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Snowboarder turned skier needs advice

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I'm very very new to skiing. In fact, I've only skiied twice. I'm a converted snowboarder. I still board when it's powdery. But on a whim one (icy) day, I took a beginning group ski lesson.

The instructor started out with having us do the snowplow, specifically trying to stop. Well, I had a really rough time with this because I'm a pretty big guy (6'3", 205 lbs) and I couldn't get enough edge on the tiny learning skis they gave me. It was really frustrating because the instructor said he wouldn't take us up the beginning lift until we proved that we could stop. It was pretty obvious that all the big people like me couldn't stop and all the small people could.

On my third try, I just gave up on the snowplow and did a hockey stop. So, we broke off into groups of 6 and headed for the lift.

At the top of the run, we were supposed to snowplow down. Now, being a fairly advanced snowboarder used to carving my turns, the idea of scraping snow down a run just horrified me. So instead, I skied down by turning, lifting my inside ski and leaning into my turns. I picked up some pretty impressive speed, learned to shift my weight from foot to foot. I noticed that my turns got easier if I continued the end of a turn just a little more than I thought I should, crossing the skis under my body which helped me shift my weight (just like snowboarding). The instructors were getting pretty exasperated with my not following directions at all, but the lesson was soon over.

Afterward, I ventured to the blues and even tried some easy black runs. I was skiing pretty much parallel and gaining so much speed that at the end of my runs, I had to do four or five hockey stops (left skid, jump, right skid, jump, left skid, etc.) to stop on my puny little skis.

Well that was my first day. My second and only other day skiing was on straight skis, a pair of borrowed 195 cm Olins that were murder to turn. I couldn't just lean on my outside ski. I had to literally jump a foot in the air, stomp on the outside ski and lean way forward to make it turn. I was falling quite a bit (unlike the first day, when I barely fell at all). Some sympathetic ski patrol guy pull me over and told me that I was leaning into my turns like I was skiing shaped skis. Up until this point, I had no idea there was such a thing as shaped vs. straight skis. He told me that my technique was fine (leaning forward and into the turn, angling at the hip), I just had to get new skis. Either that or learn how to twist into a turn. I thanked him and told him that I carve, I don't twist.

Anyway, I've fallen in love with skiing. I love the speed, the control, the precision technique, the rush of the wind. I really, really like the fact that I can finally see where I'm going. I'll still snowboard in the trees and the crud. But I want to buy a nice pair of skis for most of my skiing, on packed Tahoe resort snow. That's where I need help.

I've found a shop that is selling a nice pair of used skis - K2 Merlin VI 193 cm - for real cheap. Do you think these skis are a bit much for someone who's only skied 2 times and is still learning? I'm 6'3", 205lbs and determined to put a lot of study and effort into becoming an expert skier. Thanks for you help.
post #2 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hey, thanks for making me feel welcome. I just wanted some advice.
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
geez, I just read your number 11. You think I'm a troll????

I'm a 33 year old married professional and soon to be father. I only started snow sports of any kind in March of 2000. I picked boarding because everyone told me that it is much easier to pick up than skiing. And they're right. Boarding is easier - I picked it up in about 5 trips. But no one told me that skiing is more rewarding. I've spent the last few days reading every post on this message board trying to get technique pointers. I read Lito's book three times before I went skiing my first time. I sent him an email telling him what a wonderful book he wrote. Lito sent me back a very nice response, proving that some skiers are very gracious in sharing their knowledge.

You know what, forget it. I'll just buy the fricking Merlins. They're cheap enough.

I'm clearly not welcome here and help is not forthcoming. Goodbye.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by ajax (edited February 23, 2001).]</FONT>
post #4 of 26
Troll or no troll, it's a valid question.

As for learning to ski better, I highly encourage you to take another lesson, either a private lesson or at least an intermediate group lesson. Your previous experience with snowboarding put you ahead in the mental game compared to the other students in your first lesson, but that may have led to you missing some points the instructor was trying to make. A private lesson will allow the instructor to cater to your individual needs and allow you to make quicker progress. Lito's book allowed me to make quite a bit of progress, but a 3 hour lesson taught me even more.

