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making the successful transition from groomed to ungroomed, mounds (etc) how long did it take you?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

 how long did it take for you to transition from grooomers to fresh dumps, mounds, ungroomed runs (admittedly in the beginning it is a bit unnerving...at least it was for me).

..trying to tame that animal this yr.

 

feel free to offer any quick ramp up tips.

 

I ask because  I'm trying to evolve this yr to become a good intermediate for all types of conditions/terrain (except moguls...not at my 48 yrs age)...i spoke with the head coach of whistler's club linc (about 40 skiers meet each sat over 20 wkends starting in november) and he says most of his skiers (many returning) can ski all mtn (not me..yet), and not just blue/black lite groomers (that's me...at least for now)....but regardless that I should just come out and try it for a few sessions anyway as there are different groups of varying ability. (so i'm hoping to get out 2x/wk at my local hill then join them at whistler each Sat and hope after a few sessions they'll keep me on board)....

 

at the very least if it doesn't work out I can always move over to the summit series (full day class about $80/day with my discount) to have some company and get some skill improvement with an instructor in a group setting (they have an unlimited summit series' pkg this yr for $970...(not including lift tickets...that price is just for the instruction as many times as you want to take a full day class.

 

and this year I will be in better shape mentally and physically and with more appropriate skis.

just ordered this program too from a gal in the fitness forum:

http://www.customstrength.com/skiprogram.html

post #2 of 25

Can't help you much with my own experience, as I grew up when and where no grooming existed, so you were forced to deal with whatever was there.  Still a few suggestions:

Before I start, I don't know what your technique is, so I suggest having someone take a video of you and port it to the Technique forum for motion analysis.  You are not going to like what you hear, but you will get many useful pointers and advice.  

 

OK, now: 

 

1. Nothing teaches you how to ski off-trail like actually skiing off-trail, so don;t be afraid to get in there.  Make sure you get appropriate skis and boots that have good fit and right stiffness.

2. Off-trail is where you actually have to exercise some judgment- there are conditions off-trail when you probably should not ski there (frozen crud comes to mind).  A lot about skiing off-trail is about watching the snow conditions and seeking the best snow on the mountain.

3. Watch for your technique- on groomers you can get away with all sorts of bad movements, off trail is a lot less forgiving.  

4. Watch your range of motion, balance and weigth distribution;  skiing off-trail usually demands a bit more amplitude and smoothness in your movements and the tolerance for back-seat driving is much diminished.  

5. Lessons are always great, but nothing can substitute for the actual skiing time off-trail.  If you have a buddy who is good, try following him, that will teach you a lot about picking  line and the snow.  

6. Be prepared to fall a lot more often, and try to analyze your mistakes.  Bumps are actually very good for developing proper balance, just don;t expect to do them like Johnny Moseley, and don't even think of going in them when they are frozen and hard. 

 

Good luck. 

 

Alex

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

thanks ...this is also why i'm hoping to be in a group setting with an instructor: for feedback, for support and also to be able to emulate good technique from those better more competent skiers around me.

 

I have to remember what that advice columnist Anne Landers always said, namely, to be around people better than you are so you can stretch upwards and be challenged to grow.

 

having had a few bad spills last yr (first time out in 20 yrs, got out 35x with too stiff/narrow waisted skis) I encountered one fractured rib on right side,

and one actual broken rib on left side) ...but this has made this 'beast' something I'm both timid about but also determined to master and grow some confidence with.


Edited by canali - 10/14/10 at 9:35am
post #4 of 25

Skiing popular groomers at the end of the the day when they are cut up is a way to get practice on less than perfect terrain. Also get out early when it has snowed the night before and seek out runs that were groomed before it snowed.

post #5 of 25

It took my wife and I a full season to get reasonably comfortable in non-groomed conditions.

"Reasonably comfortable" meaning that we didn't get hurt and looked forward to trying it again.

That was after we had skied groomed exclusively for 2 - 3 seasons.

The first few tries were discouraging, but we kept at it and steadily improved.

Watching Lito Tejada-Flores' videos helped a bunch, as did reading Barking Bear postings.

Flash forward 10 seasons and though we still enjoy carving the groomed, we actively seek out the non-groomed.

 

Nothing special about all that, except perhaps that we didn't begin skiing until we were age 50.

 

I turned 64 yesterday ( yikes! ), am not a super athlete, and can't wait for the ski season to begin.

I point this out only to encourage you not to dismiss bumps just because you're 48.

