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Stubborn problem of turns on one side being much worse than the other

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I’m lucky enough to be getting in some early season ski time (with nice early season snow!) in Zermatt but I am finding a very consistent problem of my right turns being much weaker than my left turns.

I learned to ski as a teenager but then didn’t ski much for about 15 years. I’ve since spent 5 or 6 weeks over the past few years but my level seems to be stuck and I think it’s because of this ‘sidedness’ problem.

What I find is that my left leg feels a bit weak as I come out of the turn, almost like it is going to cramp. I thought maybe I am then compensating for this by shifting some weight on to the uphill (right) ski and then maybe all of this has become a habit - although some downward facing GoPro footage I took yesterday showed the downhill (left) ski with a decent flex in it so I don’t think this is the issue.

It does feel much weirder to me to press into the front of my boots on the right turn then the left turn.

To make matters worse, this sidedness completely screws up my rhythm and turn linking so anything moderately steep and it all comes apart. Once bad right turn and it’s all gone.

The problem seems to go away when I do nice fast shorter turns on a not too steep run. But as soon as it gets steep something goes wrong and I feel this weakness turning to the right. I realise now that I have been subconsciously making s turns with the left turning legs much longer than the right turning legs to adjust for this.

I have tried the drills - skiing through turns on one ski exercise and also bracauge and they seem fine on both sides.

The strange thing I realised today is that when I’m coming down really steep tracks and I need to side slip down, I only like to do that to the right (ie with the left ski downhill). This side slip this way feels very strong so it doesn’t make sense to me why I can side slip down anything on that side and only on that side. I would have thought it would be the other way around. Even hockey stops I would always do to the right, never the left, and it feels weird to do it to the left.

I will for sure get some more lessons and have had a bunch in the past. But I seem to be at a level/plateau where the advice starts to conflict or be a bit confusing. I’ve had some great instructors but I’m not sure they know quite how to untangle whatever is going wrong. I’ve also read the other threads here on this and tried many of the suggestions but they haven’t been to fix it yet.

I have some GoPro video of my skis (from the helmet camera facing down) in case this is useful, not if it will be but I will try to get some more on a steeper sleep today. GoPro Video 1 GoPro Video 2

Any ideas most appreciated!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@ajcach, other than a good instructor... esp. as technique has somewhat changed in the last period (maybe from before 15 years ago)?

You could just be much weaker on one side than the other. It sounds as though you are not doing the same thing on each different side.

I am usually the last to suggest it - it's usually not the equipment but the skier - but there could be a weird thing going on with your boots? Worth eliminating.

Good instructor should be able to remedy. Self remedy in this case - if you aren't already aware if you are doing something different - won't identify the problem.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Thanks @under a new name! I have heard that my technique is a bit old school so I am working on fixing that by using the sidecut and flex to help make the turn.

It's interesting you say that about the boots - I'm also much more inclined to think my technique is the problem Smile But I was wondering the same thing about the boots last night as they seem quite stiff and I think I am having trouble getting my CoG forward especially on the right turns. I had nice custom made soles for these boots which I think I have lost since last season so I'm going to go to Stoked and get some news ones now and see if that helps.

Agree also it's going to be hard to self remedy without an instructor. Going to have to bite the bullet on that in the next day or two.
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under a new name wrote:
@ajcach,

I am usually the last to suggest it - it's usually not the equipment but the skier - but there could be a weird thing going on with your boots? Worth eliminating.

Good instructor should be able to remedy.


Agreed technique/inhibition most likely, an experienced instructor should be able to assess and get things moving on.

Boots are worth checking though, I had a similar issue during a trip last season - only to discover I had somehow lost all the spine bolts out of one boot 130 flex versus not a lot!
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@ajcach, welcome to snowHeads.

It is very common to have a strong side and a weak side, I certainly do and probably a majority of the people I teach do as well. Sometimes it’s subtle and the skier isn’t aware of it, but careful observation spots some differences; other times the skier is very aware of it. It is difficult to know what the cause of this can be, sometimes physical, sometimes mental (even occasionally forgetfulness as the previous poster describes wink ). You are certainly not alone if you are a bit one-sided.

It’s difficult to tell from your two video clips as it would be nice to see what movements you are making rather than just what the skis are doing. However, I don’t see a significant difference between the performance of the left and right side in those videos. What I do see, especially in the first video, is that you don’t seem to be setting up each turn very effectively: skis are pushed sideways quite quickly, so they don’t grip at the start of the turn. This is a very common issue, and means that you don’t have a strong platform for the start of each turn, which might explain some of the feelings you describe in your first post. In the second video clip, which looks to be on slightly steeper terrain on slightly more variable snow, you appear to be “in the backseat”. Look at the front of your skis, as they are rarely in good contact with the snow. If the front of your skis don’t work with the snow it will be much more difficult to create smooth, round turns.