As for the gear issues, I'd say you should go shorter with the skis, something in the range of 185cm in a shaped ski. This is all highly subjective, though. I'm about the same size as you, and I have skis ranging from 170s to 190s, all of which work for different situations. I'd rent gear until closer to the end of the season, when all of the good sales happen. Boots should be your first and most important purchase. After you find a boot that fits properly, then demo/rent/borrow different skis and see what you prefer.
post #5 of 26
gonzostrike, I really don't understand why you posted that. I think we should give everyone a chance first and then decide if the post is legitimate or not. I am sure that AC would do the same.

Anyway, ajax, I think that a 193 shaped ski is a lot of ski for a beginner, but you come with some "riding" background, so you might be OK. However, I agree with Alaska Mike, try taking 1-2 private lessons. The pointers you will get now may very well save you from developing bad habits that will be hard to break later.

Welcome on this board ajax.
post #6 of 26

But some skiers jump to conclusions. Your post, what's up with that????

Welcome aboard, Ajax's.--------Wigs
post #7 of 26
Yeah, Ajax, you should stick around - especially if you still like skiing!
post #8 of 26
Ajax, welcome and please don't get offended. Gonz is just Gonz and even though he's occasionally offended all of us, he's been a critical addition to the board and oftentimes very perceptive. At times, most of us old guys have been real glad to have him around. There's some great help here and I, for one, have come away from this place with a ton on information. Not only have I improved a lot on the slopes because of the information I've obtained here but I also now do all my own tuning and I think I do it quite well, thank you. There are several excellent coaches on this board.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Well, I already made a commitment to buy the Merlins. I'm afraid I can't back down from it. It was a pretty good deal, Merlin VIs with Salomon Equipe bindings for $225. I just don't want to plunk down a couple hundred for some skis that I might outgrow too quickly. (I've been trying unsuccesfully to buy some Merlin IV 188s on ebay, but I always get outbid, so I just went with the sure thing.) I figure there's plenty of room for growth with the VIs. Heck, I might never get good enough for them.

I did some research on the web and both Al Hobart and Scott Schmidt rave about the VIs. Not that there's any way in hell I'll ever be as good as either.

Now, I'm no idiot. I'm perfectly aware that the reason I did so well on my first day was because I was skiing on a pair of learning skis that barely came up to my waist. Of course I could turn on them easily. On one particular turn, I turned so sharply that I almost did a 180. My second day was on the 195cm Olin RTS skis. That was just pure hell. The movements I used with the short, shaped learning skis just didn't translate. Leaning into the turn just made the skis go straight down the fall line while I fell sideways onto the snow, expecting a turn when there was none. Hopefully the Merlins will be a little more responsive. If it turns out to be too much ski, I might have to sell them on ebay. I'm just praying that the skis will turn when I lean, that's all I ask.

Thanks everyone for the advice, especially about the lessons. My experience with the instructors at Kirkwood, at least the boarding instructors, has been very good. They have a lot of patience and are excellent at explaining technique. I'll take some skiing lessons there.

You guys are certainly more friendly than "gonzostrike". I don't know why it's so hard to believe that someone can get passionate about skiing. I shows very little faith in your own sport. Honestly, after my first day skiing it's the only thing I can think about, aside from the impending birth of our first child.

But this initial rejection from people like "gonzostrike" is nothing new to me. You know, snowboarders don't exactly welcome 32 year old first timers with open arms. And as for skiers, let's just say that I have a different background than most of them. I didn't get to see my first ski resort until last year. Growing up, my family couldn't even afford movie tickets much less lift tickets. And most of the time, when I am on the slopes I am the only non-white person out there. This usually isn't a problem, but there are some people like "gonzostrike" that have a tough time accepting people that are a little different.

Thanks to all the others for welcoming me.

And "gonzostrike" - you are a moron and a scumbag. I am going to ignore you from here on out. I'll post my technique questions and you can post your vitriolic garbage. We don't ever have to interact with each other again. Don't ever, ever respond to one of my posts again, ever. I swear to god. If you have a problem with this, let's take it off line....send me an email and we'll settle this, in person if you like. ajax_sf@yahoo.com
post #10 of 26
Err, come on now. Gonz is presumptuous and occasionally insulting (although almost always insulting to someone), but he also often has good advice. to ignore him would and to practically threaten him not to respond... well now.... you're about to have a child, there's no reason to hold a grudge like one.

a technique tip: dont think about leaning into turns, a better way is to let your hip fall into the turn and keep your upper body perpendicular to the fall line, that way you are able to achieve better edge grip and angulation at a slower speed.

