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So I'm afraid of hills...

Joytou

Diva in Training
...which doesn't really fit with skiing, does it?

I really want to be able to ski, I've taken half a dozen lessons but I still can't even ski over the steepest parts of the bunny slopes at Loveland Valley. I tried pushing myself further today, and got myself going pretty fast, so I decided I'd try just pointing myself down one of the steeper slopes since I'd been doing pretty well using my snowplow turns on the moderately steep slopes. I ended up stuck parallel to the hill, completely unable to even make myself turn a little to get the speed up to start making turns again. I had to sideslip down to a less steep part to get going again. I don't think the speed itself is the problem - on less steep sections I can zip around fairly quickly.

I don't know exactly where this fear is coming from. I don't know if it's because I'm plus size and so I'm worried gravity will drag me down the mountain faster than other people, or if it's because I'm late 30s and am too old to try to learn this, or if I don't trust my muscles to do what they're supposed to, or if I just need to practice more (which is what I was told after my last two lessons). I see other people zipping down the steeper parts of the ski school and it's gone from being encouraging that it can be done to a serious self-esteem issue - if that four-year-old can do it, why can't I? :help:
I totally get it! Im looking for someone like myself that we can buddy up and encourage one another. "Beginners club" would be a great way to meet ppl that deal with our ski limitations.
 
I totally get it! Im looking for someone like myself that we can buddy up and encourage one another. "Beginners club" would be a great way to meet ppl that deal with our ski limitations.
Welcome! Have you noticed the Getting To Know You section? That's where Divas can start a self-introduction thread. If you put your region or favorite mountain in the thread title, it's a bit easier for others to know they are nearby. TheSkiDiva has developed a pretty large membership that is scattered all over N. America, Europe, and even Australia.

How did you get started on skis? I learned as a teen for a couple years, but didn't really start skiing regularly until after age 50 when it was clear my daughter really liked skiing too.
 

Joytou

Diva in Training
Welcome! Have you noticed the Getting To Know You section? That's where Divas can start a self-introduction thread. If you put your region or favorite mountain in the thread title, it's a bit easier for others to know they are nearby. TheSkiDiva has developed a pretty large membership that is scattered all over N. America, Europe, and even Australia.

How did you get started on skis? I learned as a teen for a couple years, but didn't really start skiing regularly until after age 50 when it was clear my daughter really liked skiing too.
Where do i find getting to know section?

I was first on skies around 30. Went maybe 3 times until this year.
 

just jane

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Maybe this is a good thread for my question... so I’ve had a great season. I feel like my skiing has progressed a bit, and I’m venturing into harder terrain, but - when I get into steeps or trees, fear gets the better of me and my technique gets terrible. Example - I ventured into the Imperial Bowl at Breck this weekend. Riding the chairlift, of course, I thought, oh that doesn’t look too bad! And then we got to the top and I looked down and my stomach got a little flip-floppy. I also knew I’d skied comparable stuff before and I could probably get down it. The DH filmed me so I could watch later and well, I did get down without falling. But I’m so far in the back seat that I look like I’m sitting in a rocking chair and my turns - wedgy as all get-out. And I know it’s because I’m so scared of actually turning down the hill and losing control. And in trees I revert to a snowplow.

So - I think my question is, how do you control speed in the steeps? Like, I want to turn, STOP. Turn, STOP. And I don’t know how to do that well. Or is it impossible? I know one thing I need to work on - and I have been this season - is looking further ahead when I’m skiing and picking out my line further down the slope because I tend to look right in front of me and not anticipate.

So is the answer to control my speed so I can creep down the steeps, or get comfortable going faster on them (I love going fast on flatter and groomed terrain, by the way, where I feel like I can fly down the hill but still be in control.) If it’s controlling my speed, how do I do that without traversing the whole bowl on every turn?
 
It’s really hard, isn’t it? It goes against everything our central nervous systems are demanding we do.

I will leave it to the more experienced and the instructors to explain it better, but I have slowly learned to keep my weight forward, my arms in front, my eye further down the hill, and my shins mostly on the tongues of my boots. You may be doing this on the green trails where you are enjoying the speed, because it’s how you stay in control. Farther back and your weight is not helping at all, and it feels like (and it is) your legs are speeding out from under you.

It’s terrifying to get forward on a steep slope. Every instinct we have is to back away. But we can control the skis and finish those turns a little uphill and actually slow down. (Better skiers have other ways of slowing down, I think, too.)

Maybe try practicing that stance on an easier slope? When I had my Day of Enlightenment at Suicide Six, one thing the instructor did was have us stand facing uphill, and feel how far forward we were.

