or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Epiphanies in your skiing?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 

Epiphany; a moment of sudden revelation or insight


Throughout our skiing careers we experience moments of clarity and discovery that make a dramatic difference in our understanding of skiing.  These moments tend to be few and far between but when we experience one of them we change our skiing forever!


I would like to hear what some of your epiphanies have been throughout your skiing history!

post #2 of 63

I was skiing with Rusty Guy one day at Loveland.  We were working on bumps. I had been told by many instructors to "complete the turn", "turn up the hill" etc. and always thought I was doing it.  Rusty helped me to realize that I was not "turning up the hill" but was "carving up the hill" and using way too much edge for bump skiing. He made me turn up the hill on flat skis on every run we did.   This was a huge revelation for me.


The second was this year with Matt Bellville from Breck.  A friend of mine and I purchased an all day private lesson at a benefit auction.  At the beginning of the lesson, Matt asked what I wanted to do. I told him I was having difficulty releasing my edges in the bumps and always felt off balance and behind. We skied one run and he asked me why I was my right arm uphill of my uphill ski.  I had no idea I was doing that.  I focused on keeping my right arm in the proper position and my skiing changed radically in one day.


Then there was the day I learned about doing wedge turns using the active weight transfer technique, it was mind blowing.

post #3 of 63
Thread Starter 

    Good one!

post #4 of 63

I've had two in the last two years.  The first was the result of tips from Rick.  In just a few (200') runs I went from parking and riding to moving my CoM from fore to aft through the turn.  That felt very dramatic on my then new SLs.


The second was last year being stupid at Winter Park.  I was skiing the trees alone and too fast.  I don't remember exactly what error took my path right into the trunk of that tree but the impact haunts me.  I feel very fortunate to be alive.  At this point my body has nearly recovered but I don't think I'll ever look at a steep pitch in the trees the same again... at least I hope I never do.

post #5 of 63

A worthy thread topic.


Goofy attitudinal epiphany, still pondering how to make it positive. Winter of 2007-2008 I had a bum knee. Swelled after skiing and hurt. Occasionally felt unstable on and off the slopes, caused by a cyst and arthritis. One Saturday at a crowded Pennsylvania resort I felt particularly "off". Skied slow, fearful and defensive as the hoards sped past while I favored the bad leg on a groomed intermediate run. Powerful eye-opener! Sounds stupid, but for the first time in memory I was not having fun on skis. Filled me with empathy and admiration for elderly skiers, middle aged newbies, adaptive skiers, or anybody who skis with fear. Since then cyst gone, knee improved, skiing joyful. But that off day still has me questioning what adjustments in attitude/approach I need to continue to relish this beautiful sport even as physical abilities inexorably decline.

post #6 of 63

Epiphanies are not how I learn to ski, but I've had 3. The first was when I discovered skiing powder 3 dimensionally. By driving my ski tips down into the snow I could get them to rebound off the bottom base layer and return to the surface for the edge change for the next turn. Once I got the image of a roller coaster into my head, everything came together. This technique only works for a range of powder depths and is pretty much obsolete now that we have powder and rocker skis, but in the day it let me enter the world of deep powder with confidence instead of dread.


When I got a pair of Solomon 9000s, the damn skis kept getting ahead of me. I had to learn to move with them as the skis entered the fall line. That was the first time I experienced a ski telling me how to ski better.


When I first skied on Elan SCXs I was so disappointed that all of the shape ski hype was just a bunch of BS. After one run it was clear that those skis really sucked. Fortunately, we had an examiner who was an Elan rep leading us. He took all of our complaints about the ski one by one and had us make minor adjustments to our technique. In an hour those skis changed from really sucky to totally awesome. The funny thing was that all those little changes were things that we were already telling our students to do in straight ski lessons. Immediately I started skiing better on my straight skis.

post #7 of 63

Here is my top 10 list, in chronological order over a long skiing life.  There are many more small "epiphanies", but these stand out as the ones that really opened the whole mountain to me.


