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Help me(racing)!!!!!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Ok so last year I joined my school ski team. I didn't really know what to expect, but it sounded fun. We ski mostly GS. Anyway I learn of this magical "carving" thing that be used to make a turn that does not consist completely of skidding. Whoa... So I did my best to teach myself by sort of feeling for it and by watching the best people race. By the way this was my first year on shapes, too. Now I basically place about in the middle of my league, which is not very serious or competitive. But today I had a revelation, and now I am very dissatisfied with my ability. First, my friend, who just joined the team, is a relatively poor skier, but is hypersupermegaultra-agressive (really, he's very scary!), takes these old strait skis that must have cost him like $15 and skis like this: he heads strait for the gate, passes it, turns his skis and cranks, skidding at least a foot, and then heads strait for the next gate. He placed decently, above me. Then I overhead I conversation between two coaches for another team. They were arguing about how teaching their kids to ski the course the "right" way to ski might not produce the best times because of the nature of the course, and the lack of skill and strength in their kids. I came to the conclusion that me as well as most of the league cannot carve effectively. If you need some more background info here is some:
*We usually race on blue square terrain (were talking New England) though today the course was on a less steep trail, was pretty straight, and was not as skied-off as usual
*My skis are atomic beta race (this year's) junior 10'22 length 170
*My boots are bad. They are a bit too big for me and are not anywhere close to racing boots. They're comfy but don’t fit right and are hard to control.
*I'm 5'6" and 117 lbs (working on that as best I can, I come from a skinny family and in addition I am somewhat sickly)

I really want to be a good very good skier. Please help me, direct me. I will answer questions if you need to know anything more about my technique, ect (though I don’t have a really good Idea of what I'm doing)
post #2 of 28
Hey Nathahn! WHat's up? I race high school too, up in Maine. I'm a Sr. this year, but went through my first two years on straits. We do more SLalom than GS, but it's the same idea. First of all- carving is just so sweet. It an awesome feeling, and the fastest racers that you will see can carve like crazy. I can't think of an instance when skidding would be faster than carving, so carve it up. It's also good to be agressive- but you can be an agressive carver. Remember, round turns through the gates are much faster the Z turns, which your friend is prob. making. When you skid a Z turn speed is lost, when you carve a round turn speed is usually gained. If you keep working on carving your turns and staying agressive I bet you'll post faster turns that your friend by the end of the year. I hope other people reply, but I think I'm on track here. Just have fun and enjoy the season. What year are you? Racing will make you better so enjoy it, adios!
post #3 of 28
Ha! Nathahn--you crack me up! Welcome to EpicSki!

You're going to learn quickly by hanging out with a race team, at any level, and by imitating what the best racers do. Watch World Cup racing every chance you get, to absorb the techniques and the tactics of the world's best.

One thing is clear--as you've discovered--the "classic" round line is not always the fastest. World Cup racers are challenging the conventional wisdom all the time, taking straighter and straighter lines--and bigger risks! Somewhere between the "long" line that allows skis to carve the cleanest, purest turns, and the "straight" line that involves jamming the edges with some degree of speed-robbing skidding, lies the optimal line, the fastest possible line.

If your team does not have good coaches, though, and you really want to excel, you MUST seek some good instruction and coaching. You'll need to tweak those boots, too, or even replace them, because if they are as you described they will hinder your progress badly.

Keep us posted, and feel free to ask any specific questions. A few brave souls have posted photos or video of themselves here, and received probably more technical analysis and suggestions than they needed.... Feel free!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #4 of 28
Definitely learn to carve!! Carving ... how to start it, how to maintain it, how to "point" it. Quite a lot.

What Bob says is right on...as always. Some skiers rotate their skiis just barely skimming the snow(reduces the friction so not a lot of speed is lost)by using a rebound or "crossunder" technique. Then they carve the rest of the turn.

