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Dry Slopes - any good for good skiers ?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
What does anyone out there think ?

If you've got past the beginner stage, does a dryslope have anything to offer you ?

This question is aimed at anyone who lives a long way from the snow !
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Well, you might want to consider something like this

but then I am slightly biased on this topic Wink
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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?
It's ok for some basic practice and exercise but usually no where near long enough to significantly improve the technique, however if there's a good instructor on the slope they may be able to help correct mistakes you might be making
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Alan instructs at Cardiff dry slope, not quite Mordor but close enough to bear an uncanny resemblance, though any rumors of his being the spitting image of Sauron will I'm sure be strongly denied Laughing
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Ski, I used to be an instructor on a dry slope and as far as I'm concerned it's a great aid to gaining increased skill and confidence. One of the reasons is that by and large the surface conditions don't vary much so you can concentrate on learning without worrying about good snow/bad snow etc. The other reason is that the vast majority of instructors are part time and are doing it because they are real enthusiasts and want to pass on their enjoyment and love of skiing. I disagree with DG Orf I am certain dry slopes can and do help skiers to improve their technique.


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Thu 14-10-04 13:55; edited 1 time in total
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David@traxvax, I did say significantly improve, I do agree that some improvement can be made but it is very dependant (as always) on the quality of the instructor, some I've seen on my local dry slope were very good, others shall we say could teach the basics but were unable to spot let alone point out problems with stance etc. I still go to my dry slope a couple of times a year to practice and give a little extra work to the right muscles so I do think they're usefull, I also got my friends to go there to learn the basics before going on a ski holiday with them so they do have their place, sadly no dry slope can replicate the huge variation in terrain that a skier is likely to come across on a typical ski holiday nor the lengths of run
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Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
There's no doubt that skiing can be taught up to a reasonably high level on plastic. The key disciplines (horrible word) of skiing - stance, control, timing etc. - can be taught very effectively. Some kids spend quite a while on plastic towards becoming ski racers before they even touch snow.

Because the surface doesn't allow the full edge bite of the ski, the completion of each turn is inadequate but it's no big deal.

Another interesting thing to try (I don't know if there are any of these in the UK at the moment) is a moving carpet ski deck. These are really effective for building leg strength and rhythm, because you can ski for an indefinite length of time, unlike a plastic slope.

Wherever you go, get to know who the best instructors are. That's the most important factor.
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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!
David Goldsmith, said
Quote:

Wherever you go, get to know who the best instructors are. That's the most important factor


Absolutely right, that also applies in the mountains of course, but it's much harder for a tourist to find out that sort of info, especially if it's their first visit to a resort
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I learnt to ski on that tiny slope that they have at Esher and quite prefer the slope at High Wycombe to the real snow, indoor ones. To ski it well and to carve it takes a bit of technique. 'Bad' habits you may have on the snow such as banking will be found out on the plastic....and in the trees if you are at High Wycombe.
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Back in the eighties I learnt to ski on a dry slope at Crystal Palace ( not the worlds best) but it was cheaper to learn there than ski school in Austria. I also spent some time on the moving carpet on 24" skis all good fun. I would certainly recommend a dry slope with instruction if you can to concentrate on technique, Some time we can all do with revisiting the basics and getting rid of bad habits.
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Martin Bell, fellow snowHead (the World Cup skier, not the politician) commented:
Quote:

[Racers].... should only take plastic seriously up to the age of around 12 or 13, depending on body size. Up to this age, training on plastic can and does benefit racers' snow technique substantially. After this, as you approach adult body weight, Dendix is unable to support the forces that snow technique generates, (you literally start to bend the bristles flat) and so the techniques required for plastic and snow begin to diverge. A current Austrian Europa Cup racer, after competing in the "World Championships" at Wycombe a couple of years ago, having never skied on plastic before, said "you can't achieve the same Innenlage" (roughly translates as "inwards position"). Adults simply cannot reproduce the angles of modern ski technique on plastic. (Small, light kids can of course, and you see even the 8 or 9 year-olds now carving almost every turn they make on plastic, using shaped slalom skis. In fact some of them now even grow up not knowing how to pivot or "skid" a turn, but that's another story...)
That's not to say that occasional plastic racing will harm the snow technique of serious snow racers after the age of 13. There's no reason why they shouldn't show up at the occasional race to have fun, socialise, and help out their original club. Good to see Ed Drake doing the occasional plastic race still. Between 1987 and 1994 I used to always show up at the All-England at Gloucester or wherever for a good plastic tussle against the likes of Nigel Smith. But I was always aware that for fully-grown racers, plastic racing is almost a different sport.

