Serious XCD question about turns

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MikeK

Serious XCD question about turns

Post by MikeK » Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:17 pm

So really I read a lot of discussion about this both here in the past and on other forums, but if you had to give advice to a budding skier, what would you say focus your time on? Tele or parallel?

I'll be quite honest about my situation. Both are difficult on various widths, cambers, stiffness of XCD skis. For whatever strange reason I find it slightly easier to turn the skis I have in a telemark. This goes against a lot of what I have read but a place like Garnet Hill the instructors will tell you in the real world out on narrow trails and in the trees, a parallel is rarely the turn of choice.

I'll also say I don't think I've been able to do a true parallel turn on skinnies. I've dabbled with it and when I look my tips are almost always at least slightly pointed toward each other when I try to start to turn, and I almost always have to lift my inside ski to get it on it's outside edge.

Even a shaped ski like the S Bound I found incredibly difficult to use a carving style parallel turn - I'd try to roll on my edges and get only a very slight amount of turning and having to pressure the skis like that made me extra wobbly. It was incredibly hard to do. OTOH, with a ski like that putting one in front of the other and edging at least the front ski throws them in a wild arc - it's almost impossible not to edge the rear ski just trying to keep up with the front.

Other skis it's not the case. It's much harder to turn either way. Camber seems to be the biggest killer in my mind of turning ability as the lack of sidecut on the Eon doesn't really detract it's willingness to turn. It's just slow and wants to make bigger radius turns at slow speed.

Either of these skis I find hard to parallel turn as well. I'm almost always stemming, or stem christie. I can turn better without completely lifting the ski like on a double camber, but it's simply not like an Alpine ski, and especially a modern Alpine ski.

I have nothing against doing a stem christie, but it's not a particularly quick turn edge to edge and it almost always forces you into a snowplow wedge at some point and you are skidding i.e if you try to turn quickly edge to edge on a narrow chute you just wind up in a snowplow switching edge pressure. It seems to me the telemark is much better option as even with some wedge you are never getting out as far in your stance or skidding the skis as much as in a stemmed alpine turn. Does this seem correct?

Stepped turns are probably the most efficient way of changing direction no matter what the camber is but they are horribly difficult in deep snow or when you get going fast. XC racers can do them flawlessly at high speed and barely lose any momentum, but it seems a bit futile away from a groomed trail, unless of course when you aren't really moving...

So really where do you focus?

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connyro
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Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by connyro » Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:42 pm

I don't really talk about the mechanics of turning I guess, so my vocabulary is lacking. There's 4 things that I can say about your post:

1. It's pretty hard to turn skis tele or parallel in deep snow if you don't carry enough speed/momentum.

2. Related to above statement, when executing a series of turns, your weight on your skis should not remain static. You need to unweight to disengage from a turn/direction and initiate a new turn/direction. Think about how hop turns are executed, except you don't need to exaggerate it as much or come completely out of the snow. So get heavy during the actual turn/carve and get light in between turns. Sometimes I look at it like quickly 'pulling' my legs up to my torso while other times, I look at it like pushing my torso up (hopping) in order to unweight my skis. It's a 3-D dynamic motion, not static and stiff. Centered balance is vital.

3. When you say: "Garnet Hill the instructors will tell you in the real world out on narrow trails and in the trees, a parallel is rarely the turn of choice", I agree with this statement to a point. Sometimes when all hell starts to break loose or if I need to gain control back on difficult terrain or just need to stop or panic turn in a hurry, I will often throw a parallel turn or two in.

4. Teleman sometimes prattles on about 'arcs' and 'riding one long ski.' His technique, I assume, includes a slight stem so that both skis, slightly offset from parallel from each other, act like a single curved edge and creates it's own 'sidecut.' This technique may work good for you when combined with active weighting and unweighting, especially on skis with little sidecut and lots of camber. Make sure you have enough speed to make it all happen.





