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# A dumb question about speed control

Hi guys,

Amongst all the experts here, let me chime in with a very basic and probably very stupid doubt [img]smile.gif[/img]

First a little bit about me - I have only been skiing about 6 times, and taken 3 group lessons. I didn't get very good instructors so my progress hasn't been as quick as I would like. I did move on from the wedge quickly, and can now do (what I believe) to be fairly parallel turns, though with quite a bit of skidding I'm sure.

I came across Lito's book in March, unfortunately couldn't try it out last season and am eagerly awaiting the chance to do so now. I've been lurking on this forum and its a pleasure reading all the wonderful posts and learning from them.

I have a basic doubt about controlling speed -

- going down, a skiier will pick up speed due to gravity. So to maintain constant speed, you'd have to lose some speed somehow

- the only way to lose speed is friction (which is much higher in powder/crud), falling down or hitting something

- pure carving doesn't bleed off much speed (that's part of the thrill)

- so as far as I can tell, the only way to lose speed is to:-

a) keep turning till you are going uphill (against gravity) - a S-shaped turn won't lose much speed. Is this what's called 'completing the turn'?

b) apply active friction for some braking action with the edges. Isn't this skidding?

When watching skiiers on steep slopes its apparent that they are doing a little bit of (b) (or are they?) but on regular blues, how do I keep my speed in check? I don't see many skiier's turning uphill, and I doubt that they are accelerating all the way down (though that may be true, maybe I just can't tell).

If I'm missing something obvious here, someone please set me straight

Thanks
defcon,

Sounds like you have been reading everything right.

and by the way there are no dumb questions unless you don't ask them.
So dchan, doing this would require me to have wide looping turns. Now if I want to do this in a much narrower corridor (due to trail width or other skiers), I need to make shorter radius turns right?
Which I think are different from short-swing turns.

To do so I'd put more pressure on my outside ski (to increase the reverse camber and thus make the ski turn more) and also increase the edging (by angulation).

But if all this isn't enough, then at the start of the turn, I'd skid a little bit with my tails (the dreaded move which I think I'm doing now) to get the skis a bit more across the fall line before letting them go.

Is this right? And where does steering come into all this? I mean steering using the outside ski, not tipping the inside foot.
Defcon,

Your question is far from stupid. Actually it is a very smart one. It is difficult to see how turn shape can control speed. This is my take.

Don't rely only on turn finishes to control speed. I firmly believe the key is to 'round out' the upper portion of turns as much as the lower. If a skier 'rushes' through the first part, they merely point the skis down the hill and accelerate. But! If a skier edges and guides the skis into the fall line they take a circular path to 'straight downhill' reducing acceleration. Once there the skis continue the circular path right on through so they spend very little time pointed downhill.

Liken it to a bucket full of water. A circular path keeps the water in the bucket no matter where the mouth of the bucket is facing. It keeps gravity from taking over completely. Anytime that circular path is interrupted the water acclerates rapidly right down a 'fall-line.' A skier is the water, the skis are the bucket, a circular path can effectively overcome the effects of gravity to some degree.

The lower part of the arc is the easy part. It is the upper part that is hard to develop.

The tricky thing is getting there. It is a fine-line between action and relaxation. Muscling it just won't work. One of the most important factors is letting the skis take a much rounder, or more circular arc than the body does. Pure carved turns CAN result in constant speed control without curving uphill.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 17, 2001 03:25 PM: Message edited 2 times, by Roto ]</font>
As for the role of steering. It is a tricky one to put a finger on. Especially since around here there is so much disagreement and misunderstanding as to what steering even is!

Here is my take. Steering is a three dimensional movement pattern that includes edging, turning and balancing moves. Steering can be applied without causing skidding. Certainly different amounts of steering can be applied, just like in a car, some of these can and do cause skidding.

The role of steering is to keep the skis traveling an arcing path. If a skier gets off balance in some way or loses a decent three dimensional blend of movements the skis begin to lose the circular path, and speed control becomes compromised. A fairly continuous adjustment of the differrent components of steering will keep that circular path, and speed control, intact.

I think the key idea behind steering is that the legs are much more active than the upper body.

Oh, and in advance, this is for anyone who takes issue with the use of circular as opposed to arcing or elliptical [img]tongue.gif[/img] :

Circular is merely a general term as to general shape, rather than a geometrically exact line

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 17, 2001 03:43 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Roto ]</font>
Call me out if I am wrong but hasn't ski design (shape/sidecut) reduced the amount of steering needed in order to complete a turn?

A little off the subject, but you guys have this pretty well covered.

