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ALPINE


+ROGLQJ DQ HGJH RQ fiUP VQRZ UHTXLUHV XV WR FUHDWH SUHVVXUH E\ FRQFHQWUDWLQJ forces with deliberate movement toward the tip of the ski and a higher edge angle.


STEPHEN HELFENBEIN IMPROVING TOUCH


WITH THE UNDERRATED FIFTH FUNDAMENTAL By Ann Schorling


H


ave you ever travelled with your slalom skis, only to wake up to a foot of new snow? Wrong skis for such right condi- tions! And, in general, how do you feel about high-speed carved turns though giant bumps? I’m sure you’re cringing along


with me because this is another example of a difficult match, in this case a challenging tactic for the conditions. How is it, then, that great skiers can make


both things look easy? The short answer is that they have great touch. Great skiers can adjust for variability in snow conditions, terrain, and their skis, while still achieving (almost) anything they choose. In terms of PSIA’s Alpine Skiing Funda- mentals, having great touch is essentially the ability to “regulate the overall magnitude of pressure created through ski/snow interac- tion.” This also happens to be the fifth alpine skiing fundamental on the list, as presented


54 | 32 DEGREES • SPRING 2019


in the new Teaching Snowsports Manual. Throughout this article, I use the phrases “touch,” “fifth fundamental,” and “regulat- ing pressure” interchangeably. To be clear, I call it the “fifth fundamen-


tal” not because the fundamental commonly appears last on the list of five, but because it is the most underrated. As examiners, trainers, and instructors, we often limit our explanations of this fundamental to “flexion and extension” and rely on bump progres- sions to facilitate understanding of pressure regulation. Coaching skiers to regulate pres- sure solely through flexion and extension is like teaching a baker to make cake only by


adjusting the baking temperature. Flexion and extension are critical to managing the pressure, just as temperature is critical to baking the cake, but they are only two of many considerations. Here, we’ll consider some of the other factors.


THE ROLE PHYSICS PLAYS IN TOUCH


Before I charge ahead, let’s get on the same page about some physics – specifically, the terms “force” and “pressure” and the rela-


tionship between the two. Force, according to the Alpine Technical


Manual, is a push or pull that acts on a body and changes its position or speed. For our layperson purposes, manipulating the forces in skiing requires accelerating, decelerat- ing, or turning. Physicists put all of these under the blanket of “acceleration.” Because mass is tied to weight, we will consider mass fixed and ignore it. Gravity is a separate, and


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