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Progressing from smearing to carving turns?

#1
Hi divas, hope all the northern New Englanders and westerners have been getting after it!

Now that places around me are opening up, I’m wondering what tips and advice you all might have for progressing from smearing turns to truly getting up on edge and learning to carve.

I’m always wary of picking up too much speed, so I end up doing a lot of short, sharp smearing turns on any appreciable pitch. I definitely think that fear of speed is a significant barrier for me, but what should I be thinking about in terms of body positioning? Pressure on my feet? I get down green runs really comfortably and fairly quickly now...should I be trying to drill with speed on the greens?

Going to take lessons in January, but I want to start thinking about it ASAP. Thanks in advance for your advice - I’m all ears!
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#2
I get down green runs really comfortably and fairly quickly now...should I be trying to drill with speed on the greens?
Actually, the drill I did with my Massanutten instructor on greens wasn't about speed. It was garlands, which is about patience and finesse to allow the skis to turn uphill until they almost stop and then flattening the skis to point them downhill just enough to get up enough speed to do another turn. Several turns going the same direction, then repeat going the other way. I still do them, but usually on blue groomers.

Turn shape is how to control speed. C-turns, not Z-turns. Carving is how to go fast on groomers. Slalom racing is all about carving. Is that what you want to be doing on blue and black groomers?

The other drill that I started learning at Massanutten during my first lesson with Walter is called railroad tracks. Although I didn't start doing them correctly until a season or two later. Now I practice RR tracks on flat runouts all the time. Very related to how to just tip skis on edge enough to engage and get the skis to turn without muscle power based on how they are designed.
 

racetiger

Certified Ski Diva
#3
Last week i rode the chair with an instructor who was just out skiing for fun. We were watching the high school race teams practicing and got to talking about drills. He mentioned the Cowboy drill. I hadn't heard of it so he demonstrated it when we got to skiing. It was where he put his outside ski way out taking a big long wide arcing turn. When he started the new one he put his new outside ski way out there again.
He said to get the focus and feeling of getting that ski up on edge and to force people who ski with their feet Too close together to open their stance up some.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#4
He mentioned the Cowboy drill. I hadn't heard of it so he demonstrated it when we got to skiing. It was where he put his outside ski way out taking a big long wide arcing turn. When he started the new one he put his new outside ski way out there again.
He said to get the focus and feeling of getting that ski up on edge and to force people who ski with their feet Too close together to open their stance up some.
Yep, the cowboy drill is a good one. Although the say it was described to me was to imagine riding a horse. No mention of thinking about the outside ski. Even more so for people who skied on straight skis. Walter had me do it once or twice. But my natural stance on straight skis was always too wide, so I have a good natural width for current ski design.

Funny story about the cowboy drill and my ski buddy Bill. Note that he was an advanced skier in high school. No lessons as an adult until I talked him into semi-private lessons when he was over 60. After the first lesson with JW at Alta directly related to tweaking his stance to make better use of the design of his all-mountain skis (maybe RTM 84), I showed him the cowboy drill on a wide, empty groomer (Mambo). The first time he tried it, he was heading diagonally towards the woods with no sign of turning. I shouted at him to "TURN." He shouted back "I CAN'T." But by the end of that season he was tipping his skis on edge with far less effort by having just a bit wider stance. We did another lesson with JW that mid-season trip, and two more (with a day free skiing in between) with another L3 instructor during a late season trip to Alta. Since that season, Bill has increased his interest in lessons. He'll be doing a Taos Ski Week for the third season in a row come February. It's clear that skiing advanced terrain takes far less effort for him than 5-6 years ago. That matters because he has no meniscus in one knee during to an injury during high school.

I've watched race teams do the cowboy drill as described in Post #3. At least I think that's what they were doing. At Killington last year the Monday before Thanksgiving, a group of teen girls were doing it. Their coach wanted them to get as low as possible, with the outside ski way, way out. He was yelling "LOWER" as came towards him and then passed by. They were all squealing as they pushed their outside ski farther out. They were all moving pretty fast on the empty groomer (North Ridge). I've tried the drill based on what I saw. Interesting feeling.
 

racetiger

Certified Ski Diva
#5
@ilovepugs I just thought of something what skis are you using?
I found that because I like screwing around on my twin tips I smear more when I'm on them. They would probably carve better if the edges were sharp but that isnt my main use for them. I also found the cowboy drill awkward even with my too wide stance. I've been working on arrowing it some.
 
#6
Thanks @marzNC and @racetiger! OK, so I googled for videos to help visualize and found a good demonstration of railroad tracks, which I will incorporate into my skiing this upcoming weekend. No luck with the cowboy drill, but I'll give it a try and hopefully will be able to replicate the motion.

@racetiger - you bring up an excellent point. I only own very smeary twin tip skis. They are flexy yet burly (very stable busting through crud) but maybe harder to get up on edge? I'm demo'ing some carving skis at Massanutten in January (hanging with @marzNC, who has very graciously invited me to stay with her at her timeshare), and am very curious to feel the difference. I haven't yet really skied a pair of true carving skis.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#8
so I googled for videos to help visualize and found a good demonstration of railroad tracks, which I will incorporate into my skiing this upcoming weekend.
While a video or a live demonstration is obviously helpful, I spent a season or two doing what I thought were RR tracks that turned out to be wrong. The proper movements are actually very subtle.

