_Secrets of a Narrow Stance
A Ski Pro's

Secrets of a

Last month I explained why "widetrack" skiing was generally ineffective. Maybe you're convinced, ready, even eager, to ski with your feet closer together. Here's how. But first, a caveat: by a narrow stance I do not mean skiing with your feet and skis jammed together. Why try (in vain) to cancel out the millions of years of evolution that made us bipeds? On skis we definitely want to retain the independence of both legs and feet, independent movement, independent shock absorption. So I'm talking about a comfortable, modern stance with the skis parallel and fairly close together, not actually touching, and never - I repeat never - with one knee tucked in behind the other!
from the February 2000 issue
It works like this. All the irregularities in the snow surface are constantly trying to pull your skis apart. Especially if you are riding and guiding and carving the outside ski of your turns, then the light inside ski tends to get bounced around and separated from its mate. That's where we'll begin.

A modern narrow stance on skis is not the result of pulling both feet together, but rather of easing the light ski inward toward the weighted turning ski. This movement, which I often refer to as "taking care of the light ski," is accomplished primarily with the heel of the light foot. Think of pulling the heel of you ski boot inward toward the foot you're standing on. It goes without saying that to do this move, you don't want any weight on that foot. This movement, by the way, is the exact opposite of what a skier would do if he or she were trying to pinch their knees together - indeed it works far better if you just relax your knees and let them remain somewhat apart.

But wait a moment, I'll bet that when you watch expert skiers flashing down the slopes, you don't really see them pulling in that light foot toward their weighted outside ski. That's because this action is not only quick but continuous - it's going on all the time. I often compare this constant inward tug or pull of the light foot toward the other foot to the action of a drivers hands on the steering wheel of a car. To drive your car straight down the freeway it's necessary to make a lot of small adjustments to the steering wheel. But we do this so quickly, and automatically, that we are not even aware of it. In the same way, expert skiers are constantly adjusting, and straightening their light ski, keeping it parallel and fairly close to the ski their standing on. But like the driver behind the wheel, expert skiers are virtually unaware of this constant subtle correcting that is going on all the time, down at the snow level.

It takes a while to get to this automatic adjustment of your narrow stance on skis. Start by consciously pulling that light heel in toward the weighted ski (pull you left ski in as you turn left, and your right ski in as you turn right). Focus on this move on easy wide-open slopes, and come back to it, every few runs. Notice how easy it is to pull your light ski in, and how hard it gets when you let your weight fall back on that ski (widetrack skiing, in short, is characterized by weight on both skis). If you're willing to spend a couple of days, and a few dozen runs, concentrating on this move, I promise you it will become just as automatic as your small adjustments of the steering wheel of your car. You will have become a narrow track skier. You will have an easier time shifting weight from ski to ski, your skis will have a smoother ride in both bumps and powder. You'll probably get more than a few compliments from your skiing buddies. Why wait?

In a famous ballad, country singer Jerry Jeff Walker sang: "If my feet would've fit a railroad track, I guess I'd have been a train." If that describes your stance, it's time to change. _Secrets of a Narrow Stance
© Lito Tejada-Flores

In his ongoing SKI PRO'S NOTEBOOK series, Lito seeks to explore, demystify and explain the WHY of modern expert skiing. Not just what to do, but why certain patterns, certain techniques, even certain ideas, are so important....

photo © Linde Waidhofer