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Lessons on artificial snow: Yes or no?

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
If you want to learn to ski at a big resort!! There are many small places that offer lessons at great prices. You learn to ski one turn at a time. Does it matter if you're on a 200-300' hill or 3,000' mountain? Here in Canada you can't teach without your L1 cert. So all ski school are supposed to be teaching the same methodology.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Jilly and I teach in different situations since she's in Canada and I'm in the USA in New England. The situation out west at BIG resorts in the US is different from my east coast situation.

Some things are the same everywhere, though. Learning on a small hill is the most efficient way to learn the fundamentals. But no one can learn to ski bumps if there aren't any bumps. Same with skiing deep powder. Same with skiing steep ungroomed big mountain terrain.

My complaints about ski instruction grew as I took group lessons at a number of mountains here in New England. I kept getting told different things, and I didn't get personal feedback in those group lessons confirming that I was or was not succeeding in doing what was being taught. So frustrating! In my opinion, inconsistency across ski schools in what was being taught combined with lack of personal feedback in group lessons was (and is) a big problem.

Jilly reports that in Canada the instruction is structured to be consistent across mountains by their professional organization CSIA. Here in the US that's not the case. PSIA does not push conformity in teaching beginners, intermediates, nor experts. It pushes instructor autonomy. And here in New England there are plenty of non-certified instructors. Thus the inconsistency. There are good things about that autonomy. It works well with our culture. But there are problems as well.

PSIA does make sure its members get two days of professional development every two years. And all the mountains do offer training of some sort to their staff. In my experience, that training has been optional.

It's up to the individual instructors to work on what they are taught after the training sessions are done. Some do, some don't.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
In my experience there are great instructors here and there, but you have to search them out. There are others who either aren't that good, or just don't click with my style. I think that almost all of them, though, are doing it out of a love of skiing. They certainly aren't doing it to become rich!
 

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
To strengthen that turn entry, slide that ski backwards about 3". You'll feel a little resistance beneath the ski as you pull it back; that's natural. Report back, if you get a chance to try this.
I would be grateful for more explanation here. I am afraid I do not quite understand when exactly I should be doing it. Also a silly question: which ski? the lightened one?
 

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Keeping the shin-tongue contact is a very important part of this knee roll, and needs to be said so the skier doesn't move the NEW inside foot (the downhill one) away from the other foot as the knee-rolling happens.
I do not think I quite follow your meaning. Could you try to explain?
 

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Another way of saying this is "Lift the arch" of the NEW inside foot (downhill foot) when you are heading across the hill and the old turn is done.
This whole thing about lifting the arch of the foot somehow escaped me. Could you maybe explain in more detail?

I will be doing more re reading, so probably will have more questions to follow.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@liquidfeet said: To strengthen that turn entry, slide that ski backwards about 3". You'll feel a little resistance beneath the ski as you pull it back; that's natural. Report back, if you get a chance to try this.
....I would be grateful for more explanation here. I am afraid I do not quite understand when exactly I should be doing it. Also a silly question: which ski? the lightened one?
turn diagram .png
To answer your question, I have to refer to this diagram. Try to cement this diagram in your head and think about where you are in each turn as you do them. Most people cut off the beginning; try to lengthen it.

This diagram shows two C-shaped turns. Each turn has a beginning, middle, and end. Each turn has two skis, an inside ski and an outside ski. The inside ski is the downhill ski at the beginning and it's the uphill ski at the end. That's why it's easier to refer to inside and outside ski, always. Always. That inside ski needs to be light, preferably light through the whole turn, beginning, middle, and end.

What I said above means slide the inside ski backwards. Do this by bending the knee and moving that inside foot back just a little. As if you were trying to lift the tail of that ski. Is it the light ski? Yes.

Many skiers have difficulty lightening that inside ski before the end of the turn. But if you can slide it back in the beginning, when it's the downhill ski, that's when the big benefits come. Know that it's difficult to do at the beginning; keep at it. You'll be able to do it at the end much more easily.

