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How do I ski on scraped ice?

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#1
I don't know exactly what to call it, but that snow condition you get where you have hardpack that has been scraped off over and over so that it's become very hard to get an edge hold on. It happens all the time at my mountain. Sometimes small patches sometimes large areas. I find it scary to ski on because my tails often slide out alarmingly, even if I'm on narrow carving skis. (Occasionally I feel the entire ski slide, but the tails are more common!)

Tips?
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#2
White ice, blue ice, ice.. the nemesis of eastern NA skiers. We learn to ski it!.

1. Don't try to edge on it unless you just got the skis out of the shop. Racers ski ice, but they have finely tuned edges. Release your edges and slide.
2. Steer. Steer your skis in the direction you want to go.
3. As long as you're sliding, you are creating friction on the ice. That will slow you down. Keep steering. Create more friction with a slight edge, not too much or you will slip out and that hurts!!
4. Once you find some snow, or your speed is in check, pivot and turn.

Hopefully you will not encounter a complete slope of ice. Around here it would be closed. But as the day progresses, patchy spots can occur. The above will help you through it. Remember to relax, not tense up.
 

SkiBam

Angel Diva
#3
@Jilly's advice is excellent, as always. I would add that don't do as a friend of mine used to do and try to "slow down" by leaning into the hill, with weight on the inside ski. By getting him to stay balanced over his feet and think about more weight on the outside ski, he now handles icy patches well and no long shoots out of control. (Icy slopes sure seem far away right now! But fun to think about!)
 
#4
Think 'quiet" and light edging, Like Jilly said ski across the icy patch- let your skis go flat-
LOOK for the pile of snow, it's usually pushed next to the icy spot, Look for snow so you can Turn in the snow. if it's a horrible sheet of ice make big traverses and let your skis slip (falling leaf) to get off the hill safely and head to the brown chair (at the pub)
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#5
Thanks for all the advice! So it sounds like when I do hit these patches of ice I should flatten my skis a little bit and just ride it out? I often hit them when I'm in the middle of doing turns on blue terrain and I probably instinctively edge more to try to grip. It does not work :laughter:

There's one run I refuse to go down at all if it's been open any longer than an hour, because it just turns into a mess of steep icy patches. And my favourite red run gets progressively more challenging as the day goes on, because the steep top of it gets scraped off by people carefully sliding down the first ten metres or so! I end up side slipping down the ice as well until I find snow (making it worse I'm sure!) but I do see people just ski straight down the run like it's nothing, and always wonder how.

ice.PNG

Hopefully I will eventually learn to handle myself on ice as well as the eastern NA skiers; I've always heard we have somewhat similar snow conditions here in NZ!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#8
I don't know exactly what to call it, but that snow condition you get where you have hardpack that has been scraped off over and over so that it's become very hard to get an edge hold on. It happens all the time at my mountain. Sometimes small patches sometimes large areas. I find it scary to ski on because my tails often slide out alarmingly, even if I'm on narrow carving skis. (Occasionally I feel the entire ski slide, but the tails are more common!)

Tips?
Here in the North East USA we call such trails "skied off." Sometimes I call it salt on formica. It happens every day by noon to frequently skied trails, and earlier if there is a crowd. Skiers learn different ways of handling skiing this "ice."

Some ways are better than others. What determines how good one's technique is on this stuff is how well one can stop when needed. If you can stop on command without too much travel, your technique is good. If you slide uncontrollably even when you are not trying to stop, you are indeed out of control.

The best advice I can give you is practice those pivot slips on this ice. Rotate the new inside foot under you, as if it were a screwdriver that you were using to drive a screw straight down into the icy surface beneath you. Don't let that inside foot move away from your body. Keep it right under you. If you can actually slide it a bit uphill of your body as you rotate it, that's even better. You get extra credit for doing this, because it gives you extra control.

If you don't yet have pivot slips perfected, your attempts at doing them on this type of trail, doing them the way I've described in that other thread, will generate real turns. That's the purpose of pivot slips anyway - to help with regular turns.

If you keep that inside foot up under you as you rotate it, not downhill or out and away from your body, this will serve as the "steering" Jilly mentions upthread. It will magically generate good grip with your outside ski. Don't ask for an explanation of how this works. That would require too many words and a few pictures. Try it and report back.

For those who also read on PugSki, look up "Platform angle" to find the discussions of how this works to provide grip. The threads are long.
 
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liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
One other thing, @fgor. Leaning back uphill with your torso when you are skiing on skied off trails will cause the skis to slip away from you. Keep your torso upright through the whole turn! Feel the pinch at your side when your skis are pointed across the trail. Try to get 99% of your weight on the outside/downhill ski; it will bite deeper if you do and give you more grip.
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
One other thing, @fgor. Leaning back uphill with your torso when you are skiing on skied off trails will cause the skis to slip away from you. Keep your torso upright through the whole turn! Feel the pinch at your side when your skis are pointed across the trail. Try to get 99% of your weight on the outside/downhill ski; it will bite deeper if you do and give you more grip.
I think I do unconsciously lean up the hill when I'm on skied off snow! It feels like I'll get more grip/slow down more that way, I guess. As usual, skiing is slightly unintuitive ;) Thank you! I'll definitely try to remember this.

