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Bored with ski school?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I have become a little bored with ski school because the group travels at the speed of the least capable skier - and you have to keep stopping for rests. (Why can't Brits get off their bums and get fitter?) Plus, I've found that as I've moved up groups each week, eventually you get in a group where everyone has skied for many years and just isn't going to get any better.
This concerns me slightly because I want to keep on improving and not get stuck in a rut. What is the answer? I have had private lessons, but in the last resort we went to (Lech) these were far too expensive.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
If you can find a like-minded group of your standard you could do a private lesson much cheaper, but still have quite alot of individual attention. As a private hire you will find the teacher has more incentive to do exactly what you want.
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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?
erica2004, I appreciate the cost arguement for 1:1, but having had a weeks worth earlier this year (6 x 2 hours), I can't recommend the route highly enough. If you really want to improve your skiing dramatically (not withstanding the fitness side of things), then it's the only way. If the cost really is too much, could you double up with someone at a similar level to you and reduce the individual price accordingly?

Like I say, the extra cost = better value for money in the longer term as you get more out of your skiing holidays IMHO. Good luck, anyway.
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erica2004, if you're who I think you are then I think you've been ski=ing about the same number of times as me (~6 weeks worth). For our last trip we went to Val Thorens and threw off the shackles of the ski school for the first time, taking only a single 2.5 hour private lesson.

I have to say we had a fantastic time, we could go where we wanted, when we wanted at the speed we wanted. From the educational point of view it did mean we could try out the things we'd been taught previously (and some things I picked up here on snowHeads). For my ski=ing what I need at the moment is practice and confidence. We did a lot of blue run ski=ing but when we did venture onto reds we were entirely happy and in future would not be put off by them. Haven't tried any blacks yet!

We still intend to do some ski schooling, but probably just a couple of private sessions a week.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
erica2004, from my own and other's experience I would say that you have to say hang the expense and go with a "guru" for a week. The only problem (apart from the money) is that you may not "click" with the particular one you choose. Some years ago I persuaded a ski-mountaineering friend (who in my HO was more of a mountaineer than a skier) to come with me on an Ali Ross course. I had studied his videos and book but had not been on such a course before. The effect on my friends' skiing was dramatic, and we both continued in later years to do advanced courses with Ali. However, I would say about 20% of the "foundation" group didn't get on with Ali's approach at all. I can't say whether this is representative because, by definition, all those you meet on the advanced courses have returned for more and I only did the one basic course.

There are many "gurus" out there now, eg Warren Smith has been mentioned in these pages, others praise Mountain Masters etc etc.

If you're serious about improving you'll just have to bite the financial bullet I reckon, and stick with it if you don't get on with your first choice. If you're the type of learner who can relate to video or printed instruction then that is also a valuable, and somewhat cheaper, preparation!
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You'll need to Register first of course.
The other option is to do something like the EpicSki Academy, which will be in Big Sky, Montana, next year. It's a 4 day school where you are in small groups (4 or 5 to a group) and you get some top class US instructors, who travel in from all over the country just to take the Academy.
It's not just 4 days of skiing lessons, but evening activities as well.

I can post more if you want, or look for another thread, I think I called it the Ultimate Ski School
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
If you are a reasonably good recreational skier, like to teach, and the travel and other logistics work out, consider becoming a part time ski instructor (even at an indoor facility). There is probably no better way to get superb, on-going training at advanced levels of the sport. You don't have to be an expert to get into the profession.

Tom / PM
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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!
Hmmm. I agree with all of the comments above, but I also ask:

Have you ever been in a group where the abilities are very closely matched? The last instruction I had was as part of a 5-day lesson plan with 8 others in the group. All were advanced enough to carve short turns on the steepest pitches, on groomed snow at least. Fun all over the mountain!

To get to my point: that group of 9 was culled from a ski-off of more than 100 skiers, who had all signed up for the Monday-Friday lesson plans. If you start with a large group of lesson candidates, you can have more consistent and fun groups. So, if you plan to take group lessons, it is good to go with large groups.

(In my case I was adjoint to some 8-10 buses of senior skiers).

