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Why the loss of confidence?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Whilst skiing down Les Rousse run on the way to L’Alpette (it’s a red) in Alpe d’Huez I came to a ridge with maybe thirty people standing looking down the next section.
http://www.skicardiff.com/photos/pictures/Pic_17_9.jpg

There was total carnage with many people falling/struggling/side slipping and employing all manner of techniques (or lack of them) to get down what was really just a little hard packed ice.

Plenty of loose stuff on the sides of the run but I found it interesting that so many just gave up skiing and reverted to being total novices, when to just take the plunge and ski down was the easiest way.
Shows what a lack of confidence can do when presented with a slight challenge.
The only real problem was trying to get through the flotsam and jetsam.

While I’m about it, meet Slowplough

Here’s one of us on the top of ‘signal’

http://www.skicardiff.com/photos/pictures/Pic_17_8.jpg
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Which one is you? I only ask after reading your signature Very Happy
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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?
The one in the middle
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You're a Pole! You should have said, my mate went snowboarding in Poland this year and enjoyed it, very reasonable pricing polocies. Cool
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Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
the panic is infectious i think - plus you know that, if you do fall, you're probably going to take out a couple of kids, marooned in mid-piste, as you go down...
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Embarassed Oh, yes, on topic.

I find the infection strikes too. I start off down the outside edges in the good snow, find I spend so much time looking out for the people traversing down that I start braking to give them room etc, etc. By the time I get beyond them I'm skiing with the poise of a bag of spanners.
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It's even worse when you're picking a nice line through some bumps (slowly, of course) and people end up stopping on all the bumps you were going to turn on. So you traverse a bit to find a new line and then the same thing happens again.

I find that shouting down the slopes, "Get out the way, I haven't learnt to turn yet" tends to work, especially on steep blacks.
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Love it Masopa.

The panic is infectious as there's all these idiots who shouldn't be there who might hurt me! The only way out of the situation is to ignore them all and take a nice, tight line down the edge of the piste - and don't ski the reds/blues back to resort after 3.30.
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You people should try North America - I don't get all this queues/busy pistes stuff you're talking about! NehNeh

A good bit of advice I read recently and have paid heed to is:

"Never spend more time looking down a run than it would take you to ski it".

So true! The longer you stand there the more and more nervous you get. I ended up side slipping down a small black a few weeks ago berating myself for being such a berk and all the time looking up at a much steeper, much longer, much bumpier black that I could do no problem! Sad
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I couldn't agree more Alexandra. When you reach a ridge, don't stop, just keep going (providing its safe of course!)

A skier in Saalbach took exception to that theory this year and decided that he wasn't just going to ski over the ridge, he jumped it instead and cleared several metres - on telemark skis too. While it looked impressive, it was dangerous considering the slope was icy and people were falling on the other side.
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As the uphill skier has got a responsibility to avoid those down the hill, it is difficult to do anything other than slow down yourself and pick your way through the bodies. To continue skiing the same line and/or speed you run a real risk of either taking out a nervous and unpredictable traverser, or else putting the fear of god into them (and don't say that it's never happened to you - we were all novices once!).

Slowplough - have you got 'something for the weekend' for us this week? I've been looking fowrard to my mental stimulation all week! Madeye-Smiley
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I guess that’s just one of the issues we all have to deal with. A bit similar to following someone driving at 30mph on a winding 'A' road.

I have been told many times that skiing is 20% skill 80% nerve and would certainly agree. Its getting your thinking right as well as having a fair degree of skill. The problem is with skiing you don’t always know how difficult a run is until you get to the tricky part, and then of course you are beyond the point of no return and have to deal with it as best you can. Reminds me of my last trip when someone in the group had aspirations of being a far better skier than they actually were. As the day went on they struggling more and more (on easy blues this was ~ so no sympathy from me). I think we have to accept that we all have try something more challenging to progress and in the meantime others need to be tolerant of those less able. That said I don’t agree beginners or other inexperienced skiers should be on the more difficult runs.
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Had to smile when I saw the pic. I know the run well and its often difficult to get through the crowd of 'shall I - shan't I' folks at the top who in turn make you wonder if this slope is indeed very tricky, which its not if you keep to the soft stuff at the edges & manage to avoid the stiff legged snowploughing uphill facing traversers. I remember a couple got tangled up together & slid gracefully under the catch netting to the left of the piste - both fell a fair distance - you could almost hear the tightening of sphincters of the spectators huddled at the top!
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You know it makes sense.
You should have snowploughed all the way down the middle shouting gerominoo!!!
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THe thing to do is show them how its done. Stop within earshot of a group of spectators, long enough for them to know you are there, do a bit of 'tut tut' -ing, sighing and perhaps the odd 'How Pathetic'! Then ski away as gracefully as a swan making them all green with envy. This works every time for me until I crash and give them all the best laugh of the holiday! This at least has its own benefit, it cheers them up and once they have calmed down and said 'did you see that pillock!' they will get along just fine. Perhaps! Toofy Grin
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I don’t think there is anything wrong if a skier tries to be careful and acquire all the necessary information before descending a slope with obvious danger of the slippery surface, obstructions and lack of snow. It is sad to see skiers charging down the slope willing to risk the safety of the others.

