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Tips to cleanly turn your skis

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
The best technique that clicked for me is to squat into turns. All other forms of increasing pressure on outside ski while lowering on inside never worked for me... that's only tip I have.

When I do the squat initiated turns and link them multiple times turns feel so smooth gliding on the correct edges. Just too bad my brain screams something about speed, going too fast and I revert to bad habits.

So squat to initiate, stand on straight portions, back to squat, repeat
Careful with the squatting....... after viewing videos I see I squat a little too much. This is after decades of skiing.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
1. You are having trouble moving from the wedge to parallel.
Your stance widens even though you tell both feet/legs to come together and stay that way. Which leg do you try to move over, the inside one or the outside one, or both?
The outside one. I go very light on my inside ski, almost floating, which I've just now realized is NOT what I want.

2. You have lack of strength on one side of your body, or on one leg. You think this may be the issue in being unable to keep feet/skis together, and you think this lack of symmetry is unusually big. Am I right?
I definitely think it contributes to the drift I have over time because I have to very conciously keep my legs together. When I take my mind off of it to deal with other aspects is when it happens.

3. Maybe you think this one-side weakness is permanent and unchangeable because you had temporary paralysis in childhood, and because it may have caused your current one-sided weakness. Do you think it's permanent?
I know it's permanent - I even have the brain damage to prove it. My most recent MRI reveals nothing has changed, but it is considered minor and does not really affect normal life. Might it affect skiing? Yea... maybe.
This might bring about more questions, but short story - I was born with abnormally thin blood vessels in my head and at the age of ten I fell and ruptured them, causing a hemorrhagic stroke. This caused temporary paralysis and years of physical, occupational and speech therapy to get function back, but I basically did, almost 100% (YAY). I consider myself one of the lucky ones cause this story doesn't end as well for many others. Anyway, I spent a long time not being able to do much very fast, so now I say I'm making up for it, LOL.

4. You can't do the tapping exercise. I am assuming you do this exercise across the slope rather through full linked turns. Am I right? If yes, is tapping a problem when you are heading across the slope in both directions or just in one direction?
Across the bunny slope, full turns, both sides, but balancing on my "weaker" right side is harder.

5. There's something about sideslips that gives you a problem but I can't tell exactly what that is. Would you re-explain that using "uphill" and "downhill" instead of "inside" and "outside"?
Yes, the uphill ski drags on the edge closet to the downhill ski after awhile. @Susan L suggested above that could be because of pronation and as I have almost flat feet and refused insoles because I was afraid my arches would kill me, I think that's it. I don't pronate while standing or anything, but when I'm leaning to sideslip, I'm sure I almost certainly do since my arches are so low. I am going to the ski shop shortly to get the insoles they originally recommended.

Thank you!
 

liquidfeet

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My comments below.

1a. You say you try to move the outside ski over to match the inside ski. But but but - the ski that can be moved is the one you are not standing on. Sounds like you are standing on the inside ski. But to ski properly, you need to be standing on the outside ski. It's the one that turns you. Somehow you have this backwards. Putting your weight (standing) on the outside ski applies whether you are in a wedge or parallel. So... the ski you need to move over to match is the inside ski. It should be light.

1b. If you are having trouble moving the inside ski over, you have too much weight on it. But when a skier is skiing in a wedge, both skis hold much of the weight. That's the right way to do a wedge turn. So the weight distribution has to change to get parallel. In order to shift from a wedge to parallel, you need to teach your body to stand on that outside ski with almost or all of your weight on it, and learn to do this at least long enough to slide the inside ski over to match.
-- --Thus the tapping exercise. It's the uphill ski (inside ski) that needs to be lightened and moved over. Focusing on tapping it often prompts a skier to stand on the other, downhill, ski. Unconsciously. If that isn't working for you, focus consciously on standing on the downhill ski and sliiiiide that uphill ski tail over so both skis are pointing in the same direction.

1c. This tapping exercise works best when learning if the skier tries to go across a slope and tap the uphill ski. No turning, just go across. Then turn at the end and go in the other direction, tapping tapping tapping. Over and over in both directions until you can do it. Unacknowledged fear of falling on your side downhill when you stand on the outside ski can make this task quite difficult.

1d. One way to overcome the fear of falling is to bounce- bounce-bounce on the outside ski, as you make wedge turns. It will be the downhill ski for much of your turn, so you can think of this task as bouncing on the downhill ski if that's easier and less confusing. You can do this when linking wedge turns; no need to go across the slope to learn it. When you bounce on that outside/downhill ski, the bouncing puts more weight on it. Bouncy-bouncy! Do this when making wedge turns, over and over. It's fun. Then, when it's fun and you're laughing, try sliding that inside/uphill ski over while you're bouncing. I bet you won't be overcome with fear of falling.

