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Meltdown on red number 6

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So we've just got back from la thuille. I had a good time, didn't take a tumble, skied well. First day other half decided to take me back down to the village on red number 6. Now I know it's a red slope, thus making it more difficult than the blues. But I have all the techniques and weeks of lessons to enable me to cope with these conditions, but the slightest challenge such as an icy patch or a few bumps or God forbid a snow boarder whooshing up behind me and I go to pieces. Red number 6 was a clear example of this. Husband off infront of me, me using the whole slope to slowly ski down from side to side, chunnering on to myself under my breath, calling other half all kinds of names, resorting to panicking and hyperventilating and threatening to take off my ******ing skis and walk down, sobbing when the red turned into a black (it hadn't actually, the black had turned into a red). Thus set the scene for the rest of our holiday. Blues - big smile, confident, I know what I'm doing type skiing. The moment a red marker came my way I had a mini meltdown with myself and completely lost the plot. I really need advice on what I can do. I would really like to ski red runs with confidence, and not worry about what might happen. I know I can do it, but my brain tells me I can't and this is now holding me back. Am I destined to be a blue cruiser for the rest of my life? Puzzled
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Debra wrote:
... Am I destined to be a blue cruiser for the rest of my life? Puzzled


Only if you choose to. Get some lessons booked, preferably in a friendly group and you'll be amazed at the progress you'll (most probably) make.
Blues are great fun, but Reds are sooo much more fun!

Welcome to snowheads snowHead
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Hey Debra - don't be too hard on yourself. We all have days where things aren't quite going our way - both in skiing and in life!

Snow conditions can have a bigger impact on your experience than the colour of the poles at the side of the piste. When the snow is lovely and squeaky and chalky, then a red run can be a delight. The same run can be a different beast if there hasn't been new snow for a while, or loads of people have scoured it down to a polished surface. A blue run can be a horrorshow if it's busy and hardpacked. Try to be aware of the weather conditions and choose your route around them. If it's a lovely sunny day and the snow is nice, take the opportunity to explore the red runs. If the snow is firm, the light is bad, or you're just not feeling the love that day, pick something easier.

Never be afraid to use your Get Out of Jail Free cards - sideslipping and traversing. If you're on a pitch you don't like, you can get down it slowly and cautiously. No need to be stylish; just be safe. Take your time and try to ignore any pressure you might feel from other people around you. Over time you'll get more comfortable with hard surfaces and bumps.

I fully remember having meltdowns on the mountain (and still do occasionally). They'll get less frequent as you get more experienced and cope better with varied conditions. And don't forget that blue run cruising is still a very nice way to spend a day. Happy
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Yeah as was said above conditions play a bigger role than slope colour, plus some resorts are definitely creative with their piste grading as I've been on blues that would be reds in other resorts blacks that should be reds and so on. My wife is the same currently sees a red piste marker and panics, although last Feb in heavy snow and low visibility I took her down a red run and she skied it with no issues purely because she hadn't noticed. It's definitely a confidence and time on snow thing.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
This happened to my partner a few years back. We were skiing in Madonna when she got to the top of a red run down to the village and she had a complete meltdown and ended up getting the chairlift back down. I felt at the time this was due to some patchy piste conditions and the previous month we experience some pretty bracing conditions in Cervinia with high winds and again icy patches. Anyway to cut a long story short when we got home she ended up getting hypnotised (3 sessions) and then the next month when we went to Chamonix she skied beautifully, no problems navigating around some tricky slopes. Ill just add she too had very good technique and has skied for maybe 15 odd years prior to the incident. We have since had two more weeks skiing and all has been well. hope this helps
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I had a wry smile to myself when I read your post, as this is a carbon copy of what has happened to me over the years, with the long suffering Lady F.

Lady F is probably a little more advanced than you, but it doesn't stop the odd, intermittent meltdown, happening out of the blue....so I have a modicum of insight into this....or at least as much insight as a baffled male might have gleaned into the female psyche, over 30 years of skiing together.

