Director of Holiday Valley Snowsports School
From printed and video educational material of Professional Snowsports Instructors of America/ American Association of Snowboard instructors
New ski technology, design and materials have changed skiing in the past 10 years or so. Now, you just tip the ski on edge and it rips a rut in the snow and, voila, you are carving.
But, a carving ski is a fast ski and the only way to stop a ski that is carving is to let it turn all the way back up the hill, until you lose momentum, or hit that lift tower again!
So what else do we do with our skis? Skid or slip. They also slide but, for this discussion, skid and slip will work. Skid is allowing the ski to slide sideways while on some kind of an edge. The force of your turn is more than the resistance of your edged ski on the snow, so it skids sideways and sprays snow. Also, the more you allow it to skid, the more you can control your speed.
Trying going to Firecracker and do some hockey stops. Let your skis run down the fall line until you pick up speed. Now pivot your skis and skid to a stop while keeping the zipper of your jacket aiming downhill, as your skis are perpendicular to the fall line. Skid to a stop with a pole plant and hold for the count of three. Hop into the fall line from your edged skis, pick up speed and pivot your skis in the other direction, keeping your upper body facing downhill. Do this with various speeds and try to skid longer and shorter lengths to practice controlling the skid of your skis.
Now take it to some very tight turns down Firecracker and see if you cannot make some very tight, controlled skidded turns, vary the size and shape of your turns by controlling the “skid” This tactic it is useful in the steeps and on hard pack.
Slipping, though more passive, is an effective tool for many situations. Let’s say a slipping ski is a flat ski going sideways—a flat ski that is not on edge. The lack of edging requires a fair amount of ski management. Slipping allows you to slide sideways and not really lose a lot of speed. You can use this to “slide” off the shoulder of a bump into the trough to change your line or to lose some elevation in a traverse to another area to ski.
On Fiddlers Elbow, find one of the steeper pitches and stand on the top of the steeper pitch perpendicular to the fall line. You will notice you are on an edged ski, which allows you to be able to stand at this pitch. To let your skis slip now, you need to release your edges. Turn so your upper body is facing downhill and just move your body slowly downhill, ankles, knees and hips, once you begin to slide, allow your skis to slip. Play with your knees and ankles to adjust the amount of edge or lack of edge on the snow.
Now while facing downhill and standing on a flat ski, pivot them 180 degrees so they point in the opposite direction. If you did that smoothly and just turned your feet, and not your whole body, then you should not have lost any speed or moved sideways on the slope. Practice these until you can easily pivot your skis and not move from a very narrow corridor in the snow.
You will have to adjust your stance to the slope, but it is a tactic that makes you a more versatile and all-round better skier.
Like our signs say: “More Fun Starts Here!”