Is it true that a good skier can turn to avoid obstacles?

If one can’t control one’s line and speed in skiing (on a red slope and prepare to risk the chance of a collision!) one is not much better than those are skiing slowly in the front blocking the route. The difference is that the skiers further down have no intention of hurting themselves or anybody.

The confidence is built on experience and watching others does help.

Going to North America to avoid the difficult spots of European slopes doesn’t sound attractive for improving one’s skiing.

May be I am in the minority but I believe good skiing comes from skill and not attitude.
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I know this ridge well....you can tell how chaotic it's going to be by looking at the line of people on the ridge looking down!!

Theres a similar spot at the top of the Valentine in Deux Alpes, where the green run crosses the top of the black - too many people who don't want to track down the green snail make an attempt at the Valetine and the chaos at the top can be scary! Just getting on to the run through the crowd on onlookers can be a nightmare.
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masopa wrote:
It's even worse when you're picking a nice line through some bumps (slowly, of course) and people end up stopping on all the bumps you were going to turn on. So you traverse a bit to find a new line and then the same thing happens again.

I find that shouting down the slopes, "Get out the way, I haven't learnt to turn yet" tends to work, especially on steep blacks.


Does that mean the obstructions are always English or English speakers or do you try it in different languages ? Very Happy
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Without being unfairly critical to my fellow countrymen, I tend to find that most skittles tend to be English-speaking!! But good point Laughing
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However the old adage of just shouting louder at non-English speakers probably hold true in this case.

If a fast moving, screaming, orange bloke was heading at me I'd move first and listen later Confused
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Slowplough, great pictures. I sympathise completely with the poor skiers. I ski most stuff with no worries - bumps, jumps, crud, crust, powder, porridge - but a piste of the hard stuff full of floundering skiers scares me too. It's the combination. Hard stuff/ice OK if there's no one to crash into as I skid sideways 20 metres facing one way, then 20 metres sideways facing the other. Crowded piste OK if I know I will ski where planned. But the piste in your picture is packed full of disasters waiting to happen.
As I keep saying: go off-piste instead. It's safer!
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Wow great picture. Thats made me want to go there......

Having suffered with my nerves for 4 yrs I really was expecting the 'I am NOT going down there' gremlin to take hold this year and was gobsmacked and amazed when the little toe rang did not get out of the suitcase.

I have always looked down. Not across. Years of hubby yelling 'dont look down, thats not the way we are going' have finally won through. I paused briefly at the top of one of the steeper reds in resort in Tonale and felt the onset of immediate butterflies in the tummy, saw one or two others do the same (male and female) and heard the dreaded words, 'looks rather crusty'. That was it. I just knew I was stuck, until my man skied up behind and said that it was not as icy as it looked (he lied) and that I had skied worse that morning..... I made the first turn, heard the crunch, saw the slight yellowing of the icy patch, screwed up my left toes (got cramp) and had to ski through the pain to stop the cramp getting unbearable. Got me down and made me forget that I was really nervous.

Felt bloody marvellous when I looked back up, the 3-4 who had travelled up behind us on the chair lifts were still at the mid point watching me and giving me massive thumbs up.

Wiggle that ass baby.

I really want to do that slope at Alp.............. I am so chuffed. I think I can do this ski thing.

Wink
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At the opposite end of 'loss of confidence' , you find this chap:



(look closely, you will find the photomontage contains five images of him as he goes down).

What d'you reckon his life&medical insurance premia are like
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So much of sport is in the head. Look at poor old Marcus Trescothick's problems in the West Indies at present. Loss of confidence = loss of form = even more loss of confidence.
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My other half has the same problem sometimes, Fruity. I try to encourage her by (lying) telling her it's not as hard as the other slope we did earlier. When she rumbles me, I reiterate, telling her that it looks steeper because she's looking at it for too long.

