COLUMN: Let the skis do the work on turns

Ankles and knees are crucial to effective turning on the ski hill.

Dylan Henderson is a coach with the Whitewater Ski Team.

I was riding the chair yesterday remarking on the sunshine and fresh light snow and was explaining to my random chair buddy that if it got any better I might explode.

In the last column we focused on our skiing drills and this week we will focus on adding power to your turns.

As we approach the end of the season we are skiing better than ever so where do we go from here? The technical theme that our coaches keep returning to is the use of ankles and knees to start the turn and not using the hip until the middle of the turn. The reason for this is so that we can get our skis way up on edge and then move athletically on your carving ski. This will add energy to your skiing and have you turning quicker with more fluidity.

I have stumbled upon a new way for you to get there:

Keep your head between your boots!

1. Find a flatter groomed run and start sliding straight down with a wide stance.

2. Trust that your skis will turn and simply roll them up on edge with ankles and knees, leaving your head and shoulders over the space between your boots.

3. Be patient and wait for your skis to turn on their own. This is easier said than done. Most of us will try to steer the skis, which will cause the tails to slide. But this is a topic for another column.

4. At the middle of the turn with your skis facing directly down the hill you can use your hips to bring your upper body towards the centre of the turn. Your head will not be between your boots anymore, but your shoulders will still be level and your jacket zipper should still be vertical. This is the really powerful, athletic part of the turn that would not happen without the patient build up at the beginning of the turn using your ankles and knees.

You can use the get-over-it drill from the last column to really get success with this. The initiation and finishing of turns is often where our skiing needs the most work. Remember to pole plant for timing, and be in an athletic stance, hips over ankles, and then plenty of flex in the knees to ensure good ankle and knee mobility.

Enjoy the best part of the ski season! I hope that the conditions don’t get any better; I don’t think that I could take it.

Dylan Henderson is the head coach for the Whitewater Ski Team. He is a certified Development Level coach with the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation and a Level 1 ski instructor with the Canadian Ski Instructors Association.

dylanhen@hotmail.com

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