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Thread: What causes a ski to chatter

  1. #1

    What causes a ski to chatter

    I experienced my skis chattering a couple times this year. I thought maybe it was due to not enough weight on the outside ski? IN the past I would have thought it was caused my not pressuring the front of the boot enough, but after studying the building blocks videos, I'm not so convinced of that concept anymore. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,

    Toby

  2. #2
    Looking for a house Snow Sport Instructor
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    Chatter can result from too much edging and pressure for the snow conditions. If you stiffen your leg while edging and pressuring, rather than a "soft touch" you can get chatter on hard snow.

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    Ski bum (I wish!) Skier Village Coach mastersracer's Avatar
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    It is the condition that happens when the edge repeatedly grips for a moment but then releases. Each release of edge grip from the snow lets the ski skid but then almost immediately grip again then release until you either manage to set the edge so it grips or let the ski slide. It happens because you are using insufficient edge angle to maintain a carve but continue attempt to engage the edge in a carve. The generally accepted solution for chatter is to change edges; i.e.: start a new turn.

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    Know all the neighbours by name Skier Village Poet Winks's Avatar
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    Agree with Toby re; concern and desire to understand. Both explanatons seem to fit but in my particular circumstances, Kneale's fits with the snow that day. Asked a Sierra instructor passing by about cause. Was told most common reason was not sufficiently over foot....tested that out immediately....not the case for tha day.

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    My horse knows his own way home Little Tiger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mastersracer View Post
    The generally accepted solution for chatter is to change edges; i.e.: start a new turn.

    That is what the guys told me to do... Oh and the Canadian's solution was to tell me to stop trying to carve that stuff and go with steered turns where I had control of the "sliding" because unless you had race tuned skis and great technique you were just going to slide on that stuff...

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    Chatter can be caused by just about anything -- too much pressure can do it, a non-relaxed stance can do it, rushed turn initiations can cause it, etc.

    Chatter is caused by the forces of the turn being too much for your edges to resist. As you start a turn and head into the fall line, everything works smoothly since that's also the direction gravity is trying to pull you (i.e., you're working with the various forces present). As you turn out of the fall line, there are a lot of forces conspiring that want to cause your edges to release (gravity, your own momentum, etc). It's almost impossible to stop chattering skis without starting a turn in the other direction.

    How do you fix it? Well, that's only answerable by determining what caused the chatter in the first place, which -- as I said above -- could be just about anything. The harder the "snow" surface, the more perfect every aspect of your technique has to be.

  7. #7
    Chatter can be caused by just about anything -- too much pressure can do it, a non-relaxed stance can do it, rushed turn initiations can cause it, etc.
    Well from what I recall, the snow was fairly firm in places. Not a very steep section either, probably a basic blue run. I was most likely steering. My edges even now are not razor sharp, but I believe they are still reasonable enough. I only remember the chatter briefly in one short section and then not occurring the rest of the day. Also, since I don't remember having this issue other than the one time this year, I suspect I probably hit a patch of ice that both my skis and myself are not equipped to handle as of yet.

  8. #8
    The generally accepted solution for chatter is to change edges; i.e.: start a new turn.
    Hi Mastersracer,

    Can chatter be just as prevalent when steering as when carving too?

    Thanks,,

    Toby

  9. #9
    Furnished the apartment Skier Village Coach
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    A very good question Toby.
    This is my take on it.
    A highly angulated ski will cut into the snow. A ski which is flat will glide or scrape the snow. Somewhere between these angles you will have the critical angle when the ski is neither edge-locked nor sliding. Tehnically this is when the so-called platform angle is 90 degrees. When you are close to this angle small perturbations will either make the ski end the cutting into the snow if you are carving, or cut into the snow if you are not. When that happens the forces will self-generate these perturbations in the platform angle, because of the in-built elastic flex in your body and equipment, and thus the chattering. Regarding the elastic flex, Like Kneale said, if you are soft it doesn't happen as easily. If you are soft your limbs has more of a dampening than elastic flex.
    On hard surfaces the perturbations required to start this are small.

    In other words the chattering is caused by too aggressive skis if you are steering, or to low angles if you are carving.
    Since you usually have a phase in every turn where you are not edge locked the chattering is most often caused by too aggressive canting and base bevel. Equipment wise that is. There is also a technique side. It is highly related to how dynamic you ski. In a park and ride situation where you are close to the ciritical platform angle it can very easily happen. If you are highly dynamic it is not as likely because you have a much greater margin in the platform angle (see my dynamic edge hold thread).

    I think it is a good comparison what happens when you cut wood with a knife. If you have a high angle against the wood it will cut into the wood. If you have a low angle, it will scrape the wood. Somewhere in between it will chatter. It is the same phenomena.
    If you have a dull edge the chatter will happen more easily if you are on the high edge angle side. If you have a sharp knife the chatter will happen more easily on the low angle side. Again, same for skiing.

  10. #10
    Looking for a house Skier Village Coach songfta's Avatar
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    As Jamt says, chatter can be caused by a number of situations. But since you ask about steering, Toby, I'll focus on just that.

    One thing I see a lot in junior and masters racers is a steering motion in the middle of the turn, trying to force a different line or compensate for a bad line coming into a gate (the same scenario applies to freeskiing, as well, especially when skiing on a piste with obstacles, be they flora [trees, rocks] or fauna [fellow skiers and riders, etc.]). The skier may have a good carve going in, but they realize that they are somehow off the mark and try to steer their ski into position while pressuring their ski.

    In this case, the skier is adding an additional force vector to the mix: a rotation of the leg and ski. This additional vector makes any slip of the ski - be it an under-angled edge, or an over-angled edge with too strong/stiff of a leg platform - turn into a chatter, as it gets rid of one of the leg's compensatory areas (i.e. the ability to rotate slightly to compensate for terrain changes, snow consistency differences, et al).

    From personal experience, it was a huge breakthrough when I learned how to separate the steering phase of the turn from the carving part of the turn. I used to hear my coaches say "you need to pivot your skis into line before you commit to the edge set" (this in the days of longer, straighter skis), and while I got it in DH and SG, my GS and (especially) my SL were a mess. Once I slowed down the action and treated each part of the turn - the steering and the edge-set/carve - into discreet motions, it was a breakthrough that resulted in big leaps forward in my results.

    It really paid big dividends when I started racing on boilerplate and manmade snow in the east.

    So the best bet is to slow things down and work on the two different elements of the turn. Sure, there can - and should - be steering in the turn in certain circumstances, and shorter, more shapely skis allow this to happen a lot more easily than the 205cm SL skis of old. But it's learning how and when to apply this without invoking a chatter that's the real key. It's a skill that only comes with a lot of practice and patience, but a good one to have in your quiver!

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