MikeK

Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by MikeK » Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:10 pm

Thanks for the feedback, what you say makes a lot of sense. I'll try to fill in the gaps with some more pertinent info.
connyro wrote:I don't really talk about the mechanics of turning I guess, so my vocabulary is lacking. There's 4 things that I can say about your post:

1. It's pretty hard to turn skis tele or parallel in deep snow if you don't carry enough speed/momentum.
Agree to some degree. It seems the shaped skis will start to arc at very low speeds... just my observation, and mostly with a telemark with some 'stem/wedge'. Turning skis in an Alpine style wedge in any kind of deep snow seems very difficult and I think why people started parallel turning - mainly to ski powder. I could be wrong on that, but I think I recall reading in some ski history rambles...
2. Related to above statement, when executing a series of turns, your weight on your skis should not remain static. You need to unweight to disengage from a turn/direction and initiate a new turn/direction. Think about how hop turns are executed, except you don't need to exaggerate it as much or come completely out of the snow. So get heavy during the actual turn/carve and get light in between turns. Sometimes I look at it like quickly 'pulling' my legs up to my torso while other times, I look at it like pushing my torso up (hopping) in order to unweight my skis. It's a 3-D dynamic motion, not static and stiff. Centered balance is vital.
Very familiar with this concept from Alpine skiing. I find it much harder on skinny skis because wobbling and bobbling puts your weight where you don't want it. Back to what I said above even the skinnies seem to turn in the deep snow if you unweight, wait, and ride them where they want to go.
3. When you say: "Garnet Hill the instructors will tell you in the real world out on narrow trails and in the trees, a parallel is rarely the turn of choice", I agree with this statement to a point. Sometimes when all hell starts to break loose or if I need to gain control back on difficult terrain or just need to stop or panic turn in a hurry, I will often throw a parallel turn or two in.
Can't really comment much on this because when I lose it and go into panic mode the reaction is usually a wedge - it's just the natural thing you learn on XC skis. I WOULD never do that on Alpine skis unless I was going really, really slow. I'd hockey stop. I can't do hockey stops on XCD skis - I should be able to on a groomed terrain but it's too violent a motion and I just fall, or in deep snow I don't have the boot power to twist the skis like that... and I'd still fall if I could.
4. Teleman sometimes prattles on about 'arcs' and 'riding one long ski.' His technique, I assume, includes a slight stem so that both skis, slightly offset from parallel from each other, act like a single curved edge and creates it's own 'sidecut.' This technique may work good for you when combined with active weighting and unweighting, especially on skis with little sidecut and lots of camber. Make sure you have enough speed to make it all happen.
What he goes on about is exactly word for word from Steve Barnett's XCD book. If you do this on shaped ski you can make it turn super tight with hardly any skidding, the less you 'stem/wedge' or as he calls it, 'angulation' of the ski, the bigger the arc they carve. This is what I meant about the S Bounds. It doesn't work so well on consolidated snow, and doesn't seem to work at all with the skinny skis... they need the snow to deflect them in a reverse cambered shape.

Steve's parallel techniques, at least in the version I have mirror what I was saying about lifting the inside ski. It literally shows him skiing on one ski - and yeah it works for a double camber ski but I wouldn't exactly call it a parallel turn by modern standards. It's also not easy for the reasons you might imagine i.e. balance!





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connyro
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Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by connyro » Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:35 pm

MikeK, based on your posts on this forum, I really think you just need to get out skiing with someone who skis better than you. I don't mean getting instruction from someone, but just going out and skiing unfamiliar terrain with someone who's got the skills. It's amazing how helpful it is to watch and attempt to imitate how someone with skills skis. IMHO, you've got the knowledge and the background in alpine skiing, so you just need to take the next step. If I were you, I would take JL up on his offer for you to go out there and ski with him. I bet you would have a BLAST and come back a better xcD skier!





MikeK

Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by MikeK » Wed Mar 18, 2015 2:47 pm

connyro wrote:MikeK, based on your posts on this forum, I really think you just need to get out skiing with someone who skis better than you. I don't mean getting instruction from someone, but just going out and skiing unfamiliar terrain with someone who's got the skills. It's amazing how helpful it is to watch and attempt to imitate how someone with skills skis. IMHO, you've got the knowledge and the background in alpine skiing, so you just need to take the next step. If I were you, I would take JL up on his offer for you to go out there and ski with him. I bet you would have a BLAST and come back a better xcD skier!
A definite plan for the future. Probably next year. Getting up to Sutton is about umm 6.5-7hrs for me... not easy but I'd definitely do it mid-season when the chance of having some decent snow and cover are good.