PM, I'm certainly not expert so your post is actually intriguing. How much time per week do you oblige yourself to?
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
erica2004, You don't have to do a whole week of lessons. I reckon that if you take two or three 1½ hour lessons that's easily worth a week of group lessons. Some schools do smaller groups - not all ski schools are the same. Look around and find out, you'll find a formula to suit you I'm sure.
Alan Craggs, I have to take you to task. If someone achieves "guru" status then it's probably by good marketing, money and advertising. I think all people should stay away from "gurus". They usually believe their own hype, and that's often what it is. (I exclude Ali Ross from this statement) Little Angel
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Physicsman, why do you think this is my hobby? Wink (and I don't mean the website, although that is as well)
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
easiski, well I haven't skied with you yet of course rolling eyes Wink Maybe you're right, I have only my experiences with Ali to go on and others' comments over dinner in chalets etc. But is there not a difficulty of "looking around" for someone booking a holiday from the UK? "Gurus" get bookings because they somehow get the necesary publicity, ski schools get a rather more mixed response - folk seem more likely to complain about the "big players" eg ESF and praise the smaller ones eg Evolution 2 (quite big themselves now though). I was unaware of your existence until snowHeads' creation - but now I might even be tempted to return to LDA (not one of my favourite places based on only 1 trip) Little Angel
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
erica2004, the message is clear: if you want to get on, go private.
"Ski School" only worth it for the social side, and not all ski school pupils are that social.
The best of both worlds can be got by organising your own group. I manage this every January. Eight of us have been skiing with the same instructor for 6 years. We share the cost, have a great time, and Christoph knows us so well we just start off each year where we ended the last one.
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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
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
comprex wrote:
...PM, I'm certainly not expert so your post is actually intriguing. How much time per week do you oblige yourself to?


Since we are practically next door neighbors, I'm finding it amusing to be communicating with you via an overseas forum, but such is modern life.

Anyway, to answer your question, at Whitetail, to be retained after your first year, a part time instructor has to log at least (something like) 35 or 40 teaching contact hours over the season. My schedule was Wednesdays and Sundays 2 PM to close, and by being an eager beaver and not bending over to adjust my boot buckles too often at lineup, I exceeded that number by 50%. This is in spite of the fact that I did not work the Christmas / New Year holiday rush (family travel), and I missed two weeks of the season because of car problems.

They have various other rules such as the maximum number of hours per day that you can work, but if its obvious that as a rookie, you do a good job teaching levels 1-4, and that you don't shirk away from potential problem students (eg, the 300+ lb woman that can hardly walk, the 12 folks from southern China that had never seen snow and couldn't speak English, the whining kids, etc.), you'll have no problems.


Alan Craggs wrote:
...Physicsman, why do you think this is my hobby? (and I don't mean the website, although that is as well)...


Sorry, I can be very dense at times. I don't get the reference to the Cardiff SS. Did you become an instructor there for the reasons I suggested in my previous post, or are you saying something else?

Tom / PM
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Physicsman, partly, yes. It'a a great way to (hopefully) improve your own skiing and very satisfying to be able to introduce others to the sport. Not much powder to practice in though Crying or Very sad
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Alan can't you make artificial powder by shredding dendix?
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
So that's what all that white dust on my clothes is.... Wink
ski holidays
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
erica2004, Mr HH and I often take a private lesson together, halves the cost but you still get really personal instruction....only works if you're much the same standard though.

This year we went for a small ski school....based on advice from snowHeads (thanks guys!)....which was also fantastic. Just three mornings in the week and a very small group, a much better experience than the usual ESF stuff.

My advice is...when you've picked a resort, post something up here asking for a recommendation for an instructor/school, there's nothing better than a recommendation from someone who's used them and knows their style.
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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?
Thanks - I'll pay for private lessons in future. I think I still need an instructor just for 'feeling safe'. When we were in Saas Fee in Feb., I was doing 3hrs ski school a day, then 2hrs private lesson with husband, son and friend. Our private instructor was called Othmar Supersaxo (great name - one I shall never forget). He did teach us a lot - albeit a little 'old-fashioned', according to our next instructor in Lech. I started skiing in Feb2003 and have had 5 weeks skiing since then. I've learnt to ski in a whiteout (Othmar - 'I vill teach you a turn to use when you can't see') I can carve blues fast and parallel ski straight- forward reds. Short swings still elude me, although I try! I can manage short turns in the centre of a wide slope, but not on a narrow slope! I panic! Our instructor in Lech had us holding our poles out to our sides to make parallel lines in the snow - we had to make turns between the lines. I ended up on my face more than once. Any tips?
I've discovered this sport late in life - I'm 41 - but I can't get enough of it - am I going mad? My computer screen saver is a snow scene and I'm still practising turns in bed!
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It sounds like you need to learn how to use your feet - carving fast turns on blues and reds is great fun but doing short turns on the steep and narrow requires a slight modification to your technique. Did you end up on your face because both skis weren't pointing the same way at the same time by any chance? I find "pivot slips" to be a nice foot turning exercise.

