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Dry Slope vs Snow skiing technique

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Dry Slope vs Snow skiing technique

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Recently having skied on snow for over 20 years I decided to try a dry slope for the first time...basically because it was no longer convenient to have gym membership I was wondering whether skiing on the Plymouth 160m long dry slope would be a good way of getting exercise doing something I like, I was hopeful since they seem to have smaller bristles than the surface with big bristles and holes.

I found it certainly rather tricky! Part of it may be that the hire skis probably don't have the greatest edges but I certainly found that it was like skiing on a mixture of earth (high resistance) and sheet ice (little grip) and my traditional way of skiing with high angulation and carving with lateral movement of the downhill ski was not very effective- the downhill ski kept of losing grip in a big way. I found out that it seemed that it was best to do a lot of unweighting vertical movement to really dig the edges in combined with keeping the weight as far forward as possible. Anybody have any tips or similar experiences?
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Yep - don't punish your self...go back to the gym or pub. I have a friend who placed in the top 10 world extreme ski championships in 1994 and 1995, he was also a trainer for the German mogul WC team 92-94 and I took him skiing on plastic at Sidcup in 1995...he was on it for 30 seconds, did one run and took his skis straight off and swore he would never ever ever do it again even if his life depended on it .... and that, folks, is a true story !!! You are a doctor....work 7 months and ski 5....you can do it, you know you can !!! It's the way to go. Very Happy
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I was up at the Dublin dryslope last night, I didn't ski but my fiance did, she had a lesson. She is an intermediate but she seemed to enjoy herself and she didn't have any difficulty on the surface. I haven't skied on a dryslope for a few years after getting a nasty thumb injury! But am now tempted to give it a try again.

krunchie63, what did your friend dislike so much as on snow there is a big difference in the feeling from ice to slush?
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Peter Ross wrote:
I was up at the Dublin dryslope last night, I didn't ski but my fiance did, she had a lesson. She is an intermediate but she seemed to enjoy herself and she didn't have any difficulty on the surface. I haven't skied on a dryslope for a few years after getting a nasty thumb injury! But am now tempted to give it a try again.

krunchie63, what did your friend dislike so much as on snow there is a big difference in the feeling from ice to slush?
....I ski 30 odd weeks a year on snow and Joerg about 40....it wasn't a question so much of what he hated (although that must be obvious) as ...why do it at all ?? You know what I mean.
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Dr. Will, Although a big supporter of dry slopes for beginners, I have to agree - I just can't ski the way I do on snow on plastic. I kept over-compensating for lack of grip and hated the introduction of skid when I didn't mean it. So stopped my plastic training this year. Was once told that only kids/v.light adults can actually carve on plastic. Shame, because for us snow starved Brits it would be great if you could actually ski properly on them. But - I did enjoy the booter jump at Hillend Very Happy
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Dr. Will wrote:
like skiing on a mixture of earth (high resistance) and sheet ice (little grip)


Yep, very different properties to snow. As you say, hire kit often adds to the problems too.
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dg3 wrote:
Dr. Will, Although a big supporter of dry slopes for beginners, I have to agree - I just can't ski the way I do on snow on plastic. I kept over-compensating for lack of grip and hated the introduction of skid when I didn't mean it. So stopped my plastic training this year. Was once told that only kids/v.light adults can actually carve on plastic. Shame, because for us snow starved Brits it would be great if you could actually ski properly on them. But - I did enjoy the booter jump at Hillend Very Happy


So I guess at 92 kg I don't classify as a v light adult Very Happy I had better joy with one of their 170 cm hire skis than 160 cm so at least I had more edge to play with but it did seem that I really had to ski in a classic non-carving fashion with vicious downweighting to stop the skis sliding away from me.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
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Dr. Will, I'm about the same weight as you, and you definitely can carve on Dendix. There are loads of summer races that prove that (although the lighter adults and kids can do a better job of it). It's harder, but just possible on Snowflex, but probably have to take it fairly gently. I was just about managing to carve on the top of Gloucester main slope (which is Snowflex). You just need extremely sharp skis, and be veeeeeery careful with the technique - no sudden moves of any variety. Permasnow (the stuff at all John Nike slopes) is even harder to ski on. Ah, just seen that Plymouth is a Nike slope, so that is the worst stuff I've come across for skiing on. I've only skied that once at Bracknell, and it was just about possible, but one mistake, or hit a bald patch and your run's toast. Bad luck.

