How Do You Ski Downhill?

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JohnSKepler
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How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by JohnSKepler » Fri Apr 05, 2024 9:43 pm

That sounds like a ridiculous question since you can't really ski at all unless you're going down hill! I've been working hard at improving and am now doing much steeper stuff. The problem is, I can't figure out how to drop a knee when the going gets steep. My leading foot is already down hill and when I try to bend my knee that leg basically just stays straight and the knee connected to my uphill foot bends. I wind up with no pressure on the front ski and I've just been pretty much doing alpine turns when it gets steeper. Now, with Transit and F1 they're some of the best alpine turns I've ever done and I'm skiing well, but I do want to understand what's going on here! Do I just have to sink A LOT deeper then I have been?
Veni, Vidi, Viski

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Montana St Alum
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by Montana St Alum » Sat Apr 06, 2024 9:15 am

Random thoughts on this:

1. Envision your stance on a low angle hill. In that position, if you were to drop a plumb line, it would probably fall about half way between your front and back feet. That would put your weight about equal, front to back.

Also, it's likely that a plumb line dropped from your front knee would drop to a point slightly ahead of the ball of foot (BoF) on your front foot.

Now rotate that exact picture to a steeper slope and those plumb lines move forward considerably, so you have to slightly adjust your stance back to reposition where that CG applies force.

Quite often, I see people make that adjustment too far back in response to increasing inclines. If you do nothing, you'll be more inclined to "go over the handlebars" so the natural response could be an over-correction in the weight shift aft.

Try to shift your weight just a bit forward of where you are now....if you start planting face cookies in the snow, you've gone too far in your correction!

2. In the course of overcorrecting body position as it gets steeper, there also can be an inclination to "push" that front foot forward. This results in a bit of flattening on the front foot angle and puts weight on the heel of the front foot, rather than keeping as much weight on the BoF of the front foot as is reasonable. I say "reasonable" as it is a judgement call, since the heel isn't held down. It's a really subtle difference, but as that weight shifts back, the front ski stops turning as well. Instead of the entire front ski edge being engaged, only the aft portion of the front ski has enough pressure on it to stay bent into the turn.

That happens to me in steeper and deeper bump runs - particularly in bad lighting conditions - and I have injured the tendon that runs along the top of the foot up along the leading edge of my shin as a result.

It also results in a disproportionate shift in weight onto the back ski which changes the balance point enough to FUU. (F*ck us up).

3. If you find that you can initially drop the back knee, but after a short distance through the turn the rear foot "snaps forward" - causing the rear foot to flatten against the ski, then it's likely you are starting the turn with a nice amount of shin pressure against the rear cuff, but then releasing the pressure. That pressure is a good part of what keeps that rear knee down resulting in the rear foot stance of weight on BoF throughout the entire turn.

Once that rear foot flattens, you're kinda done with the tele stance and there's a tendency to pop into an alpine stance as a result.

So, you could interpret that as meaning you need to be deeper into the rear knee drop, but I don't think that you need more pressure, just pressure that is more "focused" on the pressure needed for the function. That can probably be accomplished with less total pressure than you are currently applying.


These may or may not apply to what you're experiencing, but I think being aware of these forces will help.



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JohnSKepler
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by JohnSKepler » Sat Apr 06, 2024 10:45 am

Montana St Alum wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2024 9:15 am
Random thoughts on this:

1. Envision your stance on a low angle hill. In that position, if you were to drop a plumb line, it would probably fall about half way between your front and back feet. That would put your weight about equal, front to back.

Also, it's likely that a plumb line dropped from your front knee would drop to a point slightly ahead of the ball of foot (BoF) on your front foot.

Now rotate that exact picture to a steeper slope and those plumb lines move forward considerably, so you have to slightly adjust your stance back to reposition where that CG applies force.

Quite often, I see people make that adjustment too far back in response to increasing inclines. If you do nothing, you'll be more inclined to "go over the handlebars" so the natural response could be an over-correction in the weight shift aft.

Try to shift your weight just a bit forward of where you are now....if you start planting face cookies in the snow, you've gone too far in your correction!

2. In the course of overcorrecting body position as it gets steeper, there also can be an inclination to "push" that front foot forward. This results in a bit of flattening on the front foot angle and puts weight on the heel of the front foot, rather than keeping as much weight on the BoF of the front foot as is reasonable. I say "reasonable" as it is a judgement call, since the heel isn't held down. It's a really subtle difference, but as that weight shifts back, the front ski stops turning as well. Instead of the entire front ski edge being engaged, only the aft portion of the front ski has enough pressure on it to stay bent into the turn.

That happens to me in steeper and deeper bump runs - particularly in bad lighting conditions - and I have injured the tendon that runs along the top of the foot up along the leading edge of my shin as a result.

