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Skiing with both skis togethor throughout turns?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
When I ski, my skis always form a slight wedge or snow plow whenever I turn. I think only one of my skis is forming a wedge and the other stays parallel. This is keeping me from truly parallel skiing. I am a new skier and I ski green runs and an occaisional blue. I ski relatively fast and I do not purposely form a snow plow or a wedge very often. The problem with unknowingly forming a snow plow on my turns seems to occur on most terrain including groomed runs. When I think of making a turn I think of extending my body upwards and putting most of my weight on my outside ski. I then think that the skis will pretty much execute my turn. I am generally turning to control my speed. When I make my turn the first thing I think of moving is my general weight to my outside ski, I also think of extending my body upwards. This is basically how I turn. I need help to cure this problem!!!!
post #2 of 10
Will --

Just got back from a trip and was browsing through the messages and noticed yours...I'm surprised there are no replies because this isjust the kind of thing these people seem to like to weigh in on.

So...to give my two cents.

It is hard to know what might be "the problem" when I can't see you ski but I can throw out a few things which might help you notice what is really happening.

When I learned to ski, I learned in an enormous snowplow (yes, I said snowplow, not wedge). To turn I had to put a lot of weight on the outside ski and wait for the turn to happen. Eventually, I wanted to ski parallel and the way we did it was to stem out at the beginning of the turn, put weight on the outside, and then lift the inside ski and bring it parallel to the outside one.

It took me a long long time to change that. I don't mean I kept stemming all the time but the little wedge did keep happening. I couldn't understand it, I was doing all the things they talked about in the magazines.

Then I started teaching and in a year or so I began to understand a little more. I kept hearing about steering both feet and I thought I understood the concept but it took a long time for it to sink into my body.

One of the things that helped was having to to do low end demos and actually steer both feet. Sure, I ended up pressuring the outside leg more but I was also steering both feet.

I don't think I've ever taught people to improve two footed steering by teaching them what helped me and with today's shaped skis there are other things to help.

If you work on getting most of your weight on the outside ski you may also be steering it more than the inside ski just because it is your most important ski.

When I teach, I ask my students which ski they think is the most important ski for turning. Usually they say the outside ski but some say the inside. I think you will find that that kind of reply throughout PSIA too but I won't bet on it. I personally thinkthat the inside ski is the "most important" one because it is the guiding ski. Until you start turning it (and getting out of the way of the outside ski) you can get both skis turning...it almost always remain a one-two (outside then inside) movement.

Now, with the shaped skis, the steering skill (rotary) has become a little less important and the edging skill a little more important. Don't get me wrong. Steering is still very important. But with the shaped skis we can use edging to do some of the steering for us and begin eliminating the oversteering (twisting) at the beginning or ending of our turns.

Dinner is being served (my life partner cooks and he wants me to eat while it is hot) so rather take the chance of being logged off my server, I'm going to send this reply now. I'll add more if you think it will be helpful.

post #3 of 10
I tend to agree with Susan.

However, it depends on which ski is doing the wedging. If it is the inside ski, as she presumes, I think she's right.

If it is the outside ski, there may be a bunch of other stuff: hip rotation, poor outside ski edging, too much pressure forward on a poorly edged ski, or perhaps bioelectromagnetic interdigital tippenstemmenlvorflagelosen. I'm not sure what the last one is, but I get really upset when I see it.
post #4 of 10
Weems -

I think I mis-stated something. I assumed that he was wedging more with his outside ski because he thought he should be moving it more....like inthe old days when we stemmed. True, he may be wedging more with his inside ski (absteming????) if he is stiff with his outside ski and needs to push off somehow with his inside ski... or am I getting all of that wrong. (I need to be doing it on the snow so I can figure out what I am saying).

My feeling is that most of us who wedge (teeny tiny high end wedges only part of the time but still existing ocassionally) do so because we are over steering our outside ski and and not steering our inside ski enough or not letting the ski do the work. ANd you are also right that there may be equipment and physical issues which can also effect it.

I also did't address his statement about how he extends. ANd that may also have something to do with it.

