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Freezer

Slope angle and carving safety

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As the carving season in NorCal comes to a close, I've been reflecting on the season a bit.  In particular, I've been thinking about avoiding getting hit by a skier either straightlining or just misjudging where I'll be on the piste if they want to pass.  I carved a couple of weekends with large groups (10+) of good skiers and found it pretty tough to do my thing safely on steeper runs.  Being a curious guy, I calculated the angle on a particularly nice carving run (Burnout at Northstar) at about 21 degrees, which requires crossing the fall line at 90 degrees and using nearly the width of the run to keep speed in check.  After a couple of runs with the skiers, I bailed for the lower angle runs (maybe 7 degrees?) where I could do more race style carving down the fall line like a skier to avoid potential conflicts.  I end up going a lot faster on the lower angle stuff, but I'm minimizing potential conflicts with skiers because I'm going as fast or faster than they are, and I'm not cutting across the fall line.  You guys have any thoughts?

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Once again, the "Blind Skier" vest does wonders to keep people at a distance.  No one wants to hit a blind skier.

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6 minutes ago, Keenan said:

Once again, the "Blind Skier" vest does wonders to keep people at a distance.  No one wants to hit a blind skier.

Now that is friggin' genius!

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Appropriating the persona of a handicap person ouch ! If it works, good for you . I have found wearing a jacket that is similar in colour  to Ski Patrol or Ski School also seems to keep most straight liners at bay.

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Problem is that the steeper runs are the most fun, nothing beats a nicely groomed black run!

For me it is simply endlessly looking around, frequently stopping, and waiting for a quiet moment. I never assume skiers to anticipate the lines I ride.  I'd love to do non-stop runs from top to bottom, but it is simply too tricky. 

Just on how tricky it can be: one day this year I went of a final run at the end of the day, slopes were already empty. My 8 year old son joined me. At some moment when I initiated a frontside and my board hit something and I washed out. Expected to see a rock or something that my board went over, I looked back and it turned out to have been my son's ski. Luckily he was not harmed, just both a bit shaken. 

Now my son, though young, always rides very controlled and is a good skier. He is always with me, knows exactly which turns I make (tries to copy them) and still I managed to surprise him. Let alone a skier who hardly ever sees a hardbooter.

Moral of the story: always be extremely careful, never assume others to anticipate your turns.

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Steep runs are more fun though. Go steeper yet and the number of people drops, but the risk of any one collision goes way up. 😕


@Ryan Knapton once did a thing when we were stopped together mid-run that was awesome: we saw some skiers coming fast, he did a weird arm-flailing thing that looked like he was about to fall in some random direction. The skiers gave a very wide berth around him but cut close to the next person down the hill. I now do this if I'm stopped and see someone coming. People tend to pass close to others - especially stopped people. Maybe it's showing off? 100% success rate so far for me!

Also: The chances of collisions also go way down in the chalet.  Ignoring the long-term health risks of being sedentary, it's safer to not venture outside. 😉

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I look up the hill on almost every toe side turn.  If I see a skier/rider above me that was not there the last time I looked I will let them pass or head in an opposite direction if it is available.  I always start down hill when I see a large window in the traffic.  When I'm with a group I almost always let them all go first.

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I was just taught this season the Loveland hand signals. If you have at least one buddy he goes down the slope ahead of you and looks back up the slope. Right arm up in the air means all clear no ones coming and it's safe to go. Arms crossed in an X means someone is coming through your fall line route and to stop or cease carving line. Thanks Pete for the lesson! And if you're alone always look up hill.

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Hi Freezer

If you want to stay on the steeper slopes riding with the pack, try doing '(' shaped turns in a fairly straight line down the fall line.  The way I try to make this fun and not kill myself by going a 1000 km/hr is Slarve-Carving.  What I mean by this is challenge yourself to see if you can make nice symmetrically shaped '(' turns where the tracks you make are a consistent maybe 4" wide all the way down; ideally there are no big fat track sections where you kick the tail way out to blow off a bunch of speed.  Turning this way makes it possible to maintain a consistent speed, even on steep slopes, in addition to not using up all the real estate from one side of the run to the other ... making it safer.

Cheers

Rob

Edited by RCrobar

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13 hours ago, lowrider said:

Appropriating the persona of a handicap person ouch ! If it works, good for you . I have found wearing a jacket that is similar in colour  to Ski Patrol or Ski School also seems to keep most straight liners at bay.

I’m wearing a Ski School jacket, and I still get run into from time to time...but then I’m on a snowboard, so it MUST always be my fault! 

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13 hours ago, RCrobar said:

Hi Freezer

If you want to stay on the steeper slopes riding with the pack, try doing '(' shaped turns in a fairly straight line down the fall line.  The way I try to make this fun and not kill myself by going a 1000 km/hr is Slarve-Carving.  What I mean by this is challenge yourself to see if you can make nice symmetrically shaped '(' turns where the tracks you make are a consistent maybe 4" wide all the way down; ideally there are no big fat track sections where you kick the tail way out to blow off a bunch of speed.  Turning this way makes it possible to maintain a consistent speed, even on steep slopes, in addition to not using up all the real estate from one side of the run to the other ... making it safer.

Cheers

Rob

That sounds tough. I’d be interested in seeing a video if you have one. 

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Hi Freezer

I went looking for a video on line, some of the short radius turns in the video below are the idea; you can see the skid shape in the snow; even though the shape in the snow is more cresent shaped.

