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Your "Aha!" moment

Lmk92

Angel Diva
What was an "Aha!" moment for you that took your skiing to the next level?
Still waiting on mine, but I keep hearing Deb Armstrong "foot to foot" and @marzNC "close the ankle" and an offhand remark she made one about turning the ski that made me think about how the skis should be engaging with the snow. Can't wait to hear others' because I think 2023 is going to be my year.
 

kmb5662

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Not sure this is what you're referring to but mine have mostly been equipment related... After getting new boots that are much stiffer and tighter boots my skiing ability literally transformed overnight. I still have some tweaking to do with my boot set up (I think custom footbeds are going to be the answer to some of the pain/cramping I get) but looking back I'm impressed I could even make it down some of the stuff I did before with how much heel movement I had. Getting longer and stiffer skis has also boosted my confidence a lot.
 

Iwannaski

Angel Diva
“For the most part, I can” helped a lot this year. I tended to be a little fearful, and I read ”A Conversation with Fear” and spent more time skiing in the last 2 years than ever before, and realized a few things:
1) if it’s not fun, stop - if I’m not enjoying it and too in my head, I stop and reset
2) I probably CAN do it, because I have good judgment, so unless there’s something stupid (cliffs, ridiculous drop, terrible ice sheet) I CAN ski pretty much all over the mountain…just go at MY speed

Both of these have really helped me with confidence and technique this year.
 

AJM

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
My AHA moment was a few years ago when I took a quick 30 minute freeride lesson with our Race Coach, he basically told me that the principles of modern skiing were fairly simple "put the ski on edge , flatten in out the put it on the other edge, repeat" (obviously there's many variations within that theme such as ankle flex, for aft balance etc etc), finish my turns, and dont over think it. He took me to the top of our local ski hill and got me to do long radius turns, then down a side bowl through the crud, then short radius turns on the groomers to the bottom. If I ever get overwhelmed by overthinking it I always remember his lesson and how good I felt afterwards x
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
and @marzNC "close the ankle"
Took me two seasons to have a complete Aha! Moment after lessons with Walter at Massanutten when he was talking about opening and closing the ankle all the time.

Here's the story . . .
I did five lessons with Walter the first season after knee rehab (not a skiing injury). He's a very experienced PSIA Level 3 instructor. At the time he did a 2-hour clinic (only $40) on Thursday and Sunday afternoons for people over 50 years old. During the next season, the second or third clinic I did included another senior. The man had old habits, liked to ski the steepest black trail fast, and hadn't had a lesson (maybe not ever). He couldn't do a basic garland drill on a blue trail. So we went to a green trail (Geronimo). Back then my left and right turns were VERY different. One worked decently and the other was lousy. After a couple of attempts at garlands in both directions, Walter called me over and asked me to take off one ski. He bent down and pulled up my pant leg (after asking for permission) and said "close your ankle." I kept moving in different ways until he said "That's it!" I think I blurted out something like "oh that's what you mean by close the ankle." Needless to say, how I practiced after that day was different than what had been happening earlier.

The related Aha! Moment came five years later when I did a private lesson just to work on the bad turn. I worked with the Examiner who was on staff at Massanutten. By then that turn was much better, but still obviously worse. The instructor kept trying different approaches until I finally did a turn or two correctly in that direction. He said "That's it!" Then I continued practicing . . . on greens . . . with him following until I could consistently feel what the correct movement was. By the next day it was obvious something had changed because different muscles were sore on the bad side. Still a work in progress after another few years, but now I can usually feel what I've done wrong and correct for the next time without stopping. Or even anticipate enough to make a correction before the actual turn.

Massanutten is in Northern Virginia, has about 75 acres (expanding soon), and is almost all groomed trails. But that's more than enough to work on fundamental skills. Helps to focus on only one thing at a time.
 

Pequenita

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
20 years ago, I was skiing with an acquaintance whom I would now call a human projectile on the slopes. Anyway, after watching him ski and the runs he was willing to go on, it occurred to me that I was a better technical skier and should not be shying away from those runs. Mind you, I would spend the next decade still skidding a lot and over-terrained, but that was the first time it occurred to me that I was not a terminal intermediate.
 

