A Pro's Notebook: PreSeason TuneUp 2

PreSeason TuneUp,
Number Two


from the Oct/Nov 1999 issue


Last month I suggested a few exercises you could do at home, to focus in on your feet, on the importance of your feet in modern skiing, on feeling, and sensing, and becoming more aware of your feet - a hallmark of expert skiing today.

But putting feet first is just the beginning. After a skier becomes aware of his or her feet, it's time to use them, to work with them. And it turns out that expert skiers use their feet - not their whole body - to accomplish the most basic move in modern skiing: weight shift.

You’ve heard it before: when you turn, you have to shift your body weight over onto the outside ski - that’s the ski that is on the outside of the arc of your turn. And it’s true: just as true for our new “shaped” or super-sidecut skis, as for traditional skis. But there’s another, often more effective way to think about this crucial move - shifting your weight

At the start of your turn - even better, a split second before you turn - pull all your weight off the foot that is going to be on the “inside” of your turn. If you want to turn right, take all your weight off your right foot and ski. If you want to turn left, take all your weight off your left ski. Taking weight off one foot is the same thing as transferring your weight to the other foot - six of one, half a dozen of the other. If you are sliding across the hill, and you want to turn down the mountain, this means that you need to get all your weight off your downhill ski. Because that’s the ski that will be on the inside of your next turn.

How do you do this? The easiest way I know is to gently pull the heel of your foot slightly off the snow. Remember, ease up on your right heel to start a turn to the right, pull gently up on your left heel to initiate a turn to the left. Why do I stress the heel? If you concentrate on raising your heel, just a tad, you will probably stay in perfect balance. If instead you lift the whole foot, or worse, the toe, you can easily lose your balance backwards.…

Weight shift is perhaps the crucial element of modern turns. But you’ll develop a more intuitive feel for this crucial move if you concentrate on getting off your downhill, or soon-to-be “inside,” ski, rather than on transferring all your weight to your “outside” ski.

Here's the best part: right now, in October and Novemeber, long before you see your first snowflake, you can practice this subtle move, at home, sitting in a chair. Close your eyes, imagine yourself gliding straight down a comfortable slope, then pull one heel gently smoothly up off the floor. Hold it like that for a long second or two, then lower that foot smoothly and raise your other heel. Smoothly, rhythmically. Do this a dozen times and relax. This is the exact same move you are going to use with such effect this winter to shift your weight from ski to ski. Amazingly simple. Amazingly effective.    A Pro's Notebook: PreSeason TuneUp 2
© Lito Tejada-Flores

These PreSeason TuneUps are adapted from an instructional series I created for Skiing magazine last season. Once the snow flies, I’ll return to my Ski Pro’s Notebook series of longer ski technique essays....