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Self Arrest Techniques?

#21
hmmm stay on your front?? I stay on my back...I use my Elbows/ fists.. just keep digging in trying to slowwwwww down and naturally I would use my heels... if my skis are gone) if my skis are On, I Must Keep FEET/Skis UP (why i'll be on my back) i have to save the knees at all costs... sliding is scarey in the steep stuff.. not fun to practice a slide either! why I hate to fall....


I've had two falls in the past two weeks -- one a total yard sale and one where I just lost my poles. The first wasn't on a very steep slope. And that was fine. I recovered nicely. The second, however, was on a steep, hard pack trail, where I slid....... and slid...... and slid. Until I finally, at last, stopped.

Which got me to thinking. I have no idea how to self arrest. I've heard that you need to 1) be on your front, rather than your back, and 2) dig your poles in as best as you can. But what if you lose your poles? I almost always do, since I hardly make use of the straps. I've also read that you shouldn't use pole straps on steep slopes, anyway.

So anyone have any advice?
 
#22
I had a ridiculously spectacular fall today. I was zooming on a very fast steep trail today, on my second run of the day, zoned out for a second and went zooming over a roll in the trail that launched me out into the air. Mind you I wasn't that high off of the ground and should have just stayed the course and landed, but I didn't expect it and panicked in my head, tried to turn in the air (yeah great idea) and according to DH somersaulted before sliding down the trail on my back at very high speed.

In the midst of all this I'm calmly going over this thread in my head. Tried to get my feet going down since I was zooming down headfirst, but only managed to turn halfway before I got pushed back headfirst again. Tried digging in poles, lost a pole, tried elbows and hands, finally slowed somehow and was able to get my skis downhill.

While this was happening I was also laughing behind my face mask because DH is chasing me down the trail super worried because he saw me somersault and is freaking out that I must have hurt a knee or something or I'm going to go head first into the trees ( he told me all of this later). He finally gets to me and was like ok let's get you inside we'll take it slow, etc. and I'm like what are you talking about I'm completely fine??

The crappy part was when I realized that in the process of falling I took a nice chunk out of the top sheet of one ski with the edge of the other and put lots of nice scratches on them as well.. I was not pleased, but owell what are you gonna do, at least it was superficial and caused no functional changes. Luckily DH is handy with 2 part epoxy and will fill my damage..

I just thought it was so funny that this thread ran through my mind at the moment I was sliding down the mountain on my back! :smile:
 

SkiNana

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#23
At Big Sky they teach Self Arrest as part of the Master the Mountain course and before they will take you up the Tram. Their system involves pole straps ON (and on "properly") at all times. The self arrest lessons teach, first and foremost NOT to dig your boots or skis in as you are sliding down the steeps as this will quite likely cause tumbling head over heels, out of control. The preferred position is on one's belly, feet up, where one can flip a (still attached) pole around by the strap and slide one hand down toward the basket. You can then grab it and use the tip as an "ice ax" to dig into the surface of the snow/ice and slow/stop your pell mell progress. Without your poles . . . which is likely without them attached to your hands by your straps, the lesson goes. . . . you lose the only "tool" at your disposal, unless, of course, you happen to be carrying a real ice ax and have time to get it out of a pocket!

All I know is that it works in class and I've seen it work from a distance in "real life". It's no fun to practice though.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#24
hmmm stay on your front?? I stay on my back...I use my Elbows/ fists.. just keep digging in trying to slowwwwww down and naturally I would use my heels... if my skis are gone) if my skis are On, I Must Keep FEET/Skis UP (why i'll be on my back) i have to save the knees at all costs... sliding is scarey in the steep stuff.. not fun to practice a slide either! why I hate to fall....
The argument in favor of belly to the snow is that if the heel finally gets traction it will either propel, as in launch, you head first into the air, tree, or heads first downhill. Toe side has more give so it will slow you down along with poles digging in more gradually and safely.

I have a friend who tried the heel move from his back and had a massive lower leg fracture when the heel caught on a rock. He almost bled out! That was an unusual slide where the snow was too rotten for his ice axe to get traction. Though he also tore his shoulder trying to self arrest. He was on his front side initially then got stuck on his back, unable to turn around.

For me personally, self arresting is a matter of split second decisions, and I would rather bust a leg using my ski edge than hit a tree head or chest first.

Another matter is when to risk injury to self trying to stop your own kid or friend. That is also a calculated risk. The one successful slide for life intervention i had, entailed straight lining it, catching up with slider, going into side slip and literally going right into skier. It was calculated as I expected at least one of us would be hurt by the rescue, but the alternative was a head first slide into trees 800 feet below one very steep and slick pitch!

I have had a few students also surprised by how impossible it was for them to stop in the midst of a large but very steep mogul run. Moguls will not stop a slide/tumble if the terrain is sufficiently steep.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#25
Addendum: practiced various self arrest methods on a steep, long, double blue that was very firm, but not icy by east coast standards.

