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SKI SIZE MATTERS


6NL VL]LQJ LV YHU\ LPSRUWDQW IRU fiUVW WLPH skiers. If short-ski pioneer Clif Taylor had access to short shaped skis in the 1970s, he would have gone bonkers about how quickly kids and adults learned the sport of skiing. In 2004 my daughter, at age four, was able to carve, ski on one ski, and separate her upper and lower body RQ


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the skis should come up to about the ster- num. A ski of this length is like a skate or skiboard, but it will bend and the turn radius will be around nine to 10 meters, or less in the case of young kids. Short skis become an extension of the feet with no worries about crossing tips or balanc- ing on the tails of the ski. And it doesn’t PDWWHU ZKDW VL]H WKH DGXOW Ζ KDYH SXW VL[ foot, 200-pound-plus guys on 130s.


this at a faster pace to see how the body core moves ahead of the legs, or into the future. One activity to stress to your students is to always look ahead or where they are going. In the beginning, looking down at the snow or ski tips is the norm. For better balance, have them look up and pick out something in the distance to focus on. When turning, look in the direction of travel.


Sugarbush Ski and Ride School Director


(and former PSIA Alpine Team member) Terry Barbour uses three sets of eyes to ski: the ones in the head and an imaginary set on the core to look in the future; the third set is on the thighs or knees and takes the skier on an adventure.


4. MORE PRE-SKI PREP


As the lesson progresses, have your students sidestep to the right and left, then duck-foot walk forward and backward. You can turn this into a line dance or march to make it fun and exciting. This inside prep is great for young kids. Put a ski music video on and have the kids mimic the skiers’ movements. For the youngest kids, repeating these movements on snow can tire them out. So, put them on their skis and have them play and practice balancing on the equipment while still indoors. Have them look where they want to go as they slide, and watch them go there. All the former can be done with their boots on, inside as well as on the snow, with older kids and adults. Use your creativity and imagination to add more activities.


46 | 32 DEGREES • SPRING 2019


stress the athletic stance and the idea that the shinbones are attached to the tongues of the boots. Once students can balance on one ski, have


them slightly turn one ski tip inside – toward the other foot. Focus on an object directly in front as the leg is turned. What happens here is the ski goes up on an inside edge and creates a little friction between the ski and snow surface. The result is a slight direc- tion change. Try it in both directions, but rotating to the outside edge takes a little more dynamics and may be difficult at this level (unless your students are skaters or skate skiers). Do all this on the other foot as well. I


suggest starting with the right leg/ski as most folks are right-sided.


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5. MAKE WALKING TO THE SLOPES PART OF THE LESSON


Once outside, have students walk to the slopes on the lower sides of their boots to give them the feeling of using their edges. Repeat the indoor activities on the snow and turn the line dance/march into climbing the slope with sidestepping and herringboning up and down the hill. Do not take them on the lift until they can sidestep and herringbone up and down the slope without slipping down (with skis on, of course). This is important because, when terrain is limited in early and late season, beginner skiers still have a way to get down steep sections without pointing the ski tips down the hill (wide wedges are not natural for humans; duck-footedness is actually a more natural stance). Use a series of shallow traverses (going


across the hill on the uphill sides of boots/ skis), stop across the hill, and herringbone up and around to change direction. Then repeat until arriving at a shallower or less steep slope. Voila! A successful descent of Mt. Everest (in a beginner’s mind).


6. PLAYTIME ON ONE SKI


Now repeat everything with only one ski on. Promote playtime while skiers balance on one leg. While scooting around, find a slight downhill with an uphill slope runout to help students work on balancing while sliding. Use the sidehill if necessary. For easier balancing on one ski, encourage students to allow the non-ski foot to rest lightly on the snow. This is a good time to


7. TIME FOR TWO SKIS


Once students have balanced on one ski and made a direction change to a stop, going both right and left, it’s time for two skis. After they click in, have students repeat all the tipping, turning, and walking activi- ties and spend some time sidestepping and herringboning up and down the slope. Do this until they don’t slide sideways or back- ward down the hill. Now use a slope with a slight uphill or go


across the slope for straight-run sliding. In the straight run, turn the right tip toward the left and vice versa. This will create a little edge angle and friction with the outside ski, resulting in a slight change of direc- tion and eventually a stop. Next, use step- ping and shuffling actions in the straight run to corresponding sides of the feet (right side of feet and left side of feet) until stop. Make sure the body core remains centered over the skis. Now link the turning actions together to make a nice serpentine track down the slope.


8. READY FOR THE LIFT


Once student have mastered all these move- ments, it’s time for the ski lift, preferably a Magic Carpet for never-evers. Before getting on the lift, coach the braking wedge. Starting in the straight run, have skiers rotate both legs (all 10 toes) so the tips turn into each other. Let students experience how if they keep turning the ski tips toward each other the wedge continues to grow and the friction between the snow and ski surface slows or stops the descent. Now it’s mileage time. Play with terrain


changes, speed, and wedge sizes. Some folks and kids will quickly go into the wedge-chris- tie phase. Hockey players and cross country skiers may go right into parallel turns.


ERIC WINTER


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