Perfect Turns: Steeps


When skiing on steep, icy slopes, a good, balanced stance is the key to maintaining control-and looking good, even if you’re feeling hesitant. Allowing your feet to get ahead of your body hinders your ability to hold an edge. If you find yourself getting out of control, try this: Flex your ankles to create strong contact with your shins against the front cuff of your boot. By using a slightly wider stance, you’ll have more leverage to tip the skis on edge. Then guide your skis into very round turns. If you actively keep your body moving ahead of your feet, anxiety over skiing steep slopes will disappear. -Stephanie Goodman, Hunter Mountain, N.Y.

Do you ever feel like you can’t turn your skis as well as you would like to in steep terrain? Stand up. By standing taller over your skis, you bring your hips and upper body forward and adjust your alignment for a more athletic stance. Your weight is over your entire foot and ski, your legs make slight contact with the front of your boot cuff and your joints are slightly bent to allow mobility and movement. Most importantly, your feet and legs can now turn freely underneath your hips and torso. This not only allows for better balance and control; it also enables you to be more precise in your movements. By standing taller, you give yourself a chance to move efficiently and the opportunity to relax and enjoy the run. -Jay Chambers, Copper Mountain, Colo.

Have you ever come upon a steep, narrow slope and questioned your ability to control your speed? Or have you entered a chute only to hit the wall on the other side? Next time, try this: Picture a line running vertically down the center of the trail. This line is the finish line for all of your turns. Complete your turns by bringing your ski tips higher than your tails as your feet cross the line. Start your next turn on the other side of the line. For example, if your outside (downhill) foot is your left foot, make this turn on the left side of the line, again bringing your ski tips higher than your tails. Finish on the line-not past it. This enables you to bleed off speed from the start of the turn so you can link turns down anything steep and narrow. -Leigh Thompson, Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Ski steep chutes with more confidence and efficiency by using a slight hop rather than the old-school jump turn. Instead of trying to twist your skis 180 degrees in the air, try a more subtle approach. When at rest on the slope, notice how your uphill leg is bent or flexed more than the downhill leg. From here you’re in a perfect position to press off the bent uphill leg to initiate the turn. Trying to press or hop off the downhill leg will be difficult because it’s already lengthened. Instead of trying to pivot your skis completely in the air, allow yourself to land with your skis in the fall line. This way you are able to complete the turn by guiding the skis on the snow rather than jerking them in the air. This technique saves your body from jarring compressions-and allows you to enjoy the steeps longer. -Bobby Murphy, Telluride, Colo.