In case it's of use, my font of knowledge can be summed up as follows (at least as it has applied to me, at any rate):

- As a general rule, (imo) women are better skiers than they think they are, whereas men are often worse than they think...but make up for that with an overdose of bravado and overconfidence, which, when blended with the male ego makes them........men!
- Women can be emotional skiers, with a higher degree of self preservation and a bigger concern for the damage they might do to others....and it's the first of these aforementioned elements that the male of the species can struggle with.
- Lady F will go anywhere, at any speed, behind an instructor (going down The Face in the fog, being the exception)....but can throw a major wobbly when following me, doing something totally innocuous and easily within her ability range. This only happens if we are skiing on our own. If our kids are there, or we are skiing with other people, this doesn't happen....having company, or being the person in charge (if with kids), seems to overrule the powerful need to have a meltdown.
- The mood that Mrs F wakes up in (or if something annoys her early on....usually me!), often determines the mindset for the rest of the day.

So, my advice is to keep up with the lessons, which help with the confidence; realize that you are almost certainly better than you think....and don't be too sore on the hubby for being an idiot (for failing to appreciate what you are going through).


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Wed 1-02-17 17:04; edited 2 times in total
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@Debra, If you really want to then I'd suggest working up from some harder blues onto some easier, short reds and also get your other half to think about what slopes they are taking you down especially on the first day!

A recommended sympathetic instructor could help, or depending on where you live ie if close to Hemel you could do some specific indoor instruction, like the options available here http://www.insideoutskiing.com/inside.html

However if you are happy on cruisy blues don't beat yourself up - it's meant to be an enjoyable holiday, not a stressful holiday!
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Quote:
Am I destined to be a blue cruiser for the rest of my life?

Being blunt quite possibly yes.

I've known some really timid skiers (as it happens mostly blokes and not the ones you'd expect) and nothing would change that. Note here they are not necessarily timid people or not brave - just that sliding down a mountain on two planks was off their radar.

However, I don't know how much skiing you've done, how much tuition you've had and what sort of person you are. It's possible you can overcome the issues. As others have said piste conditions mean the grading is far from the be all and end all. Also that getting 'spooked' is not unusual.

Some of it may come down to how determined you are?


Last edited by After all it is free Go on u know u want to! on Wed 1-02-17 20:53; edited 1 time in total
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@Debra, sympathies. For what it's worth, I was in La Thuile last year and struggled with red 6, but I'm in Serre Chevalier at the moment and have been on several different reds, none of which have caused me particular problems. As others have said, so much depends on conditions, and the type of run - I am a wimp about narrow bits that aren't flat, especially with a touch of bumpiness/iciness, which that no. 6 run had. Lots of the reds where I am now are nice and wide and honestly so much easier than that one! There's loads of good advice above already, but, like others, I'd suggest more lessons - they will improve your confidence, and if nothing else, the instructor can take you down suitable runs, or recommend ones for you, or which are best at certain times of day, etc. The very first black run I went on (not that I go on many!) was during a lesson - I'd not have considered trying a black on my own, but the instructor told me it was wider and also quieter than the alternative easier coloured route, and that he knew I'd be fine on it - he was right, and skiing down with him definitely helped me feel more confident. You can get advice on specific resorts here too, of course, before you go! snowHead
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This might help:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inner-Skiing-W-Timothy-Gallwey-ebook/dp/B003WUYELQ/?tag=amz07b-21
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Rather than commit to a red you are having difficulty with, I'd step it back just a little and while on blues seek out the more difficult parts of sections to explore your skills further in a slightly less pressured environment.

If you head off down a red that you feel is challenging but within your range, then the psychology of having to complete that long arduous journey starts to dominate your thinking which is to the detriment of deploying the skills you know you have. In short, the problem starts to build as too big in your mind, whether it is or not.

So if you break it down to just a short section if available on a blue piste you can comfortably allow your skills to dominate and have the comfort of building up sections without letting the fear monster eat you.

Give yourself a chance to build yourself calmly. It's funny as we progress, we look back at things that initially scared us and see how benign they now look as we glide down them.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Ski with somebody else.... wink Or, rather than having him "taking you down" things you don't want to ski - YOU decide on the route! Cool

And what @Maireadoconnor, says.
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@Debra,
Are you sure that's your real name?
Your not my other half 😀?

