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Side Slipping, a skill for all ability levels

marzNC

Angel Diva
#1
What do you think when you hear "side slipping"? There is probably a different reaction from beginners, intermediates, advanced, or expert skiers. I used to think of side slipping only as a valuable survival skill. It's a skill that I learned long ago as a beginner on straight skis as a teen. I learned where the easiest slope where I spent most of the time learning would be considered at least a blue these days. There wasn't a bunny slope with barely enough pitch to get moving. In recent years, I've come to understand more about why side slipping is a fundamental drill as part of advanced multi-day programs taught by very experienced PSIA Level 3 instructors (Massanutten, Taos).

But how do people learn to side slip? I've long since forgotten exactly how I was taught. I remember well the terrain where my daughter was taught to side slip as an intermediate (ages 6-7) in full-day ski school. For those who know Massanutten (northern VA), it was on the side of the top of Upper Showtime. It's easier to learn and practice side slipping with a bit more pitch. But once you know how to side slip, it can be done anywhere and in any type of snow.

I'm not an instructor. I'm a visual learner. I've found that learning a skill by reading is difficult. But reading about a drill or skill after I know how to do it can be helpful. But can also be confusing so it helps to not worry too much if a comment doesn't quite make sense.

Here are a few descriptions that pop out when I search on "ski side slipping steep." Note that none of them from Page 1 of the search results were from N. America.

http://ultraskier.com/alpine/sideslipping-away-26

http://highaltitude2u.com/how-side-slip-skiing-maneuver-ezp-31.html

http://skiinstruction.blogspot.com/p/pivoting.html

PSIA-C (Central U.S.) uses a PSIA-RM (Rocky Mountain) video about side slipping.
http://www.psia-c.org/sideslip-fall-line/

 

racetiger

Certified Ski Diva
#2
I agree super important skill. I learned how by just trying it alongside people watching them as I struggled. I Mostly used it helping set race courses. I have it pretty decent now. One side I do better than the other due to alignment issues
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
Beginners, day one skiers, can learn to side-slip if several factors line up right. The lesson needs to be longer than 1.5 hours. The spot they learn this on should not be encountered before they learn to turn left and right and stop. And the rental boots need to fit.

In my experience teaching, the boots are always too big.

--If they are too wide and too tall, that means the feet slide around badly when a new skier tried to hold the feet stable to get the skis to stay parallel. The feet slide to the downhill side of the boot, leaving some space inside the boot on the uphill side. This allows the shovel to wiggle left-right as they try so so hard to keep the tips both pointing the same direction.

--In a boot that's too wide and too tall, the skier has no way of fine-tuning their edge angles. They may try to ankle-tip inside the boot if I'm good at explaining this, but nothing happens as there is air above their feet. So they have to roll their knees to increase and lower the edge angle. But that's a gross motor action, no good for fine-tuning. So they get only jerky control over the grip of their skis. Also, for the knee-rolling to work, the cuffs need to be very snug. This is not always the case.

So let's say I'm teaching a 1.5 hour group lesson of newbies, and we must get down a piece of a trail that's a little steeper and scarier than what we've done so far (there's no other option; this short "steep" is mandatory). I take them down side-stepping, then have them try to side-slip the rest of the way. Most give up and side-step, and I allow that because we have more important things to address. Sometimes someone will get it and sideslip down without taking off towards the trees. But as soon as one of them does that, bingo everyone is afraid. Mission NOT accomplished.
 

