In the last column we focused on surviving and enjoying hard snow skiing and this week we will focus on the importance of being forward.
Stop leaning back! Don’t sit on the toilet! Hands forward!
Sound familiar? It’s true. Being forward might just be the most important factor in making you the best skier that you can be.
It is now March and we have three months of skiing behind us so we are skiing our best, right? At this point in the season I like to go back to the basics and tweak some things that can get you skiing more actively and aggressively.
We often take a passive and submissive approach with our activities and this gets us nowhere. We need to be clear and purposeful in our approach so that we are engaged and empowered, and what better way to practice this than with a forward skiing stance.
The basic athletic stance is to stand with knees slightly bent, back straight, head up with shoulders, hips, knees and ankles all stacked above each other vertically. In this position you are your most agile and ready for your best fight or flight.
Notice in this position that your weight is centred on the balls of your feet. The start of the turn is when we take this stance and move it as far forward as possible so that we can steer the skis out into the turn.
This is especially important and a bit of a leap of faith when transitioning onto steeper terrain or when turning over a roll. Then we can then finish the turn on our tails with a nice release that lets the skis explode ahead and our weight can be slightly in the back seat.
If we have our hips too far back we will break at the waist and hunch over. This is in an attempt to counterweight our low bum body mass and the result is a sore back at the end of the day. Skiing with hips higher will address this with immediate results and allow us to use the back seat with precision rather than pain.
1. The pole plant gives you an opportunity to get your weight forward. It is that magic moment where time stops and you can organize any details that were left behind from your last turn. Make sure that you reach down the hill and use your shoulder, not just your wrist or arm. Be active, not passive!
2. Move your hips forward at the pole plant. When you move your hips forward you bring your whole upper body and you will be in complete control of your turn, and your destiny if you link a few of these turns together.
3. At the end of the turn let your skis go and rock onto your tails without dropping your hips down. Now repeat!
Drill: Find a flat run where you can glide and go straight ahead and with knees bent, hips high, try slamming your shins against the front of your boots. Do this five times counting as you do it, then do five more with alternating pole plants, then five more with a little turn as soon as you hit. Now bring it into your skiing with the reminder that in order to be truly empowered skier you need to approach each turn with clarity and purpose.
Since we are all feeling jittery and irritable due to the withdrawal symptoms from going cold turkey with our powder addiction, at least we can get some pleasure while out in the mountains by gaining control over our skiing, one turn at a time.
Dylan Henderson is the head coach for the Whitewater Ski Team. He is a certified Development Level Coach with the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation and a Level 1 ski instructor with the Canadian Ski Instructors Association. His goal is to give you something to keep your skiing fresh every week even if the snow is not.