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Racing v Free skiing - Page 2

post #31 of 55

Just an observation...

 

I've skied for a long time on a big mountain justifiably known for its off-piste challenges.  During that time, I've had the opportunity to ski with an awful lot of really good skiers - both racers and free skiers.  Here's my observation:

 

I've very seldom seen a REALLY good racer who couldn't just slay the off-piste terrain and conditions.  I've seen gobs and gobs of REALLY good free skiers who couldn't race for crap.

 

If your goal is to be a really, really good skier, then racing should be part of your training.

post #32 of 55

^Well said BP.

You can get away with a lot of crap freeskiing, that would not work on a race course.  Same might be said comparing soft bumps to icy bumps.

JF

post #33 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mook View Post  In addition, the technique is completely different in powder, something I hope to work on more.


Again someone saying the technique is completely different.  I must be doing one or the other totally wrong, because to me the technique is the same with different tactics, focus & blend of skills.

 

& yes, skis make a huge difference.  The right tool for the right job.

 

That video of Defago is pretty funny.  He looks & skis like he is scared shitless, & definitely on the wrong tools.

 

Lonewolf, I don't think anyone is freaking out, it is just that most ski racers have a type AA personality & will defend their beliefs whether they are right or wrong duel.gif.

 

Thanks,

JF



Julia totally ownned that face and Defago pretty much sucked. Why the hell would you bring GS skis? is he TDK6's brother?

post #34 of 55

For being on those skis, he completely f'n ripped.  as in that was great.  It's true that today's race skis are a lot better than when people used to actually use tired GS skis as powder boards, and I didn't even get a good look at the layup, but that was just awesome skiing in my view.  Plus a cool idea for a vid. 

post #35 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post

Julia totally ownned that face and Defago pretty much sucked. Why the hell would you bring GS skis? is he TDK6's brother?


Yeah, but Julia scared me more than Defago.  That face did look pretty boney when he skied it.  I wonder if he knew what he was getting into, & I wonder what Julia's coaches think?

JF

post #36 of 55

For westerners it's a choice what kind of conditions you ski and how you ski them, where to focus your learning. Gates, trees, open bowls: your choice. For easterners constrained by typical lives, it just doesn't work that way; the soft snow opportunities are so few and far between that they're statistically insignificant from a skill-building perspective. So it's not "racing vs. free skiing" (as in the title of the thread). It's hard snow skiing vs. soft snow skiing.

 

You get good at what you have an opportunity to ski regularly. I can carve a decent turn, but I suck when I ski actual deep snow (more than 6 or 8 inches). I dream about it, and I love it, but I suck at it. Yeah, after an hour or two I begin to get the hang, but it doesn't come naturally. Then another year - or sometimes two - goes by before the next big storm that happens to come on a weekend when I can get away ... and I'm back to truly sucky again. I ski pretty often, but big storms are rare, and tend to get negated quickly in a variety of ways ... like it snows a foot and then rains an inch and then freezes solid. This is where Bushwacker jumps in and says how many great powder days they get in the woods at Stowe. Maybe for him, in that very unique location, in that job, where he can seize the moment between 8:00am when you can start to see something and 10:45am when it starts to pour, but it simply doesn't apply to 99.9% of us eastern skiers. Note the entirely typical conditions so far this season: Maine - 1" of fresh brown oak leaves on the lower mountain, mixed with twigs and acorns; spruce needles, hoarfrost, frozen springs, and slab granite at the higher elevations. Meanwhile, parts of Colorado and Utah have had 86" of white fluff. Just saying. Hard to learn a pedal turn on these surfaces.

 

post #37 of 55

The best skiers are racers, CHINESE DOWNHILL RACERS!wink.gif

post #38 of 55


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post



 talking to a long time Squaw coach, he said that they encourage their racers to be good free, big mountain skiers, and beyond that feels that Squaw racers do very well in rough and rutted courses do to their being great free skiers, able to handle terrain and variable snow.