1.  Flexion,extension & retraction movements.

2.  Pre-turn/counter turns, anticipation & release.  Crossover/under.

3.  Tactics & terrain use. 

4.  Airplane turns.

5.  Sidesliping/pivot slips

6.  Hop/spiess turns.

7.  Carving/angulation.

8.  Turn shape.

9.  Keeping my feet behind me.

10.  Releasing the new inside ski. 



post #8 of 63

6 yrs ago, skiing with a PSIA Examiner...he gives me good feedback on the work we were doing....then says....you would do much better if you would  "strenghthen your  inside half".     He asked if I understood what he was saying...I stupidly said YES.  


1) I knew what the inside half was.

2) I knew I should lead with it.

3) I think or thought I knew how to do it.


4) I never felt what a strong inside half was.     I should have asked.   I had the perfect opportunity and blew it.  



1/2 way through the season this year a Dev Team member showed me a cool drill he was working on.     Traverse on uphill ski---on a steep slope.   Goal is to make a clean carved one-footed turn. Start with medium to long R.   Right foot traverse to make left turn--new outside ski.    You should stop on each turn in the drilling phase, this prevents the cheating forces holding you up.  Also requires a progressive committment move to the inside of your new turn.  Balance, extension moves, flexing ankle etc...bla, bla bla.            


Long story short, to be sucessful at this drill, it seems you must start the traverse with a "strong inside half"   This made drill allowed sufficient time to "feel" my inside half and correct it as necessary in the traverse.    As we took this drill to skiing, DING---Epiphany.   I was totally in control at any speed (with-in reason).   Can't say I own the move/feeling, but I know when I am doing it right becuase I feel like I am on rails.   I also know when I can't seem to find my strong inside and have to do something to correct for this.  Next yrs focus.  



Starting  right allows you to end the turn right, which allows you to start right again.   Amazing thing...you control most of the speed at the top of the turn, so you can play with the second half of the turn and get into postion to begin the next turn right.        

post #9 of 63


The first was when I discovered skiing powder 3 dimensionally.


Funny, I had this on my list, but eliminated it so I could keep it to 10.  I don't believe it is obsolete though?



post #10 of 63

The epiphany in my skiing has been to get both skis on the same platform. It's amazing how well everything goes when we all go together. Weems's thread on Platforming--new skill got me started. 

Edited by nolo - 5/28/10 at 10:06am
post #11 of 63

Mine was long ago, in the '70s and this seemingly small, obvious thing changed my skiing forever.


I am almost completely self taught.  The lessons I did take were nearly wothless, so I just watched and copied.  I was skiing with a guy who I had always admired as a top notch bump skier.  He slayed them in that great '70s crash and bash style.  He was always in control and he looked COOL!  I tried to use him as my model, but I was nowhere near his technique. 


 Part of the mogul style that I had seen others use involved the seemingly cool (I was about 20 at the time) technique of what I call "passing beers."  It's like the skier is passing beers to the folks behind him as he swings his arms way back. I still see people doing it.


Anyway, on the chair ride up this guy turned to me and asked if he could give me some advice.  He told me to hold my hands in front of me like I was driving a car.  Don't swing my arms and plant from my wrist.  I know, this is not rocket science and everyone should know this but I had never heard it before.


When I quit swinging my arms every part of my technique improved.  It was a revelation unlike any other I've ever experienced in skiing.  Now people tell me that I look "smooth" when I ski.  I believe it is the fact that my arms are still.  Even though I can't remember the guy's name any more, I still give him credit for my epiphany.

post #12 of 63
Originally Posted by skier31 View Post

I was skiing with Rusty Guy one day at Loveland.  We were working on bumps. I had been told by many instructors to "complete the turn", "turn up the hill" etc. and always thought I was doing it.  Rusty helped me to realize that I was not "turning up the hill" but was "carving up the hill" and using way too much edge for bump skiing. He made me turn up the hill on flat skis on every run we did.   This was a huge revelation for me.



Then there was the day I learned about doing wedge turns using the active weight transfer technique, it was mind blowing.

Don't let "you know who" catch you steering your boards.


Mine was a day that I was skiing an instructor from Dumont and I used a lift line maneuvering technique, aka a wedge, in the lift corral and I was told to lift and lighten.   

post #13 of 63

Mine was a couple of seasons back. Had to do with how I was making my turns. The instructor told me to start making larger radius turns. That might not seem like much to some, but for me a lightbulb came on. I started letting the skis do the turning instead of forcing the skis to turn. Working with the natural turning radius. That one insight cured a number of problems I was experiencing-including mild knee pain.


post #14 of 63

Hey, Skier 31, I too have had Rusty Guy epiphanies... But this year's epiphany was not with him.


