Slow down on the bumps for better technique
On the double-black diamond bumps, how slow can you go?
To many bumpers, that might be an oxymoron; to others, just an impossibility. But the fact is, if you can’t go slow and still keep a line down the steep, tight bumps, it means that your technique is flawed.
On most other types of terrain, the opposite is true. Being able to ski groomers, powder and crud at a faster pace generally means that your technique is better. The main difference is, however, that skiing groomers and powder and crud doesn’t require as much precision. You can pretty much turn anywhere you need to in order to control your speed.
But in skiing a line down steep bumps, your turns need to take account of each bump in your line. Many times the terrain dictates that you turn later than you would prefer for the purpose of speed control. Therefore, you have to have the technique to be able to do that and still control your speed.
This is not to say that speed is bad. Speed is actually necessary to raise your performance level on all types of terrain. But if you’ve been muscling your way down, or substituting straight downhill bump bashing for bump skiing all the time, you may have lost some skill. If so, your precision won’t be there when you need it. Slow bumping will bring it back because, without speed, you really have to ski those bumps.
So, back to the bumps minus the speed. In order to ski them slowly and still stay in the fall line, you must fully complete all the elements of your turns. This includes starting with the pole plant, putting pressure on the turning edge and fully completing the turn before transferring pressure to the next turning edge.
When skiing the bumps fast, it is that turn completion which is usually sacrificed for the purpose of quick edge transfer. Yet it is the turn completion which perhaps most contributes to your control, although the pole plant and staying forward are also pretty essential for that, too.
Not only will slow bumping allow you fully to develop your turn completion, it will also allow you to practice skiing a more technically precise line. Because of the slower speed, you’ll be able to make more turns in a narrower width down the fall line. The more you get used to this kind of precision, the better basis you’ll have for quicker edge transfer once you rev up the speed.
Another benefit of slow bumping is that, in order to stay in the fall line, it demands that you exaggerate your upper-lower body separation. It is upper and lower body separation which then will allow you to make more complete turns at higher speeds.
Racers are the most precise, fastest and best skiers. It is their precision which leads to controlled speed which in turn gets them down the mountain faster than they, or you, could go with reckless abandon. And technique is the basis for precision.
So on the bumps, slow down and improve your technique. Then add the speed. If you can master going slow and still keeping a line down the big bumps, you’ll have the skills to leave even the oxymoronites in your powder dust.
Elizabeth Eber is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Vail.