KEEN Rippin Chix Steeps Skiing Skills
– by Alison Gannett and Friends
Skiing is a series of linked recoveries –
focus on what you did right, not what you did wrong!
Firstly, this is a steep skiing camp to build your confidence and learn the new skills listed below. Gals often email me that they don’t know how to ski trees, steeps or powder, or if they do, they are scared or often ski poorly. Remember, this is a camp to LEARN, and is not for folks who have mastered these skills! The main thing to have is a positive attitude, some descent fitness, be able to link 10 turns on a single black diamond run. For the Silverton Camp, gals need to be fit enough to hike 5-30 minutes with skis on their back for 4-5 runs, and have some experience in powder, trees and crud, as there are no groomers and all runs are double blacks. Not sure? Email Alison
Gear: #1 most important thing:
Have a bootfitter check to see that your boots are the right size and flex.
Get custom footbeds – even the cheap ones really help.
Do not put long john’s inside your boot, nothing but a sock
Skis – use fat skis for the Rippin Chix western camps (100mm under foot)
Less shape (radius, sidebut) is easier on steep terrain, powder, trees and moguls.
Skis – Skis with rocker can be sized longer than without rocker. At least a tip rocker is HIGHLY recommended.
Wear a helmet
Tips for a Warm up run
Athletic position – hand position – hugging the big guy, lift tower, ballerina, hug the ball
Use other sport for visualization – receiving a tennis serve, getting ready to be tackled, soccer, etc
Feet position – wider legs – fit a grapefruit between knees – avoid “the virgin clutch”, visualize a large and full adult depends diaper
Ankle position – bend ankles forward on each turn, – squish a dime between the shin and the boot, squish a grape under your toes, pressure on ball of foot, pressure “knee to ski”
Stacking ankle, knee and hip.
Do not just bend the knee –avoid ‘sitting on the toilet”, bend the ANKLE instead.
Hand techniques and Skills -
pole plant downhill, 45 degree angle, reach away from body
position of readiness, back of shoulder should be tight and flexed at all times.
“spear the frog, shine the flashlight” – uphill arm – pull pinky towards elbow, downhill pole plant anticipation. Moving wrists not arms.
“serve martinis” – plant pole then serve your cafeteria tray down the hill on every turn – especially effective on steep gnarly terrain to remain in the drivers seat.
“read the newspaper” – top of paper must match horizon or focal point
uphill hand to downhill ski tip
Practice dragging downhill pole to help press lats and downhill shoulder down.
Hand techniques to avoid
plant to “Velcro butt”
plant to outrigger/rudder – pole stays in snow too long, causing the upper body to turn uphill and away from moving down the hill and commitment to fall line, also moves the weight onto the uphill ski too much.
long pole plants – fear based “hanging on”
Double pole plant “stabbing rats”
“Tyrannosaurus rex” – holding poles w/bent arms close to body
“the oh shit” – panic upper pole dragging on sketchy traverses – learn to rely on your feet – pole drag does not slow you down, and it makes you lean into the hill
Pendulum arm – swinging the arm around to turn like an ice skater
Eyes, waist, upper body Skills
looking ahead – watching TV, focal point, refocusing focal point
breaking at the waist – how to look ahead to avoid this and use feet/legs/ankles
“Push the bush” – commit to moving the body down the hill – avoids having the butt stick out and being in the back seat, and breaking at the waist
Body down the hill “zipper down the hill” – in steep terrain, have the lower zipper also face down the hill.
Squeeze the thong string – or Johnny “G”
body as a “T” facing down the hill
looking ahead at instructor down the hill, or pick and object way down the hill.
Stop looking at your bindings, or checking your bindings – looking up and down.
All joints are “stacked”
“make the wine” – image crushing grapes between the shin and the front of the boot. Also
known as “knee to ski” or bending the ankle.
“stiff fear leg” oid the stiff downhill leg that comes with fear –use bumpy traverses to demonstrate/practice using ankles to absorb bumps and not the upper body or butt – have skis follow terrain – up and down, using ankles
Don’t sit on toilet, or use “T and A” position (butt out, upper body forward to compensate)
wider stance – as terrain gets steeper feet get wider for balance and to keep weight on downhill ski.
