Get Schooled: Security in the Spaces - Ski Mag

Get Schooled: Security in the Spaces

Schooled 1204

While running gates every day isn't an option for many of us, there's a similar opportunity at almost every ski area: tree skiing.

The idea of using the trees to train might freak you out, but that's exactly the point. The first thing most people do when they ski in the trees is let their fear get the better of them. They sit back and try to ski off their heels. Obviously, that's the worst thing that can happen in the trees. If you take your weight off the front of the ski, it wants to go straight. Straight into a tree. People often say, "See the spaces, not the trees. But that's only part of the equation. It's what's in the spaces that matters. Look down the hill for bailout zones, natural moguls, and big pillows of powder you can use to slow down. Once you've spotted a bump in a little opening four turns away, visualize how you're going to throw your skis sideways on the uphill side of it to slow down. Hold that image in your head as you make turns to get there. As soon as you make that turn, you're looking for your next safety zone. Practice on the same line several runs in a row, and soon you'll be skiing aggressively in the trees.

Gordy Peifer

Age: 35 Height: 6 feet Weight: 185 pounds Home Area: Alta/Snow-bird, UT Accomplishments: 2000 U.S. Freeskiing Champion, star of IMAX "Extreme and several Matchstick Productions and Teton Gravity Research ski films. Worst Learning Experience: "In 1993 I was doing a photo shoot on Mount Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon when I aired off a medium-size cliff, landed, and went out of control. I tried to scrub speed by cutting across the hill, and I blasted out into a field of avalanche debris that looked soft. The minute I touched the debris, I knew I was wrong. It was a giant field of ice chunks. My skis flew out from under me and I got completely bitch-slapped. I learned to think about the texture of snow.