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Lesson problems

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
This was the original message from a thread Lisamarie started:

Unfortunately, my lesson today did not leave me so enthused. Actually, it left me rather discouraged about further skiing instruction.
The instructor pointed out my narrow stance and worked on dynamic wedging to widen it, which was fine with me. Of course, it will take me years to overcome that habit fully. She also focused a lot on flexing the ankles and looking into the turn. I understand that she was trying to instill a more centered stance, but the result was a more pronounced lean into the hill which my previous lesson (and subsequent practice) had almost eliminated.
In all fairness to the instructor, it was just a hour session, so I'm sure the pressure was on her to "produce" results in the quickest manner possible. However, I'm kinda dense and need things explained from several different angles until I find the one that works for me. Anyone know what the instructor was talking about and another way to explain it?
post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 
Now, with that said, I fully admit I was partly to blame for the way the lesson turned out. I know a 1 hr lesson is a little under the gun for any instructor teaching intermediate or better skiers. I also made her diagnose my skiing instead of specifically asking for help in one area. I did mention that leaning into the hill had been dealt with in a previous lesson. However, I could have been more specific in what I wanted out of the lesson. I feel I'm about the worst person to critique my own skiing, so I avoid it as much as possible.
Lito's videos and books were a great help in pushing me to advance past the intermediate rut, but sometimes it seems like doing brain surgery using Cliff Notes. I long ago realized that I need the trained eye of a professional to show me how to improve.
I'm going to try to incorporate what she said into my skiing, but I was wondering if anyone else had a different approach to the same issue that might lead to a more natural solution for me.

185cm Volant Epic
190cm Volant Chubbs

"Man, I wish I could ski as well as my equipment does."
post #3 of 20
Mike, read the latest part of my post. Sometimes, things don't quite sink in until the next time you ski.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #4 of 20
Hi Alaska Mike,
I promised I would respond.

1. You mentioned that the instructor pointed out your wide stance but did she give you a reason?
2. Focus on flexing ankles and looking into the turn to instill ia centered stance with a result of more lean into the hill. Do you mean more lean up the hill or out over the hill.

1. If you ski with your feet too close together, you limit your ability to create greater edge angles and turning ability. the leg that is down the hill needs to be out of the way for the new turning leg to move towards the center of the turn. The wider stance (one of my long time habits too) was finally broken when we did not gliding wedges but "cowboy turns" pretend you just got off a horse and are standing bow-legged and make railroad tracks After several runs on easy hills start to relax the pressure out to create this stance and ski more comfortably at about shoulder width. Next try instead of using weight transfer to the outside turning ski, only concentrate on your downhill leg, the one you are finishing up your turn on and try putting your little toe on the snow. but instead of trying to flex your foot to do this, use your knee or thigh to push the leg to the angle it takes to put that toe on the slope. This will feel real awkward. It will also "open the door" for your other leg (uphill leg) to allow it room to now create an edge angle. This will also eliminate the standing up and body lean up the hill and move your whole center of mass down the hill, (downhill sport-move body down hill) and create instant edge angle on your skis.
2. The flexing of ankles allows you to move dynamicly with the terrain and if you consider not flexing your ankles just forward and backwards but more 10:00 forard and left,2:00 forward and right range you will find you can get even more edge angle. Looking into the turn can mean many things. If you were looking down towards the snow, your back side will stick out more and hence more lean into the hill. A little more up and out down the hill or better yet where you are going, will straighten up your body a little and less butt stick out and less lean up the hill. Wider stance and move that leading knee out of the way and you are on your way to real carved turns. By trying to flex forward (12:00) your boots will stop you and either put you up or into the hill or in the back seat. It's hard to explain without pictures or showing you in person.

You need to remember that skiing is motion not positions. the terrain changes and the position you had to deal with that moment in time is no longer the correct position. Flexing the ankles allows you to keep moving with the terrain. skiing with rigid ankles locks you into a position that will not be the right position for the next instant.