Though we all age differently, don't let a mere number freak you out.

 

Good luck with your non-groomed journey - it will transform your skiing.

 

Cheers,     rickp

post #6 of 25

It took me several years to get the feel of off-piste skiing when I moved to Jackson.  I was intimidated by the pitch and was held back by my 205 GS skis that we were all using at the time.  I think getting into that group is a great idea and you should learn very fast having a good, I hope, coach and some new friends to help you along.  The equipment is much better now then when I was teaching myself.  I would have learned much faster with a coach or even a regular ski buddy.  I was the worst skier I knew my first 5 or 6 seasons here and my friends wouldn't ski with me or tried to kill me when I went with them.

 

Moguls are great for learning off-piste skiing.  You might as well come to terms with them, because they are a fact of life if you aspire to be an all mountain skier.  48 is not too old to ski bumps.  I'm 47 and I do it.  Forget about skiing the zipper line for now and ski them strong like an adult, that's my approach anyway and what I teach my students.  Most of my students are solidly middle aged, like me.  I teach upper level lessons almost every day and my body holds up because I've learned how to absorb the terrain.  You will to and it will be fun.  I hear from my students all the time that they "can't" ski bumps or trees or what ever and guess what...  They can....  And usually they can with the "skills" they already have.  Often all they need is a tactical tune-up and an appropriate terrain progression to open up parts of the mountain they never thought they could do.  Have fun and try to not be too competitive or hard on your self and it will come for you.  

post #7 of 25

this is going to cause some surprised expressions. for powder and trees and I never once was scared of it. Doesnt mean I was good at it either (I wasnt) but I always had fun skiing in softer snow. Even before I was on proper skis. The a couple season spent on skiboards I loved powder. when I finally got some 164 cm twin tips and then metrons I couldnt believe how much easier skiing off trail was on those over a 100 cm ski board.  Then I moved to Snowbird, and I instantly found how lacking 160s were out there. walked into the ski shop there and they recommended some 183 gotamas> i was skeptical and really wanted the 176s or even the 168 but I am glad that they let me demo them all. the 183 made the wide open crud/ powder skiing there so much easier and more fun. I could ski powder fine on my metron but I couldnt keep up with my instructor buddies out there on those skis.

 

basically I bought a powder turn, At the time I was Level 2 instructor but I was far from a good skier. basically if you have solid almost dynamic parrerall turn fat skis can and will make you a better powder skier. the thing is you can not buy a bump turn and without a clue in bumps its very hard to ski everywhere as most place eventually become bumps. its wasnt till I left snowbird that bumps really started to click with me. the winter of 08-09 I spent tons of nights at Seven Spring, Pa pounding icey bumps with a local examiner. I still have tons of room to improve in that area but my bump skiing passed a eastern Level 3 skiing examiner and I passed a teaching module on it as well. Id like to think that despite some hibcups in my own skiing I can coach most people to become a more than proficient bump skier at this point in time. 

 

 

best advice I can tell you for off trail skiing is the one who do it the best have incredible balance and recovery skills as well being nearly fearless or at least only recognizes rational fears. technique is great but if you put a gung ho athelete with sub par technique on the same bumpy slope as a timid,unathletic skier with better technique. there is nodoubt who will have more fun and will eventually get better. The right attitude, and physical training is just as important as your skiing skills. 

post #8 of 25

Skiing off the groomed runs amplifies your faults, and punishes them more quickly.  You can get away with a sloppy lazy style on the groomed that will prove immediately unworkable in any other kind of "real" snow.  IMO there are no secrets, except that the keys to good skiing hold true on all snow. Keeping your body square downhill with the fall line, hands in front, and your weight forward are always important, but the bigger the bumps and the the funkier the snow, the more you have to work to maintain these things.  As BwPA states, you need a charging attitude to keep pushing forward, both physically and mentally.  It may be necessary to fall down 9 times and get up 10 before you master a particular weird snow condition, but that is all part of the fun, and once you figure it out you have it for next time.  Sometimes you have to push on the snow a little harder to make it do what you want, and that takes some aggression and focus. Likewise in the bumps, the bumps keep pushing you backward, so you need to keep agressively coming back forward until you learn how to stay balanced there most of the time.