As others have suggested, a good instructor should be able very quickly to give you an idea of your skiing strengths and weaknesses, and provide some input to help you keep improving.

Fab shot of the Matterhorn!
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@ajcach, I have a similar problem, which is also less apparent on short turns. My problem - which is on the naturally weaker side - has been exacerbated by a hammer toe and what turned out to be completely shot footbeds. This resulted in half of my foot becoming numb and unable to apply any pressure. With new footbeds things are starting to improve and I have also been given an excellent drill by our own skimottaret (Inside Out Skiing). This is to extend laterally and drag the left pole along the snow throughout each, weak right hand turn. This helps to get the weight properly on to the outside (left) ski, encourages lateral separation and stops the banking which was happening on that side. After some hours of repeating that drill, the right turns were really starting to resemble the reasonable left turns. My lesson was at Hemel, but I aim to use the drill as a regular warm-up drill in the mountains.

(I hope I've described the drill correctly, perhaps skimottaret or rob@rar will come along to correct me if necessary.)
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Ah, one of them has already turned up! Very Happy
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Thanks everyone for the super helpful replies - really appreciate it! Smile

A quick summary of where I ended up after skiing this morning and testing out all these things -

For sure there are a bunch of issues happening with my skiing but I think the most central one I worked out this morning on the mountain is actually my boots. I don’t mean to take away anything from the problems with my technique, but let me explain what I found Wink

I went to the boot fitter at Stoked and he said my boots are two sizes too big. When I put my feet in without the liner, I could fit my hand in the area behind my foot. This makes sense now that I think about it as I don’t feel the control I need from these boots.

A related issue is that the boots also have very little flex, especially on the left side. They are Atomic Hawx and I couldn’t figure out how to adjust the flex. But the boot fitter said it won’t make much difference as they are way too big. I do find this a bit counterintuitive as I would have thought the boots being too big would give me flex, but in any case, cool.

As I was skiing down I realised that I could barely flex my left leg (it felt rigid straight) and impossible to get my weight forward. This was making skiing on anything even slightly steep painful and not at all fun.

So I’m going to go back to the bootfitter tomorrow and get some new boots fitted (and curse myself for not doing more research before buying boots and also the lazy guy at the store in Verbier who sold me boots two sizes too big!)

@rob@rar That’s a really helpful point about setting up for the next turn, thank you! Just to make sure I understand - would you say the issue is that I’m going from flat skis in the middle of the turn to jamming on the edges, rather than going through a more stable change of ski angle? Basically rushing the turns?

@Hurtle I will definitely try that drill - thanks!
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ajcach wrote:
Basically rushing the turns?
Yes, that's it in a nutshell. But it's not so much about the speed of your movements, but about what is happening with the ski and the snow. Subject to the caveat that I've only seen your skiing from an odd and incomplete angle in your videos, I think that rather than immediately balancing on / against the outside ski at the start of the turn you are pushing it sideways too quickly, pivoting it slightly as you do that. This means that rather than gripping to snow and starting a smooth, round turn it changes direction very quickly but without setting up the turn well, without giving you much control or performance form the ski. It's a very common issue, and is probably related to the "backseat issue" I think I saw in your second video.

And too big a boot won't help wink
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rob@rar wrote:
It is difficult to know what the cause of this can be, sometimes physical, ... You are certainly not alone if you are a bit one-sided!


As a beginner my turns were never "good" enough to compare, but I found long traverses to the right more difficult than to the left. I later found out I had a FAI which was probably causing a lot of imbalances... surgery fixed that and put an end to my rugby playing days, but at least I can still ski!

Re boots: My best ever skiing was ten days in Canadia with rentals way too big for me (I didn't realise at the time); looking back god only knows how I survived
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@ajcach, Have you got your skis on the correct feet? Very Happy
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
1. Check with a doc that you have no hidden health issues, such as leg-artery claudication.
2. Remove one ski. Slide, turn and carve on one ski. Do one day on the strong leg... two days on the weak leg.


http://youtube.com/v/Y9rCio0_X2g
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
@ajcach, Have you got your skis on the correct feet? Very Happy


Haha funny that you mention that... I realised this morning that I had my custom in-soles in back to front. But changing them back to the right way didn't make much difference.

Whitegold wrote:
http://youtube.com/v/Y9rCio0_X2g


Nice! I've been watching WS's videos but hadn't seen that one. Looks hard but worth a go!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Quote:

I realised this morning that I had my custom in-soles in back to front

You only need to do that if you want to ski switch.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
pam w wrote:
Quote:

I realised this morning that I had my custom in-soles in back to front

You only need to do that if you want to ski switch.


Sorry I meant I had the left and right swapped around. Having them back to front would be a whole other thing! (not sure how that would work?!)
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
@ajcach, i truly fail to understand how you could do this.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Quote:

not sure how that would work?!

it wouldn't. I was kidding....
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