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Legs Go Into the Splits on Steeper Runs

roxyroxy311

Diva in Training
#1
Hi Everyone! I've been reading this forum for a while now and have found so much helpful advice. Now it's time I ask my own specific ski question! For a little background info: I learned how to ski one week back in 2016 (I'm talking pizza and french fries and that's about it) and haven't skied again until the 2020/2021 season. From December until now I've done about 50 days (some days it's just one run) and 6 lessons (shared though, so like 6 hours total of private time with instructor). I began learning on some icier terrain earlier on in the season, which makes me SO nervous to fall. Lately Utah has had some amazing powder which has made things easier on me for sure. All in all I would say I'm becoming more confident, but I am definitely an overly cautious skier.

I'm really getting the hang of things though, I've been told I have great form, I can get my skis parallel, I have begun to dive into dynamic skiing with the focus on my bellybutton facing downhill, taking shorter turns, etc. BUT when I progress to blue runs, I get really frustrated that I get so nervous and lose my confidence. When I'm with an instructor I can power through it, but otherwise I just feel SO awkward. I make sure to do bigger turns on blues, but one thing I've noticed that I've been doing is when I'm parallel with the mountain I feel like my legs slide apart so wide that I'm going to topple over and lose my balance. My instructor has emphasized the importance of really putting pressure on the downhill ski, but I never think I'm doing it hard enough I guess? I can't seem to visualize where the pressure goes. It's like my downhill ski just slides away from me. I also get so hung up on this that I end up not looking far ahead and ski with my head down looking at my skis because I'm so afraid I'm doing it wrong. Am I not tightening my boots enough and therefore not leaning forward enough to get the weight on the downhill ski?

I can fly down a green run with confidence and it is SO much fun. Going down a blue I am skidding, sliding and holding my breath until I get to the bottom, lol. I really, really want to keep up with everyone I ski with, but anything steep and I just get so frustrated.

Thanks for your help, it is SO appreciated! I learn so much from this forum.
 

bambam

Angel Diva
#2
I’m no expert, but it sounds like when you are pressuring your downhill ski, you are pushing it into a side slipping motion down the hill. I would think that the pressure should be on the inside edge of your downhill ski in order to keep the edge engaged, or at least let up on the pressure to allow your skis to both continue across the slope.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#4
...when I'm parallel with the mountain I feel like my legs slide apart so wide that I'm going to topple over and lose my balance. My instructor has emphasized the importance of really putting pressure on the downhill ski, but I never think I'm doing it hard enough I guess? I can't seem to visualize where the pressure goes. It's like my downhill ski just slides away from me. I also get so hung up on this that I end up not looking far ahead and ski with my head down looking at my skis because I'm so afraid I'm doing it wrong. Am I not tightening my boots enough and therefore not leaning forward enough to get the weight on the downhill ski?..
Great write-up! You've found words to describe your concerns in such detail. I think your problem and its solution are pretty clear from the things you have written. This is going to be long; sorry for all the words.

