EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Skiing much better when in lesson?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Skiing much better when in lesson?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
 I have been reading lots of posts on the forum and really enjoy doing so and learning new things.  I finally took the time to register here today!   and here comes my first post...

I would describe myself as a level 5/6 skier.  On the easier blue runs, I have no problem with parallel turns and even short turns are sometimes doable on a good day.  I am also comfortable yet still careful on the difficult blue/double blue runs.  When I ski alone on these runs, I usually take up the entire width of the piste to ski the slope at an angle so that I won't go too fast.  I can also feel the flexing of the ankles of the feet with turning.  However, I noticed that my turns are not rounded enough and about half the times the turns are a bit hectic, sometimes even a bit of wedge in the very beginning if it's to steep or in non-ideal condition.

I am a big believer in lessons (had a total of five half-day privates first season out of my 15 days of skiing).  And in the 2 lessons I have had this season, the instructor had me skiing behind him and just follow his track.  I noticed that the skiing suddenly became much easier and I am capable of making nice rounded turns on the same steep slopes.  The turns are all linked and smooth, no wedge and speed is in control as well.  Yet as soon as I don't have a track to follow, everything seems to disappear.  

So basically, I feel like I am two different persons in and out of a lesson.  I was just skiing this weekend with some friends and I tried following the track from one of my friends who is pretty experienced, and I noticed an immediate difference.  I guess my question to the pros is, is there a way to help me improve and get over with this issue?  I certainly don't mind taking lessons, but how should I practice on my own?  In my old figure skating days, this issue would be easily solved with the lines on the ice rink... 

Is it really easier to follow a track when skiing?  or is it partly psychological just like everything else about this sport?
post #2 of 12
Following another's tracks puts you more on the automatic movement pattern required to do complicated maneuvers.  Without the "turn here" decision being made for you, you probably think too much about just where to turn and end up losing the sense of flow you experience while following your instructor.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
understandable, and following the track not only allows me to just ski without having to decide on where to turn, but it also allows me to "automatically" turn in the right/desired shape. But I guess the question is still outstanding, how can I practice then? I feel like I am at a point now that the lessons aren't doing much and I need to practice, but then days skiing alone just feel like practicing of bad hectic turns and not going anywhere.
post #4 of 12
This is a guess from what you said in post one about taking up the whole slope.  When you ski alone you're probably doing turn > go straight for a while > turn again.  Next time you ski alone keep repeating to yourself, turn > turn.  Where one turn ends the next one begins.  No big pause, hanging there between turns looking for a good place to launch the new turn, covering big chunks of real estate sideways across the slope as you do.  JUST TURN.  That's what the good skiers you're following do.  Did you do figure 8s in skating? Remember how you changed direction in those?  Quickly, right?  Did the skates tip in a single motion from one side of the blade to the other? Same thing when linking ski turns.  

Also, don't rush the tops of the turn.  By that I mean don't twist your skis around aggressively at the beginning of the turn, in a desperate rush to get your skis pointing back across the slope.  Take your time through the first half of the turn.  It will provide flow and fluidity to your turns.  That too is what those good skiers you follow do.  It's the principle of turn shape.  You want your turns consistent from start to finish.  Practice different radius turns, but always with the same C shape.  From turn to turn, nothing is done abruptly.  No aggressive twisting at the start of the turn.  Think of skating down the ice rink and wanting to execute a 180 degree turn.  Whether you were going to turn quickly, or make a long sweeping turn, you'd most likely make that turn very smooth and consistent of shape, wouldn't you.  Same thing here.  

Also practice making some turns in which the first half of the turn is of a longer radius than the second half.  It's a good way to ensure you're not rushing the start of your turn with that ugly twisting move we call a PIVOT.   Try to count to 3 or 4, from the time you begin your turn, to the time your skis have reached the falline (pointing straight down the hill).  When you can do that, you'll be well on your way to executing good turn shapes that have rhythmical flow, all on your own.  

Finally, part of turn shape is how long your keep turning.  It's called "Degree of Turn".  Going straight down the hill would be a 0 degree turn.  Finishing your turn with your skis 90 degrees to the falline is a 90 degree turn.  Practice turns of all different degrees, while maintaining the same consistent turn shape you were before.  This will add to the repertoire of turn shapes can perform and use.  

You'll find that the larger your degree of turn, and the smaller your turn radius, the better you can control your speed.  This is important knowledge and skill to have.  It will allow you to govern the turn shape you use according to the pitch of the hill your skiing.  Regardless of the pitch of the hill, it will provide you with tools you can use to manage your speed in a way that allows you to always maintain your flow, and avoid the dreaded pivot.

