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Getting the Rug Pulled Out From Under Me

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
When I ski really steep (for me) terrain I always end up in the back seat. When I take off, I make a conscious effort to get forward and release into the fall line to start my turn. The next thing I know, my skis are trying to shoot out from under me, leaving me with my weight on my heels only half way thru my turn. My skis are still pointed partially downhill, so I’m still accelerating while trying to get forward enough to be able to complete my turn. By the time I get some of my balance back and slow down, I’ve covered a lot of ground a lot faster than I intended! Or, I try to jam on the brakes, which isn’t very effective on steep slopes.

On my next turn, I’m scared this will happen again, which reduces my commitment to get forward, so of course it happens a little worse on each consecutive turn.

I can also perform the same cycle in moguls, where I have a hard time getting forward enough to push my tips down into the troughs. When the tips aren’t down, the skis don’t turn, and I go screaming across the hill on my tails.

I’ve tried keeping my hands in sight, keeping my poles moving, thinking “tips down” in the moguls, try to keep my shins in contact with my cuffs, but it happens so fast and then my brain just screams “Stop the Bus!!!”

I need to learn how to prevent this or how to recover from it.

Any suggestions?
post #2 of 22
It helps of thinking that gravity is pulling your body down the hill, not the skis and you should be feeling as if your body is making the turn and pulling the skis with you because they are fastened to your feet.

Otherwise you imagine that gravity is pulling the skis like rockets downhill and you are trying o keep up. What your body does is primary and what the skis do is secondary, though important.

You read here constantly about commiting your body 'to the future', meaning it has to go downhill ahead of your skis, or at least that's how you should feel.

....Ott
post #3 of 22
lurking bear, do you have a sense for how steep the terrain gets before you begin to have the problem? Or does it happen progressively as the terrain gets steeper?

The reason I ask is that you may want to work on some of this on terrain that is very comfortable for you first, and then work your way up to steeper terrain. I suspect that the ultimate issue is the classic response to steeps: move into the hill.

A couple of drills you might try (that I've posted here in other threads, so you may have seen them already):

1) A static release into a turn-and-stop:
</font>
  • Stand across the hill in a well-aligned stance.</font>
  • Release the skis by relaxing the ankles downhill (right tip right to go right, left tip left to go left). Note that part of this release is moving the CoM forward and downhill.</font>
  • If you do this correctly, the tips will seek the fall line.</font>
  • Continue progressive edging and rotation to complete a "C"-shaped turn.</font>
  • Complete the turn uphill to a stop (no braking!)</font>
2) Carved uphill arc:
</font>
  • Use a bullfighter turn to get into a 45 degree across the hill traverse.</font>
  • Begin to slide downhill and progressively edge both uphill edges (focus on the uphill ski first!).</font>
  • Continue the edging as you carve uphill to a stop (no slipping or braking!).</font>
The combination of these two should give you a clear sense that you can stop by completing turns whenever you want. This is a key part of moving into using line selection to control your speed (skiing the slow line as far as you can). You can even take either of these into the next turn by starting it just before you stop. The key is to make sure that you are barely moving before you start the new turn so that you never get going so fast that you get uncomfortable.
post #4 of 22
lurking bear,

I know what ya mean, I'm fighting with this myself ...hard to convince the body to take the plunge.

Disclaimer: Non-instructor speaking!

Along the lines of what Ott is saying, one thing that struck me in your post was the mention of focus on shin contact. Are you maybe driving your upper body back (or pushing the skis out in front of you) by pushing against the tongue of the boot? I saw you posted in the thread "Don't lean on the front?" Have you tried Weems "three exaggerations"/"more than you thinks" ?? I had the opportunity to work with this with Weems a few weeks back and it's a neat focus. Maybe adding Weems "exaggerations" with focus on the hips moving forward concept to what you're already doing would help you keep up with your skis/feet.

Another focus that has really helped me, is to concentrate on actively tipping the new inside ski; combined with closing the ankle to keep it under me more as I have this tendency to push it forward instead of tip it.

Everyone's different, but these seemed to help keep the skis from getting ahead of me so much in the second half of the turn - which sorta sounds like maybe the same thing that's happening to you.

