Most skiers understand that sidecut does a lot for turning. But it doesn't do everything. Yes, a shaped ski on edge will follow a rounded path, but it does so passively. Sometimes controlling the shape of that path requires active steering, which you control through rotary movements of your legs. Your pelvis is designed to let your legs rotate in your hip sockets without engaging your shoulders and arms. In fact, the less your upper body gets involved, the better. This month, we show you how developing separation — isolating rotary movements of your legs while maintaining a quiet, stable torso — supports active steering and can help you break out of an intermediate rut, improve your NASTAR times or master all-mountain terrain.
Intermediates who rely on excessive upper body rotation — using their shoulders to initiate turns - wind up swinging their poles needlessly in all directions. This is wasted energy and becomes a liability on advanced terrain. Separate your upper and lower body. Keep your poles and your torso out of the turning equation, and let your legs — with the help of gravity and sidecut — steer your skis.
IMPROVE YOUR NASTAR TIMES
Your ultimate goal in a racecourse is speed. Carving is faster than skidding — but that doesn't mean your skis must always be carving. If you have good upper and lower body separation, you can keep your upper body in carve mode and use your legs alone to make subtle turn-shape and line adjustments. Just because you need to reduce the carving action of your skis doesn't mean you need to adjust your entire stance.
As snow gets deep and heavy and the slope gets steep, subtle leg steering becomes more difficult. It's tempting to use the force of your entire body — shoulders and all — to generate power to blast through the conditions, but this threatens your stability. Your poles are valuable tools in all-mountain skiing. A strong pole plant, combined with a sturdy core, gives your legs a solid foundation against which to turn, so you can steer through inconsistent snow.