February 2002
The hidden bonus of foot-to-foot skiing
  Long time readers of my ski technique articles might think that I have said just about all I have to say on the subject of foot-to-foot skiing: moving to the new ski, the outside ski, and staying balanced there while that ski flexes under your weight and carves a beautiful arc. Almost, but not quite. In the context of exploring and developing ease, efficiency, and relaxation on skis, I want to underscore one last, vital advantage of this style of riding and working one ski at a time:

It’s a helluva way to avoid tired legs, to rest and recover in the thick of the action.

I mean, of course, that while one leg is supporting all your weight, the other one is taking a break, more or less relaxed, not really working. This alternation of tension and repose, first one leg then the other, is a large part of what I sometimes call aerobic skiing - skiing where you can rest and recover your strength while moving down the mountain.

Try this easy experiment. I am going to assume that you can already ski down a moderate slope, either in the way I have been proposing in almost all of my ski-instructional writing and video tapes - by shifting totally onto the outside ski of each turn - or in the exact opposite way, by standing solidly on both feet, both skis. Maybe the turns won’t be quite as good, but what the heck. Pick a very long slope and son two successive rusn, ski it both ways: first foot to foot, and then, right afterward, with your weight as equally distributed as possible on both skis. I’m confident that you’ll feel the difference. Carrying weight on both legs, both feet, all the time - although necessary, for example, in deep snow - is a good recipe for increased muscle fatigue. Imagine hopping down the street on both feet compared to simply walking. The reason we can hike 20 miles in a long day and not be cramped up at the end is that when walking, one leg works while one leg relaxes, every other step. The same principle applies in efficient skiing.

Not that you really needed one more reason to feel good about skiing with strong weight shift, skiing from foot to foot, but there it is. Of course, just making a better carved turn should be reason enough, and I’m sure it is.

[a short excerpt adapted from chapter 9 of
Breakthrough on the New Skis]

 February 2002
Photos at top of page:
conservation of energy through foot-to-foot skiing,
filmed by Edgar Boyles
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© Lito Tejada-Flores unless otherwise credited.