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How do you feel confident at speed?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I started skiing for the first time this year, have taken 3 lessons and felt pretty confident here at our local resort until this weekend that is.

Went to Smugglers Notch and was blown away by the terrain and the skill of some of the people there, just amazing. The terrain that they were handling I could only dream of getting onto.

When I compared myself to others in my level, I noticed that my techique was quite good and up to par, and I did have fun skiing all the blues and a few of the easier black runs. My deficiency was that I seem to ski slower than most people. I feel off balance when I gain speed and just not comfortable.

As I keep on trying to perfect my technique, how do I overcome the instability at speed? Is there something I should do gain confidence at speed? Speed problems are not only on the groomed runs but also just general trail crossing area's etc.
post #2 of 13
Confidence will come over time...for now, work on building up your skills on the snow.
post #3 of 13
Try and learn to build speed (control) with milage over time by learning to ski clean turns using a round slow line to control your speed. On such a line you can gradually go faster as you learn to carve and control your turn shape, vs. skiing a straighter faster line that will encourage you to be defensive and use skidded braking turns to try and slow down. Skis that are carving/slicing along their length are far more stable to balance on at any speed than ones skidding sideways.

Taking lessons will help.

Safety lies in the art of control.
Remember: "It is not how fast you ski, but how you ski fast".
post #4 of 13
Very few people develop the proficiency to ski black runs CORRECTLY in their first year of skiing. What ends up happening is that you create the habit of defensive of skiing. Our bodies are infinitely smarter than we are. Your body knows it really does not have the technique to get you safely down a black run, so basically, you are skiing with the brakes on. The problem is, this becomes habitual, and you end up skiing this way on the groomed.
You need to practice good movement skills on easy terrain, before you can gain speed. If you use the search feature, look up the words "SKI THE SLOW LINE FAST" and you can get some ideas of what to practice.
Good luck, and welcome to epicski! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #5 of 13
Gaining confidence at speed is a long process, but I do believe it's a necessary skill to learn.

First thing -- there's absolutely nothing wrong with skiing slowly, and in fact slow skiing is more difficult then fast skiing. The extra speed lends extra forces to the turn and actually makes it easier (to a point...)

The exercise that helped me the most was to take a really easy wide open totally empty trail and challenge yourself to ski a section of it in fewer turns then you normally would. (Yeah, that means getting there when they open so you can be on the first few chairs up). Make sure you keep completing your turns -- no bailing early. That is, your "turn exit speed" should equal your "turn entry speed".

Skiing at speed is like driving at speed -- large gross movements are expressely forbidden. You'd never crank the steering wheel hard while driving fast -- you'd just flip the car over. Same thing on skis -- patience is the name of the game when skiing fast.
post #6 of 13
Tim Gallwey's Inner Skiing - the best confidence booster I ever read.

We are usually not so much afraid of the speed itself as we are of skiing out of control, unable to stop on the dime or to carve out of the possible crash if required by the circumstances.

The more we trust our skis the more confidence we get.

It's the same as driving: at first, 15 mph feels like Indy trek; and then we don't even realize that we are going 90 until we hear the siren behind us.

Also try to think of it this way: horizontal speed across the slope is OK, right? We are in control when in traverse. If you go at the same speed downhill, it should feel just as OK; choose a gentler and wider slope. Keep gradually decreasing the angle of your comfortable traverse to the fall line. Before long, you will win the wax races.
post #7 of 13
Also as Arc said ... when you ski clean turns it will suddenly feel 'quieter' underfoot.... so you will be able to ski faster without feeling so unbalanced...
post #8 of 13
All these points are true. I find I must stay on edge to feel comfortable at speed.

At some point, you may find a difference in skis. First time I demoed a G4, I really understood how stable a ski could feel at speed. Wow.
post #9 of 13
Skicub, what do you focus on when you ski? First timers often fixate on their ski tips (crossed or uncrossed) and with experience start looking a little farther out front. The next fixation is the snow and bumps immediately in front of you. As you get more confident that that bumps or crud won't throw you, you start looking farther out. In a car at speed you're looking pretty well down the road and on skis you also have to consciously start focusing a little farther down the run, looking for obstacles and a line to ski. Starting to look a little farther is a big help.

Also, if you have a Nastar course close by take a few runs. Trust me on that one. Big help. And you'll love it.
post #10 of 13
"Book 'em Dano!"

I agree with the looking. So many beginners stare down at their tips. It's always amazing to watch them simply change their focus farther out and see their balance improve.

For being comfortable at high speed Daron Rahlves recommends looking farther and farther down the hill. "Your feet will deal with what's underneath you." I think this is the key point even at much lower levels. Staring at the ground your about to ski over won't help your body deal with it any better. Being aware of what's coming is important, but looking at every little tiny bump can't possibly be "processed" in time. Instead, the mind just gets in the way of the body dealing with it.
post #11 of 13
Stance & Feeling, i.e. a connection to the snow based on feedback from the skis.

These two items are the the basic KEY to speed comfort. One cannot "understand" the FEEDBACK from ones skis if thier STANCE is not FREE & COMMITTED to what one is attempting. This is common through all MOTION sports.

If you have not been skiing very long and are attempting to ski FREE & LOOSE on terrain that causes apprehension about speed then it is best to go back to the SKILL PARK (an easier run that removes apprehension) to polish up your FEELING through a correct LOOSE, BALANCED STANCE.

Remember it is the FEET that hold us up and if one is still connected to the everyday world by attempting to find security in motion through the upper body one is destined to remain a perpetual intermediate.

Looking ahead is also very important BUT at speed and in snowy\blowy\flat light conditions CLEAR SIGHT cannot always be relied on.

So practice your UNDERSTANDING of what it actually FEELS like to make a techniquely correct turn at lower speeds and gradually apply the speed as the confidence builds through this UNDERSTANDING of a FREE, LOOSE FOOT BASED STANCE moving downhill.

Enjoy, speed is fun BUT being completely in control of an ARCING pair of skis whilst FLYING through the SCENERY is an ADICTION.

Find a real PRO and take a LESSON.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advise. I tried this weekend to really see where I was having a problem, and I noticed that it was usually catching an edge on my right ski. For some reason every time I was just running straight, if I did not concentrate on keeping my right foot down on the ground, it would be at an angle and I would catch the inside edge.

Unfortunately I was not able to really examine if this is the same thing that happens to me on steep terrain. I hope next weekend to ski with someone who can watch me and try and figure it out.

However I wonder if it is a boot problem? Could I need a boot alignment only on the one boot? Could the alignment be so off that it cause this angulation of the right ski?
post #13 of 13
As the posters above have pointed out, building miles on the snow as well as tactics such as looking far ahead are crucial to the process.

But, now that you seem dedicated to learning to ski, it will be time to take a look at equipment (yes, once more).

Do you detect hesitation in turns from loose boots? Your skis may be a bit soft and fail to hold as speed builds.

Sometimes it's you (technique ..... and often it is!) but sometimes, it's what you are riding.
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