What are the benefits of sliding it back at the beginning? There are at least two benefits.
1. Sliding it back can't be done without you standing on the other ski, so sliding it back transfers weight to the new outside ski.
2. Sliding it back helps start the turn when skis are parallel, and it strengthens the beginning of the turn.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
liquidfeet said:
Keeping the shin-tongue contact is a very important part of this knee roll, and needs to be said so the skier doesn't move the NEW inside foot (the downhill one) away from the other foot as the knee-rolling happens.
I do not think I quite follow your meaning. Could you try to explain?
That diagram I just posted should clear this up. My comment refers to the beginning of the turn, which many skiers cut off. Try lengthening that top half of the turn so you know it's happening. At that point, the inside ski/foot/leg/knee is the downhill one, and it's the one that should be getting light from the very start of the turn.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
liquidfeet said:
Another way of saying this is "Lift the arch" of the NEW inside foot (downhill foot) when you are heading across the hill and the old turn is done.
This whole thing about lifting the arch of the foot somehow escaped me. Could you maybe explain in more detail?

I will be doing more re reading, so probably will have more questions to follow.
Stand up. Barefoot, or in regular shoes. Think of your feet as having two long sides, the Big Toe side, from Big Toe to heel, and the Little Toe side, from little toe to heel.

Lift the Big Toe side of one foot. Some instructors say "lift the arch" side of the foot; same thing. Some say lift the Big Toe Edge of the ski; same thing.

When you lift the Big Toe side of the foot, you are tipping the ski at the same time. Well, you are if your boots fit properly. So lifting the arch, lifting the Big Toe edge of the foot, lifting the Big Toe Edge of the boot, all mean lifting the Big Toe edge of the ski. Rolling the knee of that leg down towards the snow is always paired with the lift of the Big Toe Edge of the foot/boot/ski. What terms does your instructor use for this part of the foot/boot/ski?

Which foot/ski? The inside ski, referring to that diagram above. At the beginning of a turn, the inside ski is the downhill foot/ski. I like to say "NEW" inside ski since it's just been the OLD outside ski. Unscramble this in your head and memorize it. Always know which foot/ski is the inside ski, always know the inside ski. Don't forget the turn has a beginning (top of turn) and at that point the new inside ski is the downhill one.

I think I made this comment when you said your instructor was having you roll your inside knee down towards the snow to start a turn. Did he keep asking you to roll that NEW inside knee, the downhill one, down towards the snow to start your turns? Or did he abandon that? It's real hard to do until you figure out how to transfer weight to the NEW outside ski, the uphill ski, before the skis begin to point downhill. But essential if one is to make good turns. Keep at it.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@EdithP, all three of your questions here have to do with confusion about which foot is which at the beginning (top) of a turn. My suspicion is that in your head there is no beginning. You may be skipping that part, conceptually, (even though you are skiing it, you aren't thinking of it as part of the new turn).

I suspect you are delaying doing everything you need to do with the inside/light ski until you are at the end of the turn, after the skis are pointing in the new direction, when that ski/foot is the uphill one. Concentrate on naming to yourself the beginning of the turn as you are skiing across the hill; tell yourself "This is the beginning phase of the turn... Do stuff NOW with the new inside foot/ski, which is the downhill one." You'll be working on rolling that inside knee, lifting the Big Toe edge of the ski by lifting the arch, lightening that ski, and pulling that foot back a few inches. Pulling it back will create shin-tongue pressure for that inside foot/boot, and it will also help you lift the tail. All this fits together. It needs to happen at the beginning of the turn, before the skis point in the new direction.

All this can happen before the skis point down the hill, but most skiers first learn to do these things, one at a time, at the end of the turn. Then they work on doing the movements earlier and earlier, until one season they can do them at the beginning.

The top/beginning of the turn is the most important part of the turn. Everything about the turn is determined at the beginning by what you do up there. What you do with the inside foot/ski during that phase of the turn is the most important thing. Your instructor knows this.
 
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EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
What terms does your instructor use for this part of the foot/boot/ski?
Only one reaction for now.
I don't know how to describe, but I almost have a feeling that I am asked to do different things on different days. Though that may be some confusion in my head, as I am searching information in all directions to find something that will help and maybe things overlap .

Last week I asked for clarification again and he told me this:
Keep the light foot flat on the snow, do not try to tilt it, just push it slightly forward and away from the outside ski more into the slope, (by sliding , not lifting if it is such a problem). That is what made me so confused, as I do not see how to push the same foot forward and pull it backwards at the same time.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Yes, pushing the inside foot/ski forward is a very odd thing to be told to do. Here are two possibilities. This is fun for me to think about, so thanks for the challenge.

