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. ski racing tips : "Style Carving 101" — master the basics - 21 December 2008 - 12:46

For those seeking the full power of today's technical skis, the answer may lie in modest changes to technique. If you'd like to tweak technique quickly and begin using the full carving power of shapes in a morning or so, here's a simple progression to practice.

Park and Ride
Before we describe the drills, let us emphasise that skiing is a dangerous sport and there is always risk of injury. These drills involve moving down gentle terrain, but speed will build up. If you are not confident of your ability to perform these drills safely—and in accordance with the Skiers’ Safety Code—please do not attempt them. If your equipment is not correctly set up and adjusted, please do not proceed until everything has been checked off by certified binding and boot technicians. Skis that are out of tune, or tuned to other than factory specifications, can render these exercises difficult and even dangerous.

Terrain is critical. This exercise should be performed only on smooth, gentle terrain with little traffic. Green terrain is best, moderate blue will suffice. Be aware that speed builds rapidly in the exercise and safety is the prime concern.

We nickname this "Park and Ride", because it is not dynamic skiing. The goal is to do as little as possible, while letting the skis do all the work.

During the exercise, what you do not do is as important, maybe even more important, as what you do do.

As the exercise progresses, do not proactively extend and retract, do not make a conscious weight transfer from one ski to the other. Don't fight these things should they naturally occur, but do not force anything, either. Just let things happen. Forget about pole plants; just hold your poles comfortably with hands above the waist and in front of torso.

Phase I: Knee Rolling
Start straight down the fall line. As speed builds, simply roll both knees in the direction you wish to go. Roll to the right to go right; roll to the left to turn left.

At first, roll knees in one direction and keep rolling them until you come to a complete stop. Above all, do nothing else. Do not steer the ski. Just let the knee-rolling build the turn all the way around until you stop.

Repeat in the other direction. Do this exercise until you can etch a clean set of tracks, with no signs of skidding, in both directions. This may take a few try's and it may require real concentration on not steering, but it is important to remove all steering at this stage. Let the skis do ALL of the work and stick to it until you can leave clean tracks every time.

How can you tell? Just look!

Phase II: Linked knee-rolling turns
At this stage, link some turns. Start down the hill as before, and roll both knees to one side or the other, as before, but this time, do not go all the way to a stop, but roll knees first to one side and then back to the other.

Practice this until you can link a half-dozen turns in a seamless row.

Phase III: One knee only
Now repeat, making linked turns. Remember, you are not pro-actively forcing weight transfers, nor are you resisting transfer that may be happening automatically and you are still not worried about pole plants or anything except rolling into the new turn...

The difference this time is that you are going to roll only the knee that is on the side to which you wish to turn. In other words, roll the right knee to create a right turn; roll the left knee to turn left.

Don't worry about the other knee; just let if follow along on its own. You won't split in half!

Phase IV: Down to the snow
To dial everything in, repeat the single-knee rolling phase, but concentrate on rolling the ankle—roll left ankle to go left and when you want to turn to the right, roll the right ankle. No up-unweighting. No down-unweighting. No Steering. No forced weight transfer. Just ski tipping controlled by the inside foot.

The effect is the same, but focus is on the ankle and foot.

As a bonus, this drill is an ideal way to liven up otherwise boring run outs, catwalks, roads and flats.


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