SkiBam

Angel Diva
#5
I've said it before and I'll say it again: side slipping is an essential skill to have. I've heard it referred to as "losing altitude gracefully". Not only is it invaluable in sticky situations where you just want to lose some altitude, but it can improve your balance and edging skills. And when you can side slip well, move on to falling leaf - you'll be doing yourself a big favour.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
#6
I've said it before and I'll say it again: side slipping is an essential skill to have. I've heard it referred to as "losing altitude gracefully". Not only is it invaluable in sticky situations where you just want to lose some altitude, but it can improve your balance and edging skills. And when you can side slip well, move on to falling leaf - you'll be doing yourself a big favour.
And after Falling Leaf comes pivot slips. :smile:

The first time I heard the term Falling Leaf was during the special Diva clinic in north Tahoe in 2010. When I saw the demonstration, I realized I knew how to do it. Definitely a useful survival skill when there are big bumps or trees or other obstacles in the way on steeper terrain. I think knowing how to get around that way may come into play more often on the classic trails in the northeast. They are a lot narrower than most trails out west. Meaning named trails that have been cleared that are groomed or ungroomed, not glades or trees or steep chutes.

For other related comments from a few years ago:
http://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/side-slipping-hockey-stops.19152/

It's interesting the PSIA-RM description for side slipping that goes with the video in Post #1 is for green/blue runs, not steeps. Very different from most videos about side slipping that seem directed at skiers interested in handling advanced terrain where making any turn is tricky.

Sideslip in the Fall Line
Novice Zone/Level 1 Functional Versatility

Activity Description

On groomed blue or steep pitches on green terrain, the skis sideslip down the fall line for a predetermined distance; the edge angles may be slowly increased until the skis gradually come to a stop. The skier then turns the skis around (any way the skier wants to) and sideslips while facing the opposite direction.
 

KathrynC

Certified Ski Diva
#8
Definitely an essential skill. In the wet sticky snow we have here you need to be moving before you can initiate a turn - when it is steep or narrow (or both), side slipping can give you that little bit of movement you need to get going without building up more speed than you want or traversing if you don't have space.

I learnt to snowboard before I learnt to ski - side slipping and falling leaf are the first skills you learn on a board so it was obvious to me when I started skiing - I was surprised how many skiers were unfamiliar with the concept.
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
Sideslipping is a great way to learn/practice edging and unedging skills. Edge release or flattening the ski is an important skill and is critical to start a new turn.

Learning to sideslip in a corridor also requires being centered fore/aft and is a great exercise to do alone as it is easy to tell if you are doing it.
 

GeoGirl

Diva in Training
#10
I learned to side slip by accident, after I found myself on a waaay too steep section on my first day skiing. I had no clue what to do to avoid sliding down in on my butt so I borrowed the "hockey stop" from my arsenal of ice skating moves. It worked - I got down to the bottom without wiping out again! I'd definitely vouch for it being an important skill.
 
#11
Here's another way to think of sideslipping. The comment towards the end is that sideslipping is related to skidding at the end of a turn. Some people who are learning to ski get the idea that carving is the "best" way to turn. Can be especially true for young skiers who have watched a lot of ski racing and aspire to going as fast as possible. But in fact there is a range from full skidding (flat skis) to carving (fully on edge) and choosing what works better can depend on snow conditions and pitch.

 
#12
I learnt to snowboard before I learnt to ski - side slipping and falling leaf are the first skills you learn on a board so it was obvious to me when I started skiing - I was surprised how many skiers were unfamiliar with the concept.
Depends quite a bit on how someone gets started on skis. Many adults in the U.S. who pick up skiing as adults don't take a lesson, or perhaps only one beginner lesson. If they are skiing relatively small ski areas and stick to groomers, they can get away with a lot. Especially if they expect to fall often. However, depends a bit on the region and the percentage of terrain that is manmade snow.

I've seen what friends who are learning at the same time as their children are doing in beginner or intermediate lessons. Usually, the kids get introduced to side slipping by an instructor sooner than the adults. At the same time, when I started taking lessons as an advanced skier, side slipping was one of the first drills I did with an instructor most of the time (different instructors in different places).
 
#13
I learned to side slip by accident, after I found myself on a waaay too steep section on my first day skiing. I had no clue what to do to avoid sliding down in on my butt so I borrowed the "hockey stop" from my arsenal of ice skating moves. It worked - I got down to the bottom without wiping out again! I'd definitely vouch for it being an important skill.
Go, hockey skaters! We have some awesome skills that transfer into skiing.

