During training sessions, we often stress that athletes should take a round line through the gates. This is counter-intuitive for a new ski racer, because it seems like traveling the extra distance is slower. Even experienced athletes often succumb to the temptation to take a direct path to the next gate.
However, the optimal situation is to keep the body’s center of mass (roughly the pelvis) tracking directly down the hill, while the feet and skis travel the longer path around the gates. In the photo of the Canadian World Cup skier Mike Janyk below, you can clearly see that his feet are at least four feet away from the base of the gate. This distance allows him to create massive angles with his body, which will move him rapidly into the next turn.
This is what we mean when we say, ‘give your feet room at the gate’. If you master this skill, you will find that you are seconds faster at the bottom of the course.