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Question: Speed control for beginners/intemediate?

Ellyl

Diva in Training
#1
Hi everyone,

I'm so glad I stumbled across this forum yesterday when looking for skiing tips - seems like a really friendly place from the threads I've read :D

I'm a beginner moving to intermediate skier, comfortable on greens but have speed control issues on blues. On gentler slopes, it is fairly effortless to do nice round turns by alternating pressure on the front sides of skis, but on steeper slopes, I found that I speed up way too much while turning. My balance is good enough that I don't fall and could control my direction so I could survive the steeper parts and slow down once it gentles out. I was skiing with an instructor yesterday, and he said that the shape of my parallel turns were good. When I mentioned the speed issue, he said something about allowing the skis to slip downwards like the side slipping exercise when turning, but when I flattened out my skis while traversing sideways, all I seem to do it shoot across the slope in a straight line instead of turning up the hill... Good thing the slopes were extremely wide.

I would love to know if anyone have thoughts on what I'm doing wrong, and tips/links I could look up so that I don't barrel down the steeper blues? Thanks!
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#2
Hi Ellyl - a couple of things may help.

1. Instead of alternating pressure, try steering your legs to turn up the hill. Think about twisting your thighs underneath your torso as your torso faces down the hill. Your torso should be slightly diagonal not directly down the hill. Think about gravity pulling you down the hill and turning your skis until they are across the hill. The steeper it gets, the more you have to turn across or even up the hill to go the speed you choose to go.

2. Perhaps your instructor asked you to flatten your skis because you were using too much edge. Racers go down the hill on their edges because it is fast! Turning flatter skis across the hill (and thus breaking gravity's pull) will also create friction which helps with speed control.
 

volklgirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#3
As to the shooting across the hill, it sounds like you never actually flattened both skis out to allow the skid, so you ended up traversing across on both uphill edges. Have you learned hockey stops yet?

One thing I'm seeing with people learning on the newer skis and the "direct to parallel" movement is that newer skiers never learn the Christie phase of the turn and can't learn to scrub speed as the terrain gets steeper.
 

Ellyl

Diva in Training
#4
Thanks for the replies! Seems like my problem is indeed with the flattening out the skis. I took beginner lessons with the wedge techniques, and through skiing videos and repeated runs on greens made a good effort at parallel turns and hockey stops. When practicing by myself, I often made use of hockey stop like movements, repeatedly scrapping the snow with the back of the skis to control speed. Guess that's how I got into the habit of skiing on the edges, since the greater the edge angle the faster the stops.

I then took an intro to blues lesson yesterday where the instructor taught parallel turns, and said to turn by pushing hard, like trying to tip-toe into the snow using the forward side edges of the skis, which I realized was much less tiring than the skidding. But since I'm not skidding and scrapping against the snow, I can't seem to slow down properly! Turning seems to require skis to be on the edges, so at which stage of the turn should I flatten the skis, and how would that slow me down?
 

Jilly

Moderator
Staff member
#7

At 50 sec you'll see the skier using a wedge to start the turn, bring the skis together and steer uphill. Quite often it's done one side at a time.
 

Ellyl

Diva in Training
#8
Thanks for the videos! I'm definitely going to try doing more rounded turns on the steeper slopes. Everything's harder when hurling down the mountain compared to the nice leisurely turns on the greens ^^!

Does doing a wedge and bringing it together scrub speed then? I've noticed on the steep parts of a blue, the moment my skis are not parallel, there's a pretty good chance my inner skis are going to fly in a different direction before I can bring them together again. I guess the point is not to get to such a speed, but even the first horizontal traversal on a steep slope builds quite a bit of momentum. Haha more practice I guess.
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#9
The horizontal part should not build momentum if your skis are flat (ish).

Try doing some traverses across the hill with your skis as flat as possible.

As the terrain gets steeper, practice coming to almost a complete stop before starting the next turn. Point the skis up the hill if you have to. Look at your tracks behind you. There should not be two sharp lines but smeary tracks behind you.
 

snow cat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#10
Maybe you are too much in the backseat? If you are not forward then being in the backseat will shoot you across (gain or maintain speed), even on a traverse, as you turn.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#11
My first suggestion would be to slow down the urge to want to try steeper terrain. If doing wedge turns on blues leads to the inside ski not following the same arc direction as the outside ski, I recommend going back to greens and focusing on steering both skis with a little more pressure on the inside ski than it sounds like is the norm for you right now. Maybe practice some shuffle turns, one of my favorite exercises for working both feet and for staying centered over the skis.

I also suspect that your instructor had you focus on the front part of your ski, because he was worried about your balance being too far back. It is like stepping onto an icy parking lot with your heel out front and both feet going up in the air and ending up on your backside, except that there is the tail of the ski there to keep us from falling. Riding the tails of the skis means that I am never with my who body over the center of the ski and always playing catch up.

A wedge christie, wedge to parallel, will not slow you down as much as a full wedge turn, but it is a manner to help you slow down at the start of the turn before you are comfortable making parallel turns on steeper terrain where acceleration happens much faster.