It's not bragging if it's true - Mohammed Ali

There are two reasons for everything, the good reason and the real reason
-J. Pierpont Morgan

If life was easy everyone would be successful.
post #11 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks Bob. You know, your past instructional posts are some of the most helpful resources I've found.

As for "gonzo....", I don't feel the need to prove myself to anyone. That's all I'll say about the matter.

btw - "professional" means someone who has a profession. "Professor" is someone who teaches. I'm sure that clears up a lot of past confusion.
post #12 of 26
Have fun with the Merlins. They are an excellent ski, and with a little effort will work fine for you.

Anyone can pretty much stand on two skis and slide straight down a hill. This isn't skiing (or snowboarding). Turning is skiing.

Don't bash the snowplow- it's an effective tool that everyone uses at one time or another. Most people can't stop with a snowplow when they're facing straight down the hill. The snowplow slows them down, but completing a turn is the most efficient way to control speed. Hockey stops are a semi-effective method for quickly scrubbing off speed (like at the end of a race) or for dousing your friends with snow, but not much else. They wear you out quickly and aren't really a controlled stop. Finishing a turn until you're almost facing uphill allows you so ski longer and in more control, whatever turning method you use.

Enjoy your lesson(s)! I know your instructor will be able to help you improve towards your goal. Make sure to keep an open mind, though. Some things they're going to teach you may seem unimportant, but are actually building blocks towards better skiing.
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Actually, I have nothing against the snowplow. On my second day, if it wasn't for the snowplow I would have spent the whole day on my butt.

But to ask someone my size to try to stop or even slow down using a snowplow on skis that were - god, I don't even know how small they were. They literally only came up to my belt. That's just impossible. There isn't enough edge touching the snow to do anything effective in a snowplow position. That's why I had to resort to the hockey stop.

I have a question though. My copy of Lito's book is an older copy from 1987, way before there was any such thing as a "shaped" ski. But his techniques seem almost taylor made for shaped skis (weight on only the outside ski, early weight shift, pre-turn, etc). In fact, his techniques didn't really help me when I tried them on straight skis. Now, I was probably not applying them correctly or maybe I wasn't going fast enough. It just seemed like more of a chore. And when the ski patrol guy pulled me aside to give me advice, he said I need to twist into the turn, let the back of the ski skid along until the edge takes hold. Exactly the opposite of what Lito says to do (again, this was in 1987). Can anyone comment on this?

My concern is this - the Merlins have been described as one of the "straighter" shaped skis. In fact, here's a Scot Schmidt Q&A where he describes the VIs as more of a traditional ski: http://classic.mountainzone.com/ski/scotschmidt/qa.html I'm wondering if I might have to adopt a hybrid straight/shaped ski technique based on my speed. In other words, twist at low speeds, pressure the edge at high speeds.

Alaska Mike - thanks for the advice. Take a look at this url: http://classic.mountainzone.com/ski/...midt/tip1.html It's another Schmidt link. Take a look at the last sentence where he talks about "dumping speed". Is that different than the "hockey stop" method of slowing down?

(I know I'm just have question after question. It will probably get very annoying for you experts. I'm just full of enthusiasm. Thanks for bearing with me.)


gonzostrike - a little history about me. I don't post on the internet much. But one forum I did actively participate in was a martial arts forum. Now these forums are just rife with trolls, people whose sole purpose is to evoke an outraged response from people. One of their chief tactics was to accuse others, legitimate posters, of being trolls entirely unprovoked, much like your first response to me. Now on this particular forum, people who had serious beefs would actually engage in a challenge match, complete with facilites and a referee. This effectively shut up the trolls because they weren't legitimate martial artists/fighters. Occasionally some fighters actually did fight due to some silly disagreement. (They usually became friends afterward)

Now, I realize that challenging people is egregiously inappropriate in a skiing forum of all places. But if I came off as hostile and aggressive, it's because I've come across a lot of punks on the internet who post attacks on me entirely unprovoked, just like your first post.

