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How to get better at skiing if you're already pretty good??

bdfreetuna

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I consider myself an advanced skier who prefers expert terrain. Sometimes I ski like an expert, and other times I ski pretty poorly.

Some of it has to do with snow conditions and how tired I am. But there are at least 2 areas I see people from time to time straight up kicking my ass in terms of technique and ability.

One is icy stuff. On icy days most people are scraping around. I actually prefer to ski black diamonds on icy days because the bumps help me control my speed and the pitch assists with edge hold. But I see racers and other skiers of all ages from time to time skiing that stuff like it's corduroy. WTF? I have some race training so technically I know what I'm supposed to do.. but in reality it's pretty hard to ski that stuff well and really attack the slope and carve aggressive turns on that stuff. I'd rather just not.

Other is bumps and woods. I manage bumps fine, and I will ski any woods there are the steeper it is the more exciting it is for me. But I don't really do it fast. In the woods I don't really go fast unless they are low angle woods that I can just blow through. Part of it is fear of hitting a tree and messing myself up. Also I don't think I am good at planning long lines with confidence. I plan out 2 or 3 or 4 turns, and then have to slow way down to re-evaluate (if it's really steep or tight). But I see people here and there who handle even pretty hard woods like it's a bunny slope. WTF?

So have I reached the limits of my ability or what? I'd like to ski better, and be able to enjoy more variable conditions as well. It's just weird I have some really good days and some days it feels like I've regressed for whatever reason. Also it's weird that I ski steeps which require jump turns more comfortably than a blue square groomer sometimes.

How do advanced skiers become true experts. Not just people who like double diamond terrain but people who ski double diamond terrain like experts?

I've been skiing for like 26 years and now I am 30 so I am starting to think "pretty good" is as good as I might ever be.
 

JimG.

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Ski as much as you can. It's like anything else, you can master only so many drills or learning methods trying to get better until you realize it's really a function of dedication and work. Try to ski with others who are better skiers than you. Follow them. Try not to question or doubt. Eventually, familiarity with useful skills, when to use them, and the terrain you are skiing all merge to make you better each time you ski.
 

SkiFanE

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Agree that days on hill are key. And NEVER quitting bc conditions are tough or not your fave. I had a hard time in last weeks pow, but I forced myself to just keep doing it. My legs should not hurt, means there is a technique problem I need to figure out. just keep plugging.

Strength. You need it. Core too, not only legs. My strength has helped me recover from many close calls. Gives you cOnfidnce too. Days on hill makes a difference here.
 

Nick

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I'm in kind of the same boat. I consider myself an excellent skier normally, although when put into the middle of the AlpineZone crowd, I'd probably definitely more middle of the road. There are some insanely good skiers on the boards here.

I find strength really important as SkiFanE said above. During the powder day at Magic last week, my quads were completely toast by 3PM. I had to stop every 7 - 8 turns and rest. At one point, I actually felt my quads siezing up on me, almost like a charlie horse, that was right after I had went back on the hill after a quick bite to eat. I'm guessing it was from the short rest I gave my legs, they didn't like getting back into the action. I stopped shortly thereafter as I am not interested in injuring myself right now ... that's probably more important on icy days where you need the strength to hold yourself up.

Secondly I need to work on flow and rythym. Not just in the moguls but also in the woods. I know I have a tendency to look only 10 - 15' in front of me when I should be looking further ahead. As speed increases, I can't "keep up" with my line and I need to stop and reassess the next section. That doesn't really apply to groomers.

I've wondered on the edge hold thing on ice too. Some people really do make turns on scrape conditions and they look like they are on fresh cord. I don't like to blame equipment but I'm guessing the ski type at that level has something more to do with it as well.
 

bdfreetuna

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Nick it does sound like everything you mentioned are also the things I need to work on.

I have considered an advanced lesson. But I also feel like at least partly I do have the skills (to ski the ice) but I have lost them since high school race league days. Part of it is a do or die mentality. Slipping is not an option because you make such a fierce edge once you complete the shift. Part of I think since last winter I dislocated my shoulder I have more fear of wiping out at high speed.

I am the same probably looking too close to myself in the woods and bumps.

As for days on the hill, I already max out my budget on skiing as well as time off from work :/

I will probably just ski myself in shape this winter and when the snow melts I will get back into mountain biking more seriously so by next season I won't have to get in shape all over again.

Thanks for the responses.
 

wa-loaf

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Nick it does sound like everything you mentioned are also the things I need to work on.

I have considered an advanced lesson. But I also feel like at least partly I do have the skills (to ski the ice) but I have lost them since high school race league days. Part of it is a do or die mentality. Slipping is not an option because you make such a fierce edge once you complete the shift. Part of I think since last winter I dislocated my shoulder I have more fear of wiping out at high speed.

I am the same probably looking too close to myself in the woods and bumps.

