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Skiing
Questions Reply

Sam,

Last season I experienced my left ski wobbling--not to the extent that I could not control it. I will make sure my skis are tuned up before hitting the slopes to rule out any mechanical problems... Could there be another cause behind this. I have the knee binding bindings on the skis. Stockli Stormrider Xls.

I have a slight pronation problem with my left foot that we more or less corrected with orthopedic inserts. I have Head Raptor--body punch boots--which is a racing boot, but with a recreation feel. Assuming I do not have a mechanical problem, could the wobble be due to my ramping angle being off. I can't say I had the problem on the right ski. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

 

Can you tell me when the ski is wobbling. i.e. on the flats or on icy terrain, in the moguls, at a certain speed, etc....

I take it that your right leg is your stronger leg.  You are more comfortable putting most of your weight on it rather than your left leg if you had your choice.

If so you maybe floating the left leg a bit (not enough pressure on the ski with an appropriate edge, also seen with lighter front tip of ski than tail).  Compound this with less coordination on that foot (a slight lack of rotatation and tipping control) with strong tendency to pronate the foot and therefore catching the edge a bit on the snow then one tends to lighten the foot/ski  a bit  (a slight unconscious un-weighting) this makes the ski vulnerable to being knocked a bit causing a wobble.

If this is the case  practice  resting your shin  on the tongue of the boot by relaxing the ankle, knee and hips and sit into your boot more (bring your rear down just a bit squatting a slight bit but keep your shin resting on the boot tongue with a relaxed ankle and knees).  Also make sure that your knees are slightly bent and relaxed and the knee cap pointing and going over the big toe.  This will give your skis a slight pronation that gives stability as thee skis moves straight down the hill.  If this solves your problem then there is nothing wrong with your equipment. 

Note this is a body alignment and putting weight or pressure on a slight inside edge.

You do not want a perfectly flat ski as it will slide side to side.

If it is not an alignment, pressure, edge issue then the next easy thing to check is boot cuff cant. 

Put the boots on putting the upper two buckles and booster strap on with just a sight snug feel.  Do not over tighten them as we want to see a slight firmness of the boot cuff around your leg.

Stand on a flat hard floor in your athletic stance, toes relaxed, ankles relaxed, knees relaxed,  hip relaxed, shins resting on the tongue of the boot. Now with  knees over the middle toes (skis are perfectly flat)  the boot cuffs should have equal pressure on both sides of your lower leg.  Have someone look from the front and back of the lower leg.  They should see that one side is not having more pressure on the boot cuff than the other side of that same leg.

If they are equal; in pressure then the cuff alignment or canting is fine.  If one side is  pressing more than the other you need to adjust the boot cuff cant.  See boot manual on boot cuff canting.

These are the two most common reasons that can be easily fixed.

Now there might be a third one and that has to do with your orthopedic insert.  Many times shops and physicians recommend orthopedic inserts.  I have found that after practicing and training properly to ski that the body musculature and skeletal body frame readjusts itself and strengthens the foot position providing appropriate ski rotation, pressure and edge.  For example the more you practice the lower your rest or neutral stance in the boot.  This slightly lower body position (lower center of mass/gravity) realigns the leg and foot so it pressures the ski differently usually in a more  controllable position.  So I found is that the foot bed may be great when you are not in good practice form helping out t first but it starts to fight you as you become better in the season.  That orthopedic insert which was a great aid at the beginning of the season becomes a bit of a hindrance in the later half of the  season.  This is just an observation that I have observed through several of my students.  The more they train they find that replacing the orthopedic insert with the original foot bed they found better edging and ski control in their turns.  This is only with my small group of students that i have seen both on snow testing and on the Endless Slope, it was not intended to be a real scientific study but a subjective one.  But then again I have never seen a real scientific study on foot beds or at least not found one that I felt was done with good controls in the form of good scientific method especially before training and after training studies.  It all seems to be conjecture that foot beds would be better for all skiers.  They appear to help in walking and running shoes but then again skiing is different than walking, running, and jogging.

