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another Steeps and Carving question...

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Is over-the-top skidding inadvisable, in every situation?

For instance, after a "short turn on steep terrain" lesson I've taken my newly "flat" skis to the steeper terrain I've attempted and found them to be very reassuring - I have a way to get the skis across and stay countered - and, though it's hardly elegant, it's working, in that I'm getting a gradual feel for how to approach steeps.
So, while what were called "J turns" - the swoop ended by the "sting" at the end - might have been essential with the old straight skis, they feel useful to me as I get quicker and more willing to use my edges on steeps.

Am I doing something less than efficient? Am I ingraining habits I'll only have to unlearn? The J's are looking more like esses each time out but would any of you instructors say I'm practicing what is essentially unnecessary, having taken a drill and invested too much in it?
Is it impossible to comment on this without seeing me ski?

Sorry if this is too vague to address. And yes, I do practice steeps footwork on the easy blues and greens as well, still.

edit: part of what i'm getting at here is that i feel too much "twisting" sometimes in my flattening phase, as if I'm forcing the move.

Ah, know what? I'll post some still shots* or video*.

(*when hell freezes over)

[ October 09, 2003, 01:57 PM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #2 of 16
I'm not exactly sure what you are doing, but I'll give you an answer anyway.
At some point, the hill becomes too steep to carve by engaging the edge at the top of the turn. Better skiers can carve on steeper slopes, but no matter who you are, some hill is too steep to carve. (Actually, if a slope is not too steep to carve, it's not really steep.) Often, the first time anyone skis steeps they aggressively crank their skis around, then hit their edges hard to get some speed control. The problem is that there is no speed contol during the cranking phase, and it's difficult to get good edge engagement in the braking phase. This technique is also a disaster in the bumps. A round turn, with steering and a little scrubbing (skidding sounds bad to most skiers) throughout the turn allows speed control in all phases of the turn. Is that why your new skidded turns feel better to you?
The key is not just to ski a flat ski, but to use leg extension to maintain good pressure at the top of the turn. That keeps you connected to the snow, and generates the friction needed to control speed. Once you master the skidded round turn, you can experiment with adding a little edge, progressively, starting as early as possible in the turn.
FWIW, I took a steep clinic last year, and I was told "more skidding at the end of the turn" to help control speed and get into better position to initiate my next turn. The hammer-my- edges-into-the-ice technique I learned in New England didn't work that well in Colorado.
If you are getting comfortable on steep terrain, you are on the right track.

Regards, John

[ October 09, 2003, 03:10 PM: Message edited by: John Dowling ]
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you! By the way, the pressure maintenance is something milesb has mentioned - you're right - and once i began concentrating on that, the skis have been more responsive.
I suspect you are onto something here and that specific may in fact be what i need to focus on.

[ October 09, 2003, 02:05 PM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #4 of 16
When on the steeps, don't forget that if your ski isn't moving forward (at least a bit), its sidecut can't help it come around, let alone let it actually carve, and that if most of your motion consists of sideways skidding and edge sets, your skis aren't moving forward. In other words, try not to come to a dead stop after each turn.

Tom / PM

[ October 09, 2003, 02:50 PM: Message edited by: PhysicsMan ]
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally posted by ryan:
[QB]
Am I doing something less than efficient? Am I ingraining habits I'll only have to unlearn? The J's are looking more like esses each time out but would any of you instructors say I'm practicing what is essentially unnecessary, having taken a drill and invested too much in it?

edit: part of what i'm getting at here is that i feel too much "twisting" sometimes in my flattening phase, as if I'm forcing the move.

QB]
I think you're on a good track. Practicing what's unnecessary is a technical side. You're dealing with your emotional side--doing what's necessary to just be in the steeps, feel control, and lower the anxiety levels. The tech tool you're using to do that will always be part of your repertoire, but not always be what you do every turn.

Also, your solution is obviously baring fruit, as the shape of your turn seems to be smoothing out as the confidence grows. Furthermore, you're feeling that your move is somewhat excessive (forced) at times. But this is again, a function of growing confidence in just how much edge to apply.

Continue experimenting as you are, follow your intuition about too much twisting, and you'll discover on your own, that magic place where the edging and twisting are held in just enough balance to make a round turn with just enough drift to feel control. Then increase the edge angles to increase the slice--realizing that there will be a point of diminishing returns.

The carving on steeps is only really possible with very short slalom skis connected to a massively strong and agile body--like Bode Miller's for example. But it's not an essential goal in the steeps. Furthermore, usually the steeper it is, the nastier the snow, and that disrupts the slice pretty significantly.

