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Average skidder softbooter becomes fully laid out blitzing hardboot carver in 26,000 vertical feet .

John Gilmour

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Please note , most,of this is done in softboots only the very last two,days are in hardboots on an alpine board , so the rider is very comfortable and familiar with the gear . Because they learn the  skills so quickly the rider doesn't have time to be turned off by a bad fitting hardboot, and is glad to invest time in bootfitting once they can rip carves in hardboots. 

Rider goes from Joe Schmoe to turning heads on the lift , and totally understands why someone should have a alpine set up.

Note: Edited for clean up and added some info. Hopefully this helps carver's help,others to join them without frustration, pain, or exhaustion. 




So ever since 1983 when  I was the first Sims and Winterstick Rep on the East coast I have been teaching people to ride and of course carve. I coached racing  at Stratton , Wachusett ,  and of course when I would demo our Madd Boards if I could get someone to lay deeper trenches on our boars than on their board  a Madd board sale was more likely .

I got pretty burnt out teaching in the 1980s because it meant I couldn’t ride the way I want I was just waiting for people to improve at a better than average rate not having a fun time myself .


But that has now changed . .


So I have always tried to teach people as quickly as possible. I used to limit it to just a few friends each year .

I had a couple personal bests for just getting people riding quickly 

Loon Mountain NH: Josh Netz (fantastic balance ) 250 vertical feet and riding faster than people who got 45 days in their first year in a single run .Killington :


Alexander Scott lightly carving both ways in 500 vertical feet .

Aspen Ajax: Alexis Olbe 500 vertical feet .


Thats fine for just making Someone skid and maybe lightly carve  . But what about making Someone ride better than most carvers would get in 10 years of trying to learn on their own?

Well first off. Bad habit’s are hard to break. And fear inspired many a bad habit and FEAR REINFORCES learning and imprinting bad habits that we flail for when we panic . It’s in our evolutionary survival. So fear based bad habit learning should be avoided at all costs. 

The runs are limited to prevent fatigue in multi days so that muscle fatigue doesn’t cause bad habits .


Day 1 . Aspen Highlands March 2020 3 runs from the Merry Go round 2700 vertical feet for the day .  Zero fatigue day.

Dry land balance , eyes closed getting into modified gunfighter style position while holding onto picnic table , monitor and correct . Gunfighter will be modernized and relaxed and opened up,later but this gets them close to a low carve position quickly. It also feels so different they don't blend back to their bad habits so easily.

Toeside carves to full edge tilt , carve to FULL stop starfish on snow 5-8 mph . REST and analyze. This introduces the snow to the rider as they gently drag to a stop face down  . There is now no fear of full edge commitment. It's like playing in the snow making a snow angel but with hands together .Riders immediately embrace the idea of carving low to stop because it is a VERY gentle landing sniw is used for support .  Then progress to ALL TOESIDE FOCUS, NO HEELSIDES ..now carves can have a slight low speed pop up to stop. Later pop up to setting up for another toeside ALL COMPLETE STOPS . THIS IS A VITAL,PART OF IT,its when learning and analysis happens NOT WHEN MOVING . 


 The rider is in full control at all times using the 3/5 middle of trail. The student can now DEEPLY TRENCH on  his toeside . I typically teach this in soft boots on an all mountain board because they have lots Of toe side modulation in soft boots and the speeds can be lower for a carve  because the side cuts are tighter.

Day 2 . Dec 2020 Ajax Exoress to Silver bells 5 runs 5500 vertical feet More toeside carve to full stop in snow and then to almost touch the snow VERY HIGH EDGE ANGLE gliding snd carving low - no snow contact . This is to remove the “training wheels “ of using the slope for support . The rider now knows how the deep carve looks and feels they start to get AGESSIVe , which is the hardest mindset to teach and has to be fostered carefully. You need aggressive attack to make for a confident rider as opposed to a tentative rider afraid of steeper slopes and increasing speed,and G-force.


 Rider is taught to self Analyze what went right what went wrong for every turn coming to a full stop each turn And contemplating and modifying their technique . I help them guess and teach them to guess better .

Day3. Dec 2020 Ajax express 5500 vertical feet . More toeside deeper turns . No heelside at all. No linked turns. I don’t want people to ride snd link turns if possible  NO SKIDDED TURN LINKING ALOWED WHATSOEVER  - because it's A BAD HABIT  which prevents good quality carving and can lead to catching an edge, This is very counter intuitive. They already have been doing slow skidded turns into attempting a carve , so why would I want to reinforce years of crap habits? 


