I have learned to ski the edges to stay where there is a little snow left but that doesn't always work. The steeper slopes are still pretty challenging for me when they get scraped off.
Do any of you experts have ideas on how to handle the ice?
If you skis are sliding out from under you, sounds like you might not have your weight over your skis. Otto (a PSIA Level II ski instructor) on this list may be able to provide better insight, but in my experience (and some lessons I took this year), handling ice involves balance as much as sharp edges.
Specifically, as you initiate a turn, its important to ensure that your weight is centered over the skis. As you carve through your turn, being centered keeps the ski edge pushing into the slope so that skidding is minimized. If your weight is back, you will push your ski out from under you and BOOM, fall. One way to ensure that your weight is over the skis and not towards the back throughout the turn is to immediately reach out with your pole towards the next turn (some call this motion akin to jumping out a window down the slope). So if you're in a turn to the left, even as your in the arch of your turn, your right hand should be reaching forward and to the right for the next turn. It feels weird (especially if you're like me and used to skiing slightly back) and, in fact, feels like you're too far forward, but it works. The same technique also helps your skis to carve a turn through snow rather than skidding through the turn.
Of course reading technique is never as good as learning it by doing it. You may want to invest in a lesson and explain to your instructor what difficulties you are experience. He/She will probably be able to look at your skiing and help you with your technique.
Some tips for handling ice:
1) The most important advice is to keep pressuring your shins against the front of your boots, especially during turn initiation. Like Jim said, you want to be balanced on your skiis (don't want to be bending too far forward with the upper body), but you need shin pressure. This is the proper technique for all snow conditions (even powder), but ice will make you pay the most for not using shin pressure.
2) Short turns are easier than long turns. A long radius GS turn on ice is technically one of the hardest things to do. It is for me.
3) The harder the snow surface, the more weight you need to put on your downhill (turning ski). If you lean too far inward without keeping weight on your outside ski, your skiis will slide out.
4) The harder the snow surface, the harder you need to work your skiis. For short radius turns on ice, I was taught at many clinics to use an impulsive (hard and quick) downward push on your downhill ski just after your skiis have crossed the fall line (i.e. have gone from pointing straight downhill to starting to point across the hill). You will be amazed at how well your skiis grip, even on glare ice. This technique works very well on steep terrain. The key is that you don't have to hold your edge for too long, lessening the possibility for your edges to slip.
5) Finally, once you've lost your edge (your skiis start sliding out from your body), you can't recover the turn. Strange as it may sound, the best thing to do is to start your next turn and hope it goes better than the last turn. Your natural body reaction is to lean into the hill instead of heading downhill to start the next turn.
1. Ice is yet another one of those situations where you must fight a natural inclination to lean back and into the mountain when you face an intimidating situation. It struck me recently that instructors are always telling people that they are too far back but not giving them much information on how to know when they are back. The advice about shin contact is good and particularly apt for ice. But you also need to be aware of the pressure on the bottom of your feet. If the pressure is mostly on your heel, you are too far back. If all the pressure is on the balls of your feet, you are too far forward. My view is that you want the pressure to be biased on the balls of the feet, but not excessively so.
2. Effective use of your edges is critical. You need a lot of edge. This requires really tipping the ankles into the inside of the turn. In addition, you need to be sure your hips and shoulders are pointed straight down the hill at all times and as much as possible. This increases your edge angles.
Ideally, you should have such strong angulation going that it almost feels like you are pinching the area between your ribs and hips on the side facing downhill and to the outside of the turn. The point is to drive the edges, mostly the outside one, into the ice. You want to be in a position so you are centered over the middle of the ski in the fore and aft direction and laterally positioned so you are able to drive the outside edge into the ice.
3. Jim's point about aggressive pole plants is good. Keeping your hands out front and reaching down the hill helps overcome the tendency to shy back and get out of position.
4. I am not sure about making an aggressive move with the inside ski on ice. I have not seen this or tried it, but my initial impression is that you would have to be very skilled to pull it off. My own view is that you don't want to do anything on ice that is sudden and not smooth. If you panic and try to throw your skis around, you will die. I do agree that if your turn is not panning out, throw it out and start all over.