But if you want to check your speed a bit at the bottom of the turn develop a good abstem.
(actually i do not recomend this, it is something you want to correct, not add to your skiing) Basically you wash out the bottom half of the turn because you are too far forward on your skis.

My instructional tips are purley for entertainment value only. I have not utilized my cert for the past decade.
There is no shame in skidding.

The best skiers skid when required, the worst skid because it is all they know.

Have you ever seen a world class skier go flying across the finish line and the carve a perfect arc back around up the hill to stop?
defcon,
you have been making some great observations. It sounds like you are on your way to great amount of good skiing.

All the skills that are being posted are useful. There will be some that will tell you there is only one way to ski. I'm one of the people that believe there is no one correct way to ski. The more skills you add to your skiing, the more versatile you will be. it's all a matter of learning and blending all these skills. There will be situations where you have to make short swing turns as you aluded to. In a corridor that is about as wide as your skis are long may not allow for any other kinds of turns. Keep it up.

All ways of slowing or stopping are fine. It's when you only have one way to stop that there are problems.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by dchan:
defcon,
There will be situations where you have to make short swing turns as you aluded to. In a corridor that is about as wide as your skis are long may not allow for any other kinds of turns.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

That's what figure 11s are for!!

When In Doubt, Run It Out!
defcon -

Take a look at the thread:
http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...c&f=4&t=000499

FamilyMan asked virtually the same questions as you did about speed control, and a nice long thread developed from it.

Tom / PM
Roto

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> That's what figure 11s are for!!

When In Doubt, Run It Out!

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Heh heh heh

[img]tongue.gif[/img]

Also I don't have the fortitude to straightline Regal Chute or Hourglass chute at Alta..
Speaking of completing your turns. You never see anyone actually going back up the hill to control speed because, in most cases, it is simply not necessary. If you come anywhere close to perpendicular to the fall line, you will have ample speed control, as long as you ski at reasonable speeds. Most skiers reach 45-60 degrees (from the fall line) and with some minimal skidding (scarving) control their speeds with no problems. Develop patience and learn to embrace the feeling of "falling momentarily" down the mountain, and you will see that as long as you complete your turns you will slow down.
Hey Roto, you're figure 11's, in my mind, conjure up the same consequences as holding the family cat too long. The 11's can last longer than you had in mind.
[img]tongue.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 18, 2001 07:58 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Pierre eh! ]</font>
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by dchan:
Roto
Heh heh heh

[img]tongue.gif[/img]
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well..pointing it by choice IS a form of speed control...heh heh...

point taken though dchan & Pierre, there certainly are places where pointing it really isn't an option. I have found joy in pointing it in places I thought it wasn't an option until after I did it though.
TomB:
> You never see anyone actually going back up the hill to control
> speed because, in most cases, it is simply not necessary. If you come anywhere
> close to perpendicular to the fall line, you will have ample speed
> control, as long as you ski at reasonable speeds.

What you say is true if you either (a) have a wide enough trail so you can scrub speed off when you are near a traverse, or (b) you blend in quite a bit of skidding (ie, skarving). If you don't do either of the above, as defcon correctly pointed out, if you are making good carves, you simply have no mechanism to dissipate your potential energy, so this energy has to turn into speed in some direction or other (either down the hill or across it).

I think this is a larger problem with moderately experienced skiers than you may think. For example, I think FamilyManSkier described the exact same problem just a short while ago in this forum:

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by FamilyManSkier:
... However, my problem is that like most average skiers, most of my skiing is done on groomed eastern trails on either crowded weekends or holidays. If I carve my turns in a situation like this, I'm flying ACROSS the hill at very high speed (ie, across the paths of other skiers) and this just isn't safe. My actual downhill progress might be very slow and controlled, but I'm darting back and forth across the hill like some sort of crazed bug.
This isn't a matter of "completing your turns" either - they're complete - I can finish in a 90 deg traverse, but I'm still flying along like crazy. ...
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Obviously, some people think that coming close to a traverse will give you all the speed control that you need, while others do not.

I think this difference in experience / opinion can probably be explained in terms of:

a) Snow condition - Pure carving on fast eastern hardpack will dissipate much less energy than an equally nice looking carve on a slightly softer surface.

b) RR-track carve versus skarve - even a slight skid (non zero angle of attack) throughout the carve will dissipate vastly more energy than a pure carve.

c) Width and crowding of the trail - If you have a 100 foot wide swath to yourself to dissipate energy on near-traverses, anyone can conrol their speed, no matter how perfect (ie, energy lossless) their carves. OTOH, if you have to stay in a 15-20 foot wide swath (either because of trail width or traffic), it gets much harder to dissipate the energy.

d) Frequency of turning - The more often you make turns, the more "energy lossy" your skiing is (for non-experts). This is because you are spending a larger fraction of the total time for one turn in phases where some skidding is involved (vs. purer carving).

