• Women skiers, this is the place for you -- an online community without the male-orientation you'll find in conventional ski magazines and internet ski forums. At TheSkiDiva.com, you can connect with other women to talk about skiing in a way that you can relate to, about things that you find of interest. Be sure to join our community to participate (women only, please!). Registration is fast and simple. Just be sure to add [email protected] to your address book so your registration activation emails won't be routed as spam. And please give careful consideration to your user name -- it will not be changed once your registration is confirmed.

Legs Go Into the Splits on Steeper Runs

marzNC

Angel Diva
When you and I skied together I really didn’t know what that meant. Now after some lessons at Cochran’s I finally do! So crucial.
When I skied with you, I didn't know what the key ideas could be for an adult advanced beginner. Having learned the basics in middle school, there are some skills that I don't remember how I learned them.

In January, I did a 2-hour semi-private lesson with my friend, JF, who starting skiing when her kids started (ages 4 and 6) about eight years ago. Also included her son who is an advanced skier by now after ski school at Massanutten and Alta. We worked with Walter (L3, 30+ years experience), who I started working with in 2013. We did a progression of drills covering fundamentals the first hour. Observing JF and her son was really helpful to me. What I understood about what he was trying to teach JF was far more than when I first worked with him. Later on during a different ski trip to Massanutten, I was skiing with a tween who also started with ski school. Reminding her to slow down by going uphill and leading her on the easy blue was the way to make sure her turning skills were solid enough to take up to the top to enjoy the empty Lift 6 and the two black trails (blue in the northeast).

For me, leading my friends was a great way to practice going slow on a groomer.
 

Elena_Ski

Certified Ski Diva
Hi everyone! What an amazing thread!! I re-read it 5 times and every time learned something new. Seriously))) I'm trying to progress from a low intermediate to a confident intermediate level and your advice is absolutely golden. I don't do splits exactly, but on steeper blue runs my brain somehow thinks that a half wedge will give me more stability. So whenever I get uncomfortable with the angle of the slope, I find my feet in a half wedge (with one foot more perpendicular to the slope than parallel). I'm trying to work on consciously keeping my feet parallel, which sometimes involves lifting up the "lagging" foot and setting it down parallel to the other. Having read this thread, I feel that my problem might be not enough pressure or edge on the outside foot. Will try to work on those and see what happens!
 

ilovepugs

Angel Diva
Hi everyone! What an amazing thread!! I re-read it 5 times and every time learned something new. Seriously))) I'm trying to progress from a low intermediate to a confident intermediate level and your advice is absolutely golden. I don't do splits exactly, but on steeper blue runs my brain somehow thinks that a half wedge will give me more stability. So whenever I get uncomfortable with the angle of the slope, I find my feet in a half wedge (with one foot more perpendicular to the slope than parallel). I'm trying to work on consciously keeping my feet parallel, which sometimes involves lifting up the "lagging" foot and setting it down parallel to the other. Having read this thread, I feel that my problem might be not enough pressure or edge on the outside foot. Will try to work on those and see what happens!
Make sure you keep your ankle flexed while completing the turn too!
 

newbieM

Angel Diva
Hi everyone! What an amazing thread!! I re-read it 5 times and every time learned something new. Seriously))) I'm trying to progress from a low intermediate to a confident intermediate level and your advice is absolutely golden. I don't do splits exactly, but on steeper blue runs my brain somehow thinks that a half wedge will give me more stability. So whenever I get uncomfortable with the angle of the slope, I find my feet in a half wedge (with one foot more perpendicular to the slope than parallel). I'm trying to work on consciously keeping my feet parallel, which sometimes involves lifting up the "lagging" foot and setting it down parallel to the other. Having read this thread, I feel that my problem might be not enough pressure or edge on the outside foot. Will try to work on those and see what happens!
I have noticed I have the same issue when I get scared and things feel too steep even though getting in the wedge makes it so much harder to get out unless I stop and reset my feet.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
It's a defensive movement. You feel safe there. It'll take some time, repetitive skiing that run and confidence to get over it. But it can be done. Keep trying to prevent the wedge.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
....on steeper blue runs my brain somehow thinks that a half wedge will give me more stability. So whenever I get uncomfortable with the angle of the slope, I find my feet in a half wedge (with one foot more perpendicular to the slope than parallel). I'm trying to work on consciously keeping my feet parallel, which sometimes involves lifting up the "lagging" foot and setting it down parallel to the other. Having read this thread, I feel that my problem might be not enough pressure or edge on the outside foot. Will try to work on those and see what happens!
Going into a wedge on challenging terrain is a common issue. If flows naturally from having been taught the wedge as a beginner.

