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First day out

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
We will be getting back on skis in the N. Hemisphere soon. How do you get past the first jittery turns to dial back into the form you had the last turns of last season? Instructors, what do you recommend we do the first few runs to start the season out right?
post #2 of 33
I do alot of pre-skiing preparation. In addition to the usual fitness programs I start "using Rollerblades as skis", increase the amount of calf and anterior tib work in my resistance training. I also do a decent amount of work aimed at increasing my foot strength, dexterity and relaxation. Things like using a foot agility board that looks like a wooden half sphere, picking up sand with my toes followed by a full foot stretch, inversion and eversion of the foot with a strap or flexible band slung over my toes, walking barefoot, barefoot balance board squats or balance board squats with ski boots on.

On my first day back on snow I generally try to start easy (green runs) and tune in closely to my skis through the soles of my feet. I do this through drills like skidding five turns followed by carving five turns with as little motion above the feet as possible. Another favorite is traversing switching from sideslip to locked edges again using just the feet. As I get bored with that I go to railroad track turns or slightly more athletic things that still require good foot control like thousand steps or shuffling. I'll go to steeper groomed trails and sideslip then switch direction without exiting the corridor in which I'm slipping using foot steering. Then I'll start playing with drills like skiing a corridor, lane changes, funnels (a narrowing corridor), upside down funnels, hourglasses. By then it's time for lunch and I'm pretty much skiing again anyway.

The point is that I start on snow by getting my feet back in the game first then work my way up the body as each part gets back in the groove. As I start to get the feel I go to structured skiing type drills before I just free ski. I use my time in the gym for about the last two weeks before skiing to get "tuned in" to my feet. I really find that little bit helps reduce the amount of time on snow that it takes for my feet to "get it".

I'm sure everybody on this board does something different.

post #3 of 33
I don't care about getting into last season's form on my first day. First day is all about the excitement of being back on snow, and just having fun. I do the silly stuff like skiing backwards, surface 360's, and small jumps. Whooeee!
post #4 of 33
I practice my falling technique a lot. [img]redface.gif[/img]
post #5 of 33
The first few runs are just joy runs (assuming they don't become survival runs on a sheet of early season ice like last season at the top of Loveland).

Then I just start playing with extremes:

Very flat, very edged turns, mix them up

A lot of rotary, very little rotary, mix it up

Very vertical (toaster) turns, then extend laterally toward the direction of the new turn, mix it up

Way back turns, way forward turns, seek the sweet spot in balance

I practice survival turns-avoiding all the idiots skiing mach 8 with last seasons mind and this seasons legs

After a day of these, I end with elbow turns (Perfected by Fox) followed by Advil turns. Of course a select few have been known to do elbow turns BEFORE riding their first chair of the season to relieve anxiety!!! [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #6 of 33
I will probably do quite a few survival runs on the early season slush at Wintergreen... Really, though, I will practice applying what I've learned on this thread about "skiing the slow line fast" to improve my carving skills on the wide greens or blues. I will probably get fed up with the crowds and move on to the blacks all too soon...
post #7 of 33
I make four slow runs at Loveland and call it a day.

My #1 goal is to not get hit by an eighteen year old fueled on Red Bull and ganga (sp?). Excuse me, I didn't mean fueled I meant stoked. I'm always in a quandry as to whether it's best to hug the treeline or ski down the center of the sole run that's open.

I did experience something last season that made a big impression upon me.

On my first day I made four runs and was pooped. This was after a summer of running forty to fifty miles per week. I honestly could not have made another turn due to quad burn.

I skied with a friend who is sixty something, has been teaching full time since 1962, who hasn't run or biked in years, and he skied from the moment the lifts opened until they closed.

I think I spent my hour standing against my skis and in a very defensive posture all day. I suggest my friend spent the day effortlessly going in the direction his skis were pointed and didn't fight gravity.

[ October 10, 2003, 06:51 AM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #8 of 33
I almost always get my first wipeout of the season out of the way on my first turns. Then it's balace exercises. One foot to the other. A little one footed skiing, with the other still on the ground as a guide. Take it easy, and pick gentle terrain till the balance feels right. It's all downhill from there...
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
Two things I focus on the first day out are alignment and awareness. Are the adjustments I made on my boots last year still working? So I focus on making lo-o-ng transitions to feel what's happening underfoot. Heightened awareness of the feelings in my body--sort of consciously remembering those key kinesthetic cues--is accomplished through a "feels good/feels bad" inventory in a long radius turn. Also have to re-find the center by finding the four corners of the skis and coming back to it.

The first day out I want to pay attention to the rattle and hum. It's the most important day of skiing all year, because I'm reuniting with my skis and reconnecting with movement patterns and feelings that have lain dormant for several months. I want to pay attention to every awkwardness because they show where I need work in the coming season.

[ October 10, 2003, 09:00 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #10 of 33
I've been starting out with pivot slips and working them into carved arcs.
I used to begin with wedges and work them up on the old "straight"skis.
post #11 of 33
I do a little prep the night before. In 1988, Greg Stump put together a little feature-length ski film called "The Blizzard of Aaaaahs". This was the movie that really gave me the bug. I'd been watching Warren Miller shows since I was little, but they were my older sibling's films, not mine. Stump had a flair for film making that was fresh and young, and I DUG IT.

