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Ongoing issues with cat tracks/mentally recovering from scary falls?

mountainwest

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#21
Another good tool to add to your tool box would be linked pivot slips. These are similar to the hockey stops you're already doing but without so much edge. The skis are kept very flat and essentially wag left and right while you face straight down the hill and travel straight ahead. It allows you to ski in a very narrow corridor at a slow pace.
This is great advice. I used to hate and fear cat tracks too, until I learned this technique - and then the fear totally ended. It works great on even scarier things like long, steep, icy, wavy/bumpy backcountry run-outs that are only two skis wide and wind through tight trees, too.
 

Magnatude

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#22
Clarification: I was not suggesting the OP use a tuck on the ridge in question. Far from it. I was suggesting that she practice skiing on flat skis down on beginner pitches, using a low tuck, a high tuck, then standing tall, in order to get used to the swimming/wobbling of flat skis.
Quite right, I wasn't thinking of your own excellent tips, but rather what other skiers actually do on that slope. Some of them straightline/tuck from quite high up as it is followed by a bit of uphill track that most want to avoid having to skate or push up. Sometimes this works out well for them, sometimes less so. And it can be risky when they're overtaking skiers/boarders who are more focused on getting down the steep part safely, and not necessarily who's coming down behind them.
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#23
Thank you so much everyone for all the tips and advice (and commiseration)!

Love all the stuff posted above. You are checking off the possibilities for what may be causing problems.

If your boot fit is good and snug, there is STILL the possibility that your alignment is off - which would result in you have trouble going straight ahead on flat skis without engaging your edges. Do your feet and ankles pronate? Are you a little knock kneed? Bowlegged? One leg a little different from the other? Not uncommon! A good bootfitter can help with this. Our individual anatomies often cause problems in this regard and have to be corrected for - preferably inside the boot. But possibly on the outside of the boot or by canting the binding. But the goal for all skiers should be that on a nice flat slope, you should be able to ski straight ahead with skis flat and equal weight on both feet without your skis being all squirrely. And it should be easy - nice and relaxed. But many, if not most, skiers need certain corrections with their boots and/or bindings to allow this to happen. When we are not TRYING to "edge", it should be easy to stay on flat skis. So it might be worth having your bootfitter check your "alignment".

It's also possible that your skis have a funky tune - something else to check.
I know that I overpronate my feet/ankles - one of the reasons my bootfitter and I decided to go for custom insoles for better support and alignment. I don't know about the rest of the boot alignment or canting but I could ask my bootfitter next time I'm out that way (as well as about the ski tune - I bought these skis from the same shop).

@fgor, it sounds like you had a great bootfitter and your boot probably fits as well as it can. Congrats! My guess would be that if you test the boots with skis on and a friend twisting the skis, there will be no "loose steering wheel" effect. So maybe boot fit had nothing to do with it.

Discomfort with the wobble is natural the first time you notice it. Those 88s with a 13m TR will give you some wobble, for sure. Simply glancing down may have been the trigger to the fall. Or whatever caused one ski to not wobble while the other did, who knows....

Go to safer terrain and ski straight runs over and over to gain stability on flat skis. You can try getting into a tuck for the extra stability that comes from lowering the body. Look up low tuck and high tuck for proper body positioning. Close your ankles to get your knees as far forward as possible, and shoot your hands waaay forward for more weight over the shovels, and you'll be good as gold. Make straight runs. You'll feel the wobble in both skis, or should. Get used to equalizing your weight distribution between the skis which should keep them wobbling equally. Start with a low tuck, then a high tuck, then work on standing up while going straight, again on the same safe terrain. Avoid looking down at the skis. Once you feel like you know what those skis want to do and know you can ride them, take it back up to that ridge.

Note: you'll go fast in a low tuck. The wind resistance will be minimized, so choose beginner/low pitch areas to work on this. You'll need low traffic areas and good peripheral vision to avoid running into folks. Be careful.
Thank you! I will find some spots to try these techniques next time I ski. There's a blue run I'm thinking of that has a fairly long, very wide, not-quite-flat area at the base of it (I like to practice carving or slow drills at the base of that run because you don't pick up too much speed). It seems crazy that skis have this natural tendency to wobble, definitely makes it hard to trust them while they're pointed straight ahead!