I personally find it much easier to make GS turns on ice and avoid short turns. Therefore, I suggest that we all ski together and trade tips.
ps: I picked Sunday as opposed to Saturday because rain is forecast for Saturday morning. Should set up the skating rink perfectly for Sunday!
Comment on your point 4. The "agressive move" I talked about is with your downhill (outside) ski, not the uphill (inside) - it's tough to explain things without pictures. Further, I definitely wouldn't call it a panic move - panic moves on tough conditions generally lead to disaster. Trying to rephrase my original point: keep the same tempo/timing on ice that you have for skiing packed powder, but at the crucial times that you need to apply edge pressure, you have to apply more energy to the skiis to hold the edge. That has been my perception and the concepts were taught to me by the Egan and DesLauriers brothers. They may not be PSIA, but they can rip down icy trails in Vermont.
I misunderstood your post and thought you were talking about the beginning of the turn and not the end. Hence my confusion about the "inside" ski.
What I misunderstood is that you were describing making a "hard" edge set near the end of the turn. I think that is a good idea, provided you are otherwise in position.
AHB has a definite point though, if you are unbalanced and slide out now with ~170cm of edge, just wait until you only have 99cm! I think it was RT as refuses to rent them in hardpack conditions.
Edited to say:
Stretch pants with slash panels forever!
[This message has been edited by comprex (edited 01-21-2004).]
I keep my hands as forward as a I can. I drop my hip in to the turn like I am doing a Disco Bump with my butt . This keeps my weight out over the outside ski plus creates a little more angulation.
The fact of the matter is that ice or hard snow will only take so much load before your ski chatters loose. JohnL is right on in that short radius turns don't allow you to overload the snow too much because youare hopefully starting a new turn just before the edge breaks loose.
For a GS turn I try to just "will" my edges to keep tracking. I also try to ski as offensively as I can ie. I don't try to put too much pressure on my edges to get speed control. It's a scary thing but not taking the skis out of the fall line too much is a good way to keep them biting. I may be going supersonic, but I still retain turning control to get around things because my skis are still carving.
If I feel them break away I try to play with my edge angle a little to see if I can get them to bite, but most of the time I will really pull my feet back under me HARD and try to set up a new turn.
The butt drop helps keep me from dropping the shoulder to the inside. Different way of saying the same thing, I reckon.
comprex - Dropping your hip in does that and sooo much more! I actually trained for about 3 days on this matter and it's true ... if you break at the waist (something I had to work on a lot since previously I was trained NOT to do it) you free up your hips so they can rotate as well as get latteral motion. It gives you more angulation and thus better carving ... try this sometime. Go to the bunny slope and stand tall. Move your hips and butt from side to side ... not too much happens. Now do the same thing, but really break at the waist (exaggerate it) and move your hips and butt as far to the left and right as it will go ... your skis will instantly start to carve a long radius turn without any other motion! Cool!
What has not been discussed is "line selection". Specifically, in ANY rough snow condition, it is almost always better to achieve speed control by having your center of mass follow a sinuous path back and forth across the hill, even completing your turns by going back uphill a bit if necessary, rather than by always "riding the brakes" like most people do. Over on EpicSki.com, this is know as "skiing the slow line fast", and there are a huge number of posts on this subject on Epic should anyone be interested.
Some people will say that the sort of line selection I am talking about is nothing more than carving, but IMHO, I have found it much more effective to introduce people to carving by having them attempt to follow my line (ie, first teaching them "good intent") rather than by first instructing them in the details of techniques for carving before they understand what they should be doing with these techniques. Put differently, people need to be taught to have an appropriate goal (in their choice of line) before you teach them techniques to accomplish this.
When you "ski the slow line fast", your skis are pointed in the direction they are moving. This is the direction in which skis work most efficiently, not skidding sideways. If your skis are already pointed in the direction that you are traveling when you enter an icy patch, you may not even notice that you have moved onto ice, whereas if you go from good snow to ice while skidding sideways, the friction suddenly drops, and the skier is left doing everything he can to remain in balance.
