Bob Trueman. Int'l Development Coach.
Keen to improve your skiing technique? Here's a major enhancement for you.
Everyone when they first start, follows their ski tips. Their torso is aimed at them, and they look where their ski tips are headed, or sometimes even further round the bend. It's natural – it's what we do fifty weeks of the year at home. But it's not the best way to ski.
I'm no draughtsman as you'll see, but be forgiving and take a look at the sketch I have made.
The slope line, the direction of descent of the slope, is top to bottom of the sketch. That direction is where it is at its steepest.
I have shown the kind of changing-shape arc typically described by a recreational skier. It starts and finishes gradually, and “sharpens” when it begins to encounter the slope line. Ideally, it would be more rounded and constant, but they seldom are. Most folk don't like the slope line.
I have drawn a series of dashed lines representing what would be the radii of complete circles located at five different points along the arc. Where the line followed by the skis is a wide arc the circles would be large, and where the skis pass through the slope line the circle would be relatively small.
At each point I have drawn an arrow along the tangent. Remember, this is a dynamic situation: the skis are changing direction. Be aware that the skis at all points are both tilted, and bent (reverse cambered), so they are already curving round the arc.
The arrow represents the ideal direction your torso should face, and where you should be looking - square-on to where you are facing. At all times it is best if your torso and eyeline do not aim at your ski tips, but rather are always oriented outside of the arc.
This is most obvious – and at its most difficult – as the skis pass through the slope line. At this point your skis are rapidly arcing, in this case to your right, and the strong temptation is to follow them with your eyes, your shoulders, your arms, and your torso. Do your utmost not to !
Why? Take a look at position #5: your next action will be to change direction again along the dashed line. It is much better to be prepared for it in advance. It generates more stability.
If each of the inside dotted lines were a piece of string holding you into the arc at each point, and the string broke, the arrows show the direction you would go in.
So in case your string breaks – be ready for it; be aiming in that direction. There are plenty of other good reasons for taking this on board and practising it, but “preparation” alone is sufficient.
In another article I will show you the effect this has on the flow of your skis down the slope, compared to the flow of your centre of mass down it.
Another of thinking around this topic is to consider “What is the angle of the slope I'm on at this point?”
Think about this. Let's say the slope line – the general angle of the slope you are on – is about 15 Degrees. That's about a typical “blue”. So when you are pointing straight down it, that the angle you're skiing.
But if you are going directly across the slope, you will not be skiing downwards at all – you'll be on a horizontal.
And if you are between those two, you'll be on a slope anywhere between zero and 15 degrees. Certainly less than if you were were headed straight down.
Now, if you look at the five points I've identified in my ghastly drawing, you'll see that I am suggesting to you that at any point as you ski, the best direction to have your torso facing is in the direction of the slope you are skiing at that point irrespective of where your skis are pointing.
Not “down to the valley” as they used to teach, nor rotating into the arc by twisting your shoulders and body.
It's a dynamic process of course, ever-changing. When you can accommodate the feelings of this, you'll ski a whole lot better. It's not easy, and it is very well worth working on.