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Traverse-Slipping Continuum

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Interesting Thoughts JohnH. No def. for carving... Hmmm...

Last winter a fellow I was skiing with pointed to a bunch of skidders and told me he felt like his skis were 'slipping' like theirs were and he wanted his tails to follow his tips like the really good guys he saw flying around. At that moment it occurred to me that I differentiate between slipping and skidding, but he didn't. They are very different things.

For the skiing population at large, skidding is an involuntary result of being out of balance. Skidding isn't something the skidding person is controlling, it is something they are trying not to do.

Slipping, on the other hand requires skill and a balanced stance to accomplish. It is a voluntary act. A slipper can control where they are going while doing it. A slipper has a reasonable chance of rolling the skis onto edge and immediately entering a traverse(linked forward sideslips, anyone). Not so for a skidder

I had been doing a ton of Twin-Track-Traverse research and work (myself and with lessons) and found the stance required to accomplish an effective slip to be the same in the TTT. Neither can be done from the back seat except by very skilled individuals. (who see no purpose in it except for the sake of novelty)

For a period of time, skiing, to me, was a continuum with traversing and slipping as different axes.

Teaching controlled slips and decent twin track traverses set people up in a great stance and easily effect major changes in ski behavior.

A carved turn is merely a traverse which curves into and through the fall-line.

I was amazed at how easily people began to combine different amounts of slip and traverse (in turns) for different types of terrain and turn shapes, even at lower intermediate levels.

Many instructors do not differentiate between skidding and slipping. They miss the importance of slipping as a valuable component of skiing skills. They just want to carve. Problem is, they can sort of carve from the back seat and it even feels good.

Then they head out to some steep, narrow, undulating crud and wonder why they end up in the back seat and out of control. Worse, yet... they demonstrate it to people who pay them for their expertise!
post #2 of 20
Are you also perhaps suggesting that the angle that the ski makes with the direction of motion is zero in a pure carve, relatively small when intentionally slipping, and large when skidding, or are you trying to distinguish slipping and skidding simply on the basis of intent, no matter what the angle is?

post #3 of 20
Never really thought about all this. Interesting. This year I learned how to do "The Falling Leaf". If I tap into my kinesthetic memory, the sensation of doing that is a slipping sensation, which feels different from a skidded turn. Hmm.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #4 of 20
These are basically, good edge control exercises. If you can get someone to TTTs, to a controlled slipped traverse, to a falling leaf, they will learn to make a pure carve a lot quicker, because edge control and stance/balance is what the battle is all about.

Roto, In doing the TTTs, have you done any of the uphill foot only, single track traverses, that help you find (what the d-team calls) "home base"? I did this for 4 solid hours, non stop, one day with Terry Barbour, then many, many, many more times that week. It was interesting to see how a bunch of Level 3 and Dev teamers started out, and how we progressed over the week. It started out as quite a challenge to get perfectly balanced over the ski in a simple traverse on an easy beginner hill. Then, after a couple of days of doing it, we got to the point where we could be making short radius turns on expert terrain, at a good speed, and be able to just hook right up into that traverse without even thinking about it. It did wonders for everyone's stance and balance. The only problem, is that you have to pound it into people over a long period of time, like we did. While instructors may be willing to do this for 3-4 straight hours, then 20 times every run for a week straight, I don't think there are too many of the skiing public that would subject themselves to this much practice. And even then, you have to keep doing it once in a while for probably the entire season, to really get it ingrained.

A while back, we had a thread about praticing the fundamentals, and how it really seperates the ability levels of skiers. This is what practicing fundamentals is all about.
post #5 of 20
John H,

Is the "uphill foot only single track traverse" as simple as I think it is? Can you elaborate more? I was in a clinic last year where we skied on one foot/ski a great deal, experimenting with varying degrees of weighting/pressure on the "light" or no weight foot. We did little lifting of one ski. It was more the case that we just applied a range of weight to the off leg varying from none (tip on the snow and tail raised)to 25%,50%,75%, etc.

