by Sean Bold
Don’t hold onto the past, but instead look into the future. Gil Haines, an old ski buddy of mine, is very hard to keep up with in steep terrain. His secret, I have discovered, is that he never holds onto his turn too long, but instead releases the skis shortly after crossing the fall line, keeping him out of trouble. Now, this technique in steep terrain takes some guts, but once you figure out the timing of when to release, it will make your skiing more balanced, smooth, efficient, and faster in all types of terrain!
Gil lacks one of the common ineffective tactics I see with skiers today. Many skiers hold onto their turn too long before starting the next one. This often causes their balance to shift back and inside the turn. Pressure on the ski increases throughout the turn and is most predominant after the fall line. By prolonging the turn completion and staying in the zone of higher pressure, the skier runs the risk of letting these forces press them into the back seat. When their Center of Mass (the most central point of a person’s weight, in relation to the rest of their body) moves behind the Point of Contact (middle of the foot and ski), the skier increases their chance of getting bucked further out of balance by the ensuing terrain challenges and variations.
Imagine how much easier it would be if the skier released their turn just after the fall line. By releasing the turn earlier, the skier continues to flow down the hill into the next turn. This new tactic sets the skier up for success by allowing them to stay in balance while they move more down the hill and out of harm’s way.
Here is a great tip that you can use to accomplish this goal. Swing your pole linearly down the hill in the direction of travel with a shorter pole cast. You will be able finish your turn earlier because your body will travel in the direction of the new turn. Your pole swing is very much a directional movement. When you swing your pole in a rounded arc with a longer pole cast, your movement is directed more across the fall line. Another by-product of a long pole cast is that you will have to ski all the way around the tip of the pole causing you to prolong the end of the turn. I am no longer a big pole caster and it has helped my skiing immensely. So keep the pole cast short and you won’t have to travel as far to start your new turn.
Ok, so that’s what to do, now here’s how to do it. Grip your pole a little tighter with your hand and don’t let your bottom two or three fingers open up as you swing. This should help shorten the cast of the pole. Be sure not to turn your arm and hand toward the center line of your body while swinging the pole (like closing a door). Instead, just swing the pole from the wrist linearly in the direction of travel, leaving the arm and hand more open to the fall line. Try to target the pole touch about 12-16 inches in front of the toe piece of your binding and about 12-16 inches down the hill from that point. The distance you swing the pole towards your tip and down the hill will vary due to skier height, length of pole, terrain, turn shape, and the speed you are travelling.
Let go of the past and move into the future! By releasing your skis earlier into the new turn, you will maintain better balance and ski faster and more efficiently. You may also be able to keep up with the likes of Gil Haines.[connections_list id=22 template_name=”div_staff”]