Spring 2004

always turning
why experts ski
like experts

Ever wondered why some skiers always look so amazingly graceful, real-lie examples of poetry in motion, relaxed, poised and balanced, almost literally flowing down the mountain? And how about those others who are quite the opposite? Skiers that seem to have no rhythm, no grace — no matter how good their technique, no matter how efficient and technically correct each turn, who seem to have no flow, to lack that sense of graceful inevitability to their turns? Why? What's the difference?

Okay, we know that every turn, every skier, every run is different, but at the risk of over-generalizing, I would say that there is a simple key, a simple secret that makes expert skiers look like expert skiers (and feel like expert skiers) as they slide by down the slope That secret — they are always turning!

No, I'm serious, look twice at the skiers you admire most. Notice how one turn blends seamlessly into the next one, Most of the time you can't really tell where one turn ends and the next one begins, and that is exactly the way it should be. Even when it seems that a super skilled skier is simply cutting across the slope (a traverse by any other name), if you look closely you'll often see a bent ski arcing, arcing, arcing — gently but inevitably rather than simply cutting straight across the slope in a straight line.

When you think about it (or watch someone skiing down a slope in a series of separate turns, connected by straight-line traverses, you see a skier breaking the mountain down into a series of separate crises, linked only by straight-line pauses to catch their brash and regain their Composure.

The idea is so simple you'll wonder why you didn't adopt it earlier. It doesn't take long to build the habit of always turning. Start with easy runs, well within your comfort zone, and try to ski an entire run without ever going straight, always in one turn or another. It's a delicious feeling. After all, all one can do on skis is to go straight, or to turn. That's it. Traversing, going straight, is an essentially passive activity. Turning is where we find the real creativity in skiing, where we can (and do) express ourselves: with long turns, short turns, and every size in between. But don't stop turning. Don't make it to obvious where one turn starts and the next one stops. Let your skis flow from one turn to the next like water flowing downhill in a sinuous creekbed.

This is not a technique at all, much less a new technique — just a new focus. Try this pattern of always turning. You are going to love it,. This is how experts ski. This is why experts look like experts.

 Spring 2004
photos at top:
one turn flowing into the next
from a video sequence
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© Lito Tejada-Flores unless otherwise credited.