Can you explain more of what you worked on?

post #6 of 20

This was just a drill. It's not a simple exercise of playing with pressuring the feet differently, because you are actually lifting the foot.

Traverse the hill, holding your edges in a carve (that would be a "pure" carve, folks ). Start out with both feet on the ground, ankles and knees slightly flexed.

Lift the downhill ski off the ground. Do this by extending the uphill leg, not by retracting the downhill leg.

As you traverse the hill, your hips should be *slightly* countered. Only enough so that if you relax the downhill foot, so that it points the direction the femur is facing, it is facing just ever so slightly downhill of the direction you are skiing.

You should be comfortable and perfectly balanced on the uphill ski. This is the hard part. Your foot will be pretty flat on the bottom of the boot, and you shin will be in gentle contact with the front of the boot.

When everything is lined up just right, the ski will track effortlessly, in a perfect carve, across the hill, and you'll be able to finish with a slight skidded turn up the hill. As your balance gets better, you'll be able to make that uphill skidded turn to a stop without putting your downhill foot down, for a couple of seconds after you come to a stop, and you should be able to do this without ever having to place the downhill foot on the ground during the traverse.

Although this is a pretty static exercise, it teaches your body where "home base" is. In other words, you are perfectly balanced and centered.

Although we didn't do this next part as part of the exercise, I like to add it, to retain the balance as I enter and move through a turn.

As I move through the traverse on the uphill foot, I start to move my CM forward and downhill into the new turn, creating a complete turn on the one foot. Then, as I'm facing across the fall line as the turn is ending, I switch to the new uphill foot, get centered and get the ski tracking in a carve. Then, and not until the downhill foot is off the ground, do I allow myself to begin to move toward the next turn. these are what I have called, in previous posts, "wrong footed" turns (although there is nothing wrong about them). It's very easy to get the rythm screwed up at the beginning, and start making the turn on both or to lift the outside foot as you are facing down the fall line. This is NOT correct. But once you get the right rythm going, it's a lot of fun, easy to maintain the pattern of when to switch feet, and works wonders for your balance/stance.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited June 26, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited June 26, 2001).]</FONT>
post #7 of 20
This is a no brainer for most of the instructors on this site, but when teaching this kind of stuff, its important that the student understands why they are doing the exercise.
When I learned the Falling Leaf, I called it the "scary backwards thing" and although it was fun in a weird way, I had no idea of what I was supposed to learn from it. Kneale talked me through it on skilovers, and then I got the picture.
But not everybody who attends ski classes has a group of cyber big brothers and sisters who ski instructors who can "help with homework".

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #8 of 20
Well, SCSA did...
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Pman, I really could't make make out what you meant about angle and direction, etc. I distinguish slipping and skidding because a lot of people think any ski moving sideways is skidding, an undesireable thing. In doing so I was referring to the general lack of awareness 103% of the population (and 93% of the ski teaching pop.) has about slipping as a 'valuable component of skiing skill.'

JohnH hit the techno-weenie on the head. Stance/balance is what the battle is all about. I think edge control is all about balance. Edge angle is almost superfluous if a skier is not in balance to begin with.

JohnH, I have done the uphill one track and yes I was surprised at how difficult I found it at first. I really had to pay attention to keep from using upper body balancing movements for awhile. In workin my balancing movements into my lower bod I realized they are my edging movements too.

Also, surprising is doing twin-track travs with other instructors and how many people have trouble. This alone isn't too bad, but it blows me away when they can't tell they are not doing it.

You are right about the instructor/vs. public thing. I have done a little of it with lessons(mostly tele). As with all lessons, I don't choose tasks it will take people very long to get. The uphill single track usually requires some simple traverses & downhill ski single track ones first.