Your up/downweighting antics sound a bit iffy to me - and probably are adding to your problems, putting higher pressures on the stuff than it can withstand. An ex-"World" Champion we were skiing with just last week ( Wink....sorry, in-joke) was describing the required technique "as like skiing on eggshells". There is certainly way less grip than on snow, and so you do end up going slower and having to ski more even-footed and with more angulation (and less inclination) than on snow.
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Dr. Will, Ditto GrahamN, it is possible to ski well plastic. Not sure how much exercise you'll get though.
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I guess the hire skis may not be sharp enough since when I try to ski gently they don't grip. The reason I downweight is so that I can try and force some grip while being even footed with not much angulation though I guess it can be counter-productive if it is too harsh!
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I ski Snowflex regularly. I always find it very difficult the first few times after skiing on snow but once I'm used to it again then it isn't a problem - including carving. Infact, for some reason or other, I can only carve on my current skis. They just wont skid turn propperly at all. All very juddery. Infact I thought I was loosing the ability to ski but after going back to the hire skis It turned out to be my skis that were causing the problem.

I skied a lot on the dryslope over the summer and was amazed at how I had progressed by the time I got to the Atomic Boot camp this November. It was also the first ski trip where I could get out of bed in the morning and walk sensibly to the loo without walking like C3-PO from Starwars.

One thing though, my current dryslope skis (which admittedly were cheap) have taken a real pounding from skiing on Snowflex. Infact you can litteraly see the wood through the base along the edges. Not a good idea to use your best skis then.

I also agree with GrahamN that the Permasnow stuff at Plymouth is about as bad as it gets. If anybody went to the Ski and Snowboard show at the NEC this year then they would have seen, and deffinately heard, Permasnow in action.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
So is the Permasnow Ski tech in another name?
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
No need to answer- I've worked out that it is! I guess the advantage for the centres is that it is advertised as not requiring sprinklers.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
krekeg, welcome to snowHeads snowHead
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Dr. Will wrote:
No need to answer- I've worked out that it is! I guess the advantage for the centres is that it is advertised as not requiring sprinklers.


The idea was insurance costs would also be reduced. I'm unsure if this proved to be the case in the end - I heard that the injuries just tended to be different . .
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
dg3, I am with you, If you are carrying a bit of weight the technique needed to ski plastic doesnt transfer well to snow skiing IMO and i am becoming very dubious of the merits of plastic skiing for advanced skiers other than getting hours in and doing drills to help balance.

THe person GrahamN, referered to had won virtually everything there was to win on plastic in the UK and when I asked him about it he said forget plastic and get yourself down to the snow dome......
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Quote:

forget plastic and get yourself down to the snow dome......

I'm a snowdome fan too. Unfortunately, living in the South West, the nearest is three hours away and my dryslope is 20 mins. Having said that, tonight it was -1 degrees out on the dryslope and what with the misters freezing up and all the surface ice it could have been Tamworth!
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Interesting one this and I totally agree with what GrahamN says.

I guess I have it easy because I'm smaller and lighter than some but I never realised it made that much difference.

I'm an advanced skier I guess, I'm training as an instructor at Gloucester, and I find it's great practice for the snow. When I headed out to Tignes for the Atomic bot camp back in October I found I coped very easily with the hard icy conditions that we had and I was certainly in trim for it too as a result of regular sessions on plastic - no aches and pains after a day out on the mountain.

However I think the different surfaces do make a difference, I don't particularly like the snowflex at the top of the main slope in Gloucester although if you're careful with your edging you can carve adequately. I've heard the surface they use at the John Nike slopes is worse and I don't particularly fancy trying it. Dendix is fine as far as I'm concerned and has helped me to improve massively since I've skiing it but it is unforgiving and if you make any major technical errors you can end up with a heavy fall which is not at all pleasant on that surface.

