Drill Benefits of learning how to ski switch?

Discussion in 'Ski School' started by Mendieta, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    Hi all

    I am starting to plan my season. For reference, I'm an intermediate skier with about 80 days of ski experience. I only get 6 to 8 hours of instruction a season, an hour at a time. I always work with the same (great) instructor. And of course I talk to him at the beginning of the season in order to plan ahead. But I'm looking for some ideas on my side, as it's always fun, and instructors care about what you want to work on. The kind of things I've been drilling on, lately, are rotary drills such us side-slips, pivot-slips, linked hockey stops, short radius turns, and then edging/carving drills, such as RR tracks, javelins, dragging outside pole, holding poles horizontally in front of you, stuff like that. My goal is to improve my fundamentals and keep taking them to more natural terrain (bowls, etc) where I have the most fun.

    What do you all (either instructors or advanced/expert skiers) think are the benefits for someone like me, of learning to ski switch? Better balance? Practical use cases? Also, are directional skis like the Head Rallies a bad idea to learn it (on groomers, that is). Something that comes to mind: demoing skis with @textrovert last season I caught an edge in a silly sticky flat and I wound up skiing backwards for a bit. I can imagine that if that happened in a steep, learning how to stabilize in a switch position and carve back up hill is probably not a bad thing to be able to do.

    At the end of the day, I have limited time to learn new things, so I try to optimize what I work on. This one, I am not sure whether it's a cute trick (outside of the park and cliff /natural feature jumping) or a useful step in my skill progression.

    For inspiration, a beautiful demo by JB



    Hopefully we can have a useful discussion, not only for my benefit, but also for those anonymous online readers who may be wondering the same as I am.
     
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  2. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl loves soft bumps, trees and ungroomed Skier

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    I'm not an expert, am only going into my 6th season and have been instructing for about half of that. I worked frequently with a Level 3 at the mountain where I've taught for the last 3 seasons in western Mass. Ron would always have me do falling leaf and ski backwards, even on ground 360's. All I can say is 10 minutes of this and I feel like it set me up very nicely for the day. All of these things made me say a hearty hello to my edges, forced me to stay balanced and really made a difference in my skiing. I try to start out every ski day with a few minutes of of these drills. The pro's and experts of the world on here can better articulate the benefits of doing certain exercises. All I can say is skiing backwards, falling leaf and onground 360's are utterly terrifying at first but in the end are fun and great things to know how to do.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
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  3. Dakine

    Dakine Out on the slopes Skier

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    Are there any bindings that will release properly when skiing backwards..?
     
  4. JESinstr

    JESinstr Lvl 3 1973 Skier

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    Safety issues notwithstanding, It's all about doing anything and everything to improve your dynamic balance and be comfortable moving along the ski. Probably the most improvement in the shortest period of time happen for me back in the 80's when Wayne Wong and Airborne Eddie Ferguson came to our area and we were able to clinic with them over the two days they were there.
     
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  5. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    It's hard to land spins if you're not comfy skiing backwards. Which is why i'm spending some time on the WROD going backwards.

    I bet @dean_spirito would have some other bits to offer on why skiing switch is a useful drill.
     
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  6. Doug Briggs

    Doug Briggs Skiing the powder Industry Insider Pugski Ski Tester

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    It gets you even in more tune with the mechanics of skiing. Outside ski pressure, tipping simultaneously, and foreaft balance work the same switch, but you have to think about it until it becomes natural.

    When I was an instructor (many many moons ago) I learned to snowboard over a holiday week. The conditions were terrible and I needed something to do. It really helped me to be a beginner at something so that I could re-relate with beginners. Skiing switch could be your snowboarding. Being a beginner can be quite enlightening.
     
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  7. HDSkiing

    HDSkiing SUCK—At The Highest Level Skier

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    As an intermediate skier, asking this question you are no doubt looking to break out to that next level which is awesome!

    The rotary drills you are working on are great in helping to promote a more centered stance, some of those like pivot slips could lead into switch skiing either intentionally or not so there’s no time like the present to get comfortable sliding backwards.

    Switch skiing is not terribly difficult for most people, at slow speed, it’s more a confidence thing. Start small and slow, wedging switch at first then gradually moving into switch wedge Christie’s keeping in mind that you should pressure the back of the boot, something that might feel counter intuitive. Even if you are only able to ski switch in a wedge, it will help should you find yourself again in the predicament that you mentioned.