2. You say when you take your mind off holding the skis parallel you lose the parallel stance. Welcome to the process of building ski skills! There are SO MANY DISTRACTIONS in skiing. Too many to keep your focus on one thing for a whole run. The old habit will return as soon as you're no longer focusing on doing the new movement. This will be the case as long as you continue to build skiing skills. SO.... holding the focus, while destined to be a real and constant issue, is your challenge. Strength has nothing to do with this. Just recognize that you forgot to hold the skis together, forgive yourself because it couldn't be helped, congratulate yourself for recognizing that the old habit of wedge stance has returned with out permission, and push the reset button. There's no other way.

3. You have been told the permanent weakness is minor, and shouldn't affect normal life. So it shouldn't affect skiing either. Every skier has a weak side. It will always need work to get it to behave like the strong side. Focusing on getting that weak side to act like the strong side will produce good results if you stick with it. You don't need to be stronger. You need to work on holding onto that focus. Eventually the old habits on the weak side will be overwritten by new better habits. But when you get into situations where you are genuinely frightened, the old stuff will return. This is normal. The longer you ski, the less often this will happen.

4. You are trying to learn to tap while doing full turns. That is a difficult and confusing way to learn. You may be getting mixed up on which ski to tap. Try it in a traverse (look uphill and don't go until the coast is clear), and tap the uphill ski only. Do it in both directions. Try the bouncing as described above it your body refuses despite being asked politely.

5. It sounds like you are trying sideslips while the skis are in a wedge. Is that right? It won't work. In a wedge, the uphill ski's Big Toe Edge will grip the snow, no matter who is on the skis. Try side-slipping with skis parallel. All you're doing is going straight down the hill. Keep both skis on their uphill edges. Use your ankles and knees to dig those uphill edges into the snow so you stop, the use you ankles and knees to lessen the grip by slightly flattening them. You'll need to be on a bit of hill that's got more pitch than the flattest part of the bunny slope or you won't go downhill at all. Find a little spot that's short and looks a wee little bit steep, and try it. Work on this facing both directions. If your skis take off, you've got them pointed in the wrong direction. Adjust by trial and error until they don't want to go forward or backwards. DO NOT use the wedge to get control of this. Re-point both skis while parallel to a new angle to stop the forward or backward movement. It's just like side-stepping uphill. If you have trouble adjusting the point of the skis, try side-stepping up the little steepish part and adjust the way they point, keeping them parallel, to teach your body which way to adjust them when they go forwards or backwards. Repeat until it's easy. DO NOT use a WEDGE to control this. Your skis will take off on you. That's because one of them will want to go downhill and believe me, it will. So will you. :smile: Parallel is the way to sideslip.

Doing the tapping and the sideslipping will help tremendously in getting you able to ski parallel. It takes some people years to get parallel, if they don't ski frequently. Be patient. You can do this.

Did you know skiing would ask so much of your brain???? It's not strength at this point in most people's skiing that builds new skills, it's the brain (focus, and focusing on the right things) that gets things to work.

Good luck on getting parallel!
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My comments below.

1a. You say you try to move the outside ski over to match the inside ski. But but but - the ski that can be moved is the one you are not standing on. Sounds like you are standing on the inside ski. But to ski properly, you need to be standing on the outside ski. It's the one that turns you. Somehow you have this backwards. Putting your weight (standing) on the outside ski applies whether you are in a wedge or parallel. So... the ski you need to move over to match is the inside ski. It should be light.

1b. If you are having trouble moving the inside ski over, you have too much weight on it. But when a skier is skiing in a wedge, both skis hold much of the weight. That's the right way to do a wedge turn. So the weight distribution has to change to get parallel. In order to shift from a wedge to parallel, you need to teach your body to stand on that outside ski with almost or all of your weight on it, and learn to do this at least long enough to slide the inside ski over to match.
-- --Thus the tapping exercise. It's the uphill ski (inside ski) that needs to be lightened and moved over. Focusing on tapping it often prompts a skier to stand on the other, downhill, ski. Unconsciously. If that isn't working for you, focus consciously on standing on the downhill ski and sliiiiide that uphill ski tail over so both skis are pointing in the same direction.

1c. This tapping exercise works best when learning if the skier tries to go across a slope and tap the uphill ski. No turning, just go across. Then turn at the end and go in the other direction, tapping tapping tapping. Over and over in both directions until you can do it. Unacknowledged fear of falling on your side downhill when you stand on the outside ski can make this task quite difficult.

