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Side Slipping, a skill for all ability levels

KathrynC

Certified Ski Diva
#21
I should add to my comments above - there is a possible confounding factor over here, which is that many people take lessons on mainland Europe and consequently lessons are often taught by people whose first language isn't English. One of the side effects of this is that I often find that I know a technique but I don't necessarily know what it is called. I have had to look up "pivot slips" and "stem christies" amongst other things in the couple of weeks I have been lurking on here - in both cases it was clear from a couple of videos that I knew the technique but not the name. It is of course possible that this is also true of the people I have come across here who don't know what side-slipping is.
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#22
Technical jargon is great for discussing issues among instructors or technical geeks. It's not necessary for all people to understand. Even still it differ among professional organizations. PSIA states rotary, where CSIA calls is counter rotation. Same thing.
 

KathrynC

Certified Ski Diva
#23
Technical jargon is great for discussing issues among instructors or technical geeks. It's not necessary for all people to understand. Even still it differ among professional organizations. PSIA states rotary, where CSIA calls is counter rotation. Same thing.
Oh yes, for sure you don't need to know a name to understand a concept. I just meant that when I said in a previous post that I was surprised by how few relatively advanced skiers in the UK seem to have heard of side slipping I may be underestimating as those who had lessons in Europe may well have covered the technique but never heard the name.
 
#24
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.
Oh yes, for sure you don't need to know a name to understand a concept. I just meant that when I said in a previous post that I was surprised by how few relatively advanced skiers in the UK seem to have heard of side slipping I may be underestimating as those who had lessons in Europe may well have covered the technique but never heard the name.
Even for people who have been taught to side slip at one time or another, they haven't necessarily done it that much. I would guess that someone who has become an intermediate only skiing green/blue groomers doesn't think that practicing side slipping is a worthwhile use of time on snow. It certainly never occurred to me to practice side slipping while thinking about body and hand position since I knew how to do it when needed as a way to avoid making turns on challenging terrain.
 
#25
I see side slipping on ski slopes is analogous to treading water in swimming pool/open water. If you don't know how to tread water, you can drown. Yes, side slipping is an essential skills and one must learn how to do it both sides, left and right.

For me, I can side slip on my right leg, but I "side step" on my left. I still have trouble on the left, always afraid of falling if I try.....therefore I have been reluctant to practice on left.
 
#26
@marzNC, I thought of this thread today when I was on the hill! With the soft snow, I found myself in a bumped up area that I was not entirely comfortable turning in and got some unplanned practice time in. Then I said to my husband, "You know that ski forum I've been reading? They talked about side slipping recently and I just practiced!" It was good to have the skiing vocabulary to get myself out of a sticky situation.
 
#28
I want to reiterate what @SkiBam @volklgirl and @Skier31 have alluded to and make sure it doesn't get lost in the discussion.

Yes - sideslipping is a great basic "safety" skill to have in your back pocket. Check.

BUT - understanding how to flatten (unedge) or "feather" a ski - the skill you work on when you are sideslipping or doing falling leafs - is something you employ in EVERY parallel turn that isn't a pure carve. The flatter the ski, the smearier the turn, and also, the easier it is to rotate the ski with our legs and get it more quickly across the fall line - both critical speed control mechanisms.

So HOW exactly do we get the skis to slip sideways down a slope? I'm surprised how so many of the videos don't really or don't fully describe how to actually make it happen.

1) You must be standing on parallel skis with your weight fully committed to the downhill ski. Do NOT lean up the hill as the mechanism to start sliding. If your slip becomes a "one-two" sidestep, you are not committed enough to standing on that downhill leg.

2) To start the slide, pick what works for you. Think of either:
- pushing the pinky toe side of your downhill foot down
- relaxing your downhill ankle and letting it collapse against the outside of the boot (I'm an ankle feeler so this is what works for me)
- tipping your downhill knee out to the downhill side.

3) Once you start sliding, be sure to keep the uphill ski slightly tipped to its pinky toe side or it will catch in the snow.

4) IMHO, really good sideslipping is done from a countered position - that is, with our upper bodies facing down the hill. But lots of instructors teach sideslipping with the skier square on the skis - facing their ski tips. Try it both ways. I like the fact that facing our upper body down the hill makes it easier to get and keep our weight over the downhill ski. Facing the ski tips tends to allow more weight onto that uphill ski.

