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adjusting to new shaped skis

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I just upgraded to new shaped skis (Volant Vertex Epic 155's). I had been skiing my old straight 150's (rossi cobras I think, can't remember, ski savers on them) for 15 years. I was an advanced intermediate, but now I feel like I'm back to the basics.

I feel like I'm a bit out of control and am not used to the new speedyness and liveliness of the skis. Any tips for bonding with my new gear, staying in control of my speed (they are much faster than those ancient rossis), and getting my courage and confidence back?

post #2 of 21
You have to find the new "sweet spot".

Start of on an easier slope than you normally ski. Take easy, sloppy looking, relaxed turns. Don't worry about how they look. During the turns, change your stance. Lean forward, be neutral, lean back(not too far). Get comfy.

Do traverses. Flex your knees and ankles into the hill, then relax(almost stand up). Combine this with fore/aft leaning.

Go down a relatively flat secton, and try to place your skiis on edge (do an uphill christie), and follow the skiis until they point uphill. Vary the fore/aft pressure and amount of knee steering.

In another thread we have mentioned "Falling Leaf". After a couple of those, you should know how the skiis handle.

Good luck and enjoy.
post #3 of 21
I'd suggest spending some time on shallower terrain becoming familiar with how the design of the skis can help you make turns more easily. Do you remember learning uphill christies where you steered and edged the skis to turn toward uphill at the end of a traverse? If you did a bunch of those and began making that move from steeper and steeper traverses on gentle slopes, you probably would get comfortable enough to make complete turns basically the same way on those slopes fairly soon. Then you could take the same practice to slightly steeper spots.

I'd also suggest practicing some sideslipping, both vertical (down the fall line) and forward (going down and across the slope at the same time), feeling for familiarity with how the skis react as you release and reengage the edges.

The other exercise you might try would be to either shuffle your feet back and forth as you slide through large turns on gentle terrain or make little steps, always stepping the fronts of the skis into the turn.

These last two approaches will get you moving your body into the turn somewhat, which is what makes the shaped skis work so much easier.
post #4 of 21
Good advice above, also make sure to check your alignment. If you tend to be pigeon-toed, bow-legged, or knock-kneed the shapes will magnify and worsen the problem. Go to a good boot fitter and get it all checked out and squared. Any money you spend doing this will certainly be worth it. You may find that skiing the shapes is pretty cool after all.

post #5 of 21
See your local PSIA professional.
post #6 of 21
I agree with Rusty, Marta. There is no substitute for a good instructor here. There are so many variables--equipment, anatomy, technique, conditions, attitude, personal preferences--that any "tips" we give you here are shots in the dark, and may not apply to you at all. I'll fire a few generic shots anyway....

IF your technique was sound before you got the new skis, and IF your equipment is set up well for you, then you should have no trouble at all adapting to the new stuff. Indeed, it will validate everything you've already learned, make it easier, and be more fun.

You can get away with generally less effort, allowing the skis to do more for you. Make sure you begin in a balanced, centered, "neutral" stance--not leaning forward on your boot tongues, or back on your heels. If you don't already, focus on movements that steer your ski tips INTO the turn, rather than pushing/twisting your tails OUT of the turn. You can skid and brake as well on the new skis as the old (contrary to some opinions), but what they really do better is carve and shape nice round, gliding turns. You do not need to displace them much, or at all (usually), to start a turn--focus on subtle tipping of your feet and lower legs and gentle guiding of the tips into and through the turn. Focus on the INSIDE ski, to initiate your turns, and all the way through. Make sure your movements originate low--in your feet and ankles, rather than your upper body. To keep it simple, try this simple "mantra"--right tip right to go right, left tip left to go left--and see what happens! Or practice "railroad track turns" on a very gentle (at first) slope, thinking "tip the right ski right to go right, tip the left ski left to go left." If you're good at experimenting and your technique was fairly sound to start with, these ideas may well get you on the right track.

HOWEVER--no one's technique is perfect, ever. And the vast majority of skiers, whether they know it or not, have acquired a lot of bad habits that will not let them exploit the advantages of the new equipment. Odds are (nothing personal here, and I could be wrong about you!) that you would benefit from some new ideas and some new movement patterns. As simple as they may sound, the movements and concepts I described in the previous paragraph are the opposite of what most skiers do as a habit! But even if these ARE your habits, if nothing else, a good intstructor will help you "connect" with your new skis much more quickly than you would on your own.