One last thing that may help. As you diminish your excessive force, notice the role of the pull of gravity in providing energy to turn. You start to be aware of the power available in the steeps is far more quickly accessed than it is on the flats.
post #6 of 16
Ryan-
You are getting some great ideas here. May I add my .02?

PM touched on the idea of not completely or nearly stopping at the end of each turn. I can't agree more wholeheartedly to that statement!

By keeping a certain amount of down-the-hill movement happening, to maximize continuity, you maintain the core energy which facilitates linking one turn to the next. Even if you are skidding a bit, or slicing the edge, keeping the movement going is critical, as suggested by JD.

Weems identified the accessible nature of the various forces which act upon us during a turn, and recommends harnessing those forces to your advantage. Again, sage wisdom. Don't try to over power the ski, but rather allow the energy of the hill to flow into the skis and manage it to your desires. You will ski more effortlessly, with more aplomb, and dude- you'll rip! As you'll be more relaxed, your movements will be quicker, cleaner, and more efficiently controlled.

But if your goal is to try to "carve" on these extreme angles, as your confidence increases, just try to edge earlier each turn. Don't expect a pure carved turn, it likely won't ever happen. But the definition of "carving" isn't "no skid". It's minimizing excessive skidding. And the earlier you do get on the edge, the less effort will be required at the end of the turn and the easier it will be to maintain your balance.

:
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
I appreciate the feedback. Thanks, all.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
It feels like footwork. A picture I saw last night got me to thinking about this some more. If my turn is caught in a freeze-frame and I am at the bottom of one S, top of the next, my skis parallel and perpendicular to the fall line, my upper body countered, facing down the hill, the problem I have is in the smooth transition of weight from what is now my downhill ski, to the uphill ski, beginning the new turn.
One thing that has helped is the releasing of that downhill ski, allowing me to "fall" down the hill, the uphill ski engaging on its own, and driving into the new turn.
As for upper body, it has seemed at times that making sure to make my pole plants, and forgetting what is happening at the feet, is enough to save me; the turns, if not pretty, seem to come around.
Anyway, this is what I'll be working on joyfully this season.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally posted by ryan:
... One thing that has helped is the releasing of that downhill ski, allowing me to "fall" down the hill, the uphill ski engaging on its own, and driving into the new turn.
As for upper body, it has seemed at times that making sure to make my pole plants, and forgetting what is happening at the feet, is enough to save me; the turns, if not pretty, seem to come around.
Anyway, this is what I'll be working on joyfully this season.
Ryan, from my own experiences I would say that this is the crux of the matter where perception (of a downhill fall) inhibits movement (proper release of the downhill ski). A little anecdote: A few years ago just before hip replacement surgery I was skiing at Alta and having a tough time of it skiing some moderately steep lines off the high traverse. Basically, I couldn't (wouldn't) release my right downhill leg as the hip flexation and external rotation needed to retract that ski was just was too painful. The result was that I held that edge the same as I do when I am hesitant to release due to perceptual (not necessarily even conscious) inhibition. Finally I was so frustrated with the difficulty I was having (especially since I was skiing with a local friend who is a really great skier) that I bit the bullet and skied a run with retraction just to see if I could really still ski this stuff. Lo and behold I could do it! At least for the one run the pain was worth it although I couldn't keep it up.

The release you talk about is the key to the door. One of the best ways I know to work on it is to follow a friend who is one of the best skiers you can find. Following someone who is releasing and making it simple gives added confidence and perceptual assurance of the efficacy of such movement. You can talk and think about it all you want but in the end this is a "do it" kind of thing.
post #10 of 16
Hi ryan...my $.01 :
You might try focusing more on your upper body more...it could help in keeping your hips/legs relaxed, particularly as you want to steer from the sockets...while keeping the hips aligned with your intended line....as well as providing momentum(PhysicsMan).
Get the work with the feet(edging/pressuring.."scarving") done!..or at least working Early...before you bring em' across.
Extension(John), balance, and Use that inner ski whever possible.


Steve

[ November 11, 2003, 01:25 AM: Message edited by: HaveSkisWillClimb ]
post #11 of 16
Hey, Ryan, you don't have to wear the blue pants in a video, you know.

Anyway what most of the previous advices amount to is to avoid hurrying your turn entries. Your desire to get to the solid feeling of the edges biting and standing against the forces building up under your feet sometimes makes you rush the beginning of the turn.