On nearly flat terrain the wedge successfully slows a cautious/frightened beginner down, and the wedge is often taught as the way to stop as well as go slow. Unfortunately, the security offered by the wedge gets drilled deeply into a beginner's brain on day one. It will be there forever, once embedded. It's in my head too, deep down in there. And it will come back to haunt the skier when caution or fear appears.

The reason the wedge doesn't work on pitches above beginner level has to do with how the wedge slows the skier down. It uses friction - the two skis scrape against the snow in the direction of travel. But the amount of friction one can generate with the wedge is not enough to deal with the pull of gravity when the pitch is no longer almost flat.

But it's not just that the wedge isn't strong enough to slow one down. It also works strongly against what a skier needs to do to control speed on all but the flattest terrain. Speed control needs to come from the direction of travel. Going across the hill, and/or almost uphill, to complete the C shape, will slow the skier down. With linked C-shaped turns, the skier slows down with every turn. That's how speed control happens. More across travel, less down travel, is built into the C.

If a cautious skier goes into a wedge while heading across the hill, one of those two skis will be pointing more downhill than the other. That one is the uphill ski. The cautious skier often leans uphill, over that ski, or presses on it in an attempt to generate more friction. You can guess what happens when a skier puts pressure on the downhill-pointed ski. It's weighted ... and so it takes off ... downhill. The intended C-shaped turn gets cut off by that ski, and all effective speed control from direction of travel is undermined.

To make round, speed-controlling turns, both skis need to be pointed in the same direction. That way the skier is in control of the shape of the turn, not that naughty wedged uphill ski.
 
Last edited:

Mistletoes

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Going into a wedge on challenging terrain is a common issue. If flows naturally from having been taught the wedge as a beginner.

On nearly flat terrain the wedge successfully slows a cautious/frightened beginner down, and the wedge is often taught as the way to stop as well as go slow. Unfortunately, the security offered by the wedge gets drilled deeply into a beginner's brain on day one. It will be there forever, once embedded. It's in my head too, deep down in there. And it will come back to haunt the skier when caution or fear appears.

The reason the wedge doesn't work on pitches above beginner level has to do with how the wedge slows the skier down. It uses friction - the two skis scrape against the snow in the direction of travel. But the amount of friction one can generate with the wedge is not enough to deal with the pull of gravity when the pitch is no longer almost flat.

But it's not just that the wedge isn't strong enough to slow one down. It also works strongly against what a skier needs to do to control speed on all but the flattest terrain. Speed control needs to come from the direction of travel. Going across the hill, and/or almost uphill, to complete the C shape, will slow the skier down. With linked C-shaped turns, the skier slows down with every turn. That's how speed control happens. More across travel, less down travel, is built into the C.

If a cautious skier goes into a wedge while heading across the hill, one of those two skis will be pointing more downhill than the other. That one is the uphill ski. The cautious skier often leans uphill, over that ski, or presses on it in an attempt to generate more friction. You can guess what happens when a skier puts pressure on the downhill-pointed ski. It's weighted ... and so it takes off ... downhill. The intended C-shaped turn gets cut off by that ski, and all effective speed control from direction of travel is undermined.

To make round, speed-controlling turns, both skis need to be pointed in the same direction. That way the skier is in control of the shape of the turn, not that naughty wedged uphill ski.
When I’m on steeper terrain in MG/LG conditions, I lose my confidence and revert back to a wedge. I can feel the loss of control and lack of rhythm. I know I have to let my outside leg let go at the end of the turn for my new outside leg to take over but they fight for control and I’m back to a beginner again. Letting go of the old downhill ski is so hard to do!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
When I’m on steeper terrain in MG/LG conditions, I lose my confidence and revert back to a wedge. I can feel the loss of control and lack of rhythm. I know I have to let my outside leg let go at the end of the turn for my new outside leg to take over but they fight for control and I’m back to a beginner again. Letting go of the old downhill ski is so hard to do!
Here's a starter question for figuring out how to work on this issue on challenging terrain.

When on easy terrain, how do you "let go" of that downhill ski? What body parts do you move, how do you move then, and in what order to you do this?
 

Mistletoes

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Here's a starter question for figuring out how to work on this issue on challenging terrain.

When on easy terrain, how do you "let go" of that downhill ski? What body parts do you move, how do you move then, and in what order to you do this?
This question seems like it should have a simple answer but when I think about it there’s a lot going on!
Hmmm, let me try to break down what I think is happening…First I pole plant to mark my next turn, I point my shoulders down the hill, the skis go flat, and I let my downhill knee/boot roll to the outside as my new downhill ski comes around the turn and takes over. I’ll be practicing this to pay more attention.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
This question seems like it should have a simple answer but when I think about it there’s a lot going on!
Hmmm, let me try to break down what I think is happening…First I pole plant to mark my next turn, I point my shoulders down the hill, the skis go flat, and I let my downhill knee/boot roll to the outside as my new downhill ski comes around the turn and takes over. I’ll be practicing this to pay more attention.
These elements all sound quite familiar.