Also, as you noted, the new skis are far more responsive than "traditional" equipment. This means that their set up and tune are more critical as well. Again, a good instructor will be able to spot problems quickly.

So ask around to find a good instructor and request him or her for a lesson--private, if possible. (If you can't find a reliable recommendation, ask for the highest level of certification the ski school has available.) Be prepared to encounter some odd-feeling new movement patterns, depending on your current technique. Go with an open mind, ready to play!

The new skis are really not DIFFERENT than the old ones--nor are the techniques involved in carving--or skidding--turns on them. But they certainly represent an advance in responsiveness and performance, as you've noticed. They have built-in grins!

To summarize, graphically, the differences between new and old, I offer the following highly technical explanation:

Enjoy! Welcome to EpicSki, by-the-way, Marta!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #7 of 21
HOWEVER--no one's technique is perfect, ever. And the vast majority of skiers, whether they know it or not, have acquired a lot of bad habits that will not let them exploit the advantages of the new equipment.

Excellent point, Bob... but I expect such excellence when you post. Dang, you set that bar so high! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Jim Weiss is fond of commenting that 95% of the skiers on upper-level skis are paying $500 & up for their skis, only to use about $150 worth of the ski's value -- its design, its power, its sidecut, etc. After skiing with him and receiving his coaching for all last season and most of my ski days this year (all 6 of 'em), I am learning just how many BAD BAD habits I have, and how much work I need -- on easy terrain, to work on fundamental movements without engaging "the survival instinct" that will let the bad habit take over.

Marta, listen to the advice these guys are giving. You are getting it FREE OF CHARGE and it is worth a Hell of a lot more than that.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone for all your input! I know I definitely have a bunch of bad habits that have to be undone.

My old skis were just "point and shoot". They were slow and stiff, and I was able to ski nice turns straight down the fall line. All new skis seem fast and bouncy to me in comparison and I have problems containing my speed and staying confident while skiing the same old narrow crowded trails. My new skis are intermediate level skis and a short length so I believe there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to get my confidence back. (I know shaped skis ski faster than straight skis of the same size, but if you've been on 150 straight's all your life, where do you go from there?)

I will definitely take a lesson my next time out. I think I may have to re-build my skills from scratch so I can take advantage of the potential fun I could be having. Instead of being afraid of my skis, letting them ski ME when I should be skiing THEM! I also plan to spend more time on the wide open boulevards until I bond with my new toys.

Any of you Catskill skiiers know someone to recommend at Belleayre? That's where I'm headed next week.
post #9 of 21
marta, it sounds like your skiing previously relied on skidding... using turns to slow down, rather than to change direction. if you weren't used to carving -- and not many skiers were on the old straight "pencil" skis -- then you are going to have to learn an entirely new way of skiing. luckily, you have the "balance while sliding downhill" part worked out already, otherwise you'd never have reached intermediate level.

Go with a top instructor, and make sure that you tell him/her that you are having problems turning, because of the new ski and its shape/design.
post #10 of 21
I just bought my girlfriend (ok, and myself) the book "Breakthrough on the New Skis" -- written by a well-known instructor at Aspen. Its audience is, well, you: someone who wants to learn how to maximize the performance of his/her newly-bought shaped skis.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
yep. You got it. I think I am a skidder. A hard habit to break?

Interestingly enough, the times my husband said I looked good last week was on the ice/hardpack (go Volants!). I have no fear of bullet proof, only fear of actual snow because when it gets messy and rutty, I lose concentration. Icy hardpack is at least smooth and predictable.
post #12 of 21
Hi Marta

I'll add my Welcome to EpicSki.

Sounds like you got lots of good responses so far. to help break the skidding habit, take a lesson and let the instructor know you have just switched from straight to shaped skis. A lot of instructors can then use what good habits you should already have to enhance your move to the new shaped skis rather than start over.

You might check with the resorts. sometimes they offer "less expensive clinics" for this purpose. For a while all the demo centers in our area were offering free 1 hour "guided demos" where a Pro skied with you and helped you make the transition. I suspect not as many these days since so many people have already switched.