Poles tips, even with pressure did little to slow us down. Ski edges were very effective. Make sure to set it down and apply pressure gradually as it can easily tweak a lwg when it starts to engage with the snow!
 
#26
Poles tips, even with pressure did little to slow us down. Ski edges were very effective. Make sure to set it down and apply pressure gradually as it can easily tweak a lwg when it starts to engage with the snow!
The one and only self-arrest I did was using my own skis, both still attached. I put them down gently, let the edge scrape on snow while varying the pressure until it slowed me down enough to stand up. It was steep enough the difference between laying down and standing up was not that dramatic!

Basically I did a side-slip while laying down...

I have since avoided to ski anything really steep and icy.
 
#27
yikes, abc, that sounds lucky, although i'm sure more than luck was involved, usually is.
 

SkiMoose

Certified Ski Diva
#28
I'm pretty new to skiing (and ski the east) and so have had way too many falls where I've needed self arrest. :embarrassed: Maybe not the best advice, but from what I've learned:
1) Head first and on your stomach (no skis) -- try to turn so that you are perpendicular to the fall line and look for a pile of softer snow to slow you down.
2) Feet first with skis -- slowly try to use your skis to slow you down by directing them slightly perpendicular to the slope, but making sure both skis are parallel.
3) Feet first on stomach without skis -- as in Kimmyt's video, keep digging the toes of your boots into the snow until you start to slow down.

And... my spectacular wipeout of last weekend (no self arrest needed, but it's one for the record books) -- I went for a pretty big (for me) jump in a terrain park after perfectly landing a medium jump. And, well, long story short, I miss judged the landing. I had my skis perfectly lined up for the hill at the bottom, but ended up about 2" too short... ended up skewering the flats with both skis and vaulted myself face first down the mountain :doh:. Landed evenly down my whole front... no bruises!! According to DH, both skis were at the top of the hill, lined up perfectly as if I were about to step into them. Maybe terrain parks just aren't for me...
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#29
I'm pretty new to skiing (and ski the east) and so have had way too many falls where I've needed self arrest. :embarrassed: Maybe not the best advice, but from what I've learned:
1) Head first and on your stomach (no skis) -- try to turn so that you are perpendicular to the fall line and look for a pile of softer snow to slow you down.
2) Feet first with skis -- slowly try to use your skis to slow you down by directing them slightly perpendicular to the slope, but making sure both skis are parallel.
3) Feet first on stomach without skis -- as in Kimmyt's video, keep digging the toes of your boots into the snow until you start to slow down.
A few more thoughts. On your first point, don't wait too long looking for that soft pile...it may not be there.

One of the biggest issues with self arresting, is waiting too long to start trying to stop one self. We accelerate so fast, that unless we start self arresting immediately, little can be done once speeds are too high for decent traction.

Point two is so spot on. I agree with the gradual/slow pressure increase of digging in the skis once we rapidly set them down (lightly).

For point three, I want to add trying to do a push up while trying to dig in the toes. This increases the pressure on the toes, where as just laying on our bellies offers much less opportunity to create pressure against the snow with our toes. You can even push the butt out and away from the hill as this will further increases chances of slowing down.

Please don't fully give up on the terrain parks. I mostly go in on soft snow days and very very gradually increase what I attempt in them. Sometimes a lesson can help, or simply reading up on techniques and chatting with the groms so they can show you how to do a particular jump. What I mean by that is that when going after larger (new) jumps, in addition to at first not actually hitting it, but skidding up to it and stopping, I like to follow someone in who knows the necessary speed and matches my weight. I will follow at least fifteen feet behind, with their knowledge of course and stay totally to the other side of where they are jumping. This is obviously a trust based approach, but one we sometimes use in our lessons so that our students understand how much speed is needed (or in case of overjumping - not needed).

Let's cross our fingers for lots of progress on the hill with no slide for life moments!
 

SkiMoose

Certified Ski Diva
#30
Thanks for the great advice snoWYmonkey. I try that the next time I'm at the terrIain park. And after all, there's always the half pipe to have fun on!
 

Kym

Certified Ski Diva
#31
I haven't really considered not using my pole straps before... but it totally makes sense in the scenarios you have outlined about and to prevent injury. I have fallen a few times, but fortunately most of them have been controlled bailouts... with 2 or 3 exceptions! In the controlled bailouts, I appreciated the poles as I felt they stopped me instinctively putting my hand out to catch my fall - which protected my wrists.