(Bear in mind he was talking about would-be racers, not skiers simply looking to improve technique...)
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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.
Alan Craggs, in contradiction to D G Orf's suggestion that these slopes are "usually no where near long enough to significantly improve the technique", I suggest everyone has a good look at the picture at the top left of you link.
No! Not the sign saying Labour Ready
Look at the superb stance of the skier. If I looked anything like that I would be a very happy man.
So you can do expert stuff on a dry slope. It's just much more difficult than on snow.
If you can do it on a dry slope, you can do it anywhere.
(P.S. posted before I had read PG's quote from Martin Bell, but I still think the post is valid)
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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
Jonpim, I'm always happy to admit I may be wrong, although Martin Bells comments are still valid for any adult skier approaching intermediate level or higher on any dry slope (with the exception of anyone out there who can still buy kids ski wear). Many dry slopes are only 200M or even less in length with at best a gradient likely to be found on an easy red run, thus making it difficult to gain the experiences required to handle the steeper runs or hard icy patches often found in a resort.

I think dry slopes are a great aid to those who want to learn to ski, often meaning that they won't spend half their holiday on the nursery slopes, as I said earlier if they have a good instructor they may be able to help with your technique.

However in my limited experience of dry slopes ( and with appologies to Alan Craggs and David@traxvax who I'm sure are both very good instructors ) many of their instructors though not all, do not have the necessary experience or training to be able to get skiers much beyond a low level intermediate standard ( I once went to a dry slope where on the day I was there 2 of the 3 instructors were under 20 and 1 had only been on snow once ! ), they are still a great way to go and practice or wear in a pair of new skiboots though
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Rather than use plastic slopes as places to take instruction, and risk rather mediocre instruction, I have found it better to use them for instructor training and / or race training. Both have their advantages. You don't know how little you really know about skiing until you try to teach someone else. Race training really sharpens up the technique as you try to accelerate down the slope rather than trying to scrub off speed. The discipline forced on you by skiing gates is a real eye opener. When you see young racers, taught on plastic, ski with real skill on their first time on snow it is impossible to doubt the effectiveness of training on plastic slopes.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Last night I went to my local slope - Hillend for the first time in ages - it had been raining hard and I reckon I had one of my best times on plastic. No start stop sticky dendix issues, playing on the fantastic kicker they've built, (with padded landing) trying to keep my short radius in check on the steep top section and a few high speed GS turns through the wee cones - came back with a new appreciation of the bristly stuff. For me the secret is RAIN - go when it's pouring or just after and you can relax a bit more - which I find helps the mind focus on training/fault correction.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Quote:

Look at the superb stance of the skier. If I looked anything like that I would be a very happy man.
Jonpim, you ought to try a bit of stretching before you ski - it does wonders for your angulation.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Kit Wong, I found that picture quite disturbing. Shocked
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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?
That's one flexible lady! Toofy Grin
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Having qualified as ASSI, I should really be positive about Dendix and its cousins.
Good instruction has been mentioned. It is possible to do a lot of skiing on plastic and learn nothing. By its nature the uniform, flat surface does not require as much sensitivity or independent leg action. To learn, you have to create difficulties by doing varied exercises or having gates.