Similarly, at the end of an icy patch, if you are skidding sideways when you hit the next patch of "real snow", your skis tend to slow down abruptly but your CM tends to keep going, ie, people tend to do face plants to the side of their skis at these transitions.
Some more experienced skiers who are still skidders realize the problems of such transitions, and will temporarily pivot to take each transition with their skis pointed in the direction they are moving (ie, sort of the way a bicyclist would go across a grate in the road), but it is much simpler, relaxing, and less energy intensive to have them pointed in the direction they are heading most of the time.
As a case in point, last Sunday up at Whitetail, it rained pretty heavily until early afternoon. Then, a front came through, the wind picked up, and the temp quickly very dropped to well below freezing. The rain chased way the crowds, so with the light skier traffic, areas like the never-ever slopes became rock hard and extremely fast. At the 7:30 lineup I volunteered to take out a group of five level 2 women (ie, skied once or twice before). Coaching them with a combination of "intent" development (ie, line selection) and technique development (ie, edging skills), I had them following behind me like a perfect snake going down the hill. During the course of the lesson, several semi-out-of-control guests that were not in my class asked me how in the world were my students making turns like that on ice and not ever getting "out of control". Needless to say, I was really proud of my students, but IMHO, the real key to their success was teaching them to use their skis effectively by picking a good line for them.
Tom / PM
PS - The exact same technique of "skiing the slow line fast" is even more important in thick snow and cut-up crud where it is almost impossible to pivot your skis and/or they are getting banged around.
[This message has been edited by PhysicsMan (edited 01-23-2004).]
One additional comment about what Physics Man has talked about. I just got a new set of East Coast skis (Atomic SX:9's). Prior to that, I'd always skied on legacy straight boards on the East Coast ice. While you can carve turns on the straight boards, it's a lot easier to carve on shaped skis. However, the straight boards and much more tolerant of any skidding in your skiing. For speed control on steeps, I had a tendency to skid a bit during the power phase of the turn (bottom part of turn with skis across the fall line.) I would especially do this on transitions to steeper sections. My new skis don't like that, especially on hard pack. I was practicing "skiing the slow line fast" (to mixed results) on Bold Decision two weeks ago. I pretty much have to use that technique on my Atomics.
One key thing is that no matter how you ski, make sure your skis are both in the same surface at the same time. It is very difficult to keep control with (even in a straight run) with 1 ski in crud and the other on ice.
The two techniques I have seen most often on ice are: Short, fast skarved (semi-pivoted) turns. Basicly since you are turning short, even thought you are skidding it controls your speed fairly well.
Another way is skiing in wide GS turns Big round turns, where movementsre more slow and deliberate, and at the same time powerful and smooth. Basicly you take a stable edge and hold it for longer, letting the path control your speed.
I just want to confirm, STSLF is (in lay terms) the second thing I mentioned right? Its basicly means rounding out your carves rather than skidding and rushing the next turns initiation. Try to apply edge evenly so you don't chatter as much.
So that way your skis are pointed well across the fall line at the begining of the next turn. (like a series of linked traverse). Basicly you slow your movements down on ice and move more deliberately and let your path, control your speed. I just want to make sure I am not confused, since so much of what I read at epic of over my head.
Of course the way I ski ICE is basicly both of the above. Basicly I make shallow, medium radius turns (skis are always within 30degrees of fall line) on the steep part of the run (on a head wall--for the first 100 ft vertical or so). Carves are fast and hopefully well angulated (not too much skidding). But after I have picked up speed I then switch to STSLF with long radius carves. Big swooping turns.
For the uninitiated, epic is www.epicski.com. They have plenty of Ski gurus like PM over there to fry your brain on "how to" ski issues. But most are old timers so, I seriously think those guys have forgotten more ski knowledge than I have ever learned. Its fairly well represented with eastcost ski instructors. If anyone knows how to deal with ice its them.