As for days on the hill, I already max out my budget on skiing as well as time off from work :/

I will probably just ski myself in shape this winter and when the snow melts I will get back into mountain biking more seriously so by next season I won't have to get in shape all over again.

Thanks for the responses.

You're in the same boat as the rest of us. I consider myself at a pretty high skill level, but since I don't get more than 20-25 days on snow now I'm just not getting the time on the terrain I love. So the bumps and woods skills are behind when I do get in them. Night league racing is keeping my groomer skills sharp, but if I'm not on my race skis I still take it easy on the ice.
 

dmc

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Ski with people better than you...
Take clinics for advanced skiers...
 

Nick

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PS. I wonder if ice skating helps? I tried ice skating last year for the first since I was a kid (probably 15 years) and I was horrible uncomfortable. I kind of thought they were similar tacks but I felt so awkward on ice skates I was shocked.
 

Cheese

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You both mentioned "looking too close" in the trees and bumps so I imagine you've either read or heard that's the right thing to do. It is .. sort of.

The general reasoning is that things seem to come at you much slower when you're looking ahead. The best way to prove this to yourself is in a vehicle. As you're driving along, look at a guardrail outside your front window. Notice that you can make out the poles that hold up the rail and probably even the bolt heads where the rail is attached to the poles. Now look out the passenger window and try to do the same thing. You'll see the rail, but the poles will blend into a smear with little or no detail and you'll never make out a bolt head at speed.

That's probably what you heard or read but the truth is you don't want to look far ahead all the time. Instead you need to train yourself to scan. Any time you're doing something while moving, scan three zones with your vision. The zones are far, middle and close. Repeat these over and over again anytime you can to practice. It will help your mogul and tree skiing a lot.
 

bobbutts

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I think turning 30 or 40 or whatever milestone, some of us tend to find ourselves making decisions like checking speed in the woods or not taking the big gap jump in the park.

For improvement, I'd say you may need focus. You did racing, maybe try moguls, or backcountry, or park, or whatever interests you that you don't know much about. Like JimG said, put yourself around people who are better. You could also pick up a snowboard and try that. The progression from newb to proficient is a ton of fun and so much faster than in skiing.

I stopped giving a damn about improving long ago, and I still love skiing and boarding. Others take a totally different approach. I've always appreciated that in skiing, there is no set path to take, it's up to the individual.
 

from_the_NEK

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PS. I wonder if ice skating helps? I tried ice skating last year for the first since I was a kid (probably 15 years) and I was horrible uncomfortable. I kind of thought they were similar tacks but I felt so awkward on ice skates I was shocked.

IMHO ice skating, does help with balance. I grew up skating (hockey) and only skied once before I was twenty. My skating skills helped me to quickly pick up skiing.
Couple of notes:
In skating, when you are pushing youself forward you generally want your feet farther apart than you would on skis. This took me a while to get over when learning to ski and I've been told my skating stance is still sometimes detectable in my skiing form. I think a lot of that skating stance comes out when I sometimes use my feet very independently on skis.
Additionally, the shorter length of the skates vs skis may make you feel unstable in that you feel like you are going to fall forward or backward very easily. This means you need to concentrate on keeping you center of gravity lower and more centered over the skates. This along with learning about the inside and outside edges are the techniques that translate most into helping with skiing. That and the hockey stop :).
 

HowieT2

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I'm in the same boat as you guys. At my age, 45, I'm just going to try and get better and stronger but most importantly not hurt myself. problem is that when I get hesitant I sit back on my skis and thats my biggest issue. I'd rather that though than hitting a tree at speed.
 

Smellytele

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I have not done anything but tele for the last 10 years or so. Before I made the switch to tele I really sucked at bumps. I am pretty good in the bumps on my tele skis. Well this year I actually bought a pair of alpine skis and boots and low and behold I can actually ski bumps with some confidence on them. I believe the tele skis helped with my balance and keeping my weight where it should be. Not sure where I am going with this but I think trying a different type of skiing actually helped me with my alpine skiing. Now ice is a different story...
 

SkiFanE

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Speak for yourself! I'm closer to 50 than 40 and keep improving every year. Used to be petrified of air, but last 2 years I've been leaping all over the place. Since I had 3 kids in my 30s and didn't get out skiing much, maybe I saved my body. Now I average 60 days a year and road bike off season. Much more fit now than I have been since my 20s. I also am bored to tears of groomers and corderouy, and don't find speed to be a thrill any longer. I find bumps any ski day, and end up spending most of my time on edge of trail. I'm usually slower in bumps than a Groomer skier, so it seems safer.

Im def in body preservation mode, so will not ski icy chattery stuff and have no desire to carve GS turns on ice. Not fun at all to me, so why chance high speed injury? I feel safer bumping in woods.

