Finish your turns
The eternal issue in skiing the bumps is how to slow down. Although speed control on bumpy terrain requires a number of advanced techniques, one basic skill that can help is to finish your turns.That may seem contradictory. By definition, tight bumps don’t have very much room between them. However, through two elements of technique, you can make the space.
The first has to do with terrain analysis. Dispel the notion that to ski a line down the bumps means to stay in a gully through every one of its twists and turns. If you always do, you certainly will not always have the space to complete your turns.Rather, you must realize that skiing a line down the bumps only means staying in the fall line. Often you can do that by turning on the sides and tops of bumps as well as in their gullies. That obviously gives you more room to turn. However, in order to stay centered and in touch with the snow through all those ups and downs, you have to be sure to stay forward and keep your knees bent.
The second element of technique that allows you to complete your turns is upper-lower body separation. This applies to making turns on smooth terrain as well as in the bumps. But in the bumps, upper-lower body separation is what allows you to complete your turns quickly and in a narrow space.With the current technology of shaped skis, turning requires you to laterally set your skis on edge and hold that edge while your skis travel through the arc of the turn, at which point you tip them laterally onto the opposite edges to complete the next turn.In order to stay in the fall line while you are doing this–as opposed to traversing between each turn – you must keep your upper body facing downhill and, by flexing at the waist, allow your hips, knees and toes to face out to the side in the arc of each turn.In this way you can keep the arcs of your turns small while your body travels down the hill in a straight line. The more upper/lower body separation you have, the more complete you can make the arcs, no matter how small they are, and still stay in the fall line.
In regard to speed control, the more complete you make your arcs, the longer your edges are engaged on the snow against the pull of gravity, and the slower you will go.The best way for you to feel the relationship between completing your turns and slowing down is to practice making short, quick turns down the fall line of a steep groomed run, with and without completing the full 180 degrees of the arcs.By doing this, you will also realize that on the more complete arcs, in order to stay in the fall line, you must flex more at your waist and allow your skis to travel farther out to the side on each turn.When you carry this upper/lower body separation back into the bumps, and remember that you don’t always have to stay in the gullies, you’ll be amazed at how much more room you have to complete your turns, and in that way, help keep your speed under control.Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.