How to maintain body separation
Upper/lower body separation is a term you’ve probably heard tossed around at least a few times in your skiing career. Or, if you’re not doing it, it’s a term that has probably been thrown at you more than a few times.
Either way, if you want to be able to ski in the fall line, upper/lower body separation ” or angulation as some skiers prefer to call it ” is a term you have to put into practice.
Upper/lower body separation in skiing means, quite simply, that your upper and lower body move on different planes.
To ski in the fall line, your upper body should always remain in the plane perpendicular to the fall line, while your lower body, as it turns your skis, rotates through planes at various angles to the fall line.
These lower body planes are controlled by the changing direction of your feet and knees. The upper body plane is held constant by your shoulders, both of which should face downhill at all times.
To do this, your upper body should remain quiet ” except for your arms which have to move to plant your poles ” while your lower body is actively turning your skis.
What makes it difficult to keep your upper body quiet is that the centrifugal forces of your turning skis put pressure on your shoulders to follow and even turn beyond the angle at which you turn your skis.
What allows you to override these centrifugal forces is to separate the connection between your upper and lower body so that the lower body can absorb those forces without them ever traveling to the upper body.
This, of course, is easier said than done. However, staying aware of two particular aspects of your technique helps.
One is your pole plants. Doing them properly ” always ahead and on the fall line ” will keep your shoulders facing downhill and in the plane perpendicular to the fall line.
The other is to keep your eyes focused down the hill at all times. If, instead, you let your eyes pan out to the side at every turn, your shoulders will rotate uphill and your skis will traverse out of the fall line. That is because your shoulders and skis tend to follow your eyes.
However, if you keep your eyes focused down the hill and shoulders quiet, you will be forced to do all your turning with your lower body. And that is the upper/lower body separation which will keep you skiing in the fall line.
Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.
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