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HOW CONDITIONS IMPACT TOUCH As far as I can tell, Mother Nature never considers whether or not we request a blue- bird powder day; when we show up to ski, like it or not, we are going to ski the moun- tain and the snow as they are. Before setting out for the day, consider


what the snow will give you. Will it resist pressure, as in a firm groomer? Or will it give way and allow your ski to dive under too much pressure, as in softer snow or spring slush? Will the snow or terrain somehow increase the pressure you feel in a turn? Moguls cause a fast direction change, steep terrain increases exposure to gravity, and crud will tend to cause frequent changes in speed (accelera- tion) – all of which impact the magnitude and the timing of forces. Attempting to make a high-performance


2ff SLVWH VNLLQJ OHQGV LWVHOI WR ORZHU SUHVVXUH FKRLFHV Ȃ DOORZLQJ XV WR DEVRUE WHUUDLQ FKDQJHV DQG flRDW LQ VRfter snow.


There are a host of ski characteristics


that impact pressure. Understanding how your skis concentrate or dissipate force will help you change your movements to adapt to conditions. Get to know your skis before the next time


Rossignol Hero Elite ST, Soul 7 HD, and ([SHULHQFH : 6SHFLfiF VNL GHVLJQ FDQ LPSDFW pressure created in a turn. Traditional camber, QDUURZHU ZDLVWV DQG VWLffHU FRQVWUXFWLRQ ZLOO all concentrate force and increase pressure, whereas skis with rocker, wider waists, DQG VRIWHU flH[ ZLOO KHOS GLVVLSDWH IRUFH DQG decrease pressure.


way or another. The more awareness of the subtle differences in pressure, the better we will be able to adapt to snow conditions and improve our touch.


USE SKI DESIGN TO REGULATE PRESSURE, FORCE Now that you’ve considered your move- ments, take a look at your quiver of skis and ask yourself the following questions: Are your skis skinny or fat? Stiff or soft? Do they have traditional camber? Tip rocker? Were they recently tuned? How do you think these characteristics help concentrate or dissipate forces on the snow?


56 | 32 DEGREES • SPRING 2019


you get on snow. What do they naturally want? Skis that tend to concentrate pres- sure – like the Rossignol Hero Elite line that offer stiffer construction, narrower waists, and traditional camber – will more effectively hold an edge in firm snow, and be more likely to dive in softer conditions. They efficiently transfer pressure to the tip of the ski, and will react more dramati- cally when they encounter an obstacle. Freshly tuned skis will concentrate pres- sure even further. Conversely, a ski like the Soul 7 (also from Rossignol) is designed to dissipate force with tip rocker, a 106mm waist, and relatively softer construction. It will float easily in powder, and require more accurate move- ments to carve on firm snow. Ski design- ers often combine features that concentrate pressure with others to dissipate it within the same ski. The Rossignol Experience 88Ti, for example, has tip rocker and a slightly wider waist combined with a rela- tively stiff construction to hold an edge on groomers yet dissipate some forces off-piste. Taking what you know about how move-


ments change pressure, what adaptations can you use to help your race skis float or your powder skis carve?


carved turn in bottomless powder is asking the snow to do something it cannot: push back against a highly pressured ski. More generally, off-piste skiing typically lends itself to lower pressure choices with either softer or less predictable snow, and increased effect from gravity in steeper terrain. On-piste skiing on the other hand, lends itself to higher-pressure tactical choices. As with anything, these are not universally true, but good starting points to help antici- pate pressure influences before we ski, and then to adapt with more nuance later.


ADAPT WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE THE ‘RIGHT GEAR’ Touch – regulating the magnitude of pres- sure – is about making decisions to ski the snow as it is, and on the skis you have, instead of forcing your favorite turn into an inappropriate situation. Before you panic about your skinny skis on a powder day or teaching a race lesson on rockered skis, remember you have options. You can adapt your movements to create the overall magni- tude of pressure you will need in a turn. If the snow gives way under pressure, increase your surface area to dissipate the force. If you cannot engage your edge on firm snow, think about concentrating force to a smaller surface area, closer to the ski tip. In developing your touch, ask first what the snow wants, then check in on your skis, and, finally, figure out how you are going to ski.


Ann Schorling LV FXUUHQWO\ LQ KHU fiUVW WHUP DV D PSIA Alpine Team member. She’s both an alpine and telemark examiner, currently teaching at Porti- llo, Chile, as well as Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where she coaches Jackson’s Elevate Women’s’ Camps.


STEPHEN HELFENBEIN


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