 

I view very tough conditions as the supreme teaching tool. There are two runs at Telluide (the East and West Drains) that are long steep ditches literally only one or two moguls wide their entire length.  If you get in the back seat for a moment you immediately accelerate into trouble.  A run down one of those always forces me to be turning fast and true, and sets me up for good turns in bumps the rest of the day.  The Drains are excellent instructors that immediately tell you if you are doing it right or wrong.  Likewise, crud will accentuate your flaws and force you to tighten up your technique and basic skills.

 

Dedicate a day to skiing difficult snow and it will make you tune into to the feel of your skis and your technique, and consequently make you a better skier much more quickly than spending your time on the groomers.

post #9 of 25

Skiboards??? I'm going to have to snigger at all your posts for the next two weeks.

post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by iWill View Post

Skiboards??? I'm going to have to snigger at all your posts for the next two weeks.


its actually old news. Old enough that tons of the older posters know that. 

 

so whats really funny is when I am telling people to go longer, its because I know its actually easier. skiboards are tough as hell in 3d snow;).

post #11 of 25

I had never skied anything but groomers until we caught a monster dump at Sugarbush one year (I think I had been skiing for two seasons or so by then).  So, having driven there, I was sure as hell going to ski.  It took some adjustment, but we did it - I suppose out of necessity.  Of course, it didn't look very good, but we've refined things since then.

 

Get out and ski it.  You'll figure it out.  I taught an impromptu powder clinic while working in a ski school on a particularly uneventful day.  I didn't clinic so much as we just skied through the stuff; it was a good opportunity to ski snow that we don't usually get to (up in these parts anyway).  But everyone who took the clinic was better by the end simply as a function of actually having skied in it.

post #12 of 25

Skiing mixed conditions and skiing bumps use the same skills; body facing down the hill, hands forward, completing the turns, continual weight adjustments.  A couple of suggestions and a survival trick.

 

 Learn, practice, and own, a good linked rhythmic short radius turns.  These make a great go turn when the conditions get challenging.   Practice them a lot in conditions you don't  really like.

 

In your pre conditioning program do quite a few balancing exercises: jumps on one foot with and without weight, BUSI ball stuff, Swiss ball stuff.  A little test for you: stand up, close your eyes, pick up one foot, balance for 30+ seconds (if you can't do it, work on it).

 

An old trick taught to me by an old Austrian racer of long ago (Andrel Molitier sp?).  Your loosing it; take your downhill hand and drop it toward your boot.  This is a great recovery trick in most all conditions, and you still see racers do it all the time.  Try it while sidesliping and see what happens.

 

Oh ya, smile.  Seriously, it helps you to relax, and it confuses everybody else around you. 

 

Powder, chop, and crud, are bumps that have not firmed up yet.

post #13 of 25

I learned most of my early skiing here http://www.calabogie.com/pages/winter-fun/the-mountain.php .  At the time they had no snow making.  It was your basic sloped skating rink with rocks.

 

I then went skiing here http://mountwashington.ca/downloads/brochure/ with 36 feet of anual snowfall.  At the time I was really into speed thrills and was skiing the longest Dynastar GS skis I could rent (they didn't rent DH and SG wasn't invented yet).  It took me about three days before I thought I could "ski" in deep snow.  I really didn't have all the technique down, just enough to ski any of the runs on the mountain without stopping or falling and enough to ski to the steeps on the backside or the next hill over, shush some lines as though it were a DH course and then if possible curve around back to a trail that brought me to the lift without falling over.  Skiing in non-packed-down snow is a little different; pushing on a ski causes it to sink, there's no ice there to hold it up.  I benefited greatly from passers by who took pity on me and gave me great hints.  Hints like "think of both your skis as a single platform that you have to balance on".

 

BUMPS:  I suck at bumps, but things improved greatly when I realized that I had to slow down even more than what I would have thought was slow for them, and started to improve my speed control turns instead of just speeding through them, as was my habit.  Years ago, I had no interest in learning how to "ski" bumps; I just bashed my way through them cursing the short turning skiers who had created them on my way to or from lines where I could enjoy high speed skiing.  Like most skiing, bumps are easy to ski when you just accept the fact that you are going to ski down the hill.  When you get good at speed control type turns, you can pick and choose any point in your turn to dump a little speed.  It's a bit of a mind game.  You are not trying to not go down the hill, but you do modulate your speed between not too slow and not too fast and you're good to go.  In my case the not too fast was even slower than I had previously thought, but I see other people trying to learn bumps who's problem is they are skiing way too slowly to move fluidly and allow their skis to function. 