Amie H

Angel Diva
My 1st time in Tahoe, met a lady my age on the funitel, we chatted, she invited me to ski with her. I had in my mind that I was going to ski easy terrain. (Had a meh day at Mammoth the day before, lost my confidence.)
She saw me ski for like 5 seconds and said, "You're a good skier! Let's ski over here (blue and black runs) instead."
We skied our butts off that day, at Palisades (then Squaw Valley.) I remember swooshing through moguled-up snow, imperfect late spring conditions, and it felt GOOD and I felt confident and I loved every minute of it.
A-HA!
 

Stay Tuned

Diva in Training
Can't wait to hear others' because I think 2023 is going to be my year.
Love the positivity!

Not sure this is what you're referring to but mine have mostly been equipment related...
Definitely! I intended for this to be pretty open-ended and I am really enjoying reading what everyone has been sharing.

Actively losing the ankles through dorsiflexion, particularly at transition. It's especially important in crud and bumps. If you actively dorsiflex, it's pretty hard to get in the back seat.
This was kind of mine as well which is what inspired this post. I've been trying to get rid of a pesky pizza on my right turns and had taken instructions with an instructor earlier this season. He gave me a bunch of drills to work on but I'd been feeling kind of stuck and frustrated and was not improving as quickly as I'd hoped. Every time I watched recordings of myself, I'd be far more upright than I thought I was. Last weekend I decided to work on keeping my feet closer together. And with my feet closer together, I experimented with kicking my heels back when turning. And then by kicking back my heels, it made it harder to pizza and easier to lean forward. Everything kind of came together all of a sudden! I could feel my shins on my boots and a new stretching sensation in my ankles. I hope I can find it again this weekend!
 
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snoWYmonkey

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Biggest Aha moment was skiing crud in a clinic with my trainer. I skied first down semi tracked deep powder. Felt awful and thought it looked awful. Coach claimed I skied it well. It finally dawned on me that crud and chop will never feel like good skiing because the uneven snow literally is pushing and pulling my skis up and down and side to side. What I learned is that even when it feels awful Ibjust might be making decent turns. I was expecting a smooth feeling, impossible, but executing OK turns, possible.
 

chasinghorizons

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
First time taking a lesson. Smuggler's Notch in VT. Conditions were mostly boilerplate with the rare patch of snow dust. Had to just aim for each tiny patch of snow and turn exactly on that patch. Prior to that, I had only been cruising around on groomed green and blue runs in MD and PA. Instructor pushed me onto steeper runs than I had ever tried before, on the worst conditions I had ever skied... If there had been a way to turn back I would've but by the time we got to the steep parts there was only one way down. I could've killed her at the time, but it gave me my first taste of adrenaline on skis. After that, I loved going fast.
 

shadoj

Angel Diva
Some advice which helped me go from one plateau to the next early on:

Steeps: be aggressive, forward, and commit on the first turn.
Credit: Same awesome instructor (Angie D?) who taught me how to snowplow as a 6yr old was giving me a teen lesson (I think "accidentally private") and took me to the south wall of the bowl at Big Sky. Self-arrest techniques, and so much more advice, learned from her.

Very steeps with more rocks: Hands forward always, eyes down the hill. Another review on self-arrest techniques!
Credit: Big Sky local who took me down the back side of Lone Peak.
This experience is a whole 'nother story for a later post.

More recently, after my ~6yr hiatus:

- Efficient technique will allow me to ski more frequently, for longer, and for longer in life. Learn everything I can about good movement and research drills to encourage that. Pay attention to symmetry and hip inflexibility.

- Warm up on gentle slopes and tighten boots slowly, and many foot/leg/stance problems magically resolve. Then clamp down and charge.

- Early edges for good carved turns! This and other tips from hanging out with my patroller roommate & buddies on skills nights...

- Equipment matters! An upgrade from too-short/soft junior park skis to my current pair, plus new boots/footbeds, has allowed more finesse in my technique & confidence in a range of conditions.

- I have nothing to prove. I'm having fun, and being safe for the conditions outdoors. What more could I ask for?!
 
Great thread! I'm working on thinking positively about my skiing in between the usual efforts to complete my turns and stay forward over my skis. Aha moment about pole placement was to think about the tops of the poles like flashlights. Women's Alpine Adventure Clinic at Okemo, January 2022.
 

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