Best of luck,

Chris
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ott, I'm not sure it's a matter of what I think. My experience is that when it gets steep, gravity pulls my feet out from under me. From your post, it seems like if I COULD lead with my body, I WOULD feel my body pulling my feet downhill. I suspect that my reluctance to lead with my body on the steeps is exactly what causes me to feel my feet being pulled out from under me.

Quote:
Originally posted by ssh:
lurking bear, do you have a sense for how steep the terrain gets before you begin to have the problem? Or does it happen progressively as the terrain gets steeper?

1) A static release into a turn-and-stop:

2) Carved uphill arc:
</font>
  • Use a bullfighter turn to get into a 45 degree across the hill traverse.</font>
  • Begin to slide downhill and progressively edge both uphill edges (focus on the uphill ski first!).</font>
  • Continue the edging as you carve uphill to a stop (no slipping or braking!).</font>
ssh, it's on the double-blacks where my problem shows up.
I can do the static release to a turn and stop on blacks, but I have a hard time on double-blacks. Also, I added a reply about the static release to the "feeling better" thread.

What's a bullfighter turn? By 45 degree traverse, you mean half across and half downhill? Focus on the uphill ski first because of the "right ski right" idea?
post #6 of 22
LurkingBear, to get your body into the turn your legs have to be perpendicular to whatever slope you're skiing at turn initiation. If you release your edges while you are standing at an acute angle to the slope, your feet WILL accelerate out from under you regardless of the steepness.
post #7 of 22
Lurking bear,

Like you, I also have a problem with this in steep terrain. My problem is not technique so much, but rather fear. I am afraid of heights and throwing myself down a steep slope is often overwhelming. At the ESA I had a chance to find out just how bad things can get. It was very frustrating for me.

You may not be afraid of heights, but you seem to be afraid to commit to the turn. It is going to take lots of practice in progressively steeper terrain to get there. The advice and exercise given by the bears is excellent, but only practice and confidence will fix this problem.

The best advice I can give you is to remember your intent. Before going in steep terrain or moguls, focus on the shins staying in contact with the tongues. Use key words (forward, shins, whatever) and repeate them constantly, out loud if necessary. In a stressful situation the mind can only concentrate on the strongest input. In my case fear of heights. I have to literally "scream at myself" (I do it quietly to avoid being taken to an asylum ) to focus on the right things.

In moguls I am starting to "see the light". For me I need to focus on 2 things. Shin contact and hands forward. As soon as I loose focus on one of these I am fighting to stay up.

Don't give up. With time, you will get there!
post #8 of 22
You're getting good advice from all these people.

I'd only like to add a couple of things. Your not "going with" the accelerating skis into the fall line is something that you have chosen to do. I suspect one or both of two things:

1. Even though you make an effort to move forward, you may actually move back at the initiation. Often skiers fold forward with hands and shoulders and compensate by moving hips back. This moves the cm back while the ski tips lose their "driver". Instead, when you try to move with the skis, move the whole pelvis forward to connect with the tips and make them bite.

2. Often when one attempts to move forward, one actually moves "up". This has the same effect as moving back. It seems the natural way to move the hips forward is to lift them up as the legs extend. Instead, follow Chris's inside ski advice, but do it this way. As you move forward to the to turn, bend the inside knee and ankle aggressively relative to the other one. This leaves room for the hips to come through and down the hill without going up first.

Ultimately the more aggressively you get in touch with the edges near the shovels of the skis, the more likely you are to control the speed. With pressure on the tips the skis can't not turn and therefore seek the slower line.

Remember also, that nothing is passive. All your movements are of your own choice. Make the choice. Take the risk. Glean the benefits. Remember also that mechanically steeps are much easier than flats, because the power of your speed is more easily available to you there than it is on the greens.