Here's what I get from your words. Correct where I've got things messed up.
1. pole plant first
2. turn upper body to face downhill (assuming it was facing the trees before)
3. as a result, skis start to go flat on their own
4. then you roll your downhill knee outward
5. skis turn to point downhill

I've probably got some of this wrong.

This is worth doing in order to figure out where in this sequence your body revolts and says No! Then the task is to figure out how to overwrite or bypass that No!
 

Mistletoes

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
These elements all sound quite familiar.

Here's what I get from your words. Correct where I've got things messed up.
1. pole plant first
2. turn upper body to face downhill (assuming it was facing the trees before)
3. as a result, skis start to go flat on their own
4. then you roll your downhill knee outward
5. skis turn to point downhill

I've probably got some of this wrong.

This is worth doing in order to figure out where in this sequence your body revolts and says No! Then the task is to figure out how to overwrite or bypass that No!
Here's what I get from your words. Correct where I've got things messed up.
1. pole plant first YES
2. turn upper body to face downhill (assuming it was facing the trees before)not facing trees before, separation is good. I like the control I feel when emphasizing this.
3. as a result, skis start to go flat on their ownYES
4. then you roll your downhill knee outward YES
5. skis turn to point downhill YES
I’m pretty sure it’s rolling my knee outward (step 4) because it’s a newer feeling for me and I don’t trust it yet so I let my uphill ski “help”.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
....I’m pretty sure it’s rolling my knee outward (step 4) because it’s a newer feeling for me and I don’t trust it yet so I let my uphill ski “help”.
Here's a screenshot of a Level III ski instructor demonstrating how he establishes his edge angles. His focus is on the new inside leg, flexing it, shortening it, bringing its knee up towards his chest. Now this is a static demo he's making as he talks with Deb Armstrong. When skiing, that new inside ski will stay on the snow and the amount of lift he gets with that knee will determine how far over he tilts, and thus how high his edge angles are.
Screen Shot 2023-02-17 at 7.17.38 PM.png
The reason I'm showing this is to make visible the connection between rolling the new inside knee outward and shortening the leg. They work together. This skier is focusing on shortening that leg. But the knee is definitely rolling outward even without him focusing on it.

If you shift your focus from rolling the knee outward (which means rolling it downhill, which is scary!) to shortening that leg, you'll get the same result: the skis will flatten and tip onto new edges to start the turn. This was the conceptual shift that got my body to let go of the old turn on steeps. I had the same difficulty you are describing - for years. This shift in focus solved it for me.

So, you might try focusing on slowly and precisely shortening that new inside leg. Just that one leg, not the other. No knee rolling. Just focus on shortening that leg in slow motion. See what happens. Report back. Good luck!

Oh, here's the video link:
 
Last edited:

Mistletoes

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Here's a screenshot of a Level III ski instructor demonstrating how he establishes his edge angles. His focus is on the new inside leg, flexing it, shortening it, bringing its knee up towards his chest. Now this is a static demo he's making as he talks with Deb Armstrong. When skiing, that new inside ski will stay on the snow and the amount of lift he gets with that knee will determine how far over he tilts, and thus how high his edge angles are.
View attachment 20522
The reason I'm showing this is to make visible the connection between rolling the new inside knee outward and shortening the leg. They work together. This skier is focusing on shortening that leg. But the knee is definitely rolling outward even without him focusing on it.

If you shift your focus from rolling the knee outward (which means rolling it downhill, which is scary!) to shortening that leg, you'll get the same result: the skis will flatten and tip onto new edges to start the turn. This was the conceptual shift that got my body to let go of the old turn on steeps. I had the same difficulty you are describing - for years. This shift in focus solved it for me.

So, you might try focusing on slowly and precisely shortening that new inside leg. Just that one leg, not the other. No knee rolling. Just focus on shortening that leg in slow motion. See what happens. Report back. Good luck!

Oh, here's the video link:
I’m excited to try this - I like how this focuses on the new inside leg and pulls my attention off the other leg. I’ll let you know how it goes, thank you!
 

