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Author Topic: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!  (Read 4847 times)

Offline JeffOYB

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New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« on: March 27, 2009, 01:43:38 pm »
Hey, check out the huge new report I put up at my OYB site about Ski Technique Theory.

My general idea is that Touring Technique is simply not taught anywhere! Yet it's what most skiers do!

The official way to teach skiing goes from Beg to Int to Adv, all using the Racing Technique concepts.

It emphasizes total weight shift and total weight throwing onto poles and ab-crunching to pole. It's not good for sight-seeing or chatting and isn't designed for that. It's for racing. Which few people do. It's also REALLY HARD for "normal" people to do! And it's not at all suitable for BC skiing or homestyle ungroomed trails (where people just ski-in their own tracks). It's an amazing situation if you think about it. Which I have. Ripe for discussion anyway!

I say that Tourers need a technique that is easy and low-effort and suitable for soft, unstable trails and useful with an upright posture. And I say that Tourers naturally develop a ski style to fit those needs. But I note that all instructors and books say that this technique is bad and wrong!

Time for a change, I think. (Or at least a further chat.)

A top instructor told me that, yes, they teach with a race-style basis but that they use a progression which lets learners pick how much they want to get into the race-tech. Actually, I still say he's wrong. At no point in the official progression is a Real World "casual dayskier" technique given any respect!

For instance, my ideas were taught back in the days of wood skis. Well, many people still use wood skis! The old methods were also used for ungroomed trails---which most still are. (Even races used to be just "fore-run."

Anyway, my specifics are that a 2-Step Double Pole needs to be taught. And an upright Delayed Kick Diagonal needs to be taught. Also, Pendulum Poling.

And even for racers an easier skate technique is out there that is rarely mentioned: the Delayed V1, where you pole then kick --- it's a fast, restful V1 used for flatter terrain. Very common among citizen skiers. Not pictured in any book or taught anywhere. Only a few references to it in any media at all.

A main idea I have is that enough different timings are not being taught. It's like people are being taught about a couple different kinds of 3-speed bikes when there's a nice 5-speed out there to give them more options.

Whew!

Here's a link to further details: http://outyourbackdoor.com/article.php?id=1145

Yeah, I drone on, and have to cut my Theory report in half, but it'll do for now.

Offline HOOP

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2009, 01:20:54 pm »
Hi JeffOYB,

Good stuff.  I totally agree.  I live in a big cross country skiing town, Thunder Bay, and everyone here (except for my winter trekking buddies), thinks "cross country skiing" is using the thinnest of racing skis on a groomed track set trail going round and round at a club, or they skate ski on packed roadbeds going round and round, and think its "cross country".    :)    They are not true "cross country" skiing because the real "country" has deep snow, is rough, is not packed and groomed, and on any unpacked upslope there will be snow shear requiring scales or skins.

I maintain that racing skis are not "cross country" skis, unless you have a wind packed or crusted lake to ski on.  Otherwise as we all know, one sinks like a stone, and because they are so thin underfoot, they tend to tip sideways.  The tiny light bindings could never survive a real cross country trek, and the skis of course would snap like matchsticks in the bush.   Racing skis are also reverse side cut to reduce weight and drag inside a track set trail and have no metal edge, so they have no serious grip for herring-boning, and cannot grab a hill for a telemark turn. 

I am such a skiing radical  :) that I refuse to classify racing skate skis as "cross country skis".  You could not go anywhere "cross country" in real snow and terrain with those sticks.  Skate skis are in fact long skinny "skates" to skate along hard packed machine groomed roads.  Its skating on a hard packed snow �rink�.   Yes they can be used in the narrow conditions of wind packed and crusted lakes, and in those conditions you can fly for miles and miles, but in deep snow on lakes they will bog down and cut deep into the slush layer.

Real "cross country" skis are wider for floatation, have steel edges or hickory edges on the old wood skis, are heavier and stronger, and have a larger robust binding.  I can and do ski "cross country" on back country skis.   And in deep snow, ones needs a big scale pattern or skins.

Now, to link my above rant back to your ski touring technique topic, since real cross country or back country ski gear is different, and with the reality check that most of the snow conditions are deep and unpacked, then of course one must use a different technique for touring, like you have described.

In deep unpacked snow breaking trail we have to shuffle-walk on our skis because each stride involves sinking down, with much of the energy transferred down instead of into propelling a long glide.   I am often solo so the going is slow.   Skiing with buddies, the people behind can actually get a decent glide in, but the trail breaker is not really gliding.     We can adapt the racing technique, but it needs major adaptation.   The enjoyment factor you mention is really important.  So it is indeed much more shuffling while standing up straighter and viewing our surroundings.   Add the load of hauling a 100-150 lb sled, and the technique gets quite rough and simple. 