post #14 of 25

In Taos, many years ago, I took a "mogul mastery" class. Learning how to ski moguls prepared me pretty well. I'm usually ready for anything I'm not quite expecting, such as bumps hidden underneath the soft layer of fresh powder on top. I still trip up once in a while, but not enough to fall. I'm usually able to recover pretty well from potential spills. So yeah, take a lesson perhaps that focuses on getting off the groomers, and onto the bumps, and then getting off-trail should be no problem for ya. Actually, my biggest advice would be to spend the bucks on a private lesson, and tell the instructor what your goals are.

post #15 of 25

You are not too old to do moguls.  I'm 10 years older than you and I love 'em, though I don't ski them quite as much as I did as a puppy.  They will prepare you well for moving from 2D groomers to 3D off piste.  Learn to ski them with control, not kill them, and you'll open up an entirely new area of the sport.

post #16 of 25

I taught an 82 year-old to ski bumps last year. It took one two-hour private lesson. At 48 it should be a breeze for you! Age is no excuse.

post #17 of 25

Club Linc is excellant.

 

BUT...you can also join Super Groups on Blackcomb with a seasons "lesson pass".  Not sure exact rates but it would be about $2400 for the season.  Then you can go 7 days a week if you like, not just Saturdays.  Plus the calbire of instructors would be identical.  Plus Super Groups at Mountain Top (where the pros are identical in experience etc) go down to Level 4.  So if you can start there, then as you progress move up to level 5 then 6.

 

The atmosphere of Super Groups Pass Holders is very much like a "club"...everybody knows everybody.   Tons of fun, and group sizes are limited to 3 people max.

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by canali View Post

 how long did it take for you to transition from grooomers to fresh dumps, mounds, ungroomed runs (admittedly in the beginning it is a bit unnerving...at least it was for me).

..trying to tame that animal this yr.

 

feel free to offer any quick ramp up tips.

 

I ask because  I'm trying to evolve this yr to become a good intermediate for all types of conditions/terrain (except moguls...not at my 48 yrs age)...i spoke with the head coach of whistler's club linc (about 40 skiers meet each sat over 20 wkends starting in november) and he says most of his skiers (many returning) can ski all mtn (not me..yet), and not just blue/black lite groomers (that's me...at least for now)....but regardless that I should just come out and try it for a few sessions anyway as there are different groups of varying ability. (so i'm hoping to get out 2x/wk at my local hill then join them at whistler each Sat and hope after a few sessions they'll keep me on board)....

 

at the very least if it doesn't work out I can always move over to the summit series (full day class about $80/day with my discount) to have some company and get some skill improvement with an instructor in a group setting (they have an unlimited summit series' pkg this yr for $970...(not including lift tickets...that price is just for the instruction as many times as you want to take a full day class.

 

and this year I will be in better shape mentally and physically and with more appropriate skis.

just ordered this program too from a gal in the fitness forum:

http://www.customstrength.com/skiprogram.html


I have been skiing 40+ years and am still learning, not sure when I will know or be able to ski it all. Grooming wasn't available when I started skiing so I guess I learned backwards (ungroomed first). As far as bumps go, still pick my way through them, still enjoy the big soft ones afthough don't/can't spend all day in them (67 yrs young).
I think where you need to start; is learn the basics (well) then just ski (maintaining good basics) more and more into the natural snow (3-4" deep, then boot top, then knee deep). You need all these snow conditions and they don't usually come the same day or area. Just takes time. Once you learn boot top depth, big soft bumps are easy, almost natural. (I'm not talking zipperline). Bottomless powder is a different animal. When things are right, the sensation is wonderful, when things are right - - I'm still can't tell when things are going to be right, but after a run I know if they were right.

post #19 of 25

these guys have given you most of the points I would mention, and the recurrent and most important is to have a body position where the upper body is square down the hill.

 

I would add only one thing that wasn't addressed. You said you had an injury producing fall last year, which is part of what I'm getting into with this idea: If you are doing drills or working on your turns, stop when you miss a turn. Then restart with  your best technique. Reasons are several: you are trying to maintain a constant controlable speed. If you miss a turn, you will be accelerating, and sh&% out of luck. If you miss a turn, you will fall back on bad survival habits and make subsequent turns improperly. Every bad turn you make builds a record into your muscle memory (for this reason many coaches do not advocate throwing yourself at terrain which is over your head). Most people are injured when forcing themselves on after missing a turn, the safety part.  Lastly, when you miss a turn and finish the run sloppily, you are just wasting time and probably not having fun. There you have my .02.

