Bump skiing, Part II
Editors Note: This is the second of a three-part series on how to ski the bumps. If you missed Part I, you can read it at http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20050120/SPORTS/101200019&SearchID=73198076451056
Because it takes the steepest terrain to create the tightest and best bumps, once the pole plant gets your body in the correct position, speed control becomes the main issue in bump skiing. No matter how good your body position is on the fall line of a double-black diamond bump run, it’s a lot easier to deal with the demanding terrain when you – not the mountain – are in control of the velocity at which you choose to deal with it.The key to speed control is to keep your weight forward. Intuitively, this is the opposite of what you may want to do when hurtling down a big bump run. However, it actually makes you go slower than if you leaned back because it allows you to engage your edges.Although leaning forward increases speed for downhill racers, it does so because they are not always engaging their edges. They strive to keep their skis flat as much as they can in order not to dissipate the speed.
To convince yourself that leaning forward can slow you down, just go to a groomed run and experiment with quick, short radius turns down the fall line, first leaning back, then leaning forward. You will see how much more difficult it is to use your edges to slow down while leaning back.In addition to allowing you to engage your edges, leaning forward when you are turning allows you to utilize another method of speed control: quick edge transfer. Leaning forward allows you to do this better because it puts you on the part of the ski in front of your boot which is the optimal point for edge transfer. The more quickly you can get on and off your edges, the more turns you can make in a shorter distance, which in itself slows you down.To increase your edge transfer speed, again go to back to a groomed run and practice making as many short radius turns as you can down a given stretch of fall line. Count your turns and try to increase the number each time you ski the same distance. That will give you a feel for how very quickly you must get on and off those edges in the bumps.
When you are following a line (a course charted by previous bumpers who ski in the fall line) down a bump run, you usually have to be very quick with your turns to stay in it. However, sometimes the opposite happens and you don’t have the luxury of turning as much as you might want. In other words, sometimes the line often spreads the turns out or puts them in such steep spots that you still pick up speed.This is where two additional methods for controlling speed are needed. One is to absorb the speed with your knees. When you go over a bump – even if it’s only part way up the side of a bump – instead of rising, which is your natural inclination, you must sink down into the bump. This slows you down by minimizing the downhill pull of gravity. By keeping you low, it also increases your control for the next turn.The other method for slowing down in the bumps when the line causes you to speed up too much has to do with terrain analysis, which refers to where you choose to turn. And since it is a whole subject in itself, that is what Part III in this series will address.Vail, Colorado