Hope that helps.  Have a look at my website:  http://www.yourskicoach.com/YourSkiCoach/Your_Ski_Coach_Home.html.  I have quite a bit of educational material there you may find helpful for developing your understanding of ski technique.  I have a number of articles I've written about various technical issues,,, an ASK THE COACH page where I answer common questions from students and readers,,, and a new GLOSSARY page that is a work in progress, but is going to be an amazing learning tool for all skiers when done.  

Enjoy your journey through this wonderful phase of your relationship with skiing.  You're at a point where improvements will be coming in leaps and bounds, and the associated fun and rewards will be plentiful.  The early days on skis are cool time.  
post #5 of 12
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

What do you practice? Drills!
If following someone's tracks is "automatically" fixing a technique issue, it's hard for us to tell you which drills would best help to make those new movements permanent. If your instructors aren't having you do drills before they tell you to follow them, then ask them for drills that will help you practice what you learned. In many of the threads on Epic you will find descriptions of practice exercises (i.e. drills). Try some of them. When you find a drill that is initially hard to do but you can get better at, then you've found a drill that will help.

As Kneale has noted, it really is easier to follow someone else's tracks (when they are making it easy for you to follow) because it's a lot easier to "go there now" instead of "go where, when?" This contributes greatly to that "psychological thing like everything else" aspect. Rick has given you some great suggestions for changing your mental focus. Here are some more ideas to consider.

It's a lot easier to ski with rhythm because movements should be continuous while skiing. If you get in trouble and pause, it's very hard to get the next turn started because you're typically trying to turn from a "stuck" body position instead of just continuing movements that are already in progress. So try skiing with an IPOD or just singing or humming. Force yourself to make turns to the rhythm of the music. If you can find a lift on a sunny day where shadows are cast onto the snow, make turns around the shadows of the chairs. Music changes the thought focus of the turn from where to when. The chair shadow drill starts to add the where focus back, while keeping the when focus as a priority.
post #6 of 12
Wanted to second the counting idea.  I am guessing that Rick was bang on - that you probably turn then hold for a while, then turn, which means that by the time you do your next turn, you are not really moving - and then you start moving to turn.  It is easier if you have a flow of movement from one turn to the next.  It also means that you are thinking about when to turn instead of what you have to do to turn.  I really like counting for this - count to 2 or 3 or 4 (depending on terrain/turn size), and everytime you finish, start your next turn.  

As for what to do - remind yourself what your instructors have been telling you.  Do they say you're too far back? Rushing the turn?  Moving up instead of out? Not flexing enough? Moving too much from the upper body? knees together?  Did they have tricks/tips that worked for you to fix those problems?  Odds are what you're doing when you ski without a guide is probably something that your instructor saw and then helped you work on. So keep working on it!

Elsbeth
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the ideas, everyone!  Here is an update... <still struggling...>

So, I went skiing yesterday.  Spent the morning going around the mountains with a friend mostly on European red slopes (which I believe are the equivalent of double blue back home in the states).  The condition was very powdery as the place got a huge dump of snow Friday night and it was actually still snowing relatively heavily during the morning on Saturday.  After lunch, I went for my 2-hour private lesson.  Since this is the first time that I was skiing at this particular place and hence new instructor as well, the instructor started out the lesson by asking what I skied in the morning and then we took a run down a red slope where he skied behind me in order to take a look at my skiing.  The immediate feedback I got was that I was using my legs pretty well with the up and over movement, but from time to time I still rotate my upper body too much towards the mountain side.  During the lessons, we worked on turning with just the outside foot while lifting the other one up and alternating.  We also worked more on bouncing where I would traverse with my arms up in the air then lower my arms and bend my knees when turning, and then stand back up again after the turn.  We also worked on short turns on the red slopes with pole plants.  Lastly, the instructor asked me to jump instead of turning when I turn.  At first, I thought he was crazy to ask me to jump, but it actually turned out OK.  And then, he told me that I should find a bump when I jump and turn as it's easier that way.  Because of the snow condition yesterday, it was actually easy to locate bumps all over the piste.  I tried it as he suggested, and I have to say that it is the most fun thing I've every experienced/done in skiing.  

Everything went so well yesterday and I would rate it as a top lesson.    Being so happy, I went skiing again today with a friend.  I tried to do the drills that we did during lessons yesterday.  However, while I was able to do most of them during the lessons yesterday (not perfectly, of course, but at a level that at least I feel comfortable doing them), I was able to do about zero of them today by myself.  Towards the end of the day, I managed to get some practice on the short turns with pole plants on the easier blue slope instead of the red ones, but somehow I just couldn't do it at the red.  I somehow felt like I would lose control to do any type of short turns on the red.  Same for the one-footed stuff.  The only thing that I was still able to do a little bit today was the turning on a bump part, but I probably only did two of them with a small jump/hop, and for the rest, I didn't feel comfortable enough to take both feet off the snow.  I did, however, enjoy the feeling of turning in the bumps - somehow it feels like the bumps helped me to turn.  It's like bumps gave me the raise and I didn't have to use my quad muscles as hard to turn.  Overall, comparing to yesterday, I was skiing much worse today... 