All in all though I think skiing dry has been of real benefit to me although if there was a snowdome nearer than Tamworth I have to admit I'd choose that in preference to dry for having fun on. snowHead
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roga, of the various dry-slopes I've been on, Gloucester is by far my favourite (well, I would say that wouldn't I...). I am very unfortunate to be in a position to compare it to Plymouth (which uses the Permasnow), I say unfortunate because it means I've skied on the Plymouth slope. I cannot truly describe quite what a horrid experience that was! I'm not a fan of dry-slopes at all, but have managed a few half-decent evenings at Gloucester. My trip to Plymouth however... no grip (and I mean no grip) was the main problem. I don't know what the short learner slope behind the clubhouse is like, but the main slope is horrific. Every time I went to turn or put the skies more on edge they just slipped down the slope, often resulting in me ending up on my rear-end... (new training bottoms since bought).
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skimottaret, dg3, I think the weight issue is being overplayed...Plastic is (a bit) different to snow, for sure, but having taught on it for nearly 20 years I've not come across anyone who couldn't benefit from the surface (Dendix).

It is true that the pressure build up is different, you don't get the same sort of platform that you do on snow, but you can generate edge angles etc with practise. IMV plastic has three major advantages - they're here, the cheap (er than snowdomes) and they don't change - which is ideal for practise.

At the (very) high end - FIS races, ISTD, then you'll need to be on snow for sure, but for most of us plastic practise can only help.
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ski, I'd agree the weight issue is in danger of being overplayed here - and skimottaret is just trying to justify his prejudices Wink . In the last race of the 2006 season, the guy who came third overall - so beating nearly all of the lightweight wannabe kids - was 43, probably weighed about 14 stone and that was his first race for about 4 years. He was only beaten by his son (British team) and one other super-fast guy. He clearly had no problems with high speed carving. The rest of us just have to bow down in awe. All of that applies to Dendix though, and my limited experience on Snowflex and particularly Permasnow is much less positive.

I think the techniques you learn on dry transfer very well to snow (except when there's too much soft stuff about Embarassed ), it's just that on snow you can generally push them much harder, and you generally have to cope more with surface variablility. Transferring from snow to dry is a different matter - dry really shows up where you're taking the easy option on snow.
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skisimon wrote:
roga, of the various dry-slopes I've been on, Gloucester is by far my favourite (well, I would say that wouldn't I...). I am very unfortunate to be in a position to compare it to Plymouth (which uses the Permasnow), I say unfortunate because it means I've skied on the Plymouth slope. I cannot truly describe quite what a horrid experience that was! I'm not a fan of dry-slopes at all, but have managed a few half-decent evenings at Gloucester. My trip to Plymouth however... no grip (and I mean no grip) was the main problem. I don't know what the short learner slope behind the clubhouse is like, but the main slope is horrific. Every time I went to turn or put the skies more on edge they just slipped down the slope, often resulting in me ending up on my rear-end... (new training bottoms since bought).

It sounds like a nasty experience but I've heard poor things about it from a few people about this surface and this slope so you're not alone... if that's any consolation Toofy Grin
GrahamN wrote:
ski, I'd agree the weight issue is in danger of being overplayed here - and skimottaret is just trying to justify his prejudices Wink . In the last race of the 2006 season, the guy who came third overall - so beating nearly all of the lightweight wannabe kids - was 43, probably weighed about 14 stone and that was his first race for about 4 years. He was only beaten by his son (British team) and one other super-fast guy. He clearly had no problems with high speed carving. The rest of us just have to bow down in awe. All of that applies to Dendix though, and my limited experience on Snowflex and particularly Permasnow is much less positive.

As I say I don't like the snowflex bit a Gloucester but I have noticed the more you ski it the easier it gets and I've seen some of the instructors when we're training ski it with style which is something that currently eludes me because I tend to ski it like I'm on eggshells Laughing
Quote:
I think the techniques you learn on dry transfer very well to snow (except when there's too much soft stuff about Embarassed ), it's just that on snow you can generally push them much harder, and you generally have to cope more with surface variablility. Transferring from snow to dry is a different matter - dry really shows up where you're taking the easy option on snow.