I am glad I was trained in basic racing cross country ski technique for packed and groomed trails, because I think it does make me a better back country skier.   I also built my knowledge of waxing from track set skiing.   But when off track solo in the unpacked back country with my big skis, I am mostly just shuffling along because snow is deep.   I classic style "ski" at the club in town here, but mostly just for fitness (I don�t  skate anymore, although I have the equipment).  I find it boring.  I would much rather be out shuffling on skis in the bush, and out on a lake while winter camping.   If we had open alpine meadows and mountains here, I would be a telemark nut.  But my landscape is mostly flat, and any hills are choked with thick trees and shrubs, so there is no back country tele around my home, sad to say.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2012, 09:26:03 pm by HOOP »
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Offline K.

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2009, 09:44:48 am »
I too learned to ski and wax on trackset trails, and then adapted that to skiing off-track or on ungroomed trails. I agree that you need some new methods for skiing off-track, but as far as lessons and getting new people started in the sport, track skiing still seems like the best bet. After all, in any category except perhaps the very race-skating which seems such a travesty, cross-country skiing numbers are on the decline.  And for a beginner, tackling a groomed trail is a heck of a lot more manageable than going straight into the woods.

Re telemark in Ontario, yes it is limited but you can always find space for a few turns. And, depending on the circumstances in your local backcountry area, it's often possible to edit things a little bit to create the openings you need... mostly just clearing out the dead branches up to eye level and shifting deadfall out of the way.

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2009, 07:54:58 pm »
Jeff
Its almost impossible to follow your written ideas, but because I am an experienced Backcounty skier ( the American term for off trail but not necessarily Telemark skiing) I know that of which you speak. With backcountry skis which may look more like downhill skis and can infact do most of the downhill manovers on good enough steep enough of snow, you simply do not glide. You can only glide or race on hard packed snow with just a tad of soft to it.

My normal off trail movement is one where my hips do swing over the forward ski and then put my weight on it to hold the fish scales in place, then swing the unloaded ski forwards and swing my hips over it.

There is never any glide, especially with a pack. However there is the downhill part - easy curves initiated from V shaped "snow plow formation". Its a combination Christi/tele where you push out the tails of the skis, wedge down towards the fall line, weight the lower ski and complete the turn. Its the same modified tele used on extremely steep stuff, back and forth to absorb energy going down. Maybe not something to do with a heavy pack.

Probably none of this makes sense to beginners reading, you have to see it done. Trak skiing is just so easy that 98% of Xcountry skiers do it and can't imagine backcountry skiing in the soft and deep, they think you need snowshoes for that. So its generally pretty lonely off trail. ;D
Jim S

Offline JeffOYB

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2010, 07:30:18 pm »
Hi again...

I like HOOP's idea that groomed-track skiing isn't really "cross country." Good one!  : )

The other two posts seem to push the idea that there are two kinds of skiing: fluffy, soft, off-track BC and groomed-track. I suggest that there's a third, which the majority of skiers do: skiing on a trail that's been casually skied in previously, a homestyle/homemade trail. Maybe it's a hiking trail through the woods that has been walked in or snowshoed in. Or snowmobiled on plus walked on. It's a trail that is somewhat tramped in already. It would tend to be a modest trail somewhat near home (or cabin) where the skier carries a small daypack at most. To me such conditions seem common and seem to need a technique that is different from either "loaded shuffling" and from "track racing." So maybe we need 3 kinds of skiing to be outlined in how-to materials. Moreover, I suggest that most folks who ski in tracks would still be best-served by the "homestyle method."

I'm still interested in exploring the techniques of this "homestyle method." I found one online link that hints at what I describe, but it's not very clear even though it seems quite official: http://ski.itrundle.com/techniques/classic.html.

Anyway, I suggest that casual everyday-type dayskier would be best served if they were taught the following techniques:

*delayed diagonal (for the flats)
*compact diagonal (for uphills)
*two-step doublepole (for flats)
*two-step doublepole with pendulum poling (for flats)
*kick doublepole (flats)
*doublepole (slight downhills)
*herringbone (steep uphills)

I'm on a quest for info about the old pendulum-pole and skip-phase diagonal. (The info linked above tries to describe it but I don't get it.)

Thanks, JP

Offline K.

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2010, 10:04:14 am »
If you're referring to my post I did distinguish between ungroomed versus off-track and I agree with you that they are very distinct. Nevertheless, I would still maintain that trails graded for, and groomed by, a grooming machine along with the existing teaching methods are the optimal way to get new people into the sport. The rise of the snowshoeing business clearly shows that a majority of people prefer a simple easy-to-learn experience when getting out on winter trails for the first time and track skiing is already a notch or two above snowshoeing in difficulty. It has been a while since I paid any attention to the retail ski market, but this newfangled grip tape seems like something that would help to bring that difficulty back down a notch.