I like the tip about not looking down but across - I'll try that on her next time. I've found the secret is after a toughish slope to do a really rewarding one next - steepish (but no where near as steep as the tough one) but something where they can ski with confidence and really get the buzz again. Folyeres in La Tania was a great antidote to anything tricky that I'd taken her down earlier, but it was a bit of a bug to get to.
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Folyeres, fantastic - just what my 6 year old needed - took her down every day (she liked the lift backup too!) but - weird thing! - I found that after a few minutes of leading her down in wide, regular 'S ' shapes, I was getting hypnotised into a sort of trance, unable to do anything but make big 'S's until I got to the bottom. What was that all about?
back on topic - I always understood that whenever faced by anything scary, you go back one stage in your skiing - your threshold to what's scary rises with practice - but overstep the threshold and instant regression ensues!
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I would always ski the same slope three times on the trot. First I would stop and study (whilst peeing my pants... nasty). Then ski whilst crying. Get down to bottom, grin and go back up to top. Second time, I would study less and make first turn quicker, still slight urge to go to toilet but bigger grin. Third time, no studying, big grin and no stopping....... works for me. Then, off to an easier slope (says himindoors - honest darling, you will love it, its a piece of cake compared to that run we just did.. shame, now I too can read piste maps....) NehNeh
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I always make sure that the boss never has access to a piste map. I find it's much easier that way...

Having said that, I always ski behind, making sure I can be called upon for emotional support at the tricky bits!
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my hubby just likes to study my bum..............he doesnt make nice excuses like you Masopa, you are a real gent.
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Heh Masopa, guess who was carving down reds this year then! eh! me! Mrs No Poles
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Congrats! Your hubby must be dead chuffed, since you'll be able to ski together more!
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I would say that the advice to look across the mountain on a difficult slope is wrong. When skiing, your upper body should always be pointing down the fall line, looking across the slope makes this harder, and therefore a fall more likely.

Don't stop to study the harder bits of the slope, it's not like studying it any longer is going to make any difference to how you ski it, apart from making you nervous, and therefore more likely to ski badly.
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I experienced this a couple of years ago in Les Arcs, on the piste from Transarc over to 1800 (I think), the red was still in shade, and very icy, but would have been OK if not for the crowds, especially several groups of small children and instructors. There were so many of them in front of me sliding down that I could do nothing but wait at the top for them to get down ahead of me. Sons and hubby waited, but I completely lost my nerve.
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Kramer wrote:
I would say that the advice to look across the mountain on a difficult slope is wrong. When skiing, your upper body should always be pointing down the fall line, looking across the slope makes this harder, and therefore a fall more likely.

Don't stop to study the harder bits of the slope, it's not like studying it any longer is going to make any difference to how you ski it, apart from making you nervous, and therefore more likely to ski badly.



all well and good, but what if, like me you are actually scared of heights and the sight makes you physically dizzy. If I look across the slope, in the direction I am actually GOING to ski, I find (now I do it) that I am less aware of the steepness of the slope and more aware of the terrain and can plot where I am going to make the 2nd turn.. funnily enough I rarely seem to fall over, but regain wobbly bits in an ungainly fashion..

This year, I decided to carry on, on a familiar red that had been foxing me for days. That was ok, but a bit knackering cos the stopping point for all was a natural breather point. (can't ski with a B&H on the go!).

dont make me look down, please.
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Helen Beaumont wrote:
I experienced this a couple of years ago in Les Arcs, on the piste from Transarc over to 1800 (I think), the red was still in shade, and very icy, but would have been OK if not for the crowds, especially several groups of small children and instructors. There were so many of them in front of me sliding down that I could do nothing but wait at the top for them to get down ahead of me. Sons and hubby waited, but I completely lost my nerve.



how did you get down Helen? this has happened to me on my very first day, back again in Italy. We were in a small resort, Chiesa, which funnily enough is no longer in the brochures (it wasnt very good!). The piste maps were useless but we didnt realise on the first day.. having had dry ski lessons before venturing onto the slopes, I was fairly well versed in snow plough and had been managing a couple of the blues quite well. In the afternoon we decided to venture past the lifts into a tree lined area, marked blue but was a steep scary red, according to my hubby we should not have been there (he always checks the reds before I go up now)...it was icy, narrow with a series of moguls just thrown in for good measure.

I had to take off the skis and slide down on my bum. Nearly put me off for ever.... thank god I had a drink waiting........ Laughing
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Slowplough, wow! Carnage is right! I don't think I'd be popular on that slope, since I certainly wouldn't stop, and would likely frighten a few people who might not realize that I was going slow (for me!).

You really should try the Colorado trip. We don't see this kind of thing very often. Except maybe at Keystone... Wink
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Kramer, surely that's only true if you're doing relatively shortish turns. If you're actually traversing the slope, shouldn't your upper body be pointing in the direction of travel?

When learning bumps earlier this year, the instructor explained that our upper bodies should point in the direction of travel. Since the turns are so short, your direction of travel is pretty much fall-line, hence the reason you should keep your upper body still.

However, if you're skiing 200m across the slope in between each turn, then surely you would keep your upper body pointing in the direction of travel (ie. across the slope)?
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masopa, Just what I was taught this year too and it works!!
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masopa, depends where you learn to ski. In Austria they teach you to face down the slope at all times. In France, to face the front of the skiis in traverse.
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