Monday, May 18, 2009

skiing: always learning

With global warming looming, any season with snow is a good one. I got to ride powder day after day on two occasions, so 2008-2009 was really special. I'd have my best tree run ever, a short shot of untracked powder through a grove of trees, steering on the edge of control until the trees would spit me out onto Shirley Lake or Squaw Creek, and the next day I'd have an even better tree run.

Anyway, on the last day of skiing I was playing around with crossunder, where your skis move from one side to the other under your body. Expert skiers say "just get your skis out to the side and on edge", but do that and nothing else and you fall down. It's a dynamic motion in response to the forces that build up in skiing, and despite spending hours leaning against the wall in classic ski racer poses I've never been entirely sure what I'm trying to do. Back in 2006 I thought
The key seems to be keeping hard pressure on the tongues of your boots to make your skis work during the transitions.
but that only takes you so far and I remained frustratingly upright. I realized that to keep the skis moving across the hill while my upper body continued down the fall line I'd have to twist my knees as well, and then to bring my skis back I'd have to twist them the other way. Adding the twist let me face down the hill more and anticipate the next turn as Dan Ray was telling me, which counterintuitively let me get the skis further out to the side and more on edge.

So I'm forward with my hips and shins, but also twisting my knees to direct the skis under and across, then pushing the skis out to the side, then twisting my knees the other way slightly, while flexing my ankles to adjust my front-rear balance. ?!??! It worked pretty well for a few turns, then the season ended. It'll take years to get the hang of it. What a sport!



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