As for going mad - noooooooo! (I was a mere 36 when I started though) Cool
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yep Alan - definately both feet *not* in the same direction - my skis crossed. What's 'pivot slips'? Can I practice this on the dry ski slope? Cheers
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erica2004, I think you may well find plenty of other late starters here, so you're in good company. As for me, Feb 2002 aged 38 and have done 8 weeks and can't get enough of it either. Only accomplished short swings after a very selfish week on my own with some intensive lessons. Sod the cost, it was worth every penny snowHead Cool snowHead Hope you're able to sort something out. Oh, and practising turns in bed seems perfectly normal - it's when you start turning tricks that it all goes a bit pear shaped Wink
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
erica2004, Bob Barnes had a nice little "toon" of pivot slipping on the old epicski, I'll see if I can find it and point you to it (unless anyone else can in the meantime). You CAN do them on a dryslope but those nasty bristles (and seams between mats) can catch you out if you do not have pretty good ankle/edge control skills, so I would recommend doing them on snow - hard and icy is good so Tamworth might be ideal!
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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!
erica2004, It sounds as if you're doing really well for 5 weeks ski-ing. Don't think you're a late starter though. My oldest ever beginner was 82 and his wife was 78. I won't say they did brilliantly, but they'd always wanted to try it and had a great week. The oldest person I ever taught who became quite good started when she was 62, and used to go with me to Heini Messner's race camp in the Stubai. She was quick too. Sadly she's dies now, but I have some super client/friends now who started in their early 50's, and are almost ready to try a black. Their aim is to be able to ski La Grave. Stick with the private lessons, lots of good advice above, but do ask if your instructor teaches modern methods - there's no point in learning stuff that's 20 years out of date. I agree absolutely with Alan Craggs, about the foot skills. Carving is great and a good base, but foot turning skills are very important as well. Try to ski on your own, as although it's a bit scary to start with, you do need to be able to do it without your instructor.
Alan Craggs, Most people who don't like LDA the first time just never discovered the best bits. Come again!! I might even pop over to Cardiff when I'm back in Bath in the autumn (no car here at present). Do you know my pal Richard "mad dog" Evans?
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You don't mean "Baggers" Bargoed surely easiski! I believe he's around at the moment, in between Beaver Creek and Threadbo. Hoping to meet up before he goes.


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Thu 27-05-04 10:42; edited 1 time in total
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
erica2004, here's the link from epicski and Bob Barnes .
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Erica, if you feel that your obsession with skiing is a form of madness, rest assured that is a divine madness, indeed. I started in my mid 40s, after spending most of my life hating snow and cold weather.

In one month, I will be giving up citylife, to move to the Colorado mountains!

As for you ski school experience, I've learned that one can not be "promiscuous " in their lesson taking.There are some excellent instructors, and some godawful instructors. If you are in a rut, take classes less frequently, and wait till you find some true experts.

As Fox mentioned, the Epicski Academy is superb!


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Mon 31-05-04 14:43; edited 1 time in total
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Wow ! That epic site is fantastic. So, I unweight the skis and turn my feet. Or, as I was taught to parallel ski - unweight the skis, lean down the fall line, angling feet, and the skis turn on their own. This is how I was trying to do short swings. I'll have to practise more. I can ski backwards - will that help?! Happy
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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
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
Hmmm - read that bit again erica2004, the bit about weight transfer resulting from not causing the turn. Do you see anything that makes you think "unweighting" is going on in those turns?
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Alan - I don't understand - to pivot skis don't both skis bear the same weight? i.e you don't do any weight transfer. We were taught pivot slips under the guise of a series of 'hockey stops'. We practised the short turns straight down the fall line of a red run.

In Lech we were taught that making a true parallel turn you must unweight (or flatten) both skis just before the turn, lean into the fall line letting the skis roll down the fall line,turn, then weight the downhill ski more. Then finish the turn to make it all look elegant...

We also learnt to pedal, as in the picture of 'The Slow Line Fast' the skier is pedalling - transfering weight quickly to make the turns.

I don't get the 'Dynamic Skier' - moving his body all over?? And what is the chap doing with his arms in the 'Pivot Slips' picture? Is pole planting ?Plus his knees don't look to be leaning up the hill enough?
Shall I go now?!
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
erica2004, here's my understanding of it all. Firstly though my comment about unweighting referred to your previous comment, not to the pivot slip exercise. The latter is rather more subtle than hockey stops, which tend to be rather brutal (as befits an emergency stop I suppose), involve a lot of edge biting and perhaps a tad of involuntary movement across the slope? The aim of pivot slipping is to turn both skis together through exact 180 deg pivots whilst the skier continues to travel in a dead straight line down the fall line. The skier in the animation appears to be using quite a lot of arm movement to bring his poles into position but that may be an artifact of the way the animation has been made. I wouldn't worry about that but instead concentrate on the feet and how much/little edge you need to use in the side slipping phase.

