the latest icy conditions have been helpful in making that connection.
post #4 of 9
I have been really seeking that connection lately. Its a connection through finesses. I am now able to ski very good carved turns using alpine technique on telemark equipment with my boots completely unbuckled. I can't get on the lift this way as my feet just fall out of the boots. That is about as close to barefoot as it gets. The feeling is of equal weight on the whole foot throughout every part of the turn. No feeling of lightness at turn transition and no feeling of heel lift. :
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
"Connection through finesses." I love it! [img]smile.gif[/img]

I think that one sign that someone is not feeling this connection, is if they are not completing their turns. {ask me how I know? }
The turns become arbitrary. If they were colors on a palette, they would clash with the mountain. If they were musical notes, they would lack harmony.

I had the oddest experience a few weeks ago. At Sunday River, an instructor, of all people, stopped short, in the middle of a trail, right in front of me. {BTW, he was embarrassed and apologetic!}
But instead of having to radically change my direction, it really felt as if his stopping had somehow altered, the terrain, and the snow itself, just sort of lead me around him.

Of course, I realize thats not what really happened. I have never been one to "bump" people when I ski. But when I need to quickly change direction to avoid hitting them, the movement is usually pretty abrupt.

This time, the snow itself seemed to pave its own way.
post #6 of 9
"One have become one with the snow"

Isn't that a awesome feeling !

That's why we do this.

I get dewey eye'ed just thinking about that feeling.

[ January 14, 2004, 04:16 AM: Message edited by: Max Capacity ]
post #7 of 9
I wasn't sure whether to put this in this thread or the "100% weight on outside foot" one, but in the end I thought it was more in line with this topic.

A group of 5 in my intermediate ski class last Sunday were working on getting more weight transferred to the outside ski -- each of us with a slightly different flavour (some didn't transfer early enough, some would start tipping their upper body back after the transfer, some would begin to transfer, but then pull back, etc.).

As a drill, our instructor had us all unbuckle our boots, and ski with a very wide stance, and ski down a moderately steep blue run (which happened also to be a bit icy and somewhat chunked up, not to mention full of people) holding our poles in the middle of the shaft. In other words, relying pretty well on weight transfer and foot motion.

If you'd asked me if I could even do it, I'd say no. But we all did. It made me even more aware of my (current) biggest problem, which is that I don't turn from my feet (or even rotate from my hip-thigh ball socket) on terrain which requires my attention, but I twist using my glutes and hips. I'm trying to get my upper body pointed more down the hill (more perpendicular, or ahead, of the slope), and my butt a bit higher, which lets my ski tips move with more mobility. But as soon as the grade gets a tiny bit steep -- bloop... I lean back into the hill, and I have to crank with my butt.

Unbuckling the boots pretty well made this strategy impossible, so it really made me very aware of my feet. It was really interesting.
post #8 of 9
I love corduroy. It is the purest conditions making for the purest turns. I think avoiding it is a big mistake. If find learning to feel your equipment make a good carved turn on corduroy helps prepare me for other conditions. Even though I spend most of my time skiing steep terrain at Bridger Bowl that never get groomed I find the time I spent on corduroy tuning my turns and feel for the ski really helps.
post #9 of 9
Originally posted by delta888:

As a drill, our instructor had us all unbuckle our boots, and ski with a very wide stance, and ski down a moderately steep blue run (which happened also to be a bit icy and somewhat chunked up, not to mention full of people) holding our poles in the middle of the shaft. In other words, relying pretty well on weight transfer and foot motion.

An incredibly naive and dangerous exercise. That instructor needs immediate safety awareness training.
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