Lately, a lot of skiers are talking about recent epic runs down their secret powder stash. Most of these apparently require "top secret" clearance before being discussed. So how does one successfully ski in the woods? It's all about where your eyes are looking.
Where your eyes are focusing as you make your way down the slopes can either enhance what you're doing or it can keep you from skiing to your potential. Here are some tasks for your eye balls that will have you "looking" like a pro.
First of all, you need to remember that your skis typically go where your eyes go.
When you are free skiing, pick objects from side to side of the trail that you would like to ski toward — trees, snow piles, whatever. Focusing on where your next turn will take you adds purpose and direction to your skiing, and the skis magically perform better. Conversely, if you look straight down the hill, you'll generally skid back and forth and not get those snappy arcs you're looking for.
If you're heading into the woods, and enjoying the excellent glades skiing that has opened up (the secret stashes), make sure to focus on the spaces between the trees that you'd like to ski through. Focus on where you want to go, not on the immovable objects you wish to avoid. It's amazing how glades-skiing comes together when your eyes seek the spaces.
Racers: keep your eyes two to three gates down the course from start to finish. You'll see those rolls and "crankers" and handle them with ease. All of the fastest racers have trained themselves to look down the course.
Lastly, please look in all directions as you come through trail junctions and be aware that we all have blind spots. You fast skiers, it's your job to keep an eye on the slower skiers you over take and to give them adequate room. If you don't have room, slow down and smile.
Remember, best advice of all, take a lesson or attend a race clinic. You'll have a great time and improve your time.
John Macdonald is a Level III certified PSIA instructor and is a race team coach at King Pine Ski Area. You can email questions to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.