Quite right, I wasn't thinking of your own excellent tips, but rather what other skiers actually do on that slope. Some of them straightline/tuck from quite high up as it is followed by a bit of uphill track that most want to avoid having to skate or push up. Sometimes this works out well for them, sometimes less so. And it can be risky when they're overtaking skiers/boarders who are more focused on getting down the steep part safely, and not necessarily who's coming down behind them.
Oh what are the chances someone here is actually familiar with this particular run/skifield! It's true, people fly down that narrow ridge at a great rate of knots. On one of my other runs down the Virgin Mile someone passed me so closely that they hit my pole. I wasn't even in the center of the track at that point, I was off to the side. I think it might be a while before I venture up that way again. Doing the Reservoir Dogs run at the end was fun (and I'd intended to have a go at Platter Splatter the time I fell off - didn't want to try it after that haha) but I don't think it's worth the stress of that cat track at this point!
 
#24
So glad you are getting some good tips in this thread! If you do pronate, perhaps the footbeds need to be tweaked to get you truly flat. That is often a trial and error kind of process so I’m sure your bootfitter would be happy to continue working with you to get it right. I just want to stress the fact that - skiing straight ahead down a nice flat easy green with equal weight on both feet should feel easy and effortless - not like you have to use your muscles to keep the skis from turning or wobbling (which indicates one or the other or both are getting onto their edges).

Last thing that occurred to me - If your stance is too wide (or too narrow) that will have the effect of putting the skis on edge and making them “wobble”. Your skis should be hip width apart - i.e. where your legs would naturally fall out of your hip sockets if you were walking. Also - I have noticed some skiers on flat cat tracks or long road-width run-outs have their skis in a very slight, barely noticeable wedge. They probably don’t even realize their skis aren’t truly parallel. Needless to say, that would also have the effect of putting the skis on edge!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#25
....There's a blue run I'm thinking of that has a fairly long, very wide, not-quite-flat area at the base of it (I like to practice carving or slow drills at the base of that run because you don't pick up too much speed). It seems crazy that skis have this natural tendency to wobble, definitely makes it hard to trust them while they're pointed straight ahead!
....
Good idea. Sounds like you know the perfect place to practice. As a newish skier, it sounds like you are on the fast track to gaining skills, which is why I mentioned tucks. They are not for everyone.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#26
I know that I overpronate my feet/ankles - one of the reasons my bootfitter and I decided to go for custom insoles for better support and alignment. I don't know about the rest of the boot alignment or canting but I could ask my bootfitter next time I'm out that way (as well as about the ski tune - I bought these skis from the same shop).
Yes, I would have my alignment (re)checked.
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#27
I skied again on the weekend but it turns out i was too nervous to get on the flats of my skis at all - maybe next time - however i did have some really good runs and started to feel better about skiing again :smile: maybe next time I'll try practicing some straight runs in the flatter areas - the bottom of this run:
received_2384696735122806.jpeg
I also need to visit my boot fitter anyway as recently I've been having pain from the boots at the back of my heel when i flex my ankles, so might need some sort of adjustment, i can ask about alignment then too!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#28
Fgor, is there a beginner area on your mountain? You could go there to get used to skiing with flat skis. The low pitch means you shouldn't gain too much speed there, and you know how to hockey stop when you decide to slow down. You could figure out how to "hockey-slow" instead of hockey stop on that very low pitch terrain, too.

There's no shame in working on new skills on beginner terrain. I go there when I'm working on something in my own skiing. Other instructors do too. The advantages are several... other skiers are going slow so traffic concerns can be minimal. The pitch is very low, so you won't have to deal with any worries associated with doing something new at speed.

Also, you'll have to ski slow when working on the new movement. This is the biggest advantage. It means you'll have time inside each turn to notice what your body and skis are doing, without having to worry about anything else. You can concentrate in isolation on the thing you're trying to achieve. It will also require you to maintain balance without the advantage of momentum stabilizing you. That's the hidden factor that makes doing things slowly more challenging, like doing a track stand on a bicycle. If you can do a new skill very slowly and maintain balance on beginner terrain, then you really know how to do it and are ready to take it up to faster terrain.