Years ago when I first started studying for level II, we were given the task of teaching someone to initate a parallel turn. This doesn't seem to be quite the issue today with the new equipment but it was something I struggle with trying to figure out an exercise line.

So I came up with side slipping to falling leaf and then using the foward part of the falling leaf to a VERY skidded turn initiation. THen we link a few very skidded turns. I have found that this still helps with some students who learned to ski before shaped skis and are struggling withtheir turn initiations. BUT it is only an exercise line to help them notice that they can turn BOTH feet. We have a very short lesson time here and I can't go much beyond that in a lesson but if I have them for another lesson (it does happyen ocassionally) we do other stuff to build on it.

If you were given the task to teach parallel turn initiation as one of your exam tasks (do they do it this way anymore??) what you teach?
post #5 of 10
I will borrow two drills that Bob B has used to help my skiing. The first is "thousand steps" and the second is to simply think/turn by turning "left tip left or right tip right".

A thousand steps is a wonderful exercise for skiers of all levels. I use it a great deal in lessons and I do the drill personally. I will explain the drill if anyone is not familiar with how it is done.

The tip drill is in a word phenominal. If one is traversing to the skiers right with the right ski being "uphill" and the left ski being "downhill" simply think of initiating AND completing the next turn to the skiers left by turning/tipping the left tip left.

I'll tell you where this really helped my skiing. Bob and I were in Union Bowl at Copper in about six to ten inches of busted up snow. It is not particularly steep, however, it is steep enough to be mildly unforgiving given the new snow. It was pointed out to me that I really did not complete the end of my turns and that I had a mild "edge set" that I used to push off into a new turn. In mainy ways it amounted to a little abstem. At Bob's urging, I finished a turn by continuing to think of turning my inside tip uphill and began a new turn from a neutral stance/posture in which I simply released the old outide tip downhill and eventually continued to turn that tip uphill to finish a turn.

I'm using "left tip left and right tip right" with a wide range of students and blending this idea with "thousand steps". These two drill meld well and have led to real breakthroughs with students.

Again, kudos to Bob Barnes for his insights.
post #6 of 10
Welcome back, Susan! This topic was actually posted twice, for some odd reason. :

That's why there are seemingly few replies.
post #7 of 10
No, Susan. You're right. I don't know what I was thinking. I wouldn't know how someone even COULD wedge their inside ski. I guess I was just referring to your solution is probably the best and first one. The ideas I came up with could be some other reasons besides just oversteering the outside. Most of them could be corrected by your solution as well as redistribution of weight, increase in edge, etc.

You're also right about the up motion. Will, if you go up rather than across (towards the valley), you're going to de-edge one side without re-engaging the other. This is going to release the edge and cause a wedge as well.

Susan your falling leaf/edge change drill is still a good one. And like any great exercise, you have to only be aware of its limitations: it teaches a nice edge release to allow steering, but what do you do then to help latch on to the new edges and prevent oversteering.

As to what you would teach for parallel...I think these days damn near anything you teach is for parallel. Start anywhere--as long as it matches student need, and creates a real progression through small chunks.
post #8 of 10
Hi Will--

I believe that the roots of your problem are evident from your description of how you turn. I suspect some technical, and some tactical, issues. Let's take a close look:

First the technical stuff. There MAY be a subtle, but critical, understanding issue here. You wrote, "When I think of making a turn I think of extending my body upwards and putting most of my weight on my outside ski." Think carefully about what you mean by this statement. If you extend "up," and shift your balance to the uphill ski at the same time, you are very likely moving your body UPHILL, and OVER your uphill ski. Of course, before you can turn, like a bicyclist, you must be leaning into the turn--not directly over your balance foot. So what do you do? PROBABLY twist that uphill ski tail farther up the hill, out from underneath your body. Voila--a wedge! And perhaps more importantly, a skidded entrance into the turn.

