Find your stance
Given the constantly evolving technology of shaped and fat skis, one discussion that seems to accompany each change is what your correct stance should be on these different skis. For example, more sidecut and shorter length require less forward lean.However, since your stance should vary with the type of terrain you ski – the steeper the slope, the more forward you should lean -as well as the amount of side cut and length of your skis, this all becomes a more complicated discussion.But what the discussion is really about is how best to stay balanced on your skis so that you can ski from your most stable stance. And although your stance must vary with the terrain and the skis in order to achieve this stability, your optimal balance point will always feel the same.
Starting laterIf you learned to ski when you were young, this balance point is innate. If you started later in life, the feeling of balance on skis usually has to be learned. And this is where all the technological equipment changes seem to wreak their havoc. Skiers who learned later in life often try to use a formula to determine what their correct stance should be, but technology keeps changing the formula.What is more appropriate than trying to learn a formula, however, is to learn the feeling of your optimal balance point. And this is learned through muscle memory, not through your mind remembering the “right” degree of forward lean.
Try joggingIn order to feel what it’s like to be on your optimal balance point, stand with your skis on, on a flat piece of terrain. Then, without planting your poles, jog in place. Your optimal balance point is the stance where you can do this without your skis sliding forward or back.The way your body feels in that position – also referred to as your natural athletic stance – is the way your body should feel while you are skiing down any slope, whether gentle or steep, on any pair of skis.An exercise you can do to practice staying on your optimal balance point while you are skiing is to jog on your skis as you traverse a gentle slope. To do this, you will have to lean farther forward than you did when jogging in place on the flats.After you have mastered that, try jogging on your skis while you make a turn at the end of your traverse. Then keep jogging as you traverse in the opposite direction and make another turn.
When you go back to skiing more difficult and varied terrain, always move your stance to the place where it provides you with that same feeling of balance. Maintaining that optimal balance point will not only improve your skiing everywhere but, by keeping you stable, it will allow you to recover from any unintended mistakes, before they cause you to fall.After awhile, you’ll never have to worry about adjusting your stance to new skis or different terrain. Staying balanced will become automatic, and you will be able to keep your mind on all the other things new ski technology makes it easier to do.Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.Vail, Colorado