 

 

I'm pretty sure I've been free skiing with the mentioned Squaw coach and some of his squad.  They are awsome freeskiers, it was very instructive and one of the best afternoons I have spent at Squaw.
 

post #39 of 55

Back in the old days when the only high performance skis were race skis, all good skiers had to have a race background (because that is all there was). In order to wrestle the skinny straight skis in off piste conditions you had to have legs of steel and an impeccable technique. But the new equipment has completely changed the game.

 

There is a whole generation of skiers about to come through who have never raced and it will be interesting to see how they will approach the mountains and picking lines. By the time my (unborn) children are 20 it is unlikely they would have ever used a race ski and most of their skis will be rockered. And they will look at race skis like we look at leather boots - as a interesting historical note but a serious impediment to having fun in the mountains.

post #40 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post

For westerners it's a choice what kind of conditions you ski and how you ski them, where to focus your learning. Gates, trees, open bowls: your choice. For easterners constrained by typical lives, it just doesn't work that way; the soft snow opportunities are so few and far between that they're statistically insignificant from a skill-building perspective. So it's not "racing vs. free skiing" (as in the title of the thread). It's hard snow skiing vs. soft snow skiing.

 

You get good at what you have an opportunity to ski regularly. I can carve a decent turn, but I suck when I ski actual deep snow (more than 6 or 8 inches). I dream about it, and I love it, but I suck at it. Yeah, after an hour or two I begin to get the hang, but it doesn't come naturally. Then another year - or sometimes two - goes by before the next big storm that happens to come on a weekend when I can get away ... and I'm back to truly sucky again. I ski pretty often, but big storms are rare, and tend to get negated quickly in a variety of ways ... like it snows a foot and then rains an inch and then freezes solid. This is where Bushwacker jumps in and says how many great powder days they get in the woods at Stowe. Maybe for him, in that very unique location, in that job, where he can seize the moment between 8:00am when you can start to see something and 10:45am when it starts to pour, but it simply doesn't apply to 99.9% of us eastern skiers. Note the entirely typical conditions so far this season: Maine - 1" of fresh brown oak leaves on the lower mountain, mixed with twigs and acorns; spruce needles, hoarfrost, frozen springs, and slab granite at the higher elevations. Meanwhile, parts of Colorado and Utah have had 86" of white fluff. Just saying. Hard to learn a pedal turn on these surfaces.

 


why dont you come to stowe to learn then? Its not like I dont have pictures and video taken by me that prove that stowe is more than just hardpack alot of the time. the deal is a couple days after the storm you better be willing to work for it. A day with me is quite often tons of fun for other people, but for some is quite literally their worst nightmare. Ill be honest though, 8:00 am is normally not my start time, If it truly good I aim to be skiing my second lap down the hill when the lifts open which requires a pre 7:00 am start. 

 

that 12 inches of fresh with a inch of rain on top can be skied like powder on boards bigger than you would ever think to use on that stuff.

 

BTW I can for sure teach you a pedal hop turn on subpar surfaces. Its where I use it most.

post #41 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghost View Post

The best skiers are racers, CHINESE DOWNHILL RACERS!wink.gif



Chinese downhill racers through...gates ROTF.gif.

 

Otherwise, those who master ski racing can lay the law in powder or all mountain, using improper skis&boots, as long as is not about doing park stuff. I have stroooong doubts regarding vice versa.

And I'm talking about racers not about young people attending ski schools, learning to ski through gates under someone's supervision.

Being a racer has nothing to do with skiing through gates. Being a racer is about performance, training, competition, goals and results.

 

In my humble opinion, this is a childish topic.

post #42 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4ster View Post


Again someone saying the technique is completely different.  I must be doing one or the other totally wrong, because to me the technique is the same with different tactics, focus & blend of skills.