In the um... less controlled falls, the straps were annoying as the poles were pinned underneath me and I couldn't move my arms easily to move quickly to get out of the way of speeding snowboarders (who were tearing right behind me!). So I can see that it could be good to not have the straps. I am so clumsy sometimes though, that I would probably drop them and have to hike back to get them all the time...
 

vetski

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#32
I have had a few students also surprised by how impossible it was for them to stop in the midst of a large but very steep mogul run. Moguls will not stop a slide/tumble if the terrain is sufficiently steep.
Right, I unfortunately got to find this out a couple weeks ago. I ended up head-first, but since the fall itself was not in any way major I still had all my gear with me. I was also not afraid because I knew the pitch was going to decrease significantly a little ways downhill.

When sliding head-first, how do you try to get turned around?
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#33
When sliding head-first, how do you try to get turned around?
Absolutely! Sometimes self arresting is not possible. In my opinion striking a fixed object with my lower extremities is much better than head or chest or spine first. So at least, if you can turn yourself around that might help.

A friend broke his leg which hit a protruding rock during a long slide. Prefer not to dwell on the outcome if his head had hit tht rock.

Glad you were ok. Knowing the run and the run out can help a lot, as it did for you. I would certainly just slide if I knew the run is short and no one or no thing is in my short slide path.
 

SkiMoose

Certified Ski Diva
#34
When sliding head-first, how do you try to get turned around?
Practice! But if you'd rather learn from someone else's experience, if you have your poles, you can use them to reach to the side and slow your head and torso down while your legs continue faster. If you twist a little, eventually you can pull yourself around so your feet are going down first. Sometimes its hard to do before something else stops you, tho, hopefully it's a pile of snow...
 

litterbug

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#35
Today I failed at arresting my fall in a slightly-steep-for-me black run with moguls that would have been survivable if the bumps and the slope hadn't been mostly solid refrozen crud. :nono: Sluff at the bottoms of troughs? Hah! Things seemed to be going well when I lost my balance on a right-footed turn (this after trying to improve balance on my right side), my skis shot up and I landed on my back and slid, and slid, and slid some more. I lost one ski, tried to self-arrest with a pole but couldn't get it locked in place before hitting a bump, catching the ski, getting tossed head-down again, and losing the pole even though I had the strap on. The same thing happened with the other pole. I tried to jam my ski in the snow to get the binding to release but it wouldn't. I did manage to keep myself on the run, but every time I started to slow down I reflexively raised my head to see where I was, which reduced friction and started the slide all over again. :mad2:

There was a whole lot of profanity and yells of frustration as I went down pretty much the whole run. I kept catching glimpses of skiers coming down after me holding my gear but dammit, I just kept going on the refrozen ice until the slope was gentle enough that I could stop. I was grateful I didn't have to hike up to the top of the run to retrieve everything, even if my saviours were more than a little amused once they found out I was OK. Despite getting thrown around like a rag doll, little damage was done; I banged an already bruised knee, which hurt like hell, and twisted my right leg, which aggravated an already sore hip rotator, and probably have some bruises on my body that I haven't noticed yet. I consider myself lucky that nothing worse happened.

Oops, hit 'post' too soon.

Anyway, here's what I've learned:

1. Fight the urge to get my head uphill and follow SnowyMonkey's advice to get sideways. If I had I might have been able to see the bumps coming and used them to slow down instead of making me speed up.

2. Check my DIN regularly. The same shop that put the bizarre tune on my skis also set it to 8, but I had been skiing fairly easy terrain and falling so little that I didn't really think about it, even though the techniques I learned about last week made my skiing temporarily more unstable. If it were a bit lower the second ski would have released and I might have had more control over my slide.

I'll probably think of something else, but that's enough for one day!!
 

SkiNana

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#37
Geeez, litterbug! What are you trying to do? That was a scary story: glad you're all right!
 

Janis Williams

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#39
Had fall and arrest lessons before skiing this

Grand Couloir.png
(Bottom of this you need to ski around corner or fall over rock ledge into valley)
and in preparation to ski la Grave also... weather did not cooperate...

First was to practise making a forward roll and landing back on skis... better to be able to make recovery to feet than to need to self arrest...

I can do the roll but it did take a while to get the hang of it... instructor pushing me off edges of slopes did draw attention... then they realised I was not mad at him! I'd say I'd need to work at this again... I did bail and refuse to throw myself down part way down that slope just to see how I went... even though I'm told steeper is easier!

In self arrest get off back and head up oriented then press up and/or dig pole in as decribed above...

I've managed the pole on a gentler slope on fairly slick refreeze... struggled a little with the push up... need to work at it a bit more... I seem to do ok at flipping over and spinning...(all the falling practice I guess LOL)
 

Betty Boop

Diva in Training
#40
I'm not a very good skier, and I'm not good at reading trail maps, so I have to citizen arrest myself quite often. I tried using my pole once, but it didn't slow me down very much. What it did was spin my feet below me, my skis kind of dug into the snow, and I somehow popped back up on my feet. Now if my skis are still on I just swing my feet around below me and get back up. Lots of practice is getting me pretty good at it.
 

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