By Alicia Dziak
For the past several years, professional ski racer Lisa Densmore Ballard has hosted the “Your Turn” women’s ski clinic at Holiday Valley. While I’ve never met her in person, for years now, I’ve exchanged emails and phone calls with her about these clinics. This year, when we chatted a few weeks ago, Lisa told me about her new book, called Ski Faster! Guide to Racing and High Performance Skiing. I was anxious to check it out.
“This is the 2nd edition of my very first book, which was published in 2000,” Lisa explained. “I’ve had many, many requests for a 2nd edition ever since. It was my husband, Jack, who really gave me the nudge to update the book. He started ski racing about 6 years ago. He understood the need for the book more than I did, as there is nothing available like it. It was a labor of love, to be honest. I love skiing and ski racing and enjoy coaching and sharing my knowledge of my favorite sport with others.”
Lisa wrote most of the book last spring/summer. “It was a 2-year project, as all of the photos and most of the illustrations are new,” she noted.
Ski Faster! takes readers through just what it says: how to ski faster in easy step-by-step instructions.
Chapter 1 begins with “how to carve a turn” and breaks it down into the basic concepts of how far to keep your feet apart, where your shins should be positioned, ankle movement, where your body and pressure should be, how to steer your skis, where to shift your weight and pole position coming out of a turn. Each “concept” is explained in detail, with drills to develop each one.
Text throughout the book is complemented with “Inside Lines,” in which Lisa answers frequently asked questions or addresses common language used by coaches. She uses photos of each step to illustrate exactly what she refers to in each chapter—as a visual person, I found these photos, as well as detailed illustrations, very helpful in understanding each concept. I look forward to taking what I’ve learned from this book and applying it to my time on the slopes this weekend.
As much as this is a book about learning to ski faster, it’s also a book about being smarter about the sport in general. I am no professional, and I appreciated Chapter 3, “Understanding Skis,” where she explains everything from ski basics, commonly used terms, ski lengths, ski racing trends, history and more. The glossary at the end also serves as a great fingertip resource.
Lisa also includes a chapter on selecting the right equipment, as well as breaking down the four main dsciplines in ski racing: giant slalom, slalom, super G and downhill.
Throughout the book, technical writing is offset by more personal notes of interest. In each “My Story” column, Lisa details some personal stories of her career, including challenges and how she overcame them.
Other book highlights include how to tune and wax skis, physical fitness in the off-season and mental preparation.
“First, Ski Faster! is a ski racing primer, A to Z on the ski racing, so it’s for anyone who is involved in ski racing as an athlete, coach, parent, ski club member, etc.” Lisa explained. “Secondly, it’s for anyone who simply wants to understand alpine skiing better and improve their performance on the slopes, whether or not they ever ski in a course. The books contains lots of information on gear, ski technique, drills and other elements of the sport. I use much of it to teach my ‘Your Turn’ women’s ski clinics, too.”
A professional writer since 1991, Lisa’s articles have appeared in hundreds of regional and national magazines and websites. She writes extensively about her outdoor experiences and far flung adventures as well as instructional articles and articles on gear, cooking, plants, wildlife, people and conservation initiatives.
“I’ve got two more books coming out this spring, but they have nothing to do with skiing,” Lisa noted. “They are 2nd editions of Hiking the Adirondacks and Best Easy Day Hikes Adirondacks, both Falcon Guides.”
All of Lisa’s books can be purchased from Amazon or at www.lisadensmore.com.