The STSLF threads on epic are very readable compared to a lot of the other threads. I suggest checking them out. I agree that some of the threads there make your head hurt trying to understand some of the jargon (and I have an M.S. in Physics.) Some of the "political" threads on the ski instruction section can be quite amusing, especially when the topic pertains to Harald Harp.
>> Basicly I make shallow, medium radius turns (skis are always within 30degrees of fall line) on the steep part of the run (on a head wall--for the first 100 ft vertical or so). Carves are fast and hopefully well angulated (not too much skidding). But after I have picked up speed I then switch to STSLF with long radius carves. Big swooping turns.
You may not be exactly describing how you ski or have estimated the angle correctly, but the scenario as you've described it exhibits poor speed control and is not STSLF. (Edit to add: STSLF doesn't necessarily imply long *radius* carves, it means you are continuing a further distance along the *circumference* of the circle. There are some pictures on epic to illustrate this point.) On most relatively steep trails, 30 degrees off the fall line represents pretty shallow turns. Even if you are carving (and especially if you are carving), you are skiing the fast line fast. With proper speed control, you should be able to ski turns off identical radius all the way down the hill. The fact that the SL-type turns go into GS-type turns means that you are picking up speed. This is generally not a problem in the Mid-Atlantic where trails are not too steep and the headwalls not too long. Once you've picked up a lot of speed, you're on a flat section and start to slow down.
This is one example how some of the terrain that we have in the Mid-Atlantic can lead to bad skiing habits. This rigorous speed control is something I have to always be working on in my skiing. It's tough to work on something when the terrain you are on doesn't force you to do it.
[This message has been edited by JohnL (edited 01-23-2004).]
I am a first year instructor at Liberty and have now begun to teach Level 2-3. Your comments interest as well as confuse me. I don't think I understand what or how you were teaching them for edge techniques.
I had a couple of ladies that were making nice wedge turns and I took them to Sneaky Pete (left of double chair). This was a little steeper for them but they still held their wedge turns pretty nicely. However, they still were not able to edge except for holding their wedge and releasing enough to make the turn. While their skis did go parallel some during the turn, I would not call it edging. Can you explain the edge technique you taught a little more?
I completely agree with the teaching of line selection. As we moved from Sneaky Pete to Dipsy Doodle (below Sneaky and almost flat part of Dipsy), I began to teach them how to find and "feel" the fall line of the slope. However, most of the 2-3's I've taught had other things to work on and I thought teaching them how to find the fall line would have been too confusing and would take them away from concentrating on what they needed to work on in stance, turns, etc.
I've learned very quickly that there are many ways to teach the same thing and you have to develop your lesson to match your students. I am just trying to soak up lots of knowledge to improve my teaching so your feedback is well appreciated.
As far as edging is concerned, a parallel turn is a turn on corresponding edges. A wedge turn is a turn on adjacent edges. Wedge turners can generate enough edge angles on the downhill or outside ski to hold on ice IF they are balanced over their skis and can stand being in the fall line long enough to make a round turn without getting even further in the back seat. (The chance that your average wedge turner will do either of the above is only slightly greater than my waking up next to Geena Davis tomorrow.) Anyway wedge turners can generate almost the same edge angles as parallel skiers by doing the same things at the ankle, knee and hip connected to the outside ski. Although it is avoided for a number of really good reasons, wedge turners can make their edging much more powerful by adding some counter. Try it yourself.
PM's account is a good example of the power of visual teaching. Never underestimate the power of showing your students a GOOD demo and having them follow in your tracks. Some people are visual learners and even those who are not often benefit from following in your tracks, particularly while teaching speed control through turn shape.
BTW, I think PM uses the phrase "line selection" as a synonym for "turn shape." A round turn - shaped like a C - beats the crap out of what most people do - two frantic turns shaped like a Z.
[This message has been edited by Otto (edited 01-25-2004).]
[This message has been edited by Otto (edited 01-25-2004).]
[This message has been edited by Otto (edited 02-18-2004).]