Also note - you say I oversell my snowboarding technique. I said that I picked up snowboarding after 5 trips. I didn't say that I've only snowboarded 5 times. Between March of last year to the present I've snowboarded over 40 times. I just didn't consider myself an adequate boarder until after my fifth trip. Now, 40+ days of boarding don't make me a champion boarder. But, I know that I can carve. I can see a clean line on my turns. I can board through the trees without killing myself. Most importantly and probably most relevant to skiing - I feel comfortable with speed. Now, I don't feel like I have to defend myself. I'm just pointing out an erroneous assumption on your part.

Look, I'm just a beginning skier. I'm probably the LEAST skilled skier on this whole forum by a WIDE, WIDE margin. You obviously are a pretty good skier. I just want to get better, so why don't you cut me some slack and leave me alone. Alright?<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by ajax (edited February 25, 2001).]</FONT>
post #14 of 26
Welcome Ajax! Its great to have another highly enthusiastic question asker like myself around!
Although I'm not a "big strong guy", but a somewhat smaller and very strong female, I too have a tendency to muscle my turns. I've been told that I ski like a pro football player. So although we are of different body types, some comments that are made to me might hold relvence to you.
About the straight skis: Read my post about Bormio. It involves going to a small Italian resort, where most of the Instructors were in straight skis. The technique involved some of the twisting action you described and disliked. So your instincts are correct.
A few months ago, at a women's skiing workshop, there was a young female tri athelete, about 5'10. Well, they had her on these 110cm skis, and even though she had a natural skiing talent, the darn things were just too short for her. Later, on a slightly longer ski, she made amazing progress.
Keep posting and reading. If you learn something that does not sound correct, this is a good place to "reality check".

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #15 of 26
Shaped skis require less of a one-footed stance than traditional skis. However, the basis of turning is still to weight one ski more than another, bending the ski into an arc. Because of the sidecut, you don't need to bend the ski as much to make it carve. I find Lito's videos more help than his book, because they give a visual model of what he's describing. "Breakthrough on Skis III, The New Skis" has the best close-up images of skis carving I have seen on video.

Skidding turns as described in that link refers to skidding the tail at the end of the turn to slow, not a hockey stop. Your average intermediate skier skids their turns. Most snowboarders actually do more skidding than pure carving, even at the professional level. A good instructor can show you the difference, and show you when and where each turn is appropriate.

Don't worry about how shaped your skis are. A good skier can make old equipment look good, and a marginal skier can make this year's top of the line stuff look bad.

Get "twisting" out of your mind. It leads to all kinds of problems if you're unclear of what you're "twisting". An instructor can give you exercises to practice on the slope that will help you achieve the proper body position. Once again, keep an open mind.
post #16 of 26
Ajax, Welcome. I started skiing at 30 and went through a lot of confusing information and "tips" before finding a ski school, taking lessons, and eventually teaching for the school. A good instructor can speed up your learning curve, give you a solid technique base to grow from, and make skiing less physically demanding and more fun. Good luck and stick with us. There are some very knowledgeable people on this board.
post #17 of 26
Troll or unTroll? I'll admit that I had him pegged for a refugee from Freeze and I suspect that Gonzo may be right.

I just dunno anyone who teaches snowplow and considering the crap that was being slung last month I can't blame Gonzo for his reaction.

I'm sure that ol' Gonz has noticed a few other tendencies/affectations in this post but I'll keep that to myself.

"Gee Missus Cleaver, that sure is a swell dress that you're wearing! Don't you think so Wally?"

"Awwww cut the crap Eddie."<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by yuki (edited February 26, 2001).]</FONT>
post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 

Then by all means, don't respond to my posts. From my experience, the best way to dissuade a troll is to not respond to inflamatory posts/flamebait.

That's exactly what I asked gonzostrike to do - to ignore me. If he, and you, are so inclined then don't respond to my questions. It's as simple as that. I didn't ask him to verbally spar with me. Just ignore me.

I don't think that I've said or asked anything that's too controversial. If you don't believe that they still teach the snowplow, then find someone who has taken a first day group class at Kirkwood this season and ask him or her. It happened.

I don't know what other kinds of hoops I have to jump through just to post some questions on a forum. Obviously there is a lot of history to this forum that I was not aware of.