 


Originally Posted by Bob Peters 

 

I've very seldom seen a REALLY good racer who couldn't just slay the off-piste terrain and conditions.  I've seen gobs and gobs of REALLY good free skiers who couldn't race for crap.

 

If your goal is to be a really, really good skier, then racing should be part of your training.

 

Now this is really interesting and in itself provides the answer to the underlying question in this thread.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and skiing with both of these guys.  JF is clearly race trained and while I'm not sure of the amount of formal race training Bob has had, I'm going to guess .......some.  They do ski completely different, but both can "bring it in all conditions" as that's the conditions I skied with both under.

 

I'm going to expand on what Bob said, "If your goal is to be a really, really good skier, then racing should be part of your training", and add  If your goal is to be a really, really good skier, then versatility should be the emphasis of most of your skiing.

 

As a skier the more you learn to blend the skills, the more you ski things in a way that are different from the normal tactics you use, and the more you do this on terrain you otherwise wouldn't ..........the more you will shine.
 

post #43 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post

 

Now this is really interesting and in itself provides the answer to the underlying question in this thread.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and skiing with both of these guys.  JF is clearly race trained and while I'm not sure of the amount of formal race training Bob has had, I'm going to guess .......some.  They do ski completely different, but both can "bring it in all conditions" as that's the conditions I skied with both under.

 

I'm going to expand on what Bob said, "If your goal is to be a really, really good skier, then racing should be part of your training", and add  If your goal is to be a really, really good skier, then versatility should be the emphasis of most of your skiing.

 

As a skier the more you learn to blend the skills, the more you ski things in a way that are different from the normal tactics you use, and the more you do this on terrain you otherwise wouldn't ..........the more you will shine.
 

 

I could not agree more.
 

To answer your question, I've had very little race training, almost none of it "formal".  I never ran a gate until I was about 30 - and my skiing SHOWS it.  I love watching race-trained skiers because there's a precision and power to their skiing that most skiers can't match - me included. 4ster has that.

 

I spent all my "formative" years skiing powder and crud.  I didn't start to understand the demands - and rewards - of a truly carved turn until about ten years ago.  It's the single thing I've worked on the most in those years and it's been difficult.  I used to be the guy (like many on these threads today) who looked at groomers as a sometimes-necessary obstacle in the way of getting to the nearest off-piste skiing.  I now know that part of the reason I avoided groomers was because I really wasn't able to ski them very well - even though *I* thought I could.

 

Now it doesn't bother me a bit when we go a few days without snow.  I'll happily get on the groomers and work toward making a clean, powerful turn on hard snow.  The possibilities of carved turns are endless.  When I manage to make one fairly good turn it just motivates me to try to make the next one even cleaner or tighter or faster.  That's why I don't understand people in some of these threads who say that groomers are boring. 

 

Lastly, a truly funny thing has happened as I've worked on my hard-snow turns over the last few years...

 

My powder/crud skiing has improved.

 

Doh!

 

And if only I would have HAD formal race training at an early age, I'm sure I would have progressed much faster as a skier.

post #44 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post

 

Now this is really interesting and in itself provides the answer to the underlying question in this thread.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and skiing with both of these guys.  JF is clearly race trained and while I'm not sure of the amount of formal race training Bob has had, I'm going to guess .......some.  They do ski completely different, but both can "bring it in all conditions" as that's the conditions I skied with both under.

 

I'm going to expand on what Bob said, "If your goal is to be a really, really good skier, then racing should be part of your training", and add  If your goal is to be a really, really good skier, then versatility should be the emphasis of most of your skiing.

 

As a skier the more you learn to blend the skills, the more you ski things in a way that are different from the normal tactics you use, and the more you do this on terrain you otherwise wouldn't ..........the more you will shine.
 

 

I could not agree more.
 

To answer your question, I've had very little race training, almost none of it "formal".  I never ran a gate until I was about 30 - and my skiing SHOWS it.  I love watching race-trained skiers because there's a precision and power to their skiing that most skiers can't match - me included. 4ster has that.