Have you ever done any tai chi? RR tracks done correctly remind me of the concept for foot/leg movements in tai chi. Always moving deliberately and relatively slowly, never static. Done correctly, you pick up speed even on pretty flat terrain because the skis are mostly on edge as opposed to flat on the snow.
 
#9
While a video or a live demonstration is obviously helpful, I spent a season or two doing what I thought were RR tracks that turned out to be wrong. The proper movements are actually very subtle.

Have you ever done any tai chi? RR tracks done correctly remind me of the concept for foot/leg movements in tai chi. Always moving deliberately and relatively slowly, never static. Done correctly, you pick up speed even on pretty flat terrain because the skis are mostly on edge as opposed to flat on the snow.
Darn! I knew I should have taken some more tai chi classes with my mom. (She teaches in Quincy, MA.... if you're ever in MA on a Saturday morning, let me know!)

I'll keep that in mind for my drilling. Maybe just stick to garlands until I have a chance to take lessons... I don't want to pick up bad habits. I'm sure I've mentioned it before because it's such a good deal, but the Night Club Card at the [former] Snow Time resorts has an amazing unlimited lesson option for like $35 extra. I know there are some good instructors at Roundtop and I am definitely hoping to make the best of this amazing benefit.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#10
I know there are some good instructors at Roundtop and I am definitely hoping to make the best of this amazing benefit.
Paging @AltaEgo . She is an instructor at Roundtop.

Darn! I knew I should have taken some more tai chi classes with my mom. (She teaches in Quincy, MA.... if you're ever in MA on a Saturday morning, let me know!)
I have done a little tai chi. But not that much. Haven't really found a class or instructor that I really liked yet. The older instructor I worked with at Bridger several years ago had discovered tai chi about ten years before. He became a tai chi instructor for the off season because he felt the it matched up so well with skiing.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#11
Here's video that was created for New Zealand instructors. I presume the "tasks" are requirements for a certification test. The only drills I do regularly from the list are pivot slips and RR tracks. Have done a few of the others but only after becoming an advanced skier based on a fair amount of mileage out west and some lessons from L3 instructors at Massanutten and big mountains out west. There are some that I've never attempted and am not likely to try, especially the ones that involve some sort of a jump. Maybe if I'd started skiing > 25 days a season 20-30 years ago. :smile:

 

KBee

Certified Ski Diva
#13
I think, though, that railroad tracks/carving will increase speed quite a lot, but finishing the turn, or pointing back up thile hill to control speed/avoid smeary short turns could help with that, if that's your goal. Had a lesson on this last year: "I go too fast and want to control speed so I don't freak out." Was fun.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#16
Carving skis are pretty addicting.
But only for people who enjoy speed and have the luxury of skiing where groomers are empty enough to be able to go all out without worrying about a bunch of people on the trail. I remember the first time I went zooming. It was at Snowbasin off the Strawberry gondola. There is a very long run out. My friends and I were there mid-week. Had the place to ourselves because the off-piste terrain was still frozen. But the groomers were already good. It's a long trail and we'd skied it already so I knew what to expect. Probably wasn't really carving 100% yet, but it was fun. Had all-mountain skis that were 75 underfoot and a wide shovel back then.

In the mid-Atlantic, if you go racing speeds then a run can take under 2 minutes to finish. I'd rather take my time and do something other than pure carving before doing a 7 min lift ride. I ski non-stop these days even on longer trails at bigger mountains, but I'm not carving for speed most of the time.
 
#17
Love your last post marzNC!

Carving IS fun and a great skill to have in your back pocket when conditions and terrain allow. But it is also very fast - even when you do use turn shape properly to keep things under control. It’s one narrow aspect of skiing - but it’s not the pinnacle of skiing, IMO, unless you want to join a race team.

It’s just important to understand that steered turns (what we are calling smeared turns here) make up 90% of the turns we will make as recreational skiers. Being able to refine and blend the edging and rotational skills into all types of turn shapes is what leads to true expert skiing, IMHO, and is what we need to get ourselves off the groomers into bumps, trees, powder, steeps, chutes/narrow places, etc. etc.

Many of the drills in the NZ video get at these essential skills rather than the more narrow carving-related movements.

And many of the lessons I teach involve trying to undo the carving bias of otherwise good skiers who don’t understand why they can’t ski bumps and trees.

So by all means - learn and enjoy carving!! But I hope you will also gain a good perspective and appreciate how it fits into the larger world of recreational skiing.
 
#19
@Skisailor - I love your post! Based on my experiences with snowboarding, I definitely want to develop good control across a variety of skills. Totally hear and appreciate the points that you and @marzNC make in this thread.

My husband is heavily biased towards carving and I think that affects his ability to enjoy soft, bumpy fun days (where you would find me having tons of fun jumping around on soft moguls on the board while he struggles to keep up).

Skiing/snowboarding for me is all about having fun on a broad variety of slippery surfaces. I want to be able to carve to get more comfortable and control with speed and to learn how to use the skis in this manner, but agree that it’s just one of a variety of skills that I’m hoping to experiment and play with.
 

TeleChica

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
Cool video. Lots for me to work on--I cannot get on one ski to save the life of me. Very frustrating--plan to take lessons this year, so will ask what I am doing wrong. Pivot slips are super fun on tele skis.
 

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