Think It Through

Turning Points
Turning Points 0303 Pic A

Don't underestimate thevalue of visualization. Visualization is how you build confidence in your skiing ability. In a World Cup downhill race, you have no chance of winning if you don't have the entire run memorized. The best big-mountain freeskiers also use visualization before taking on a new technical and challenging line. Try mapping out a plan the next time you encounter a difficult slope.

First, pick a line that you are able to ski. Check out your line from the lift or look down from the top of the hill and visually create a plan. On the World Cup, I separate the hill into small sections and memorize the line I think is best. At the bottom, I close my eyes and picture myself skiing all the sections correctly. Treat your run like a World Cup race. When you inspect, choose memorable terrain features such as trees, rocks, knolls or any area where the slope angle changes. Map-ping out your run this way lets you concentrate on skiing later. Before you ski it, go over the run in your head a few times. Visualize yourself skiing successfully to the bottom. The more challenging the run, the more time you should spend visualizing.

Now it's time to ski. Try to ski the run nonstop. Look ahead, and link your turns. Have fun: Catch air on the knolls you noticed or make slalom turns around trees.

If you run into trouble-like variable snow or a skier who cuts you off-have an alternate plan. Follow your instincts and adjust. Just like driving a car in traffic, the farther ahead you look, the more time you'll have to react. As you improve, you'll be able to let your instincts take over. If you have a plan and ski it, the whole mountain becomes your playground.