Where I work, instructors start intermediates on beginner terrain when they are introducing new stuff, and only when they've gotten a little familiar with it do the instructors take them up the mountain.
 
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#29
I skied again on the weekend but it turns out i was too nervous to get on the flats of my skis at all - maybe next time - however i did have some really good runs and started to feel better about skiing again :smile: maybe next time I'll try practicing some straight runs in the flatter areas - the bottom of this run:
View attachment 11194
I also need to visit my boot fitter anyway as recently I've been having pain from the boots at the back of my heel when i flex my ankles, so might need some sort of adjustment, i can ask about alignment then too!
I just wanted to add one thought that I hope you will consider. In your last post you said you were “too nervous to get on the flats of your skis . . . “

This is one of the most common hurdles that skiers face as they progress. They are in love with their edges. In fact, the more difficult the terrain - as it gets steeper, narrower, bumpier, etc. the better you have to be at getting OFF those darn edges and using a flatter ski. It slows things down and gives you more control. That doesn’t mean that the ski is completely 100% flat to the snow (what I’m talking about here is different from the flat ski straight run that serves as an alignment check). But in your normal skiing, being able to vary the amount of edge you use is key. And keeping the ski flatter so you can pivot it more, is what will give you maximum control and allow you to ski the more difficult terrain - including nasty cat tracks.

I just wanted to throw that out there. It might be mostly conceptual right now, but it’s definitely worth thinking about as a goal.
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#30
Where I work, instructors start intermediates on beginner terrain when they are introducing new stuff
This is all too uncommon.

I've always had the impression that instructors hate -- and avoid -- easy terrain, that the objective is to advance me through terrain as quickly as possible. It does not help me learn or unlearn movements.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#31
I skied again on the weekend but it turns out i was too nervous to get on the flats of my skis at all - maybe next time - however i did have some really good runs and started to feel better about skiing again :smile: maybe next time I'll try practicing some straight runs in the flatter areas - the bottom of this run:
Have you done much side slipping? When I was free skiing with an instructor at a destination resort, that's what he did on cat tracks. He said it took the least amount of effort. Makes it easy to come to a complete stop quickly since already in position for a hockey stop.

You need a certain amount of pitch to practice side slipping. Always easier in one direction.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#32
This is all too uncommon.

I've always had the impression that instructors hate -- and avoid -- easy terrain, that the objective is to advance me through terrain as quickly as possible. It does not help me learn or unlearn movements.
That hasn't been my experience. But by the time I started taking lessons regularly as an advanced skier I knew how to end up with very experienced instructors even for group lessons. Meaning they'd been teaching for 15+ years. The first few runs are always on blue groomers, even when there is good snow off-piste.
 

vickie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#33
Your ski life and mine have been vastly different, @marzNC. I learned as an adult, starting ~50 years of age. I took a lesson my very first day, a lesson my 2nd day, and various lessons most every year until the past couple of seasons. My 1st experience with being over-terrained was the day 2 lesson. I was assigned to a group that, I later learned, was comprised of people who had been skiing for 3-4 years. The last run was a trail labeled as Green, but the top half had the pitch of a Blue. I had no idea I couldn't ski it ... I'd never seen it before. I'll spare myself the embarrassing description of how that ended. Suffice it to say, a sled would have been better. From at least level 4 on up -- perhaps level 3 -- lessons have been on blue trails.

Ski schools do assign more experienced, more highly certified instructors to more advanced lessons. It makes sense then that you have had good instructors. Roundtop wanted to assign me to a totally uncertified instructor for a private intermediate lesson. For a women's intermediate clinic at Killington, we were assigned an L1 ... she passed L1 on Thursday, our clinic was Sat-Sun. Etc.

I get it. You have had great bootfitting and great instruction. Not all of us have been so fortunate on either front. Top that off with experiences like the OP had where we fear for our safety and it's no wonder some of us are left reassessing the value of skiing.
 
