What a difference a week makes.
Last week, the snow was harder than a TV dinner, and this weekend the skiing is mah-velous. Kudos to the snowmakers, groomers, mountain management, and Mother Nature for making this possible.
Generalizations are generally just that and it's easy to think they apply to everyone else. When it comes to skiing, almost all of us could make a few adjustments and have great results. Steeps and ice become easier to handle, bumps and crud become less bumpy and cruddy, and everything works a little better when you make the following adjustments.
Number one: learn to love a lower, wider stance. Number two: keep your shoulders level to the terrain. Number three: keep your weight balanced over your outside ski as you make turns with both skis.
For this week, the lower, wider stance is the focus. First of all, this recommendation only applies to about 99.5 percent of the skiing population. Open your knees up and sink down with an athletic stance, keeping the whole sole of both feet and your boot cuffs pressured, and go make some turns. Your must do this with a buddy, and take turns watching each other. Typically no one actually skis with a wider, lower stance when they set out to do this. You must be honest with your stance partner and let them know when no difference can be seen.
Why the wide stance? Try this: put your feet together and stand tall the way you normally ski, put your hands on your hips, and make some hip circles. Roll your weight from the left side of your boots to your toes to the right side of the boots to your heels. See how big a hip circle is possible.
Now get in a wider feet, wider knee, lower stance and make the same hip circles. You have so much more ability to make adjustments in your hips that impact balance and edge angle when you get into a wider, lower athletic stance.
Now go out with your stance partners, and get on each other's cases until you both are skiing with wider feet, wider knees, and way more power and balance. It'll feel silly until you hear your stance partner say "wow, that looks amazing!"
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 and Trainer at King Pine Ski Area. You can email questions to John at firstname.lastname@example.org.