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The biggest mistake most intermediate telemarkers make is failing to face the fall line. Intermediate skiers tend to keep their torsos locked square to their skis, facing across the hill because they’re afraid to commit. When they finally do make a turn, they have to rotate their bodies 180 degrees to face the opposite side of the slope. This wasted movement makes balancing difficult, especially on rough or steep terrain. Experts, on the other hand, keep shoulders, arms, core, and hips facing down the hill, which means only the legs have to turn, rather than the whole body.
Begin every turn with your hands up and your torso aimed down the hill (Fig. 1). Use your ankles and knees to move your skis into the turn, keeping your hips and upper body driving down the fall line—this is known as counter-rotation. You’ll notice this forms a C shape as the distance between your ribs and hip shrinks (Fig. 2). When you feel a slight pinch in the side of your torso, you’ve got it.
The more you counter-rotate to feel the pinch, the more you’ll be facing down hill throughout the turn, making it easier to fend off the pull and tug of gravity. This will give you better balance and allow you to ski steeper, more rugged terrain.
Kasha Rigby is a former professional telemark racer and extreme skier. She has skied first descents in India, Russia, and Mongolia.