1. Consider the end of the old turn/beginning of the new turn. At the end of the old turn, your downhill foot (soon to be inside foot for the new turn) is behind the uphill foot. At the beginning of the new turn that same foot starts changing positions, so that by the end of the new turn it ends up being the forward foot. Somewhere in the Beginning and Middle Phase of the turn, the switch happens.
--This switch usually happens automatically, without conscious attention.
--It is not good to consciously make it happen, because moving it forward can easily be overdone.
--If it's overdone, this puts the skier in the back seat.
--This switch naturally happens even if you concentrate on pulling that foot back (wow!).
--Pulling it back from the knee down doesn't result in stopping the switch. This has to do with the boot cuff prohibiting the ankle from bending forward. None of this is obvious.
--Your instructor may have been telling you that the switch happens (we call it "lead change") without asking you to consciously move it forward.

beginning of the turn diagram.png
2. You may have been trying to pull the new inside foot back the wrong way. The right way is to bend the knee in order to slide the foot back, without moving the hip above it back. Maybe you were pulling the inside hip back in order to get the foot below it to move back. He may have been trying to fix this by asking you to consciously move the inside hip forward (but not the foot below it). The inside hip should move forward as the inside foot switches positions, and as you consciously attempt to pull that foot back by bending its knee. Do you pulli the foot/ski back from the knee down, while leaving the knee up part of your leg, including the hip, forward? That's good. Has he ever asked you to consciously move the inside hip forward?

Misunderstandings are so easy in skiing.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I edited that post above, but the site won't let me include the changes. It took me too long to get it written. So here's the entire edited post as I've redone it.


Yes, pushing the inside foot/ski forward is a very odd thing to be told to do. One should not ever consciously move that inside foot forward. But it does happen on its own. So confusing, right?

Here are two possibilities of what your instructor may have been asking you to do that you misunderstood. This is fun for me to think about, so thanks for the challenge. Please let me know if either of these is right after you figure this out.

1. Consider the end of the old turn/beginning of the new turn. At the end of the old turn, your downhill foot (soon to become the inside foot for the new turn) is behind the uphill foot.
1628167890004.png
At the beginning of the new turn that same foot/ski starts changing positions relative to the other foot/ski, so that by the end of the new turn, when you are heading in the new direction, it ends up being the forward foot/ski. Somewhere in the Beginning and Middle Phases of the turn, the switch happens.
1628167826944.png
--This switch usually happens automatically, without conscious attention.
--It is not good to consciously make it happen, because moving it forward can easily be overdone.
--If it's overdone, this puts the skier in the back seat.
--So don't consciously move the inside foot forward.
--This switch of the inside ski/foot changing from being the back ski to being the forward ski naturally happens, even if you concentrate on pulling that inside ski/foot back (wow!).
--This is because the boot cuff prohibits the ankle from bending forward. None of this is obvious.
--Trying to pull this inside foot back from the knee down doesn't result in stopping the switch.
--Trying to pull this inside foot back from the knee down prohibits it from getting too far forward.
--This can also help in lifting the tail, if that is something you are trying to do.

Your instructor may have been simply telling you that the switch happens (we call it "lead change") without asking you to consciously move it forward.


2. You may have been trying to pull the new inside foot back the wrong way. The right way is to bend the knee in order to slide the foot back, without moving the hip above it back. Maybe you were pulling the inside hip back in order to get the foot below it to move back. If you do this, you will be successful in keeping the inside foot behind the outside foot, which is bad, wrong, and unnatural. The pull-back of the inside ski is not meant to move it back but to keep it from moving too far forward (and to do another thing that's not important for this discussion). If you were moving the inside hip back to move the inside foot back, he may have been trying to fix this by asking you to consciously move the inside hip forward (but not the foot below it).

The inside hip should move forward as the inside foot moves forward. They both move forward, switching thier position relative to the outside hip/foot/ski.