 

I spent all my "formative" years skiing powder and crud.  I didn't start to understand the demands - and rewards - of a truly carved turn until about ten years ago.  It's the single thing I've worked on the most in those years and it's been difficult.  I used to be the guy (like many on these threads today) who looked at groomers as a sometimes-necessary obstacle in the way of getting to the nearest off-piste skiing.  I now know that part of the reason I avoided groomers was because I really wasn't able to ski them very well - even though *I* thought I could.

 

Now it doesn't bother me a bit when we go a few days without snow.  I'll happily get on the groomers and work toward making a clean, powerful turn on hard snow.  The possibilities of carved turns are endless.  When I manage to make one fairly good turn it just motivates me to try to make the next one even cleaner or tighter or faster.  That's why I don't understand people in some of these threads who say that groomers are boring. 

 

Lastly, a truly funny thing has happened as I've worked on my hard-snow turns over the last few years...

 

My powder/crud skiing has improved.

 

Doh!

 

And if only I would have HAD formal race training at an early age, I'm sure I would have progressed much faster as a skier.



Bob imagine if you started skiing on a 400 foot hill in Pa you skied there about 500 days prior to skiing something else. Youd think groomers were boring as well. 

 

I have had a crappy pure carved turn for at least 3/4 decade now, its gotten alot better to this day. Its fun and if given the choice between not skiing and doing that over and over again Id choose that.  I also think pure carved turns are really easy to do compared to dynamic non carved turns. It was fun to bomb that wide open groomer doing the laps with you at Jackson Hole but skiing the little bit of powder was much more fun IMO. 

 

 

 

post #45 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Peters View Post


 I love watching race-trained skiers because there's a precision and power to their skiing that most skiers can't match - me included. 4ster has that.

 



I totally agree with this and it is also the main thing I work on when I get chance. To be honest all the different techniques I use off-piste just kinda developed themselves as I figured out what did and did not work. Carving on the other is something I always try to improve. I am constantly asking my friends who race for drills and pointers( i think they get a little annoyed with me sometimes redface.gif ). There is just something that makes you stop and watch when you see someone who can really lay down a turn with the kind of grace they do. There style seems to imply that they are controlling what happens. That gravity is pulling them down the hill because they want it to.

post #46 of 55

Bob Peters,

Very seldom I can see a person being so honest about himself in a virtual environment.

I would have written the same if english would have been my mother tongue.

 

Once you become initiated in ski racing, skiing off-piste comes from instinct and you don't need to think about a special technique; skiing off-piste on proper tools (skis&boots) helps a lot but for top racers even the proper equipment is not compulsory.

Defago used his regular racing boots and I would never think of using that kind of boots for that job. Not to mention the skis.

I would not compare Julia (or Aksel Lund) with Didier because is just not right, I mean, things are totally different.

 

post #47 of 55

Main difference between free skiing and racing are gates. Yes surprise surprise :) But thing with gates is not, you need to know how to attack them, or with what part of body too hit them, but they give you your course. You can't turn meter or two left or right, but at exactly that point. With free skiing it really doesn't matter if you turn a bit earlier or a bit later, with gates it does. And in my opinion, this is difference racers have compared to free skiers... ability to turn at exact moment and position... even if terrain is not perfect for that turn. Once you have this ability, everything else is much easier. That's also reason why, as someone said, going from racing to powder skiing is much easier then vice versa. I'm not saying free skiing (on meter deep powder or on groomers) is easy. But it's still much harder to control your line to centimeter accurate track then just making nice carving turns where you turn wherever you want.

 

 

post #48 of 55


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiski View Post

Back in the old days when the only high performance skis were race skis, all good skiers had to have a race background (because that is all there was). In order to wrestle the skinny straight skis in off piste conditions you had to have legs of steel and an impeccable technique. But the new equipment has completely changed the game.

