/ Skiing advice update

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climbingpixie 11 Feb 2020

Apologies for the essay! Not sure if anyone's interested but I thought I'd post an update for those who gave me advice back in December on this thread: https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/skiing/skiing_progression_advice-712851

I've just got back from my week in La Plagne. My original plan had been to book a private lesson and a session in the New Gen ski coaching school but by the time I got round to organising it the coaching school was full. So I ended up booking two 3hr private lessons (Mon and Thurs) with Oxygene, who got good reviews online but were quite a bit cheaper than New Gen. The lessons were superb and the instructor (Guillame) had a real knack for being able to see when to push me out of my comfort zone and when to back off and let me work through something myself. I was also very impressed at their flexibility - I was struggling with pain from my boots halfway through my first lesson and considering just sacking the rest of it off but Guillame happily let me finish early and carry the final hour of my lesson over to the next day. He was encouraging but never overwhelming, giving me just a few bits and pieces to think about while we skied and giving me more of the theoretical explanations of the practical advice while we sat on lifts. We never did anything hard but got huge amounts of mileage on blues, giving me the chance to bed in the techniques when I wasn't tired/stressed. We also did bits and pieces of very mild off-piste, basically crossing between pistes and going up the edges of little half pipes etc.

So what effect did it have on my skiing? You may recall that last time I'd said I was getting myself down reds in Tignes by the end of my first week. Well, it turns out that a lot of that was largely down to the excellent snow conditions we'd had back in 2013, with lots of fresh and forgiving snow every day. This time we had rain, warm conditions and high winds at the start of the week, leading to some pretty icy and scoured pistes. Conditions I'd only experienced once or twice in Tignes on the home runs back into town were widespread on this trip. I also had a total loss of confidence very early on due to constant boot fit problems and an awkward fall on day one leaving me with a sprained thumb. By the end of the day on Monday I'd had my lesson AND I'd given in to the pain and bought myself a pair of ski boots and it made a huge difference. By the end of the week I was getting myself down steepish and scoured reds with control, if not grace! I was feeling much more confident on a variety of snow conditions and was able to generally ski with decent form even as I got tired. I'm still pretty slow and I still fall over a bit but the improvement in my skiing was amazing!

Would I do anything differently? In retrospect I should've sorted my boots earlier. I lost essentially three days of skiing to badly fitting hire boots, and even once I'd bought my own I was carrying the tension and bruising of the bad ones until the end of the week. It also meant I lost an opportunity for mileage and practice, meaning I didn't really get as much benefit from the second lesson as I'd hoped. However the main change I'd make is to book lessons for the morning instead of the afternoon. Having PM lessons meant I held back a bit in the morning, wanting to feel fresh for my lesson, and didn't have much chance to ski independently afterwards. But I'd definitely book myself another private lesson next time I go on holiday and I'd happily use Oxygene again!

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kathrync 11 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

Thanks for the update - glad you had a good time and got what you wanted out of your week!

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HeMa 11 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

Nice,

Indeed, getting the lessons early on the day is key if you wanna sample good snow (off-piste). But also for the reason that after said lessons you can still head out and practice for the remainer of the day (and not hold anything back in the morning prior to the lessons).

During Xmas, we put out 4 year old to lessons for 5 mornings. And after said course, he could ski down reds as well (the wedge turn), even icy ones in reasonable control. Quite a drastic difference, as last year he was still using this leash thing. But the 2 weeks around Xmas also gave his lil' sister the much needed boost, so she's also now skiing blues on her on sans leash (age 2.5). /Proud papa rant.

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JuneBob 11 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

Nice update, and hopefully you'll continue to improve next time with the better boots. I still highly recommend going to an indoor ski slope at home at least once before a ski holiday if you can, as it is valuable for so many reasons, including poorly fitting equipment.

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mysterion 11 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

Yay, sounds great

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climbingpixie 11 Feb 2020
In reply to HeMa:

> Indeed, getting the lessons early on the day is key if you wanna sample good snow (off-piste). But also for the reason that after said lessons you can still head out and practice for the remainer of the day (and not hold anything back in the morning prior to the lessons).

Yeah, the morning snow was much better and I'd have definitely been more productive that way round. I don't even know why I didn't book morning lessons now, was probably being lazy about having to get moving down to Plagne Centre first thing.

