SKI TIPS: The trick to skiing steep

Whitewater ski coach Dylan Henderson shows readers how to ski the big drops.

Aliza Jones is an under-14 athlete with the Whitewater Ski Team. She is demonstrating great balance

Aliza Jones is an under-14 athlete with the Whitewater Ski Team. She is demonstrating great balance

The last column we focused on the transition and this week we will focus on skiing the steeps.

The snow continues to fall as we head into Beach Party Weekend and the final days of our legendary Summit lift at Whitewater. So as we squeeze in the last runs of the season we will go to places that challenge us, the steep places.

Runs with ever changing terrain and snow conditions, all while gravity pulls hard and then gives a push when mistakes are made.

We ski our best when we are in control, which translates into quickly changing direction, braking and finding centre of balance when on the steep off piste runs.

In order to perfect our skiing on the steep runs we need to build our skills in places where we feel confident. There are many great challenging groomed runs at Whitewater where you can simulate your double black diamond skiing.

Start by standing with skis pointed across the hill and find your centre of balance. When balanced you should feel your shins pressing against the front of your boots, weight on the balls of your feet, hips over knees and ankles.

The next step is to quickly change direction, which starts with a pole plant directly below your boot. The pole plant needs to be solid as it will anchor you to the fall line. Make a turn by putting weight on your pole while unweighting the tails of your skis and pivot them around your planted pole until your skis are again pointing across the hill.

Now, hit the brakes! Do this by rolling your skis on to edge with ankles and knees and come to a stop as you plant your pole and repeat.

This is how the best skiers on the hill handle the steeps and they can do it no matter what the mountain throws at them. Remember to find your balance at the pole plant because any lack of balance will become a loss of control once you start moving through the turn.

Enjoy the final days of our winter wonderland, and remember how stoked you were back in November when you were dreaming of the first turns of the season.

Dylan Henderson is the head coach of 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.