 

There is a whole generation of skiers about to come through who have never raced and it will be interesting to see how they will approach the mountains and picking lines. By the time my (unborn) children are 20 it is unlikely they would have ever used a race ski and most of their skis will be rockered. And they will look at race skis like we look at leather boots - as a interesting historical note but a serious impediment to having fun in the mountains.


You make an excellent point.  Snowboarders are already going through this, in that while most of  the first generation of great freestyle and big-mountain snowboarders raced on alpine snowboard gear (and in fact for a while alpine snowboard boots and bindings were used on all-mountain snowboards in places like Jackson), now there are a number of great big mountain riders who've never raced.  Just as there are, for instance, skateboarders who do incredible things in really big skateparks, surfers who ride big waves without having been small-wave contest surfers, etc.

 

In each case, though, the athletes in question still went through some sort of "academy" environment that helped develop sound technical skills.  For skiing, that environment is still racing, with these days also some serious park training thrown in if you want to be truly well-rounded in a big mountain environment.  I don't see 10 year old or 16 year old skiers getting that sound technical input anywhere else on the hill, for skiers, in any consistent way, with the exception of a few freeride developmental programs.  Those programs may be the start of what kiwiski suggests may happen in the future.

 

 

post #49 of 55

Timing your movements.cool.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by primoz View Post

Main difference between free skiing and racing are gates. Yes surprise surprise :) But thing with gates is not, you need to know how to attack them, or with what part of body too hit them, but they give you your course. You can't turn meter or two left or right, but at exactly that point. With free skiing it really doesn't matter if you turn a bit earlier or a bit later, with gates it does. And in my opinion, this is difference racers have compared to free skiers... ability to turn at exact moment and position... even if terrain is not perfect for that turn. Once you have this ability, everything else is much easier. That's also reason why, as someone said, going from racing to powder skiing is much easier then vice versa. I'm not saying free skiing (on meter deep powder or on groomers) is easy. But it's still much harder to control your line to centimeter accurate track then just making nice carving turns where you turn wherever you want.

 

 

post #50 of 55
Interesting thread. I think the guitar playing analogy mentioned earlier is spot on. You get good at what you practice. The basic skills are the same, but you need to adapt them to what you do.

I learned this first hand when I started racing in an adult league 4 years ago after being a die hard free skier for 35 years. During those 35 years you could probably count on my 10 fingers how many times I had skied through a race course. So when I tried my hand at racing I found that skiers who could never keep up with me in the trees, bumps or even blasting down a groomer would beat me by several seconds in a race. Why, because they had race experience and I did not. However with my strong skiing experience I qualified (on my mid fats) into the B Vet (over 40) class over racers who had been racing for many years, but were not the best free skiers. I placed 3rd in my first two races and in my first full season I won a race or two and placed in several others. My second race season with a little experience I dominated my class and got bumped to the next higher division BB Vet. I built on my solid overall ski skills by learning race lines and to race carve. This year my 2nd in BB Vet I expect to compete for the podium every race.

So just as in the guitar analogy, once I started practicing race skills I progressed quickly due to the solid skills I already had.

A few interesting side notes. When the race course is in crappy variable conditions and the other racers are bitching, I tend to do very well, probably due to all of the off piste skiing I do. And, I now ski trees and narrow chutes with more confidence that I will make that turn, due to my new race skills of having to make that gate or get DQ'd.

I also get to buy more skis! After all, I need a Slalom Race ski and a GS race ski in addition to my mid fats.

Who knew I would like racing so much?

Rick G
post #51 of 55

Others with race backgrounds include Scott Schmidt, Doug Coombs, Tom Jungst and Kim Reichelm.

post #52 of 55

I was gonna post some more in this thread, but it is beginning to seem like there is no need.  Unlike many threads on here it sounds like people "get it".

 

I am pleased.

 

Those who have the most rounded skills & a good grasp of the basics, also have the most FUN!

