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On steep terrain, instinct tells you to stay close to the hill behind you-after all, you’ll be closer to it if you start sliding. But the safer choice is to lean out over the fall line and use your edges to control your speed.
I start by focusing down the hill and pointing my chin out over my boots to initiate the turn (Fig. 1). By forcing my chin down the fall line, my shoulders naturally square up to the hill. It gives me a free-fall sensation as I move forward from turn to turn (Fig. 2). The farther my chin is over my hips, the steeper the terrain I can handle. If my head falls back and I lean into the hill, I lose control of my edges, which can lead to a slide-for-life downhill (see “wrong”). Remember, skiing the steeps starts from the head down-and this physical trick will help you commit to charging the fall line.
A.J. Cargill was the ’97 World Tour Freeskiing Champion. She currently teaches a women’s extreme skiing camp, Clinic To Rip, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, while working on the ski patrol part time.
Check out the Outdoor Life Network this winter for more Private Lessons vignettes with Kim Reichhelm.