My rule regarding foot beds is if you like something and you feel it works for you then stick with it or if you have any doubts then it is easy to trade out the foot beds and try comparing them on the same runs back and forth several times with the different footbeds and only after several tries then make the decision.  It maybe worth taking a morning or afternoon to do so since it will affect your skiing for the rest of your life.  It is subjective but it is your subjectivity.
My wife and I are veteran skiers for over 30 years.  We have as far as we can recall have favored one side over the other (our stronger side) which happens to be for both of us our right leg making left turns.  We control our speed and stop using that side.  It is just easier to engage that leg so we favor it.  We work out at a gym and the left leg seems to be just as strong so why is it that we are unable to ski more symetrically?  We believe we could become better skiers if we could be confident on both sides. You are right your skiing would greatly improve as favoring one side is a root cause of most problems in skiing.   Barring any physical differences the left leg is just less coordinated due to lack of proper turning training done with the leg.  The less coordination is due to poor positioning, timing, flexibility, agility and lack of proper reaction to balance stimulus.  You have also established poor to bad habits to reactions on that side.  The most important first step is to relax the foot, ankle and knees on that side as you begin to turn on that side.  Relax into the ski boot and allow the boot to support the foot and lower leg as you begin and proceed into the turn. this allows for a stronger weight transfer to the downhill ski.  Make sure that your left knee is over the big toe of the foot so as to pronate the foot to provide an inside edge to the downhill ski.  Raising your big toe on the foot will allow the foot to dorsal flex easily and allow a stronger pronation and allow you to even evert the foot to provide a greater edge to the downhill ski.  Practice these tips and watch your confidence increase on that side.   A great way to develop this off season and even during the season are lessons on the Endless Slope. These are exercises that will be covered in the very first lessons at SnoZone Endless Slope schools.

Sam, when I saw a picture of myself skiing I thought of the broomstick analogy. I’m tilted pretty far out.  Shouldn’t I be more over my skis, with just my ankles tilting?  If so, it’s easier said than done; I’ve been trying!

 

As long as you are counter balancing, you want your hip to go toward the center of the circle you are going around. Therefore, from an appearance point of view you are not over the skis but if you were to measure the force pressure on your skis you will find that they are directly over both the edges.  This is due to your counter balance and centrifugal force that is created as you carve your turn. What I saw in the photo was pretty good in your attempt to counter balance. Sure it could of been more angulation at the ankle, knees and waist, but then maybe you would need to be going faster as well.  You were also performing a counter movement where you were beginning to face down the hill as well which adds to edge lift.  You looked pretty relaxed (not stiff) and I was impressed with your good edge bite and good lift on the skis.  I could read the bottom of your skis. If you studied the markings left on the snow by your skis I bet you would of seen very sharp defined cuts in the snow indicating that you were on edge and carving your turn.  Continue to practice your counter balance move.  To help a little more keep your right hand a bit higher up, out and in front as you make the right turn and it will help provide a stronger counter balance and more pressure on the downhill edge.

 

Sam, I still fall apart on the steep and revert to angling the front ski across the fall line for speed control.  I should be able to do that with more effective edging, which I think I can accomplish with better balance.  

 

A lot of the steep stuff is mental and one is scared of going over to balance onto the new downhill ski.  Fear of not having edge control causes people to whip the skis around too fast resulting in a rushed slide around or going into a wedge position. Therefore, you have to get use to the feel of falling straight down for a brief second and at the same time relaxing and keep the ankles flexed and your weight on the ball of your feet then you can properly transfer your weight and then tip onto the skis edge regaining a controlled turn. Then releasing the edge to go into a fall again then transferring the weight and tipping onto the edge regaining the turn.  This is easier said than done since we do not feel relaxed falling.

To prepare your self you should first side slip down a steep run to get use to the slope.  Do this on both sides alternating as you go down.

Then once you are use to the slope then point your self down near the bottom of the slope so as to pick up speed and as it levels onto the flat transfer your weight and engage the edge and you will turn in a nice arc.  Next time start to point yourself down a bit higher on the slope and repeat.  Repeat this each time starting a bit higher on the slope until you start making the turn while still on the slope. Do this on both sides and then try linking them.

You will find that you are getting use to the falling feeling and are relaxed transferring and engaging the edge.

How can I bring my skis closer together for tighter parallel skiing? I am a little bow legged and my skis feel they are far apart.

