In the last column we focused on taking air, and this week we will work on building a strong and balanced skiing stance.
Spring skiing is the peak of our ski season. Many ski areas have some midseason dumps followed by a warm and wet finish as the base melts and you end up shin deep in slush wearing jeans and an AC/DC t-shirt rocking out in the lift line.
Here in the Selkirk Mountains above 1,200 metres the base is still growing and the snow is still cold and dry.
As a Whitewater Ski Team coach I have actually been hoping for some warmer temperatures so that we can get some corn snow that would harden into ice overnight so that we can get some real ski race snow. Alas, I have to let go and be content with our perfect powder and packed powder groomers.
So instead of writing a column about how to wiggle through the corn snow with your feet glued together or how to do the perfect double daffy I will keep you working towards the peak of your season with your skiing platform.
I like to call your feet, legs and hips your platform as it is the foundation that the rest of your body sits on when you ski. In order to have a strong platform you need to have your ankle, knee and hip joints in line above one another. This way you can absorb and extend through changing terrain and you can effectively manage the energy that is being released from your ski.
As you ski you are always actively moving your legs and without a solid platform to work from you will end up being static in part of your turn which will keep you from skiing your best. Once you have a great platform with stacked joints you can really begin to challenge your skiing by carving deeper and skiing faster and with more control through the trees and in the bumps.
A drill that you can try is the pole drag drill. Do this on a groomer and grab your poles by the top of the handle rather than the regular grip and use your fingers to push down on the poles with them sticking straight out to your sides. As you ski, press down on the poles with equal pressure so that there is an equal amount of snow spray coming from the tips of each while you are turning both directions. Add some up and down movement from your hips to make sure that all your joints are aligned in your platform and make sure that you have equal forward pressure with your shins on the front of your boots at the start of every turn.
Your ski muscles are at their strongest at this point in the season so use them! Put that extra effort into your skiing and you will get it all back in that playful reaction from your skis.
We only have a few days left of skiing so do your best to get out there and enjoy the peak of the ski season!
See you on the slopes.
— Dylan Henderson is the head coach for the Whitewater ski team and is a certified Development Level coach with the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation and a Level 1 ski instructor with the Canadian Ski Instructors Association. Visit the website at whitewaterskiteam.ca.