Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ski Towards the Corner to Improve Directional Movement

Here is a crazy cool little trick to help yourself gain more control over your directional movement in your skiing. But first, what do I mean by directional movement?

Directional Movement

The key to the sliding glass door of modern skiing is consistent and correct directional movement. You always want to move each part of your body towards the direction you want to go. This is extremely important.You always want to move each part of your body towards the direction you want to go. And in case you didn't catch it the first time (or the second): You always want to move each part of your body towards the direction you want to go. This equals efficiency.

What most people don't typically think about the is direction of a turn. When you turn right, you are not making a 90 degree turn measured by the protractor you still have from tenth grade geometry class. It would be an ugly turn, an uglier wipeout, and a sad, sad life story that you still have your protractor from tenth grade geometry class. You should think of moving your body on a diagonal - that is - both forward and right.

Let's take for instance, the feet. When you want to turn right, you are obviously going to move both your feet towards that direction. Similarly, you also want to move your inside knee forward and to the right, the tips of your skis forward and to the right, your leading toes forward and to the right, and you plant your pole forward and to the right. This is what establishes your turn.

If you want to make a shorter turn radius, you should move more forward and less to the right. If you are making a long radius turn, you will want to direct your movements more to the right and less forward.

So, we know what directional movements are - movements of specific body parts that are directed to your new turn orientation and shape.

Now, let's get to that cool trick... I gained this pearl of wisdom from Eric Anderson, PSIA Level III Instructor and Ski School Director at Wisp Resort in McHenry, Maryland.

The Trick

Stand in a flat area in the snow so that you are in a balanced stance with parallel skis. Take your poles and draw a box, or rectangle, in the snow that surrounds you and your skis. See the diagram for an illustration.
The green lines represent the box you would draw around your skis in the snow with your poles.
Imagine the turn you want to make is directed towards the front left or right corner of your box. The trick is to go through a progression of body movements that will reinforce making efficient movements towards this corner. So, look at your corner and...

  • Roll your inside ankle and pressure your inside foot diagonally towards the corner.

  • Moving the weight of your feet towards the direction of movement as opposed to moving directly to the side increases turn efficiency and makes your turns look much more stylish.
  • Touch your pole at the corner

  • If necessary, direct your inside knee and possibly hip towards the corner

In summary, making sure that you move directionally instead of sideways makes your turns more efficient, makes you look like a much more radical and skillful skier, and in case that isn't enough, it also allows you to both finish and initiate your turns more successfully and evenly in both directions. So next time you take a turn, move towards the corner of your box, and leave the protractor at home.


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