This summer I spent 7 days working up at Mt Hood with PSIA-NW and Snow Performance Race Camps. Great weather, good firm snow in the morning and corn by mid morning. As usual we loaded the chair around 6:30, started teaching around 8 and came off hill around 1...leaving plenty of time for a sail or a round of golf. Both camps I would car pool up with either Tyler Barns of the PSIA-NW Technical Team or Chris Kastner former PSIA national demo team member. The time on the hill and in the car talking lead me to the startling revelation that skiing well is still simply a matter of balance.

In total I worked with 12 skiers this summer. Some/most were balancing aft of center, others where actually forward, and all of them were balanced to far inside to be able to control their turn shape. For seven days we worked exclusively on balancing over the center of the outside ski. Not trying to tip the thing up to a high edge, just balance on the inside part of the foot on the outside ski. Once your there, you can pretty much do what you want: twist it, edge it, bend it, pivot...whatever.

How did it work out? As they took the idea into gates, they suddenly found themselves high on the line and having an easy time making the turn around the gate vs turning at the gate. They also chattered less through the finish phase because they could start releasing the turn before the pressure built up too much.

I'm telling you, right here, right now, if you want to get better at skiing all terrain, all turns, learn to balance BALANCE on the outside ski early it's not even the outside one yet. This blog definitely doesn't complete the picture (can't give up all the secrets!), but if you have questions, please post, and I will respond...or better yet, somebody argue with me! There is definitely two sides to this coin.

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Comment by Fili Islas on October 30, 2009 at 9:41pm
Nelson, thanks for the tips and of course, as one of your pupils during the summer camps, I came away with several relevations as well. It is very simple to say balance on the new down hill ski at the transition before the turn. However, at least for me, I think, correct me if I am off, I found that if I was not moving with the ski, and maintaining proper body alignment that it was virtually impossible to obtain that early "balance" on the new outside ski. With these focuses however, and when performed, it was true that the turns happened high in the gate and the management of the pressure of the outside ski dictated the radius setting you up for good positioning for the next turn. Thus, even though I was traveling at speed, I always felt in control. I am so anxious to get back on the hill to apply those skills. Thanks man. Oh, and as great master of skiing once shared with me..."smile alot, don't take yourself or anybody else seriously, be easily impressed by nature and small details, and ski a little faster every day". You are so modest. :)
Comment by Nelson Wingard on October 20, 2009 at 4:19pm
Comment by Sturn on October 20, 2009 at 2:01pm
Boy, if you start balancing on the inside half of your (new) outside ski before you finish the (old) turn I'd guess that your weight will remain a lot more evenly distributed and the skis will work better together...rather than the old military turn ( right; left; right; left; etc). Linked turns that FLOW down the hill. Good stuff.
Comment by Nelson Wingard on September 22, 2009 at 2:46pm
We've spoke and he has looked at my stance. He measured my alignment and came up with the same thing they all come up with 1/2 degree off right foot. He's good. I've never used his footbed, but I'd be comfortable with him. I think the Derek at Ski and Bike is just as good and a whole lot easier to work with for proximity.
Comment by Barry Goldkind(TeachToSki) on September 22, 2009 at 1:24pm
Just spoke with Eric Ward and he said he worked on you, if you have any feedback let me know.

Comment by Barry Goldkind(TeachToSki) on September 22, 2009 at 1:03pm
Hey Guys,
Hi Nelson, curious if you have heard of this foot alignment guy down in Aspen I picked this up from the PSIA-RM site.
If you have a moment check out the site and let me know what you think or don't think.
Barry Goldkind
P.S. Great stuff above, definitely getting the mindset ready after the weather change.
Comment by Nelson Wingard on September 21, 2009 at 4:47pm
Yes, moving with, forget the crossing over, that will happen without intent and intent to do it goes too far, most of the time.

As for the look, that is the drill. Once it's ingrained...then the flow returns and you've got the early line.
Comment by Andrew Dean on September 21, 2009 at 4:41pm
Not dumping the hip in but allowing pressure to build and then bending (flexing or folding) over the outside ski is super important no question there. I think of transition as the point from which my centre of mass starts to move forward and across my skis allowing me to get that early balance and higher edge angle earlier in the turn and sets me up for the appropriate amount of inclination through the middle of the turn. This said, at national team training one of the guys was talking about moving forward with and not crossing over the skis in the initiation to prevent falling inside early in the turn, allow better staking of the joints and to release/deal with pressure from the previous turn in a more positive way.

I'm not sure I explained that exactly how I see it in my mind or on the hill but by moving forward pressure is released across the hill which would make an early line much more achievable. However, when doing this the individual in question looks to have a pause in every turn so aesthetically he doesn't seem to flow from turn to turn or indeed down the hill.

The only way to see what works best though is on the hill so I’m going for a ski albeit in the fog, dodging rocks on very dirty snow. I will be back in two weeks if anyone wants to continue this discussion in person, start thinking snow… Andy
Comment by Nelson Wingard on September 20, 2009 at 11:21pm
BTW, Andy is one of our very talented alpine and adaptive instructors at Steamboat and a member of the Australian National Demo Team. Good insight and a great skier.

As for transition, I've been thinking about it tons. If you redefine transition as fall line to fall line instead of the time the ski goes across the hill, it changes the way you shift your weight. I was over focused on getting the hips inside and not allowing them to move uphill. This caused me to dump inside at the top of the turn, losing contact with the outside ski. This didn't let the ski start bending until the ski fell downhill and started getting some gravity. I'm finding that as I stand balanced on the outside ski and allow the hips to go where they need, I get the ski juiced super early and can make it do all kinds of cool stuff. Course I'm on a Blizzard, so that just works better than your Nordica's....ha ha.
Comment by Nelson Wingard on September 20, 2009 at 11:11pm
GREAT! Absolutely, Rotary, Edge Control, and Pressure Control very important, at least I think they are. I've just been so happy with my skiing and the people I've been working with coaching balance. Just that simple. Let the other stuff go at least when it's not causing problems.

As to your personal skiing, try this...forget edge angle, forget steering, just try to balance on the inside 1/2 of our outside ski before you start the turn. Just stand there for a second. Don't let it turn, don't tip it high, just balance on. FYI, your skilled enough to start finding it while it's still the inside ski


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