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Where do you look?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
One of the things I want to work on this season is keeping my eyes looking ahead (down the mountain) rather than down into the snow immediately in front of me. What I'm not sure about is how far ahead? There may not be one definitive answer, but I'd like your thoughts on where you look as you ski. Thx. -gp
post #2 of 17

If you want to keep your eyes and head up, pick a target, such as a lift tower, unique tree, sign post and ski towards it. This target should be some distance downhill, ie, 100 meters, or so. Keep your eyes riveted to it. When the target gets too close, pick another one. After a while, it will become second nature, and you will start to enjoy the scenery. Remember, what the eyes see, the feet will follow.
post #3 of 17

Welcome to EpicSki!

First and foremost look where you intend to go. When I am skiing in challenging terrain my goal is to look several (4-5) turns ahead, continuously. This is not the same thing as looking five turns ahead, skiing them, and then looking five more turns. Such an approach leaves you with no place to go for turn six, a complete loss of rhythm (or fluidity from another thread).

As a prelude to this think of where the NEXT pole plant will be and walk your poles down the slope. As you gain experience you will find your self naturally anticipating more. It is like driving a car, at 16 (and in the city) you looked just ahead of you, as you gained experience (and left the city) you found yourself looking further ahead, say a mile or two. (After a cross country drive how many people fail to see the stop light right in front of them?)

Skiing is somewhere in the middle. If you look at the snow immediately in front of your skis turn two will surpise you, if you look out at turn ten then turn one may very well surprise you. How far ahead is an individual thing, but what it must be is continuous in order to avoid something jumping out in front of you. (Although if that something is another skier go the other way!!!)

[ October 07, 2002, 05:31 PM: Message edited by: Tom Burch ]
post #4 of 17
GP: Where you look depends on the conditions. On a wide open trail with little traffic and fresh grooming and better yet ... a few inches of fresh powder, You have the luxury of "sightseeing" and your focus can be less immediate.

On a eastern trail, narrow, with some ice coming through in spots, your focus should be more immediate.

After a warm afternoon followed by a freeze towards sundown (or after poor grooming), my attention is directed toward spotting the "death cookies" before they bite me.

I never realized how much of my "looking" was done with my ears till I started wearing a helmet a few years ago. The helmet mutes the sound of the snow/ice underfoot and my gaze tends to be a bit closer in now.

Adjust for conditions and traffic and be in touch with all of your senses.
post #5 of 17
I try to encourage my students to constantly adjust their focal length, based upon the speed they are traveling. The faster you go, the further ahead you must look.
It also will depend greatly on the snow conditions and terrain you are in, as stated by previous posts. In more difficult conditions, I tend to shorten my field of vision somewhat, but never real short.
With the current crop of skis we use allowing some unique directions of travel, please don't forget to look around yourself. And I mean ALL AROUND! Including uphill, as well as out to the sides. For your safety and everyone else on the hill, be aware of the other skiers movements around you.

One of the critical issues as to how far ahead you are comfortable looking is based upon your own skills. The more confident you are, the further ahead you will look.

Oh ya- as already stated- don't forget to look at the scenery. (and the mtns too!)

post #6 of 17
One of my favorite trainers (not HH ) told me to use my vision like a fighter pilot's radar... Keep the close-in radar going, that's the one that looks a few turns ahead, according to speed. That's the short focus. Now focus attention to a wider (peripheral) and "all the way to the bottom of the run". That's the "big" or "long" focus.

Keep switching back and forth, like a driver who keeps checking the rear view mirror. See the good places to turn, and plan your path accordingly. As I practiced this "switching" trick, I got better at visualizing myself on the run as a whole, like I tend to "see" my car's position in the surrounding traffic in my head.

This approach helped my tree skiing to be more fluid as well.
post #7 of 17

I'm going to forget "where do you look" just for a few moments . . . where do you VISUALIZE?!

If I'm skiing in trees, do I visualize WHERE I WANT TO BE? Or do I visulaize THE PATH I TAKE TO GET THERE?