Anyway, chime in, better-than-me skiers! And do correct me where I’m wrong. I’m just an intermediate who is starting to get it!
 

just jane

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I’m pretty competent/confident on easier slopes (easier being anything groomed, including black slopes, and less steep bowls). It’s when I’m out there right at or a little past the edge of my comfort zone that I go into the back seat. Basically, when I want to go REALLY slow because I’m freaked out.

Hmmm.... maybe I need to practice going slow in easier terrain (which I almost never do because that’s no fun!)
 
I find that skiing with others is very helpful.. I prefer to ski behind. When my buddy is the better skier, it encourages me to keep my chin up and look far ahead to keep an eye on where they are going so that we end up on the same trails. On the rare occasion that I am the better skier, it encourages me to play around with different ways to control my speed.
 
So - I think my question is, how do you control speed in the steeps? Like, I want to turn, STOP. Turn, STOP. And I don’t know how to do that well. Or is it impossible? I know one thing I need to work on - and I have been this season - is looking further ahead when I’m skiing and picking out my line further down the slope because I tend to look right in front of me and not anticipate.
It's possible. But the key is to learn how to control your speed by choice of direction, not breaking. Have you had a lesson where an instructor mentioned "finishing the turn"?

I had a lesson with a friend that turned into a demonstration of the skill we lacked when it came to controlling speed by turn direction. We were both advanced skiers (or so we thought). The idea was that the instructor would make medium turns at moderate speed going down a black groomer (Collins Face at Alta) that gets progressively steeper. We found that after 2-3 turns, we would be picking up speed and have to break to re-set. Learning what needed to change in order to accomplish the tasks is something I've been working on for a few seasons, although with other fundamentals.

Upper and lower body separation is a related fundamental skill. For me, I've had to work on that more on one side than another.
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
....how do you control speed in the steeps? Like, I want to turn, STOP. Turn, STOP. ....controlling my speed, how do I do that without traversing the whole bowl on every turn?
You need to do what people upthread said.

1. Make completed turns
Complete your turns to slow yourself down and stop. Imagine your turns as C-shaped. Spend equal time spent going across the hill at the top of the turn, then going down the hill, and last, going across the hill in the new direction. That last part and the first part are where you slow down. The middle part is really scary on steeps, as you gain speed when the skis are pointing downhill. Work on feeling all three parts of the turn as they happen, and try to equalize them to get a C shape. Round turns are good.

Your body and unconscious mind needs to learn that completing your turns across the slope and even a little up the slope will slow you down no matter how fast you were going when your skis point downhill. Teach your body and unconscious mind this fact by doing completed turns on beginner terrain, then slowly work your way up to intermediate terrain. Repeat repeat repeat.

What you don't want to get used to doing is hockey stops to slow you down in the middle of a run when you are gaining speed. Gaining speed comes from not completing your turns.

Another way of saying all this is use direction for speed control, not friction.

Another thing you don't want to get used to doing is rushing through/past the top part and middle part of a turn. If you do that, especially in bowls, you'll end up throwing yourself out of balance. Learn to make "patience turns" where you allow all ten toes to point down the hill before pointing them across the hill. You may need the assuring voice of an instructor to take you through this process.

2. Turn release and initiation
If you have trouble starting a turn after completing the last one, with your skis pointing a little bit uphill, you may need to relearn how to start a turn. How do you start a turn now? In other words, what's your initiation process? Do you know how you currently release the old turn? I'm speaking instructor-speak here, but it's a good language to learn because it allows communication about what's going on.

3. Learn to make short radius turns
On real "steeps" you may want to use short radius turns, where you do C-shaped turns but keep them confined to a narrow corridor. You will probably need an instructor to help you learn to do short radius turns, if you want to do them properly. You'll need to learn to use "upper-body-lower-body-separation" to do short radius turns.

4. Get out of the backseat
If you are traversing to stop on bowls, all you need to do to shorten that traverse is point the skis uphill a little. Practice that over and over again in a long traverse. If you can't get the skis to go uphill even a little, if they are running away from you, dragging you across the hill, you are in the back seat. Close your ankles so your lower legs come up from your skis at a forward tilt, lift your hips upward, and project your hands forward enough to keep your elbows in front of your sideseams. This will hover your body over the front part of your skis and allow you to do miracles on your skis that currently you cannot do. If you move your whole body down and up, make sure that down-up movement is at a forward diagonal to the top of your skis, not straight down and up and definitely not down and up-and-back.

5. Learn on learning terrain first
Lessons are always a good idea. Be prepared to learn on low-pitch terrain where the instructor knows you will not be put into survival mode. When going slow on easy terrain, you'll be able to focus on the movements that you're learing. They will be harder to master on low pitch terrain without the help of momentum from speed, so learning there will be beneficial.