This sequence is known as a "rotary pushoff." I'll bet that, during that "up" extension, you also rotate some part(s) of your upper body into the turn. It may be subtle--perhaps just your hands, and only slightly. But I'll bet it happens. And I'll also bet that your downhill ski edge is engaged during this "up" move, before you transfer your weight from it. If so, it cannot turn down the hill as you start the turn with your uphill ski--again resulting in a slight wedge as you initiate the turn--a quick "1-2" action of your legs and skis into the turn.

The key to changing this involves several things. First, as Rusty describes, you must think of starting the new turn by letting your DOWNHILL ski tip turn DOWN the hill (or actively turning it down the hill). And, of course, your body must go down the hill at the same time if you want to stay in balance. This is almost the opposite of the "extend my body uphill and [transfer the weight to the uphill ski]" move that you described!

DO NOT try to transfer your weight, especially prior to the turn initiation--it simply causes you to move in the wrong direction! Instead, focus on turning your skis into the turn, ALLOWING the weight to transfer toward the outside, as it does when you turn a car. Depending on your speed, the accuracy of your movements, the radius of your turn, the conditions of the snow, and the steepness of the hill, the "full" weight transfer may not occur until half-way through the turn--if ever! And it will occur as RESULT of the turn--not as a cause. With improved movement accuracy and increased speed, that weight transfer may well occur quickly, completely, and early in the turn, but it will still be primarily the turn's result, not its cause.

The "extension" will also occur as a side-effect, rather than an intentional action. In order to turn that downhill tip down the hill, you will have to release its edge grip on the mountain. This involves reducing its edge angle, which also requires a movement of your body DOWN the hill, beginning with a tipping of your downhill foot and leg down the hill. A slight extension of your body will probably accompany this relaxing of the edge angle, but again, it will RESULT from it, not cause it, and it will be directed DOWN the hill, not "up."

Now for the tactics. All of these movements assume that you actually want to GO down that hill, of course! They assume that you want to GAIN speed, too, not lose it, when you start the turn--because that is obviously what will happen when you let go of the mountain and point your skis down the hill!

You said two things that make me suspect otherwise: "I like to ski relatively fast," and "I...turn to control my speed." Remember that "fast"--relatively, or otherwise--is a state of mind. It is usually the state of mind that means "I do NOT want to go FASTER." Like I said, you MUST want to go faster when you start a turn, because that's what will happen, whether you want it or not, unless you put your brakes on (read "snowplow"). Skiing "fast" puts you in a defensive state of mind, which makes these very OFFENSIVE moves unlikely, even you have the skills to do them!

And "turning to control speed" confirms my suspicion. Great turns control DIRECTION--not SPEED. BRAKING slows you down. Great turns result from "GO thoughts"--the offensive intent to GO THAT WAY, rather than the defensive intent to slow down, or to "stop going THIS way."

Of course, GOING--uphill--also slows you down (whether turning, or going straight). So these offensive "GO" turning movements, because they give you precise control of your line, will ALLOW you to go uphill if you choose, but not usually until the end of the turn. When you START the turn, you must want to go DOWNHILL, and to GAIN speed!

Learning to think of the turn as a direction-control thing, rather than a speed-control thing, could well bring about a quantum leap in your skiing, not to mention solving your "snowplow problem." I do not use turns to control speed. I use them to control LINE. And I ski a line that eliminates the NEED to control speed--a line that quite often carries me uphill. Only if I don't have the option of skiing this "slow line," will I use my brakes to control speed.

While braking involves some similar movements to turning, it is really the OPPOSITE, both in technique and in intent. A "braking turn" (a self-contradiction, by my definition of turning!) involves "pushing the left tail left to avoid going right." A "good" turn involves "pulling the right tip right to go right." Push vs. Pull. Tip vs. Tail. Right vs. left. "Go" vs. "avoid going." Like I said--complete opposites, in every way!

So--develop the offensive "go" attitude of expert skiers. Then practice, as Rusty described, "left tip left to GO left; right tip right to GO right." Develop the expert's primary defining habit (and perhaps the best-kept secret in skiing):

"Ski a slow enough line as fast as you can, when you can."

