part of the progression in learning to ski well is to become
the kind of skier that attacks the mountain, the kind of skier
who imposes his or her will on the slope, not the other way around.
A huge step for a skier is the day she discovers that she
can dictate the terms of the descent down the mountain, turning
when and where she wants to turn.
upper body largely determines how you ski down the mountain,
if your shoulders follow your feet around in the turn, you will
look like, and you will be, a timid skier. We can cure this the
same way we work through all ski problems: step back, head down
to a gentle slope and try some exercises. Going back down to
the green runs at a resort, or setting up a base at the bottom
of a gentle backcountry hill and working on fundamentals is something
all skiers should take the time to do occasionally. I
learned this from an expert tele friend one day at Mammoth, many
years ago. We ditched our poles with the lift op at the bottom
of a run called Sesame Street, and went to work on on the basics
for a couple of runs, later in the day I found I was skiing better,
even though I was tired, not the way it usually goes. It was
a good lesson for an intermediate skier: just because you can
ski steep runs all day doesn't mean that you should,
you may just be holding yourself back.
back to the lesson. As I wrote on the Everybody Page, disconnecting
the upper body from the lower body is key, you must be facing
down the fall line to attack the run. There are many ways to
visualize this, one of my favorites is this: when you are standing
at the top of that green, or easy blue run, look down to the
bottom and see the people there, what, you don't see 'em, well
ok pretend, these people need to see the sign you have on your
chest, they need to see it the whole way down, don't cheat these
folks, let them see that sign at all times, let your feet turn
but not your upper body. Keep your hands out front and down,
if your hands are too high they will block the sign and the people
won't see it even if you are facing them. Concentrate on facing
the people, feel the disconnect, and you are on your way.
Parker writes in his excellent book Freeheel Skiing, to
visualize a string running from the bottom of the hill straight
up to the top and through your navel and out your back (and you
thought my idea was weird), drawing you down the hill. Another
way I have heard is to pretend you have a headlight on your chest
and you have to keep the beams focused ahead and down on the
slope to see where you are going (its dark).
way you choose to do it, try one or all of these ideas, and remember,
stopping down and heading to an easy slope is a great way to
break through intermediate ruts.