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The Fall Line

The Blog About the Dog and Its Tricks
By Cathy Margiotta
Posted on 2/8/2020 12:46 PM

At Winter Park, I got to share my knowledge of skiing with about 8 club members. These men and women, who had been skiing for decades, either my age or older, were able to take what I told them and pretty quickly--and easily--carve carve carve. What made it even more impressive to my instructor eye is that their left and right turns looked fairly symmetrical. With a dash of problem-solving on my part, and some extra emphasis on their part, our teacher-learner team made it easy for people to shed old ways and adopt new skills or put those skills in the correct place in the turn. Butch Bolden, for example, earns a sticker on his ski helmet for changing his skiing in two runs down the blue-run Cranmer, which was located right near the Sunspot Restaurant and the gondola. He and I only needed an hour to review the tools he needed to keep skiing in his playbook.


What did I teach him and the others?


Flat at the top of the turn.

Edge right before the fall line by either rolling both ankles or tipping both lower legs.

Drive the uphill knee forward.

Repeat on the other side.


The "flat at the top of the turn" made it easy for people to feel their feet and skis working simultaneously together. As soon as people got comfortable with their feet sliding as a unit, it was incredibly easy for them to edge their skis at the same time. These basic skills done right are the simple ingredients that eliminate the stemming and imbalances which hold us all back.


The other concept that was important was getting my students to feel how the relationship between the feet and the ankles or lower legs change through the turn. Like this: when the skis are flat, the ankles are above the top of the feet. When the ankles or lower legs are used to edge, they roll away from the top of the feet. Getting my students to feel this relationship change through the turn was an essential part of their success. Advanced skiers had better know what their feet are doing while they ski--after all, it's how they control those long things attached to their boots!


I think I was able to help everyone I taught at Winter Park. The message I want you skiers to take from this is that able-bodied people irrespective of age can change their skiing for the better with a clear understanding of the skills needed in your basic carved turn, as well as a little help from the correct set of muscles and body parts.


What I take away from these teaching opportunities is the importance of teaching the correct skills used in a turn. Too many instructors get bogged down in their students' idiosyncrasies, such as how they stand or hold their hands, for example. And I've been guilty of that. But this time, I pretty much taught everybody the same thing: flat—edge—flat. This was not a hard concept to teach. Everyone understood it, and could roll their ankles or lower legs without much trouble. The consequence of this was a domino effect that had a positive influence on their stance and rhythm through the turn. In other words, it's harder to be in the "back seat" when you drive your uphill knee forward.


I'll have more to say about this, and I'll even use some diagrams to help explain. In the meantime, I hope my students will bask in the glow of their successes, even if they aren't skiing again this season.

P.S. Winter Park was an awesome place to ski. Thanks, Jeannette for taking us there!



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