Feel like you have a loaded adult diaper – avoid virgin clutch. In steep terrain, have 3 loads in the diaper.
move hips together – keep feet even
working uphill knee – uphill pinky toe, roll uphill knee uphill so that both skis are on edge evenly
knee to ski or shin to boot – ankle flexion – front of boot – rear of ball of foot -toes relaxed not scrunched.
tipping skis early
tip your head to initiate in steeps
Embracing Rocks, Stumps, and other fun treats to learn
Five ways catching air and/or negotiating obstacles – start on ground with no obstacles and progress to obstacles and actual air. ALWAYS look ahead and not down, for the landing.
straight pole air – “stabbing rats” – using two poles to initiate momentum over an object– look ahead
pedal pole air - pedal hop with poles “stabbing rats”, then one, two with alternating feet
straight air – no poles – look ahead – have feet parallel to the ground
flag air – no change of direction – tilt head, straight upper leg, relax, don’t use poles, land on two feet.
stationary to straight air
Alison’s super cool High-speed sideslip – fall line – imaginary couloir to real couloir
Her favorite tip of all time, saves energy, allows the eyes to pick a line, keeps one shopping downhill instead of side to side and traversing.
turn shape – varied shapes for varied terrain
turn shape – “C” turns versus “S” turns,
putting techniques together to manage difficult terrain
thinking positive – “I think I can” – muscle response actually follows brain thought. cellular impacts – chemical changes when you believe that “you can’. Visualizing good turns, good landing, etc.
visualization – if you can see it and believe it, it will happen
line choice – let your plan adapt as you go – Plan A, B, C etc
turning on the Dark side of mogul
Tele Specific Considerations (both tele and alpine gals are welcome at Rippin Chix) Equipment:
Boot and Binding interaction play a significant role in Telemark performance. Boots, Bindings and to some extent skis should be matched for performance intention. Most importantly highly active bindings (22 Designs, NTN) need to be matched with high, stiff aggressive boots. Also worth considering: if you pair an aggressive boot/binding combo with a lightweight ski you may find you are not as successful at maximizing ski performance.
Traditional camber skis with huge tips are not really conducive to most tele styles, go for fatter underfoot as a start (90-105).
If you are considering an early rise tip or rocker ski, consider going a bit longer (from a few cms for early rise tip only to 10-12 cms for full rocker)
Leashes – required for ski area operations, not advised for backcountry travel
Adjustable poles (pro) are a great tool to use if you are trying to change your skiing as a few cms taller or smaller may create some significant changes in skiing performance so they are nice to have
Adjustable poles are expensive and heavy (con)
There may be situations where you might play around with skiing your boots in ‘walk’ mode but generally it is good to make sure your boots are BOTH on ski mode
Technique Considerations and Skills
Everything for alpine plus…
Modern telemark technique is converging with alpine technique more so than ever!
Stay tall as much as possible using the least lead change and the least flexing (ankles, hips, knees) that you need for the terrain
Consider a box around your boots and bindings – try to ski in this box fore/aft and lateral most of the time in order to stay balanced
Aggressive terrain and terrain features will require more flexing but ideally the lead change will stay within the box!
Use jump turns in steep or narrow terrain for safety and control
Chase your alpine friends – you can keep up as long as you ski efficiently
Make sure you always ‘turn before you tele
Special emphasis on ‘push the bush’
Get on your little toe side of the new inside ski asap (early edging
focus on functional tension in the core – tele skiers have a much smaller range in which we can truly be balanced
play with lead change in different conditions: powder you may find yourself coming back to heels in between turns, bumps you might never feel your heels
always keep moving, avoid just cruising in the tele stance even though it may feel stable it is actually the least stable you can be
all movements should be forward, down the hill.
on groomers (skiing with your kids, friends etc) do shuffles, railroad tracks, ski switch, go really fast, do bumps and jumps on the side – play!! it will change your skiing/life!