Holding Fast

Holding Fast 1003

Today's carving skis demand that we stay out ahead of them. Proper technique is not so much a matter of pressing forward into the tips as it is leading the way with your upper body. Check out the symmetry between Kostelic's head and her hands: They form a triangle with her eyes and hands leading the way. Her body position is similar to that of a basketball player guarding an opponent.

It's difficult to remain stable at high speeds if you're not in a forward position. Visualize a triangle between your head and hands when you make fast, GS turns. Keep the triangle flexible-the shape of it shouldn't be rigid, as if you're gripping the handlebars of a motorcycle. Nor should you hold your hands as if "carrying a tray," despite passé advice to the contrary. Note that Kostelic's inside hand is low, and her outside hand high, yet each hand is still visible in the lower corners of her field of vision. The higher outside hand helps her balance.

Skip your pole plant whenever you're skiing fast. Except in slalom, where short turns are mandatory, pole plants have all but disappeared in ski racing. At speed, a pole plant disrupts your flow, alters your stance and slows you down. Instead, use your pole like an antenna (see Kostelic's right pole) that skims over the snow just enough to remind you where the slope is underneath you.