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Fun with Skiing, Looking Good Skiing

Skiing and Looking Good:  I am an advanced skier, I have good habits and bad habits, and more recently due to some instruction I have been trying to diversify my styles of skiing.  The recent instruction I have had has taught the most popular style of skiing from the educators perspective, I will call this the aggressive (Survival Mode) style of skiing.  This style always consists of a legs apart aggressive skiing stance, and this aggressive style is probably always going to be best for the learning or "novice skier", and for a somewhat more advanced skier whenever you encounter more difficult terrain.  I mean this in relative terms, you need an aggressive style of skiing when the terrain you are on begins to exceed your abilities to negotiate it comfortably.  Basically switching from having fun to surviving!

Please see my Ski Trip Tips.  They could make for the BEST trip!

Aggressive Style Survival mode skiing

Certainly a very important style to learn. But I spend a lot of my time cruising down the mountain on moderate grades and then whoosh there is a steep drop off to handle.  For me it makes sense to adopt the aggressive style only when I absolutely need it, or I want to practice it, or I just want a work out.  That is what happens with this aggressive style of skiing you get a workout!  The aggressive survival mode skiing forces you into a lower overall average stance, you must use an accentuated up and down motion, fabulous for learning to survive but not for learning to look good skiing!  In addition you must use more body "angulation", again excellent for weighting that downhill ski in a survival situation!   Sometimes I crank those hard arced carved turns and my thighs are screaming.  This is great practice for Survival Mode skiing, but I spend most of my time doing relaxed skiing, so why not look good and feel comfortable when you life's not in jeopardy!

Relaxed style skiing, Lookin Goood Skiing!.

Most average skiers on moderate terrain are not making thigh pounding carved turns, they usually have a mix of side slip and carve and what's wrong with that?  I say Nothing.  Checking speed with a side slip is much easier than cranking a carved turn back up the mountain to lose speed.  Carved turns do one thing they maintain speed, so to control speed your forced to carve your turn back up the mountain, what's wrong with this?  Absolutely nothing, except you will be in thigh burn in half an hours worth of skiing!  With a side slip your using friction to slow you down, with a carve your trying to use the force of gravity alone to slow you down.  On a steep trail the carve works better making it easy to get those ski tails swung around.  But if your just cruising why not use a "Relaxed Style of skiing". 

The big problem with a side slipped turn is:

It is hard to get the next turn started, that is why instructors push the carved turn so much.  But if your skiing on fairly flat terrain this is  not that much of a problem.  Another advantage of a relaxed style of skiing is you can stay more erect or upright.  You do not have to use nearly as much up and down motion (you had better when it gets steep though).

Keeping your feet together, and Lookin' Goood

Don't!  The easiest thing to do is keep your knees together.  If you keep your knees together, (dynamically), and your boots are canted properly , your feet will stay pretty close together as you ski.  I used the term dynamically; in order to make a good turn with your knees together you must provide room for proper angulation (bending the knees and body to keep your skis on edge and your weight over your skis).  The trick here is to slide you uphill ski slightly ahead of your downhill ski.  This weights the tip of the downhill ski making it turn, but makes it very easy for you to guide the uphill ski on a sharper arc or slightly further up the slope.  This is a very dynamic position for starting your next turn from a relaxed stance.

Please see BobsHowTo.com - Skiing - Bowed Legs Boot Cant for boot cant information.

The instructors balance lesson

Instructors oft times teach a balance lesson where you the student do exactly this, in your turn you slide your uphill ski forward, but this is also an ideal anti-tip crossing position for you to ski in when you are keeping your knees and feet together for a "relaxed skiing" style.  This position lets you move your knees anywhere they need to go to maintain balance.  If you just lock you knees together you will have far less stability, bump skiers do this, they have superb balance, but watch when they really have to crank a turn to check speed!  Bump skiers are switching between an aggressive style and a relaxed style for almost every turn they make!

Ski Videos

Ski Videos have really helped me improve, and they are truly entertaining, great with friends!

Another static balance lesson

Instructors will sometimes do a static demonstration showing why you should keep your legs apart at about the width of your shoulders.  They will have you stand sideways on the slope holding out a pole to the instructor who is down hill from you trying to pull you over or downhill.  What this static demonstration really shows is that if you keep your legs together your more likely to fall up hill when the instructor eases up on the pole.  When your skiing down the mountain and really doing it well your trying to battle the forces that would make you fall down the mountain not up it.  If you have one ski two feet up the mountain because you are trying to keep your skis apart you only have one ski that is preventing you from falling down the mountain.  When you are on a steep slope with a relaxed style your feet will have to come apart naturally to compensate for the steepness of the slope.  Your uphill knee may be in your face so your downhill knee is naturally tucked in behind the uphill knee!  Again, while turning, your uphill ski is slid slightly in front of your downhill ski !

Side effects of keeping your knees together

When you do keep your knees together for a relaxed style you will find you really beat up your equipment.  The edge of the uphill ski will be constantly cutting into the side of the downhill boot.  The tail of the uphill ski will be almost on top of the tail of the downhill ski, but what does this mean, your tips cannot be crossed can they!  You will find that the tails of your skis will get scratched up quite a bit, because the edge of the uphill ski will scrape across the back of the downhill ski.

Will my tips keep crossing?

With one ski slightly in front of the other and the tails of your skis close together while turning, your boots will start to form a block (hopefully a very dynamic block) that prevents the tip of your downhill ski from swinging uphill and crossing your tips.  When I was learning I found this position with the skis together and the uphill ski slid a little forward just about eliminated my tip crossing problems.

Learn to be like the bump skier

The bump skier is switching between a relaxed style and aggressive style for every turn.  The bump skier is the ultimate Looking Good Skier, legs glued together except where a very aggressive speed check is required, then the legs come apart just enough to compensate for the steepness of the slope, both skis are cranking off the speed with a mostly carved turn, because these skiers are flying down the mountain.

I am just a skier and what I write here is my opinion alone.  It is what works for me.  Please use these suggestions at your own risk.  Talk about these crazy thoughts with your ski instructor and have fun.  Experiment with relaxed skiing as well as the aggressive skiing you will learn from your instructor.

Hope this helped, Thanks!









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BHT Revised: 22 Oct 2016


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