> During Xmas, we put out 4 year old to lessons for 5 mornings. And after said course, he could ski down reds as well (the wedge turn), even icy ones in reasonable control. Quite a drastic difference, as last year he was still using this leash thing. But the 2 weeks around Xmas also gave his lil' sister the much needed boost, so she's also now skiing blues on her on sans leash (age 2.5)

Bloody show offs! Actually, seeing little kids out skiing does actually make me go 'aw'. I'm not broody or maternal at all but watching toddlers on their tiny skis is pretty cute. And then there are the ones who are a bit older and who fearlessly race down the slopes, though I guess it's all much easier when you don't have the nagging fear in the back of your mind that you're going to take a nasty fall and rupture your ACL!

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climbingpixie 11 Feb 2020
In reply to JuneBob:

Cheers. I had intended to go to the indoor slope but January ended up being an incredibly busy month and I just never seemed to find the time. It would've been helpful for my ski legs but probably wouldn't have done much on the boot front - the problem there was trying to find hire boots to fit my enormo-calves.  I went through four pairs before giving up - hire boots are never going to be great when you have broad feet, narrow heels, chunky calves, poor flexibility and wonky ankles!

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summo 12 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

> Cheers. I had intended to go to the indoor slope but January ended up being an incredibly busy month and I just never seemed to find the time. It would've been helpful for my ski legs but probably wouldn't have done much on the boot front - the problem there was trying to find hire boots to fit my enormo-calves.  I went through four pairs before giving up - hire boots are never going to be great when you have broad feet, narrow heels, chunky calves, poor flexibility and wonky ankles!

Nordica are quite wide fitting at the top. Some brands also have different buckles on women's boots to extend more to reduce calf pressure. Allegedly it's to do with the on average shorter leg length, so the top of the boot reaches higher up on the calf muscle. 

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HeMa 12 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

>... you're going to take a nasty fall and rupture your ACL!

You don't really rupture the ACL, instead you tear it... you do however rupture the meniscus.

But fear not, ACL reconstruction is pretty common place and you'll be back on yer feet the very same day. Sports take a bit more time and gaining full mobility takes time. Luckily in a years time the new ACL graft is actually stronger than the original.

Meniscus is a completely different thing. Generally a ruptured meniscus is not fixed (about 50/50 change of it holding up), instead stuff is just snipped off... Good on the short term, but not so hot in the long run.

That being said, well played on getting properly fitting boots. Generally rental skis are good enough for casual skiing (and higher spec skis are also available, albeit in limited selections). But having your own boots that fit correctly helps a lot.

Once really good exercise (which I believe I mentioned in the previous thread) is "sit" with your back against the wall and no chair. Really good for yer quads, which again helps in the skiing. Naturally other sports like biking (uphill) are also good.

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climbingpixie 12 Feb 2020
In reply to summo:

I ended up in a pair of women's Head Lyt boots, which have a calf adjust function at the top to give more room. Plus a pair of low heel lifts to get round my dodgy ankles. The short leg thing makes sense - I'm short even for a woman and most of my stumpiness is in my legs. Which makes it even more annoying that the ski hire place's solution to my calf problem was to give me a pair of too big men's boots!

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beardy mike 12 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

Well done - it's all up from here on in then!

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Sutty22 13 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

Glad you had a great week. I've been skiing one/two weeks a year in the alps for close to ten years now and still get the odd lesson. I always find there are improvements that can be made to my technique and by getting a half day lesson, early in the week, it doesn't cut into my time at all.

I've always been able to get down most pistes, but in more recent years I've started to feel more efficient and definitely more in-control so I feel the investment has been well worth it.

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John Gresty 13 Feb 2020
In reply to climbingpixie:

My wife had exactly the same problem with ski boots, to get a pair that fit snugly round her calves they had to be much too long, which didn't aid her skiing. Eventually had to go to a specialist boot fitter in this country to get a pair. Needed a custom made inner boot and other modifications, not cheap but it worked. 

This also seems to be problem with motorcycle boots for woman, it's about time the manufacturers catered for this situation.

The only good thing to come out of this was that her previous boots fitted me spot on.

John

Post edited at 09:47
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