Your words in red, mine in black.
1. Your weight is on the inside ski (should be on the outside ski).
It's like my downhill ski just slides away from me...so wide that I'm going to topple over and lose my balance.
--When your skis are pointing across the hill, the downhill ski is your outside ski. The outside ski always needs most of your weight on it, more pressure on it (weight and pressure are pretty much the same thing). Skiers need to ski with weight moving from outside ski to outside ski, as if walking from foot to foot. When that outside ski doesn't have your weight on it (or pressure on it), it will lose its grip and slide away. Your stance will widen, and you'll lose your balance.
2. You are probably leaning uphill to edge your skis. This hovers your weight over the inside/uphill ski.
--You don't say you are doing this whole body lean, but it's so common that I'm assuming it's what you are doing. Leaning your body uphill, like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, will indeed edge your skis. But it has a very bad side effect. This lean hovers your body weight over the inside ski. The outside ski gets light and loses its grip.
--Where you hover your body determines where the weight-pressure lands. You need to stop leaning your whole body to edge your skis. Use another way to get your skis edged that doesn't involve an upper body lean.
3. Roll the knees to edge skis instead of leaning uphill.
--Crouch a bit, so both of your knees are more bent than normal. Then "roll" both knees sideways, uphill, to the inside of the turn. The knee movement will tilt the lower legs, and it will tilt your boots which are clamped onto your lower legs, and it will tilt your skis which are clamped onto your boots. Rolling the knees will edge the skis just as well as leaning the whole body. It will allow you to avoid leaning your upper body.
--While rolling the knees, keep your head and shoulders, and your whole torso, upright, vertical, instead of leaning sideways.
4. You are probably "leaning in" when your skis are pointing downhill too. Roll the knees to edge the skis through the whole turn so you can keep torso upright instead of leaning.
--You don't say anything about this, but if you are using a whole body lean to edge your skis at the bottom of the turn, you are probably using it for the whole turn. Do you lean sideways to get skis edged and make a turn happen? This whole body lean does work to edge the skis, but it hovers your body over the inside ski and unweights the outside ski. Weight-pressure needs to be on that outside ski through the whole turn. Roll the knees to edge the skis instead. Keep torso upright, vertical, instead of leaning sideways.
5. You are pushing out and away on the downhill ski to "pressure" it harder. But pushing never works.
My instructor has emphasized the importance of really putting pressure on the downhill ski, but I never think I'm doing it hard enough I guess?
--Where you hover your upper body, head and shoulders, determines where the weight/pressure goes. Pushing doesn't work; it breaks the ski away from its grip. Stop trying to add pressure to the outside ski. Just stop. You are pushing it out and away, breaking any grip it might have had. If you are leaning your body to edge the skis, and pushing on the outside ski, that's two things that are keeping it from gripping.
--Solution: keep torso upright, not leaning sideways, so your body weight is not over the inside ski, and stop pushing on that outside ski. That's all you need to do, because....
6. Turning will direct your weight and the pressure to the outside ski. Centrifugal force is your friend.
--When you make a turn, centrifugal force will move a lot of pressure/body weight to that outside ski, as long as you are not leaning in. You do not ever need to "add" pressure or "put" it onto the outside ski. It goes there, if you allow it. Where you hover your upper body determines how effective this is.
7. Your mind wants to control where the weight goes by looking at the skis (looking doesn't tell you where the weight or pressure is).
I can't seem to visualize where the pressure goes. I end up not looking far ahead and ski with my head down looking at my skis
--Feeling where the weight/pressure is will tell you whether the outside ski has more weight on it than the inside ski. Eyes don't work for this. Give them something else to do so they keep busy and stay out of this weight/pressure thing.
--Look down the hill where you are going. The farther you look, the better. You can even choose a visual target to ski towards, and lock your eyes on it. When your eyes are busy looking at something, this will free up your mind to feel, sense, where the weight is under your feet.
--These two things happen on two channels that can run simultaneously in your head - vision, and feeling sensations.
--Notice whether the inside foot or outside foot has more pressure beneath it. Get torso more upright to move more pressure to the outside foot. You may even need to lean your head and shoulders directly over the outside ski, so that the "nose-drip-line" (your nose drips in the cold, right?) falls onto or outside, beyond the outside ski.
--Once you notice your weight is on the outside ski with the channel of your mind that feels and senses pressure, notice whether the heel or the ball-of-foot has more pressure under it. You need pressure to be equal beneath both, definitely not more under the heel. Bend forward at the ankle to move more weight off the heel and toward the ball-of-foot if necessary.
8. Keeping torso upright means keeping it laterally upright.
A misunderstanding is possible with this directive. There's lateral uprightness, as in, not leaning sideways. Then there's fore-aft uprightness. I do not mean keep torso upright like a tree fore-aft wise. That will put you in the back seat. Your body as a whole unit, from feet to head, needs to lean forward over the skis, so your body weight does not hover over the tails of the skis. Why? Because the bindings are behind the center of the skis. The key to doing this is bending forward at the ankles.
 