Think of this as a carvered turn, like you always make, where you are skidding the entire time but tring really hard to control and feather the amount- pressure of the skid so that the tip and tail of the board are just off axis of the carve.  Then let the SCR do the work. 

Also remember that I said 'challenge myself' 🙂

 

Cheers

Rob

Edited by RCrobar

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Thanks for posting the video Rob.  Those short radius turns on a black diamond and carving board basically devolve into kicking out the tail to scrub speed.  If you have a video of what you're describing on a black diamond and a carving board that would be interesting to see.

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3 hours ago, RCrobar said:

 

 

4min35sec so smooth

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Watch the boards skid path from the 4:40 to 4:48 mark, this is all that I mean.  This is easier to do on a perfectly flat groomed run.  I say just give it a try:)  

Cheers

Rob

 

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On 4/6/2019 at 1:22 PM, lowrider said:

Appropriating the persona of a handicap person ouch ! If it works, good for you . I have found wearing a jacket that is similar in colour  to Ski Patrol or Ski School also seems to keep most straight liners at bay.

Thats my approach also lol. Albeit at the indoor slope i ride at when there is no snow on the mountains i may aswell be staff since i tend to help out from time to time and have been on a few staff nights out and staff slope training sessions lol

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Move out west to a uncrowded resort with wide groomers?

When carving with non-carvers, I try to only go in front if I can stick to half the run or know I will stay ahead of them because they are beginners or intermediates.  If I notice them encroaching, it's time to let them pass and carve behind. 

Going faster may sound counter-intuitive, but over the years I have been having less close encounters as my downhill progress gets faster.  Knock wood.  There's always yahoos bombing the hill on bluebird days -- you won't stay ahead of them -- but if your downhill progress is similar to average skiers, even while covering way more ground, there are fewer people trying to pass you.

I find the steeper runs aren't the problem.  Fewer intermediates bombing beyond their abilities, and more willingness on behalf of others to wait their turn.  It's the blue cruisers that get people bombing beyond their abilities whenever the visibility is good.  So you can improve your odds by only carving blues if they are wide enough to let you carve in half the run, then carve as fast and tight a line as you can.  Still keep an eye out and stop if you notice fast traffic coming up behind; never assume anyone but you is willing to wait their turn, and do assume they have tunnel-vision.

Or just carve in the fog.  Way fewer people bombing runs in the fog.  If you're descending faster than everyone else, you won't get hit from behind.

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It's a real problem!

Mid week in a deserted resort out west (wolf creek is 20 miles from anything with no onhill accommodations )riding on 1/4 the run with family blocking above and below me I was hit from behind by an older skier straightlining  the run and knocked out cold with no clear memory until I was sitting in the patrol clinic. 

Luckily CT cleared everything and while I couldn't close my jaw for a week nothing was broken thanks to my helmet and him skiing right over my head or so I am told.   The other guy sustained a few fx ragdolling more that 100y down the hill.

This ended my ec push pull attempts for the season and I actually had a few good turns on that run. The rest of the season I rode trees and side country (hike&cat) feeling it safer to be in control of my risk while still managing to get 39 days. A record powder year helped the cause. 

 

Not sure what can be done until resorts start taking the straightliners serious and that won't happen until they see liability from these incidents. 

Until then I may be hiking more as that seems to be self selecting. 

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I dont know how often carvers look up hill for straight liners, if it is safe place&time i look every second turn, otherwise after every turn.

It is not so hard if you get used to do it.

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Stop. Look back, look back and re-look back again.....

Wait if necessary........wait even if not really necessary....

By doing this, you may carve less runs down today, but good chance you'll still be able to carve some more tomorrow.....

Then repeat......!!!!!

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The hill I ride near me is only about 400' vertical. I'm very conscious about who is riding ahead of, or more importantly, who is coming behind me. The run I'm usually on has a chairlift right next to it so I can give it a quick scan and evaluate whether the next rider is a wannabe ski racer or not. A couple of seasons ago there was no one downhill from me and no one at the top or even getting off the lift. So the coast is clear, right? I start down using only the left half of the hill and on my second turn I see a skier flying down the middle of the run. I'm heading across the fall line towards him, so I start my toeside turn sooner than expected. As I'm turning he clips the exposed bottom of my board and proceeds to tumble all the way down to the bottom. I stopped to watch and then proceeded down to where he was. After asking if he was okay, he said he was and of course offered no apology or explanation. I guess I was still in a little shock, because I should've been screaming at him for hitting the ONLY other rider on the hill.  Thankfully I wasn't hurt and my board didn't even suffer a scratch, but I certainly avoided that doofus for the rest of the day....

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On 4/8/2019 at 2:04 PM, johnasmo said:

Going faster may sound counter-intuitive, but over the years I have been having less close encounters as my downhill progress gets faster.  Knock wood.  There's always yahoos bombing the hill on bluebird days -- you won't stay ahead of them -- but if your downhill progress is similar to average skiers, even while covering way more ground, there are fewer people trying to pass you.

Agree; or maybe when I am in the zone i am more oblivious to the danger surrounding us.

To all those look uphill constantly; how do you divide up the attention span?  I find if i constantly look uphill; my riding tend to be sub optimal.  More things to work on 🙂

On 4/6/2019 at 10:01 AM, Corey said:

People tend to pass close to others - especially stopped people.

I notice this too.  FWIW I do it sometime just to make sure the stopped people are not hurt (when i notice something out of norm from afar).
Maybe we are abnormal?

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