Use "survival" skiing until you're near the runout for a steep section and then go for the "total commitment" of not hurrying the start of the last couple of turns on the steep. Then get to where you're half a dozen turns from the runout and slow your turn entries again. Pretty soon you'll ski the entire steep section without the hesitation that makes you want to hurry the skis around in a turn.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally posted by ryan:
One thing that has helped is the releasing of that downhill ski, allowing me to "fall" down the hill, the uphill ski engaging on its own, and driving into the new turn.
Quote:
Originally posted by Kneale Brownson:

Your desire to get to the solid feeling of the edges biting and standing against the forces building up under your feet sometimes makes you rush the beginning of the turn.

Has Kneale seen you ski? Rushing the beginning of the turn by excessive rotating is a common tactic for first-time steeps skiers. Concentrate on PRESSURING your skis early in the turn to create the early edge engagement that will make the turn feel more secure.
From your description above, it sounds to me as if you understand what you need to do. All this stuff is easier said than done, and you really need to put in enough time to be comfortable in steep terrain. Just get out and do it.

Regards, John
post #13 of 16
...Wow, my cutting & pasteing towards legible English in the early AM, while re-editing code on another screen....leaves a LOT to be desired : sorry about that...

Staying a little lighter on your feet throughout your turns especially, distributes pressure more evenly between both skis resulting in less work for each foot and more scarving being accomplished by your inside ski by taking a more inner radius to the turn.
Reaching down the hill with the hands for that next pole plant will help with upper/lower body separation and will end the banking.
It'll also help keep your feet and ankles relaxed and ready to tip & roll....

Steve/HSWC

[ November 12, 2003, 12:45 AM: Message edited by: HaveSkisWillClimb ]
post #14 of 16
Wow. This stuff is deep. Too many words. Get out and ski with someone better than you and visualize. Watch parts of good skiers on a Warren Miller movie is slow motion over and over. Visualize.

Some key snipets:

Hands in front, hands in front, hands in front like your reading a newspaper. If you don't you will rip the hell out of your ACL.

Get your upper body leaning forward more and more and more. This is especially VERY important on steep trails.

Your leg should have A LOT of forward preasure on the top of the boot at ALL times.

Just when you think your upper body is to far forward, get more forward. Like I said this is espcially VERY important on steep trails. If your scared and get back your done and might as well fall down take your skis off and walk down.

When initiating a new turn with shape skis learn to just throw your upper body down hill early in the turn transition. This will get your weight on the new down hill ski and edges much earlier.

Learn to ski without looking down at your skis. Focus on something else like the hat or eyes of a friend stopped below you.

Don't think just ski. Be dynamic not static.

Oh yeah most important HAVE FUN and point them babies down hill and let em run.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally posted by ryan:
So, while what were called "J turns" - the swoop ended by the "sting" at the end - might have been essential with the old straight skis, they feel useful to me as I get quicker and more willing to use my edges on steeps.
Only necessary with the old skis if you had imperfect technique. With proper technique, all three basic turn shapes were quite possible: Early turn (snow sprays mostly uphill), Rounded or "carved" turn (constant snow spray across the fall line around the turn in the shape of a semi-circle), and the aformentioned "J-turn" (snow sprays mostly down the hill).

Which turn is correct depends entirely on your priorities.

On really steep pitches using anything other than a "J-turn" might cause you to be scolded by a ski patroller for skiing too fast.
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally posted by saddlebackattack:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by ryan:
So, while what were called "J turns" - the swoop ended by the "sting" at the end - might have been essential with the old straight skis, they feel useful to me as I get quicker and more willing to use my edges on steeps.
Only necessary with the old skis if you had imperfect technique. With proper technique, all three basic turn shapes were quite possible: Early turn (snow sprays mostly uphill), Rounded or "carved" turn (constant snow spray across the fall line around the turn in the shape of a semi-circle), and the aformentioned "J-turn" (snow sprays mostly down the hill).

Which turn is correct depends entirely on your priorities.

On really steep pitches using anything other than a "J-turn" might cause you to be scolded by a ski patroller for skiing too fast.
</font>[/quote]My thoughts: FYI: if you want to do the carved s turns as saddle was mentioning you will probably end up going very fast.

I find that the hardest part of the carved steeps is to get the 1st 2-3 turns in. After that you are either doign it right or your on your bottom. I think the way you approach the top of a steep run is importnat. I prefer to have some momentum rather than stoping at the top of the drop off. I always back up from the ledge to have some momentum and do a couple short turns to get the rythm going at the top of the run, before the steep parts. Stoping on the ledge and looking over makes it harder for me to get going without falling on my first turn. HTH.
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