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Thread: Origin of Uphill/downhill ski

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    I have my own seat in the pub Skier Village Coach Coach Rick's Avatar
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    Origin of Uphill/downhill ski

    This is old school terminology when used for identifying which ski is which during the course of a turn. It's inherently confusing, because which ski is actually the uphill or downhill one changes mid turn. Through the top half of a right turn the right ski is the downhill ski, and through the bottom half of the turn the right ski becomes the uphill ski. See LT's most excellent drawing vvvv

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    When the classic ski instructor advice to "put your weight on your downhill ski" is given, what is literally being suggested is the student change which ski they're balancing on mid way through the turn. That's not what they mean, but that's the message they're sending to the thinking student. If executed as such, it would be a whitepass lean turn.

    How did it come to be that such inaccurate advice became so pervasively promoted? I believe it was because in the days of straight skis the top of the turn was not as common an occurrence in recreational skiing. Pivoting was more the norm, with pressure not being established until the skis were already facing down the falline, at which point the downhill ski was the proper ski to balance on for the remainder of the turn. With the introduction of the shape ski the top half of a turn was granted widespread life, and the old uphill/downhill terminology instantly became dated and confusing.

    We've now reached a point where most instructors recognize the inherent confusion the uphill/downhill terminology creates, and have switched over to Inside/Outside, which is much more accurate and easy to understand.

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    The outside ski is the outside ski, from the start of the turn to the finish, whether the student pivots or not. There are still a few stubborn holdouts out there, clinging steadfast to old terminology they've been using for decades, but those willing to adapt and learn have long since tossed it into the ski instruction time capsule.
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  2. #2
    Looking for an apartment Snow Sport Instructor
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    No such confusion in the old time Yooper lesson. "Just keep yur skis two by each and go down dah big hill eh!" No uphill, downhill, inside, outside to contend with.

    A Yooper's are a tribe of white people occupying Michigan's upper peninsula as opposed to Troll's which inhabit Michigan's lower peninsula. Troll's refers to Michgan as viewed on a map. Michigan's lower peninsula is below the Mackinaw Bridge on the map hence they must be trolls. Trying to convince them otherwise is just

  3. #3
    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
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    "Uphill" and "downhill" are easy to understand for children and new adult skiers. I avoid using those terms when I teach adults.
    But I know that some instructors don't want to spend the time teaching students to understand "inside" and "outside."

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    Of course, "inside" and "outside" change as you go from a left to a right turn as well, so you're still left with a long-winded explanation of "old outside, new inside", etc.

  5. #5
    My horse knows his own way home Little Tiger's Avatar
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    Yeah but KevinF at least the change comes at the transition and although written needs old inside new outside in on hill conversation it is not needed because you can show it fairly easily... if don't need too much turn force you can even practice in a traverse... (eg swap from inside pole drag to inside pole drag)

    If you tell a person to drag their UPHILL pole then the change is in fall line

  6. #6
    I have my own seat in the pub Skier Village Coach Coach Rick's Avatar
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    Yes, it takes explanation. Long winded, sure if you describe about 10 seconds as such. And at least, Kevin, what you're explaining is correct. You're not trying to tell them to consider as their downhill ski what is actually their uphill ski for the first half of their turn. That explanation takes a bit longer, is confusing as hell, and has little appropriateness as a teaching methodology in modern ski technique.
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    Moderator Snow Sport InstructorSkier Village Coach LiquidFeet's Avatar
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    I've taught beginner groups to see a turn in their mind's eye. "C" connected to another "C" that's backwards. They have to be able to see that turn in their heads. Then they have to be able to see two tracks defining each C. Then and only then can they figure out which is their inside ski. As they ski, they have to see the diagram in their heads. That's a lot to ask of beginner skiers who have never slid on snow before. Also, to teach them to do this I ski along in front, tapping my inside ski with my pole as they follow along. This only works if they can synchronize their turns with mine. Usually, they can't. And only the skier right behind me sees and hears the taps. So usually in my very short beginner lessons with adults, (1 1/2 hour), I don't bother using "inside" and "outside." I may pull one person aside and do it if after the first half of the lesson I think it would help.

    I try not to say "downhill" ski or leg at all. But it works; I've done it.

    What works well and doesn't require all that talk and mind's eye stuff is "left, turn left, go left." So to go left I get them to do something with the left foot. Most people get that.

    Unfortunately labeling a turn as "left" or "right" has its problems; it ignores the top of the turn by assuming it doesn't even exist. But if I use the terms racers use, a "right footed turn," my adult beginners will be even more confused because they think they are going left, so I don't do that either.

    If I had day-long lessons, this problem would disappear.

  8. #8
    Looking for a house mtguide1's Avatar
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    Is it any wonder people quit taking lessons?)) Try this...At the top of the turn it is Uphill/soon to be outside. In the middle third of the turn it is outside/soon to be downhill. In the bottom third is downhill/soon to be inside.....Ya, that's what I thought. Tend to prefer instructions related to left/right foot such as "You wanna go left raise your left foot. Once you get headed that'a way, you can put your foot down Do that until you wanna go right ..."

    It is definitely being Montana out today. For you eastern folk.Imagine (or simply remember) having a bit of Ullr's sacred potion and taking a dare to stand in front of a snowmaker.. wet, heavy and 80mph. Gonna be a nasty avalanche year. the first foot sat and got hard and corn-ish. Gonna be like snowpack on a layer of ball bearings this year.
    "If you are lucky enough to be on the mountain.....You are lucky enough"

  9. #9
    My horse knows his own way home Little Tiger's Avatar
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    mtguide - so try explaining dragging the outside pole using that.... While turning to the left drag your right pole and then level your shoulders while going between directions of turn, and then when turning right drag your left pole... I think "drag your outside pole" is easier... same for outside ski taps, inside ski taps, schlopy etc etc...

    LF - I'm not thinking the first lesson - they are not doing the sorts of drills that need it yet...
    I used it with intermediate kids and we worked out skis make "circles" - even if we don't go right around... the way we curve to is the inside... they did not struggle that much - although the smallest took a couple of goes to get it worked out... the bigger ones knew which way was inside and outside pretty quickly...

  10. #10
    Looking for a house mtguide1's Avatar
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    I wouldn't ever tell a student to drag a pole. Poles don't belong on the snow unless its a "touch" to cue an action below the knees . Why would you want to focus a student on pole dragging? To develop a stiff outside wrist? Training wheels? Don't worry about your feet..your poles will hold you up?I don't understand pole dragging.
    "If you are lucky enough to be on the mountain.....You are lucky enough"

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