Dan wrote:
That's one flexible lady! Toofy Grin

Certainly flexible, though the nature of the site suggests that 'lady' may not be the ideal description. Little Angel
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
PG, As long as you're with an instructor/coach who is aware of the limitations of the surface, I would say almost any skier can learn something from sessions on plastic. But advanced carved turns on Dendix are tough for any adults, and require extremely sharp edges.
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But how many people would be willing to wreck their own skis on Dendix ? The hire skis at most dry slopes having rather blunt edges Sad
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Extremely sharp edges do a good job of shaving Dendix down to bare metal. Considering the cost of the matting, you have to understand slope operators not sharpening skis too often. Still, there's much to be learned from well controlled skid turns.
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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!
Well when you see what a couple of hours of Junior race training does to the slope we don't really mind the odd paying punter carving some turns Little Angel

But the sad fact is that very few "recreational" skiers have learned to carve turns on snow, never mind plastic. The number of folk on "carving skis" slip sliding their way around the mountains with ze good old shoulder turns makes you cry Crying or Very sad
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Alan, unfortunately most of them don't want tuition or think they don't need it.
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Alan Craggs, David@traxvax, you prompt some interesting questions:
How long should you keep having lessons?
How do you know when you have learnt to ski?
Should we continue to have lessons every year?
Should people involved in accidents be forced to attend refesher classes?

I have been skiing every year since 1986 (I try not to think of all the wasted years before then), but still go out with an instructor for a few days every season.
I no longer skid my turns ( like this ). I can carve, but I still place all the pressure on the outside ski, with little evidence of carving on the inside ski ( like this ). I hope to do better this season.....
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jonpim, I strongly believe there's still something you can learn, I've been trying to telemark off and on for the past few years and I've finally decided I'm going to have some lessons this year. What I'm not going to do is follow my sons into kite-skiing or boarding. I believe most skiers would get benefit from taking one or two lessons every holiday. BTW,why do you feel there's a problem with skidding, depending on the circumstances that could be the most appropriate method of turning. The one thing I have learnt and I hope David Goldsmith will back me up, because he's been skiing even longer than I have, is that there is no one turn which is absolutely correct for all circumstances. You use whatever turn you feel best suits the terrain, condtitions etc. I don't know about the accident issue because I passionately believe that the mountains are there for all of us, irrespective of knowledge, class etc. I certainly would not want to be perscripive about use of the mountains although I recognise that the safety of the whole is greater than individual rights, or is it?
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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.
David@traxvax wrote:
why do you feel there's a problem with skidding?
Good question. I suppose I don't really - skidding can come in useful at times - but the sheer g-force exhilaration of a fully carved (unskidded) turn is hard to beat.
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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
David@traxvax, nicely put, I too feel the need to aquire as many techniques as possible to aid me getting safely down the slope, one of the things that upsets me is the modern preference of getting people skiing parallel (carving) as quickly as possible, because I feel they dont cover in any detail the techniques required to deal with non standard situations.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
jonpim, couldn't agree more, but I also like doing neat little jump turns on steep slopes or short swings, or rhytmic linked turns in powder. It all depends on the conditions, but the best of all are high speed carved turns on spring snow. That is the holy grail IMHO. DG Orf, sorry but I don't see the need to teach wedge turns any more, any relevance they had went when short skis came in. I'm all for teaching parallel turns as quickly as possible.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
I learnt to ski in Austria (Obergurgl). It was the full traditional system: snowplough and sideslip before parallel.