I was skiing with a group of ladies and we were going to ski through the park and jump onto a relatively low but longish box, ski over it and hop off the other end. Seems simple, right? only the first gal, who is probably a much better skier than I, had a horrible crash, a ski slid off one side the other off the other side and she whacked her jaw on the end of the box. Who's next, they ask? suddenly all the other women learn to ski uphill. So i said, aw, what the hell... I'll go next.


Someone told me, as i was pushing off to my certain death: "look ahead, waaaay ahead." So despite the temptation to look where i was going, ie the top of the box, i forced myself to look about a quarter mile (seemed to me) past it, and it worked!!!


Since then, whenever i can remember, I look way ahead and it always improves my skiing. On groomers, bumps, everywhere...


Except of course the lift line where it's extremely important to keep your eyes firmly planted on the .... right in front of you.

post #15 of 63

Late 70's or early 80's.  I had never really given much thought to how I turned for years; I just went where ever I wanted to go.  I couldn't really explain it, although I could tell there was an admitted difference to how I turned at slow speeds versus high speeds (now I see high speed turns were purely carving with no steering, and low speeds had lots of steering).  The owner of a ski shop showed me how side cut (and there wasn't much back then), tipping angle, and ski decambering worked to shape a ski into a turn.  Suddenly, knowing what I was doing, made it a whole lot easier.

Edited by Ghost - 5/28/10 at 10:25pm
post #16 of 63

A couple from this past spring....


Skiing (ok, maybe more like struggling....) down a chute at Mt. Rose with my PSIA trainer/mentor this past March I got the advice to maintain an aggressive counter..... voila !!!!!  No more tails slippin'....


Fast forward a couple of weeks..... Skiing at this years' Ski with Demo team member session at convention I got the advice to weight the inside ski a bit more on the steeps.... shazaam !!!!  Now it "feels"  like the great one's look !!!!


Now puttin' 'em together and the steeps just don't seem so steep anymore.....




post #17 of 63

The previous season, we had a dump of about a foot of fresh powder - pretty much unheard of in SoCal.  I skied a lot up to that day in the season, and I was in pretty good shape, yet by about 10:30 my quads were killing me.  I tried to stay in the back seat and let my tips float above the snow.  Once I realized that I can't ski this way all day long, suddenly skiing powder became much easier.  It took a little bit of faith to let the tips stay below the surface, but I worked on it consciously the rest of the day.


However, I didn't realize until the next weekend how much my fore/aft balance had improved.


This season, we've had historic amounts of snow in SoCal, and I've never felt so confident skiing trees and off-piste.


Even though I've taken a lot of clinics and skied with a lot of excellent skiers to learn from, that one time epiphany was a huge part of my improvement.

post #18 of 63
Thread Starter 

One of my early epiphanies happened at Ski Roundtop PA during my first year teaching skiing (1979) for Jonathan Jenkins who was clinicing our group of instructors on this particular evening under the lights.  He had us stand across the fall line and asked us to simply lift up our down hill ski.  Seems simple enough and everyone lifted their down hill ski off the snow and balanced on our up hill skis.  Then he directed us to do it again except this time make no effort whatsoever to shift weight to the up hill ski with our hips or heads or any body part.  Now, when I lifted my down hill ski off the snow I instantly tipped down the hill and had to catch myself.  Great he said, perfect!  Now let's get some forward momentum by beginning in a steep traverse then do the same thing again.  To my amazement I tipped right into a nice carved turn and discovered an early weight shift with the hips moving across the skis was magic!