How much pressure on the outside ski will happen automaticly if you get centered on your skis and get the edge working for you. Your body will do what it needs to keep from getting thrown over the outside ski.

Hope that's not more confusing than helpful.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the excellent replies. Please keep them coming.
By leaning into the hill, I mean leaning uphill. When I was doing the "look where you're going" exercise, I found my body following my head up the hill. I'm used to looking slightly down the hill, even when completing carves. This may be resulting in unintentional body rotation that she was trying to cure. I'll play around with that one.
I thought that my stance was relatively wide (5"-6" between the insides of the skis), but apparently it's not wide enough. I find the lower and faster I get, the wider the stance gets.
Flexing my ankles is the thing that intrigued me the most. I'm going to have to pay attention in my turns to see if perhaps I'm overextending my outside leg in turns so that they have no give.
post #6 of 20

Here's an exercise you can do, to get some angulation back, so that you don't lean into the hill.

Try forcefully dragging the *outside* pole during the turn. The tip of the pole should be in the ground beside the boot. It also works to drag both poles. But you need to make sure you are actually making a line in the snow with the pole(s). I've had lots of people tell me they *were* dragging their outside pole, but when I watched them, the pole tip was a good 3" off the snow.
post #7 of 20

>>Try forcefully dragging the *outside* pole during the turn. The tip of the pole should be in the ground beside the boot<<

John, this is one of my favorite exercises. IMHO, I think the outside pole basket should be out away from the boot and on the ground, than just beside it. This will promote better angle development. Also, I promote dragging both poles so it's a no brainier. Some get confused on which poll they should drag. ------Wigs
post #8 of 20

I agree completely. I was thinking fore/aft, rather than how far away from the body. I've never had a problem with people actually dragging it right next to the boot. However, people usually start out dragging it way back behind the boot, pulling their weight back.

The best feedback I ever got from someone doing this exercise was from my wife. I showed it to her one day, right before I had to go teach. When I saw her later that day, she was all excited about how it felt weird to do it, but the skis all of the sudden started doing what she wanted them to do.
post #9 of 20
I learned the pole drag exercise 4 years back when My cousin and I were skiing an Earlybird(8:00am) clinic with a cute compact blonde instructor (Heather I think was her name) We kept asking her how she goes so fast. (light weight, small and short skis) My cousin who had just finished a 4 week race camp in Austria was having a hard time keeping up with her and I was way behind the 2 of them. Her response, Carve them or park them. and then proceeded to show us that exercise. I have to say it felt strange but boy I could feel that pressure build up under the turning ski as it began to carve. Sweet...
Funny thing about the instructors at that resort. every female instructor had a skibunny type name. Bambi, Candi, Heather... We decided to inquire and these were their actual names. Kind of fun. but sure doesn't help the image of PC. I got a chance to see some of them ski and I would take lessons from any of them even without the names or bodies. Incredible skiers and I hope just as good instructors.
post #10 of 20
Alaska Mike, I have not been impressed with the instructors or management at the ski school here. I recently inguired about lessons and asked the level of instructors; I got the "duh, I don't know" answer. They were starting a women's clinic that week and didn't know the level of instructors either, I came in the day before classes started and they still hadn't decided who was teaching. Needless to say I declined attending. I'm sure there are some good instructors but I'd sure like to know how to hook up with one.
post #11 of 20
That's too bad. I would call the ski school and ask to speak to the director. If they won't give you a name and a direct line, ask to speak to their manager. That kind of help just gives the ski school and resort a bad rep and name.
The only way it gets fixed is the customer telling managment they don't like it and will take their business elsewhere.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
That's the problem, we don't have many other options up here in Southcentral Alaska. Alyeska is the only large resort with varied terrain and a semi-professional staff- and they know it. Until they feel the pressure from another resort (come on Hatcher Pass!), things will remain as they are.
My first lesson there was with Adam, who managed to connect with my feeble brain so I understood the point of each exercise. Unfortunately, he was off this past Sunday and I wasn't able to do a followup with him. He matched my expectations of an instructor, so possibly he would be able to do the same for you.
post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
My last instructor came up with three exercises to work on edge pressure:
1.) Hold the poles parallel between both hands at shoulder level while carving medium radius turns. Match the slope of the hill without tilting your arms but by tilting your upper body.
2.) Reach down the hill with the outside pole. He didn't stress dragging the pole, but I imagine the effect is about the same.
3.) Focus on crunching your ribs to tilt your body towards the outside of the turn.