Only no switch to hard boots. Everything else has been done in soft boots with amforward stance. Now that they can carve on familiar equipment it won't be as much if a shock to go to hard boots.  And heelside carve learning in soft boots carving angles  is frustrating BUT IT IS MUCH EASIER ON HARDBOOTS WITH A HIGH ANGLE STANCE. This is a temporary high angle stance like 58/54 and then pumped up to 60/55 somthey can really feel the heelside carve that has eluded them their whole lives . I will later back them off of angles and add more Gilmour bias.

Day 4. Ajax Exoress 4400 vertical feet . Ideally hardboots and high stance angles to facilitate heel side carves . Much too frustrating to do this in soft boots despite great soft boot success other days.  Rider Does some carves  toe side as well to adapt to hardboots. With a familiar feel, they know the toeside carve feel, so the rig doesn't feel foreign except for clipping in.  It feels natural but more powerful. Thenare amazed by the edge hold.

Day 5.Hardboots alpine GS board.  Buttermilk West buttermilk lift 5 runs 2500 vertical feet. More deep heelside to stop. More toeside to stop. This is a intro to g forces in carving speeds about 15-20mph.

Day 6. Aspen Highlands exhibition lift 4 runs 7600 vertical feet. Intro to dropping the downhill edge to roll into the next turn. I call the term roll over and roller over dive. Rider is taught to dive from heelside to toeside .  Rider is shown how scary it is to be tall when doing this and how not threatening it is to stay low snd roll it over in to the downhill edge just with hands 4 inches off the snow ormon the snowmif needed. . Rider learns it’s easier to stay low . Rider learns it can be used to quickly reverse direction across the slope . Rider becomes wary of being too tall .  

...because the rider learned long radius turns to a stop , now he, just waits until he is moving across the fall line and rolls over staying low.  Smooth transition pure carving no skidding. Rider begins to,feel carving to,stop letting board do the work is both less effort and less strain on the  joints.

He was fully laying  it over linked by his 2nd run. The lift was engaged watching him and whistling.

When you do this - riders look as if they have been carving for many years . The rider may be the best carver on the hill at this point .


bad habits avoided , patting the dog, not enough edge angle resulting in skid , tentative carves without quick attack. 


As soon as they can roll over , move the rider off green trails and let them try blue steeper  trails . They immediately find they have even more edge power and that the roll overs are far less scary on steeper pitch. Balance is easier. They want more steepness immediately because their body position and speed makes it easier.

....and that’s how in 13 runs at a 2000 vertical foot resort or about 7 runs down Ajax.  , you can make someone  an amazing carver . But it really helps to reduce the vertical dome in any single run to prevent fatigue from too many back to back squats.

cat tracks are used for front heel to rear toe turns of short duration and radius to moderate speed while being flanked by skiers on a narrow fairly steep hill. Rider is encouraged to do,short crossing under turns, and moderate medium radius turns to find the boards sweet spot in effortless carving, theynaremtaught to learn howmthenboard wants to behave and work with it.

The rider is able to transfer from green trails to very steep blue trails with full confidence immediately ...Instead of getting stuck on green trails for a few months before getting rid of bad habits .

It is as if they have been carving plates with a full season pass for 10 years.

Nothing seems unfamiliar, and every step,along the way gets increasingly easier , somsoeed isn't a fear factor and neither is edge angle. 

Its the best profession I have done using the easier parts of both hard and soft boots to get someone to be a great carver in very little time. It's exciting for me  because I know I can crank out success much faster and not have to wait for them to,practice on their own. It's a quantum leap,each run.

So find someone to help carve. They will be happy to find you because they can find stores to buy the stuff ( loan  them your older,  easier to ride gear) or ski schools have abandoned Hardbooter completely so it's up to you.





Edited by John Gilmour
A fricking zillion typos
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  • John Gilmour changed the title to Average skidder softbooter becomes fully laid out blitzing hardboot carver in 26,000 vertical feet .


so this is  after the starfish carve to stop. Forget the Heelside it is not taught at all yet. The rider has to become familiar with a deep toe side carve first. These are his very first moving carves learned after 1 run. I hate editing video even more than fixing my typos.

Edited by John Gilmour
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So yesterday he had 3 runs on hardboots at Aspen Highlands. 