1d. One way to overcome the fear of falling is to bounce- bounce-bounce on the outside ski, as you make wedge turns. It will be the downhill ski for much of your turn, so you can think of this task as bouncing on the downhill ski if that's easier and less confusing. You can do this when linking wedge turns; no need to go across the slope to learn it. When you bounce on that outside/downhill ski, the bouncing puts more weight on it. Bouncy-bouncy! Do this when making wedge turns, over and over. It's fun. Then, when it's fun and you're laughing, try sliding that inside/uphill ski over while you're bouncing. I bet you won't be overcome with fear of falling.

2. You say when you take your mind off holding the skis parallel you lose the parallel stance. Welcome to the process of building ski skills! There are SO MANY DISTRACTIONS in skiing. Too many to keep your focus on one thing for a whole run. The old habit will return as soon as you're no longer focusing on doing the new movement. This will be the case as long as you continue to build skiing skills. SO.... holding the focus, while destined to be a real and constant issue, is your challenge. Strength has nothing to do with this. Just recognize that you forgot to hold the skis together, forgive yourself because it couldn't be helped, congratulate yourself for recognizing that the old habit of wedge stance has returned with out permission, and push the reset button. There's no other way.

3. You have been told the permanent weakness is minor, and shouldn't affect normal life. So it shouldn't affect skiing either. Every skier has a weak side. It will always need work to get it to behave like the strong side. Focusing on getting that weak side to act like the strong side will produce good results if you stick with it. You don't need to be stronger. You need to work on holding onto that focus. Eventually the old habits on the weak side will be overwritten by new better habits. But when you get into situations where you are genuinely frightened, the old stuff will return. This is normal. The longer you ski, the less often this will happen.

4. You are trying to learn to tap while doing full turns. That is a difficult and confusing way to learn. You may be getting mixed up on which ski to tap. Try it in a traverse (look uphill and don't go until the coast is clear), and tap the uphill ski only. Do it in both directions. Try the bouncing as described above it your body refuses despite being asked politely.

5. It sounds like you are trying sideslips while the skis are in a wedge. Is that right? It won't work. In a wedge, the uphill ski's Big Toe Edge will grip the snow, no matter who is on the skis. Try side-slipping with skis parallel. All you're doing is going straight down the hill. Keep both skis on their uphill edges. Use your ankles and knees to dig those uphill edges into the snow so you stop, the use you ankles and knees to lessen the grip by slightly flattening them. You'll need to be on a bit of hill that's got more pitch than the flattest part of the bunny slope or you won't go downhill at all. Find a little spot that's short and looks a wee little bit steep, and try it. Work on this facing both directions. If your skis take off, you've got them pointed in the wrong direction. Adjust by trial and error until they don't want to go forward or backwards. DO NOT use the wedge to get control of this. Re-point both skis while parallel to a new angle to stop the forward or backward movement. It's just like side-stepping uphill. If you have trouble adjusting the point of the skis, try side-stepping up the little steepish part and adjust the way they point, keeping them parallel, to teach your body which way to adjust them when they go forwards or backwards. Repeat until it's easy. DO NOT use a WEDGE to control this. Your skis will take off on you. That's because one of them will want to go downhill and believe me, it will. So will you. :smile: Parallel is the way to sideslip.

Doing the tapping and the sideslipping will help tremendously in getting you able to ski parallel. It takes some people years to get parallel, if they don't ski frequently. Be patient. You can do this.

Did you know skiing would ask so much of your brain???? It's not strength at this point in most people's skiing that builds new skills, it's the brain (focus, and focusing on the right things) that gets things to work.

Good luck on getting parallel!
You are so encouraging! I am actually mostly focused on parallel now, so most of these are done while parallel, or at least trying to be - I probably do slightly wedge in parallel. I do revert to a full wedge at times when I feel the hill is really steep. I tried a hill that's labelled green, but my instructor told me has some spots that are closer to blue. Yea, I tried to do parallel as I set off, but ended up side slipping then straight wedging on some of it.