post #19 of 63

Since im a relatively new skiier ive had about a million AH HA moments in the last three years. Two are most memorable to me, for the first one i was skiing the back bowls at copper with my brother who as usuall was struggling all day long. i was skiing slowly and relaxed, just back and forth, i had my weight foreward and tipped the skis, the tips grabbed and pulled me around a smooth rounded skidded turn. WHAMMIE, i had learned to tip the skis into a turn instead of weighting one side or the other and it led to the most enjoyable day of skiing I can remember. My knees werent tired my legs werent sore and i had a huge smile plastered on my face. The second most memorable would be my bump revalation. My local hill is very small and relativley mild so i ski bumps almost all day every day. There was a guy at the hill that skied with a very smooth stacked position that i tried to copy almost every run, even though my stacked position was good every time i skied bumps i would get knocked around with any sort of speed, untill i watched a video on youtube that said to absorb the bump before i get to it. Well it didnt make much sense at first but after a day of practice i was amazed at the speed i could handle and how i was no longer forcing my turns around. Everything became smooth gracefull and wonderfull.

post #20 of 63

I have nothing to add since I've only skied six times so far with no epiphany of any kind (except the, "Wow, I'm skiing," one, the first time I made it down the run without falling on every turn), but I just wanted to comment, that this is an EXCELLENT thread!

post #21 of 63

My epiphany occured after I had been skiing for 45 years or so, a year after I had passed my level III exam. I have been skiing a long time and have skied in many different ways, experimenting with technique and adapting to equipment. No one had been able to identify one mode of skiing and reinforce it as  better than any other in any way that was convincing. Most of my fellow instructors were, if the truth be known, upright skidders, knee angulators and heel pushers. Using the skiing I saw in most of my clinics as a model and the skiing of most of my peers would I think tend to produce a style of skiing that is pretty unremarkable and not exactly inspiring. So I just kept experimenting. My skiing had been good enough for my level III exam but very inconsistent.


The epiphany occurred after I watched a really good carving snowboarder and admired the nearly seamless track he left. I began experimenting, building on skills I already had, trying to emulate his track. I looked for ways to move continually with respect to my skis, trying to stitch together the track I carved. Crossing over as a continuation of previous body movement, getting an early edge but faced with the requirement to develop early edge pressure on the new outside ski lead me to an early and forceful leg extension that caused a deep carving mark well before the fall line. This also lead to a turn in which the carved shape was determined early in the turn and allowed for a kind of relaxation through the conclusion of the turn as I allowed the momentum of my body movement to then continue across the skis to initiate a new turn. Suddenly I was experiencing a level of control I had never found before and I was looking for those bulletproof conditions we often have early in the season. The kind of conditions you normally only find on a water injected race course were now my favorite snow conditions. I remember how disappointed I was when conditions "improved" as the season progressed. This was in the last days of "straight" slalom skis when shaping the ski by bending it was especially critical to good carving technique. I recall that the experience was especially convincing in the feeling of security that it could deliver.


Of course that was about 12 years ago and its all been downhill since then!

post #22 of 63

Long ago as a 13 year old kid in AK used try and shadow an old German ski instructor, Hans (very old school Austrian).  We didn't talk much but he knew I was back there struggling along as best I could.  One night he hollers back at me,"turn ze skis, just turn ze skis". He started counting out a rhythm  'hut, hut, hut, hut,.....'. 


It clicked that night; just turn, don't traverse, link turns.  Learned the concepts of total motion, and using the end of a turn to set-up the next one.   Everything else started to make sense.


Hans died a couple of years ago.    45 years later, in a steep chute or in tight trees still hear his voice; "hut, hut, hut, hut, ......".

post #23 of 63

Years ago I read in Warren Witherell's 2nd book that skiing (carving, anyway) is simple.  He wrote something to the effect that putting a ski on edge, and pressuring it correctly "will take you where you want to go." It was an epiphany.


LeMaster's Ultimate Skiing is sitting on my nightstand.  Almost everything there--except for the chapters on powder/crud/moguls--is all about the proper technique behind putting the ski on edge and pressuring it correctly (this include balance) so it will take me where I want to go.


Equipment has changed a lot since Witherell wrote those words. With relatively shorter shaped skis it is a lot easier to put the ski on edge and pressure it.   However, I don't think the wonderful simplicity behind his thoughts regarding carving and racing  have changed one bit.  Sometimes I wonder what would happen if Witherell's simple explanation of a carved turn permeated modern teaching manuals...

Edited by quant2325 - 6/3/10 at 10:54am
post #24 of 63

One of my last nordic jumps in high school was crazy good. I could feel the float. One of these days I'll jump again.