As for things to learn: I have friends who do telemark. I also have friends who play Real Tennis. I'll stick to squash.
But there are things I want to learn:
1. Snowboarding
2. To go straight down a mogul field
3. To ski deep snow without feeling I'm going to fall over any minute
4. To ski as fast as my children
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
David@traxvax, the problem is that once people have learnt to parallel they seem to think they know everything and many then stop having lessons. I've nothing against people learning to parallel as fast as possible, but many of them don't gain the control they need on steeper slopes which is where accidents often seem to occur, hell half the people I meet on the slopes don't even seem to know how to do a traverse Confused
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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Jonpim, I'd give up on 4. if I were you, nobody I've met seems to be able to go as fast as their kids, though I'm sure a few racers out there probably can
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Jonpim, point no 4 I couldn't keep up with my youngest son from the age of 11, he now regularly jumps 60 to 80 feet, usually off the nearset cliff so theres no way I want to keep up with him now. I can still just about keep up with my oldest son but only because I think he lets me, although I did hear him telling one of his clients that his dad aged xxx could still keep up. The mogul slope is easier than you think, which way do you want to do it, over the tops or through the valleys? BTW the oldest clent my son has taught to snowboard was a 74 yr old woman, he keeps threatening to teach me but I'm too young, so far.
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Jonpim, a bit slow getting back to this thread due to trying to sharpen my dryslope skis for Castleford tomorrow (I expect someone will catch me trying to insert a modicum of unnecessary skidding Embarassed ). As far as I am concerned I never stop trying to learn - and every time I venture off piste with a guide who really knows how to ski (Remy Lecluse for example) I realise how much more there is to learn rolling eyes
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I agree with most of the posts so far:
1. You can never stop learning. I'm sure Martin Bell would agree (& I'm sure he's the best skier who contributes to Snowheads). No matter how long you've skied, or how much you've skied, you can always improve. I always try to feel sorry for the basic parallel skiers who think they know it all - what a lot they're missing.
2. Dry slopes are great. I agree that they're not a replacement for the real thing, but their main advantage is that you can't "cheat" like you can on snow. Try to force the skis round and you're likely to fall. Fall and it hurts! Evil or Very Mad
I worked at Sandown in the early 80's (we blunted the edges of new skis deliberatey) and trained the race team at Aldershot (Stainforth as it was then). We raced all over the country, and not all the slopes are flat and "samey" by a lot chalk. Most interesting plastic slope = The Lecht - full of folds and holes and bumps - VERY tricky and lots of fun. Hillend - huge. Favourite probably Southampton. Cute little slope with jolly traverses through the trees from one slope to the other. Very exciting parallel slaloms there. Razz
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Dry slopes are great! Nothing compares to the real thing but when you badly miss the snow and need the exercise, Snowdomes and dry slopes are just a stones throw away Little Angel The pain of falling on plastic is surely worth it when you wipe out alot less on snow due to much improved technique. snowHead
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death*on*the*roof, spot on! Laughing
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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!
easiski, What would give the greater benefit regular snowdome visits or regular dry slope visits to skiing performance on real snow. Assuming all cost and travel is the same for both types of slope.
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Russell, I think you would benefit more from ski-ing on plastic. Also plastic slopes tend to be longer and steeper so you can do more turns before having to stop. I do think that if you practice the harder one it's better for your technique. Also Dendix is a lot like ski-ing on very slow ice, so when you get the real thing it should be less of a problem! Very Happy
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For snowHeads in the SE of England, here's another twist. A skiing simulator near Canterbury in this interesting article from the Observer This is the 'magic carpet' type of trainer David Goldsmith mentioned earlier in this thread. Not only available in UK but apparently a world first.
Quote:
Realli Ski is a vast improvement on the old games-arcade-style machines. Similar to a giant treadmill, the moving floor is made from the same squidgy white fabric as some dry ski slopes and feels like a smooth carpet. The angle of the slope and its speed can be adjusted, giving five levels of difficulty. At its most extreme it tilts to 30 degrees and gives the impression you are skiing at 15kmh.

It sounds like extremely hard work ...
Quote:
The great thing about the machine is that you don't waste time on lifts or stop to let anyone past. You just ski continuously until your knees give up. Instruction is more intense, your teacher is always right there in front of you, staring at your legs, monitoring your technique and correcting any bad habits. You are quickly guided to a new level of ability. You cover around 3km in 30 minutes, so stamina will improve greatly after a few sessions.
Not so sure about the arithmetic there?
Here's the Realli Ski site itself. As an exercise technique I can see it would be a great work out for an experienced skier but as a learning tool I cannot see how holding onto a bar gives you any 'feel' for the use of poles, and balance? But the review on the site by a BASI instructor is very positive. No mention of heat build up or water spraying. I'd guess continuous skiing is going to get things pretty hot underfoot.
Any one going to give it a go for a first hand report ? snowHead
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