Offline JeffOYB

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2010, 10:20:10 am »
I note that the official Australian online technique manual says there are 5 kinds of diagonal and 3 kinds of doublepole.

I still think that if casual skiers were taught techniques geared to their needs/wants that it would have to help the scene.

I'm not positive that perceived difficulty is a deterrent to a sport. It's often an enticement. Learning a skill can be considered a positive thing. Maybe XC needs to be less defensive? Rock climbing is popular but not easy, for instance.

The overhead of groomed ski trails seems problematic. The reality is that if a casual local hiking-type trail is skied on a half dozen times that it gives close to a groomed experience by the next day: easy control, lots of glide. It's just more suitable to touring techniques rather than racing styles, for most folks. Yet touring isn't taught...

Well, I want to keep exploring this notion, anyway...  : )  Maybe it's not a majority sector (though I think it is) it at least is an important aspect that doesn't seem to have gotten enough props from the Industry. ?

--JP

Offline JeffOYB

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2010, 10:37:11 am »
I've been having a blast exploring these new/old/easy ski moves. I can't believe that I haven't always done them. Well, I kind of have done a couple of them a bit, but I've never studied them.

It's true that a lot of self-taught skiers use some of these moves without anyone showing them, but instructors should know about this, and they should certainly stop telling people that these moves are mistakes.

When using the Touring moves I'm starting to think that set-tracks aren't much help. You don't really need them. Tracks are good for the 3 Racing moves that require speed and balance (DS, DP, KDP). But the Touring moves are stable, and glide good, too, so fergit the tracks.

(I just had a pal drive hours up north to get to "good set tracks" because he says he's spoiled and can only ski in good conditions. I'm just thinking that he's missing out on equally good untracked skiing. I suppose his kind of skiing is faster but not hugely so. I note that my kind of Touring skiing is done in conditions that are somewhat firm so you get decent glide without tracks -- especially on a hiking trail that others have already tromped and skied on. For "fast" folks on squirrely racing skis a solid packed trail is "bad" but one can easily adapt to skiing without definite grooves even with racing skis. I think that my experience classic/diagonal rollerskiing taught me to not need grooves. Using wider skis helps a lot, too. Using Touring moves lets you get great skiing and glide on shaky trails.)

Mostly, I'm just thrilling at the discovery of doublepoling with striding. There's 2 definite ways to do it, Cat1 and Cat1A (see prev. links). You can add pendulum poling to both. You can do both in either Touring (upright) or Racing (tilted forward) modes. They both keep a quiet torso -- not much bobbing up and down. This is great for skiing with a pack!

It makes me see how lame it is to do Tour skiing with the old DP moves. They should be called "feet together glide moves" not DP per se. They need a fast, stable track. And they both make you bob up and down a lot! Bad for packs!

What's also superneat about the Cat1 is that it's dandy for skiing UPHILL. The old DP moves were no good for uphills. Another supercool thing is that the striding DP's work good with longer poles!

It's just so much fun skiing around with all the different modes and reflecting on how they work and what they're good for.

I run into so many beginners, many who are athletic, who have a hard time "getting it" that I think a change in instruction that includes these other moves will help them make the breakthru to seeing what's happening and why, rather than being frustrated. ...If they saw that an upright posture is OK for Tour skiing on the flats and that they need to change into a tilted-forward Race mode to get traction on uphills, that might be helpful. Instructors today just say that Upright is bad! I say we should show when it's good and teach folks how to control their posture rather than to deny half the range of posture.

Today, people are taught the 3 Race moves, the big gears. I say you don't ride big gears til you're ready. Let's add a bunch of smaller Tour gears to the range. There's an apt metaphor in there somewhere. Tour posture actually isn't always "smaller" or slower -- it's like riding on the tops of the bars or using mtbike bars -- in some cases it's faster than riding the drops.

Whew!

Well, it's fun for me! : )


« Last Edit: February 08, 2010, 06:06:01 pm by JeffOYB »

Offline ABU

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2010, 01:00:02 pm »
My normal off trail movement is one where my hips do swing over the forward ski and then put my weight on it to hold the fish scales in place, then swing the unloaded ski forwards and swing my hips over it.

Sorry, I do not know what do you mean with the "fish scales"? Never-vax (i.e. never-ski) skis?

Offline JeffOYB

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Re: New "Ski Touring" technique theory!
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2010, 03:24:06 pm »
Here's a new video of the Striding Doublepole, Touring Stride and Pendulum DP. It should be better than the others, but I still screw up the Touring Stride because I lapse into Race Style. Oh well, I'll reshoot that part yet again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLR-Cg4Y1sI