Practice to both sides. Then - the real reward! Bring that ski flattening feeling into your turns!!! So for me - if I want to smear a turn, I relax the ankle of the leg I'm standing on - the outside ski of the turn - so I can flatten and feather the edge. It makes turning and speed control feel effortless.

:smile:
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#29
.... The flatter the ski, the smearier the turn, and also, the easier it is to rotate the ski with our legs and get it more quickly across the fall line - both critical speed control mechanisms....
:smile:
@Skisailor, that's a great description of sideslipping.

But are you sure about the part in red? Surely you are not promoting rotating the skis quickly to get them to point past the fall line ... are you? That's a perfect description of one of the major causes of the terminal intermediate plateau -- quickly turning the skis at the top of the turn while they are flat, using muscular power. Often this movement is a reaction to fear of letting the skis point downhill. This quick rotation is usually followed by a braking/bracing action after the fall line. You aren't encouraging cutting off the top of the turn, are you?

I must be reading that wrong....
 
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#30
@Skisailor, that's a great description of sideslipping.

But are you sure about the part in red? Surely you are not promoting rotating the skis quickly to get them to point past the fall line ... are you? That's a perfect description of one of the major causes of the terminal intermediate plateau -- quickly turning the skis at the top of the turn while they are flat, using muscular power. Often this movement is a reaction to fear of letting the skis point downhill. This quick rotation is usually followed by a braking/bracing action after the fall line. You aren't encouraging cutting off the top of the turn, are you?

I must be reading that wrong....
I'm certainly not talking about terminal intermediate z turns. But skiing, IMHO is about having the ability to execute all kinds of different turns to deal with varied terrain - from round edgy carved turns to flat ski rapid rotation pivot slippy turns and everything in between.

The turn radius we desire and the type of terrain will dictate the amount and rate of rotation necessary. We certainly don't want to let a ski's designed sidecut limit our turn radius. Because no matter how high an edge angle or degree of flex we get at speed, there is still a limit to the carved arc it will produce. For tighter turns, especially at slower speeds, we need to add leg rotation. And to add rotation we need a flatter ski. And to learn how to flatten a ski at will, sideslipping is an awesome skill to practice.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#31
I'm certainly not talking about terminal intermediate z turns. But skiing, IMHO is about having the ability to execute all kinds of different turns to deal with varied terrain - from round edgy carved turns to flat ski rapid rotation pivot slippy turns and everything in between.

The turn radius we desire and the type of terrain will dictate the amount and rate of rotation necessary. We certainly don't want to let a ski's designed sidecut limit our turn radius. Because no matter how high an edge angle or degree of flex we get at speed, there is still a limit to the carved arc it will produce. For tighter turns, especially at slower speeds, we need to add leg rotation. And to add rotation we need a flatter ski. And to learn how to flatten a ski at will, sideslipping is an awesome skill to practice.
This.

Sideslipping has helped me tremendously in bumps. I'm not a great bump skier, but until I starting using different sorts of turns -- especially pivoting, flattening the ski, and and smearing/slipping the turn (don't know the technical term for this) -- I was a heck of a lot worse. For the bumps, this is a must have skill. I practice it a lot.
 
#32
This.

Sideslipping has helped me tremendously in bumps. I'm not a great bump skier, but until I starting using different sorts of turns -- especially pivoting, flattening the ski, and and smearing/slipping the turn (don't know the technical term for this) -- I was a heck of a lot worse. For the bumps, this is a must have skill. I practice it a lot.
Yes! Using a flatter ski that we can slip, smear and pivot is perfect for bump skiing! One of the many kinds of turns I have learned from Ursula for bumps, uses a flat ski pivot at the start of the turn until the skis are pointed directly downhill, followed by an edgier, steered finish. It's really fun and can make even gnarly bumps more manageable. That sideslipping edge/unedge practice is what allows us to make a turn like this, which is partly flat and partly edged all within one turn!

But the big takeaway is that there isn't one "perfect turn" that we learn and use everywhere in every situation. Having an array of movement pattern possibilities is what allow us to flow through more difficult terrain.
 