That last one was the one that got it for me and firmly implanted the sensation in my brain. The other methods made more sense after that. It was such a small thing that I could focus on while also having the reserve brain capacity to notice the effect on my skis. Pretty darn cool if you ask me. That was what impressed me with his teaching style. He kept trying new methods to achieve the same result on each run instead of hammering away at the same one over and over.
post #14 of 20

A lot of people who learn by internal feelings, like the exercise you liked, because you can feel the lower rib pinch against the side of the hip. Glad you "got it".
post #15 of 20

>>I've never had a problem with people actually dragging it right next to the boot. <<

I use this exercise to again, promote ski and body angles. Most folks that come to ski school have a problem with leaning up hill in their turn. By dragging the poles, this will cause the student to actively weight the outside ski more than they were doing before, if at all. If the skier has there pole too close to them while doing this exercise, they can still lean up hill and drag the poles. But if the poles are held out away from them as far as possible, leaning up hill is impossible.

Most student will say to me, " I feel that the skis are no longer displacing sideways like they were, and tracking more through the turn, but I feel like I'm all crunched over. " This is true, but I tell them that when we start working on turn entry and extending into the new turn, that they should start to feel more of a rhythm, a natural feeling in the turn.

Again, I get the best results of any exercise I do with this one. My students tell me that they will never go skiing again without dragging there poles. Then I tell them it's time to learn pole taps. "But I don't want to learn pole taps! Why do I have to do that???? I don't want too!!!! NO NO don't make me!!!!!" ---------Wigs
post #16 of 20


I've also had a lot of people beg not to learn to "use" their poles.

To make a pole plant:
Take 1 ski pole (use one that has a strap, not a pistol grip, please!)
cut pole about 8" to 1' below bottom of grip
Throw out lower part of pole
Place upper part of pole (with grip) in a 6" pot.
Add potting soil

For a brighter look, use a larger pot and add multiple poles of varying color.

No need to water. The pole plant will survive well with no attention whatsoever. However, don't expect it to grow much.

post #17 of 20
Alaska Mike, ironic but I got in a class and guess who the instructor was?? Adam, yes he's a great instructor and alot of fun. Best tip was skiing powder, I always wondered about the little hop turn, could never see myself jumping my skis all the way around, when he explained it's just a jump into the fall line. So simple and immediately I was skiing cut up powder like never before.
post #18 of 20
Hop turns are a powerful tool. A lot of work though - I think chopped up powder can be even more fun than consistant powder when you keep your skis down in it and let them slice through it.
post #19 of 20
I Just took a lession at Deer Valley My wife is working at Deer Valley so i get 1/2 Price lessions.Not a bad deal. Once again I paid for a group lession only to find out nobody wanted to ski bumps or crud. So got a 2 and 1/2 hour private lession. Over all the instrutor said I had a good strong turn and good rythem. We worked on making more dynamic turns and really feeling that rib hip pinch.One thing he did was while we were standing still was grab the tip of my ski pole and pulled me into the position that I should feel in my turns.Over all it was a great lession.Need to stay loser in the bumps and work my knees more gave me some drills to do on my own.

The Best skier in the world is the One with the biggest smile. Utah49
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
I took a private lesson with Adam on that 22" powder day last week (Thursday?) and we just had a blast. I wanted to take a three hour lesson, but I called too late and had to settle for a one hour. He really improved my powder technique and I always come away feeling good about what I learned and knowing exactly what to work on.
Hope you got a card from him- it's worth $5 off your next lesson. Make sure to tip well- money's been kinda tight for the instructors at Alyeska with the low snowfall at the bottom.
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