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Technique question for firm groomers

Discussion in 'Ski Tips' started by bounceswoosh, Dec 31, 2016.

  1. bounceswoosh

    bounceswoosh Moderator Staff Member

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    I got out early this morning to ski. Given that it was warm yesterday and still mostly shady when I was skiing, the groomers were firm. Surely not east coast firm - but firm for me. I could hear my skis!

    I wanted to check out one of the steeper blues while the cord was still intact and the crowds were low. The first run, I fell back into default mode - not as fast as I would normally ski a blue groomer zoomer, but fast enough that I realized that a fall would be a problem. Probably that's when my Garmin clocked a max speed of 33mph. Going at that speed, I felt comfortable, and my skis pretty much did what I expected them to do.

    I decided to try the same run, but go slowly. I wanted to use relatively short radius turns (knowing me, probably more like medium radius) - and I didn't want to use the entire width of the run, because people freak me out.

    Pretty much immediately, I found that I was washing out - just sliding. Given that I'm still rehabbing my knee, I didn't want to experiment, so I bailed onto a less steep slope.

    I realize I don't have video, but I'm just wondering if anyone has any thoughts? Why would I have no traction issues flying down the hill with long radius turns, but slide out when I try to go shorter (and consequently more horizontal)?

    Possibly relevant, possibly not - I have no idea when these edges were last sharpened. They're probably pretty dull. Wax was pretty fresh, but of course that doesn't help with bite. The skis are pretty soft, 90mm underfoot, playful rather than charge-y. I did check my tracks at one point on a less-steep slope, and they looked railroad-y, not abrupt.

    I have a guess. I think that when I made tighter with the intent to slow down, I may have leaned back toward the hill. Whereas when I was flying, I was almost certainly in an aggressively forward stance. I have a history of leaning into the hill rather than forward when I'm in a more sideways mode. I don't mean that I'm backseat; fore-aft is still pretty fine. It's more to do with my orientation with the hill, not with my skis.

    But - I have a week till I get to see my instructor, so ... what do you think? (And be kind, please! I always have trouble keeping it slow on groomers - which I realize indicates some broader technique issues. But I never cared *that* much, because speed is fun. Even though I should have cared. This is the first season where it's been critical to keep it slow, because I don't dare slow down abruptly.)
     
  2. tinymoose

    tinymoose Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    My very uninformed guess... when you were going faster you were making larger turns more fitting to to the turn radius of the ski so it was holding/engaging its edge better. When you tried to force the ski into tighter turns than the radius of the ski the edges never really full engaged... you skidded/rotary turned the skis more?
     
  3. bounceswoosh

    bounceswoosh Moderator Staff Member

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    That's a good point. But I ought to still be able to hold it, right? Unless my edge is just sharp enough to bite into the hardpack on its natural turn radius, but not when being forced? But there are certainly skiers who can get any ski to bite into any surface, so I do think there's a technique element. I'm still suspicious of possibly leaning back into the mountain when I think "go slowly."

    Every review I've found mentions how it "loves fall lines." Not sure what that means exactly. Don't all skis prefer fall lines? Hm, maybe not slalom skis ...

    But your comment opens up a whole can of worms for me, namely the concept of short radius turns and carving and skidding, oh my. I have never understood the concept of short radius turns that are also carving, because it seems to me that if you are forcing the ski into a tighter turn than its turn radius, then you must be skidding. But I think I must be missing something, unless it really is that simple?
     
  4. contesstant

    contesstant Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    Funny, I have the same issue! And, I hate making larger radius turns for the same reason--am worried about getting shwacked from behind! I know for me, I don't make patient turns and therefore don't engage the tips of the skis in these situations.

    What skis have you been using?
     
  5. bounceswoosh

    bounceswoosh Moderator Staff Member

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    The only ski I've used this season is The Ski @ 165cm. It's 89mm, soft, very easy to ski. Apparently one of the reasons it's so confidence inspiring (I am now reading - I was looking for the turning radius after reading TinyMoose's comments) is because it is very torsionally stiff.

    I have my new Blizzard Viva 8.0s available, but haven't skied them yet. Doug (un)sharpened 'em to 1/2 rather than the stock 1/3 so that they would be more forgiving, but they're still a more carvy ski than The Ski, and of course unfamiliar. As friend Doug said, slarvy is where it's at right now - it's the least force on my knee.
     
  6. contesstant

    contesstant Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    I'm glad you kept The Skis, then!
     
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  7. bounceswoosh

    bounceswoosh Moderator Staff Member

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    Right?? I was in the process of selling them when I realized they would be perfect for me right now.
     