 

beercheer.gif

    biggrin.gif

     JF

post #53 of 55

Another reason the best skiers on any given mountain are typically racers: they spend a lot of time doing skill building and strength building exercises.  Most skiers, even the best ones, aren't going to spend 60% of their time doing drills: they want to go ski.  I know plenty of skiers who ski all the time, yet are pretty mediocre, as they don't ever try to improve; instead, they just go up and ski, which is fine, but it doesn't necessarily make you a better skier.  As a result, they can cruise just about any terrain on a flat, intermediate mountain like Bachelor, but get schooled on steep, technical lines or any other type of black diamond terrain.  Just as most runners just run for fun, or even run hard from time to time, but elite runners are doing intervals and structured workouts 3+ days a week, as are golfers. The best golfer at the course where I grew up (and our high school assistant coach) spent 70% of his time in either the range or the putting green, putting in the constant repetitions required to be a sub-scratch golfer.  

 

A good friend of mine was a racer in college, and one of the best skiers locally.  When he skis, he still has that mentality: every day, he gives himself something to work on and improve with, even though he is free skiing. He calls it "focused free skiing".  Whereas I know other skiers that actually have regressed, as they move away from racing and, due to lack of any sort of focus, end up with bad habits.  I bet any of the top free skiers we see, whether they came from a race background or not, learned how to ski well and do plenty of upkeep to make sure their skills are sharp.  

post #54 of 55

a race coach director at Squaw said the perfect statement for this post: "If you turn where you want to you are a recreational skier". what about Seth Morrison? those kind of guys make money. recreational? but he's right, you know.

post #55 of 55

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post

Another reason the best skiers on any given mountain are typically racers: they spend a lot of time doing skill building and strength building exercises.  Most skiers, even the best ones, aren't going to spend 60% of their time doing drills: they want to go ski.  I know plenty of skiers who ski all the time, yet are pretty mediocre, as they don't ever try to improve; instead, they just go up and ski, which is fine, but it doesn't necessarily make you a better skier.  As a result, they can cruise just about any terrain on a flat, intermediate mountain like Bachelor, but get schooled on steep, technical lines or any other type of black diamond terrain.  Just as most runners just run for fun, or even run hard from time to time, but elite runners are doing intervals and structured workouts 3+ days a week, as are golfers. The best golfer at the course where I grew up (and our high school assistant coach) spent 70% of his time in either the range or the putting green, putting in the constant repetitions required to be a sub-scratch golfer.  

 

A good friend of mine was a racer in college, and one of the best skiers locally.  When he skis, he still has that mentality: every day, he gives himself something to work on and improve with, even though he is free skiing. He calls it "focused free skiing".  Whereas I know other skiers that actually have regressed, as they move away from racing and, due to lack of any sort of focus, end up with bad habits.  I bet any of the top free skiers we see, whether they came from a race background or not, learned how to ski well and do plenty of upkeep to make sure their skills are sharp. 

 

Last year was my first year as an instructor.  The thing that helped my skiing most was becoming an instructor because, there were a multitude of clinics I participated in and most of my free ski time while working, I spent doing drills.  I spent a lot of time training and was on snow 57 days.  I would bet 50 of them were training focused (I was learning or teaching).

 

At the end of the year, a few of the senior instructors commented on how they couldn't believe how much my skiing had improved.  Granted I probably had the most room for improvement, but the point is that many of the other new (and others too) instructors free skied on breaks.  They went in the trees or zipped around.  I made "W's", pivot slips, and assorted other drills and NASTAR every chance I could get.  Several of them still ski better than me but for the most part, at the end of the year they skied the same way or a little better than they did at the beginning of the year.  I was skiing things for fun that I was previously hesitant about and avoided.  The difference was what dawgcatching posted; I did more drills - for fun.

 

When I started racing I was told you can't become a good racer without being a good free skier.  You had to know how to deal with changing conditions and terrain.  This will be my third year racing and should be a marked improvement over last year.  I will spend my free time doing drills this year too.


 

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