Go crazy!
post #8 of 17
Umm, both would be nice, oboe! Ski good or eat wood! :

Seriously. But instead of a "particular path" try to see all the "possible paths" as you move down the hill. Multiple turn possibilities are better than only "one place to go".

What happens if you lose your balance, and make a recovery move? Does your path change? Mine usually does.

In terrain with obstacles, sort of "don't see" them, finding the places to go in-between. Don't really "see" the trees, the spaces "pop" in the "minds-eye". Same with nasty holes, or stumps, etc. in terrain. Ignore them, they are an "impossible path".

A "probability" to go to a certain "spot" and take a certain "path", but not a certainty. It's kind of spooky.

[ October 08, 2002, 05:13 PM: Message edited by: SnoKarver ]
post #9 of 17

Do you hear that?

"phfffffft, phfffffft, phffffft."

Aw, it's just Oboe spittin splinters! :
post #10 of 17
I agree with VSP on most of what he said, but I have two comments.

If in the trees, remember to look at the white space! Don't look at the trees, because you WILL go where you are looking.

I liken it to driving. When on a crowded highway, you're always scanning, far ahead, close ahead, who's coming up on you from behind. When on a quiet country road your vision can relax a bit.

GP, excellent post for one of your first! Welcome!

post #11 of 17
yuki, you're too much! So far, the greatest embarrassment I've had is NOT spitting splinters - it's been getting tangled in the underbrush and having trouble getting my skis untangled. I BEGGED a passing patroller not to tell anyone! :
post #12 of 17
Originally posted by SnoKarver:
But instead of a "particular path" try to see all the "possible paths" as you move down the hill. Multiple turn possibilities are better than only "one place to go".

I think that is why the 'flow down the hill' works so well for me - the thought of a stream allows that while MOST of the water may go around this rock(bump for skiing maybe) SOME may flow over the top & SOME may go around the other way - lotsa choices everywhere
post #13 of 17
From an old ski pro at Snowmass, Fred Thomas: Let the vision dance down the slope so you don't get locked on one spot.

From Jean Mayer in Taos Ski Valley (he told me this many years ago--and I'm paraphrasing): Don't just look down the hill. It's not enough. You should gaze intensely down the slope. This means not only to see some distance ahead, but also to notice detail and nuance. See the shades of white and grey in the snow. Notice the way the sun bounces differently off of different pitches and terrain variation. Notice the texture of the snow--soft/hard/smooth/rough. Notice the little balls of snow or tracks of previous skiers. Through your eyes, let the slope come alive so that the snow is not just some uniform blanket of white, but rather, so that it has texture, character, and information. Immerse your vision, and therefore your consciousness, in the snow ahead. At that moment, you will be truly aware and your good skiing will emerge.

Cool, huh.
post #14 of 17

With suggestions and guidance like that it's no wonder Taos developed its reputation as a place focused on learning. I'm not sure I could readily utilize the perceptions as described very easily if they were new, but having experienced aspects of this when things come together this is an awesome reminder to "ski with the force."
post #15 of 17
That's wonderful weems. Beyond cool, the clarity of a sweet run.

Addicting, isn't it?
post #16 of 17
I teach a lot of nervous people...or seem to see nerves operating in a lot my intermediates. Being scared of heights myself, I've got a bag of strategies for overcoming the fear (which can become dangerous in itself).
One of my favourites is getting lower skiiers to find targets on the sides of the run to turn towards, so they don't fall into the fear trap of gazing down the hill and getting dragged down by it (where you look is where you'll go!).

I have found that this works well with scared people (myself included), but one group lesson this season, as we were making our way down a blue slope, a lady cried out plaintively "What happens if your target starts moooooving?"
We all stopped, and it transpired that she'd spotted a small brown thing, a rock or bit of bark, which had unaccountably got up and started to run over the snow. It was a marsupial rodent (Antichinus) native to the area. It was quite funny.

Rank beginners often lock onto their skis with their eyes, and you have to break them out of that because it's harder to balance when looking straight downwards....especially when trying to walk onto a magic carpet!
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your responses! You've given me a lot to think about. -gp
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