Chute tactics of the nose, knees and toes
When a tight turn in a chute causes energy to quickly build under your skis, remember “Nose, Knees and Toes.” Imagine suspending a plumb bob (a piece of string with a weight hanging on the end) from your nose to your kneecaps and big toes as you finish one turn and start the next. Aligning these key body parts over the skis guarantees that the pressure will be distributed throughout the whole ski when you need it most.
The tactical issue here involves knowing when to align the nose, knees and toes. Focus on aligning these body parts as soon as you feel the pressure build and push back at you; in a steep chute, this usually occurs at the end of one turn and the start of the next. If the nose, knees and toes are out of alignment at this time, the skis will scoot ahead, leaving the rest of the body behind. If you’re properly aligned, the skis will stay with the rest of the body, propelling you toward the next turn.
Try this drill: As pressure against the skis builds in a steep chute, interpret the increase in pressure as a cue to align your eyes, knees and toes. This may require alignment in the lateral plane as the skis finish the turn on a relatively high edge angle. Keeping the hands ahead will help keep the rest of the body moving in the right direction.
Add some practice time to this drill: Play with different intensities and tempos to feel the wide range of pressure building. Try to adapt to terrain and conditions by determining when the pressure will build the most. Experiment with different terrain; keep in mind that pressure will build up quickly in certain types of terrain, such as moguls, skied-out trenches and pitch transitions.
Applying this drill to the real situation: In steep chutes, energy builds quickly when the ski edges are set in the snow. If your alignment is off at this critical moment, you may quickly find yourself sliding through the snow on your derriere. As you engage the edges, it’s best to be in the optimum position when the maximum force comes through the skis. When a skier’s weight interacts with the angle of the skis in relation to the fall line, the result is a force of energy that can be accommodated only if the skier is in the proper position.
Chris Fellows and his wife Jenny are the directors of Truckee’s North American
Ski Training Center (NASTC) and Chris is a member of the PSIA National Demonstration Team. Chris will be writing a weekly column all winter. He can be reached at ski@skiNASTC.com or 582-4772.
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