One thing you can count on in skiing is conditions are always changing. This challenges us to be changeable as well, or maybe more appropriately – adaptable. While we can’t do much about how conditions change, we can certainly change how we deal with them. The easiest change is our stance, or more specifically the width of our stance.
Let’s think this through. If you were to walk across an icy pond, how would you go about it? Are you going to just “keep on truckin’” along and not consider the slippery surface? If it were me, I would probably lower my stance a bit by flexing my knees and increasing the distance between my feet. This would give me a wider and more effective base of support on an unforgiving surface. It’s the same thing in skiing.
Although we do not have any ice in the East, we do sometimes have a white or translucent surface that is practically bullet-proof. If you ever encounter this, I think you will find that a wider, slightly more flexed stance will give you a much more stable base of support. It also gives you the ability to work each foot more independently and may even have your weight distributed a bit more over both skis and not so “outside-ski” dominant. In this stance, if you were to lose an edge and begin a skid, you are able remain upright and balanced over both skis. This wider stance also lets you adjust your edge control more easily with knee adjustments and not a lot of hip and body movement. Ice, er, REALLY packed-powder, demands subtlety and precision, and rapt attention!
On those great corduroy days when everything is working, skiing in our natural, athletic, upright stance is what is going to work best. This is like running on a track – perfect footing/base underfoot and an efficient and dynamic stance allows us to “dance on the snow.” Everything is working and your skis/legs are still able to work independently, but in harmony. In these conditions we are very “outside-ski” dominant because we can stand against the edge of outside ski. But we enhance our turns by guiding and managing pressure on the inside ski to engage the whole body in our skiing.
Then on those glorious days where the snow is deep on the slope and falling so hard that your tracks from the last run are all but disappearing after the lift ride back up, we need to narrow our stance. Think of walking through a lush hayfield on a hot summer day. You would close up your stance and follow a narrow track, as opposed to a wide stance that forces you to push both legs against the resistance of the waist high grass.
Well, that is why in powder we want a narrow stance; we need to work our skis in unison and close to each other. One narrow track in the snow will help prevent one ski from being pulled and turned away from us. Being covered in snow looking for a lost ski is not the best activity to enjoy in powder. A narrow stance is also better suited for crud that appears on the side of runs. So, in deep or uneven piles of snow, close those feet up so you are only blasting through in one narrow track and enjoy the snow.
One other narrow stance application is in the bumps, where you definitely want your stance closed up and feet working together. You will need to turn them quickly and together to stay in troughs and ski over the top of narrow bumps.
All these stances are variations of an upright athletic stance, just with adjustments to make you a better, well-rounded, all-mountain skier. These and many other tips will enhance your enjoyment of this sport we all enjoy so much!
Come and take a group or private session with any of our PSIA/AASI trained staff and learn more ways to polish your performance.
Learn- Turn – Smile – Repeat!
See you on the slopes!