I'm sure a familiar story for many, not much to add as all great advice given.
Try group lessons where you are at the top end and the inner skiing book is worth a borrow from the library
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
One other thing that may (or may not) help, is alignment....provided you have your own boots.

Mrs. F always skied with quite a pronounced "A Frame", which was less of an issue as an intermediate, on straight skis, with old school technique (ie. didn't matter what the upper ski did, as long as there was no weight on it)....but modern teaching methods, on shaped skis, requires parallel legs, with edges doing the same thing at the same time.

It was on a private lesson, that the instructor suggested getting properly aligned, as there was nothing Mrs. F could do to change her natural physiology.

It made quite a difference, as the A Frame was blocking her turns. Suddenly she had 2 skis, doing the same thing, at the same time. It took a little while to adjust to the extra speed during the turn...but it lifted her skiing to a much more advanced level.

If you ski with an A Frame (and you may not), it may be something worth considering...but only with a bootfitter who knows what they are doing.


Last edited by You know it makes sense. on Wed 1-02-17 18:26; edited 2 times in total
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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Debra wrote:
I know I can do it, but my brain tells me I can't


That's the problem. So you need to find a way to make your brain tell you you can. Might be lessons, drills, tricks, or even a mind-game.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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I can rarely tell the difference between blue and red pistes. If it wasn't for the occasional glimpse of the piste poles I'd be none the wiser. Therein lies your problem. Stop looking at piste poles. All pistes are white.
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queen bodecia wrote:
I can rarely tell the difference between blue and red pistes. If it wasn't for the occasional glimpse of the piste poles I'd be none the wiser. Therein lies your problem. Stop looking at piste poles. All pistes are white.

There can certainly be a lot of marketing involved in grading. If there is little difficulty in an area, runs get upgraded (to keep the requisite number of Reds/Blacks.)....and if the terrain is very steep, runs get downgraded...especially to show you can ski back to the village on a Blue.
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@Debra, possibly. IMHO a good deal of skiing is to do with confidence, if you aren't confident enough to ski on tougher runs then it will be difficult to get to a level where you're comfortable. People learn differently though, I was more a case of putting myself out of my comfort zone and adapting to it but other people will benefit more from taking it slowly. Personality is a big part of it too, I'm a bit laid back and prone to give things a go, but if you're (as in one, not you personally) naturally highly strung then you're probably best staying on the gentle blues and perfecting technique before venturing further afield. Ultimately if you're not enjoying it (either from a skiing perspective or as a challenge) then it's not going to be fun and you probably won't learn anything from the experience.
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i think a lot of it is in the mind, red number 6 is not a particularly steep slope, but because it is marked red you think it is, i had the same problem adjusting to blacks, i avoided them like the plague until a friend took me down some less mogully ones, and in my mind they became dark red instead of black.
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Ski in North America, they don't have red runs so you can ski lots of blues without concern Toofy Grin
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runkmc wrote:
Ski in North America, they don't have red runs so you can ski lots of blues without concern Toofy Grin


There's a lot to to be said for this - we have just returned from skiing in Canada where runs are green, blue or black, and I went down runs I might have had a mental hiccup at had they been tagged as red in Europe, but as they were all "blue" I didn't think twice. Funny how you can trick yourself into or out off doing things based on someone else's evaluation - as others have already said how a run is given a colour coding varies so much from one place to another that it is not a true guide.
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Same in NZ,no reds so nothing to worry about. All easy intermediate blues.