Yup, that hits the nail absolutely on the head IMHO Very Happy
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Quote:

and skimottaret is just trying to justify his prejudices


GrahamN, too right dendix sucks NehNeh NehNeh shame we didnt get to go at it head to head in the gates, it would have been interesting to compare times Toofy Grin
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skimottaret, absolutely....but you should know that even my best run on that day was waaaay down on even my slowest this summer NehNeh NehNeh NehNeh . That, i.e. not having enough time to work out what did and didn't work in those gates, was what made the whole week so incredibly frustrating.
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GrahamN wrote:
There is certainly way less grip than on snow, and so you do end up going slower and having to ski more even-footed and with more angulation (and less inclination) than on snow.


I don't quite understand what you mean by more angulation and less inclination at the same time- in which direction do you angulate more if you are less on the edges?
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Dr. Will, the difference between angulation and inclination are described on this page.
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GrahamN, i would have been curious to see how we compared on snow and plastic. I am sure you would crush me on plastic but not as badly on snow, perhaps it would be interesting to see what the differential would be between the surfaces....
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You're probably right, and it certainly would.
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To, to add more fuel to the flames......... just last week, I raised the issue of "The plastic skiers say that your technique needs to be perfect to ski on plastic, therefore plastic is a much better training surface than snow" - to an assembled crowd of instructors, which included 3 BASI Grade 1´s, plus two more BASI Trainers.

When they had stopped laughing long enough to pass a comment, they said that BASI would never allow them to say anything that contradicts that view....... wink but the consensus was that you needed a *different* application of snow technique to ski plastic well. It didn´t necessarily improve your snow technique, per se.
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veeeight, I am guessing they were assembled in a snowdome and not a dry slope wink ... I do think it forces one to get on the front of the skis and that is a good thing, but i am am struggling to see that hours on the dry slope is going to significantly help me on snow other than just staying in practice and improving balance... I am starting to think that two hours a week on plastic compared to say a week on snow every few month is much of a muchness in terms of improvement with the snow option being a heck of a lot more fun Toofy Grin
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 Poster: A snowHead
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I think there will always be people who hate plastic, those who tollerate it and those that enjoy it.

Personally, on a rainy day in June I'd rather be out getting wet doing a few runs when the slopes at it's best than sat at home watching telly or, heaven forbid, reading forum threads all day!
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Quote:

"The plastic skiers say that your technique needs to be perfect to ski on plastic, therefore plastic is a much better training surface than snow"


That's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard Shocked

Given a choice between plastic and snow, snow wins every time. But... if you can't get to the snow, the plastic practise (IMV) can only be a good thing. Yes the technique is a little different to snow, but most things, that most people need to fix can be worked on perfectly well on Dendix.
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krekeg wrote:
Personally, on a rainy day in June I'd rather be out getting wet doing a few runs when the slopes at it's best than sat at home watching telly or, heaven forbid, reading forum threads all day!


And that's the key to plastic skiing IMV: 'rain'.

I'll only go (to Hillend) if its raining and am actually starting to enjoy it Madeye-Smiley Cold weather helps too, as the main problem seems to be the skis oveheating when you load them up in a carve. If you're tall/heavy you probably need bigger/stiffer skis to spread the load over more area.

Apart from physical preparation for a ski trip it also lets you get familiar with your ski boots, so sore feet may be avoided on holiday. If you get lots of time on snow then maybe I wouldn't bother but if your snow time is limited then a few visits may help improve the quality of that snow time.

I have to admit that skiing on plastic has done nothing for my soft snow technique, in fact I think its got worse!
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Dr. Will, I'm considering going along to the Plymouth slope. I'll give you my verdict once I've been. What's it like there, are the people nice?
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veeeight, as with most things in life, there's truth on both sides and both extremes are ridiculous. If you put the question as stated, then you were quite rightly laughed off the court. So:

1) Choose between equal time on dry or in the mountains? Mountains every time.