Mistletoes

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I’m excited to try this - I like how this focuses on the new inside leg and pulls my attention off the other leg. I’ll let you know how it goes, thank you!
Have had 2 days to practice this and can confirm Thinking of shortening the old downhill leg has helped. My daughter is a second year U12 racer and it drives her nuts when I ski in a little wedge. She has been watching me like a hawk and is making it her mission to point out every lapse she sees. I did the same trail yesterday and today. I felt like I struggled on it both days but she said I looked much better today, all parallel turns.
I’ll be practicing this for a while to keep working on building this new habit. Thank you for your knowledgeable feedback and tips Liquidfeet!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Have had 2 days to practice this and can confirm Thinking of shortening the old downhill leg has helped. My daughter is a second year U12 racer and it drives her nuts when I ski in a little wedge. She has been watching me like a hawk and is making it her mission to point out every lapse she sees. I did the same trail yesterday and today. I felt like I struggled on it both days but she said I looked much better today, all parallel turns.
I’ll be practicing this for a while to keep working on building this new habit. Thank you for your knowledgeable feedback and tips Liquidfeet!
I'm glad to hear you've experienced good results from this approach to initiations. It takes time to become comfortable with this new approach, but it's totally worth it.

A note about starting turns by focusing on flexing/shortening the downhill/new inside leg:

Focusing on that downhill leg eliminates the possibility of going into a wedge at turn start. This is because when you shorten that leg, it gets light (normally). That weight transfers by default to the uphill ski. When your weight is on that uphill ski before the skis point downhill, that tail can't swish outward. It is pressed onto the snow and won't swish out unless you are standing on the other ski to swish it.

People who inadvertantly go into a wedge as the turn starts do this because they continue to stand on the downhill ski at turn start and focus on doing something new with the uphill ski. That downhill ski is pressed onto the snow on its old edge so it's stuck in place under the body. Plus, it's not going to do anything new because the skier is not focused on it. So something new has to happen with the new outside ski. Since the tail of the uphill ski is lighter, it swishes out without any conscious effort. Thus the wedge turn entry.

This unconscious swishing happens as a result of three hold-over habits from learning to ski:
--reliance on the wedge
--focusing on doing something with the new outside ski to start the turn
--rotating the skis to point in the new direction.

Overwriting those old habits takes time and deliberate practice doing something to replace them.

Overwriting is what you are doing!
 
Last edited:

Elena_Ski

Certified Ski Diva
Going into a wedge on challenging terrain is a common issue. If flows naturally from having been taught the wedge as a beginner.

On nearly flat terrain the wedge successfully slows a cautious/frightened beginner down, and the wedge is often taught as the way to stop as well as go slow. Unfortunately, the security offered by the wedge gets drilled deeply into a beginner's brain on day one. It will be there forever, once embedded. It's in my head too, deep down in there. And it will come back to haunt the skier when caution or fear appears.

The reason the wedge doesn't work on pitches above beginner level has to do with how the wedge slows the skier down. It uses friction - the two skis scrape against the snow in the direction of travel. But the amount of friction one can generate with the wedge is not enough to deal with the pull of gravity when the pitch is no longer almost flat.

But it's not just that the wedge isn't strong enough to slow one down. It also works strongly against what a skier needs to do to control speed on all but the flattest terrain. Speed control needs to come from the direction of travel. Going across the hill, and/or almost uphill, to complete the C shape, will slow the skier down. With linked C-shaped turns, the skier slows down with every turn. That's how speed control happens. More across travel, less down travel, is built into the C.

If a cautious skier goes into a wedge while heading across the hill, one of those two skis will be pointing more downhill than the other. That one is the uphill ski. The cautious skier often leans uphill, over that ski, or presses on it in an attempt to generate more friction. You can guess what happens when a skier puts pressure on the downhill-pointed ski. It's weighted ... and so it takes off ... downhill. The intended C-shaped turn gets cut off by that ski, and all effective speed control from direction of travel is undermined.

To make round, speed-controlling turns, both skis need to be pointed in the same direction. That way the skier is in control of the shape of the turn, not that naughty wedged uphill ski.

So beautifully explained, thank you!
You are so right about the perceived security of the wedge! I also come from a cross country skiing background where a wedge is used for stopping. So when I was learning to downhill ski, I had to remind myself all the time that I wasn't skiing nordic))
 

newbieM

Angel Diva
I have been re-reading old threads to prepare for my first day of skiing this weekend - heading out to SLC with my 11 year old son, it is going to be his first time and he's wants to learn how to snowboard - and I am coming back from a somewhat crummy last season. It is going to be DUMPING so I am excited to try this.

With wider powder skiis - how do these mechanics change? are they the same? I'll be renting some powder skis so I am hoping to have a fun time (keep the fear at bay, get out of my head) and enjoy the beauty and magic of skiing another season.
 

Skigal28

Certified Ski Diva
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.
Yikes! This is an awesome tutorial. Can a video be far behind???
 

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Threads
26,267
Messages
498,645
Members
8,541
Latest member
dreamofskiing
Top