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Get your balance first and then ski

Elizabeth Eber

Balance is one of those things you never seem to think about until you lose it.

And one good reason skiers do lose it, quite frequently, is that balance is something they never seem to think about while they’re trying to remember all those other “things” they’re supposed to be doing in order to ski better.

Balance, however, is key to becoming a better skier, because none of the other things work very well unless you are balanced. So, the main thing you have to do to ski well is stay balanced.

Although true, of course, it’s not that simple. For one thing, skiing requires your balance point to change depending on the terrain you are skiing and how fast you are going. Therefore, there is no sacred “spot” on your skis where you can always stay in order to be balanced. Furthermore, since people’s anatomies vary, balance points are not the same for every skier.

What it all boils down to is that balance in skiing is very individual, and it is a feeling to be felt, not a “technique” to be learned.

For many skiers, particularly those who started young, feeling balance on skis is just as innate as feeling balance when walking. For others, however, it is a foreign concept.

If you are one of those who doesn’t automatically have this sense of balance on skis, it’s usually possible to develop it through repeatedly focusing on it so many times that it eventually becomes innate.

One way to do this is to think of balancing only on the soles of your feet rather than on your skis. That way the issue doesn’t get clouded by the fact that skis have nice long surfaces in front of and behind your feet which allow you to fudge your balance point and not have to think about it.

Another way to make yourself aware of your balance point on skis and how it changes with the terrain and speed is to do the following exercises:

n First, just stand on your skis on some flat terrain and jog in place. Let your body find its most natural and stable position such that you can jog without your skis traveling forward or back. That is your balance point.

n Next, jog while you’re traversing across a groomed green slope. Here, your balance point will be at the place on your skis where you can remain steady and not bob back and forth.

n Finally, jog while you’re turning down a groomed green slope. Unless you are balanced, you won’t be able to do this at all.

You will see that with each progressive change in steepness and speed, your balance point travels further forward on your skis. If you were to try jogging while you were turning down an even steeper slope, it would be further forward, still.

The purpose of all this is to get you to focus on the “feeling” of balance and keep that feeling with you no matter what your skis are doing. If you think of balance first, and then what you want to do with your skis, those things – like all the elements of turning, etc. – will be likely to work a lot better.

Even when all those things are not working so well, if you still think first of that feeling of balance, you will be less likely to have to think about collecting all those equipment things that get put on display at mountain yard sales.

Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.


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