Just like being termed an "intermediate" skier, covers a lot of sins.
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Debra wrote:
Am I destined to be a blue cruiser for the rest of my life? Puzzled


No! Don't say that! You clearly have some resilience, you can be the complete skier you want to be, making that run look easy! Get lessons, lessons and lessons (there are no shortcuts!) and that'll fix technique and at the same time, will fix the confidence. Confidence can be fragile, but loss is usually surprisingly easily overcome - we've all mostly been there at some point - just get back and find a comfort zone to start with and regain the enjoyment. There are some short national coaching courses (open to all, check locally via council) which deal with mental preparation/confidence techniques etc which might be of help if still 'stuck'.
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@Debra, I read your post and asked my wife to have a look she shouted that's us !!! i think she's a good skier but it doesn't take very much for her to unravel/ loose her confidence , she is very fixated on the colour of the run , we've had some cracking CONVERSATIONS 😉 At the top of a lovely red with me trying to persuade her she's more than capable of skiing it ,I think what I'm trying to say is your not alone
There's a lot of us in the same boat ! We're back to ski school this year
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or God forbid a snow boarder whooshing up behind me


rolling eyes
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@Debra, I skied it a couple of days ago and found it very tricky, and I'm one of the best skiers on the internet.
If you do get a lesson then you might want to focus on side slipping which is a get out of jail free card.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Debra,

Agree with all of the above, many piste poles are for marketing purposes only. QB Has got it right: all pistes are white. Of course, it's very easy behind a keyboard, 700 miles from snow (sob) but you're not going for the mogulled black offpiste killer terrain.

They are pretty much all alike. Honestly! From bottom end 'blues' to top end 'reds' is a spectrum, and the cross-over point depends entirely on which side of the bed the tourist office got out, before sending the map off for printing.
If it's 'your head' that's causing the issue, then try to think of strategies to defeat that, rather than worry about the slope itself. ("Hmm: wonder why Jenna was in a bad mood when she graded this run?". "Looks like the factory ran out of blue poles today" etc. )

AND: some of the blues in La Tuille can have bits in them that would be reds elsewhere... so while you may think you are ending up as a "blues cruiser", you're skiing "reds" really.

(That's not to say that in other resorts, there aren't 'red's that should be 'blacks' - Clair Blanc in Arcs is a prime example!)

But yes: it's not supposed to be stressful, it is supposed to be enjoyable. Remember that, and it will go a long way to helping you deal with whatever white fluffy bit is thrown at you.
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Maireadoconnor wrote:

Never be afraid to use your Get Out of Jail Free cards - sideslipping and traversing.


This. Particularly sideslipping - practice this in variable conditions, on both sides, and you'll have a skill that can get you out of all sorts of tricky situations. Knowing you can fall back on this may give you the confidence to not need to.
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You know it makes sense.
Quote:

Never be afraid to use your Get Out of Jail Free cards - sideslipping, traversing and a hipflask.


FIFY
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mgrolf wrote:
Maireadoconnor wrote:

Never be afraid to use your Get Out of Jail Free cards - sideslipping and traversing.


This. Particularly sideslipping - practice this in variable conditions, on both sides, and you'll have a skill that can get you out of all sorts of tricky situations. Knowing you can fall back on this may give you the confidence to not need to.

We will all, ( well most of us) get ourselves into this situation from time to time, I was like you , and other skiers darting past , or the sound of a boarder scraping the ice behind me would freeze me on reds. I just would go to bits, but then when I got down, I would say ok, I did it, ( slowly) but would try again. Even this year I got a colly wobbler for a bit , while on top of a very steep, ( I had done this run several times before) part of the shumacker in Madonna, I went over the edge to discover it was hard packed ice, nowhere to turn so found myself stuck to close to the edge, while I was trying to think of how to turn around without losing my footing, five people ( all good skiers) came over the ledge and lost their footing and slid off down the slope, this didn't help my frame of mind, I side slipped, till I got to a part with a bit of snow, ( while pushing myself back a bit) and got my turn and the rest was easy, although my toes were curled, and my guts knotted, I managed. Glad to know how to side slip , glad to know that I could do it. This skill I learned while doing reds, in a state of panic like you. I also used to use bad words on my hubby, venting helped . Laughing Laughing I also find that reds because they have a lot of intermediates just practicing, and a lot of "" so called "" experts bombing past , tend to be scarier in busy resorts. For great practice try and pick a small unheard of snow resort, that isn't so popular, the runs will be less crowded, and you will find the relative peace and quiet helps you think your way out of a situation. I loved Kappl, close to ischgl, but very few people, that is just an example, there are other smaller resorts with great places to practice. Keep at it, you will improve every time.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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mgrolf wrote:
Maireadoconnor wrote:

Never be afraid to use your Get Out of Jail Free cards - sideslipping and traversing.