My personal take on this is the goal of good recreational skiing is smoothness and efficiency, no matter what the snow or traffic conditions. So, if you are on a soft surface and/or have the place to yourself, carve perfect RR tracks to your heart's content. If the snow is fast and you don't have much room to maneuver, move along the continuum to skarving. You will still look like your are carving to most people, but your speed will be well controlled. Only in the case of ultra-steep and/or ultra-narrow (or crowded), etc. should you revert to jerky windshield wiper, jumped turns, or anything similar. They will give you plenty of speed control, but your control of your line will be quite rudimentary.

Anyway, this is a good topic. I'm very glad it was brought up again.

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 18, 2001 10:05 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
Speed control : - never heard of it
Thanks PhysicsMan, I believe you have answered all the questions quite definitively!

Although I have never done a figure 11, I have come to believe in their virtues more and more after reading this forum [img]smile.gif[/img] It avoids the whole messy turning issue altogether and allows one to refine the technique without any controversy!
defcon
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I don't see many skiier's turning uphill, and I doubt that they are accelerating all the way down (though that may be true, maybe I just can't tell).<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

It was explained to me that you don't even see the element of turn up the hill, it just blends into the next turn so that from your vantage point on the chair you wish you could ski like that.

I was also taught short sharp turns that allow me to ski a narrow corridor at a speed of choice (almost choice!)- until I panic and then it all goes to hell and trying to regain control is enough. There are better informed on the Forum who can tell you how - I am going to have enough trouble remembering.

Have a good season.
Dumb?! NO WAY!! This is one the the best questions I've read, and it's the very question that first got me involved in this site. These replies are terrific, but none has been better than the concept which I first learned from Pierre, eh! It's called "the bulldozer turn", and there are more threads than one on this site which discuss it. Pierre, eh! It would be greatly appreciated by many, I'm sure, if you could post a link to a site discussing the bulldozer turn. This is for real, folks, and it is VERY effective - just takes some practice and getting accustomed to. Pierre, si vouz plais?
Once again the information in this tread is flawless. However, Ther is one aspect that has not been discussed and I feel most will find interesting.

Speed is relative. The sensations of speed obviously are different from person to person. and what Physics mas said about smoothness speaks to it. What we see from many students looking to control speed is a sypmtom of skidding in an attempt to control the speed near the middle of the turn. By doing this, the turn flattens out at the top, and the sensations our bodys are feeling is called acceleration. as soon as this registers in the brain (unconciously)the next move is to slam on the brakes. When acceleration happens quickly, the result in humans is for them to react or defend themselves.

Instructors call this a "Z" turn

What is the cause?

Human beings have an accute sence of acceloration, and deceloration, but no sensation of constant motion. Like if you are sleeping in a car going 60 mph you would never know it (we do not register constant motion), and it actualy is easy to sleep. As soon as the car begins to slow we wake up Nom matter how tired you are. Some kind of internal alarm clock rings very loud and we will wake up if the deceleration or exeleration or change in direction is strong enough. The fluid in your ears in the semicircular cannal, that controls balance and is our gyroscope, is the culprit, or "the alarm".

The point is we are more aware of increases and decreases in speed and when we sence it we try to control it. Hense the "skid" If you can accelerate slowly enough, you can train you defence system into letting go. Letting go is the key to controling speed letting go. "Skis are designed to make pefect turns, and they will, but only if you let them" Let the skis bring you through a round turn in their own time. As was said quite correctly earlier round early is the key.

Imagine a bowling ball. If you throw it as hard as you can directly across the slope it will start off going straight. Slowly gravity will start to change its direction until it is going streight down hill. Imagine the path of this bowling ball, Now as you are skiing "Be The Ball" ski on this path.

in the beginning of your turns you will learn to deal with the unconcious sence of accloration that forces you to slow down too fast

as P-man says the end result should be Smoooooth. The equivilant of slowing down by letting off the gas not slaming on the brakes.

the next step
In conclusion It may be contrary to diplomacy on this tread but funny enough figure 11 is also a correct answer, in a way. What I mean by this is that speed control is possible and quite comfortable when you carve figure 11 that look like an S

The point is, a pure carve hypetheticly is when the least amount, or should we say the most consistant amount of friction is present. So if we want to carve and control speed we need to find terminal volocity while carving. This may be standing the hair up on your neck Pman but I think you will agree that terminal volocity is when acceleration and friction balance out and the result is constant speed. When we get to the point of equilibrium between potential energy and friction.

