As we work through technical basics, we sometimes get caught up in the details, and forget about the big important stuff. The way you think about your skiing can often have a large effect on how you execute your technique and tactics. Taking the time and mental energy to visualize the process in a new way sometimes unlocks a new, more natural and comfortable way of skiing that is much faster.
Here’s one idea to think about. To different degrees, we are all struggling with getting our hips in the right place to allow our skis to carve turns as they are designed to. Skis turn really well when rolled up on their edges to a large angle with the snow surface. This is possible only if you can get your hips (or center of mass, think of the place deep inside your body, just below the navel) in the right relation to your feet and turning edges. For the best skiers, achieving this is less about ‘putting’ body parts in certain places than ‘letting’ them go there. In Slalom, you work with gravity and adjust forces to allow your hips to ‘fall’ down the center of the gate corridor, while your feet take a longer path around each gate:
By creating different paths for your feet and hips, you are able to create a large angle between your skis and the snow, which results in a quicker and cleaner turn.
Allowing your hip’s to ‘fall’ down the gate corridor is a skill that relies on the less-is-more approach. In fact, many of the suggestions that your coaches offer center on removing extra movements from your skiing. For instance, crossing your outside hand, arm, and shoulder around in front of you to block a gate (‘rotating’) invariably causes your hips to stay over your feet through the transition and into the top of the next turn. However, when you create large angles with your skis, your outside hand does not need to move across your body to block each gate:
This explains why we have encouraged you to free ski and practice keeping your shoulders and upper body facing down the hill. This makes it much easier to release your hips down the hill as your feet transition across the hill to the initiation of the next turn. As you look at the first picture of Jens Byggmark, remember two things: 1) there is virtually no pressure on his skis at this moment; 2) he has relaxed his core muscles to allow his feet to pass under his hips as his center of mass continues to ‘fall’ down the gate corridor.
For further explanation, please ask one of us to take a free run with you.