Practice starting in a wedge, then hopping from one leg (edge) to the other. Lock in the edge, so you develop the ability to land on a turned ski that is on edge without skidding. This will help you "hold" the edge and absorb the pressure of the GS turn. The finally step in this progression is to go from having parallel skiis across the hill, to pivoting just above the snow to having your skiis parallel in the other direction. (tips should always be down)Staying on your edges only!

Next step is finding the way to get your skiis pointed in the right direction (above) without skidding in between. One step at a time.

Many school coaches don't have the knowledge/experiece to train. They are great because they get you to the mountain. You might have to join a mountain's race team, or go away for the summer or pre-season to a race camp. Plenty around.

Keep us posted with new questions.

Good luck with the season learning/racing.
post #5 of 28
Suggested reading:
"Ski Faster" by Lisa Feinberg Densmore

Work on your starts, especially skating. A strong start is key to putting you in the right mindset and the right speed for the first few gates. Depending on the course, a rounded turn shape may mean you're traversing more than crossing the hill at a diagonal- which bleeds speed more than a z-turn. Different turns for different gates. Pay close attention during course inspection and plan your attack. Head up/hands forward.

The best skis in the world in the hands of a marginal skier will lose every time to a decent skier on 2x4s. However, get some decent boots. Even rentals sound better than what you have now.

Most of all- have fun. I wish I had the opportunity to ski as frequently as you do when I was a kid.
post #6 of 28
Regarding the boots, you have options. Take the to the shop and explain the fit problem ... and explain that you can't afford new boots this year ...... If they value your future business they will work with you to pad them by removing the liner and padding the heel and ankle areas. You can also experiment with a heavier sock.

Practice a rythm for starts. Down-Up-Explode..... then kick and skate like a mule.

Wax your own skis before each race. This is not hard to do. There are several posts from several weeks ago ...... visit archive.

Take a good look at the course ..... pay particular attention to the last few gates and extra attention to where the timer/beam is broken. The best line may not be right down the center of the finish.

Have someone take a look at the bases on your Atomics since there have been some problems with Atomic bases ..... fixable with a grind.
post #7 of 28
Nathan if you want to be a good skier as well as racer learn to carve. As you get more into racing the courses will turn more and you will need it. Plus take a look at the guys who are beating you. Judging from your weight most of them are bigger then you. Those guys are relying on thier weight for their speed. If you can learn carve clean and well when the course starts to turn a little more you'll blow by those guys.

Good luck
hope you enjoy it.
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hey all...well tonight I had my worst night of skiing ever...I couldn't get myself to angulate at all and I couldn't get an edge...besides that the conditions were poor and my boots and knees were bothering me. Oh well...

kb1dqh-I am a Sophmore
Bob -1. I crack myself up also 2. Don't have cable so I am deprived of OLN and ski coverage (hey but the Olmpics are coming up) 3. Unfortunately I dont think I have time to seek outside help, at least this season.
KeeTov- Little drills to help me become an efficient carver?...sounds good but I don't know what you mean by "pivoting just above the snow ".


About my boots- Well I guess I could pay for a new pair out of my own pocket, I do have 1.6K just kinda lying around (I rarely ever spend money)...What would you guys suggest?
post #9 of 28
I'm going to let the pros give advice as to which boot to choose. But I will say, and believe me, I had to learn this the hard way, if your boots are slush buckets, it will be impossible to get your skis on edge, even with the best coaching possible.

I'm not sure if this would be appropriate for racing technique, but read my post about snow blades. They are probably not too expensive to rent. You HAVE to carve when you use those things!
Good Luck!
post #10 of 28
Nathahn--again, I'll suggest a lesson, now for two reasons. First, of course, is the technique thing. Make SURE you are practicing the "right stuff"--and not just getting good at bad skiing!

Second, this might be a great way to find some good boots, cheap. Tell the instructor that you think you need new boots. He/she will help you decide if that is really the case. And--read this--he may well have an older pair in decent shape that fit you, and that he'd sell for a song. If not (and it would be quite a coincidence if the boots your instructor was trying to get rid of actually fit you), I'll bet he knows 15 other instructors who have last season's boots lying around that they'd love to get rid of.