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ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
#33
Yes! Using a flatter ski that we can slip, smear and pivot is perfect for bump skiing! One of the many kinds of turns I have learned from Ursula for bumps, uses a flat ski pivot at the start of the turn until the skis are pointed directly downhill, followed by an edgier, steered finish. It's really fun and can make even gnarly bumps more manageable. That sideslipping edge/unedge practice is what allows us to make a turn like this.

But the big takeaway is that there isn't one "perfect turn" that we learn and use everywhere in every situation. Having a array of movement pattern possibilities is what allow us to flow through more difficult terrain.
And who did I learn this from? @Ursula !
 
#34
This.

Sideslipping has helped me tremendously in bumps. I'm not a great bump skier, but until I starting using different sorts of turns -- especially pivoting, flattening the ski, and and smearing/slipping the turn (don't know the technical term for this) -- I was a heck of a lot worse. For the bumps, this is a must have skill. I practice it a lot.
So true!! My bump riding abilities are still progressing, but I do love surfing soft bumps on my snowboard and slipping and smearing and doing pivot turns and jumping around. (I’ve been known to break out in a warbly rendition of “Surfing USA” when the bump riding is really good.) It helps when getting up from a fall on a snowboard is easy.

My side slipping practice on Sunday happened near the start of the ski day... by the end of the day I started to work up the guts to ski actual lines on slightly bumped up terrain - there was no way down otherwise, so it was either that or painfully and slowly picking my way down!!
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#35
@Skisailor, that's a great description of sideslipping.

But are you sure about the part in red? Surely you are not promoting rotating the skis quickly to get them to point past the fall line ... are you? That's a perfect description of one of the major causes of the terminal intermediate plateau -- quickly turning the skis at the top of the turn while they are flat, using muscular power. Often this movement is a reaction to fear of letting the skis point downhill. This quick rotation is usually followed by a braking/bracing action after the fall line. You aren't encouraging cutting off the top of the turn, are you?

I must be reading that wrong....
Many terminal intermediates lack the ability to flatten their skis. When the downhill ski remains on some edge, the skier must do something else to change direction. This usually is upper body rotation. Lack of complete edge release of the downhill ski before turning the uphill ski, results in a stem entry.

If you release the edges, you have options as to what kind of turn to make.

Edge release is a skill that most recreational skiers could improve.
 
#37
Many terminal intermediates lack the ability to flatten their skis. When the downhill ski remains on some edge, the skier must do something else to change direction. This usually is upper body rotation. Lack of complete edge release of the downhill ski before turning the uphill ski, results in a stem entry.

If you release the edges, you have options as to what kind of turn to make.

Edge release is a skill that most recreational skiers could improve.
I agree. And it's another one of the reasons I advocate sideslipping from a countered position - upper body facing downhill. It allows skiers to get more comfortable with the feeling of looking into the abyss! :becky: (and that this can happen while they move slowly in a controlled fashion down the hill).
 
#38
BUT - understanding how to flatten (unedge) or "feather" a ski - the skill you work on when you are sideslipping or doing falling leafs - is something you employ in EVERY parallel turn that isn't a pure carve. The flatter the ski, the smearier the turn, and also, the easier it is to rotate the ski with our legs and get it more quickly across the fall line - both critical speed control mechanisms.
Sideslipping has helped me tremendously in bumps. I'm not a great bump skier, but until I starting using different sorts of turns -- especially pivoting, flattening the ski, and and smearing/slipping the turn (don't know the technical term for this) -- I was a heck of a lot worse. For the bumps, this is a must have skill. I practice it a lot.
Many terminal intermediates lack the ability to flatten their skis. When the downhill ski remains on some edge, the skier must do something else to change direction. This usually is upper body rotation. Lack of complete edge release of the downhill ski before turning the uphill ski, results in a stem entry.
As I said in Post #1, how someone reacts to the idea of side slipping as a fundamental skill depends on whether they are a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or an expert skier. Depending on the region and the type of terrain a skier skis the most, they may have more or less experience side slipping on a regular basis. If they haven't had lessons lately (or ever as an adult), the idea of practicing side slipping may not sound like a worthwhile use of time on snow. Even if they know how to side slip, it's unlikely that they are as good on one side as on the other. The only way to deal with that reality is to practice deliberately. Just as true for advanced skiers as intermediates. Harder for me to know what a beginner needs to focus on first because I'm not an instructor.