 

It is important to relax your toes, ankles and knees as you ski.  This will allow you to ride more over the skis.  You will begin to feel the edges of your skis and how they can be used to bring the skis in closer together.    To develop the feel of the skis edges perform the following exercise on a gentle slope:

 A lot has to do with relaxing and using your edges to bring the skis in.  Try this on a very gentle slope.  In a parallel stance, first relax your feet and ankles so that your shins of your legs are resting on the tongue of the boots.  Then roll and tip both your feet toward your big toe side of each foot.  You can bring your knees closer together to accentuate this movement.  As you slide down slowly on the gentle slope the skis should come closer together.  Now roll and tip both your feet toward the little toe side of each foot. You can bow leg your knees out a bit for this to get on the outside edges of your skis.   The skis should ski apart.    Practice this until you can form hour glass shape tracks in the snow.  As you get better at this your feet begin to develop control of the skis width apart but most of all you begin to ride over your skis more. 

What is important is to be relaxed at your toes, ankles and knees.  While relaxed you naturally push forward your knees and your feet are more likely to pronate (place more pressure on the big toe side of each feet.  By stiffing your joints which you do not want to do you stand up straighter and you roll toward your little toe side of the feet (supinate).  So do not stiffen up but relax and let your ski boot do some of the work of holding you up.  This is why you paid so much for good pair of ski boots, right!

 

"Why does my ski want to go one direction when I want to turn and go the other direction"

 This is most likely due to not transferring appropriate weight to the ski which will become the new downhill ski when the new turn is made.  You may think you placed weight on this ski but most likely all you did was turn the ski on it's inside edge causing it to track and continue to go in a straight line.

What I recommend to over come a weak weight transfer is to pretend you are riding a bicycle and pedal down on the ski that will be the new down hill ski and like a bicycle the other ski foot lightens up and comes around staying parallel.  So think of riding a bicycle and pedal your feet to turn.

 

My 2 year and 2 months old. Is he too young to be on endless slope?

Regarding your son skiing and learning on the Endless Slope.  At 2 some kids have the muscle strength to form and hold a wedge with their legs and pronate/evert their foot/ankle to provide enough edge capability to slow down and make turns.   It really is a try and see thing since each child is unique in their lower body development and coordination.  I find that most of the time I will be aiding them by holding onto their skis and positioning them properly.  They begin to enjoy the sensation of ski edge control while developing muscle action.  The wonderful thing about the Endless Slope is that I am right in front of them able to aid with the movements.  They obtain an early feeling for skiing, developing proper muscle coordination and body position.  This gets them off to a great start.  An important aspect to realize is that you will need to continuously offer them practice, because at that young of an age they are also developing and refining their motor skills for walking, running, hopping, jumping, skipping, sliding, etc, and since they have greater opportunity to do all these activity more than skiing they will forget the ski coordination unless they occasionally ski with appropriate frequency.  So if you want a young skier once you start them you will need to occasionally acquaint them with actual skiing such as that on the Endless Slope so they do not forget or replace the ski skills and avoid picking up bad habits that result in inappropriate movements.  Remember walking and running movements use opposite positioning to skiing.

My suggestion is to have  your child try it and see how they like it then go from there. But never expect too much from a child at that age.  Some of the best skiers in the world started when they were two but once they started their parents frequently had them skiing, and that makes all the difference.  Practice, practice and practice correctly and frequently.

How do I ski moguls? Ice? Powder?

 

Skiing different terrains see "Ski Article SK4

What exercises do I do to be ready for this season?

Ski exercises see " Ski / Snowboard General Article SG2"

What is the correct way to pole plant?

 

Using the ski poles see "Ski Article SK3"

How can I improve my skiing?

 

Ski Fundamentals see "Fundamentals Key to Skiing and Snowboarding"

   
Snowboarding

Sam, in the morning Dillion had difficulty so I adjusted the bindings and he still had trouble getting on his toe side.  So, I had him get off the hill and I was scratching my head as to what could be the problem.  Then it dawns on me, that the board Dillon and Taylor were using on your deck had it's binding so close together they had a hard time putting a foot between the bindings.  So I moved the bindings together, despite the boards length, and he snapped to the toe side just like he was on the deck. We had a great time at Donner Ski Ranch, Dillon was making turns on blue runs, finding jumps everywhere and we were the last ones that were on the hill.  As you will see in the attached video some of the stills were taken on the Face, a black diamond run that Dillon insisted on going down, I wasn't more than eight feet below him the whole time.  I almost called you from the lodge just to let you know how everything went. We owe it all to you, thanks. See you on the hill sometime soon.

