By Ron Kubicki, Director of Holiday Valley Snowsports School
Bet that title got your attention, didn’t it? I’m talking the skiing kind of “hook up,”not the après ski kind! I have no creditable advice for that kind.
If you have been reading my articles the past few seasons, you will realize I try to give you tasks or tactics intended to improve your skiing. These are not necessarily the finished form we are looking for, but it is generally an exaggerated movement or position to give you a “feel” or give you a specific sensation to enhance your skiing.
This week’s tip is to give you a much exaggerated sense of a very subtle key to high-end parallel skiing; “hookin’ up” the inside ski to begin your turn. If you watch 10 people who are parallel skiing on Morning Star, you will see four or five or even more ways to initiate a parallel turn; some effective and some not so much. You will see people wedging, stepping, stemming, pushing, twisting – all sorts of techniques to initiate that elusive true-parallel turn.
The most efficient parallel turns begin at the tip of the ski, not underfoot and not by pushing tails apart. You’re engaging the tip of the ski and developing a progressive edge that bends the ski in the size arc your pressure and edging dictates.
It begins at the shovel – where the ski turns up at the tip. If you want to hear all sorts of tech-terms about sequential, simultaneous and spontaneous action, I could go on for pages. But basically a parallel turns is a subtle combination of a sequential/simultaneous action.
So let’s leap to the extreme and “hook up” that inside ski. What I am going to describe here actually happens in a fraction of a second in a typical parallel turn on relatively groomed conditions. This is not for the “steep and deep” or the “gnarly crud” or bumps, but easy carving cruisers we all love to use to “track up” the corduroy.
Beginning in a comfortable, athletic upright stance on moderate terrain and at moderate speed, pick up the tail of your inside ski and slightly roll that knee over to raise your little toe on that foot. You should feel an engagement of the tip of that ski as it “hooks up.” Immediately allow the outside ski tip to match and feel the gradual engagement of both edges with the greater pressure building on the outside ski. Finish that turn, pick up the other ski tip and turn. Nothing real dramatic here, just react as needed to maintain balance and direction.
Now do this same movement without lifting your ski – an almost instantaneous sequence. Soon it will become simultaneous, yet you will still feel the inside tip lead you into the next turn. The knee is a weaker link to the ski, but in the initial phase of the new turn it is a finesse that is nearly invisible in high-end skiing. So in essence you are beginning your turn off the dominant outside ski you used to finish your last turn.
As Jean Luc Piccard would say, “Engage.” Hook up that inside tip, allow your body to follow by matching the edge angle with your other ski, then let the pressure build on the outside ski. Basically this is a very subtle knee-generated angle, but soon it will build to a powerful edge created by moving your entire body to the inside of the turn. The technology in skis now gives us the ability to fine-tune our turn initiations to make our turn-to-turn movement appear seamless and effortless.
See? It was easier to “hook up” than you thought.
For more tips and tactics to broaden your skills, consider a lesson/coaching session with a member of our Holiday Valley PSIA/AASI Certified SnowSports School.
Learn – Turn – Smile – Repeat!