I think I need to back off that for a bit tomorrow morning and do some more practice runs on the bunny slopes, though I am determined to conquer that hill so I'll probably be back on it later that afternoon. I can't wait though - practically giddy right now.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Cusstom insoles are very different to support or off the shelf ones. My orthotics are fairly high in the arch and supportive, and took a good 2-3 weeks to get used to the pressure on my arch. My ski insoles are more to stop my feet collapsing into the available space so that when I move my feet, my skis respond rather than my feet squishing around inside my boots, and are shaped somewhat differently.
Got some - I think they are called PowerStep? They listened to my concerns and gave me some with arch support, though not necessarily high. And yea, they feel good, like they take up room in the boot that was loose. Very excited to see how it goes tomorrow
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@TiffAlt , if you have a video of yourself that would be great
Ok, so I got my instructor to take a video of me coming down a slope I felt was too steep. You can see I totally revert to wedging it all the way down. I did have a run before this were I tried paralleling it down and fell again so he told me to do what I felt more secure with, even if it was the wedge cause he said parallel will come, I'm doing great and I don't need to rush it, just keep up with the time on the slopes.

Sorry, no vid of me falling, but I fell to the side cause my skis crossed when trying to switch direction in parallel.
 

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TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I also need to work on relaxing! Of course I had fallen the previous time of that slope, so was very rigidly trying to hold myself up, lol. I also realize this video is extremely small. I need to see if I can make it bigger, but I had to convert it to a gif to let me upload it here and that takes down the quality too.
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I need to see if I can make it bigger, but I had to convert it to a gif to let me upload it here and that takes down the quality too.
While still photo files can be uploaded, for a video you need to host is somewhere else and post a link.

I'm doing great and I don't need to rush it, just keep up with the time on the slopes.
Yep, getting comfortable enough to move on to steeper trails takes patience. You'll get there.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
While still photo files can be uploaded, for a video you need to host is somewhere else and post a link.


Yep, getting comfortable enough to move on to steeper trails takes patience. You'll get there.
I see! Well I'm not sure how much this video even in good resolution would help. Should I get a bit further along and have someone else reshoot it?
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
I see! Well I'm not sure how much this video even in good resolution would help. Should I get a bit further along and have someone else reshoot it?
A video on a slope you are comfortable on might be more useful. Personally, I don't get too much out of video analysis. Although by the time I had an instructor use video, I was an adventurous intermediate with plenty of bad habits. It's been useful to have had instructors use stop-action or pull off a picture that shows issues with stance. It takes a while to learn what proper stance actually feels like.
 

Iwannaski

Angel Diva
By the way - what was your fix? I'm interested to know whether or not it'll fix my issue. More knowledge is (almost) always better.
LOL. The fix was - get this - NOT picking up the ski.

Ok, that’s overly simplistic, but what she said was that I had to keep that ski on the snow, and not lift it. She told me I could wedge if I needed, but that I could NOT pick it up. After several really pathetic runs down during my lesson, the next time I went out, I realized what was going on (dominant inside edge not wanting to give up control) and it made my feet/legs work better together.

During my lesson, we did a wide variety of drills designed to help me feel upper/lower body separation, weight forward, etc.

The real effect it had was that I feel SO MUCH MORE stable on slopes at speed. It’s really something.
 

echo_VT

Angel Diva
@TiffAlt , thanks for reminding me to come back here in the other thread — I just saw your video.

First, I would lose the poles. That will allow you to just focus on your feet and focus on your skis.

Have you done parallel turns on green terrain? You mention going into the wedge on steep terrain. In the video I see full wedge turns for the duration of each turn’s phases. that seems really painful / exhausting to me on blue terrain. Have you learned wedge christies on green terrain? I believe this will help you in blue terrain.

I agree with other voices here on the thread that a video where we can see you make primarily parallel turns on green terrain will help us help you.
 

echo_VT

Angel Diva
You are so encouraging! I am actually mostly focused on parallel now, so most of these are done while parallel, or at least trying to be - I probably do slightly wedge in parallel. I do revert to a full wedge at times when I feel the hill is really steep. I tried a hill that's labelled green, but my instructor told me has some spots that are closer to blue. Yea, I tried to do parallel as I set off, but ended up side slipping then straight wedging on some of it.

I think I need to back off that for a bit tomorrow morning and do some more practice runs on the bunny slopes, though I am determined to conquer that hill so I'll probably be back on it later that afternoon. I can't wait though - practically giddy right now.
Hey @TiffAlt — not sure where you are, but I would read what liquidfeet said to try, and commit to doing it. Stay on green terrain (a consistent slope) until you can comfortably do everything on her list. It’s a really good list and will help you when you come back to blues. If there is a steep pitch in the middle of the green terrain, focus on the traverses she says to do and how to do them.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
@TiffAlt , thanks for reminding me to come back here in the other thread — I just saw your video.

First, I would lose the poles. That will allow you to just focus on your feet and focus on your skis.