But you are being asked (by me or by your instructor??) to pull the inside foot back. Keep in mind that your purpose in sliding that inside foot back (it may move 3 inches or so) needs to happen independently from what you are doing with the hip above it. Attempt to pull that foot back by bending its knee and sliding the foot backwards, while leaving the upper part of your leg, including the hip, forward.

Has he ever asked you to consciously move the inside hip forward? I'm wondering if that was what he was asking and you thought it was the foot/ski he was talking about.

------------------------
Misunderstandings are so easy in ski instruction. It took a lot of words for me to do this explaining. On snow, or at the carpet, there's no time for this many words. Instructors are taught to keep all instructions as brief as possible, and to keep the skier moving as much as possible. This has its advantages, but it also leads to misunderstandings. I've always found the written word to be the perfect place to tease out the confusions. Do let me know if either of these possibilities is what was happening.
 

EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Trying to pull this inside foot back from the knee down doesn't result in stopping the switch.
--Trying to pull this inside foot back from the knee down prohibits it from getting too far forward.
We are on to something here, but I am not yet sure what. Instead I will make it more confusing. It seems to me that indeed I am instinctively pulling that light leg backwards a little, but am told that this is a wrong move. Instead I should be getting that foot to the front and away from the weighted foot, by turning it flat on the snow. It has to do with the tongue-shin pressure. When I pull that leg back, I lose shin contact with the front of the boot and instead touch the back. What I should be doing is to maintain the pressure on the tongue, but if I am to achieve this, I must move that shin forward. (or so it seems to me).
Maybe the error is in wrong hip positioning, as you suggest, but we are not talking about hips at all. I am told that for now I must learn to only rely on knees and ankles to get my turns. so tbh I do not even have a clear mental image of what should be happening with my hips.
What my coach often says is that when I finally get it right I will feel how the light leg gives the weighted leg a pull which makes it follow into the turn.
Misunderstandings are so easy in ski instruction.
Yes, too often. I am almost sure I must be getting something wrong in my understanding of what I should do, and I will keep trying to put my dilemmas in words, but all too ooften it is not at all easy. Now too I am not sure if I described adequately what I am experiencing.
One thing I am going to take away from your advice for right now is Earlier. Whatever it is I am trying to achieve I will try to get it done earlier. And as much to the front as I can.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@EdithP, your comments in black, mine in red.

We are on to something here, but I am not yet sure what. Instead I will make it more confusing. It seems to me that indeed I am instinctively pulling that light leg backwards a little, but am told that this is a wrong move. This depends on what you are actually doing. You must be doing something odd.

Instead I should be getting that foot to the front and away from the weighted foot, by turning it flat on the snow. It's not good to actually move it forward, so there must be a miscommunication here of some sort. Let's forget about flattening and turning in this conversation. We need to keep it simple at first and only focus on pulling the foot/ski back. It has to do with the tongue-shin pressure.

When I pull that leg back, I lose shin contact with the front of the boot and instead touch the back. In your house, put your ski boots on and click into your skis. Pull/slide one foot backwards about three inches, or more if you can. Do not let your hips rotate; do not let the hip above that foot move back or forward; keep it stationary as you pull the foot back. Do you lose contact with the front of the cuff? You shouldn't. That front shin-tongue contact should get stronger. Now push that foot forward. You should have extra pressure at the back of the cuff and less in the front. What I should be doing is to maintain the pressure on the tongue, but if I am to achieve this, I must move that shin forward. (or so it seems to me). Logically that seems right, but it isn't. This has to do with the way the boot cuff prohibits the ankle from bending forward. When you pull/slide a foot back by bending the knee above it, the lower leg tilts more dramatically because the knee stays where it is and the hip stays where it is while the foot slides backwards. That increased lower leg tilt presses the shin into the cuff, because the cuff just won't bend. Thus you get extra shin-tongue pressure.

--- Get someone to video you as you do this, with the video camera down near the floor pointed across at your leg. The camera should capture your foot, your whole leg, and your hip. The hip and knee should not move; the foot should move back. Then post the video here.

---Extra credit if you do this with the camera on and get the tail lifted. Keep the knee where it is and the hip where it is as you move the foot backwards and lift the tail of the ski. Post that video too!