Best of luck! Is your season still going strong?
 
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just jane

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Okay, that is super helpful. Thanks!

The season is definitely winding down, but I can get a couple more days in, at least. I’ll probably be at A Basin from now until I call it quits for the season. So I’ll have a chance to work on this a bit.
 
Everything that @liquidfeet said. Plus I agree that lessons with a good instructor which focus on speed control in the steeps would be really helpful.

Two additional thoughts - these are really add-ons, or maybe a different way to explain what was said above by others. First of all - yes. You should be able to ski very steep terrain as slowly as you want, with or without stopping in between turns.

1) The backseat issue. You are right to identify this as something you need to fix. It is SO critical and more consequential in steep terrain!!! I teach a rule that says "we ski perpendicular to our skis". When students are comfortable at a certain pitch but uncomfortable when things get steeper, it's usually because they lose that "perpendicularity". As we start the turn and point the skis down the hill, they match the pitch of that hill (the tips are lower than the tails at that moment, right?). We must strive to keep our bodies at an angle that is generally perpendicular to that downward slanting ski. But fear often prevents us from doing that. The result? We are instantly in the backseat.

So how do we stay perpendicular? Well, one school of thought is that we must move our bodies down the hill BEFORE the skis are directly pointing that way. If we aren't proactive at the beginning of the turn, so to speak, we will never be able to keep up with our skis and stay over our feet, and will spend the rest of the turn trying to catch up to our skis. It's a very scary, out of control feeling!

Instructors have LOTS of ways of describing these proactive movements that we need to make (move your body "foreagonally" down the hill; pull your feet back, etc.). A lesson will make it much clearer. But it becomes more and more important the steeper the terrain gets, that you own this kind of a move. So hopefully you now understand the concept behind it and it will make more sense to you when you take a lesson to try out some specific suggested movement patterns. It IS a leap of faith - a mind game - and is one of the many counter intuitive things about skiing. Putting your nose down the hill INTO the danger at the beginning of turns gives you much more control and slows you down. When we hang back and "hug the mountain" out of fear, we lose control and speed up - compounding the very problem we are trying to solve. I love this mantra: "I am moving myself down this hill and bringing my skis along with me."

2) Edges and Turn Shape: Turn shape IS a very important method of speed control, but even as we make "C" shaped turns, we can do so on a ski that is more edged or less edged. The edgier we are, the faster we will go. It's possible to keep an overall "C" shaped turn on a ski that has a lower edge angle where the tail of the ski is displacing more than the tip throughout the turn - a skidded or smeared turn. Learning to feather the edges of your skis to make progressively smeared beautiful C turns (a steered turn) is an expert skill and probably has a lot to do with how @marzNC 's Alta instructor managed their speed down the slope better than the students did. Don't let anyone ever denigrate properly managed "skidded/smeared/steered" ski turns. They are the lifeblood of skiing and take lots of skill and practice!! When we are fearful and we lean up the hill in steep terrain, it has the effect of putting the skis more on edge - making us go fast and more directionally across the hill (your traverses). Standing/balancing with our weight confidently on the outside ski of the turn allows us to keep that ski flatter - especially at the bottom of the turn - and that is the first step in keeping edge angles lower. At that lower edge angle we can steer the ski more effectively in any direction, we can go slower, and we can lose more elevation during each turn (i.e. descend in a narrower corridor and not go across the hill in traverses). So learn how to edge and UN-EDGE your skis on command - an essential, basic skiing skill.

One last thought on edging and turn shape - there are many types of turns that are particularly effective in steep or tight terrain (narrow; trees). Managing speed just with turn shape is not always possible or desirable. An instructor can give you multiple turning strategies. For example, at lower edge angles, it is possible to pivot the entire top of the turn and then round out the second half - a GREAT way to keep speeds lower in steeps. There are lots of possibilities. Lessons will help you to become more versatile so that you have more than one tool in your toolbox and are not stuck trying to take your one familiar blue groomer turn into terrain where other strategies might be less scary and more effective.
 
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just jane

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
This is soooo helpful! I’ve been playing around this season on the groomers with how much I carve or smear my turns, so I’ve been building my awareness of that anyway. It sounds like part of what I need to do is bring that up a couple of notches.
 
This is soooo helpful! I’ve been playing around this season on the groomers with how much I carve or smear my turns, so I’ve been building my awareness of that anyway. It sounds like part of what I need to do is bring that up a couple of notches.
We are so lucky to have awesome instructors explaining this! I hang on every word. Thanks, instructor-divas!
 

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