    I teach a lot of younger advanced kids who all want to go to the park so we do lots of switch, reverse pivot slips, flat spins etc. in my case it’s kept me young(er)ogsmile . Knowing you can ski backwards out of a flat spin at speed or in other circumstances is a great confidence booster, just always keep an eye out.

    As for skis I ski switch all day on my Head iRally’s. Surprisingly even with the flat tail they do it much better than I would have thought.

    Experiment and Have fun with it!
     
  8. Don in Morrison

    Don in Morrison I Ski Better on Retro Day Skier

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    Since you have to do a 180 to get into the switch position and another 180 to get back out, learning to do 360's is a natural part of the process. All of these will aid in perfecting balance and edge control for normal skiing.
     
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  9. Doug Briggs

    Doug Briggs Skiing the powder Industry Insider Pugski Ski Tester

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    I forgot to add advantages. The most useful for me, other than just being a show-off, is that when you ski into some place in the trees where you can't proceed further, you may be able ski switch out of that place. I find myself hugging a tree from an emergency stop in the trees on occasion. This usually happens when I just turn across the hill quickly. I can ski switch out of my location when I can't ski forward out of it.
     
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  10. Bruuuce

    Bruuuce My advice is worth what you paid for it. Skier

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    I started learning switch last year and definitely found that it helped my balance and the feeling of being centered over the skis, especially during transitions. I still suck at it but it has been fun to learn and be a beginner again.
     
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  11. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    Oh and... not at all as a segue from @Doug Briggs ' post (much) learn to kick turn :D
     
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  12. Don in Morrison

    Don in Morrison I Ski Better on Retro Day Skier

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    While you're skiing switch... oooh! Now you're doing ballet.
     
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  13. Josh Matta

    Josh Matta Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    The best reason IMO is learning how to move your body over your feet no matter the direction of travel.

    The next best reason is lateral transfer of skills learning how to make turns backwards.

    sadly now that I am not longer allowed to lead students skiing switch, my own personal switch skiing is going down hill as it was number one time I personally practiced skiing switch.

    I still am allowed to teach people to ski switch....and do so to almost everyone I teach.
     
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  14. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl loves soft bumps, trees and ungroomed Skier

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    I just realized that I use skiing switch when teaching students. I find this especially helpful with terrified first timers. Every time I do this I silently thank my mentor Ron for encouraging me to learn how to do this. It's helped my personal skiing but is a very useful tool when I'm with a first timer. I hope the powers that be never take this away from me.
     
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  15. Thread Starter
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    Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    Please keep doing it. My daughter's second and third ski lessons were at Bear Balley in CA, with a super sweet instructor who went by "Bob the builder" with the little ones (she was 7 at the time). He was skiing switch, making beautiful round tracks so the kids could follow him ... and of course he could see what they were doing. And all these beginner kids were fascinated. Hey, I was fascinated, too! She talked about Bob the Builder for a long time. :D

    (BTW, @Josh Matta , why are you not allowed anymore? )
     
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  16. jmeb

    jmeb Stereotypical Front Range Weekend Warrior Skier

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    Not Josh...but I can imagine insurance wouldn't love the idea of instructors skiing backwards so they can watch their students. It means they can't be looking where they are going.
     
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  17. Thread Starter
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    Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    Yes, there is no question that for someone learning park/freestyle it must be one of the first things to master, since half of the time they either jump or land backwards. And don't get me wrong, I would love to learn all ski things possible. But it's not my focus, at least right now.

    But you all gave me plenty of info and good reasons to give it a try this season, Thank you all!
     
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  18. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two skis. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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  19. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    FWIW, I'm on board with what Josh is laying down above. I almost always teach kids how to ski switch at some point in a multi week lesson, and sometimes even single lessons if it's appropriate for what we're working toward. Lot's of fun 'how to's' and 'try this's' Kids love it. I'll certainly take adults there too if there's something I need to address in their forward skiing. Have yet to have a SSD or area tell me not to even regarding leading. FWIW, I've taught switch on everything from a twin tip to a FIS SL, and a Head Titan in between in there somewhere. I've lead switch on pretty much every ski I've ever owned.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2018
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  20. Josh Matta

    Josh Matta Making fresh tracks Instructor

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    Vail resorts policy

    I feel like not being able to ski backwards has greatly diminished the comfort of most L4 and lowers....and leveled the play the field between myself and other instructors who would never face or talk to their students on the way down. its a playing field where Id prefer to which imo superior way of teaching low level students.
     
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