I've watched The Blizz EVERY year before my first day of skiing. Without fail. Sometimes I watch it on other days throughout the year (without exaggerating, I bet I've seen it over 200 times.), but the night before is special. It puts me back in that place when I remember what it was like to just go skiing with my buds, make fun of ski instructors, ski fast all morning (and dodge the patrollers) and pound bumps and build jumps all afternoon. (If I was really lucky, I'd score a trip or two to the hospital and check out my favorite nurse, Rita.)

In 1989-90 it snowed almost every day that winter... and I skied over 100 days. Bear in mind I was still in High School, so it was a stressful year for my parents and teachers. I only missed 12 days of available skiing that year, and the only reason I missed those was because I was told I couldn't wrestle in the state tournament if I missed any more school during wrestling season. I toughed it out for 8 or nine days, but it snowed like two feet one day... BAM! My wrestling career was over. So I just finished the season out skiing every day and doing school work at night and early in the morning. (my girlfriend and best friend kept me in the know as far as homework.) You heard it here first folks. "The Blizzard of Aaaaaahs" nearly cost me my senior year of high school. I was that hooked.

So on day one, with the sounds of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Andrew Poppy in my head, I hit the slopes and just try to remember the days when skiing was just something I really, really liked to do. I forget that it's now my profession and go make some turns. If I have trouble, I start skiddy and work towards carving... and then my radio goes off and I'm reminded of the profession thing again. My first day is ALL about fun and goofing off as much as I can. I can always pound my skiing into shape on day 2 or 3. God I love skiing!!!

Sorry so long-winded. I'm already getting a little excited to go. I just ordered my new skis and boots, so the little switch in my head has already been flipped. Won't be long now!

Spag :
post #12 of 33
I try to have no expectations about what I'm going to do or how. Kind of like Nolo's thought about awareness. I just try to sense--to touch the snow, glide a little, and then do what seems to be evoked.

I'm always amused by the sudden visceral discovery, usually part way through the first run, that "Hey! I can still do this! This is really a cool thing for my body/mind/spirit to be doing." I'm amused because it feels like such a surprise--yet I hadn't thought before that I couldn't do it.

It's funny, until I read this thread, I'd forgotten that the first day is near.
post #13 of 33
>>>>I'm always amused by the sudden visceral discovery, usually part way through the first run, that "Hey! I can still do this! This is really a cool thing for my body/mind/spirit to be doing." I'm amused because it feels like such a surprise--yet I hadn't thought before that I couldn't do it.<<<<

My sentiments exactly, Weems. We just go out and ski and I mutter to myself: a year older and it still works the same.

I have one no-no, no equipmet changes in the off-season, we start out on familiar equipment on familiar terrain.

Soon.... ....Ott
post #14 of 33
Weems, Ott and Nolo..........me, too! As I read down thru this
thread, I kept thinking that same thing. For years, first time
on 'em, I always wondered if they'd really turn again. They
always do. Sort of like riding a bike -- once you can,
seems like you always can!
post #15 of 33
Nolo Asks:

How do you get past the first jittery turns to dial back into the form you had the last turns of last season?
Fall early and often. Laugh at myself. Keep on turning, smile fast and lots. Be a slow loser and a fast learner. Feel the stoke. Ski some more. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #16 of 33
Originally posted by Springhill Crazie:
Nolo Asks:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />How do you get past the first jittery turns to dial back into the form you had the last turns of last season?
Fall early and often. Laugh at myself. </font>[/quote]I don't know if Springhill meant the same thing, but I fall, deliberately. Do some Polish donuts, whale spins, and snow angels. Laugh. Get up, shake the snow off, and start skiing. I pre-empt the inevitable... you'd be surprised how much more relaxed you are.
post #17 of 33
Thread Starter 
I want to tag along, Warren, and learn the Polish doughnut (anything like a Worm Turn?) While you're at it, what's a whale spin?

I've heard of some procrastinators who do nothing on the first day but nonstop runs of short radius turns to punish themselves into shape.
post #18 of 33
Nolo, I too was trying to figure out what "Polish doughnuts" could possibly be. Then, it came to me: They might be distantly related to Reverse Polish Notation and look something like this...

Normal turns:


Polish turns:


Tom / PM
post #19 of 33
Polish donut: high angle carve that ends up sliding out onto your hip/side. Do a 360 like Three Stooges' Curly Joe (woob woob woob). When the skis are downhill, stand back up and repeat on other side.

Whale spin (might be the same as worm turn): face first slide downhill, roll while keeping your skis off the snow.
post #20 of 33
Just go out and bomb it.

post #21 of 33
Take it easy, or hard, it doesn't really matter, you're gonna be annoyed with your technique &/or fitness anyway. Just have fun, pull in at the pub at the end of the day and know that tomorrow will be even better. At least you're on the mountain again!
post #22 of 33
Seriously though...stretch those calves first! And when you take off on your first run (and I do this most runs throughout the season), point your skis straight down then move massively fore and aft a few times testing out your balance then plant your self in center and roll your knees to rip out a good single carve then take it from there.

