Get Schooled: Stand Tall or Get Small

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This has nothing to do with physical stature; it has to do with the way most telemarkers pick one stance and try to make it work for everything.

There's the guy with his knee on the top of his ski doing superdeep lunges and muscling through every turn. Halfway through the day, he's toast. Then there's the guy who's standing straight-legged, slip-sliding through his turns. He's barely making edge contact. And he's not getting low enough to use his center of gravity to edge the ski. When he's on anything but soft groomed he's getting bucked all over the place.

The key is to be both of those guys, and several others in between. As terrain and snow conditions change, you need to change your stance. When it gets cruddy or crusty you have to sink low and get small to be powerful enough to bust through it. A low stance provides fore/aft stability, which is crucial in variable conditions. As soon as you hit the smooth stuff, however, it's time to stand tall and conserve that precious energy.

Ben DolencAge: 27 Height: 5 feet 7 inches Weight: 135 pounds Home Area: Copper Mountain, COAccomplishments: Star of three Warren Miller films, three Unparalleled films, and three Tough Guy Productions films. Worst Learning Experience: "Last year, I was skiing in Cordova, Alaska, on a famous face called the Sphinx. There was one traverse I had to make that goes across a chute with a little gully in the middle. I thought nothing of it and tried to hop the gully. Turned out to be wider than I thought, and the inside of it was a four-foot tube of ice. So I fell in—and then it was 1,800 feet of bobsledding down a 55-degree chute. I got going so fast I burned the skin on my wrist. Somehow I got to the bottom with just burnt skin and a bruised ego.