For more control, as DesLauriers says, "butter the end of the turn"--if you need to dumps speed, smear the end. But don't throw on the brakes at the intitiation--like NEVER.
post #9 of 22
Try pulling your feet back at the star of the turn. Try it in a traverse using your ankles as much as possible, than take it into a turn on moderate terrain. Practice. Try to keep your feet pulled back throught the turn. Take it to gradually steeper terrrain.
post #10 of 22
At the risk of contradicting Weems's advice, I'll allow as I want the inside hip to progressively elevate during the turn according to the pitch of the slope. I do it to enable the inside leg to tip over and shorten, given the slope angle it will need to clear to do so. Years ago a coach drummed this advice into me: Inside higher and ahead--I think in the beginning of the turn about elevating the side that needs to be higher at the end of the turn, and let the slope and my anatomy take care of ahead-ness.
post #11 of 22
What Ott said ...

The feeling is that you have a rope attached to each shoulder and someone below you (in the fall line), is pulling you down the hill.

How to get there? Stand at the top of a groomed black and tell yourself that you will try this ... two turns to a stop ... the feeling will be diving off a board sideways into a pool of water (OK, so it's frozen).
post #12 of 22
The other day at Sugarbush while we were waiting for our lesson to start, we were telling the head instructor about my husband's fall last year at Cannon where he blew his knee out b/c he was on his tails. The instructor said when you get on your tails you should pray. We were like, "yeah, sure!" then he showed us what he meant. He clasped his hands together and leaned forward like he was going to kneel. It was kind of corny, but it was catchy enough to remember that we kept saying to remember to pray if you get on your tails! [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img]

In the moguls, over exaggerate your pole plants - it seems to work for people! Of course this doesn't work for me because my body just won't listen to my mind. Of course, if it did I'd probably be on the WC circuit [img]tongue.gif[/img] {one can dream [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] }
post #13 of 22
One of my friends has a red spot or some such on the front of her skis... an instructor told her it was the safety button & she should try to reach it when skiing steep stuff - she says it worked for her - makes her reach forward more....

I dunno - I think that would not work for me - I seem to do better trying to keep the feet feeling 'normal' under me... ie not letting weight get back....
post #14 of 22
Oh & my Canadian instructors words of wisdom....

You really don't want to do a bad first turn - because that will make it harder to do the next turn etc...
So focus on doing ONE GOOD TURN... then keep turning...

That also works well for my friends in tricky situations...
post #15 of 22
The feeling that is necessary here is not reaching forward, it's projecting the mass down the hill. You still maintain shin contact with the boot but "reach" to the side toward the completion of the turn.

Perhaps too much emphasis on "skiing blacks". Spend more time on blue ... well, steeper blue runs ... and concentrate on the comfort zone and all of the "into the future" concepts. Once you get the feeling of this with a very high degree of confidence on easier terrain it will carry over to the more demanding stuff. It sounds like you are not having fun on the black stuff since you are skiing with a defensive posture.

[ February 15, 2004, 06:04 PM: Message edited by: yuki ]
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by lurking bear:
What's a bullfighter turn? By 45 degree traverse, you mean half across and half downhill? Focus on the uphill ski first because of the "right ski right" idea?
A bullfighter turn is a turn from a standstill to keep you from sliding downhill before you're ready. Place your poles into the snow downhill of you and step your ski tips downhill until you are at a 45 degree angle to the fall line (as you say, half across, half downhill).

Yes, focus on the uphill ski because of right tip right to go right. Also because it often generates the correct movements when you do. [img]tongue.gif[/img]

Quote:
Originally posted by lurking bear:
ssh, it's on the double-blacks where my problem shows up. I can do the static release to a turn and stop on blacks, but I have a hard time on double-blacks.
I'll check your post on the other thread, too, but might I suggest that you consider finding parts of the hill that are progressively steeper (from what you consider "black" to "double-black") and see where the challenge occurs.

That said, what happens in the static release when you attempt it on a double-black?