 

You were wise to move the binding stance closer together.  The wider the stance the more stable the straight ride is but you run the risk of sacrificing turning capability.  The closer the bindings are the better control you have for turning.  The stance distance is a compromise between turning and stability.  I recommend for beginners to have a narrower stance such as a width just a little more than their hip or shoulder width.  As they gain control of their turning (especially the toe side turn) then to widen the stance until comfortable with both turning and stability

I am new to the sport and I know very little on setting up my new bindings to my snowboards, can you help me?

 

These are basic rules to get you started in binding set ups:

1.  Decide if you want the following basic angles for the bindings: A;+15 & 0, or B;+15 "& -15, or C;0 & 0.  (note: the first number is the degree of the front foot binding)          Position A is typical of what you find when you rent a board and you favor riding in one direction only, Position B is one that allows you to ride switch easily and Position C is one that some people find comfortable with their feet position.

 2.  Now we want to determine which holes to use on the board for the screws to go into for attaching the binding. Start with the holes 4 closest to the tip and the 4 holes closest to the tail of the board and place the bindings on them with the angles you decide in step 1 and loosely attach the screws.  Now put your feet in them and see if you are comforatable with the spread.  Most likely it will feel too wide.  Now move both bindings closer together by one hole distance at a time. Then try it by putting your feet in the bindings.  Keep moving them closer together evenly bringing both bindings together until your feet are close to shoulders width apart.  I suggest this width of your shoulder width for your beginning stage riding as it gives you the most control on the board. Now tighten the screws down.

3.  You are not finished yet as you have to adjust the boot on the binding so that it has even boot toe to toe edge distance as the boot heel to heel edge distance.  We are trying to make sure that the boot is centered across the board so that doing a toe edge has the same leverage as doing the heel edge.  If it is not centered you need to adjust the back plate that hinges up to move either it in or out by loosening the side screws and nuts that position the back plate out or in to the binding frame.  (note: this is not the back plate angle adjustment that is found on the back of the back plate, we will discuss this adjustment later) Once both boots are centered move onto 4

4.  Next,  Adjust both the angle straps and toe straps so that they are able to easily and snuggly bind your boots (with your feet in them) to the binding.  You may need to remove the screw on the strap and reset them in a different hole position shortening or lengthening the strap.  If strap is way too long may need to shorten the strap by cutting it properly so as to screw the strap in a shorter hole position.  

5.  The last thing is to adjust the back plate angle with the adjustment on the back of the Back Plate.  By loosing the hold down screw the adjustment piece will freely move up or down.  Moving it down puts the back plate in a more forward angle position and causes the back plate to contact the back of your lower leg sooner causing you to engage a heel edge quicker.  Too much of a forward lean angle makes your leg more tired as you have to keep the leg bending so as not to engage the heel edge.  On the other hand if you have it adjusted so that the back plate is straight up then it causes you to not make a strong heel edge or cause it to engage it late.  My suggestion is to start off having it straight up (adjustment as high up as possible).  Ride it awhile then lower it and try it again until you find it to your responsive satisfaction.

 6.  Get use too riding the board and then as you get familiar with it re-adjust the stance, the width, how far back the back foot binding should be from the tail vs. the front foot binding to the tip (this will optimize the type of riding and terrain you ride with this board i.e. in powder may want greater distance from tip to front foot binding to keep the front of the board from diving into the snow) and the back plate lean angle optimizing your riding.

 

I can make a heel edge turn but unable to do a toe edge turn?”

Turning on a snowboard requires a weight shift to the front of the board.  This shift allows the board to pivot under the front foot allowing the tail of the board to come around by turning the hip in the direction of the turn.  Because of the position of our stance on a snowboard it is usually easier making a turn onto the heel edge.  This is not always true but in my guesstimate about 80% or more of the population have a harder time initiating a toe edge turn than a heel edge turn.  To make a weight shift prior to a turn relax the ankle and knee of the front leg which will allow the ankle and knee to flex and thereby shifting your body forward pressing more on the front foot.  This is easier said then to perform.  People have a fear of relaxing the front leg when speeding down a hill. The front leg if stiff becomes like a 2x4 wood beam pushing you back against the hill putting your weight mostly on the back foot.  This prevents the board to pivot into a turn.