This. Particularly sideslipping - practice this in variable conditions, on both sides, and you'll have a skill that can get you out of all sorts of tricky situations. Knowing you can fall back on this may give you the confidence to not need to.


Yep, made the mistake of stopping on the steepest bit of Harakiri in Mayrhofen a couple of weeks ago. (In my defense, I know stopping was a mistake, but there was someone standing where I thought my turn might skid to who'd be there when we went over on the lift a few minutes earlier). After a couple of minutes of contemplation, I discovered I didn't have the bottle to set off by turning straight down the steep bit, so broke out the side slipping.

It's good to practise side slipping when you have the chance, so that you can steer when you actually need to use it in anger.
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jbob wrote:
@Debra, I skied it a couple of days ago and found it very tricky, and I'm one of the best skiers on the internet.
If you do get a lesson then you might want to focus on side slipping which is a get out of jail free card.

I'm happy skiing pretty much any piste, regardless of the colour of the piste poles (although not necessarily fast or with style Smile) but when I skied it a couple of years ago, I thought it was a fairly tricky red, as reds that have road sections often are.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
A good tip I've been given for sideslipping is to hold your poles in the middle so that there's no danger of tripping over them. If you're feeling nervous you might be tempted to drag them on the ground and there's a risk of getting tangled.
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Debra - I'd definitely invest in some private lessons on your next holiday if possible.
But just remember that most of us (except the kids or really advanced) revert to leaning back and doing all the wrong things in bad conditions. But if blues are what you do - just enjoy them! It's your holiday after all!
You could always try snowboarding! - I say this as a skier of 15 years who moved to the dark side last Christmas. And despite a minor breakdown on the second day I now love it!
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@Debra, red 6 and red 7 at La Thuile are both runs that need careful consideration before moving onto as they are often shaded and as the take you back to the village they often go through a freeze/thaw cycle, add to that they are high traffic areas they can be really hard.


There are many more runs that are more open on the top bowl and over that back which would give you lots of confidence, many of these are blues and reds.

As already mentioned good instruction to build on your technique and confidence is the way ahead, my wife is nervous yet will follow her instructor down any run as she trusts him, on the other hand she wont follow my line when she ski's with me and I have to be careful which runs we do.
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Dont ski with only your partner is the most practical solution, find another couple to pair up with. As the fartbag noted above, many nervous skiers are better with some buffer from their other half and being a 3\4\6 group stops it being such a black and white "hes fine im not fine" situation, as you get a range of responses to each slope, some support and second opinions etc. My husband used to be the nervous one many years ago and was infinitely better without me Wink
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@Debra, all of the above - especially the side slipping. Also, don't be afraid of putting in the odd snowplow break / turn where necessary. I saw a ski patrol guy use snowplow to get out to the Grand Couloir in Courchevel two weeks ago because the approach was all iced up, there is no shame in using basic techniques for difficult conditions at all.

In my view it is also worth paying serious attention to 'reading the snow' and choosing the right 'line' for the skills you've got. Both of which I think are overlooked by good skiers when skiing or leading a group down less challenging slopes (or offering advice on how to ski them?).

Each are fundamental on difficult terrain / offpiste (which I am not great at personally), but the reason why following an instructor down anything is always easier than going it alone is because they pick a line that you can manage and demonstrate the technique they expect as they do so.

I found the best way to become more aware of this is to lead a ski buddy who is less experienced than you down a slope on which you are comfortable, but looking for the line that you think they will be able to manage rather than the one you'd instinctively pick for yourself.

On even relatively basic blues there can be some quite steep gradients that will catch people out if they come at them from the wrong angle, the difference compared to a red (grading controversy / blurring aside) is that there is usually another line that can be taken which isn't that steep at all providing you put your turns in the right place.
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