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Performance

Clinic: Got Vert?

Gain the confidence you need to slay the steeps this season.

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Steep Skiing Haiku

steeps clinic with Marcus Caston
Ready for the steeps? Marcus Caston is here to get you down in style.Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

The world falls away
Gravity pulls on my skis
Weightlessness free fall

Need shoulders level
Or else I might tumble down
A pole plant will help

Reaching down the slope
Fighting gravity, give in
Skiing is flying

If steep skiing were a monopoly property, it would be Park Place or Boardwalk. If it were a donut, it would be a cinnamon crumb from Banbury Cross. What we’re trying to get at is steep skiing is the ultimate, always has been and always will be. There is no closer feeling to flying on your skis than the controlled free fall on a steep pitch. As Newton’s 4th law of universal gravitation states, “Snow contact, while necessary, should be kept to a minimum, and airtime should be maximized.”

We understand the fear factors that come with skiing the steeps, but it really is one of the easier types of terrain to ski decently. Simply by virtue of the extreme tilt of the hill, your skiing becomes more dynamic as you’re forced to put up a little more of a fight than on a groomer. You also don’t need to angulate with your hip very much because the hill will come up to you! However, skiing a steep slope is more of a mental fight than a physical one. 

Rule number one on the steeps: Stay over your downhill foot! When you’re scared, your body subconsciously backs off and leans into the hill, breaking rule number one. Don’t break rule number one! Grit your teeth and be aggressive, commit to moving everything down the fall line, and the skiing will feel magically easier. It’s much like running up a steep hill; it’s really hard, but if you move your body down the hill it’s much easier and way more fun. Let gravity take you, the more you fight the harder it’s going to be.

Body down the hill

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Unweight the inside ski

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Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Separation

steeps clinic with Marcus Caston
Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

The Pole Plant

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Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Release

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Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Match the skis to the hill

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Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Ready to learn more? SKI Magazine teamed up with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) to design the online course How to Break Through. This course is for intermediate and advanced skiers ready to kick their skiing up a notch on all types of terrain. To get started, visit our PSIA Tips Page for some spot-on advice.

Marcus Caston is an Inspirational Ski Consultant, based in Salt Lake City. After 10 years of coaching freeride and race camps, Caston has developed a coaching philosophy based on building a solid foundation of fundamentals, yet leaving room for personal expression. Check out partybeachskicamps.com for more info.

All photos shot on location at Valle Nevado, Chile. Less than 40 miles from downtown Santiago, Valle Nevado offers a number of great ski-and-stay packages, heli skiing, and Mountain Collective passholder benefits.