Slo-Mo Perfection

Turning Points
Turning Points 1200

Let's face it: For all our talk about angulation, inclination, hand movement and other aspects of technique, skiing is really about timing, rhythm and balance.

When World Pro Tour champion Bernhard Knauss warmed up before a race, he began by skiing so slowly he seemed submerged in molasses. He spent a long time centering himself on the skis, finding the sweet spot, searching for precise movements, building rhythm. Gradually his tempo increased, until after 20 minutes he was screaming down the hill.

The discipline in Bernie's routine was inspiring, and now there are more and more racers training this way, especially in the early season. Everyone can benefit from skiing in slow motion-at least some of the time.

SKI equipment tester, former World Cup racer and coach Terry Palmer (at right) understands the benefits of skiing at very low speed. It forces the skier to focus on the rhythm of the pole touch and on how early movement from one ski to the next must be timed.You don't need much speed to make a ski bend in the snow. Give it the right degree of edge, stand against it perfectly, and it will arc without breaking loose. Such slow dancing prompts exaggerated flexion and extension, forces proper balance shifts and dictates where we must concentrate pressure on the outside ski.

"Even in midseason, when I'm having a day that's less than so-so," says Terry, "I swallow my pride, seek a gentle slope and slow waaaay down. I play a 45-rpm tune in my head at 33 and pretend I'm skiing underwater. It isn't long before I isolate the problem and can step on the gas again."

When you stop to think about it, this exercise is a lot like many other aspects of life: You can do things fast and poorly, or you can give them the time they deserve and do them well.

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