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Lmk92

Angel Diva
#5
Wow, that was really helpful, @liquidfeet I think I was doing some of these things as well. I've noticed as we are now mostly sticking to black diamonds, I find myself sliding down parts of some of the steeper trails. I think I haven't been catching an edge very often, and I think I see myself in what you're describing here, especially leaning uphill. I hope this has been a lightbulb moment, and I can't wait to get back out there to test it.
 
#6
Great tips! It has taken a while to stop leaning into the hill on those steeper runs. I have to remind myself to stay upright, weight forward, and don't be afraid of the fall-line. Any time I've fallen, it had been because I was leaned uphill and hit an icey patch and the skis come right out from under me. A great exercise to see if you're putting weight on that downhill ski is to do the heel lift and tap exercise. Great way to find center and feel weight transfers. You can't really push when your other ski isn't really in the snow. This is a drill I always do in the mornings on easier green and blue runs to get warmed up and find my center.
 

Lmk92

Angel Diva
#8
"A great exercise to see if you're putting weight on that downhill ski is to do the heel lift and tap exercise." @HikenSki , can you elaborate on this s little bit?
 

BMR

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
I definitely notice some of that for myself, but on icy blacks now, not on blues anymore. When I get nervous I overpressure the outside leg in a defensive hockey stop and lean up the hill. This results in widening of the stance and less balance on ice. This is happening less and less, but still does from time to time. We are all human, right? The mind is powerful when it senses danger and makes your body do unhelpful things sometimes. Boy, do I hate ice. I feel like I can ski anything but that.
 
#10
Everything in our nervous system wants to lean uphill. Uphill seems safe and downhill is steep! Sadly (and so beautifully outlined above) that gives the skis a chance to swoop out from under us. It’s very hard to stop doing this. I noticed in others’ comments above that as we progress to steeper trails, we fall back on the “leaning uphill” habit.

Practice on the easiest terrain available to you. For me, the best terrain would be a short steepish hill followed by a flattish runout. So the trail will slow you down automatically! It gave me the courage to stop leaning into the mountain.

When I venture onto scary terrain, I find myself leaning in again. Learning the same lessons over and over!
 

roxyroxy311

Diva in Training
#11
I’m no expert, but it sounds like when you are pressuring your downhill ski, you are pushing it into a side slipping motion down the hill. I would think that the pressure should be on the inside edge of your downhill ski in order to keep the edge engaged, or at least let up on the pressure to allow your skis to both continue across the slope.
Thank you so much for your reply! This is super helpful and I will keep it in mind :smile:
 

roxyroxy311

Diva in Training
#13
Great write-up! You've found words to describe your concerns in such detail. I think your problem and its solution are pretty clear from the things you have written. This is going to be long; sorry for all the words.
WOW, I am so beyond grateful for your detailed and thoughtful reply. This must have taken you some time to type this all out for me and I cannot thank you enough! I am seriously going to keep referring to this over and over again to remind myself of all of these details you included because I feel like it's really giving me some great insight into what I am doing wrong and how I can fix it. Your comment about how weight moves from outside ski to outside ski is a great visual and puts it into words perfectly in a really simplified way.

Also, I am totally leaning uphill and didn't even think of this until you brought it up! I think I get a little panicky and lean into the uphill thinking it'll somehow "catch me" or balance me out, but all it does is put me into a really awkward wobbly stance. I definitely need to crouch more, I've had so many people tell me to crouch and it's something I need to work on with muscle memory.

Again, thank you SO MUCH. I am going to read this over and over again until I remember these details every time I ski. I am skiing this Saturday and now instead of being nervous or frustrated, I'm actually excited to put your advice to work and get better at blues!! THANK YOU :smile:
 

roxyroxy311

Diva in Training
#14
Great tips! It has taken a while to stop leaning into the hill on those steeper runs. I have to remind myself to stay upright, weight forward, and don't be afraid of the fall-line. Any time I've fallen, it had been because I was leaned uphill and hit an icey patch and the skis come right out from under me. A great exercise to see if you're putting weight on that downhill ski is to do the heel lift and tap exercise. Great way to find center and feel weight transfers. You can't really push when your other ski isn't really in the snow. This is a drill I always do in the mornings on easier green and blue runs to get warmed up and find my center.
Ah yes, that is how I have fallen too! I should try that exercise more - my instructor told me to do it and I always forget I can keep going back to that for practice. Great idea to practice it in the morning before doing harder runs!
 