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  8. Skisailor

    Skisailor Angel Diva

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    You are right that any turn that is tighter than the designed turning radius of the ski requires some element of steering. Steering can be defined as the blend of edging and leg rotation that we use to make whatever turn size we want. But yes - the tighter the turn, the more rotation we use relative to the amount of edging. Yes - the tail is displacing more than the tip (not purely following the tip as in a carve) - so there is some degree of controlled, progressive skid or smear or whatever you want to call it. But if your tails are washing out - that's something different.

    Leaning into the hill, which puts more weight on the inside ski might cause that outside ski to wash out. But if both are washing out, a common cause is that you have allowed your upper body to rotate too much in the direction of the turn. This sounds possible , since we allow our upper bodies to be more directional in long radius turns, but when you tried to shorten them up, if you didn't make the change to keep your shoulders facing square down the hill, and continued to rotate your body in the same fashion as for your bigger turns - the tails would tend to start washing out. It's just a guess. But maybe that helps.

    A well skied short radius turn requires engaged tips and very active leg rotation resulting in a nice round shape, and allows us to ski even very steep terrain as slowly as we want.
     
  9. nopoleskier

    nopoleskier Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    Ditto what @Skisailor said.. and I'd definitely suggest take the Viva's out on hard packed days.. maybe just the old skier in me but for groomer zoomers I like less under foot for best carving big or short turns. I started w/my 88's under foot today and got my 74's and was HUGE difference.. our piles of powder got packed and the snowboards scrapped it down to the ice in spots..

    glad your knee is doing so well!!
     
  10. RuthB

    RuthB Angel Diva

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    Things that spring to mind - both may be related to protecting your knee:

    Leaning into the hill, meaning too much weight on the uphill ski and not enough weight on your downhill ski. Which possibly means that you are tipping your skis and applying pressure but not enough weight - Ursula's video side to side if you like.

    Also, could be a bit of park and ride - body too static, insufficient angulation and not enough movement. I don't mean gross movement (in any definition of gross) or throwing your upper body around, but even slow short radius turns require lots of movement it's just micro movement.

    What are the angles of your hands and shoulders relative to the slope?
     
  11. RuthB

    RuthB Angel Diva

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    I defer to ski sailor - she definitely knows more than me. I was writing my post laboriously on a tablet as she was posting.
     
  12. Skisailor

    Skisailor Angel Diva

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    Pish tosh !!! ☺️
     
  13. bounceswoosh

    bounceswoosh Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks @Skisailor , @nopoleskier , @RuthB !

    Skisailor, thanks for the comments on short radius turns. Your description makes sense to me. I suspect - I'm almost certain - that you're right, and I was turning my body with my skis. When I try to go back to my sense memory, that feels accurate. Ugh! Only - I don't remember it as the tails washing out. I remember it as the middle sliding, so basically the whole ski. When I picture trying short radius turns while keeping my body forward - my knee kinda winces. You're right that when I picture a competent skier doing short radius turns, her whole body isn't turning with the skis! Gah!

    I have had instructors demonstrate to me what happens when you let your body lean away from the descent - that visual where you should be dripping snot below your downhill ski - and I do think that plays a part. I think it's both - I'm allowing my upper body to go sideways with my skis, and along with that I'm allowing myself to lean away from the downhill. It's easy for me to picture how both of those are terrible for traction. THE GOOD NEWS: I do this same thing on "terrain" when I'm feeling tentative. Sideways body, leaning away from the descent. Fix it on the blues (or even greens), and I'm closer to fixing it everywhere else. Which is EXACTLY the kind of thing I wanted to use this season's limitations to address.

    The funny part is that I'm comfortable letting my skis run down a groomer - I've done it as long as I've been skiing, long before I had any business doing that - and so it doesn't really make me nervous. Or rather, by the time I'm nervous, I feel committed, and I just know I have to ride it out. And that gap right there, that moment when I realize I better not screw up, that I've caught the tiger by the tail - that's the part I love about skiing groomers. And since I do love that feeling, it is very hard for me to stick with working on a skill that isn't even as fun to me. Even though it is necessary. Especially if I harbor thoughts of teaching.

    In the past, I've been able to ski slowly on hardpack - but only by following another skier who does ski more slowly than I do. So that's something to think about - why is it different? I wonder if it relates to upper body direction again, because my eyes are following the person down the hill, so it's more natural to keep my body pointed down the hill. *ponder* Sounds like time to practice the "keep my eye on that tree/sign/tower way off in the distance" drill while making short turns.

    I think right now I'm tentative about any dynamic movement, and that describes short radius turns. So pretty much what RuthB said - those many micro movements just require more going on, and that's intimidating as I figure out my knee.

