Perfect Turns: Ice


Have you ever been skiing and come across an icy section only to have your skis slide out from under you? If you’ve been doing everything your instructor has taught you, then relax: It may be the skis, not the skier. Run your fingers gently down your edges. Do they feel smooth-or serrated like a steak knife? As you ski over rocks or other debris, your edges accumulate nicks and burrs. These imperfections start to hamper the skis’ performance. With poor edges, you can’t hold a consistent arc through a turn. Taking proper care of your edges allows your skis to slice through ice and snow. -Jeffrey Barry, Heavenly, Calif.

Skiing on ice can be very rewarding if you’re up for a challenge. But first you’ll need to make a few adjustments to your technique. Most of us have experienced walking through a resort base area in ski boots on solid ice. Notice the small, soft and very deliberate movements you make to avoid an embarrassing fall. Similar footwork will generate great results when skiing on ice. Rather than jamming your edges into the snow, gently guide your feet through each turn for better performance. -Jeb Boyd, Loon Mountain, N.H.

When I look at a racer I see precision and angles-angles in the body and edge angles as the skis relate to the snow. The correct edge angle allows your ski to slice through ice.It’s impossible to edge effectively without moving your body across the skis and into the turn. For this to happen, your inside leg must get shorter. Imagine scraping bubblegum off the little toe of your inside foot. Scrape your foot back-don’t lift it-while allowing your inside leg to float shorter than your outside leg. How much you shorten that leg is determined by the pitch of the slope and the radius of the turn you want to make. -Deb Armstrong, Taos, N.M.

Do you tense up when you encounter ice? Try this: Stand up, take a deep breath, hold it and tense the muscles in your legs and feet. Now, exhale deeply and relax all the muscle groups in your feet, legs and back. The tissue on the bottom of your feet should spread out under you, and your ankles will have a supple, springy feel. You’re now centered in your ski boots. Remember this trick when you tense up before an icy slope. Stay supple so your joints and your skis can perform better. -Tim Fink, Steamboat, Colo.

Flexion and extension of the ankle, knee and hip are fundamental to maintaining and adjusting balance while descending icy slopes. In general, the goal should be to flex all three joints equally. This produces a chain reaction, sending the flex up through the body to the knees and hips. Start by pushing your shins into the tongues of your boots. Then bend your ankles as low in your boots as possible-right at the joint-to create the important and effective tension in your ankles. -Deb Armstrong, Taos, N.M.