So far the dumbest fall I've had on scraped snow was actually while doing small moguls with an instructor a couple of weeks back. We had been working on short turns and moving my feet faster and he took me to these moguls as a challenge. I followed him down and absolutely ate s**t near the bottom, had no idea what happened because it was so fast, one second I was concentrating on quickly turning my feet around a mogul and the next second I was lying a few metres down the hill, minus both poles and one ski. Apparently I'd just hit a patch of what my instructor described as "sheet ice" and had no chance :P (though I will say, he apparently had hit the same ice just ahead of me and said it nearly got him... but he stayed upright somehow!!)
 
#11
At this point, you’re skiing ice and skis will be fast if you point them downhill. Agreed with others, don’t edge. I’ve had skis go out from under and meeting your bum to an icy slope hurts...! Avoid if you can...!

What we like to call it on my home mountain is “guide the slide” lol. It really is slippery so good to stay on top of equipment and simply guide it to a patch of snow to make a turn. If there are no patches then yes to all the pivot slips to get down.

“Guide the slide” is a good mental motto bc I tend to “freeze up” (pun intended) if I’m not anticipating it. It helps to stay relaxed and know what you’re doing next to make it down safely.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
I think I do unconsciously lean up the hill when I'm on skied off snow! It feels like I'll get more grip/slow down more that way, I guess. As usual, skiing is slightly unintuitive ;) Thank you! I'll definitely try to remember this.....
Leaning the whole body uphill when skis are pointed across the hill will edge them, but it's pretty ineffective at getting grip on hard snow.
But it puts most of your weight over the uphill/inside ski.
That ski is on its little toe edge (LTE).
It's the weak edge; your ankle won't hold that edge well because the muscles that are on that side of the lower leg are naturally weak.
Relying on the uphill/inside ski's edge to hold you on ice is not a good idea.
Your downhill/outside ski will slip away, and down you'll go.

Solution #1: teach your lower legs to lean uphill, from the knees down, without leaning the torso. Edge with your lower legs, not with your whole body.
Keeping your torso upright, or even better, leaning your torso out over the outside/downhill ski (feel the pinch at the waist) will weight that ski and give it a chance to grip the snow.
The outside ski is on its big toe edge (BTE), which is the anatomically stronger edge to hold with your foot and leg.

Solution #2: keep your uphill/inside foot up under your torso, not out and away downhill. If you can, move it uphill of your torso.
This will start to make sense when you keep your torso upright instead of leaning it to edge your skis.

Report back! You are so lucky to be able to ski. It's fun to hear your progress.
 

RuthB

Angel Diva
#13
I am guessing that you are talking about Hubers or Upper Fascination at Mt Hutt, which is chronically icy from compacted wet snow and brutal winds. There are a couple of tricks with navigating the top section with grace, in addition to the great advice you've had above. I'd add to keep your body soft and relaxed - easier said that done, but watch a few people navigate that slope, the elegant ones look soft and relaxed, the ones doing it hard are rigid, often with a straight down hill leg with knee locked. Focus on relaxing your shoulders, uncurling your toes and softening your downhill leg, keep it relaxed and slightly bent (helps keep your weight on the down hill ski and to absorb the death cookies and transition between snow types).

Secondly, fore aft balance. Get comfortable knowing what being centred on your skis feel like. Look up some drills for fore aft balance and try them out.

Thirdly, get comfortable that you are going to be going across and down the slope at once and can control your speed and direction, but not stop suddenly, just like when you are driving on the access road.

Finally, up there the best tactic is often to traverse a bit further around the top before dropping in, unless it is first thing in the morning on spring snow like I think they have now, the snow is generally nicer.
 

fgor

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
I am guessing that you are talking about Hubers or Upper Fascination at Mt Hutt, which is chronically icy from compacted wet snow and brutal winds. There are a couple of tricks with navigating the top section with grace, in addition to the great advice you've had above. I'd add to keep your body soft and relaxed - easier said that done, but watch a few people navigate that slope, the elegant ones look soft and relaxed, the ones doing it hard are rigid, often with a straight down hill leg with knee locked. Focus on relaxing your shoulders, uncurling your toes and softening your downhill leg, keep it relaxed and slightly bent (helps keep your weight on the down hill ski and to absorb the death cookies and transition between snow types).

Secondly, fore aft balance. Get comfortable knowing what being centred on your skis feel like. Look up some drills for fore aft balance and try them out.

Thirdly, get comfortable that you are going to be going across and down the slope at once and can control your speed and direction, but not stop suddenly, just like when you are driving on the access road.

Finally, up there the best tactic is often to traverse a bit further around the top before dropping in, unless it is first thing in the morning on spring snow like I think they have now, the snow is generally nicer.
Yep - I go down Upper Fascination a lot, and that top section gets steadily bigger and more icy as the day goes on. The run which I simply refuse to do most of the time is International though. I don't know what it is about that run, but it's almost always very scoured and hard to ski! (well actually right now I don't think it exists, from what I hear it melted away but it'll be back once they get enough cold weather to do snowmaking) I note that you're also familiar with the driving tactics needed to safely navigate the Hutt access road - makes perfect sense to me! I do dislike the sensation of not being able to stop suddenly on skis but I can understand that.

Thanks so much for the advice :smile: Not sure what the weather is going to be like this weekend. If we're lucky, we may get a few cm of fresh snow on Friday night, and Saturday is forecast to be a very cold day. Could be one of those very variable days with fresh snow over a layer of solid ice, given how warm the past 10 days have been :P I have no doubt I'll find some more ice at the top of Fascination/Hubers to practice on as the day goes on...
 

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