What You Can Learn From Bode



Bode Miller has an uncanny memory of almost every turn he’s ever made. When SKI showed him this digital video sequence taken during the 1999 Vail World Championships, he observed, “Here I made a terrible turn, then a really good one.” His insights can teach us about the importance of every weight transfer.

The first clue he’s made a bad turn-before he is even in view-is the cloud of snow in the upper left corner of the sequence. He remembers hitting his edge too suddenly instead of “letting the edge run cleanly through the snow, with no drag at all.” Bode is always trying to make his “feet smooth on the snow.” When he fails to do so, he considers it a mistake.

Here he’s recovering from the error, regaining balance, getting his left arm back under control and out in front of him.

He doesn’t lose a lot of speed, but in finding his balance he goes too directly at the blue gate panel. In his words, he is “pinched in-too late, too straight.” Instead of starting his turn in the “rise line” directly above the turning pole, he starts late. As a result, he has to make a sudden turn, which puts too much pressure against the outside ski, causing him to lose his edge (16-18).

An instinct for speed (something that can’t be taught) and catlike reflexes are just two qualities that have skiing fans in awe as they watch Bode. In less than .1 second, between 18 and 19, he has stepped off his left ski, and up onto his right. He does this at precisely the right nanosecond, just as he is in the rise line for the red gate (see how the turn has already begun by 20).

Even before Bode enters the fall line, his outside ski is on a tremendously high edge. His foot is out from under him, and his leg is in a strong, solid and long position. In 22 we see the most snow blasting off his ski, suggesting that this is where he has applied the most pressure. See in 23 how the snow curls off the ski’s tail, where most of the pressure is applied. This is the “clean” turn he likes. There’s no drag from the tip. By 25 there’s almost no spray from the edge at all. This tells us he is now using his leg like a shock absorber to take pressure off that ski and let it run even faster.

The lesson for us mortals? Most skiers tend to pressure an edge too late and too long through the turn. Do that and a shaped ski chatters and skids out. Pressure the ski early-before and right at the fall line-and your turn will be a clean one.