Racing with Erik Schlopy

Schlopy 1101 Pic D


Schlopy is a self-proclaimed perfectionist. He finished second in this giant slalom in Bormio, Italy, and believes he should have won. "These two turns from my second run are pretty good," he says. "My left turn 1-11 is better than my right 12-22." Note the snow flying off the ski in the second turn compared to the "clean" first turn. Schlopy rarely thinks about keeping his "shins parallel," as many modern racers do, but tries to pick a comfortable, medium-wide stance and sticks with it, never letting the skis diverge or converge.


"I like this turn a lot. See how the outside ski is fully bent and pushing against the snow?"


"Here I'm already moving my hips toward the apex of the next turn. That's the most important thing I learned last year: You can't move forward at the apex. It has to happen much earlier."


"Here I'm too committed to the inside. If this snow didn't have good purchase, I would fall to the inside. The ski is not arcing well, but wants to run straight down the hill."


"I quickly realized I'd put the ski on edge without enough pressure. By Figure 19, my outside ski, because of the forces and speed, is at about a 70-degree angle to the snow, supporting three times my body weight. Now it starts to arc, and I make a good recovery."

Madonna di Compiglio
"This is a nice sequence to look at," says Schlopy, "but it was actually one of my worst races last year. I'm skiing on a 173 cm slalom ski, but I'm testing 170s, 165s, even 155s. Skis seem to get shorter by the month! The shorter the skis get, the more it's going to help me. I have an aptitude for arcing skis and am built for the new slalom technique."
1 "Tactically, I'm late in this turn. I'm going across the hill too much."
2 "I make a great pole plant. I'm as good as anyone at this. My hands are not moving all over the place, and some assume this makes me slow."
3 With the short, super-sidecut slalom skis, the pole plant has become a lost art on the World Cup. World Cup slalom titlist Mario Matt rarely plants his pole, except on steep, difficult terrain. Schlopy takes a different approach. "It has never occurred to me that a pole plant is not necessary in every turn. When I have a good run I know nobody's faster, largely because I plant my pole for each turn. But I do it automatically. I'm much more worried about how the ski is arcing than I am about the pole plant."
4 "Here the feet show good separation, the skis are parallel and my hips face downhill. The hands are forward and ready (I'll knock the pole out of the way with my right) and my shoulders are level. I learned these things on the pro tour."