Let's see how he does on Aspen Ajax, a Mountain with no beginner terrain.

He is a runner, but dies not do squats, so fatigue limits him to 2 runs on Ajax Express, and one on the Gant lift " the couch" a slower lift which I chose to give him some rest. Last run was a top to bottom run down Copper A pretty steep relentless carving trail. It was icy in the shade so he just carved the top. Total riding time about 1:45.


Now there is a lot to criticize here, but YOU MUST keep in mind how did you ride your first 6000 vertical (3 runs of 2000 each)  feet in hardboots? 


His stance is not optimized mostly because we don't have much time or vertical footage to adjust. His canting is off, his stance is too wide by possibly a full inch. We have not had time to fiddle with boot settings , he does not have enough Gilmour bias because we would have to disassemble his bindings and flip his toe and heel plates. He is a size 8 USA boot. Also he is definitely on too wide a board for his foot size and is inbound for his angles, something I am very much against, but without dialing his angles up to make heelside easier to learn ( we will back them down incrementally ) it would have made the transition frustrating for him.

The board being too wide makes recovery from over tilting with too little speed more difficult. I will , once his aggressive turn imitation increases , put him on a 18 cm Madd 158 or my  Madd 170cm so he can see the difference from a board that looks to be 21 cm waist or so. His board would be a bit wide for me as I like a 19.5cm with a 9.5 US foot.

He is working on trying to lower his CM, turning more to heelside, involving his front foot more on toeside, and being more situationally aware (I run protective interference for him).


Slopes are wide open and we were empty all MLK weekend ( parking was super easy in Aspen ) making this one of the best years to learn carving ever...too bad the snow is a bit icy and extremely firm.


Ryan K’s video editing is so much nicer. 

This isn’t a “how-to” instructional video , it’s just a result of showing what can be accomplished in 6000 vertical feet in hardboots if you use the positive attributes and  familiarity with soft boots and ease of toeside carving in soft boots and combine the superior heelside carving power of hardboots and  alpine boards with higher stance angles .

The rider knows how to skid a turn in soft boots - skidding in hardboots was not a focus. Instead he is focused on dynamic carving and only skids terrain he can not carve .

How long did it take you to carve at this level on a mountain as steep and long as Aspen? 

He gets about 3 -5 days of riding each month so maybe he rides 15-20 days per season . For me that’s not even enough to get riding legs. 

Edited by John Gilmour
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14 minutes ago, John Gilmour said:

If a picture is worth a thousand words... instruction is worth a lot more. I’m taking Dredmans. Montucky as being BETTER THAN XGAMES. Hope to teach some of you there

I’d love to see what you can do with X and myself @ MCC

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3 hours ago, Ohob said:

John has agreed to run X through his training process. I figured let’s do a before, during and after. 

here’s the before taken on 1/24/21


Looking forward to the report!

I have to admit for the first 1+ minute of the video I thought you were trolling us.  I don't think you made a single turn. Winner for best straight riding goes to...

Good luck... and bend those knees.

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1 hour ago, Ohob said:

The first part of the that run is obnoxiously flat, but is a great spot to work on cat track skills and avoid moving gates (aka people)

You can, and should be attempting to carve that first part of the run... Looked fantastic from here.😁 You certainly had plenty of speed.

I'm really looking forward to post MCC footage! :cool:

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1 hour ago, Ohob said:

The first part of the that run is obnoxiously flat, but is a great spot to work on cat track skills and avoid moving gates (aka people)

Cry in North East, Sat President weekend

That's not crowd lol.

Good on you for sharing your journey.  It show that you are pretty comfortable with speed.  Seems to be in good shape.
Look forward to see the progress.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Jan 25 my car was in an accident. It's Feb 21 and Costco car insurance .....American Family insurance "Connect" hasn't even begun the repairs thus wiping out most of my season as the repair will take at least 3 weeks. I have been off snow since Jan 22

Tomorrow I replace one Banff Carado  2018 solar lithium ion battery adventure van ( for sale $49k never used the stove or bathroom 11k miles) with a brand new 2921 Thor Sequence 20a  that has Gel cells , solar, and all batteries and water inside for colder temps.  Super nice looking and bigger .


So Aspen in a few days If that works. I've spent $950 in gas and $1800 in rentals in the last month alone. No more ICE cars after this is done.


i have more room, but it's less comfortable over all.

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