    Nopoleskier - if I were as comfortable carving as you are, I'm sure I'd want the Vivas over The Ski. But the idea of catching an edge on a carver freaks me out. I may be making too much of the difference in ski types - I don't know. The Ski is mellow and forgiving. People I trust recommended the Viva as being a good groomer ski this season while I'm rehabbing, and a good teaching ski if I go that route next season, but it's described as a ski for expert women. I've seen warnings about less experienced skiers catching edges. I'm not inexperienced, but I'm not the world's best carver, obviously. There will be a few inches of snow for my skiing next Friday and Saturday, but Sunday looks like it will be dry - and maybe by then, I'll have built up the confidence to try the carvers.

    On the plus side, I have new boots since Aspen - boots that actually flex in the cold =)
     
  14. RuthB

    RuthB Angel Diva

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    Why not get the technique right while you're rehabbing on the ski and then when you are confident with the knee unleash the viva's.

    When it all comes together on short radius turns I think that the slingshot feeling that I get is a pretty good "tiger by the tail" feeling. And perfecting short radius turns in a defined corridor on groomers leads to way more fun in bumps, trees and bumpy tree runs.

    Edited to say that I am a control freak on skis - probably thanks to a wish to avoid a TBI and being a ski patroller through the later years of high school at our club field to get more ski days and first and last runs.
     
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  15. skibetty

    skibetty Certified Ski Diva

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    It took me a few years to get the true carving experience and now I absolutely love it! Just be warned, the more comfortable you are carving the faster you will want to go! I like to get up during the week and on the runs for first tracks so that I can carve to my hearts content. Is definitely more un-nerving when the corduroy is firm. So, I just try to stick to the runs that have a bit more sunlight hoping it will soften a little. Last year I purchased the Black Pearls after demoing several skis - I love them! They are a great carver for me and still perform well elsewhere on the mountain. You might be surprised once you get on your Vivas. Now I need to get new boots. Have packed out my currant ones and am looking at the Atomic Hawx Ultra. Wish we could demo boots...
     
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  16. bounceswoosh

    bounceswoosh Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah! I mean ... I get four, maybe six runs, and then my knee tells me it's done, and I head back. So it's a very weird experience for me. The knee aches a bit on the first run because it's hasn't warmed up yet. Then I get a few runs. Then it starts talking. Or if I go inside for more than a pee break, I'm probably done for the day - the knee just kind of locks up while I'm sitting.

    But I've solved the "no comfortable knee brace" issue with an Ace bandage - my dad's suggestion - "Honey, have you considered going low-tech?" for some compression without impacting my movement. It seems to me that cold days are more painful than warm days, too.

    I was surprised to find that my knee is the limiting factor in skiing. I thought I'd be more apprehensive than I am, even on greens and blues. Instead, I'm mentally raring to go, but my knee tells me to stop.

    Thanks, SkiBetty. That's exactly the issue - I need to slow it down. I can go fast - I like to go fast! - but while my ACL graft is still healing, it's not advisable. If I had to make an emergency hockey stop, or in the unlikely event that I fell, I could damage the graft. Going slowly is what's hard for me. Yesterday I caught a couple of inches of air a few times while I was just skiing down that blue. Ordinarily, that would be great - it felt great! - but now is not the time for me to be doing that.
     
  17. skibetty

    skibetty Certified Ski Diva

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    You have to listen to your knee! It's not worth it to push it too far! I to had to learn that.... Was in a car accident in 2015! Ended up with a severe concussion and other issues! Had to really dial it back last season and work my way back up. Still noticing issues this season but hey, I'm still skiing and doing the things that I love! I will take it!
     
  18. jellyflake

    jellyflake Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    In general: going slow is *much* harder and more difficult than going (pretty) fast.
    Speed is a supporter in terms of stability, balance and turning - if you go slow you need to be precise and on the point.

    To force a ski to a smaller-than-construction-radius non-smeared but carved turn you need quite some power and speed would help.

    Maybe it is an option for you (ask your knee!) to first try to experience the ski-construction-radius? Blue runs, slow speed? To become more comfortable with the edge?
     
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  19. bounceswoosh

    bounceswoosh Moderator Staff Member

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    Hahah, my knee speaks to me whether I ask it to talk or not! Even when I tell it to shut up!

    This *was* a blue run. At Breck. So not very steep at all, but steeper than I've been skiing, and steeper than some of the other blue runs there.

    How do you experience the true turn radius of the ski and also manage to ski slowly? That seems like a contradiction to me ... unless on a green, which can work, but it's tricky with all the obstacles ... I mean, beginners .... in the way.
     
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  20. nopoleskier

    nopoleskier Ski Diva Extraordinaire

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    Wouldn't that be sweet!! demo boots!!
     
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