Come to think of it, what size are your feet?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #11 of 28
"pivoting just above the snow"

If you follow the progression, your free unweighted ski leg doesn't have to be lifted that much off of the snow. Using flexion/extention of the ankles/knees(good boots), you are able to move both feet (pivot) from pointing in one direction to pointing in the other. The extention removes some of the weight, so you "pivot just above the snow".
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
another question - there is a little thing on the back of my boot that looks kinda like quick-release for bike weels only plastic. Where should it be? I can' tell if it adjusts flexablity (in that case I'd want it as high as possible) or tilt of the upper boot, or what.
post #13 of 28
Apologies if this is a stupid reply, but is it on the back of the cuff?

If so, it could well be a ski/walk lever.
In one position it will allow the cuff to tilt further back, thus making walking in your boots slightly less awkward, in the other it should be holding the cuff with more of a forward tilt in it to help you stay in a better skiing position. You may need to flex your boots to get it to lock from one to the other. Turn the lever, then lean forward and listen for a click, then notice how far back you can lean. Repeat the process, and see if you can notice a difference.


Hope this helps,

S
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Imagine this is the back of my boot...The L is where the lever is.
<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 10, 2002 02:56 PM: Message edited 1 time, by nathahn ]</font>
post #15 of 28
OK, I stick by my original guess - ski/walk

Any other (better) suggestions?


S
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
ok me = dumbass...on closer inspection it clearly says "flex control" on it, whit lables + and -. The question is is + more flex or more stiff?
ANYWAY...The boots are technica TI-4's.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 10, 2002 03:41 PM: Message edited 2 times, by nathahn ]</font>
post #17 of 28
If it's a Technica, it's a flex adjustment.
post #18 of 28
I think bob barnes first post to you is the best. the person with the straightest line ,carving the smallest C, will win the race.
New tech has leveled the field at all levels of racing from J6 thru world cup, advice given without seeing you is almost impossible.

Dont let carving fool you , lastest gs tech includes a sliding tech called mis- direction
this happens on very steep slopes where gates are placed closed together or far across the hill, von grudigan (spelling) is a good example of tech he will let his skis slide across the hill until he is at a point that gravity will pull him to next gate and he than will re set his edges and boom, if he was to try to just carve this turn he would never make the next gate, speed and the energy of the loaded ski wont let him.

I guess my point there is a lot to winning a race besides a carve.

sorry I rambled,
ps I dont coach but 2 boys that have raced for 10 years ,with ex world cup coaches, thogh I have been a race chair for about 8 years. a little bit of what I have picked up
post #19 of 28
I think bob barnes first post to you is the best. the person with the straightest line ,carving the smallest C, will win the race.
New tech has leveled the field at all levels of racing from J6 thru world cup, advice given without seeing you is almost impossible.

Dont let carving fool you , lastest gs tech includes a sliding tech called mis- direction
this happens on very steep slopes where gates are placed closed together or far across the hill, von grudigan (spelling) is a good example of tech he will let his skis slide across the hill until he is at a point that gravity will pull him to next gate and he than will re set his edges and boom, if he was to try to just carve this turn he would never make the next gate, speed and the energy of the loaded ski wont let him.

I guess my point there is a lot to winning a race besides a carve.

sorry I rambled,
ps I dont coach but 2 boys that have raced for 10 years ,with ex world cup coaches, thogh I have been a race chair for about 8 years. a little bit of what I have picked up
post #20 of 28
Try skiing with more flex(don't know if it is + or - direction).

The more flex you have(your age, weight, ability), the more overall control you will have on the ski.
post #21 of 28
nathahn:

Have you taken your boots into a shop yet? I see that as the most critical issue with your skiing. From your description, you are flopping around in there.

The connection between the boot and the foot has to be like a solid mechanical linkage. Anything that your ankle does has to be transmitted to the skis as soon as you do it. If your heel is lifting as you try to drive forward the same applies.