#34
get it. You have had great bootfitting and great instruction. Not all of us have been so fortunate on either front. Top that off with experiences like the OP had where we fear for our safety and it's no wonder some of us are left reassessing the value of skiing.
When I think about issues brought up by intermediates or beginners, I try to base my comments on the experiences of my friend who started skiing at Massanutten when her kids were learning or friends who did beginner lessons at Alta. Sorry if I came across as implying there aren't problems with how ski schools handle novices, especially older adults.

I was an intermediate only skiing groomers for quite a while. Didn't know enough to take lessons then. Didn't learn about boot fitting until I started reading ski forum discussions.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#35
....Ski schools do assign more experienced, more highly certified instructors to more advanced lessons. It makes sense then that you have had good instructors. Roundtop wanted to assign me to a totally uncertified instructor for a private intermediate lesson. For a women's intermediate clinic at Killington, we were assigned an L1 ... she passed L1 on Thursday, our clinic was Sat-Sun. Etc. .... experiences like the OP had where we fear for our safety and it's no wonder some of us are left reassessing the value of skiing.
So sorry to hear about your experiences. But what you describe is all too familiar.

When I started skiing at age 53, I took lessons, but it was always group lessons on weekends. None of the, absolutely none, taught me anything useful. How-to-ski books became my go-to strategy for learning stuff. There's a problem with that approach, which I did not recognize back then. (I'm 69 now, so it's been a few years.) I didn't know if I was doing the movements the books described correctly. One needs a good instructor by one's side to get that kind of feedback. Like you, I needed better instruction.

But I didn't have the $$ to take private lessons and request higher level instructors. So what I did was take a job as a ski instructor. Free training as part of the job!!!!!! Would you consider this as an option? Your skiing doesn't have to be high-level. Ski mountains around here are desperate for instructors. The pay is deplorable. But you do get a season pass, a locker or at least use of a locker room, interesting instructors and students to ski with, and training of some sort. Some jobs get your significant others a season pass, too. And teaching is FUN.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#38
Lots of ski instructors are retired. Retirees sometimes don't need to earn real pay, so they take the instructor job despite the deplorable rate of pay because they want its perks. It's hard for young people needing to earn enough to pay the rent and grocery bill to become ski instructors.

Where I teach, our ski school director keeps tabs on the average age of the instructor pool just for the fun of it. Last year the average was somewhere in the 60s. It went up when a guy who stopped teaching a while back returned for the season. He was 80. We all got a good laugh when the boss told us about how high the average age jumped with him on board.
 

fgor

Certified Ski Diva
#39
That's pretty awesome! I think it's quite different here in New Zealand - I'd say the average age of the instructors I see around is fairly young, there's a real mix of ages but overall it trends younger. I think that's because there aren't many resorts in the southern hemisphere though. Many/most (?) of the instructors are from the northern hemisphere (chasing the winter), and so instructor slots are quite competitive to get here because there's so much more demand than supply. In fact I've been told that one season the resort accidentally hired too many level 3 instructors and there wasn't really enough work for them, so they have to make an effort to hire a mix of less qualified instructors as well. I would assume younger people are in a better position to move country every 6 months :smile:

No difference in the deplorable pay rates though - I'm told it's not great here either! That seems to be the case in a lot of the snow industry - people work in the industry because they love the snow, not because there's any money to be made :P
 
#40
My experience as an instructor at Big Sky has been a bit different. I think what @vickie describes happens here too. And I am not being a contrarian here at all. But it’s not quite that regimented or simple at Big Sky. And I’m not entirely sure why - but I would guess that it has something to do with the unusual combination of - a huge destination ski resort with every kind of terrain, and a relatively small ski school as compared to other large resorts like Vail or Aspen. That means we do have some of the common issues associated with newer instructors teaching beginners (when IMHO, your BEST instructors should be doing that!). But it is also QUITE common to have Level 2s and 3s and even examiner level instructors like @Ursula teaching a never-ever group lesson or intermediates, or whatever . . . It just depends on demand for that day and who is working. The supervisors must do whatever is necessary to cover the lessons. And the great instructors love to teach beginners and experts alike.
 

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