How to Charge Exposed Terrain - Ski Mag

How to Charge Exposed Terrain

Squaw Valley's Erik Roner shows you how to handle exposed terrain.
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Get mentally prepared. It starts with weighing and managing the risks of your line. What happens if I don't make the third turn? What happens if I fall in the narrowest part of this couloir? Adrenaline kicks in when you're scared, and it may impair your performance. Think it through. If you're too scared, it's OK to wimp out.

Hold a wide, solid stance with your upper body facing down the fall line. Keep your hands in front of you—otherwise you'll be thrown in the backseat and could miss a crucial move. Stay fluid through the exposed section and focus on making smooth transitions between turns. Remember to pole-plant. If you botch a turn, it could throw off your game.

Look ahead. Focus on your line, not the rocks, to avoid getting spooked by the exposure and hazards. It's like a car crash—if you look at the accident, you increase your chances of getting in a wreck. So keep your eyes on the prize.

Watch your speed. Don't ski so fast that you're out of control, but also not so slowly that you could jerk around and crash. Keep the pace moderate.

When not to ski in exposed areas: When you're alone. In flat light. When you're hungover. When you're ducking a rope. When you're shaking with fear.

Squaw Valley's Erik Roner has been featured in four TGR films. He prefers skiing exposed lines that require a parachute to get down.


Learn a little bit about the terrain park to start off. Notice the expert features and what the best riders are doing, but recognize that these guys are good and these are hard features. Try to be smart and start small. Smarty Style is NSAA’s program that they’ve promoted with the growth of terrain parks. It promotes starting small, getting comfortable on little features, riding on boxes and small jumps, then maybe pushing yourself a little bit.

Terrain Park Etiquette

So you want to learn to slide a rail or stomp a big air? You can't just show up in the terrain park and cut to the front of the line. There are rules. We asked Austin Christenson, the manager of the terrain park at New Mexico's Taos Ski Valley, to lay down some guidelines for novices venturing into the park. —Olivia Dwyer