Maybe the error is in wrong hip positioning, as you suggest, but we are not talking about hips at all. I am told that for now I must learn to only rely on knees and ankles to get my turns. so tbh I do not even have a clear mental image of what should be happening with my hips.
What my coach often says is that when I finally get it right I will feel how the light leg gives the weighted leg a pull which makes it follow into the turn. Right. Doing stuff with your new inside ski, up at the top of the turn, before the skis point downhill (those things on the long list I've mentioned, and which I think your instructor has mentioned at one time or another) will start the turn. This guy is a good instructor. But there's a communication glitch somewhere. I tell my students that the new outside ski will follow along like a dog on a leash. Assuming the dog needs to be pulled along.

Yes, too often. I am almost sure I must be getting something wrong in my understanding of what I should do, and I will keep trying to put my dilemmas in words, but all too ooften it is not at all easy. Now too I am not sure if I described adequately what I am experiencing.
One thing I am going to take away from your advice for right now is Earlier. Whatever it is I am trying to achieve I will try to get it done earlier. And as much to the front as I can. Good! The magic starts happening when you do things with this new inside foot/ski early in the turn, at the "beginning" in that diagram.

If you can get this pull-back thing going, which transfers your weight and increases shin-tongue pressure, then we can attack the flattening and turning of the new inside ski as a second issue. The order is not all that important, but the pull-back when learned first gives such a nice sensation when you get it to work. And it makes the flattening and rotating easier and more effective.

If your instructor has never said pull the inside ski back, if that's only coming from me, and you want to focus exclusively on the flattening and rotating of that new inside ski, with extra shin-tongue pressure, we can do that instead. Just let me know.
 
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marzNC

Angel Diva
Last week I asked for clarification again and he told me this:
Keep the light foot flat on the snow, do not try to tilt it, just push it slightly forward and away from the outside ski more into the slope, (by sliding , not lifting if it is such a problem). That is what made me so confused, as I do not see how to push the same foot forward and pull it backwards at the same time.
That reminds me of suggestion to "lead" with the little toe. It's much less than trying to physically tilt the ski onto it's edge. Making skis turn can be based on very subtle movements.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@EdithP, here are two images that might help clarify how pulling the inside foot back should increase shin-tongue pressure.

Imagine both of these people have ski boots on with skis attached. They pull that foot back, as we see here, but the boot and the ski keeps the heel down. This means the ankle must bend much more than we see here.

But the boot also makes bending the ankle like that difficult. As the ankle attempts to bend, the lower leg/shin will press hard into the boot cuff. There's your extra shin-tongue pressure.

Now imagine these two are in boots with skis, and they do exactly what we see here. The tail of the ski will lift and the front of the ski will tilt down, pressing extra hard onto the snow. They will still have extra shin-tongue pressure because the front of the ski will be pressed with extra pressure down onto the snow. There will be leverage against the front of the boot cuff. Does this make sense?

And in both cases, the foot pull-back causes the skier's weight to be completely on the other ski. The pull-back causes weight transfer.

1628191492621.png1628191480338.png
 
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EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
You must be doing something odd.
I bet. I even had a sort of illumination as to what it might be. I do not bend that inside leg enough which would put pressure on top of the boot.

When you pull/slide a foot back by bending the knee above it, the lower leg tilts more dramatically because the knee stays where it is and the hip stays where it is while the foot slides backwards.

For some reason I cannot understand when I try this I feel my leg straightens instead of bending. It then pulls back straight. So it does not press on the boot cuff, and instead pushes at the boot back. That's the odd move, I think. I wonder if it is not because, for all my trying, I am still not extended forward enough. I watched a training video by Deb Armstrong who was showing instructors how to teach the fore aft movements to children. She showed how the entire turn could be executed just by by this extending forward and then returning. No up and down motion at all, just fore/aft. I think if I could get that right, everything migh become easier.
That reminds me of suggestion to "lead" with the little toe. It's much less than trying to physically tilt the ski onto it's edge. Making skis turn can be based on very subtle movements.

It sounds right. But I still do not quite picture the whole set up of "leading with the little toe. Do you think you could tell me more?
 
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EdithP

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
There will be leverage against the front of the boot cuff. Does this make sense?
NOw, here is the word I was searching for and missing. Leverage! Makes perfect sense. And the fact is I am not getting it. Not sure why. Will absolutely try to put the skis on.
 

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