But you know, going through all the archives all I found were interesting posts about technique. I didn't find any flame wars, just friendly exchange. If I had seen flamewars, I would have taken more care to distinguish myself from previous offenders.

This thread is growing longer and longer, and only about half of it is substantive. The other half is either someone telling me to get lost or me trying to legitimzie myself. Why don't you just sit back and let me either show that I'm for real in time, or show myself to be a troll. Trolls can never keep up the act for very long.

And chances are, you and gonzostrike will never really want me around. But we don't have to clutter up the messageboard with this garbage. If you have a problem with me, take it off line and send me an email. I will respond reasonably and courteously. Good day.

post #19 of 26
The gliding wedge is what you should be working on with turns down the fall line.

The progression deals with pressuring the left then the right ski in a series of linked turns down the fall line.
post #20 of 26
Welcome aboard.
Unfortunatly I have seen the dinosaurs of teaching too. I had the opportunity to ride up with a young woman at Alta and on the ride up, we began to talk about her experience with the ski lessons she had. It was her second year of skiing, Maybe 6-8 days per year so only 12-16 days total. She took one group lesson (first lesson) and 6 additional Private lessons! In all that all she could tell me was that she was supposed to use her big toes and point them like flashlights where she wanted to go and to face down the hill (countering) actually she was way over countered. I suggested she try asking for a level 2 or 3 the next time she took a lesson.

My recommendation to you is to ask for a level 2 or 3 cert instructor and take a private lesson or small group clinic. Also if you want to do some self teaching, check out Lito's Breakthrough on Skis book as well as his tapes. 1 and 3 make more sense than 2 unless you want to learn to ski bumps and powder right off.

Again, welcome to the world of "tooth picks" as some of my boarder friends would say.
post #21 of 26

I'm no Lito expert, but in answer to your question, shaped skis are simply supposed to make some things (like carving) easier to do than they were on straight skis. It's not an opposite way of skiing, simply something that supposedly was aimed for but harder to achieve on straight skis.

This may explain why some of Lito's techniques resemble some of what you've been told about how to ride shaped skis - but remember that half of the discussions on this forum tend to be about technique; in fact, how-much-weight-on-which-ski came up not long ago.

You may find instructors and skiing methods that tell you how to ski shaped skis that have nothing to do with Lito's technique!

~Michelle H.
post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. I should have known that going from ~120cm shaped skis to 195cm straight skis would require 4 times as much turning effort.

gonzostrike and yuki,

Here's further proof of at least part of what I've stated. I said that I used to post frequently on a martial arts forum. Well, I found a site that has archived one of my posts, one in which I posted a book review. Mine is the next to last post.

Yuki, I think I read somewhere on this forum that you have an interest in martial arts. You should check out that book if you are interested in "no-holds-barred" fighting.
post #23 of 26
I gotta ask how someone your size ended up on 120's????

When my son was seven @ 50 pounds he was on a 120. This year he is a whopping 75 pounds and I just bought him a 163 cm. pair of Volkl race boards.

Your sizing in that Merlin is probably about right.

Thanks for the MA comment/insight.... I'm straight Shotokan, nothing fancy. I do have a senior to me who is a firm believer in the creative use of the thumbs in a grapple and some of his sessions have been.... inspirational (ouch).
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 

I paid for the "First Time Package" at Kirkwood - lesson, rentals, lift ticket. At Kirkwood, they insist that all first-timers use their special short skis. So you had really big guys like me and some girls who looked like they were 5'2", 110lbs on identical skis. Is that not standard pracice?
post #25 of 26
That's not standard practice anywhere I've been. Their logic probably was that the shorter ski is easier to move around for someone who hasn't developed the balance or muscles you use in skiing. Most beginner students aren't your size, however, and they should have adapted their program accordingly.
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Okay, I just looked at the Kirkwood website. Here's what they say about their first-time program:

'We were named by USA Today as one of the top ten resorts in the nation to learn to ski. Instruction takes place at Timber Creek on the region's widest, most gentle slopes, away from fast moving skiers and riders. Our first-time skier program utilizes the Elan PSX 133 CM Short Carving Skis which accelerate learning by adding stability and providing an early introduction to the sensation of "shaping" turns.'

So not quite 120s, but pretty darn short.
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