roxyroxy311

Diva in Training
#15
It's alway important to remember when skiing that the point is to go down the mountain, riding the equipment your in/on. Resistance to that end (leaning back, shifting weigh uphill, etc) is futile. Trust your equipment, trust your skills, enjoy the experience! :ski:
GREAT point!! I think I need to be a less "nervous skier" and do exactly what you're saying as well. I'm an overly cautious person in general so I have a lot of resistance to things that scare me, but sometimes you gotta just DO IT. I know I can do a blue successfully, I need to get out of my head lol. Definitely need to enjoy the experience and relax :smile:
 

roxyroxy311

Diva in Training
#16
I definitely notice some of that for myself, but on icy blacks now, not on blues anymore. When I get nervous I overpressure the outside leg in a defensive hockey stop and lean up the hill. This results in widening of the stance and less balance on ice. This is happening less and less, but still does from time to time. We are all human, right? The mind is powerful when it senses danger and makes your body do unhelpful things sometimes. Boy, do I hate ice. I feel like I can ski anything but that.
Yes that is exactly what I do, but on blues! The mind is incredibly powerful and I am an overly cautious person in general. I guess that's why I love skiing, because it makes me be brave! I haaaaate ice so much, I am totally a less confident skier when it's icy out. Gimme all the powder lol
 

roxyroxy311

Diva in Training
#17
Everything in our nervous system wants to lean uphill. Uphill seems safe and downhill is steep! Sadly (and so beautifully outlined above) that gives the skis a chance to swoop out from under us. It’s very hard to stop doing this. I noticed in others’ comments above that as we progress to steeper trails, we fall back on the “leaning uphill” habit.

Practice on the easiest terrain available to you. For me, the best terrain would be a short steepish hill followed by a flattish runout. So the trail will slow you down automatically! It gave me the courage to stop leaning into the mountain.

When I venture onto scary terrain, I find myself leaning in again. Learning the same lessons over and over!
Thank you for your reply :smile: Great reminder to keep practicing on easier terrain. I should totally work on my courage doing a run exactly like you said (I have a few in mind!). Yes the uphill lean makes me *think* I'll be safe, but it's so counterintuitive I've realized after reading everyone's advice! I've noticed with skiing that when I progress to the next level, I feel like I go back a few steps and get super frustrated. It's quite the process, but I try to remind myself why I ski - because it's FUN!
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
Everything in our nervous system wants to lean uphill. Uphill seems safe and downhill is steep! It’s very hard to stop doing this. I noticed in others’ comments above that as we progress to steeper trails, we fall back on the “leaning uphill” habit.

When I venture onto scary terrain, I find myself leaning in again. Learning the same lessons over and over!
I've been thinking about this A LOT. I have worked out a lot of technique issues on groomers and now, in trying to transfer that to ungroomed and chopped up terrain, I am struggling. Simply telling myself to Do It does not work. Drop back to easier terrain and everything falls into place.

What have you all done to break through that barrier?

My plan for Monday is to warm up and establish my form, then go to the problem trail and start to work ... 3 turns with proper form, no more. Did it? Good. 3 more. Did it? Good. All the way down that short trail. Then maybe I'll go to 4 turns per set. Etc. Until I ski that trail properly without stopping. My goal is for that to all happen on Monday.

Then I'll move to the other trail that wrecks my form and follow the same process.

Other suggestions for how to break thru this? I can't just go out and "keep trying". All that is doing is reinforcing the bad habits ... and frustrating me.
 
#20
That sounds like a good plan! Do you have access to a trail that's groomed on one side and ungroomed on the other, or on the edges? That might be another tactic.

For me, it's the steepness. I try to practice staying forward on a short steep with a runout or at least a flatter section. It calms the fear somewhat. I've also been listening to @liquidfeet (always a good plan) and staying very slow. Maybe that won't work as well in the chopped.
 

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