Quote:

you must unweight (or flatten) both skis


whilst it is true that an "unweighting" movement can help to flatten the skis, thus allowing them to turn by themselves into the fall line, the two terms are not synonymous. In fact, if you have been carving fast turns on blues what you should have noticed is that the skis have to change edge before you can start turning the other way - any flattening here is only a very transitory event during the transition from one set of edges to the other. As the turn progresses more pressure builds up on the outside (downhill) ski, not because you are "weighting" it but because you have no choice! As you come to turn again there will be a redistribution of pressure between the old outside ski and what is about to become the new one, but with modern skis and technique it can be quite a subtle business.

Quote:

the 'Dynamic Skier' - moving his body all over

I assume you mean the one where his body remains aligned more or less with the skis rather than "facing down the valley" as in classical speak? Again, I suspect the animation gives the impression that he is throwing his body around but all he is supposed to be doing is "more or less" following the path of the skis rather than adopting the rather more "countered" stance of yesteryear.

After all this, yes "unweighting", allowing flat skis to turn into the fall line, steering them with your feet to continue the turn, as that happens edging them into the finish of the turn and thus have more "weight" being transferred to the downhill ski is the way people were taught for many years , and can indeed result in "elegant" turns if done on easy terrain (or by expert instructors). One of the problems was that people got to that stage and then didn't progress, but as you clearly realise there is a lot more to do Little Angel

Time for me to go now!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Funny how a thread developes. This one started with the title "Bored with ski school?" , and has turned into a Ski School!
And certainly not boring Alan: I was reading your last post standing up and getting funny from colleagues round here as I absent-mindedly moved legs and body in time to your post. I don't think I looked very elegant!
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Yes, I understand that carving and parallel turns are 2 different things. Are you saying that parallel turns are now the wrong thing to do ? How does one progress from here? It can't be possible to carve the whole time, can it?
Erica - my feet are along way from my brain....and everytime I learn something new, something old gets pushed out of my brain (a famous Homer quote.......)
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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?
who said anything about carving and parallel turns being different things Puzzled I'm sorry if I've somehow conveyed that impression erica Little Angel if you are carving fast turns and your skis are going in different directions life can get tricky Razz however, that's by no means the same thing as saying that in "parallel" skiing your skis are parallel all the time Exclamation
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Ive only ever had 2 weeks of ski school and im fine- the only way you get better is to try harder things!

The only way I improve is by making myself ski runs that scare me but I know im capable of- i'll ski pretty much anything now - except the drop off the side of the cliff blacks

I just ski with a guide if there is one or just explore with friends

SKi school is great for technique etc but you need some guts too NehNeh
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
As far as I've been taught - what I call 'parallel' turns and 'carved' turns are different. Carving came into being when the skis became shaped in design. Conversely, you can't carve really short turns be because (I don't think) you can't buy a ski with a very short turning radius. This is what I have learnt as far as skiing goes.
1) Skiing is about going downhill by doing a series of turns. The turns control your speed.
2) When you first start skiing, nowadays, you learn a snowplough turn. Make a V with your ski tips and shift your weight from ski to ski to make turns. Resort to these in times of great fear.
3) Stem turns - traverse across the piste, move (pivot) top ski to bring ski tips together, weight top ski, turn and lift bottom ski parallel. Useful for me over bumps.
4) Parallel turn. As one turn finishes and another turn begins, you unweight your skis by leaning forward (and down the fall line) in your boots, flexing your ankles forwards and extending your legs. Your skis flatten and roll towards the fall line. You turn your feet - pivoting I guess, pick up the edges and on you go(in basic ski position) across the piste. With this turn, a certain amount of sliding can occur, however it does give good control and good braking because of the amount of snow you can displace. I use this sort of turn when it is steeper. Can use pole planting to initiate turn.
5) Carved turns - faster, smoother skiing- more movement of body across the skis at point of turn. i.e. the usual order of feet, knees, hips but your body makes a more obvious movement across the skis. No sliding, no pivoting - just a change of edges. Because carved turns make fine railway tracks, they displace only a small amount of snow, so braking is poor. I am only happy carving blue runs, with no bumps. Don't use pole planting.
6)A turn 'when you can't see and when it's snowing a lot and snow is piling up as you ski' - at point of turn, lift top ski out of the snow, bearing all weight on downhill ski. Pivot foot/ski in the air then place down in the new direction of travel. Bring other ski parallel. This is quite useful, but you need good balance.
OK I stand ready to be corrected!
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Erica - I hate to be blunt, but what you just described is technique that here in the US would be considered by top ski instructors and our PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) to be at least 5 years old. It may be appropriate for long "straight" skis, but is certainly not the way to get the most out of the short sidecut radius of modern "shaped" skis. The techniques you described are now considered to be "defensive" skiing (ie, excessive braking, not control of speed by choice of path). Because much of the old technique involves sideways movement of the ski over the snow, such technique is guaranteed to make soft deep or heavy tracked up snow, ruts and other irregular conditions MUCH more difficult than it needs to be.