I am not sure what's causing the problem, but for whatever reason, I just ski much better during lessons.  Does having someone to watch exactly before I execuate a movement make that much of a different?  Granted, my legs are a bit tired today to begin with, but still, there is a huge difference.  The only other difference that I could think of is that it was far more powdery yesterday whereas the slopes were more prepared today.  But isn't it supposed to be easier to ski on the nice prepared slopes today than the messy ones yesterday? (see, I thought that I it would be a great idea to practice today at the nicely prepared slopes for what I learned yesterday) 

Does anyone here know of anyone else with similar problem?  I talked to a friend (skier) about this, and was told that maybe I should just keep on taking lessons (ok, he was joking a bit...)    but still... while, like I said before, I don't mind the lessons and I actually enjoy them quite a bit, I feel like I want to be able to be "independent" on the slopes and not be wedging all the time when I am alone.  
Edited by standardgirl - 1/31/10 at 10:28am
post #8 of 12

I would suggest starting your practicing on the most gentle terrain you can find and not taking it to the more advanced slopes until you feel the turning becoming almost automatic.

 

Turning really should be something you do with both skis and both legs involved, even in a wedge, so I would concentrate on including that thought in your practices.

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by standardgirl View Post
Does having someone to watch exactly before I execuate a movement make that much of a different?  Granted, my legs are a bit tired today to begin with, but still, there is a huge difference.  The only other difference that I could think of is that it was far more powdery yesterday whereas the slopes were more prepared today.  But isn't it supposed to be easier to ski on the nice prepared slopes today than the messy ones yesterday?
 

For some people, having someone to watch could make it that much easier. If so, you should be having this problem with other activities. Watching may be part of the problem, but the difference in slope conditions could easily be the bigger factor. Powdery snow can be much slower than "prepared" snow. If there's a lot of powder (i.e. it's deep, sticky or chopped up instead of packed down), that can create its own set of problems. The bouncing trick works much better in powder than it does on prepared slopes.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 



Edited by standardgirl - 2/2/10 at 12:12pm
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post




For some people, having someone to watch could make it that much easier. If so, you should be having this problem with other activities. Watching may be part of the problem, but the difference in slope conditions could easily be the bigger factor. Powdery snow can be much slower than "prepared" snow. If there's a lot of powder (i.e. it's deep, sticky or chopped up instead of packed down), that can create its own set of problems. The bouncing trick works much better in powder than it does on prepared slopes.
 

I was a figure skater for a long time and have always performed better during competitions than in practice. I guess I do tend to perform better when under "pressure" in one way or another.  Thinking more about it, I think it might also has to do with the trust factor during lessons.  When the instructor told me to do something, I feel like he must think that I am capable of doing this and even with some hesitation, I would still do it (I mean, otherwise, why would I even be in a lesson...).  

As for the snow condition, I didn't know that before.  But yes, the powdery snow was slower than the prepared ones.  What should I do?  I think I much prepare that powdery condition!  I don't think it's time for me to go off piste in search of non-prepared snows, but then I do prefer having the powder.  It felt much better.  Any ideas here?
post #12 of 12
I would also note that, if it had snowed and tons of people were skiing, the snow might just be a lot less pleasant the next day.  Fresh powder vs. chopped-up crud is a night-and-day difference.

Quote:
As for the snow condition, I didn't know that before.  But yes, the powdery snow was slower than the prepared ones.  What should I do?  I think I much prepare that powdery condition!  I don't think it's time for me to go off piste in search of non-prepared snows, but then I do prefer having the powder.  It felt much better.  Any ideas here?

Ski on easier (less steep/bumpy) terrain to practice.  Really focus on doing the exercises as cleanly and precisely as you can.

If you're trying totally new stuff, you should do it somewhere that the terrain is not intimidating at all until you know what it feels like to do it properly.  Exercises like skiing on one ski are designed to be difficult.  Until you can do them well on easy terrain, trying to do them on difficult terrain will probably just be frustrating.  (I'm sure you had similar experiences learning new figure skating moves.)

I go back and forth sometimes on the "perfect practice makes perfect" thing.  If you can't do something perfectly (or close to it) on easy terrain, you definitely won't do it well on a steeper hill.  On the other hand, don't bore yourself to death, and don't be afraid to try difficult challenges.    But if it's not working, dial back the difficulty or try something else for a while.

Confidence will come with experience, and when you feel secure in your abilities.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Skiing much better when in lesson?