So if you want to make that turn relax the ankle and knees so you can shift the weight to the front to initiate the turn. 

 

I am just starting out and want to buy a snowboard.  How do I choose a snowboard for myself?

 

 

Beginners Guide to choosing a snowboard click here

Help! I am a beginner and I keep face planting when I attempt a toe edge.

 

Avoiding face plants see " Snowboard Article SB1"

Snowboard Resources

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=548282
   
General Snow Tips
   

“How do I tell what wax is right for my skis/board?"

What I recommend for most recreational skiers and boarders is to use an “All-Temperature” wax.  An All Temperature wax will satisfy most recreational riders. The only exception to this is to use “Spring Wax” when the warmer temperatures soften the snow.    A critical property of a good Spring Wax is that it contains an ingredient that helps expel pollen from sticking to the wax.  With Spring comes pollen that are released from the trees.  When pollen sticks to the base wax they act like anchoring hooks causing the grabbing effect we get riding on slush Spring snow. Also avoid riding under the trees where pollen is in high concentration on the snow surface. 

For those wanting more specific temperature or race waxes I recommend contacting a wax manufacturer to understand their specifics on their variations of waxes and processes for application.

Some notes on waxes are:

l        What I feel is most important about waxing is to first make sure that the old dirty wax is removed from the pores of your base.  A good base cleaner will do the trick in most of the cases but a method known as Hot Wax Scrap is the best way to remove old dirty wax.  Look it up on the internet or study it from a wax procedure book. 

l        What I see at most resorts is the fast $5 to $10 wax job offered while you wait where they add wax onto your base with a wax buffer roller machine.  I do not recommend this only if you are in a bind needing to ski or snowboard like right now and that your skis or board is so dry with little wax or you have dirty wax that is causing dragging and grabbing then you may be  forced to use such a service. Then ask them if they can first clean and remove any remaining old dirty wax with a base wax cleaner before applying the new wax.  This maybe an added cost but will minimize mixing the old dirty wax in or on your base in with the new giving a longer lasting wax ride delaying the grabbing and sticking to the snow.  I just cringe knowing that other people's dirty wax is being mixed on the buffer wax roller that dips in the melted wax.

l        Learn to wax your base and do it often and it will pay off in more consistent and higher performance skiing and boarding not to mention extending the life of your bases.

l        Learn to wax your skis or board at wax procedure

 

I am trying to save my money but want to buy a pair of skis.  How do I choose a used ski?

 

Guide to ski and snowboard swaps click here

How do I choose a pair of gloves or goggles, or socks?

 

Guide to ski & snowboard accessories click here

What resort is the closest?

 

Guide to ski, snowboard, x-country resorts, snow parks click here

I would like to join a ski club.  Which one has a bus that goes to Tahoe?

 

Guide to snow clubs click here 

How should I dress for skiing?

 

Guide to dressing for the snow click here

How should I prepare for my ski trip?

 

Article on preparing a fun first day click here

What should I take on a ski trip?

 

Skier's Check list click here

What should I take on a snowboard trip?

Snowboarder's Check List click here

I am totally out of shape! What would you suggest I do to get started on a physical improvement and conditioning program before I begin skiing or taking up snowboarding?

See Article on Circuit training can help your ski & board conditioning click here

   
Surfing

What are some surfing tips for a beginner?

 

Beginners guide to surfing click here

How do I pick a surfboard?

 

Beginners guide to surfboards click here

How do I pick a wet suit?

 

Beginners guide to wet suits click here

   
Others

I have lousy balance.  how can I improve my balance so I am more comfortable on skis or snowboard or surfboard?

 

1. Improving your balance see " Ski / Snowboard Article SG7 Keeping our balance

2. Improving Balance through hand position Ski / Snowboard Article SG5 Get a grip! e3 puts power in the palm of your hands"

   

I want to thank all who have and will contribute to this section. This is a section where you can contribute to make skiing, snowboarding, surfing and other extreme sports fun and safe for others. 

If you have any tip, advise or word of wisdoms regarding any extreme sports, may it be regarding riding, dressing, equipment, keeping safe and comfortable, or just some interesting fact that would be helpful to others please email them to skimore@endlesslope.com

Warning! Opinions expressed are those of the contributors and are not the sole responsibility of this website