Photo by Agence Zoom/Getty Images Europe
I have to say… tonight was a pretty good night. After work this evening I decided I couldn’t not go over to Ripley for a little while. This week I’ve skied on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday I have plans to ski with a friend in the evening. As that was the case… I just couldn’t break the streak by not going tonight.
Anyway, this year I’ve been doing my best to become a skier. I’ve been a snowboarder for a while, but there are times when having both of your feet strapped to a board just doesn’t allow the amount of freedom one might desire. Because of this, and my desire to ski places other than those accessed by lift, I sold all my snowboard equipment and purchased skis. This winter I’ve been trying to get to the hill at least once a week as I felt the only way to get good at skiing is going to be to put some time in at the hill.
At first things were going pretty good. Each time I would head to the hill I would feel more and more comfortable and more confident. I don’t know that my skiing was getting better, I think I was just getting more comfortable with the uncomfortableness. And the last few times I’ve been to the hill things haven’t been getting better. I seemed to have plateaued. I’m afraid to admit it, but I started watching youtube videos on learning to ski and scouring the interwebs for any little bit of info that might help me step up my game. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it.
When I was first learning how to snowboard there was a definite day when I went from a beginner to not a beginner. Two things allowed me to make that jump. The first was realizing that with both feet strapped to my board I was able to twist the board. My feet did not have to work together. This gave me much more control of my board. The other piece of advice that I got was to “Get Lower”. Initially when confronted with difficult terrain my first inclination would be to stand up. With my legs straight my body was not able to adjust to the terrain or absorb shock very well. Getting lower made me a better shock absorber and this really boosted my confidence in variable conditions. Soon I was cruising through the bumps, killing it in the pow, and just have a great time everywhere on the hill.
I have to say… I’ve been waiting for that moment with skiing and tonight I think I might have found what I needed. I’m a details guy and I’ve worked in a ski shop for 10 years. I know the theory behind making a ski turn. I’ve had lengthy conversations about the differences between the telemark turn and the alpine turn and not been called a fool. Actually, I usually the opposite. Supposedly, my participation in certain conversations have helped others improve their skiing. Apparently, I’m one of the best bullshitters the world has ever known as I suck at alpine skiing and I couldn’t make a tele-turn to save me life. Where’s my epiphany?
Well, tonight I had one… or at least it felt that way. Last night I was thinking about some of the conversations I’ve had about the difference between telemark and alpine skiing. One of the things that I recalled was that it is usually considered easier for a snowboarder to learn to tele than someone with an alpine background. The reason being that a telemark turn is the opposite of an alpine turn. Opposite? What’s that mean? The few times I’ve tried tele your inside foot becomes your rear foot. I suppose that means if you are alpine skiing your inside foot should be your forward foot. But don’t they turn together? This is when I started watching other skiers more closely. When I did this I noticed that the really good guys, the ones that rocket down the hill making perfect arcs without skidding, do have their skis slightly offset with the inside ski being ever so slightly in front. Well, shit… I need to try that.
In doing so I found that little nugget that’s probably going to take my skiing to another level. By ever so slightly pushing that inside ski forward I’m more able to pressure the shins of my boots, I’m more stable at speed, and my edge to edge transitions and much faster. Tonight I was able to make short and long radius carves and I didn’t feel so much in the back seat all the time.
Now… I’d love to hear if this makes sense to anyone. Everyone tells you to pressure your shins, push your hips forward, don’t lean in with your shoulders, don’t stick your but out, stay out of the back seat. However, no one offers up much in the way of “how” to do these things. Is this something any of you that are good skiers even think about? Is this something that I would have learned if I would have taken a ski lesson? To me this was a key component to becoming a better skier.
So, let me know what you think and definitely let me know if you think I’m full of it. I’d also love to hear any other pointers you guys may have.