Ski superstar Phil Mahre once said that skiing, for him, was best summed up
as ‘the art of falling into the turn’. Indeed if you watch any accomplished
skier carefully you will see a moment of relaxation between turns.
When first learning to give in to gravity, its often a battle with instinct.
You mind does not want you to fall into the turn, it wants you to stay as upright
as possible. Though the motion eventually feel very natural, it is not of course
natural at all. Millions of years of walking and running have programmed us
to have certain expectations about what is safe to do. Even when running we
do not experience the same degree of force we can when on skis. Higher speeds
in conjunction with the tenacious grip of metal edges on snow allows us to pull
high G’s which require more extreme movements in response.
Once you have experienced the joy and power in trusting yourself to fall into
each new turn, you will always be able to repeat it.
It’s easy to spot the movement in this photo sequence:
1 – This montage begins just past true neutral. I’ve just begun moving very
slightly into the new turn, I’m expending hardly any energy right here. It is
a moment where the muscles get a break and compared to the forces experienced
at the end of the last turn it feels like being weightless. My skis are still
pretty flat on the snow, but my weight is beginning to flow towards my outside
ski. Both skis show just a hint of being banked in the direction of the new
Figure 2 – Body is still fairly relaxed here but my weight is now fully
borne by the outside ski, and its edge is now aggressively engaging and slicing
a curving path in the snow. The hips are noticeably leading the rest of the
body in its fall towards the center of the new turn.
Figure 3 – The forces are beginning to get quite high now. The relaxation
present at the start of the turn is beginning to be replaced with the muscular
tension required to resist the forces and continue committing completely to
the outside ski.
Figure 4 – At the end of the turn, on the traditional skis I’m using
in this montage, I may be briefly having to resist as much as twice my body
weight to continue standing. World Class racers on the new generation of skis
these transient forces can be over 4 G’s – so a racer who weights 180lbs will
briefly experience 720lbs or more of pressure on their outside leg! That’s why
you’ll notice thighs like tree trunks on the worlds elite skiers. After this
stage of a turn the body begins smoothly moving back across the skis into neutral
– seeking that moment of weightlessness before committing to another new turn.
Moving across your skis smoothly and aggressively sets up everything else to
go right. Falling into each turn is a natural movement for a bicyclist taking
a corner, or a skater making a turn, and it is a movement all skiers must own
to be comfortable on all terrain. At first the steeper the terrain is the harder
it will be to let yourself relax and fall into each new turn – trusting that
your skis will be there for you each time. But keep practicing it and you will
be pleased with the results, hiring some trained eyes to help you is also often
worthwhile while mastering this movement.
So – you can spend endless days on your skis trying to master the minutia:
proper hip motion, flattening and edging of skis, and a hundred other items
– or you can skip ahead much more quickly by learning to Get Weightless between