 

Because I was racing as a FWSA junior at the time, I transitioned in a couple runs, and never looked back.

post #20 of 25

I'm on the early part of the developmental scale, and working in the same direction, so figured I'd share something with you I've found to be helpful.

 

I recently picked up this video...

 

   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0941283135/ref=oss_product

 

It has some pretty timeless suggestions for skiing bumps and powder. Techniques and drills are presented simply and clearly, and the quality of the video skiing in Aspen is fantastic! I suspect regardless of whatever else you do to advance your skills it would be helpful.

 

...jc

post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post

 the recurrent and most important is to have a body position where the upper body is square down the hill.

 

 If you are doing drills or working on your turns, stop when you miss a turn. Then restart with  your best technique. Reasons are several: you are trying to maintain a constant controlable speed. If you miss a turn, you will be accelerating, and sh&% out of luck. If you miss a turn, you will fall back on bad survival habits and make subsequent turns improperly. 

 

Agree on these two points. In powder & bumps, you don't want to be cutting/carving/crossing the fall line. Your shoulders need to be square to the bottom of the hill. Your first turn is the most important one as it will set your rhythm until you stop again. So as davluri said, when you get out of whack, STOP! Gather yourself and then start again. You will find yourself doing this less and less as you get better.

 

Also, for learning the bumps & off piste, go down a level. If you normally ski steep blue/mild black, find yourself some easier blues to test the bumps & offpiste. If you see a patch of untracked right off the side of the run, then go make a turn or two in it and then jump back on-piste. After a bit, you will find yourself making more and more turns off-piste and then after practice you can venture  a full run off the groomed.
 

post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 

sorry to sound naive, but as per the many helpful suggestions, what does 'standing square down the hill' mean?

...is it not leaning into hill or down the hill..or facing downhill?...

sorry if i'm having a 'duh' moment?

post #23 of 25



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by canali View Post

sorry to sound naive, but as per the many helpful suggestions, what does 'standing square down the hill' mean?

...is it not leaning into hill or down the hill..or facing downhill?...

sorry if i'm having a 'duh' moment?


The answer is C.  Your navel is pretty close to the center of mass.  If you keep the navel pointed at the bottom of the run only 1/2 the mass has to be turned, keep your hands out in front of you where you can see them (actually elbows in front of chest, but that is too tough for this old brain) and you are all set up for the next turn too. This basic posture is very fundamental for dynamic balance and stability.  Sound technical advice for pretty much any fall line skiing, bumps, steep, ice, or loose snow.  

 

Make this a natural stance for yourself and lots of the mountain gets more comfortable.
 

post #24 of 25


Quote:

Originally Posted by canali View Post

sorry to sound naive, but as per the many helpful suggestions, what does 'standing square down the hill' mean?

...is it not leaning into hill or down the hill..or facing downhill?...

sorry if i'm having a 'duh' moment?

 

When a slalom racer makes sharp turns his skis are way out to the side, not underneath his body.  If you look at pictures of a good slalom racer coming straight at you, and cover the bottom half of his body, you cannot tell if he is turning right or left, even though his skis may be three feet apart in the two pictures. That is because the top half of his body stays in the same position (i.e. square down the fall line).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lpFWjOFe8w 

 

Good skiing in any condition requires a balanced stance, and the more balanced you are, the less your upper body is moving around.  You can get away with letting a hand, shoulder or hip drift back a little on mellow groomed runs, but when the snow or terrain gets more challenging it will amplify those balance errors, and inhibit recovery to the correct position.  As I said before, there are no secrets, except that the keys to good skiing hold true on all snow.

post #25 of 25


 

My Reaction to this post.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post

this is going to cause some surprised expressions. for powder and trees and I never once was scared of it.

 

QUE: Right on cos! BPA sending it on day 1.

 

Doesnt mean I was good at it either (I wasnt) but I always had fun skiing in softer snow.

 

QUE: Woot! Snow party! Only way to live.

 

Even before I was on proper skis.

 

QUE: Um? Huh? Like were you on Olin's or something?

 

The a couple season spent on skiboards I loved powder.

 

QUE: Dude? You must mean like Icelantic AT Boards or Lib NAS or something right? Right?

 

when I finally got some 164 cm twin tips and then metrons I couldnt believe how much easier skiing off trail was on those over a 100 cm ski board.  

 

QUE: Dude!?! Srsly? *giggle*

 

Since we're sharing... I snowboard from time to time with this super ghetto setup from like 1995. 

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