Obviously, the slope, and shape of the turn will determine potential energy. Friction will be fairly constant. It is this point where my students find speed control and carving comfortable. When you know that if you continue the current shape turn you will not go any faster you can start to relax because we do not register constant motion only acceleration and deceleration. Soon you will find comfort at speeds that you would never think possible.

And it is here that we move from skiing to ski racing. Teaching skiing is helping people deal with speed. Racing is where you try to go faster than terminal volocity and never fight to control speed.

In all these posts you have just recieved about \$3,000 in private lessons. All hail the internet. Enjoy it !!!!

Shape babe, shape it up
Dig it?

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 19, 2001 04:40 PM: Message edited 2 times, by mosh ]</font>
mosh:

> The point is, a pure carve hypetheticly is when the least amount, or should we
> say the most consistant amount of friction is present. So if we want to carve
> and control speed we need to find terminal volocity while carving. This may be
> standing the hair up on your neck Pman but I think you will agree that
> terminal volocity is when acceleration and friction balance out and the
> result is constant speed. When we get to the point of equilibrium between
> potential energy and friction.

Mosh - Good post. My neck hair is extremely happy with what you said [img]smile.gif[/img] .

I think you are absolutely correct that skiing at one's terminal velocity makes everything soooo much easier. I think that it is most useful to encourage low intermediate skiers to experience this sensation. Even if they can only do it (at first) on a green slope, it gives them a taste of the right sensation. With miles under their skis, they will soon be able to do it on progressively steeper slopes.

BTW, I made my comment about blending in some skidding into the carving in order to promote exactly with what you said about skiing with a consistent amount of friction. A good skier (on well tuned, appropriate skis) will be able to adjust the amount of extra friction to get exactly the terminal velocity he seeks.

Tom / PM
Pierre, how many people would you take out of commision if you had your students reach terminal velocity at your hill?
Well, if Pierre isn't going for the bait, I'll have to lead you to the meat myself, but I can't seem to get the hang of the system. Go to the search function and search for bulldozer turn, or ask someone who knows how to use this site to post a url for you - damned if I can figure out how!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 20, 2001 07:47 PM: Message edited 2 times, by oboe ]</font>
oboe
My skiing might be shaky, but I can copy and paste.
This is Pierre Eh!'s thread on the Bulldozer Turn
http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...c&f=4&t=000095
Thanks, Nomad! For this technologically challenged bozo, would you mind letting me know how that's done? bgreene@law66.com

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 21, 2001 07:54 AM: Message edited 2 times, by oboe ]</font>
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by milesb:
Pierre, how many people would you take out of commision if you had your students reach terminal velocity at your hill? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Don't forget - your terminal velocity doesn't only mean the velocity you achieve if you point 'em straight down the hill. It also means the steady state (aka, terminal) velocity you reach with a certain frequency, size and type of turn. In this context, I understood Mosh to mean nice rounded carved turns with little defensive skidding intentionally introduced.

Hopefully, the danger to others wouldn't be too bad in that case.

Tom / PM

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 21, 2001 10:37 PM: Message edited 1 time, by PhysicsMan ]</font>
http://www.epicski.com/cgi-bin/ultim...c&f=4&t=000095 Got it!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ October 22, 2001 11:52 AM: Message edited 1 time, by oboe ]</font>
I've often said that good skiing is "skiing a slow enough line as fast as you can (when you can)." This is another way of saying "ski at terminal velocity on a path where terminal velocity is a speed you can live with"!

Neither of these statements suggests that braking is a bad thing--only that it is a bad HABIT. And the idea is as valid for a beginner making those first tentative turns as for the expert in a steep, narrow couloir, a field of moguls, or a wide-open groomed cruiser.

There are two fundamental ways to control speed--by adjusting resistance (ie. skidding/braking) or by adjusting direction (ie. going uphill). There is not a third way!

One thing that may have been overlooked in this discussion is the role of wind resistance. Remember that it increases geometrically with speed, so experts skiing fairly fast get a lot more speed control "help" just by moving through the air! It won't make them go "slow," but it is a big factor in maintaining their chosen speed.

I'll reiterate Mosh's excellent post too. The smoothness with which experts typically ski allows them to go faster with both the sensation and the reality of "control." Ironically, it is the sudden braking that lower level skiers habitually employ for "control" that really puts them OUT of control! The faster we go, the less we can afford to slam on the brakes....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
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