Until then it's just me, Steve Barnett, and the skis. I'm going to go back to Garnet Hill again early next year and take a lesson with my wife.

I'm actually considering seeking someone out at Gore who skis on pins and leathers - I'm sure I can find someone just whether or not they'd be willing to spend a couple hours on the greens with me so I could follow them around, and get a few pointers (hell I'll roll them a couple joints and buy them a sixer of good beer).

It's a little hard to find people who share my interest, which isn't to ski at a resort or slides in the backcountry. Skiing better is always a goal though.





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StormyMonday
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Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by StormyMonday » Wed Mar 18, 2015 6:47 pm

My friend is on Guides with cable bindings and uses parallel turns, while I'm on pins and Outtas and use tele. Mostly we're in tight trees where you're maybe getting 20 turns as you're touring around. In that environment a lot of the game is mental. not mechanical. My friend is more confident turning parallel and I'm more so in tele. I would say pick one turn and get it down to the point where you feel you can make it whenever needed and that's your turn. FWIW on "regular" teles with my Garas and cable binding I can parallel as well as I can do it on alpine skis, it may be the binding and boot have some effect there too. It sounds like you're already more confident tele, I'd say build on that and don't worry about whether it's right or wrong.





MikeK

Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by MikeK » Wed Mar 18, 2015 7:06 pm

StormyMonday wrote:FWIW on "regular" teles with my Garas and cable binding I can parallel as well as I can do it on alpine skis, it may be the binding and boot have some effect there too. It sounds like you're already more confident tele, I'd say build on that and don't worry about whether it's right or wrong.
You know when I first started on XCD skis I never wanted to tele anything. I just wanted to use what I knew from Alpine skiing and ski that way. I thought tele was too hard, but alpine turning didn't seem to work either, so I figured I must be doing something wrong. I def put a lot more work into the telemark, and I still suck at it, but I can link some turns together in decent conditions. In packed powder conditions I can do those Steve Barnett style parallel turns better than I can do a telemark though... it seems the skis and conditions dictate which is easier for me. I also don't want to ski on too short a ski and give up a ton of touring performance, so it seems to me that doesn't help - the longest Alpine ski I probably ever skied was 185?, and my last set was 179cm. My shortest XCD ski is 10cm longer.

Anayway I guess I always just figured that leather boots and pins/NNN BC were more suited to making those style of turns, so I didn't much question it. I think if I skied with plastic boots and a cable I could probably parallel these skis with more confidence. My wife can do Alpine style turns better than I can with her excursions (not quite parallels, but pretty good stem christies), and she's had hardly any Alpine training.

Thanks for your feedback!





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CIMA
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Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by CIMA » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:35 am

Skiing techniques I employ changes depending on snow conditions, turn radius, the angle of slope and speed.

I use parallel turn occasionally during BC tour especially when I should keep balance on rough consolidated snow. The parallel turn is reserved just for emergency and not fun at all. :-)

My turns tend to be a stem christie when the speed gets slow. As I gain the speed, the stem parts of the turns lessen progressively to almost zero.

In powder I employ a technique similar to one by which tele skiers turn on bumps. My body works like a suspension so as not to kill off the flotation gained by my lead ski. An observer would see my center of gravity from crosswise direction moving linearly in parallel to the angle of slope.
The flowing river never stops and yet the water never stays the same.





MikeK

Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by MikeK » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:29 am

CIMA wrote: My turns tend to be a stem christie when the speed gets slow. As I gain the speed, the stem parts of the turns lessen progressively to almost zero.
Seems reasonable. I'd also assume you are doing a fair deal of unweighting of both skis as you cross the fall line from one turn to the other when you get up to higher speeds?





MikeK

Re: Serious XCD question about turns

Post by MikeK » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:43 am

I wonder if the telemark lead change is causing me to unconsciously unweight the skis more as I go from one turn to another and why I feel like it's easier to do that?

I think I really forgot about unweighting across the fall line during a transition - I'm not talking about hopping, just getting light in your loafers so to speak :lol:

Using the diagonal stride tele mark you do this too, it's just the lead is unweighted, placed in a turn, and then progressively weighted as the back ski follows. I think this is really the reason why it feels easier!


At any rate, there isn't a ton of unweighting needed in turn transitions with carving skis, and I think I kind of unlearned that in my last Alpine endeavors.





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