I think turning 30 or 40 or whatever milestone, some of us tend to find ourselves making decisions like checking speed in the woods or not taking the big gap jump in the park.

For improvement, I'd say you may need focus. You did racing, maybe try moguls, or backcountry, or park, or whatever interests you that you don't know much about. Like JimG said, put yourself around people who are better. You could also pick up a snowboard and try that. The progression from newb to proficient is a ton of fun and so much faster than in skiing.

I stopped giving a damn about improving long ago, and I still love skiing and boarding. Others take a totally different approach. I've always appreciated that in skiing, there is no set path to take, it's up to the individual.
Singh
 

SkiFanE

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Everyone sits back on skis at some point. Key is ability to recover without stopping. Found myself doing that alot with recent powder, could usually recover, but you have to know when to bail when all hope is lost (I had a few face
plants in pow as a result). That's when strength helps.

Seriously...days on hill. Bumps take tons of muscle memory, can't zipper line a perfect line of bumps without it, you are going too fast to even think about what u r doing. At least make sure you have a fair stretch of consecutive days. If you take a 5 day week you will improve so much more than 5 days over 5 weekends.

I'm in the same boat as you guys. At my age, 45, I'm just going to try and get better and stronger but most importantly not hurt myself. problem is that when I get hesitant I sit back on my skis and thats my biggest issue. I'd rather that though than hitting a tree at speed.
 

drjeff

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I consider myself an advanced skier who prefers expert terrain. Sometimes I ski like an expert, and other times I ski pretty poorly.

Some of it has to do with snow conditions and how tired I am. But there are at least 2 areas I see people from time to time straight up kicking my ass in terms of technique and ability.

One is icy stuff. On icy days most people are scraping around. I actually prefer to ski black diamonds on icy days because the bumps help me control my speed and the pitch assists with edge hold. But I see racers and other skiers of all ages from time to time skiing that stuff like it's corduroy. WTF? I have some race training so technically I know what I'm supposed to do.. but in reality it's pretty hard to ski that stuff well and really attack the slope and carve aggressive turns on that stuff. I'd rather just not.

Other is bumps and woods. I manage bumps fine, and I will ski any woods there are the steeper it is the more exciting it is for me. But I don't really do it fast. In the woods I don't really go fast unless they are low angle woods that I can just blow through. Part of it is fear of hitting a tree and messing myself up. Also I don't think I am good at planning long lines with confidence. I plan out 2 or 3 or 4 turns, and then have to slow way down to re-evaluate (if it's really steep or tight). But I see people here and there who handle even pretty hard woods like it's a bunny slope. WTF?

So have I reached the limits of my ability or what? I'd like to ski better, and be able to enjoy more variable conditions as well. It's just weird I have some really good days and some days it feels like I've regressed for whatever reason. Also it's weird that I ski steeps which require jump turns more comfortably than a blue square groomer sometimes.

How do advanced skiers become true experts. Not just people who like double diamond terrain but people who ski double diamond terrain like experts?

I've been skiing for like 26 years and now I am 30 so I am starting to think "pretty good" is as good as I might ever be.

You're in the same boat as the rest of us. I consider myself at a pretty high skill level, but since I don't get more than 20-25 days on snow now I'm just not getting the time on the terrain I love. So the bumps and woods skills are behind when I do get in them. Night league racing is keeping my groomer skills sharp, but if I'm not on my race skis I still take it easy on the ice.

Steep and ice, is the combo where more often the trend in modern ski design, softer and wider with some degree of rocker, actually works against many folks compared to a traditional, narrow, stiff, reverse cambered ski. That's really becoming apparent this year with the new FIS rules for GS skis where now they're basically shaped (or not shaped may be the more appropriate description ;) ) like they were 20 years ago, and you'll still see the racers ripping big GS arcs on bulletproof snow, not because they're racers, but because the skis they're on are both tuned very well and are practically ice skates. This is one "niche" area where the much more versatile modern ski trends IMHO are actually a decrease in peformance for a good chunk of the folks sliding down the hill on any given day
 

AdironRider

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My two tips for each respective issue.

Ice - the biggest thing for me with icy conditions is trust. Trust your skill and equipment and it will most likely do what you want it to do given your experience level. When you second guess it, you fall. THat and just he manning the hell out of it and making sure that edge is set. As soon as I stopped thinking about how I might fall on slick stuff and having the confidence to set the edge and make the turn I saw major improvement.

Trees - Again this seems like a mental game issue to me given your description. From what you describe it sounds like your going about it the right way, planning out multiple turns ahead, etc. Keep going with that, but constantly be looking ahead. Riding glades Im never thinking about the current set of turns Im doing, but always thinking 3-4 ahead. Dont look at the trees themselves, look at the gaps inbetween. Like driving, your going to go in the direction you look.

Ultimately, dont be thinking about how you look, but concentrate on how you feel. Usually if youre feeling good, youre looking good.
 
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