It's kinda like that new commercial on TV where ...... timing is everything .... where the guy tosses the coin 20 feet after he goes through the toll booth. With loose boots, that's what's happening ...... you are constantly "behind" what the skis are doing.

All of the technique, strategy, waxing etc. can't make up for this.
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
Bob- I have I size 7.5 (male, but you could prob. figure that out) shoe. Again, I don't have time for a lesson until Feb. vacation, and most of the season would be behind me then. But if I do decide to, what would you suggest? I don't know much 'bout lessons. A race oriented one might be nice but it could be expensive, hard to find, and I might feel out of place. I dont know...
Keytov - so more flex = more control?? I thought it was the opposite. Why would anyone want less flex then?
post #23 of 28
Nathahn--size 7.5--tell us a little more--wide feet or narrow? High arch or instep? Better yet, go to a shop and try on some boots until you find what fits you well--and tell us! Then I'll ask around. I'll bet we can get you a pair of boots that will be better than what you've got....

As for lessons, scrounge up enough money for a group lesson--$50-$75 should be plenty. I know, even that is a lot, but it will be worth it. Then go to a good ski school and tell them you want to work on your race technique. If they don't have a specific race-oriented clinic, they might well give you a private lesson, or a very small group of like-minded skiers. Take the lesson. Ask about the boots, and anything else you want to know. Be prepared to get some ideas that will need a lot of practice on your part before you really "own" the movements.

And if it doesn't meet your needs and goals, COMPLAIN! Tell them you were not satisfied. Explain again what you want. They'll give you another lesson for free, I can (almost) promise!

Don't worry about being out of place in a lesson. It is a common concern, for people who haven't taken lessons for a while. But the ski school will put you in a group where you belong (again--if they don't, COMPLAIN!)--it's something they do every day, hundreds or even thousands of times.

Have fun--and get your money's worth!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #24 of 28
For carving, one thing you want to think about is getting your skis as far away for your body as possible (don't straiten your legs though), and let centrifugal force do it's job.

Now I only wish my school had a racing team because I certainly could never afford racing in a club or whatever, but I'm still quite fast (no one ever passes me) and carve a good arc (or so I'm told by people who watch me ski). Anyhow good luck with your racing.
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
Well...my feet... I'd say there kinda wide, with a medium-high arch, my toes all line up (ie big toe is furthest away, then goes down in order) and one toe goes half-under another. My heel might be non-standard, I cant tell. i gtg

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ January 15, 2002 06:45 PM: Message edited 1 time, by nathahn ]</font>
post #26 of 28
nathahn,

Welcome to Epicski.

After you get the boot thing figured out,

Sounds like you are on your way. Best thing is to get someone (pro or instructor) to look at your skiing and tell them your goals. They should be able to then give you exercises to work on your skiing. Then it's just more miles on the snow to build that muscle memory. There are some tactics but more important right know is to get your body learning so you can react instead of thinking about what you are doing.

Listen to all the other tips you have gotten. I bow to their more advanced knowledge..
post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 
actually I might be able to get a lesson this weekend...where should I go? I live in Boston...looking for a relitively short drive (it would only be a day trip)
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
...I took a lesson as you guys suggested...Well The major thing we found (and corrected) is that I was kinda hunched over (my back was tilting forward). It was a mental thing really; In an effort to get my weight forward, I was trying to get "me" forward. "I" am located in my head, so by putting my head forward, It felt like I was forward. Of Course, This actually put less of my weight where I want it, hurts my mobility, and changes the way my foot contacts with the boot because the angle in my leg is diffrent or something, and probably makes me look less cool (which is half of skiing, right? ). Makeing the flex "softer" actually seemed to accomplish what I tried and failed to do by decreasing the flex(it's hard to explain, but I can bend my legs more, and the boots feel sturdier, I guess because I easily get to the most flexed position where the boot becomes firm in the front). The boots still dont fit, but it seems I can control my skis a bit better using better form. The instructor said he had his boots custom fit with with all this fancy stuff, but I don't think I can afford that.
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