2) Would dry slope practice help get my Eurotest? No chance.

3) Can I become a rounded skier skiing only on dry? Don't be ridiculous, snow time is vital.

but

4) "Dryslopes are only useful for beginners working out which boot to put on which leg and what a snowplough is". No way. I started on dry as a slightly above averagely competent holiday skier, and my skiing has been transformed by my time on dry.

5) It costs me about the same for 7 hours on a dry slope or two in a snowdome, which do I choose? Dry slope

6) Similarly, it costs me a similar amount for one week coached in the mountains vs 2 sessions a week on dry slope every week of the year. Take an extra (say 5th) week in the mountains and lose the dry slope? No, I'll take the all year round practice.

7) Dryslopes are pretty ruthless in exposing technical faults, so are a good training surface. But so is an icy piste.

8) Dryslopes are pricipally useful for improving your on-piste skills, but in improving general balance and coordination also make noticeable improvements in off-piste performance as well, although does very little for deep snow technique per se.
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johnnyh wrote:
Dr. Will, I'm considering going along to the Plymouth slope. I'll give you my verdict once I've been. What's it like there, are the people nice?


Yeah the people are friendly and helpful and it's pretty quiet in the off-peak periods, though have only skied there twice so far. The main slope is 160m long and gets progressively steeper towards the top- the first half seems to have less resistance and the second half is flatter with more resistance. There was a couple of areas where the surface was lifting up last time but they may have repaired it since.
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6 months of twice weekly carving on Snowflex. Not nice to ski bases! Good fun though.

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Hokay, was at Tamworth earlier after not being there for a few months.

It was rather an interesting experience, the slope was quieter than at weekends when I've usually gone in the past, in fact more comparable to the numbers of people you tend to get on whichever slope I happen to be on at Gloucester so I feel it's a reasonable comparison between the two.

Couple of things struck me, firstly all the ice seems to have gone because they've been working on the roof cladding which seems to have stopped the drips. So on the face of it the snow is a lot nicer but... and here it comes... it was way too easy especially without the icy bits. To be frank if it wasn't for the other people on the slope I could have easily skied down it backwards with my eyes closed... well okay the eyes closed bit is an exaggeration 'coz there are walls to hit but a couple of times I got so bored with how unchallenging it was that I was doing 180/360 turns and going down backwards for a mo or two just to add some variety (this was on my piste skis rather than twin tips lol). Was also doing the one legged turning exercises and all that stuff when there was room.

In comparison with Gloucester, at least the longer main slope, it was far, far easier and seemed somehow blander too - at least on dry you do get variations (contrary to come people's opinion) - patches of slippy slidey wet mat and patches of sticky nasty dry mat and everything in between. Technically IMHO there's absolutely no comparison - the dry is far more of a challenge I'd say. Okay I guess the Tamworth slope is less steep than Gloucester and has less undulations and changes in steepness but I'd still say you can get away with far more on snowdome snow and don't have to get your technique just right for the surface to the same extent.

However on a mountain you do get far more challenge and far more variations in terrain and snow so please don't think I'm suggesting a mountain is the same as a snowdome snow, I'm simply comparing the two surfaces that I have available reasonably locally to me that's all Toofy Grin

Having said that by the end of the session I was enjoying bombing down whilst avoiding beginners and waggling one ski in the air or whatever silly thing I happened to be doing and racing back up to the top again and it was certainly nice to have something snowlike under my feet/skis again so I'd go again for sure but probably with the kids snowHead
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Another interesting snippet. I've just spent the last 3 days in the company of some ex racers, now ISIA instructors, who tell me that their dry slope race club focussed on "snow technique" practiced on dendix, as opposed to "dry slope racing". With the result that their club results when dry slope racing were crap, but on snow they beat practically everyone else!
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ski wrote:
Quote:

"The plastic skiers say that your technique needs to be perfect to ski on plastic, therefore plastic is a much better training surface than snow"


That's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard Shocked

Unfortunately, that's the mantra that gets chanted by quite a few of the die hard plastic fanboys when defending plastic in skiing.
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