Have you done parallel turns on green terrain? You mention going into the wedge on steep terrain. In the video I see full wedge turns for the duration of each turn’s phases. that seems really painful / exhausting to me on blue terrain. Have you learned wedge christies on green terrain? I believe this will help you in blue terrain.

I agree with other voices here on the thread that a video where we can see you make primarily parallel turns on green terrain will help us help you.
Aw shucks, thanks!

I have done parallel on green terrain. On this slope, I had tried all parallel the run before this and ended up falling when my skis got crossed. Yes I tend to wedge when I feel it is too steep, but like I said in the other thread, I've figured out that I tend to pitch myself too forward and that makes my skis continue downhill instead of going traverse then uphill.

It's not because my heel is coming out, it's actually a bad habit of mine from rollerblading. The skating rink is flat though and I tip forward on my tippy toes cause I like speed like nobody's business. I also pitch forward too much for the same reason, lol. I've gotten better at watching this in my turns and I do indeed have a lot more control when I stop trying to stand on my tip toes, keep my heels down and try to be more centered on top my skis.

I've kind of cheated already - on our ski vacation we went to Mission Ridge, which has only 2 green runs and they got boring fast. So yea, I did go on a few blues, but kept to the easier ones the ski staff recommended. I did have to go down some steeps even worse than the one videoed, but I wedged it down successfully, LOL. Tried to be parallel otherwise.

I think I still have a small wedge even when I am mostly parallel. I am doing a 1 on 1 lesson tomorrow to continue my improvement and get rid of the wedge. Very very excited for it.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Hey @TiffAlt — not sure where you are, but I would read what liquidfeet said to try, and commit to doing it. Stay on green terrain (a consistent slope) until you can comfortably do everything on her list. It’s a really good list and will help you when you come back to blues. If there is a steep pitch in the middle of the green terrain, focus on the traverses she says to do and how to do them.
I agree by the way, it's way more important to get the technique down! I was at Crystal Mountain in Washington State- that's my "home" mountain.
 

TiffAlt

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Just an update: had my first private 1 on 1 lesson with a new instructor and OMG I LOVE HIM. He is much more technical than my previous instructor and I appreciate that. I'm not trying to bad mouth my previous instructor by the way, he is a wonderful guy and suggested a great ski destination for skiiers of my family's calibur, but I did not realize what I was missing!

While on the surface, I heard many of the same things - too far forward, need to get tips uphill, the difference was that he actually asked permission to adjust me because I thought I was imitating his stance, but I was not at all really. Man, I was really hunched forward guys. He had me doing drills on skiing with my hands up, another one he called a thousand steps where we stepped through all the turns, and side slips to downhill to edge and back again to make parallel short turns and control speed through them. It was so tiring, but GUYS I DID IT!! I was successfully making short parallel turns on the steepest green run by the end. :yahoo:

Turns out I was really really far over my skis and even when I thought I was standing up straight, I was still leaning much too far forward in an aggressive stance, which made dive bombing everything really easy which was the opposite of what I wanted. We also went over foot placement in side slips including going backwards - because I am still not putting enough weight on my heels due to my habit of leaning too far forward.

Interestingly, he noted after our lesson that if he had been my instructor from the beginning, he'd have done direct to parallel with the type of habits I have. I didn't even know direct to parallel was a thing. I guess the wedge is becoming too much of a crutch? Or maybe it's cause I like speed? I dunno.

Another thing I learned - I had a lousy bootfitter. He asked me where I had gone and I told him the name and asked if he knew them. He said no, but he knew where not to recommend to anybody now :tongue:. He told me he also has hard to fit feet and had gone to Whistler to see someone with a G name (sorry can't recall), but he knew that might be out of the way for me right now. He did show me how to tighten what I had on.

As soon as I got home, I decided to make an appointment for a signature fit with the Seattle Flagship EVO since I live in walking distance. This is their high priced boot fitting and offers modifications, inserts, heat molding and boot exchanges even in used/modded boots for the entire year. There seems to have been a cancellation Monday morning and I scooped it up cause all the other appointments are 3 weeks out. Work be damned, lol. Does anyone have any experience with EVO boot fitting?

The other thing I did when I got home... called up Crystal Mountain to request another lesson with this instructor! He reminded me that we are all still learning - and he said he even still takes a ski lesson each week as his continuing education even though he's been a ski instructor for over a decade - there's always more to learn. So thanks everyone for accompanying me on this journey and supporting my learning even at my age. I've been lucky enough to find others who are "x years young" and who are also "still learning". It's really encouraging!
 

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