Unfortunately, I am just about to leave on a long weekend holiday, otherwise I would write more about this myself, but let me earnestly suggest that you look at the following thread on Epic:

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=8972

From there, do a search on Epic for the phrases, "Ski the slow line fast", and "defensive skiing". You will find thousands of posts on these topics and should give you a good idea of what I'm referring to, the motivation behind it, the benefits, the techniques needed, appropriate equipment, limitations, etc. A fellow named Bob Barnes is the most authoratative spokesman on this subject, so be on the lookout for his messages. In addition, our own SSH is quite knowledgable on this topic, so perhaps he will chime in.

Cheers,

Tom / PM

PS - The techniques you described is exactly how I skied for 25 years, up to about 5 or 6 years ago. At that point, I started to incorporate modern technique, and when I became an instructor, *really* saw the advantages to it, and embrace it fully. Of course, one never "throws out the old". Occasionally, older technique will be totally appropriate for particular conditions, but having modern tecnique (on modern equipment) also in your bag of tricks will take you out of the rut you said that you felt you are in. In my ski school, we see quite a few advanced (but old school) skiers like yourself, and offer specific lessons to help with the transition to modern technique. Usually, with just a few lessons, they rip.

PS#2 - In case it's not obvious, all carved turns are parallel, but not all parallel turns are carved.
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Don't feel bad Erica; Bob Barnes' top-down animation still makes me super-nervous, uneasy if not on edge, as I constantly expect those arms to counter-rotate.

Jonpim, do you ever run through edging sequences with your hands in front of the monitor? They're used to it from me here. When I first discovered Harald Harb's website, I was thumb1-pinky2-pinky1-thumb2 for weeks.
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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!
Hi there Physicsman - I have read the epic thread - I have been taught this - i.e. 'to finish the turn' - to control speed by skiing back up the hill. I see many skiers who come straight down the fall line but never, ever complete a turn. The instructor we had in Lech was only 20 years old, so more modern in his teaching than the guy who taught us the old way in Saas Fee. However, we were still always told to 'face the valley'. Is this correct?

I may be explaining myself all wrong but what I was trying to get at was what happens as one turn becomes another - what you actually do, with your skis, at the point of transition. This is where I thought there was a difference between carved turns and pivot-type turns.
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comprex, you're the second American singing the praises of Harald Harb and PMTS on this forum. I'd better give it a proper look.
And no, I don't as a rule spend my time acting out skiing routines in front of my monitor, or any routines come to that. I am intrigued to find out what "thumb1-pinky2-pinky1-thumb2" is all about.

erica2004, though skiing articles and manufacturers suggest skis were straight (parallel) sided up until the end of the 1990s, this is untrue. Skis have for at least the last 30 years have had a "side cut" (front and back wider than middle), but recently the sidecut has been accentuated. Years before so-called carvers, Ali Ross was telling us that because of the curved shape of the ski, if we just put weight on the edge of the ski, it would turn and us with it ("the ski turns you: you don't turn the ski!").
Skiers have always been trying to carve with their parallel turns: the new skies have just made it easier.

I am still unclear though about this finishing business though. My impression is finishing a turn involves a degree of "over stearing" and slows me down. If I just keep starting turns then I maintain speed or go faster. I think this idea is at odds with expert opinion expressed here. Is there any hope for me?
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Please. Harald Harb did not invent "hand skiing." Every ski coach worth his or her salt uses this important mirroring tool to transfer movements of the shoulders, arms and hands to movements of the hips, legs and feet.

To hear Harald and his fan club, the sport of skiing sprang fully formed from Harald's brain.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Mon 31-05-04 14:07; edited 1 time in total
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