The more I teach backcountry and big mountain skill to skiers the more I realize that for most advance skiers rarely a talent issue rather it’s a balance issue. When it comes to turning a ski the dynamics doesn’t change much from groomed slopes to steep powdery pitches but few realize that to be the case.
Fear and apprehension equal lack of balance. For nearly two decade traditional ski schools have taught minimized motion when it comes to technique and focused too much on tipping skis rather than turning skis. The result have been when intermediate skiers enter into difficult terrain such as trees, moguls and steeps they have no idea on how to decelerate and that results in fear which equal lack of balance.
Skiers can conquer apprehension and fear by practicing speed acceptance and slowly building on their run on new terrain.
Speed Acceptance – Skis are made to accelerate and deceleration happens over a series of turn. So rather than skiing to slow down, practice skiing to accelerate and then slowdown in the last three turns of your decent. You can practice this on a groomed slope and then gradually move to steeper terrain with cut up snow or moguls.
Maximize Motion – When it comes to skiing powder, trees and steeps its important to maximize motion. You can do this by reaching further down the hill with your pole plants and or standing taller between turns. When you maximize your motion you unlock the your balance and can control the speed you are generating.
You go where you look so look where you want to go – The key to all mountain skiing is looking down the hill and past obstacles. Too often skiers will tell me what they want to avoid but rately do they tell me where they want to turn. Focus your eyes beyond the mogul, tree or rocks and see the path around obstacles then decelerate over a series of two or three turns.
A balanced skier is a thing of beauty and as skiers our main job is to complement the terrain we ski. Breathe deep, relax and remember it’s a balance issues not a talent issue.