Nailing one single good turn at the begining will remind you of the sidecut and flex pattern of your ski. Gives you a reminder of what is between your foot and the snow. Bring your legs under you and take an aggressive stance, get low. Attack.

[ October 13, 2003, 08:14 AM: Message edited by: Bec ]
post #23 of 33
My first day out... Well i start my getting whichever pair of skis i plan on using tuned up and waxed to the highest degree of perfection. At the top of the hill i make a few turns with my boots unclipped to get the feel for the skis and snow again, then i stop before the pitch starts and buckle up. The first run i usually take pretty easy - normal medium radius carves... the second run i open it up a little more, higher speed, shorter or longer turns depending on what skis i am on. By the 3rd run i usually have gained my previous seasons ability and skills back, as well as comfort on the snow.

Typically i like to start on a slalom ski, and then once the snow is beat up and essentially ungroomed i move back to the good ol' Xscreams. After i get my carving back up to par after 5 or so runs, ill take it to cut up snow, crud, and/or bumps if there happens to be anything of the sort on the hill at the time... just to make sure i still can handle myself in variable snow surfaces, and apply technique other than just race carving. By the end of the day im usually pretty tired, but im typically not sore at all after the first day - unless i happen to take a bad fall.

Thats about it... I can't wait for the first day. My SLX's are sitting here waiting to get those first turns in... I just have to decide which pair is going to get the honors of first turns this year...


post #24 of 33
Balance and central cortex stuff for me. The skis feel like alien things, for an hour or so you get to experience what your intermediate skiiers go through for much of their ski time.
So I just go through my various balance drills: 1000 steps, bouncing, jumping, ankle jerks.
Interspersed with that will be the odd normal turn, where "perfect form" is the focus, thinking about every little thing.

Then I might do a few things I always find particularly helpful, like javelin turns, and maybe a few exaggerated ones where you come to a complete stop almost falling down the hill.

By the end of all this, the body has woken up and remembered what it needs to know, and one can do a spot of cruising around. I remember I used to go and so some wrong-edge and whitepass turns and such like, but find I'm too lazy these days.
post #25 of 33
I keep a journal of useful information gleaned from coaches and clinicians. The journal goes back about eight years now. It includes verbal, visual and sensory cues for different turns and different conditions as well as drills I have found useful. I write about what I do well and what I do badly. I have even written detailed descriptions of memorable runs when I felt that things were really working right. From this I create a short list of focuses which I carry with me to direct my free skiing. I will review and update this journal frequently during the season. It's most useful at the beginning of a season to bring me up to date on what I was working on at the end of last year. I will read it especially carefully the night before I begin the season and I will visualize my best turns. I may even go to sleep dreaming of skiing my favorite trails! This mental preperation helps me to get back into the groove pretty quickly. I thinks it's important to spend day one well within your comfort zone and working on the basics. I also think that stretching is particularly important at the beginning of the season. It is most important to stretch at the end of the day. I use a variety of stretches drawn from yoga. I will stretch before I leave the ski slope and again for about twenty minutes that evening. Hopefully day one is comming very soon--therewas snow in the Worcester hills last night. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #26 of 33
The first thing I do, actually, is to remember what a good turn is like, to visualize and recall the sensations in my mind, to see if I can recreate good skiing mentally. I try to get on skis that work well at relatively slow speeds like a short pair of slalom skis. I work on getting my feet back under me, finding an effective stance, skiing athletically and making the smoothest, roundest turns I can. I want to get back the feeling of crispness when my skis bite and slice. That and try to keep my ears and eyes alert for out of control bozos who seem to abound the first few days.
post #27 of 33
Ahhh, that first real day out. It's such a great feeling. :

I guess I just tend to be very lazy and play around on the skis. I try to see where the edges are and if all the pieces (skis, boots, knees, hips, torso, etc) can still sort of work together.

One interesting result of this ski-every-month thing that I've been doing is that I don't experience anywhere near that moment that Weems described where you discover that you can still turn. Since I've made turns (not huge numbers of them, mind you, but turns nonetheless) through the summer and fall, that muscle memory thing seems to stay pretty fresh.

post #28 of 33
Thread Starter 
Just out of curiosity, Bob, would you be interested in skiing on pavement in the off-season--on Harb's invention or something like it--or is the presence of snow key to the experience for you?

[ October 21, 2003, 09:37 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #29 of 33
Originally posted by nolo:
We will be getting back on skis in the N. Hemisphere soon. How do you get past the first jittery turns to dial back into the form you had the last turns of last season? Instructors, what do you recommend we do the first few runs to start the season out right?
I just ski. No jittery turns. No dialing in the form. Just skiing. Of course I probably don't have much form to begin with so I don't have very far to go on that first day of the season. Also, summer skiing helps since it isn't that long ago that I last skied (usually 2 to 2 and 1/2 months).

post #30 of 33
I just point um down the hill and go. After waiting all summer to get back out I don't want to waste time thinking about things I have all season to work on. I just want to SKI!!!!!!!
Belleayre is looking to open on November 8. See ya there.
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