"...wedge turners can make their edging much more powerful by adding some counter"
Where would you put the counter? If I'm in a proper stance (shin-tongue, hips over heels, hands forward) and in a wedge, where would I counter? I guess I could move my hips to counter (but I definitely would not teach that to anyone).
The 30 degrees or so was probabbly a "rought estimate". But its true I do tend to ski really fast many times especially in ice. I have gottne used to it and I never fall , well so far this season in 8 days skiing. My description ws ment to describe how I ahve been skiing lately, the last time I saw ice was at 7S and I was specificly talkign about the giantsteps slope.
I usually do ski with people and this involves a standing start from the meeting spot at the head of the trial, usually atop the headwall. I prefer a rolling start, to start the run with momentum from the lift or whatever. The standing start pretty much means that the first 2-3 turns are really shallow since I am trying to pickup speed. Lately I have been practicing for moguls and I have been tryign to get alot of extention / absortion into my sking, almost to an exagerated point. So that is whay I am going for more speed to harness the rebound. I am trying to get into the moguls and this has helped me tremendously. Plus its jsut fun, and it has helped me with powder skiing too. My main problem last year was fear of speed and making too many windshiled wiper turns. So I am comign along fine but by no means a finished product.
Note: I took a long vacation to NZ last march and tried Sky Diving and bungee jumping fo rthe first time. This has actualyl lessend much of my fear of speed and falling etc... So I actually like the feeling of going fast and carving big wide turns on the flats. Bad technique? Probabbly, but its fun for me.
[This message has been edited by tromano (edited 01-25-2004).]
Big wide turns on flats is not bad technique - that's about all you can do on flats. Skiing fast is lots of fun too (on uncrowded slopes.) Every few runs or so, try to ski a headwall doing short-radius round turns without gaining speed. Either do a short straight shot down the headwall to get to skiing speed or start moving just above the headwall. (Challenge exercise! It will help your mogul skiing.)
>> Note: I took a long vacation to NZ last march and tried Sky Diving and bungee jumping fo rthe first time. This has actualyl lessend much of my fear of speed and falling etc...
I totally agree with that approach! Course my adrenaline activities are a lot less extreme than yours. I rely on roller and ice hockey. Not as radical as jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, but they can be compared to tree-skiing at 20 mph with the trees swinging back at you.
First - get a private lesson. I am a ski instrustor so take it with a grain of salt, but I have to say that nothing beats a private lesson on ice. I have taught people who have skied 20 years to ski on ice in a 1 hour private. Every one of them were extremely happy & said it was money well spent. There are reasons why you should or should not try an excersize you read somewhere. Trying the right excersize at the wrong time without that excersize being properly related to your skiing can be a disaster. The pro's know what you need when.
Second - Be smooth. We have a set amount of energy to spend on each turn to keep us from picking up more speed. You don't want to spend it all at the bottom of the turn (post fall-line), but rather throughout the entire turn. The hardest part of this is trying to spend energy above the fall-line. When things get slick - I try to push hardest on my skiis above the fall-line & very little below. Try to show the bottom of your skiis to the people at the top of the hill. This is a HUGE commitment excersize & we all need to work on it more.
Third - Edge Angle. Tip those ankles! But, watch out you don't get your hip locked into the inside of the turn such that it takes an agressive move to get it back across your skiis for the next turn. you can achieve ankle/knee angle without locking your hips to the snow. Save that for the hero snow GS turns.
Fourth - Stand on it. I typically ski a medium radius 90/10 turn on ice. If my skiis start to skid - I stand on it more with harder edge angle. If that doesn't fix it - Start a new turn.
ok - I guess that was more like .20 cents worth.... sorry.
Lean Forward! If you even slightly lean backwards, your run's done. More pressure on the front, get those hands and poles out there infront of you and ATTACK the ice. Don't be afraid of it.
That's my 13 years experience worth.
Yes - more forward & more agression - but smooth agression.
that's my 13 years teaching & 25 years skiing worth....
Could you clarify the difference between "advice" and "practical training"? Is "practical training" more along the line of drills?