We have discussed this concept of the "slow line fast" in numerous prior threads here at EpicSki. Check the archives. If it applies to you, as I suspect it does, it WILL result in an enormous breakthrough for you! Have fun!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

PS--Of course, I am making a lot of assumptions here, based on clues from your descriptions, without having seen you ski. I could be wrong!
post #9 of 10
Bob has (as he usually does) nailed a very valid point about the "UP" move that you are describing.

Will, it's a common issue. Most ski students go through it, if they are learning to turn from a wedge. The "sticky wedge" that won't go away, eh? Without watching you ski it can be hard to tell what's happening, but a few things might help...

The inside leg does need to make a slightly sharper turn around the corner. Even though the inside foot is not the one you are standing on, it needs to "keep busy" with turning. An exercise that helps a lot of folks to lose the wedge, is the idea of "steering" the inside ski a bit more. Stand across the hill, with your poles in the snow on either side of your skis for balance. Stand with your weight on the downhill ski. At the end of a turn, this IS the outside (stance) ski. Tip the uphill (inside foot) on it's little toe edge. Now try to steer or twist that same foot so the tip of this ski goes uphill, and the tail goes downhill. It won't actually move if the ski is edged and touching the snow. Keep the steering going on that foot, and pick it up. If you are steering strongly, the ski tip should twist uphill as soon as you lift it, and bang into the pole you have in your uphill hand as it twists uphill.

Add that steering of the inside (lighter, or free) foot to your turns, and the wedge will start going away. Unless you are banking too much to the inside of the turn, which will put too much weight on the inside foot, and it gets "sticky".

If you are trying to turn from a wide stance, feet almost as apart as in a wedge, your inside foot will have a hard time getting on it's little toe edge. As the feet get wider, both feet will be on the big toe edge. Just as in jumping jacks, in the feet wide apart position. Stand on your skis in a flat place. As you pull the feet togeter, closer, you should be able to find a point where both skis are flat on the ground, not tipped, and up on edge. This is narrower overall than the wedge.

Some people cannot find this flat point easily, and it might be due to alignment issues, knock kneed or bowlegged.

It really helps to be in a narrower natural (like walking) stance, feet right under the hips. This is a fairly narrow stance. Many people try to ski too wide, because they are used to wedging. And it "seems" more stable. But we're trying to parallel, right? So we need to go from one set of edges to the next; big toe edge on the foot we stand on (outside) through the turn, and little toe edge on the inside (free) and light foot. At the end of a turn to go in the new direction, the old outside foot (stance) becomes the new inside foot. So the idea is to tranfer weight from one foot to the other, isn't it?

Focus on getting that inside foot lighter, instead of making the outside ski heavier. If you take the weight off of one foot, the other HAS to get heavy, right? The "phantom move" described in detail elsewhere is a good way to learn this. A great couple of exercises to do this can be found here:

Phantom Wedge Closure: http://www.harbskisystems.com/olg2.htm
Wedge killing balance and turning exercise

Phantom Move From Fall Line: http://www.harbskisystems.com/olb3.htm
Slightly more advanced balance and turning exercise

Online lesson index from this same site: http://www.harbskisystems.com/lessonindex.htm

Hey Weems! "Bioelectromagnetic interdigital tippenstemmenlvorflagelosen", eh? I ain't touching that. As in "Ess isst nicht fur gefingerpochen".

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 20, 2002 08:12 AM: Message edited 2 times, by SnoKarver ]</font>
post #10 of 10
I had this very problem until very recently. On my lat day out, Saturday, I concentrated on two things, which have been mentioned here and in other threads in this forum.

First, as has been mentioned, turning both skis. The second thing was concentrating on letting the inside ski make a distinct track in the snow. I can't help you with what's involved in actually doing that, unfortunately; I didn't pay much attention, and I'm not at all qualified in any case to dispense advice on "how-to." About all I can say is that I was edging on both skis, and that allowed me to keep them even. It took awhile, of course - the inside ski kept getting away from me at first!

Anyhoo, this is just what worked for me. I wouldn't give it much priority though; I'm a lowly intermediate skier who could well be completely wrong...
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