Good luck and have fun..
post #13 of 21

I fear my response was a bit too terse. Seek at least a level 2 PSIA certified instructor, however, a level 3 would be preferred.

Ask him/her to show you how to do;
1) uphill arcs
2) garlands
3) pivot slips

Mastering these three excercises will serve you well in learning the basic movements we currently teach, which are;


Purchase Bob Barnes text and READ IT CAREFULLY!

Put in long hours on gentle terrain learning to blend the movements under the watchfull eye of a good teacher.

You'll get it.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone! Epicski is the best! I'm printing this all out and will let you know how I'm doing!
post #15 of 21

I could offer a lot of ideas about edging, and phantom foot moves etc., but you could easly check these out on the web site:harbskisystems.com. There are some there ideas that can help you deal with the fact that the turns you want and make right now, are already built into your skis.

I also want you to access amazon.com through this website by going to the home page, scrolling down the left side and clicking on "ski shop." Then scroll down to amazon.com and order,"Breakthrough on the new Skis," by Lito Tejada-Flores. It should cost about $18.00 including shipping and handling. It is easy to read and understand book. Lito expresses himself very well, and it should help you focus in on not only using your new skis, but help tremendously with your technique and skill building.[Harald Harb of harbskisystems.com endorses this book.]

The question now is do you still need lessons ? I think so, but you may want to try first to find a group lesson with other women of about the same skill level as yourself, and a FEMALE instructor. You ALL should be on shaped skis. If the instructor isn't [ I can't imagine any PSIA instructor, teaching and lso not being on shaped skis, but if they are on skis like your old Rossis, DON'T TAKE THE LESSON! FIND A DIFFERENT INSTRUCTOR.] If the group lesson works, and you make progress, fine, if not it may be time for a private or semi private lesson [ no more than three students. ]

Lets talk about your boots, since now you have bought some GREAT women specific skis. What's happening with your old boots ? Do they fit well? Do you use foot beds or better yet custom foot beds ? Have you had an alignment ? I know ski equipemnt is expensive, but if your boots were as old as those skis you replaced, it is time to upgrade. But if you do so now, then you probably are set for at least 3 and perhaps five years of skiing. Without modern, women specific, properly fitted boots, and alignment, your progress will be slow.You will continue to struggle with your new skis. With the coming of shaped skis, alignment has become that much more important, and should be checked at least once a year. I understand that this takes time and money, but the pay off on the slopes is worth the effort.

By the end of this season, provided you have the right equipment, lessons, Lito's book, and some decent time on the slopes, you "COULD" be an advanced skier ready to knock on the door of "expert" skiing next season.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 04, 2002 03:25 PM: Message edited 1 time, by wink ]</font>
post #16 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi wink
I have already checked out Lito's website. There's also a lot of archived articles there which are all of great help. I agree with you on female instructors, I do the same for golf.

Oh no way am I using my original boots!!! (or bindings for that matter) Those old Rossis by the way were actually used rentals I bought from Killington for $20...you could say I got my money's worth there!

The boots I'm using now are pretty current and are the most comfortable I've ever had on. When I first tried them, my feet/shins went "ahhhhh". I have custom foot beds. I've noticed some heel lift when I'm standing on the floor and trying to lift my heel, but the bootmaster says everyone can lift their heel a little if they tried. I do not notice any heel lift when I'm skiing. If you only ski about 6-12 times a year, how long should boots last? Especially if they have no signs of wear and are stored properly?

Question - what does it mean if your feet/skis fishtail? I've noticed this more when I'm tired, coincidentally also at the end of the day skiing messy ungroomed runs (this could start another thread I suppose). I don't necessarily notice any foot movement in the boot, however if I clamp them tighter, the fishtailing seems less.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 05, 2002 10:42 AM: Message edited 1 time, by marta ]</font>
post #17 of 21
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>What does it mean if your feet/skis fishtail?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Wow, Marta--you have a way of asking innocent "little" questions that open up enormous cans of worms!

Fishtailing can arise from any number of things. It can be equipment-related, from boots that are not correctly set up for you--laterally, fore-aft, or in how they support your foot and leg. It could result from ski edges that need sharpening, or even moreso that grip better in the tips than the tails. Or it could be that your skis simply aren't sufficiently performance-oriented for the speeds, conditions, and stresses you subject them to.