What about the carved uphill arc?
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
I'll allow as I want the inside hip to progressively elevate during the turn according to the pitch of the slope.
I agree with this take. I meant the entire pelvis relative to the slope. There is a tendency to take the whole structure up while the skis go down the hill, thus leaving the center behind at exactly the time when you want to launch the whole mess forward. Having one side (the inside)go higher than the other is a good idea as well as it helps achieve appropriate angulation.
post #18 of 22
Hi lurking bear,
Nothing really new from me.... As Weems, Ott, and nolo have mentioned(about your upper body's role)... "Be" forward, rather than "Get" and remain balanced laterally, steering from the leg sockets while keeping shoulders & hips aligned(for the most part...)
Upper/lower body separation can help with the fore/aft balance as well as lower body relaxation.

[ February 15, 2004, 09:22 PM: Message edited by: HaveSkisWillClimb ]
post #19 of 22
Two of my own preoccupations: gear and fear. Maybe some of these are relevant for you. (Disclaimer: I am an instructor, but am new at it. If what I say makes any sense, bounce it off someone (level III or higher, who really knows what they're talking about!)

Gear Questions
How old are your skis?
What length?

I still marvel at how each time I get a new pair of skis, it's like a whole new world. Money can buy happiness!

Do your boots fit snugly (cuff expecially)?
Do you have "Booster Straps"?

I wonder how much of this inability to "maintain shin contact" is really not the skier's fault as much as the boots? (Will let you know in a few days when my new boots arrive!)

Fear Questions:
When I'm challenged by terrain, I often experience something I call "hysterical blindness". I become so overfocused on technique (trying TOO hard), that I literally lose "sight" of where I want to go (into the turn and ready for the next one). I think this kind of echoes what Ott said about letting your feet be an afterthought (apologies if not a good paraphrase, Ott). Do you have a clear "line" in mind? Do you really want to be on a challenging hill? For me, until I "want" it, I can't really see it or do it (enjoyably).

Do you trust your pole work? I like to think of walking down the hill on my hands (gently) to refocus excessive attention from the ski and foot. Sometimes I think that this is the real "balance" skill in skiing - the ability to balance your mental focus (foci?)...

Something more practical that has helped me dial in a sense of "control" is playing with sideslips and linked pivot slips. I think they're a great exercise (and diagnostic) for a lot of fore/aft balance, CM, and even "visual" stuff. Have you ever done these? Must admit I've never tried on a double black. But if you can't do on a black, you probably should work on them there before skiing the double black.

And do you take lessons?! Sometimes, just being with someone you trust who can demo certain "tricks" for you will work wonders.

Sorry if too many questions. Maybe you're already out ripping the 50 degree pitches and this will all be academic! Hope so.

[img]smile.gif[/img]
post #20 of 22
Thanks for clarifying, Weems.

I find that when people say they are on their tails at the end of the turn, they oftentimes are both back on their skis and on the inside ski. It helps to raise and continue moving the inside hand ahead after the pole touch (I also find squeezing the grip helpful for strengthening the inside half).
post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the wonderful advice. I see bits and pieces of my skiing in all of your suggestions.

The one that just creeps me out, however, is Weems. How you could get an EXACT picture of my skiing from 2 posts is just bizarre. Even the instructors I’ve skied with haven’t noticed what I’m doing!

I thought I was moving my CM downhill into the turn to start my release, but as I try it here in front of my computer, it’s obvious I move UP while moving my head into the turn and simultaneously moving my butt back into the hill. I just hope it doesn’t look as silly as it feels!!!

I guess I have not been very aware of the role my hips should play in my skiing. I am very aware of my ankles, knees, shoulders, and hands, but have never given any thought to my hips. I have never understood the threads that discussed the hips in skiing. I will make a concerted effort to understand this now.

It always scares me when I figure out that something I’m doing is the opposite of what I thought I was doing. I would have sworn I was moving my CM into the turn, when actually, between moving up and pushing my hips back I was moving my CM away from the turn!

I assume when you say to move the hips forward that you mean to move the entire upper body forward, from the hips up, while not folding at the waist – as opposed to an “Elvis the Pelvis” maneuver that would make any nearby females nervous?
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
Thanks for clarifying, Weems.

I find that when people say they are on their tails at the end of the turn, they oftentimes are both back on their skis and on the inside ski. It helps to raise and continue moving the inside hand ahead after the pole touch (I also find squeezing the grip helpful for strengthening the inside half).
Right on.
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