I vividly remember a stellar race run in 1977 in an Eastern Cup Race. I was really arcing the turns. I won the race, beating B-Teamer Billy Taylor amongst others and won the Eastern Cup Overall that year. The race run really boosted my confidence and launched me to a new level.


I effectively re-learned how to ski in the '90s when I started skiing with my brother. Until then I was a piste only skier. My brother led me through terrain and conditions that I'd never experienced. One confidence builder from that time was jumping into Corbet's.


My skiing since then continues to change and improve so I've had a lot of mini-epiphanies since that time that just add up to more fun while on the snow.

post #25 of 63
Thread Starter 



I don't know if any of these above memories qualify as epiphanies?  What discoveries or revelations did any of these memories produce that changed your skiing forever?

post #26 of 63


 3 a (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure b : a revealing scene or moment



Until the jump I described I hadn't realized there could be a floaty, light feeling. Before it was just a fast sinking feeling. In the racing I was able to feel a distinctively different sensation in my turns; I was able to target that feeling in the future with success. Skiing with my brother was like learning an entirely new sport. It opened me up to all sorts of new terrain. It changed my skiing forever.


I'd describe all of those moments as illuminating discovery as well as sudden perceptions of the essential nature or meaning of skiing. Skiing with my brother wasn't so sudden, on a cosmic scale, but over the course of a week long ski trip to Jackson, I went from a piste skier to a BC skier.

post #27 of 63

Epiphany is a good word for this: 


I was in the cafeteria at Whitetail three seasons ago, and the other dad we were with -- a very good skier -- was using a bag of Skittles (the skis) and a plastic fork (the skier) to explain to his daughter that if you were "up straight" with respect to Earth's center of gravity, you were actually tilting backward on your skis.  For me it was an "ah hah!" moment -- I realized that until then I'd been fighting the slope instead of going with it.  

post #28 of 63
Thread Starter 

What did you attribute the floaty feeling to? what did you do differently to arrive there? What was the sudden revelation?


What were the distinctly different feelings in your racing run?


Skiing a whole season seems hardly a sudden revelation?  What specifically happened on any particular day that season that changed your perception of off piste skiing or opened a door for sudden improvement?


Not attacking you MR just trying to dig deeper to identify specific moments of AHA!

post #29 of 63

After years of dwelling on technique and gear, I have discovered that I am an existential skier.  I ski every day as if it was the first. 


That I am an explorer and a wanderer - I enjoy the hunt of a new ski area, a new trail, a new line in the woods.  Not knowing what is around the bend, cliff or tree and the surprise it brings.


These experiences wash away the mundane and troublesome tasks of life away.  I am caught up in the moment.

post #30 of 63
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

What did you attribute the floaty feeling to? what did you do differently to arrive there? What was the sudden revelation? The sudden revelation was the new floaty feeling rather than the sinking feeling. I just had a good jump. I would never be able to do it again, but at that moment I knew the difference between jumping and flying. 


What were the distinctly different feelings in your racing run? I felt arcing and acceleration like never before. I even have a photo of the moment:


Stratton photo.jpg

Another realization of the scope of the moment came when Dave Clevland handed my a paper food service cup and shook my hand for winning the International Paper Cup. Dave's joke aside, it was rather exciting as it was the inaugural race for the Cup and the permanent trophy was a Tiffany crystal cup.


Skiing a whole season seems hardly a sudden revelation?  What specifically happened on any particular day that season that changed your perception of off piste skiing or opened a door for sudden improvement? This one was an 'illuminating discovery'; that there was more than just piste skiing. My skiing was two dimensional before JH; it was 3D after. It is sad in restrospect that I was shoulder to shoulder with the JHAF and didn't even know it existed. The moment could probably be traced back to when I jumped in to Corbet's. That was something out of my comfort level when I was standing at the top and something I wanted to do again when I was standing at the bottom looking up.


Hiking to Headwall just after skiing Corbet's (in background):

jackson hole.jpg


Not attacking you MR just trying to dig deeper to identify specific moments of AHA!


The epiphanies were sensations and realizations, the culmination of hard work and an interest to try something new, to excel. They weren't attributable to someone saying something the moment before or doing one specific thing differently, but a synergy of changes coming together so that there is a before and after that is identifiable.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching