Recording my skiing technique - is it doable/ which camera would I use?
January 6, 2019 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I had a (possibly hare brained) thought that maybe I could record my skiing technique by getting a cheap-ish low-res recording device (which could store several hours of footage), attaching it to the foot of a chair tower near the end and center of a run (facing uphill), leaving it recording, and then doing laps on that run. Am I nuts, and if not, what would be a good camera for this?

Another thought is setting up a camera on a ridge which overlooks a run, but I'm guessing that although I'd spend more time in frame, the detail might not be sufficient to be useful.
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I doubt that you could get a good enough recording without a lot of set up work, and that is if ski patrol or staff will even let you just leave devices on the hill. Also the possibility of other visitors messing with your equipment.

If your objective is to improve your skiing technique, your time and money is much better spent getting a ski lesson (and your instructor will probably film you too if you ask!). If your objective is just to get footage of yourself skiing, you can even possibly just chat up some people and ask them to film you in exchange for beers or lunch.
posted by xtine at 10:35 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]

I don't ski, but I do and sometimes teach dance, which is also about how you move your body.

I think there are too many cons for this to be a good way to improve your technique.
  1. You mentioned low resolution, so you probably won't capture much detail. The camera might not even focus on you for most of the time!
  2. It will only capture your front. Critiquing your body movement is usually better when you can see all sides of the moving body.
  3. You'll have to go through lots of footage of people who are not you, so that you can focus on the moments where you're in frame. Waste of time.
  4. Who's doing the critiquing? Will you be watching the footage and hoping to spot mistakes in form that you can correct? At a lower skill level, you may not be able to catch your own mistakes. At a higher skill level, you will probably need finer points of correction, which can't be observed using a low res camera.
  5. The feedback loop will take way too long. You spend a day skiing and recording footage, then you play it back and take notes, then a few days later you go skiing again with the new techniques in your back pocket. By the time you get back on the slopes you'll have forgotten what it felt like to do the wrong thing last time, and more importantly, you won't know if you're doing the right thing this time around until you review your 2nd day's footage.
My opinion, the fastest way to improve once you've gotten to a base level of skill, is to hire a private instructor. They're right there with you, they will give instant feedback on what you're doing wrong, and you can try it right then and there! A lot of body movement is about how things feel, not how things look!

I suppose, if you have a camera you can borrow, there's not much harm in trying to record yourself, but I'd keep expectations very low.
posted by tinydancer at 10:40 AM on January 6 [3 favorites]

I'm not a skier, but I'm an ice skater, and people at the rink film themselves all the time for just this reason, so I think it's a valid way of going about it. But I'd get a friend to help you, so you can use a higher res camera or good camera phone. Or a GoPro. They could be at the bottom of the run, or skiing beside/behind you if they're capable of that. You could experiment with GoPro mounts -- head mount, chest mount, chest mount worn on the back, etc.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:36 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

I think you'd be better off if you found a someone who is a ski instructor and/or sprung for a private lesson. They'd give you tips on your form and how to make improvements and may be willing to record you with a camera if you wanted. A camera good enough to actually catch decent footage would be several hundred dollars at minimum I would think. Resorts also likely have rules about setting up random cameras on their property.
posted by greatalleycat at 12:15 PM on January 6

I agree with everyone who says a private or semi-private (no more than 3 skiiers) lesson is a much better use of your money and time here. Every advance I've made in technique has followed a private lesson even when I struggled to understand what the instructor meant when explaining corrections to my posture or form. I recommend asking your instructor lots of questions. When they give you feedback, move your body and ask for immediate corrections; verify that you've understood their instruction.

The instructor is going to base the lesson what they see you doing, making immediate corrections, demonstrating, even maybe helping you reposition your limbs. You're not going to be able to do that, even with really great footage which you won't get from this idea.

If you have a friend who can film you on a couple runs, or find someone on the lift who'd do it for a beer, you need someone who can ski alongside or backwards in front of you, or basically follow you for a portion of a run to get useful information from the video--like tinydancer says. Footage of you from a static downhill vantage point won't have enough detail.
posted by crush at 12:35 PM on January 6

I follow a ski related forum online and people do post videos of themselves for critiquing purposes. With that said, in every single one, the footage is captured by someone else. I suggest that if you don't ski with a friend than try to make friends with someone at lunch and ask them to help you film yourself. You really don't need to film a ton of footage. No one that isn't being paid is going to analyze a ton of footage. If that is what you really want that pay for a small group or private lesson.
posted by mmascolino at 2:37 PM on January 6

Just leaving a camera unattended on a run sounds like setting it up to be stolen (or at best, turned in to lost and found). I happened to see this video today that, while short, seems to show that a smartphone is enough to record some useful footage, provided you can find someone to film you.
posted by grette at 6:57 PM on January 6

1) Lots of people have suggested that you take lessons. I know that this is in theory a great idea, but in practice I've taken a number of private lessons and NONE of them helped with my form, or were effective enough instructors for me to spring for a second lesson. I guess I got a string of indifferent instructors, or maybe I'm a terrible student, or maybe they see "fat woman" and don't think "please push me to be better", but the best help I got was by practicing with my grad school's race team (I was friends with the coach), where I received loads of useful advice on drills/technique. So, YMMV tons with the $pendy option of (semi-)private lessons.
2) I often ask my partner to film me, so I can see where my weight is / how I'm holding my body. This is definitely useful for critiquing technique, particularly if you've watched video of better skiers! Of course skiing is about how it feels, but it's really useful to compare that to what it looked like.
3) I think that the people commenting on the delay (and paring down footage) are right on. If I were doing this, I'd want a camera mounted facing uphill that I could ski past and then have it show me the last minute of footage. I want to know what I looked like when how it *felt* is fresh in my mind. I don't know for sure that GoPro has good fast-forward/scrubbing options on their camera touch screens, but that's what I'd be looking at. It could be relatively discreet strapped to a tree, and everybody would assume that some young snowboarder had mounted it there. Of course, only do this if you can eat the cost of a used gopro without too much angst, in case somebody steals it.
posted by Metasyntactic at 8:31 PM on January 6

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