For those reading who are new to Diva threads, note that liquidfeet, SkiBam, Skier31, volklgirl, Jilly, and SkiSailor are instructors who ski in different regions.

If you release the edges, you have options as to what kind of turn to make.

Edge release is a skill that most recreational skiers could improve.
:thumbsup:

I was first exposed to the idea of flat skis for basic parallel turns at Massanutten. During one lesson, Walter (PSIA Level 3, instructor trainer) took me into the woods between MakAttack and Upper Showtime to demonstrate something about side slipping on a very short (20 ft) relatively steep slope. We didn't have time to go over to Lift 6. I got the point that knowing how to side slip well was important, even though I wasn't really that sure of all the reasons.

In the multi-week lesson program at Massanutten for advanced skiers, Walter talked about the continuum from pivoting completely flat skis to turn to high-edge carving. We spent far more time practicing basic parallel turns (mostly flat skis) than carving arcs.

The way skiing is taught at Taos, there is far more emphasis on turning with flat skis than there is on carving. The ultimate goal is to ski any bump run like it's a groomer. My impression is that this season when no black terrain was open, it was the advanced/expert groups that practiced side slipping more than the intermediate groups. The instructor for my Level 9/10 (out of 10) group spent far more time talking about turning with flat skis than carving. You don't carve in bumps.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#39
Well, I certainly triggered a lot of responses with that post. I wonder if there's a misunderstanding.

I am not advocating carving everything. I teach pivot slips, and pivot slipping one's way down the bumps is a great idea. Learning to pivot slip down a corridor the width of the ski length, straight down the fall line, is a great thing to do. Pivot slips, the real ones, involve using a ton of fine-tuning skills, and those skills come in handy all over the mountain. I affirm the virtues of pivot-slips, and of releasing by at first flattening the new inside ski. Teaching bump skiing by starting with pivot slips is a great way to approach bump skiing. A quick pivot is fine in the bumps. If people think I'm against these things, that's definitely my fault for not being more clear.

Teaching "release" with a side-slip is one way to teach releasing, but it's not the only way. Side-slips do not directly lead to pivot slips down the fall line in a narrow corridor all by themselves, either, but they usually do lead somewhat automatically to manually-rotated schmeeeered turns. Those schmeeered turns are fine, as long as their tops are not rushed for fear of gaining too much speed when the skis start to point down the hill.

But cutting off the top of the turn "QUICKLY" with a manual rotation of the skis until they rotate beyond the fall line, when making groomer turns, in order to avoid unwanted speed, is not a good thing to teach. It's the "quickly" part that encourages a pivot & brace turn strategy. Surely this group agrees with this.

Or maybe not?
I'm curious. Maybe there was no misunderstanding at all.

Does this group embrace and affirm pivoting flattened skis fast at the top of the turn --- all the way past the fall line (aka cutting off the top of the turn) --- in order to avoid unwanted speed when making regular groomer turns?
 
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#40
I certainly agree that turns can be rushed. And when they are, you are right. it's usually a result of the skier not wanting to spend even a moment with skis pointed down the hill because they are afraid they will pick up too much speed. I teach the concept that we have long things on our feet. And we've got to turn them from side to side, but we cannot instantly get them from pointing toward the trees on the right to pointing toward the trees on the left. So every ski turn has two parts. We must first go downhill (even if only for an instant) before we are allowed to think about the 2nd half and finish the turn. Rushed turns have causes and consequences that I don't want to get into here, but I do think they can encourage movement patterns that we don't want to ingrain in our skiing. So I think we agree there.

But for me, that's not quite the same thing as implying it might be somehow wrong to flatten and pivot my skis on a groomer (or even do a series of pivots) for various speed control reasons, or even for fun! On purpose - if that is my intention. Though in my normal skiing on a groomer, I am probably skiing round shapes since they are more efficient. I think we are probably in agreement on this as well.
 

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