LisaMarie. Slipping and skidding shouldn't feel identical, but, if you take the stance an effective falling leaf builds and ski it through skidded turns the two will feel more alike. Your skidded turns will require much less effort..feel silkier.

Try finishing skidded turns in the foward slipping part of the falling leaf instead of trying to edge. Maintain the slip for a short period of time before getting ready for the next turn. Do it for a run or two. Gradually change the forward slip into a traverse without sitting back to edge your skis...

Thanks, everyone, for this forum. It rocks. So do you.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro...
post #10 of 20
I do lots of one footed balance drills, but not this one. I've been taught that this is "gauge", not a drill.

Basically, what I've been told, is that if you can't traverse across the hill in pretty much a straight track, something is wrong with your alignment.
post #11 of 20
Roto, succint, clear and perceptive, thanks. I always tend to add more muscle to things than I need to.

Many of the really good New England instructors use a one legged traverse to acess alignment, right/left discrepancies, etc.

Then I saw my reflection in a snow covered hill....

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
As do we all...

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro...
post #13 of 20
My point exactly.
post #14 of 20
>>Also, surprising is doing twin-track travs with other instructors and how many people have trouble. This alone isn't too bad, but it blows me away when they can't tell they are not doing it.<<

It is truly amazing. I find that about half of the level II certs couldn't do it on their own without being told that they did not do it correctly on the first few tries.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
I find that with a lot of level III's too! What is it? An advanced state of denial? I mean, the tracks tell the story all by themselves, don't they?

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro...<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Roto (edited June 27, 2001).]</FONT><FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Roto (edited June 28, 2001).]</FONT>
post #16 of 20
Level IIIs? Really? That IS bad. But I don't see how someone could get their L3 and not be able to. Maybe you are referring to people who have had their L3s for a long time. The type of people (I know a few) who get their L3 and then stop learning, thinking they know everything there is to know, and become satisfied with their level of skiing, not realizing that their skiing is gradually deteriorating.
post #17 of 20
I would guess you are right! There are Level III, pin-polishers (merely paying dues and fullfilling CE's) out there who are trapped in their "final form" mold. They tend to be 25 - 30 year pin types, who fought long and hard to lock'em together, counter like hell and hold it like a b*stard! Few use shaped ski technology as intended.
Having said that these folks are one of the best resources for a historical perspective on the sport, and represent one of the greatest generational contributions to our success as an industry!
You would still have "underhanded free throws" in basketball...if they could last as long as some of these ski pros do! Hope I'm teaching at 70!
post #18 of 20
But Robin, you take someone like Natalie Terry, 75 year old ski instructor at Sugarloaf, who says that people who still ski that way get old because they stop learning. She also said my incident of being boot locked at Bormio Ski School and learning heel pushes as turn iniation was a valuable history lesson.

Oh man! I forgot about heel pushes. Talk about skidding.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #19 of 20

The problem is not with the people I teach it to. I'm referring to "the masses" of L2 instructors. I can get anyone to do it in 15 minutes, assuming they are already at a skiing level 4 or above. It's quite easy to teach. I just would have expected that any instructor who has been around the block a few times and passed their L2 would be able to do this. I think the problem lies in that there are a lot of instructors with L2 pins that are at the point where they can make turns well enough, but really don't know how they look to a student when they make demos.
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
I can't ignore the certification level tangent this thread is (slowly)developing. It is more interesting than the incomplete idea the thread was started with. The conversation has helped me figure it out to a greater degree. Thanks.

The director and trainers I started with made it clear to everyone that Level III certification is an assessment of how well laid the foundation of skiing, teaching skills and professional knowledge are in an instructor. The day an instructor is certified level III is a starting point, not an ending point. It is like graduating high school. There are lots of higher ed. opportunities out there. A lot of people see level III performance as the pinnacle.

There are merits to questions as to how well the cert. process(es) assess(es) teaching skills, but that sounds like another thread.

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro...<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Roto (edited June 30, 2001).]</FONT>
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