Fishtailing can have a strictly technical basis too. It can result, of course, from the intent to control speed with your skis, rather than to hold your line and control DIRECTION. Or it can result, even if your intent is to hold and carve, from being too far forward on your skis, and/or from initiating your turns by rotating your upper body (torso, arms, shoulders, hips, head, or any combination).

If the fish-tailing you're describing happens usually at the BEGINNING of the turn, rather than the end of the turn, it could be caused by being too far BACK on your skis and/or from starting your turns with a counter-rotation ("reverse twist") of the upper body.

Since you describe your fish-tailing problem as something that happens more toward the end of the day, it could be due to fatigue or to deteriorating conditions as well. It's hard to say....

Once again, the "right" answer for you specifically will require a lot more personal knowledge about you. A good instructor should be able to zero in on the solution very quickly by skiing with you, but over the Internet here, we're once again only taking shots in the dark!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
I agree with you Bob. It does seem to be at the beginning of my turn, like i'm off balance, in the backseat. And especially at the end of the day, when I'm tired and conditions are messy, I lose concentration and do tend to twist into my turns. I'll work on it with my instructor friday. Thanks. I'll keep you updated.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 05, 2002 07:30 PM: Message edited 1 time, by marta ]</font>
post #19 of 21

Hi again Marta,

I think that Bob Barnes has hit the major points re: the phenomenon of "fishtailing."

Do remember to start your turns early by using early weigth shift. It is Ok to have some skidding in turns.Also at the end of the day, slopes often can consist of snow piles and ice. The flatter areas, where you want to initiate your turn, can often be icey. Skiing ice without some skidding is pretty difficult to avoid.

Another thing that I often see women doing is they have a tendancy to have their hands come in close to their body. Often when I can't tell if a skier is male or female, the position of the hands usually gives it away. Do try to keep your arms spread for balance,with your hands up and forward. Another way to check yourself is if you can't see your hands in your peripheral vision, they need to be brought up and forward. This will go a long way in keeping you out of the back seat. Just remember hands "up and forward."

I am pleased to hear that you have taken care of the boot situation, however did your "bootmaster" do an alignment for you ? This could possibly help you deal more effectively with the "fishtailing."

The purpose of doing an alignment is to get you into a balanced position on a flat ski.If you are using early weight shift to initiate your turns, you can see how important it is be able to easily engage your edges, and alignment is one of the key elements that permits you to do this.

As to how long will your boots last if you takecare of them, the outside shell could last a very long time. The inner boot will brake down after a number of seasons. Not to worry, there are some very good replacement inner boots on the market, so if you still "love your boots, a replacement liner [a new inner boot] may be the answer.

So have a great season, and always.....

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 06, 2002 06:16 AM: Message edited 1 time, by wink ]</font>
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Everything you all describe is exactly what I am doing! That is why you are the pros and I am the perpetual intermediate (although I now predict I will advance in the ranks now that I have some things to focus on...)

p.s wink I will have my alignment checked...
post #21 of 21
Good points, Wink--particularly your observation about the hands. I agree--it is more common for women to hold their arms (elbows, especially) in close to their bodies.

But your suggestion for "early weight shift" can backfire, and actually CAUSE the fishtailing. While good skiers DO typically transfer the weight to the outside ski fairly early in the turn, for a clean turn initiation, this weight transfer must accompany a movement of the body INTO the turn--down the hill. The weight transfer happens IN SPITE OF this movement of the body into the turn, due to the forces of the turn itself.

In many cases, the advice to "transfer your weight to the uphill ski" before starting the turn causes the skier to move UPhill--to balance over that uphill ski. Then what do they do? Twist the uphill ski--using their upper body--out from underneath to start the turn--with a fishtail!

So this advice to "transfer the weight early," while not necessarily "wrong," can easily create the opposite of the intended effect. It's best done only under the watchful eye of an instructor, to assure that the right things happen.

This is a problem that I've described in greater detail elsewhere, stemming from the instruction to transfer weight early--especially when combined with actually lifting the downhill ski off the snow prior to initiating the turn. It is the main--but not the only--objection to progressions that involve this edict.

So try it, Marta, but beware the pitfalls!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
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