It also results in a disproportionate shift in weight onto the back ski which changes the balance point enough to FUU. (F*ck us up).

3. If you find that you can initially drop the back knee, but after a short distance through the turn the rear foot "snaps forward" - causing the rear foot to flatten against the ski, then it's likely you are starting the turn with a nice amount of shin pressure against the rear cuff, but then releasing the pressure. That pressure is a good part of what keeps that rear knee down resulting in the rear foot stance of weight on BoF throughout the entire turn.

Once that rear foot flattens, you're kinda done with the tele stance and there's a tendency to pop into an alpine stance as a result.

So, you could interpret that as meaning you need to be deeper into the rear knee drop, but I don't think that you need more pressure, just pressure that is more "focused" on the pressure needed for the function. That can probably be accomplished with less total pressure than you are currently applying.


These may or may not apply to what you're experiencing, but I think being aware of these forces will help.
^^^ That is what is happening.

I'm going to experiment with all three recommendations. Shift the weight forward. Keep the stance compact; don't push the front foot forward. These two should help correct the heel going flat.

Thanks!
Veni, Vidi, Viski



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Spiny Norman
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by Spiny Norman » Sat Apr 06, 2024 12:17 pm

Or, of course, you could do the simple thing and make alpine and fake-a-mark turns.



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blitzskier
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by blitzskier » Sat Apr 06, 2024 12:30 pm

need more seat time on gentle slopes. i learned a lot from just watching the pros, this film has helped me understand how things work

it kinda starts at the 14;45 mark

Last edited by blitzskier on Sat Apr 06, 2024 2:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Stephen
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by Stephen » Sat Apr 06, 2024 2:12 pm

It’s hard to comment on these sorts of things without actually seeing what’s going on and commenters are going to pick up on different things.

The thing that comes to mind for me is the image of standing sideways over the balance point of a teeter totter, with someone raising and lowering the plank as you stand on it.
To keep your balance, you’re going to have to adjust your stance by flexing your hips, knees, and ankles.

A turn has three phases:
Before the fall line (outside foot is above the inside foot, because of slope angle);
In the fall line (feet are the same hight);
After the fall line (outside foot is below the inside foot).
(Just like on the teeter totter.)

The trick is to keep weight balanced over the feet / skis as the feet adjust for the orientation to the slope angle throughout the turn.

My mistakes are to either:
1. Push my weighted front foot forward to counteract the instinctive fear of falling down hill, or;
2. To overweight my back foot (for the same reason as above).

If I do #1, I tend to loose my back foot and get too spread out.
If I do #2, I either get the back-foot-shoots-out-in-front thing, or I just do a fall-over-uphill thing.

I think it helps to find that slope angle where things start to fall apart, and then practice on slopes slightly less steep into slightly more steep and try to figure out what is changing between when turns do work and when they stop working and then train the body to keep doing what works as the slope gets steeper.

Hope any of this helps!



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fisheater
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by fisheater » Sun Apr 07, 2024 9:31 am

@Stephen The last paragraph is excellent advice. I think it’s the essence of getting better. Practice making the right motions, to develop muscle memory. Take it steeper to find where your technique is challenged.



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blitzskier
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by blitzskier » Sun Apr 07, 2024 9:21 pm

video record yourself doing turns with your phone. you will quickly see all your retarded defects :mrgreen:



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Krummholz
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by Krummholz » Mon Apr 08, 2024 3:49 pm

blitzskier wrote:
Sun Apr 07, 2024 9:21 pm
video record yourself doing turns with your phone. you will quickly see all your retarded defects :mrgreen:
I think you have to practice recording yourself first a few times and improving your videography first. When I first started it was (not supposed to be in slow motion) :

And what 2 years later looks like:
Free Heeler - As in Free Spirit and Free Beer. No $700 pass! No plastic boots! And No Fkn Merlot!



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JohnSKepler
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Re: How Do You Ski Downhill?

Post by JohnSKepler » Mon Apr 08, 2024 5:36 pm

@Krummholz, thanks for that video. Apache is one of my favorites. Which one did you use there? That second tune is nice but I don't recognize it.

I'll give this a try if I get out again this year. Our local resort closed on Sunday. Still had a lot of snow and expecting more so maybe I'll skin it. Or, head south to the Wasatch and one of the big resorts.

What park are you at in the lower video? That looks like a really long, low-angle slope, something that doesn't really exist in the Bear River Range!

@Stephen, I went out Sunday to work on some of your tips but I don't think I made a single Tele turn. I was on a brand new pair of skis, that I quite like, but it was very icy and I had trouble holding the tele stance for long enough to make a turn. I'm hoping for another opportunity or two this year but it's getting hard to find decent snow!
Veni, Vidi, Viski



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