Keeping it fresh even when the snow isn’t
Edging, movement... so now that we have covered the boring basics, let’s work on the fun stuff.
I am going to let you in on a secret. First, think of a run that challenges you on the mountain. Steep, tight trees, inconsistent snow. Think Terrarata, Sleeper, Quicksilver, Sproulers. You want to ski these runs, and you want to ski them well. You see the regular rock star locals rip down these runs making it look effortless, smooth, fun.
How do they do it? They cheat.
Now that I have your attention I will start from the beginning.
In order to get you skiing the steeps like the star you are, we need to break it down into easily digestible bites. Start by going to a steeper groomed run and stop with your skis pointed across the hill. Now stand up, knees bent, and turn your shoulders to the fall line with your arms wide. If your shoulders are truly facing down the hill then the tip of one pole should be over the tip of your downhill ski, and the tip of the other pole — pay attention now! — is over the tail of the same ski. Now slide sideways down the fall line in this position and come to a stop. Now plant the pole that is by the tail of your ski and leave it planted and slide around so that you are facing the opposite direction and repeat. Slide, stop, then plant the pole that is by your tail, and repeat. When you stop, do it like your life depends on it, and when you plant your pole, stab it in and put some weight on it.
This sounds easy when you are sitting reading the paper with a coffee in your hand, but it’s actually quite challenging, so take your time and stay with it.
Once you are feeling like you are totally killing this drill then it is time to take it to the steeps. Find a steep spot free of hazards and not too much deep powder, and face the fall line and repeat this drill. If you are pole planting in front of your boot then you are not facing the fall line. Now as you do the drill stop for just a split second, but don’t skip any steps.
So, the secret is that you stop right before you plant your pole. This allows you to re-centre your weight, catch your balance, and move your weight forward and down the fall line. Now as you are riding the lift and you see that rock star doing quick turns down the fall line on the super steep, watch as their skis nearly come to a stop between turns. Cheater.
Now go impress your friends.
Dylan Henderson is the head coach of the Whitewater Ski Team. Head to whitewaterskiteam.ca.