Welcome, @GeoGirl ! Glad to have you!
 

KathrynC

Certified Ski Diva
#14
Depends quite a bit on how someone gets started on skis. Many adults in the U.S. who pick up skiing as adults don't take a lesson, or perhaps only one beginner lesson. If they are skiing relatively small ski areas and stick to groomers, they can get away with a lot. Especially if they expect to fall often. However, depends a bit on the region and the percentage of terrain that is manmade snow.
It is more common for people ovcr here to get lessons because unless you are lucky enough to live in Scotland most people don't get to ski regularly so use a lesson or two to kick start a trip. Even so, it seems that it isn't taught to adults until quite late. I had some beginner lessons but bypassed intermediate lessons so I assumed I had just missed the bit where it was taught because it is such a fundamental skill to snowboarding that I couldn't imagine it not being taught. But I was at an off-piste clinic this weekend where we covered it because it was necessary for a safe entry to a line we were skiing (unless you are super confident with jump-turns in a narrow space) and about half the group hadn't done it before which was a big surprise to me.
 
#16
It is more common for people ovcr here to get lessons because unless you are lucky enough to live in Scotland most people don't get to ski regularly so use a lesson or two to kick start a trip. Even so, it seems that it isn't taught to adults until quite late. I had some beginner lessons but bypassed intermediate lessons so I assumed I had just missed the bit where it was taught because it is such a fundamental skill to snowboarding that I couldn't imagine it not being taught. But I was at an off-piste clinic this weekend where we covered it because it was necessary for a safe entry to a line we were skiing (unless you are super confident with jump-turns in a narrow space) and about half the group hadn't done it before which was a big surprise to me.
Interesting. Were most of the skiers in the clinic able to figure out how to side slip fairly quickly?

Even for people who are shown how to side slip in an intermediate lesson, I doubt it occurs to them how useful it can be to practice the skill regularly. Especially if they spend most of their time on trails that they are comfortable skiing.

During the first private lesson I had out west (at Bridger), the instructor demonstrated how to use the side of the hill above a cat track to practice side slipping.

I learned a new way to practice side slipping from two instructors this season. It's called "chasing your shadow." Too hard to explain in writing. The first instructor was teaching a multi-week group program for advanced skiers at my little home mountain. The second was teaching a Ladies Taos Ski Week for advanced skiers. She explained what to look for in terms of the shadow of hands, not just the body. Good for feeling upper and lower body separation . . . when the sun is in just the right position on an appropriate groomer.
 

ilovepugs

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#17
Thanks for posting about this @marzNC and provoking such an interesting discussion. I have not consciously learned how to side slip on skis ... I’m going to have to watch some more videos and give it a try the next time I get on the hill! Maybe @newboots can show me when I make it down to Killington.
 

KathrynC

Certified Ski Diva
#18
Interesting. Were most of the skiers in the clinic able to figure out how to side slip fairly quickly?
Yes, we initially tried it on an ungroomed but fairly firm red run (red would be roughly equivalent to a hard blue or an easy black diamond) and everyone apart from one person got it quickly. I guess at that level you would expect people to have reasonable edge control anyway. The other person was struggling to side slip without traversing but got there eventually. Everyone made it safely through the narrow entry to the off-piste line.
 

tinymoose

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
Side-slipping is something that was taught to me in my very first adult ski lesson. We always start with side-slipping and falling leaf, working on our edging and fore-aft balance, first week of race clinic.

On a somewhat related note, I LOVE falling leaf. LOVE. I'm sure I still do it all kinds of slightly off/wrong, but there is something so fun about it to me compared to side-slipping.
 

volklgirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#20
I always taught a basic side slip in the first or second lesson on the bunny hill, right after wedge turns. The side slip teaches edge engagement and release, and once learned, makes it much easier to do a smooth transition/edge change when learning basic christies, parallel turns, and carves.
 

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