Category: Tips and Techniques

Switching  Modes

Switching Modes

I spent last week as the Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colorado. That gave me a lot of chances to see other people tether, and one thing I saw a lot of was tetherers switching from snow plow to sideslip and back again, often quite fast. Like this video.

Schematically the two modes look like this, notice that everything in the two diagrams is the same except for the position of the uphill ski.

switching modes

Why do we do this? Side slipping is more powerful and less effort if the skier is going to continue traversing. But the snow plow is more agile if the skier is about to turn. In the early stages of sit ski progression, the instructor is calling the turns and they should only need 2 transitions: into the snow plow to start the turn, and out of it to traverse (see my post about using Stem Christie turns for tethering). But later in the progression we encourage sit skiers to make their own turn decisions. Then the tetherer needs to react, or even anticipate, the turns. Switching modes frequently allows the tetherer to balance the power and ease of a sideslip with being ready to turn at any time.

But when you make that transition you don’t want the skier to feel a jerk or a sudden change in braking, in fact they should feel no change and just be able to focus on their own skiing. Look at the video again, the feet are changing position, but the upper body and hands are very stable. That’s a skill in itself.

Switching continuously between snow plow and sideslip, while maintaining a constant speed and direction is a good practice drill for new tetherers or warm up run for experienced tetherers.

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A week on the Bunny Hill

A week on the Bunny Hill

I posted a while ago about the two different progression approaches for sit skiing. One which is centered on using tethers to control speed and using chair lifts and green runs from the beginning, and the other which focuses on using a bunny hill, without tethers, and progressing much more similarly to how we teach ordinary skiing. Continue reading “A week on the Bunny Hill”

The Talking Board

The Talking Board

Some of our sit skiers can’t talk, due to physical disabilities. But they can hear and think just fine. In their daily lives they can communicate via texts, emails and even voice synthesis like Stephen Hawking. However, none of that technology translates well to the outdoor environment of skiing.

One of our skiers, Adam, has found a solution to this communication problem with a speech board, like this: Continue reading “The Talking Board”

The Ins and Outs of the Death Wobble

The Ins and Outs of the Death Wobble

It may be a dramatic term but if you are a tetherer you’ve probably seen a death wobble. It is problem which afflicts quad skis (a.k.a dual ski with pontoons / fixed outriggers) when traveling straight down the hill on flat terrain. The sequence goes something like this:

  1. The ski starts to lose momentum
  2. The ski tips randomly (to the right in this case) and the right pontoon touches the snow.
  3. This causes a braking on the right side of the rig, and the skis twist 15 degrees off the direction of travel.
  4. But the skier’s momentum is still straight forward, now 15 degrees left of where the skis are pointing, so the rig flops over to the left side
  5. Now the left tide pontoon touches down on the snow
  6. This causes a braking on the left side of the rig and the skis twist to point 15 degrees left of the directing of travel.
  7. Now the ski flops to the right and the whole cycle continues, etc.

Continue reading “The Ins and Outs of the Death Wobble”

Going off Leash

Going off Leash

Skiing is cancelled today due to rain & warm temperatures, so time for a blog. We rarely use the bunny hill with sit skis at the Edelweiss program, it is too full of small children on the days our program runs. So, our sit skier progression is mainly about running a green trial top to bottom repeatedly on tethers. The first run is 99% tetherer controlled with the skier as a passenger, then slowly responsibility for speed control, turn initiation and route planning are transferred to the sit skier. Continue reading “Going off Leash”

Thumbing, just how evil is it?

Thumbing, just how evil is it?

First let me define “Thumbing”. Thumbing is controlling a sit ski by standing behind it and holding on to the back of the seat (also known as the “Bucket”). It’s called Thumbing because a common grip is to place the hands palm forward, with the fingers outside the bucket and the thumbs inside. These days a growing number of sit skis have a handle attached, so the natural grip is more like pushing a shopping trolley, but I still call it thumbing.

Nobody objects to thumbing to push the sit ski across flat ground, such as from the chalet to the chair lift. It becomes more controversial when you mean Thumbing a sit ski to control it while descending hill. In my home program it’s frowned on, A sit skier who is being thumbed isn’t controlling, or even contributing to, their direction or balance. So they aren’t learning anything, they should be on tethers instead. Continue reading “Thumbing, just how evil is it?”