Your skis should in an ideal world in a parallel turn be at their highest edge angle in the belly, or middle of the arc, and flat as you transition from the old to the new turn. Many begginers have their highest edge angles happening at the end of the turn, sometimes by choice, sometimes not.

Keep practicing hockey stops with a focus on smooth stops, with a gradual edge set. Keep also practicing side slips.
 

Lmk92

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#12
The first video was great, giving some great insight into position. I'm definitely in the backseat a lot. :( I wasn't sure what the point of the second video was, though. Was that also a focus on proper position?
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#13
The second video would have been more helpful with commentary. I am sure there was a purpose for the drills but it is not entirely clear what the purpose was.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#14
The second video is an exercise called side slipping. It looks simple. Doing it well is not simple. It teaches you to flatten the ski with allows when combined with a turning motion to steer more easily into that tight arc which provides speed control. Where as if you are on a high edge angle at the end of your turn, it will be hard to go in any direction other than across the high at high speed. Side slips also require good balance to keep the slip going straight down the hill instead of forward (diagonal side slip). Finally, it is the best tool in your survival tool kit. If you ever end up in a situation where you can not make a turn (too steep, too tight in the off piste, etc...) have a very solid side slip on both sides will give you a way to get down past the hard or steep part to where you can start linking turns again. It is used from intermediate through extreme skiing.

The reason for no commentary is that it was published by one of the PSIA divisions as a visual example of the demonstration standard they expect to see out of their instructors when they are going for higher level certifications. It is not meant to be instructional per se.
 
#15
Side slipping has been my savior a couple of times when on a steep part in which I couldn't make a turn.............
 

Skier31

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#16
I was referring to the Canadian video posted by Jilly.


The second video is an exercise called side slipping. It looks simple. Doing it well is not simple. It teaches you to flatten the ski with allows when combined with a turning motion to steer more easily into that tight arc which provides speed control. Where as if you are on a high edge angle at the end of your turn, it will be hard to go in any direction other than across the high at high speed. Side slips also require good balance to keep the slip going straight down the hill instead of forward (diagonal side slip). Finally, it is the best tool in your survival tool kit. If you ever end up in a situation where you can not make a turn (too steep, too tight in the off piste, etc...) have a very solid side slip on both sides will give you a way to get down past the hard or steep part to where you can start linking turns again. It is used from intermediate through extreme skiing.

The reason for no commentary is that it was published by one of the PSIA divisions as a visual example of the demonstration standard they expect to see out of their instructors when they are going for higher level certifications. It is not meant to be instructional per se.
 

Ellyl

Diva in Training
#17
Thanks for the help, especially that video about posture. I do often start leaning back, force myself to lean forward, and moments later realize I'm leaning back again. I usually have no trouble keeping my skis parallel, was just confused if I should practice the christie turn on steep terrain.
From the comments, I've gathered that my main issue is ending the turn on the edges, since I typically turn by shifting my weight from one outside edge to the other. I enjoy the speed, but know its necessary to learn how to go slower. Looks like shuffling, side slips turning and hockey are going to keep me busy for the next week or two!

P.S. Is it possible to flatten out the skis at the end of a turn but still keep the turning motion to go up the hill? Or should I only flatten out the skis once I want to change directions? Thanks again.
 

snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
#19
T

P.S. Is it possible to flatten out the skis at the end of a turn but still keep the turning motion to go up the hill? Or should I only flatten out the skis once I want to change directions? Thanks again.
Yes. When we teach/practice pivot slips or whirlybirds (360s on the snow, we do so with as flat a ski as possible) the rotation happens right underneath the feet which is the axis for the turn. In a regular turn the tails should optimally follow where the tips were a split second earlier as we are moving across the mountain while making our C or S shaped turns, versus a pivoting movement. In a skidded or carved turn the skis should be flat at the transition point between turns, which for most is when the skis are perpendicular to the hill, not going down the hill.
 
#20
Where as if you are on a high edge angle at the end of your turn, it will be hard to go in any direction other than across the hill at high speed.
Hi Ellyl.

I love this bit above from snoWYmonkey. :smile: Sounds like this is happening to you. One of the causes of being too much on edge at the end of a turn is that you may be leaning up the hill a bit. It's a very common problem. We call it "hugging the mountain". :smile::smile:

And it is exacerbated when the pitch gets steeper - which is why you are noticing it on blue slopes. Imagine a skier standing on her skis while they are pointed directly across a very shallow slope. Now - without changing anything else in your mental picture - tilt the ground under that skier to a steeper pitch. They've done nothing, but can you see that the skier's body is now tilted closer to the hill? This puts the skis more on edge and will shoot you across the hill unless you make a counteracting movement to keep those skis flatter on the snow. Make sense?

To keep the skis flatter we have to be truly balanced over that downhill ski. Try this on an easy green slope: At the bottom of your turns, try lifting the heel of your uphill ski (leave the tip on the snow) and tap it on the ground 3 times before you start another turn.

This will help you to make sure you are really balanced over that downhill ski which will help to keep it flatter on the snow and should help with speed control.
 

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